Variations of the OODA Loops 2, The Naive Boydian Loop

Note: This is a selection from Variations of the OODA Loop, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06


It is not simply because of John Boyd that OODA is no longer just a word that means a type of bear.23 Chet Richards, John Boyd’s “flame-keeper,”24 is largely responsible for the world’s current knowledge of the OODA Loop. Boyd changed his OODA loop over time, creating two major versions.25 Thankfully, both Boydian OODA Loops are included in Dr. Richard’s Certain to Win power point presentation26

In describing the Toyota manufacturing process, also a theme of Richards’,27 Peter Dickson28 flawlessly describes the naive Boydian loop

Toyota and other fast-cycle companies resemble the World War II fighter pilots who consistently won dogfights, even when flying in technologically inferior planes. The U.S. Air Force found that winning pilots completed the so-called OODA loop — Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action — faster than their opponents. Winning pilots sized up the dynamics in each new encounter, read its opportunities, decided what to do, and acted before their opponents could.

The naive Boydian loop has the four familiar stages of observing, orienting, deciding, and acting,29 and always works in that order. No stage is skippable, and it is impossible to fall back to a previous stage without first continuing the loop.30 Dickson’s words are quoted from a Harvard Business Review article,31 indicating the wide reach of naïve Boydianism. Because decision is separate but subsequent to orientation,32 orientation in the naive Boydian model is often seen as merely a form of assessment.33 Because one’s orientation affects what one observes through feedback, orientation and observation together have been described as “epistemic reasoning – ie, reasoning about knowledge.”34

Variations of the OODA Loop, a tdaxp series:
Variations of the OODA Loop 1: Introduction
Variations of the OODA Loop 2: The Naive Boydian Loop
Variations of the OODA Loop 3: The Sophisticated Boydian Loop
Variations of the OODA Loop 4: Pseudo-Boydian Loops
Variations of the OODA Loop 5: Post-Boydian Loops
Variations of the OODA Loop 6: Bibliography

Thunder Pig Discovers 5GW

Murtha gets a Smackdown from a Marine,” by Bobby Coggins, Thunder Pig, 29 May 2006,

It’s always fun when one’s web community grows, like now when blogger ThunderPig asked, in an update to a post:

What? When did 5GW get invented?!?

Curtis Gale Weeks and PurpleSlog have already jumped into the mix. Thunder Pig is experimenting with the term right now. TP already has Coming Anarchy and ZenPundit on his reading list.

And tdaxp‘s Dreaming 5th Generation War, too.

ThunderPig, Welcome to the discussion!

Is Islam Too Dangerous For Europe?

Holland’s latest insult to Ayaan Hirsi Ali,” by Christopher Hitchens, Slate, 22 May 2006,

Europe’s Politics of Victimology,” by Fleming Rose, Blueprint Magazine, 27 May 2006,

I’ve criticized Europe’s attitude toward immigrants before, but it is clear that the gathering nightmare of Muslims non-assimilation in Europe isn’t only Europe’s fault. Europe appears to be incapable of melting those who do not wish to be melted into her cultures. Here are two excerpts, both courtesy National Review’s The Corner, of the Islamic Distopia in Europe:

From Christopher Hitchens:

In the two weeks since I wrote about the increasing isolation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch parliamentarian, her isolation has markedly increased. Dutch courts have already required her to vacate her home as a result of her neighbors’ petition to have her evicted, and she was on the verge of resigning her seat in the Dutch parliament and of requesting the right of residence in the United States. But this was not enough to satisfy her critics. A leftist news team in the Netherlands has broadcast an item about the way in which she had initially entered the country, and now the immigration minister has proposed stripping her of citizenship (and thus of her seat in parliament) as a result of the irregularities involved.

It will be delightful to have Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Washington. But the American Enterprise Institute, which has offered her a perch, is not the place where she is most needed. In Holland, every day, extremist imams preach intolerance and cruelty, and, when they are criticized, invoke the help of foreign embassies to bring pressure on the Dutch authorities. They face no risk of expulsion. In my youth, the action of lighting one person’s cigarette with another was called—don’t ask me why—a “Dutch f***.” I once heard a young lady, offered a light in those terms, respond loftily by saying, “Doesn’t say much for the Low Countries, does it?” No, it didn’t, and neither does this mean and petty harassment of a woman who has also redefined that old expression “Dutch courage.”

From Flemming Rose:

And yet the unbalanced reactions to the not-so-provocative caricatures — loud denunciations and even death threats toward us, but very little outrage toward the people who attacked two Danish Embassies — unmasked unpleasant realities about Europe’s failed experiment with multiculturalism. It’s time for the Old Continent to face facts and make some profound changes in its outlook on immigration, integration, and the coming Muslim demographic surge. After decades of appeasement and political correctness, combined with growing fear of a radical minority prepared to commit serious violence, Europe’s moment of truth is here.

Europe today finds itself trapped in a posture of moral relativism that is undermining its liberal values. An unholy three-cornered alliance between Middle East dictators, radical imams who live in Europe, and Europe’s traditional left wing is enabling a politics of victimology. This politics drives a culture that resists integration and adaptation, perpetuates national and religious differences, and aggravates such debilitating social ills as high immigrant crime rates and entrenched unemployment.

This has wider implications, as well. It may be unwise to admit Turkey to the EU, and anti-liberal Muslim violence is already changing the face of Europe.

Gods, Ghosts and Metaphors

Religion’s evolutionary landscape: Counterintuition,
commitment, compassion, communion
,” by Scott Atran and Ara Norenzayan, to be published in Behaviorial and Brain Sciences, 2003, (latest version published Behavorial and Brain Sciences 2004, from Gene Expression).

Razbib links to a draft (the latest version is forty bucks!) by “Religion’s Evolutionary Landscape” by Atran and Norzenzayan. Razbib is most interested in apparent, widespread acceptance of prototheology, or as he says

monotheists regularly aver belief in a god they can’t really conceive of, and when psychologists have them tell stories about gods in an impromptu situation where they can’t regurgitate stuff they’ve been drilled in the god(s) they describe is much more like a godling of the days of old than the omni-god of their theologians.

From my perspective, the article was most interesting for its unstated faith in modernity. For instance, the authors write that alternative models of religiosity are flawed because

They cannot
distinguish Marxism from monotheism, or secular ideologies from religious belief

Yet the distinction the authors are groping for, which relies on the existence of a “supernatural” world that differs from a natural one. Or as the authors write

Conceptions of the supernatural invariably involve the interruption or violation of universal cognitive principles that govern ordinary human perception and understanding of the everyday world.

The belief that the understanding the “supernatural” requires a different epistemology from understanding the “natural” one is far more modern, recent, and limited than the authors would believe.

As if to throw a bone for everyone, they even give Curtis of Phatic Communion something to chew on:

Science, like religion, uses metarepresentation in cosmology building, for example, in analogies where a familiar domain (e.g., solar systems, computers, genetic transmission) is used to model some initially less familiar system (e.g., atoms, mind/brains, ideational transmission). In fact, science and religion may use the same analogies; however, there is a difference in these uses. Science aims to reduce the analogy to factual description, where the terms of the analogy are finally specified, with no loose ends remaining and nothing
left in the dark: Atoms are scientifically like solar systems if and only both can be ultimately derived from the same set of natural laws. Whereas science seeks to kill the metaphor, religion strives to keep it poetic and endlessly open to further evocation. In religion, these ideas are never fully assimilated with factual and commonsensical beliefs, like a metaphor that metarepresents the earth as a mother but not quite, or an angel as a winged youth but not quite.

Read the whole thing.

Variations of the OODA Loop 1, Introduction

Note: This is a selection from Variations of the OODA Loop, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

The U.S. Marine Corps in their discussion of strategy,1 the U.S. Navy with information operations,2 and commentators discussing linguistics3 all mention the OODA Loop. Yet descriptions of the OODA loop can be as vague as

A top-level description of human behaviour [sic] in a tactical setting should include the processes involved in developing situation awareness, making decisions, then acting in accordance with a set of goals. Almost any discussion of military doctrine now includes the ‘OODA loop’ – Observe, Orient, Decide and Act (attributed to US Air Force pilot John Boyd). 4

Described in general terms in such varying publications as American Speech,5 International Affairs,6 The Journal of Military History7, The Journal of the Operational Research Society,8 and others,9 10 11 it is rarely precisely described. There are many different “OODA Loops,” devised by different authors at different times, that lend themselves to different sorts of analysis. They can be created to advocate some technique12 13 14 or technology,15 or as a starting point in decision support systems,16 simulation,17 18 19 20 or visualization.21 Authors should be familiar at least with the version that they are using, if not alternate systems, in order to fully comprehend their own writings and to write persuasively for those who may have encountered other OODA Loops.

This series will focus on three classes of OODA Loops: Boydian, Pseudo-Boydian, and Post-Boydian. Boydian OODA Loops are those created by John Boyd, the man who created the OODA loops but published little.22 Pseudo-Boydian loops are the reverse: they purport to be created by John Boyd yet contain substantive variations. Post-Boydian loops are written with a Boydian loop in mind, but ultimately reject the Boydian system to create something newer.

This article is not an exhaustive list of all the OODA loops “in the wild.” However, by using published journal articles, conference articles, monographs, graduate theses, and blogs, it attempts to capture as many as possible.

Variations of the OODA Loop, a tdaxp series:
Variations of the OODA Loop 1: Introduction
Variations of the OODA Loop 2: The Naive Boydian Loop
Variations of the OODA Loop 3: The Sophisticated Boydian Loop
Variations of the OODA Loop 4: Pseudo-Boydian Loops
Variations of the OODA Loop 5: Post-Boydian Loops
Variations of the OODA Loop 6: Bibliography

SkyFord: City of Pollution

The final segment of my Tianjin Sentiments (perhaps a fitting companion to another blogger’s “Balkan Memories“?) is of the pollution in Tianjin. Tianjin is composed of two characters — Tian meaning Heavenly or Sky, Jin meaning Ford. In a previous post I explained that I would translate Tian as “Heavenly” for beautiful things, and as “Sky” for more prosaic uses. Thus, this post on the pollution in Tianjin discusses contamination in Sky Ford.


The pollution in Skyford is everywhere. Our local guides explained that it was the result of the building boom that builds new offices, malls, and apartments everywhere. Certainly there was a lot of construction in Tianjin, as there was in Beijing.

Some of the power plants in Tianjin clearly gave off a blackish smoke

Moore cooling plants, these as scene from the train (metro)

At the Port of Tianjin I saw more trucks than I have ever seen, in my life.

Riding in a taxi in this is oddly relaxing: as you’ve already forfeited your life, there is nothing to do but wait.

A Chinese wears a mask (as I did) while gazing out at what was once the Pacific Ocean

To the smog-chocked horizon and beyond, industrial salt ponds grew on the reclaimed land. Plants did not.

Industrial machinery helps process the salt

Salt Town

The ocean was brown. The cause of that was, among other things…

… and oil refinery. The refinery is much, much closer than it looks. The deadly smog makes everything look hazy and far away, and this part of Tianjin had the worst smog of anywhere in China I’ve seen.

While the Ocean is dead, the port lives. The amount of shipping containers was Cyclopean, if not Lovecraftian

View of death from the former deathship, the Soviet ACC Kiev.

This was on the LSD-like riverfront of Skyford, near the strawberry house and waterfall. Ugly beyond description.

Tianjin, a tdaxp series.

Women and the Stability of Christianity

The Tiger in the Academy,” by Tim Safford, Christianity Today, April 2006, (from The Korea Liberator).

The last part of a war, sometimes called “Stage 3,” or “Phase IV,”or “Stability,” operatons, is essentially the feminization of war. The last stage of war is in some ways un-war, because instead of killing what was you build what will be. This final portion is the pay-off for a take-over operation. The difference between killing and building is the difference between the Leviathan and the SysAdmin, A-Z Ruleset and the Reverse Domino Theory, the Soldier and the Warrior, the Panzer and the Soldat, man and woman.

christianity alpha_chi_ro_omega_md

I earlier wrote about this in the context of Christianity as a 4GW Movement. Now a great example of it from the University of California:

“This generation of Asians is the most blessed of all Asians in history,” says pastor David Hsu of the West Houston Chinese Church. “The opportunity to learn, to interact, to have freedom is unparalleled. They have unprecedented opportunities and material blessings. But you either become a channel of blessing, or it will be taken away from you and given to others.”

Asian campus fellowships have unique opportunities for evangelism. The close community draws in non-Christian Asians, who are not likely to find a comparable sense of belonging anywhere on campus. Rarely is another Asian group so large and friendly. Christians so dominate the Korean American student world that one Stanford student posted a lengthy online lament. As a non-Christian, he said, he stood a much-diminished chance of finding a Korean wife. “The challenge for Asian Americans in an ethnic fellowship is to use it as a base for evangelism,” Tokunaga says, “not just to stick with people they are comfortable with.”

Want to invent a new religion? Exploit the core competencies of men and women and save the souls of humanity. Or at least, spread your memes.

Quality, a tdaxp series

The tdaxp feature, Jeusism-Paulism, combined three posts into a coherent series of articles. This spurred discussion on the original thoughts, and made it easier for new visitors to the website to read about the “4th Generation” or “Netwar” aspects of the earlier Christians.

If that treatment is good enough for God, it’s good enough for Quality

Photo Courtesy

This series, Quality, combines five previous posts into an extended discussion about the definitions of a thing: what makes a thing good, and what makes a thing a thing. These two questions are really one, and the most direct inspiration for the answer is Robert Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality, particularly his works Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila.

Quality, a tdaxp series, has five parts.

formerly Zen and the Art of Semantic Eurovision Networks
Beauty, which melts our hearts, is a representation of Quality.

formerly Friction (and other things) in Politics
Melting is a consequence of heat, which is caused by friction of two qualitative objects.

formerly The Frictional Sea
Melting produces liquids, which eventually form the great ocean of reality.

Inlets, Lakes, and Streams
formerly Interpretivism as Context
We divide the global ocean into smaller bodies of world, pretending they are separate things, so we can understand them.

The Magic Cloud
formerly Globalization is Water: The Magic Cloud
The watery substance of our world is not ice, because it is everywhere reconstructing.

Reviews for the posts in Quality, a tdaxp series:

“truly bizarre and equally brilliant… probably the best display of horizontal thinking in a blog I’ve ever seen… I had to go lie down with a Corona Extra after reading it.”
Thomas Barnett

“Amazing work… It couldn’t get any clearer than this… Thumbs up!!”
– Matthew Cachia

Bill Rice

“Amazing. Simply amazing.”
– Robin Sadovsky

“Holy cats !!!”
Mark Safranski

“Very enjoyable… 100%”
UNL Political Science Professor

Begin reading the first part, “Beauty.”

Perspectives and Peers 8, Interview with Mark Safranski

Note: This is a selection from Perspectives and Peers, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

Mark Safranski is a trained historian, mentioned in Blueprint for Action and other books. He’s also a close blogfriend of tdaxp, running the phenominal ZenPundit. On top of all of that he is a professional educator, and agreed to be interviewed for this project.

Thanks Mark!

The interview was conducted through electronic mail in three waves. Pay special attention to his comments on multiple perspectives and peer interactions, which are the questions that form the backbone of this paper. For ease of reading, my words are in bold and the subject’s are in italics

Wave 1

Background: I work with 13-15 year olds from a generally economically advantaged area in the wealthiest county in Illinois. While the students fall all along the traditional Bell Curve the aggregate mean I.Q. would be closer to 110 than 100 and approximately 20 % would have I.Q.’s in at least the superior range. As for myself, I have years of experience administering programs for At-Risk as well as Gifted students and have worked as a consultant and presenter on matters of curriculum and teaching methodology

To what degree to adolescents you interact with possess formal operations?
Probably less than 10 % of my students begin the year in the stage of formal operations in the sense of solid, regular and frequent demonstration of logical thinking and abstract conceptualization. Another 25-30 % can demonstrate these abilities intermittently but without any real consistency but can make relatively quick mental leaps from single concrete examples in a structured, teacher-modeled format to a generalized abstract principle. The numerical majority are concrete thinkers and a minority on the low end of mental ability and or emotional maturity show sporadic signs of preoperational stage thought.

To what degree do you witness the emergence of formal operations in adolescents?
To a considerable degree over the course of a year – with the caveat here that I am regularly, intentionally and systematically trying to elicit these behaviors with cognitive exercises to an extent that is most likely atypical.

Roughly, in an average year, I would guess that my top two cognitive categories increase by about half to as much as double. The concrete thinkers as a group decreases though the very lowest group probably changes very little, if at all.

Is flow (being “lost” in work) or metacognition (being aware of one’s thoughts) more common when students are practicing rationality?
In my experience, I would say that metacognition is an activity that has to be taught formally to this age group as a form of self-monitoring awareness so “ rationality” as I understand you to be using the term is something that would be practiced here. At least initially, as I have also observed that students who understand the concept of “metacognition” and have tried conscious monitoring will then almost immediately recognize or relate to intuitive metacognitive experiences like “ fingertip feeling” or “ tip of the tongue” feeling.

“ Flow” is another matter and it relates to the critical issue of attention. Adolescents put in any kind of a sizable group are very vulnerable to distraction – both extrinsically and intrinsically – which is an obstacle to having meaningful cognitive experiences that we like to describe as “ learning”. The absorbed, almost zen-like state of “ flow” is something that most adolescents drift into unintentionally unless they are quite practiced at some activity like playing a musical instrument and have honed their powers of concentration.

In general, do adolescents attain formal operations and rationality faster in peer-to-peer or “mentoring” style situations?
For the majority of students in this age group I would say “mentoring” is far and away more efficient – with the proviso that the “ mentoring” involves meaningful, focused, interaction and not an adult talking at a room of disconnected adolescents.

Emotional and social concerns and insecurities are such primal drivers here as to make peer-to-peer situations counterproductive unless they have been highly structured with objectives that are both understood by the students and for which they are motivated to accomplish. If that is the case then peer to peer is a useful learning technique and method of positive reinforcement.

A minority of students, usually the most able but not always, who are intrinsically driven by intellectual curiosity can, if grouped together, have some very productive experiences without (or because of the lack of) a formal structure as they make their way to a common goal.

Do formal operations seem to kick in faster, slower, or at about the same time as rationality in adolescents you interact with?
As you have defined rationality that would, on average, be faster than fully entering the stage of formal operations.

Formal operations is more complex and it lumps together some activities that take place in different regions of the brain (granting the emphasis in the prefrontal cortex) and with aggregate mean differences between genders. If you have ever watched middle school students struggle with algebraic formulas or analyzing scenarios using Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development you see that multiple variables, sequential causation and like aspects of complex problem solving are something that most of them succeed in doing in short bursts.

Wave 2

Are those fractions (less than 10%, and 25-30%) typical of the student population where you are at?
Past years (5-10 years ago) were better. As the population has expanded we have seen regression toward the mean in action in terms of IQ as well as a culturally based decline in reading skills, study skills, positive parental involvement and so on. Abilities can be latent but if not tapped they look the same as if they didn’t exist – hard to disentangle these factors from anecdotal observation alone and truly well done longitudinal studies are rare.

Dr. Von is running one in several Evanston Il. School districts through Northwestern U. that is in ( I believe) its fifth year but the data won’t be in until the test group graduates High school ( he started with – if I recall) impoverished, at-Risk, 3rd graders).

“Do adolescents you interact with practice, on purpose, formal operations, or that style of thinking?
Autonomously, without prompting from me ? Yes, but more rarely. Generally a high level of motivation the factor in triggering it – either deep interest in figuring something out or competitiveness with a peer to prove them wrong.

Could a student by “flowing” and metacognitive simultaneously?
While I can think of past or current students who I suspect are or were capable of doing so I am not able to provide an example ( hard to discern spontaneous metacognition from visual observation alone. That would have to flow from a verbal interaction which time constraints and peer pressure will frequently inhibit).

Regarding the attainment of formal operations, does presentation of more different perspectives (that would provoke more disagreement) or more similar perspectives (that would allow more refined disagreement) seem to help more? Does the same hold true for the attainment of formal operations?
If you wish to inculcate critical thinking and dismantle egocentricity in young adolescents in relatively short periods of time, forcing them to utilize multiple perspectives is invaluable. There are many ways to do this – scenarios from Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development, Counterfactuals, exercises from Edward De Bono, Socratic Method, Optical Illusions – since novelty is a key a key “ hook” with adolescents you are best off not overusing one particular method.

In my humble opinion, multiple perspectives should be the cornerstone of secondary teaching methodology and should definitely be used as part of the Arts ( Art, Music, PE, Drama) in intermediate elementary education because the tangible, hands-on, participatory, kinesthetic aspect is an accessible bridge to higher levels of thinking for younger children who may not have developed their verbal reasoning sufficiently.

Wave 3

Do you ever witness movement form formal operations to pre-formal operations?
In the sense of regression, a student who has attained the formal operations stage and then moving backwards, no. Students in transition and showing behavior in both concrete and formal operations stages as they move to formal operations, yes, all the time.

In general, do students who attain the same level of formal operations seem to have practiced the same amount? In the same way?
No, individual differences seem to rule and there are often disparities even between the capacity for logical reasoning and comprehension of abstractions in the same student. I’d say that of the two, logical reasoning is more readily attainable and also ” teachable” for young adolescents.

Perspectives and Peers, a tdaxp series:
Perspectives and Peers 1. Introduction
Perspectives and Peers 2. Books Assigned in Class
Perspectives and Peers 3. Articles Assigned in Class
Perspectives and Peers 4. Other Articles
Perspectives and Peers 5. Interview with the Subject
Perspectives and Peers 6. Conclusion
Perspectives and Peers 7. Bibliography
Perspectives and Peers 8. Interview with Mark Safranski

Historic Tianjin

While Tianjan, like Beijing, is primarily a new history, hints of its history are everywhere.


Beijing’s history is of a Chinese past, from the Ming City and Great Walls to Tea Town, but Tianjin looks to the world. Tianjin was a city that several concessionary areas to the European powers, and evidence of that is still clear. Some houses just scream “Europe”

but other structures and clues, such as Sino-European artwork, are more subtle…

A scene from the Bronx?

There is a very similar building, in a very similar state, just a few blocks from my residence in Lincoln, Nebraska.

On the train (really, Tianjin’s metro) to the port and the Soviet ACC Kiev, the lives of farmers. Seeing men and women work the field with no automation was a shock, no matter how much I have seen on television of otherwise read.

Not everything historical is well kept. This building to the fight with the Eight Power Alliance during the Boxer Rebellion was clearly last cared for in the 1980s. Seriously, elsewhere there’s a series of pictures which stop in the mid 1980s.

Defense technology from different eras.

This fort once overlooked the ocean, but the deadly haze plus land reclamation means it’s far from the ocean and even the Ocean River is barely visible.

Tianjin, a tdaxp series.