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

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.