Enlightement or Entanglement?

Two great articles build on this idea of the need to get more attention to the connections and relations in between, compared to the specialised detailed view, or to have the multidisciplenary view of entanglement, compared to tradition we learned rom the enlightement.

In the 2020 article “Wisdom of stakeholder crowds in complex social–ecological systems“, the world of sustainable management of natural resources is studied. It requires adequate scientific knowledge about complex relationships between human and natural systems. Such understanding is difficult to achieve in many contexts due to data scarcity and knowledge limitations. The study explores the potential of harnessing the collective intelligence of resource stakeholders to overcome this challenge.
Using a fisheries example, it is shown that by aggregating the system knowledge held by stakeholders through graphical mental models, a crowd of diverse resource users produces a system model of social–ecological relationships that is comparable to the best scientific understanding. The averaged model from a crowd of diverse resource users outperforms those of more homogeneous groups. Importantly, however, the averaged model from a larger sample of individuals can perform worse than one constructed from a smaller sample. However, when averaging mental models within stakeholder-specific subgroups and subsequently aggregating across subgroup models, the effect is reversed. This work identifies an inexpensive, yet robust way to develop scientific understanding of complex social–ecological systems by leveraging the collective wisdom of non-scientist stakeholders.

Of course, this is related to the earlier blog on Collective Intelligence & information pooling or aggregation.

The effect of urbanization on this, is not as positive as one might like, as mentioned in “Urbanized knowledge syndrome—erosion of diversity and systems thinking in urbanites’ mental models” Results revealed that, in more urbanized areas, residents’ mental models underrepresented complex interdependence between humans and natural components, indicating limited systems thinking. Additionally, urbanization and shoreline armoring were associated with homogenization of mental models. We refer to these results as Urbanized Knowledge Syndrome (UKS).
Importantly, respondents with more symptoms of UKS were less likely to self-report adoption of pro-environmental behaviors.
These results indicate a potential societal-level erosion of ecological knowledge associated with urbanization in the same way more urbanized areas are associated with diminishing ecological function.
Thus, diagnosing and treating UKS is an essential component of urban sustainability.

3 responses to “Enlightement or Entanglement?”

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