Making Complex Decisions: A Masterclass with Lawrence Summers
Lawrence H. Summers leads a six-part workshop on employing rational, data-driven thinking to make complex decisions.
Lawrence H. Summers is an American economist. He is the Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University, where he became one of the university's youngest tenured faculty at age 28.
The author of over 150 journal articles, Dr. Summers' wide-ranging contributions to economic research were recognized with the John Bates Clark Medal, given every two years to the outstanding American economist under the age of 40. He was also the first social scientist to receive the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award for outstanding scientific achievement.
Beyond his academic career, Dr. Summers has held a number of distinguished appointments in government. He previously served as Director of the National Economic Council for the Obama Administration, Secretary of the Treasury for the Clinton Administration, and Chief Economist of the World Bank.
Lawrence Summers received his S.B. from MIT and his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard. He and his wife Elisa New, a professor of English at Harvard, have six children.
Lawrence Summers: One has to make a core decision in how to approach the world. Is there a reality, which we struggle to apprehend better and better? That would be my view. Or do we each have our own reality, which is equally valid and to which we are equally entitled? And philosophers debate that kind of question and at some level it’s a profound philosophical issue that is certainly beyond my competence and probably isn’t relevant for practical purposes.
But for practical purposes, for decision makers, if you’re deciding whether to introduce a new product, you’re deciding whether to create a new division of your company, you’re deciding what the right person to hire—who the right person to hire for a given role is, for those kinds of decisions, it’s important to understand what is true and to understand how the world works so that you can judge the consequences of alternative courses of action as accurately as possible.
And what’s essential is not to confuse what one would like to be true with what, in fact, is true.
Lawrence H. Summers's six-part Masterclass on Making Complex Decisions is available on Big Think Edge.
A few traditions in the Roman Catholic Church can be traced back to pagan cults, rites, and deities.
- The Catholic rite of Holy Communion parallels pre-Christian Greco-Roman and Egyptian rituals that involved eating the body and blood of a god.
- A number of Catholic holidays and myths, such as Christmas, Easter, and Mardi Gras, graph onto the timeline of pre-Christian fertility festivals.
- The Catholic practice of praying to saints has been called "de-facto idolatry" and even a relic of goddess worship.
A pragmatic approach to fixing an imbalanced system.
- Intentional or not, certain inequalities are inherent in a digital economy that is structured and controlled by a few corporations that don't represent the interests or the demographics of the majority.
- While concern and anger are valid reactions to these inequalities, UCLA professor Ramesh Srinivasan also sees it as an opportunity to take action.
- Srinivasan says that the digital economy can be reshaped to benefit the 99 percent if we protect laborers in the gig economy, get independent journalists involved with the design of algorithmic news systems, support small businesses, and find ways that groups that have been historically discriminated against can be a part of these solutions.