Many things in life are simple. For example, if you drop something it drops down. If you put a hand in cold water you feel cold. If you wonder about flows in your cup of tea, you can prove that a smooth flow exists here using Navier–Stokes equations. Well, the last one maybe is not so simple…
There are also a number of things that are complicated, very complicated, and insanely complicated. Contemporary integrated circuits like CPUs have so many individual units that a person can not account for all of them. Big organizations with more than one thousand persons can have very complex emergent properties. It is also true for even bigger organizations like governments. The Internet is also a very complex system which works on different levels: you can look for individual bits in a separate computer or you can look at huge grids of different programs which form distributed computation networks.
Humans can not know everything about anything, they can only know something about different parts of the world around us. Different settings have different sets of rules. I can compare them with rules for different games, especially considering that the game theory can help to better understand different situations we encounter. But we don’t play only a small number of games, we play a huge number of games. For many games we don’t even know the rules. Also for many games we don’t even know we play these games.
It is normal to not know many things. But often people don’t know some essential information about the world they live in. Imagine you want to get more muscles in your body. You can find a book about exercises, look for some advice on the Internet, or ask friends. While methods you have discovered may work, you may also encounter difficulties because a human body is a very complicated system and a great number of variables can influence the progress of your exercises. Some of your exercises can even harm you and you wouldn’t know until it is too late. Unfortunately doctors can’t check every book and Internet site with exercises and add recommendations and conditions for every possible case. But how deep a person should study the human body and processes in it if he only wants to grow some more muscles?
Fortunately modern science has methods which would help in cases like this. Basically we can calculate do we need more information or we have sufficient information already. It can be done calculating the value of information and related risks of missing something. Also a person can use methods from critical thinking to analyze and evaluate information before doing more complicated analysis with probabilities. Thus a person can avoid incorporating information from doubtful sources.
If people would be more willing to understand the world around them they could improve different aspects of their lives. It may mean that they need to understand different complicated systems and rules of playing inside them. And people still should expect a great number of unexplored areas on different levels around them. Different levels mean that there are, for example, one set of rules in the office, another set of rules in the city, and yet another in the country. Here rules are not only official laws and regulations, but also cultural influences and unspoken rules. People also have to continue to play different games with rules mostly unknown to them, but they can gather and analyze information to better understand these rules. Living in the enormous world with multiple levels of organization may be overwhelming, but with necessary tools people can adapt even for that.