More incestuous amplification

Originally, the term refers to the implicit guidance and control link from orientation to observation, which then loops back into orientation. That loop can become locked, so that we only see what we want to see, thereby reinforcing our original orientation.

More generally, it refers to Boyd’s comment at the bottom of Chart 3 of The Essence of Winning and Losing (the infamous OODA “loop” sketch):

Note how orientation shapes observation, shapes decision, shapes action, and in turn is shaped by the feedback and other phenomena coming into our sensing or observing window.

Problems can arise when we limit the range of phenomena so that we don’t detect mismatches in time to do anything about them. Here’s an interesting example, from “What Martial Arts Have to Do With Atheism: An interview with Sam Harris about self-defense and the seduction of faith,” by Graeme Wood at

First, an aikido master demonstrating the technique of the “touchless takedown/no-touch knockout” with a group of his students:

And then what happens when he confronts a master who is not one of his students:

[I can’t vouch for the authenticity of either of these. Read the article and decide for yourself.]

Along those same lines, here’s a recent piece in the New York Times that refers to David Freedman’s summary of John Ioannidis’s paper on why so much published, peer-reviewed scientific research is wrong, in that it cannot be reproduced or is contradicted by more precise studies later on. As Freedman’s original article notes:

Simply put, if you’re attracted to ideas that have a good chance of being wrong, and if you’re motivated to prove them right, and if you have a little wiggle room in how you assemble the evidence, you’ll probably succeed in proving wrong theories right.

This is an extremely difficult habit for leaders to break because it requires you fire sycophants (who may be long-time friends or even family members), promote unorthodox or unpleasant employees who habitually tell you the truth, and establish robust ties to the eternal world, even when others inside the organization complain that you’re stepping on their toes.

You’re already doing all this? Oh, really?

6 thoughts on “More incestuous amplification

  1. I once had to destroy a religion.

    For me it was simple, because for one thing the religion wasn’t built on reality. The religion offered no advantage to the environment it was oriented to.

    The other thing that made my work easy was the fact that the religion was based on harmony, so all I had to do was destroy harmony, and the religion disappeared.

    Simply put, I destroyed the enabler who let the religion operate without an advantage in the environment observed, and the religion fell apart.

    In this case the enabler was the plant manager who commanded the high ground, but, because I knew the process he had command over better than anyone in the “religion”, I was able to take control of the low ground.

    The whole problem came to head when I broke my knee getting my motorcycle ready for a race. I had no medical insurance nor savings to work from, so I basically had to quit my job for a few months while I healed up. My doctor told my that if I made one slip, like missing the last step of one of those ladders I had to climb, and he wouldn’t be able to put my knee back together again, hummpy.

    When I got back to work the processing plant (it took diatomaceous earth and made cat litter out of it) was over-run by the Greens.

    They were a family that moved into the sparsely populated area of Christmas Valley, Oregon, shortly before I had my accident. I had minor dealings with them before and kept my distance from them, because I didn’t understand them.

    Once back at work I understood them completely. There was enough of them that someone of the bunch knew at least something about everything. So as long as they maintained harmony in the environment they operated in, the job got done. The men were put to maintaining the plant while the women worked in production.

    The problem, and why I had to destroy the religion, the most productive people at the processing plant were not members of the religion, and they had lost control of their environment.

    While the business had great harmony among employees, the conditions at the processing plant were slowly deteriorating. So slowly that those in harmony with each other could not see nor wanted to listen.

    This called for action, and, as I was basically an outsider, it was I who took action. Unless I was looking to marry one of the sisters (they were a little too “organic” for me), I was pretty sure I would soon be out of a job 🙂

    They were all gone within a month.

  2. As for Orientation shaping Observation, I am sure it does give what you are Observing a implicit shape, but it is that which is being Observe that, in the non-virtual world, shapes Orientation, not the other way around.

    One Orients through dimensions to obtain leverage, and the observing of the environment is the best way of determining the advantages. A person so Oriented, as to obtain an advantage over adversaries within the same environment, usually wins, at least if there is transparency.

    So Boyds comment is the correct one. As you Orient yourself to the environment be aware that you are shaping it as you do.

    Orientation is an Isolation (PISRR) that Subverts, Re-orients, and ultimately Re-harmonises after Action, but, as with religion, you should not overload your OODA loop with Construction.

    Destruction is just as important (except in religion), as there is a need to generate diversity within the loop, as enforced conformity gives you a corrupted (subverted) shape of the environment observed.

    • Larry,

      Thanks. You wrote: “but it is that which is being Observe that, in the non-virtual world, shapes Orientation, not the other way around.”

      As counterintuitive as it may seem, the IG&C link from orientation to observation does imply that orientation also shapes observation.

      Here’s a famous example:


      • Good point. On the other hand, the gorilla was not a part of the Orientation. It was a part of the entropy, the energy (potential) not available in Observation.

        Orientation is a subversion (isolation) within the environment observed, and by isolating the process to only include the counting of the throws, you have isolated what is being Observed. The gorilla remains in Observation, and it doesn’t come from Orientation.

        So, in your example, you are mistaking entropy with potential energy.

        By isolating your observation to ball throws, you have excluded (corrupted) the gorilla in Observation.

        The Republicans have developed this method when including torture, gay marriage, abortion, and women’s rights into the conversation that the people of the USA are Oriented towards.

        The issues are all a part of entropy and has nothing to do in how the people of the USA are Oriented, according to the Constitution. The issues only fall within Observation.

  3. When Boyd would talk about the OODA loop, he would also talk about sort of another kind of loop … looping around to observe from every possible viewpoint and/or facet … presumably as a countermeasure to being locked into single viewpoint (OODA-loop not only feeds back into observe … but also constant requirement for lots of different views and kinds of observes)

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