(Antfer) #1
July 2019, ScientificAmerican.com 7

ESTABLISHED 1845

Subscriptions
For new subscriptions, renewals, gifts,
payments, and changes of address:
U.S. and Canada, 800-333-1199;
outside North America, 515-248-7684 or
http://www.ScientificAmerican.com
Submissions
To submit article proposals, follow the
guidelines at http://www.ScientificAmerican.com.
Click on “Contact Us.”
We cannot return and are not responsible
for materials delivered to our office.

Reprints
To order bulk reprints of articles
(minimum of 1,000 copies):
Reprint Department,
Scientific American,
1 New York Plaza,
Suite 4600,
New York, NY
10004-1562;
212-451-8415.
For single copies of back issues: 800-333-1199.

Permissions
For permission to copy or reuse material:
Permissions Department, Scientific
American, 1 New York Plaza, Suite 4600,
New York, NY 10004-1562; randp@SciAm.com;
http://www.ScientificAmerican.com/permissions.
Please allow three to six weeks for processing.
Advertising
http://www.ScientificAmerican.com has electronic
contact information for sales representatives
of Scientific American in all regions of
the U.S. and in other countries.

Scientific American, 1 New York Plaza, Suite 4600, New York, NY 10004-1562 or editors@sciam.com
Letters may be edited for length and clarity. We regret that we cannot answer each one.
Join the conversation online—visit Scientific American on Facebook and Twitter.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

HOW TO CONTACT US

A R T
ART DIRECTOR Jason Mischka SENIOR GRAPHICS EDITOR Jen Christiansen
PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR Monica Bradley ART DIRECTOR, ONLINE Ryan Reid
ASSOCIATE GRAPHICS EDITOR Amanda Montañez ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR Liz Tormes
COPY AND PRODUCTION
SENIOR COPY EDITOR Daniel C. Schlenoff         COPY EDITOR Aaron Shattuck
MANAGING PRODUCTION EDITOR Richard Hunt PREPRESS AND QUALITY MANAGER Silvia De Santis
DIGITAL
PRODUCT MANAGER Ian Kelly WEB PRODUCER Jessica Ramirez

EDITORIAL David Biello, Lydia Denworth, W. Wayt Gibbs, Ferris Jabr,
Anna Kuchment, Robin Lloyd, Melinda Wenner Moyer, George Musser,
Christie Nicholson, John Rennie, Ricki L. Rusting
ART Edward Bell, Bryan Christie, Lawrence R. Gendron, Nick Higgins

CONTRIBUTORS

MANAGING EDITOR Curtis Brainard COPY DIRECTOR Maria-Christina Keller CREATIVE DIRECTOR Michael Mrak

EDITOR IN CHIEF AND SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT
Mariette DiChristina

E D I T O R I A L
CHIEF FEATURES EDITOR Seth Fletcher CHIEF NEWS EDITOR Dean Visser CHIEF OPINION EDITOR Michael D. Lemonick
FEATURES
SENIOR EDITOR, SUSTAINABILITY Mark Fischetti
SENIOR EDITOR, CHEMISTRY / POLICY / BIOLOGY Josh Fischman
SENIOR EDITOR, SPACE / PHYSICS Clara Moskowitz

SENIOR EDITOR, SCIENCE AND SOCIETY Madhusree Mukerjee
SENIOR EDITOR, TECHNOLOGY / MIND Jen Schwartz
SENIOR EDITOR, EVOLUTION / ECOLOGY Kate Wong
NEWS
SENIOR EDITOR, MIND / BRAIN Gary Stix
SENIOR EDITOR, SPACE / PHYSICS Lee Billings

ASSOCIATE EDITOR, TECHNOLOGY Sophie Bushwick
ASSOCIATE EDITOR, SUSTAINABILITY Andrea Thompson
ASSOCIATE EDITOR, HEALTH AND MEDICINE Tanya Lewis
DIGITAL CONTENT
MANAGING MULTIMEDIA EDITOR Eliene Augenbraun
SENIOR EDITOR, MULTIMEDIA Steve Mirsky

ENGAGEMENT EDITOR Sunya Bhutta
SENIOR EDITOR, COLLECTIONS Andrea Gawrylewski

EDITORIAL ADMINISTRATOR Ericka Skirpan SENIOR SECRETARY Maya Harty

CORPORATE
HEAD, COMMUNICATIONS, USA Rachel Scheer

ANCILLARY PRODUCTS

CONSUMER MARKETING
HEAD, MARKETING AND PRODUCT MANAGEMENT Richard Zinken
E-MAIL MARKETING MANAGER Chris Monello
MARKETING AND CUSTOMER SERVICE COORDINATOR Christine Kaelin

PRESIDENT
Dean Sanderson
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT Michael Florek
CLIENT MARKETING SOLUTIONS
VICE PRESIDENT, COMMERCIAL Andrew Douglas
PUBLISHER AND VICE PRESIDENT Jeremy A. Abbate
MARKETING DIRECTOR, INSTITUTIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND CUSTOMER DEVELOPMENT Jessica Cole
PROGRAMMATIC PRODUCT MANAGER Zoya Lysak
DIRECTOR, INTEGRATED MEDIA Jay Berfas
DIRECTOR, INTEGRATED MEDIA Matt Bondlow
SENIOR ADMINISTRATOR, EXECUTIVE SERVICES May Jung

ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Diane McGarvey
CUSTOM PUBLISHING EDITOR Lisa Pallatroni
RIGHTS AND PERMISSIONS MANAGER Felicia Ruocco

PRINT PRODUCTION
PRODUCTION CONTROLLER Madelyn Keyes-Milch ADVERTISING PRODUCTION CONTROLLER Dan Chen

systems, such as the Diagnostic and Sta-
tistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM ),
are used as intended—as general guides
rather than checkbox tools.
As a psychiatrist familiar with the DSM
but not compelled to use it, I used to be
annoyed whenever I saw it described as
“the psychiatrist’s bible.” On reflection,
though, that is quite a good description
because in practice, some psychiatrists
(chiefly in the U.S.) consult the DSM com-
monly, others ignore it completely and a
great majority draw on it selectively, fo-
cusing on the parts that make sense to
them and completely ignoring large sec-
tions that do not.
Brendan Kelly Trinity College Dublin


DECIDING WEATHER
Based on personal experience of the threat
of Hurricanes Florence and Michael,
Zeynep Tufekci argues in “Big Data and
Small Decisions” [The Intersection] that
when one is presented with a deluge of
data, even a simple binary choice (stay or
go, in her case) can be difficult. Unable to
make a data-driven decision, she notes that
she followed the advice of her neighbors.
Another way to frame this dilemma
would be through the decision-making
framework proposed by David Snowden,
formerly at IBM and now at Cognitive
Edge. Rather than ponder “What to do?”
he essentially suggested we ask, “What
kind of problem is this?”
Some well-structured problems are
complicated, with cause and effect reason-
ably clear, so decision-making may call
for experts who can sort through enor-
mous data sets (the domain of “good prac-
tice”). But problems where cause and ef-
fect are nonlinear and nonproportional
and where elements are volatile, uncer-
tain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) are
in the domain of “emergence.” An example
is a hurricane scenario akin to Tufekci’s,
for which crowdsourcing via neighbors
who, it is hoped, have more knowledge
and practical wisdom of the area may be a
reasonable way to make the choice of stay-
ing or leaving.
Larry M. Starr Director, Doctor of
Management in Strategic Leadership
program and Doctor of Philosophy in
Complex Systems Leadership program,
Thomas Jefferson University