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Friday, January 14, 2011

When business tries Darwinism ...

What you get is Enron, a friend writes, 

Just watched "The Smartest Guys in the Room" (about Enron's downfall).  Two things you might be interested in from the movie:
1. Skilling made *explicit* use of Darwinian principles in running the company.  He was inspired by The Selfish Gene, and had an employee review process which mimicked natural selection to remove the least fit employees.
2. The stock price was kept high simply because no one ever took a serious look at their books.  Anyone who did was threatened, and then bought out, and lone voices were silenced (I think there was a mention of a Merrill-Lynch person who downgraded Enron's stock, and Enron made them fire the employee, and afterward gave them lucrative deals). When people asked them how they made money, there was a lot of handwaving (similar to how Darwinists respond when people ask how natural selection produces information).
3. The company itself was propped up by its own rising stock price. This was similar to how Darwinism is propped up by everyone simply making the appeal to "evolution", and how "nothing makes sense except in light of evolution."  The bigger claims make people think it is okay, and therefore, no one actually looks at the books.
4. The company booked profits before they were made.  Again, kind of like Darwinism.  Every discovery is attributed to natural selection, but often later, close evaluation reveals that it was not natural selection at all responsible for the change.
When a company controls public perception, is propped up by its own rising stardom, and is able to book profits in advance, then it is setting itself up for a huge failure.  That failure comes about when there is an auditor that others take seriously who start to question the books.

Yes, and it all gets a lot worse if government is fronting the enterprise. Then, it's like Darwinism in the school system - rules against questioning dogma that is easily questioned..

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