Could Guo Jia have inadvertently led to Cao Cao's downfall?

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Could Guo Jia have inadvertently led to Cao Cao's downfall?

Unread postby Tonto_Simfish » Wed Jun 20, 2007 3:29 am

It's a possibility.

After all - the only stated reason that Yuan Shao hesitated to attack was that Yuan Shao's SGZ bio mentions that he ignored Tian Feng's advice just because his son was ill. Meaning, in other words, what if Shao's son wasn't ill at all?

Of course, it's entirely possible that Yuan Shao would have found another excuse not to attack, and Guo Jia would have accurately predicted that. Of course, advisers are never 100% accurate. The best advisers have a good intuition of what's most likely to be the case - and are able to weigh the probability of a decision's success with respect to the impact of the decision itself. But in any case - perhaps it could be the case that Guo Jia's advice carried a very high risk in itself - due to the grave dangers that would result from a Yuan Shao attack (while Cao Cao was unprepared).
Last edited by Tonto_Simfish on Wed Jun 20, 2007 3:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
Then they pushed forward, leaving a bloody trail, and escaped to the northwest. Ma Chao, meanwhile, heedless of his own fatigue or his mount's dashed on, gradually leaving his followers behind.

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Unread postby Jebusrocks » Wed Jun 20, 2007 3:38 am

Exactly what are you trying to say? If you are saying that Guo Jia gave a careless advice to Cao Cao, I think you are wrong
It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat.
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Unread postby Tonto_Simfish » Wed Jun 20, 2007 3:45 am

What I'm saying is that Guo Jia's advice was based on PROBABILITY and should not be taken as flawless (he just happened to be right at the time that Yuan Shao's son was sick). The more we know about a particular adviser, the more flaws and mistakes we learn about them. However, Guo Jia is portrayed as pretty much perfect in the book - maybe since there weren't many opportunities for him to screw up there.

What is also conceivable is that the advice of a good adviser can permanently screw one up (all advisers can be wrong - just with smaller probabilities than others).
Then they pushed forward, leaving a bloody trail, and escaped to the northwest. Ma Chao, meanwhile, heedless of his own fatigue or his mount's dashed on, gradually leaving his followers behind.

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Unread postby Jebusrocks » Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:00 am

What I'm saying is that Guo Jia's advice was based on PROBABILITY


I think all strategies are based on probabilities, or else one who knows one who makes a strategy without the use of probability (therefore 100% it's going to work) would have conquered the world
It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat.
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Unread postby Tonto_Simfish » Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:07 am

That is true. But I'm also talking about weighting the probability with the impact factor of a probability (as in, the the potential impact of a probability). There could be a chance of success of 80%, but if the chance of failure was 20% and carried the potential for total disaster, then it may not be a decision worth embarking upon (when there are other less risky moves).

Of course, if we look at history - we see that history is written by the victors. Then the bold will be seen as the successful (even though that sort of boldness will not always lead to success - it just happens to be more prevalent in historical records).
Then they pushed forward, leaving a bloody trail, and escaped to the northwest. Ma Chao, meanwhile, heedless of his own fatigue or his mount's dashed on, gradually leaving his followers behind.

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Unread postby Jebusrocks » Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:10 am

Tonto_Simfish wrote:That is true. But I'm also talking about weighting the probability with the impact factor of a probability (as in, the the potential impact of a probability). There could be a chance of success of 80%, but if the chance of failure was 20% and carried the potential for total disaster, then it may not be a decision worth embarking upon (when there are other less risky moves).

Of course, if we look at history - we see that history is written by the victors. Then the bold will be seen as the successful (even though that sort of boldness will not always lead to success - it just happens to be more prevalent in historical records).

I think the world's most biggest battles won was on low "probability", such as the Battle of Normandy, Battle of Gettysburg, they took huge chances there, and succeeded. Great Commanders such as Alexander and his bravery charge against the Persian army is another example.
It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat.
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Unread postby Mistelten » Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:11 am

I think that makes sense and it is a good posibility. I don't know how unprepared Cao Cao's force would have been anyway, not knowing more about the troop layouts and having to make the Yuan attack from conjecture. I'm more about agreeing with your bigger point: even the best strategists can't predict everything. Cao Cao was smart enough to have a force that didn't rely solely on deception and strategic maneuver.
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Unread postby Tonto_Simfish » Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:20 am

I think the world's most biggest battles won was on low "probability", such as the Battle of Normandy, Battle of Gettysburg, they took huge chances there, and succeeded. Great Commanders such as Alexander and his bravery charge against the Persian army is another example.


But the reason why they were so famous were because they were improbable events that actually succeeded. If you take 100 different random examples of such events - it could very well be the case that the numerically and resourcefully superior army would have the advantage (and this type of battle rarely gets much of a mention in the historical records if the numerically/resourcefully superior army wins). And Yuan Shao's tactics were not completely bad - he had excellent advisers and listened to them some of the time - he just happened to make a huge number of mistakes in one particular situation - and that affected his judgment then on out).

==

Now, when we're talking about probability on the individual level - we have to realize that we want to make a decision whose risks are not potentially devastating. Guo Jia may be right most of the time - but when we're talking about the next potential decision - we may consider the possibility that we don't want to take a decision that could result in total devastation of one's country.

The move that Cao Cao made against Liu Bei - that decision did have very large risk. It was so large that Tian Feng contradicted his original advice for it - he originally advised Yuan Shao to led his troops rest after the conquest of Gongsun Zan - and then learned of this opportunity to rid the empire of Cao Cao.
Then they pushed forward, leaving a bloody trail, and escaped to the northwest. Ma Chao, meanwhile, heedless of his own fatigue or his mount's dashed on, gradually leaving his followers behind.

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Unread postby Jebusrocks » Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:34 am

My brain's too simple to understand what you are trying to say :lol:
It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat.
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Unread postby Tonto_Simfish » Wed Jun 20, 2007 5:28 am

Okay - basically the fact is - Guo Jia doesn't know about Yuan Shao's situation. He's just counting on Yuan Shao's hesitation to act against Cao Cao (when an opportunity presented itself - namely - the case where a sudden weakness would develop wrt Xuchang).

The mere fact that he's counting on such hesitation - that is a risk in itself. Since who would know if Yuan Shao is going to always hesitate in every possible move? (in the majority of moves, he probably would). But 80% of all possible moves? Who knows.

On the other hand - Guo Jia could very well be right if he knew that Yuan Shao would never act in all possible cases of a sudden opportunity to attack (the key word here is never - or almost never). But how would he know that Yuan Shao would never act in such a way? (he served Yuan Shao in the past, true, but it's unlikely that he has been with Yuan Shao long enough to perceive all possible scenarios wherein a sudden opportunity presented itself to Yuan Shao - in this case, Cao's attack of Liu Bei).

Now, it's possible that he may have known more about the Yuan Shao situation at that particular point in time. We don't know if Guo Jia knew more about Yuan Shao's immediate situation (for example, if he knew of the fact that Yuan Shao's son was ill - or that Yuan Shao was not already preparing to attack Cao Cao).

Remember that Cao Cao was in almost dire straits when Lu Bu attacked him from behind on Puyang - the other commanderies could very well have been taken were it not for the actions of the few who held them. But Lu Bu was nothing compared to Yuan Shao.
Then they pushed forward, leaving a bloody trail, and escaped to the northwest. Ma Chao, meanwhile, heedless of his own fatigue or his mount's dashed on, gradually leaving his followers behind.

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