More devolution than evolution

Responding on LinkedIn Global Foresight thread… on changes in the economic rules.

The idea that economic change develops from local innovation, like biological evolution, is also a general rule for all other environmental processes.  Change is distributed and developmental in general, and *does not actually follow formulas*.

The traditional natural science paradigm has tried to always explain things with formulas, as was so successful with mechanics and planetary motion.   For complex systems with evolving parts like economics, it just doesn’t make sense.

So, the new rule is looking for new rules, not for the permanent ones, for where change is developing and the old rules won’t apply.

It’s a big subject obviously, but the kind of systems physics that truly informs economics is not that of Stephen Wolfram or any of the other old school systems theorists.  They all try to fix their inability to find general rules for nature by making smaller and smaller rules ones.   Continue reading More devolution than evolution

The “tyrany” of natural law.

Responding to: 4/26/09 “Again, I find myself agreeing with you.”

You started this thread by saying you thought long term forces such as “natural cycles” would  overwhelm any local developmental processes.    What I had said was fairly directly that all long term forces were the accumulation of local developmental processes.

There actually seems to be excellent evidence of that, as good as the evidence for evolution.    True, I can’t get it published because the tyranny of “natural law” as a philosophy of science is only frayed at the edges rather than torn in the middle, but I can lead anyone to enough of it to make it quite hard to erase.

It’s certainly made hard to speak clearly about these things,

that our “cultural wisdom” is
“so much more pothole than road” on the subject. Continue reading The “tyrany” of natural law.

Ending “fix it and forget it”?


The big shift in thinking about our impacts you suggest looks to me to have some interesting features. What seems hard for me, though, is finding an inviting way to lead people into thinking about the problems their solutions will later create.

Finding “solutions” usually results in there no longer seeming to be a problem (!) so we solidify our emotional connections to it and take the issue “off our to-do list”. Once you arrive at a “solution” revisiting it is itself a problem, but that’s just when nature begins her own continuous revisiting of it. Continue reading Ending “fix it and forget it”?

Unlike models

On a Global Foresight thread Tom Abeles asked if scientific models, based on a reliable “bandwidth” for natural systems, might somehow have predictive properties.   He noted:

The problem we have is exemplified by the poem, “The Theory that Jack built” which was published in an insightful set of “nonsense” poems called The Space Child’s Mother Goose: This is the theory that Jack built; this is the flaw, this is the constant covering the flaw; this is the “x” justifying the constant. . . und so weiter.


That’s a great insight and question. Part of the paradox seems to be in the word “like”. It is exactly models made “like” the ones for deterministic systems that don’t work well at all to imitate accumulatively self-organizing systems.

For new “unlike” models to still be useful, I think we need to no longer use models only as something we build to independently represent nature. I think we also need to use models for the opposite,

learning how to independently observe how individual systems in nature actually behave. Continue reading Unlike models

Turning takers into healers….

Many feel frustration about the failure of our “guardians” to act on the needs of our environments.  They display, our own frozen helplessness when facing obvious threats. That’s great as just the kind of observation that is the stimulus for new kinds of thinking.  “Changing Normal” for a planet stuck in the past, you might say.

In acknowledging Steve’s frustration with the crime of silence by our guardians was reserving the possibility that “masters of the universe” responsible might not be “the usual suspects”.  It could also refer to anyone who thinks of their being a “master of their own fate”.

Frank then offered a nice way to prompt his students,

“Hmmm, each year for the past 20 or so, in orientation week, i greet my new crop of students with: “i am a green but the wilderness i am interested in is not in East Gippsland (Oregon?) but behind the eyes looking at me across this room. If i can make you wilder, i.e. LESS predictable to me, by the time you leave this room, i have done my job.” Continue reading Turning takers into healers….

Soddy & physical world problem make the NY Times

re: Mr. Soddy’s Ecological Economy NY Times Op-Ed, Sun 4/12, mentioned by Tom in a LinkedIn “Global Foresight” conversation.

Thanks for mentioning the Times Op-Ed, It’s just great some mention of Soddy and the “physical world problem” finally appeared in the Times.   As I find so often, I agree with his analysis of the problem, about 110%, but that I find is as far as it goes!

You might be interested to know that J.M. Keynes and Kenneth Boulding also came to very similar end conclusions. Each used their own language for it, but each at least would agree firmly that 1) economies are physical systems, and 2) at natural limits something would need to be done about excess savings of financial capital.

The positive feedback of savings multiplying savings is limitless, as long as the economy generates profits.  Continue reading Soddy & physical world problem make the NY Times

What can people do?… to fix our violation of nature

Post to LinkedIn’s Global Foresight discussion 4/11/09

I guess the problem is that we’ve been steering the development of the earth as if expanding our vehicle with our windows painted over with out of date explanations, having a party and not watching the earth’s responses as we crashed into things. Our blind procedures, then, have not been doing what we intended them to do.

I could be a lot more specific, but steering requires watching the thing you’re steering through.   Old wives tales won’t satisfy.   Continue reading What can people do?… to fix our violation of nature

Rorty’s elusive line between the world & meaning

Richard & all, – from an email today –

I think the statement from Rorty:

“Truth cannot be out there – cannot exist independently of the human
mind because sentences cannot so exist, or be out there. The world is
out there, but descriptions of the world are not. Only descriptions of
the world can be true or false. The world on its own – unaided by the
describing activities of human beings – cannot.”

is interestingly “garbled” in the usual way self-consistent language has problems referring to inconsistent things.

I’m not talking about the difficulty of even narrowing down what “truth” means. I’m talking about a suspicious distortion that his thinking seems to add in the process.

It’s that in emphasizing how the meanings in our minds are distinctly our own, and different from the organization of the “world out there”, he ends up seeming to say that the outer world has no language of its own.  What would make more sense is that the rich world of natural languages that systems evidently develop on their own, seem incompatible with what we are able to fit in our minds.

Continue reading Rorty’s elusive line between the world & meaning