Category Archives: Scientific theory

Emotionally proof reading your logical models…

Excerpted from intro to JLH website homepage. JLH 6/29/12

I’ve written several short “what this site is about” essays, you’ll find in various places elsewhere. They all attempt to introduce a way to begin studying the eventful lives of the individually organized and behaving systems of nature, our many kinds of animated companions with which we share the environment .    It’s naturally quite hard to understand what’s happening inside a visibly eventful social group, for example, though we may be intensely aware of its presence. That also applies to much of the eventfulness of history in general, that life is a place where “things happen” and often for relatively invisible and apparently local causes.   Any natural system is defined by its own internal loops of relationships, is a way to state that as a problem, so for an observer, the working parts of any animated system start off being largely invisible.

One very powerful technique for probing the organization of eventful and self-organizing cultural or economic systems is one I’ve rarely mentioned.   Maybe it’s the one I should lead with, though.  It’s a way of using your two natural modes of thought, intuitive and rational, to “proof read” each other’s work.  It allows your feelings to read and inform your reasoning and vis-a-vis.

The effect of learning how to do that is to create “theories with feelings”, and “feelings that make sense”,  something that is some individuals achieve on their own, but is rarely if ever taught as a practical technique.  It’s very valuable for connecting your naturally “reductionist” explanatory thinking with your “holistic” intuitive and experiential thinking.

Finding the emotional content in a logic driven world

It helps overcome the problem that explanations are powerful tools but completely lack the responsiveness to their environments that intuitive feelings about things bring out.  Similarly, emotional realizations maybe responsive to vastly complex sets of relationships, but it’s rare that people can derive their more practically useful logical elements, what I sometimes call “cybernetic body parts” that I look for to use in explanatory models of self-organizing systems.

Continue reading Emotionally proof reading your logical models…

Why ‘reality’ doesn’t work as a concept!

The curiosity that “reality” doesn’t make sense as a concept (as it can’t be represented in the mind) becomes more sensible in natural language terms at least. You can then ask what makes reality work so well as a process.  … Comments from a LinkedIn discussion group “UN call for revolutionary thinking [for] economic survival..6/24/12


1.       Struggling to get scientists to discuss natural self-organizing systems6/24/12

Jessie Henshaw @L –  It could help to notice how you restated my saying “They [scientists] tend to go direct from data to models without studying [the] complex working processes the subject came from or operates with.”    To me, your response displays the basic problem I’m describing.

I’ve spent years with large and small scientific communities trying to get them to let me demonstrate a way to study the instrumental processes of individual complex systems, helping expose how they develop and change.  After 30 years of that, making steady advances all along myself… I still feel about as stumped as before about how to share them.

A sign of the problem is in how you restate my complaint, changing the subject.   Your restatement of it was “her generalization that scientists in general leap from data to models without regard to systems”, saying that has not been your experience.

You changed the phrase “without studying [the] complex working processes the subject came from or operates with” to the phrase “without regard to systems”. That rephrasing shifts the subject from phenomena of nature (in their own form), to system models (as concepts for nature) defined within the researcher’s own framework of explanations. That’s my complaint!

Continue reading Why ‘reality’ doesn’t work as a concept!

The mind’s “little friend” behind the scenes.

A great insight was mentioned on On The Media this week, on a language algorithm that detects anachronisms in Mad Men, exposing how modern terms and phrases that evolved since the time period slip in unnoticed.   It exposes how change in the world that people are not watching as it occurs, seem to completely escape our awareness. So new things keep popping up in what we think is “normal”, becoming part of the “ever present” reality we wake up with every morning.


There’s a wonderful, still deeper truth, to your story, “about an algorithm that detects anachronisms in Mad Men and Downtown Abbey.”

Yes, modern TV scripts intended to be accurate about historical speech do contain “tell tale signs” of our real ignorance of the history, particularly for the histories of change we don’t pay attention to.   We don’t, though, misplace the history of changing ideas for subjects that we keep track of, as they change.

The larger general problem that points to is partly that it is not just TV that is affected, for course.    What’s affected is actually all of “reality” that simply appears in our brains a fixed “ever-present” state of things, glossing over most all of the things in our lives that that are constantly changing.   Without the real data on the flows of change, we seem just unaware of the flow of time at all, is where I arrived at.

I’ve studied it as the quite important question of physics.  It’s just hard to catch your brain making the little sequential steps of change in your own perception of “the ever-present reality” every night during sleep.  It helps explain why science so strongly tends to represent nature as having fixed equations, but always a new changeless set of them each time someone tries to describe things.    I think the root of it is that consciousness seems to include a kind of stop motion image making function, that updates its whole “software package” for the next day, as we sleep each night.

One of the more testable illusions that seems to give us is how the “ever-present” of our consciousness deceives each of us so completely, into thinking that the world we see in our minds is the one everyone else also lives in.  That just isn’t so, of course, and so the data of the continuity of change shows clearly too (that I study).  The strong illusion that our minds perceive “reality” persists anyway!   Cool, no?

a Female, and a Male form of physics?

Peter Heffron had liked my idea for how our economy could imitate the natural means for a growth system to transform to become stable, in explaining my comment that “I think removing the growth orientation from “sustainability” might be a lot easier than adding its “getting the parts to work together” aspect into “degrowth” (further discussed fyi).  I then showed him the very simple world model demonstrating the biomimicry for how a profit seeking economy (rather than growth obsessed one) could smoothly change strategies in mid-stream to achieve it.

He suggested I show it in a full scale world model, a big task, and I asked if he knew anyone with who might be interested in inserting my biomimicry concept into their model. He replied in a surprising way, as if I might not have heard of my own field of science essentially, so I felt I needed to go back to basics in my reply.    I think it ends up being a nice statement, of what’s going on here, as a struggle to reconnect our theories with the natural world humans are struggling to find how to become part of again.

Women mostly don’t lose the basic ability to connect with nature, easily using words as being defined by the things of nature they refer to.   It’s men who get frustrated by that, and rely, to a point of complete preoccupation sometimes, on defining words as abstractions made from other abstractions, struggling to rationalize an abstract world in their heads. That difference is a large part too, of what distinguishes my new form of physics for studying the forms of nature in their own terms, going back and forth with the traditional physics for representing nature as abstract theories, connecting the two ways of thinking that all my work has been about for the last ~35 years…

Continue reading a Female, and a Male form of physics?

Our curious missmeasure of impacts (and silver linings)

This is a companion article to the proposed commons based institutions: A new economic paradigm: The next big challenge and Budgeting for “the commons” needs business “ecobalance” sheets.

To transform the economy to become self-regulating will require our learning how to make accurate physical measurements of our environmental impacts, and associate them with the dollars spent that paid for them.  That’s not yet being done, far from it.

Nature builds economies with whole working parts: people, businesses, independent service providers, etc.,.  They only deliver their products if all their parts work together, like machines and operators making a working unit. Our traditional measurement methods have just ignored that arrangement of the natural world. Understand our impacts we need our units of measure to match nature’s units of organization, otherwise our errors of measurement become extreme.

The following short article was submitted for the June 1 “Energy” issue of the UNCSD Rio Outreach Forum, but too technical for those discussions.


It would seem odd, wouldn’t it,… to not count the charcoal used for a family barbeque in its energy use, because a neighbor brought the grilled burgers and vegetables over from their yard…?  That’s almost exactly what happens when businesses don’t count the energy used by their outsourced services.

They’re treated as having no demand on nature, according to the ISO 14000 and LCA rules. The real error is evident comparing estimates by the normal rules with the global average and finding nearly all of them far below average, a sign of missing data.

The true totals show dramatically higher levels of real impacts for business
compared with estimates using the standard method people are using

My recent scientifically recognized paper, Systems Energy Assessment (SEA) (1) shows a corrected method, but making sense of such a big error is still a problem.    It’s evidently exposing some enormous blind spot(s).   The new method used my work on how economies naturally work, with businesses and their services working as individual self- organized units.  That’s the critical insight that allowed making a closed account with the parts adding up to the total. Continue reading Our curious missmeasure of impacts (and silver linings)

“The next big challenge” a biomimicry for a self-regulating financial commons

Using a new paradigm of biomimicry
to create a global self-regulating financial commons.

This proposal was submitted to the Rio+20 Dialogues for comment and voting. See “News of the Commons” for introductions to the vision and the systems thinking needed. It’s part of the foundation of collaborative free markets needed for the health of the competitive free markets, as an element of Helene Finidori’s “Commons-Sense“.  In this case to recognize that the profitability of the whole is threatened by a continued common investment strategy for growth, and needs a way to change to a common investment strategy for well being.

It works for us

Nature systems initially develop using a “bootstrap” mechanism, growth, that continually expands their control of their environment.  For any system’s own internal as well as external needs that self-investment strategy needs to become responsive instead ever more controlling to survive.

See UN Proposal to guide the UN SDG’s by this principle for OWG 7 & 8
Early version: Jan 2014 –
A World SDG- and way to thoughtfully manage global systems
This and the earlier versions contain a lot of good thinking…
the Most polished final version is a Feb 2014 proposal to the UN:  
A World SDG



A new economic paradigm: The next big challenge

The proposal is followed by a discussion of some of the systems thinking
on “the commons” that developed with a group of contributors to a Systems Thinking World discussion group. It is intended as a sample of the kind of “commons based economic models”proposed in the 2012 RioDialogues, by Helene’s Finidori, to solve the global economic crisis by making the commons work for the whole, as a replacement for the paradigm of “prosperity” with ever expanding development. Below is the original article (with references) for the UNCSD Rio+20 Outreach Forum Continue reading “The next big challenge” a biomimicry for a self-regulating financial commons

Steps to a natural systems view

Over the years I’ve made various attempts to give people a good set of principles for introducing my way of observing and understanding the workings of natural environmental systems (1).

9 steps of discovery

A suggestion that I try again resulted in the following page, describing 9 steps of discovery. They’re to be made meaningful to someone using them by leading to their discovering things they never would have guessed, about their own world.   The goal is gaining a far better general understanding how nature creates and animates her very complexly well organized systems.

The trick in all of it,
is that what we “see” is not what nature is doing, but what we’re thinking of,
making consciousness quite different from reality.

The real world system of nature to understand are the various familiar and unfamiliar things that develop and work by themselves.   That includes the weather, social systems, economies, ecologies, but also organisms, storms, currents, cultural events and emerging technologies, etc.   They’re also little things like rust spots that magically appear by themselves on your car or other small individual events.

Emergent complex systems that take place “by themselves” in the sense of there being no evidence of central deterministic control, are also found in any spontaneous gesture like a smile, a handshake, or even the experience of personal feelings and thoughts, as form of complex organization in nature that come and go, and lack a pre-existing template for how to do that.

These are clear case of nature having to invent the path in the process of building and completing the process.   What opens the door to appreciating them is having a method of observation that fits them all, as following the enduring pattern for all scales and kinds of observable events as completing their own individual life-cycle.

The critical observation is to answer the question “what’s piling up” NOT “what’s the formula”.   It’s only theory that world by formulas.  Nature works by piling up, so that’s what you study when the subject is how can nature behave in a way not in our formulas.

Observation (2)

something about both the thing developing is “in-spired” from inside
and why the environment it is in makes that possible


1) The Art of Observation from Physics for Open Systems, and added resources:

2) Image found at Homeschool Hints : Developing Observation Skills

Continue reading Steps to a natural systems view

Self-organization as “niche making”

Marinella posted regarding research on self-organization at NECSI (the New England Complex System’s Institute LinkedIn forum):

“I’ve found this research really interesting, as it goes (finally!) against our deepest beliefs in human (in) ability to collaborate and be socially engaged without specific behavioral rules. People behave socially and ‘well’ even without rules Fundamentally people behave in a social and rather compassionate and ‘good’ way rather than aggressively, even without specified rules.”

I think the more useful relationship is that “rules” for how to behave quite often just affirm how things work best naturally.   So *rules follow people rather than people follow rules*.  Every sort of “system” is recognized as embodying an emergent sets of rules that work.  So, social rules that describe what’s been found to work in the world assure that people are free to behave the way they’d mostly want to anyway.

They’re also remarks about the whole self-organizing system of relationships displaying them, whether you call it a community, culture, nation, niche, commons, world, language, or movement, etc.   Those rules, of course, may also need to change as the world around them does.   It means that rules inherently also represent stages of learning for a system, not end points. That’s often the real source of friction, as old rules clash with the need to find new ways of making things work.  My comments below expand on the way we find rules that work, as “niche making”.



Simple examples of self-organization like those really help.   The common habit of explaining everything with deterministic rules needs to be shaken gently, it seems.     I tend to not find cooperation as deterministically caused, for example, but opportunistically discovered.    One easy way to pick it out is with seeing how niches for innovation form in the gaps between and to connect other things.

Diverse individual niches work to connect resilient cultural networks

After years of working with simple examples to help me separate those two paths to causation, I think the deterministic and self-organizing aspects of nature fit together just fine.

Seen as a difference between “imposed” and “discovered” causation can also then be understood as between “remotely determined” and “locally developed” causation.   Examples of the latter might range from the opportunistic formation of a rust pit, on what had been a smooth shiny metal surface, or of social subcultures taking off in some whole new way. Continue reading Self-organization as “niche making”

Approaching 30 days from the 40th Anniversary

There seems to be no news yet.   The recent 40th anniversary meeting at the Smithsonian on the publication of “The Limits to Growth” and the clearly most urgent of our many dire environmental dilemmas of our time, with little exception, has gotten almost no attention in the mainstream popular or environmental press.  So you’ll have to hear it from a real scientist as to why.

The reason is that the mainstream press is limited to discussing social issues.  That our means of sustaining our prosperity is rapidly exhausting the earth just isn’t one of them, as the resource scientists who study “the blue ball” actually “have no social standing”.   There’s a fascinating history to that, that reveals some eye opening new science.

A nice place to visit,
Was a wonderful place to live,
with tremendous open spaces, and overflowing with natural wealth

Continue reading Approaching 30 days from the 40th Anniversary

All time Top 22

Top page Requests for:

 Reading  Nature’s  Signals   &

All time Top:    1. 22 of May/11,    2. 30 of Aug/11,    3. 39 of Jan/12


Top 85 Jun 2013 Top Blog PostsTop Archive Pages
Top 67 Dec 2012 Top Blog Posts & Top Archive Pages




# Reads                   Page/Post Title

3. Top 39  in Jan 2012

557           2007/08/18    Whether successfully averted for the moment or not/

328           2011/07/18    My most disturbing finding/

322                                 Phpub.htm (publications list)

302                                 Systems Energy Assessment (SEA)/

186           2011/07/27    Urges arousal and keynes animal spirits/

162                                 Design/dollarshadow.htm ($’s = btu’s)

118                                 Cartoons/ (mostly New Yorker’s)

115           2011/08/05    Its the leeches that make us strong/

101                                 Pub/EffMultiplies.htm (natural effects of efficiency)

100                                 Chapters.htm (“S” curve reading templates) Continue reading All time Top 22