A crowd sourcing proposal. Suggested to WNYC as a new form of news coverage
From a natural history view, how the US news media reports on what’s happening of public importance is, well, entertainment news, that misses most of what’s actually happening and how it’s connected. Even Public Radio mostly giving us six shows a day of talk about all the same things that “everyone” is talking about. It tracks how the discussion is changing, but misses almost entirely how the world itself keeps complexly and dramatically changing by itself.
I’ve found that it eventually pays, to let my moral dilemmas hurt my feelings if I actually want to know the answer. I don’t ever dwell on emotional pain. I just know I can learn from it if I attentively listen to what it’s about. Our world is spiraling out of control, yet again, as if people had no clue as to why.
The Pentecostal anthem “May the Circle be Unbroken” contains a kernel of systems physics I hadn’t noticed until recently, in a spiral the circles don’t connect, but are eve more separated. It came to mind when a question led me to think about the heartbreak of alienation that people all over the earth feel so personally, when they realize that are living in societies leading them into desperate troubles.
That was one of the common recognitions among the generation born after WWII, and the popular impetus for the “counter culture”. The sense everyone seemed to share was that the post war culture seemed like it would just repeat the same sort of horrible sequence of global catastrophes it had just experienced, and might learn nothing from it at all. That time lots was actually learned from the experience, of course. Only thirty years later, though, world society is clearly creating conditions for the same scale of mega-catastrophe for mankind again.
It helps to face the fact “we’re doing it again”.
We have an economy requiring everyone’s energetic cooperation, running into destabilizing limits in virtually every direction at once, with no offer of a solution but “try harder”… That’s a total formula for disaster. It helps to face the fact “we’re doing it again”. The “circle” today is ever more broken.
People keep making cultures and economies that spiral out of control. They abuse the love, cooperation and talents of their people, steering their lives toward performing tasks leading to great evil. But.. who is society but a consensus on common purposes? No one is “in change”. Still people somehow build great societies with all good intent, that contain an internal logic that is “broken”. Gradually over time we just notice them “spiraling ever further out of control”, each loop an ever further break from the past.
These aren’t metaphors, really. Growth is a spiral process. It physically builds upon the changes of to past to create ever greater changes in the future, diverging ever further from its prior path on every cycle. That we’re now losing control of it is generally felt. It’s also accurately observed in the “fishtailing” of over-corrections and panicked avoidance of terrible consequences, dodging the consequent failures of guesswork on which excess reliance was placed.
Economic planners are “shooting from the hip”, unsure what to do, because nothing is really working. The general progression is of events becoming ever more unmanageable. Having things spiral out of control is a very natural process, like some cosmic storm of misfortunes, that happens in environments. The error if there is one is our failing to notice it in time to reign it in, to make our “circle” unbroken again.
“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”→
Posts on this site preceding this one were transferred from my oldest blog, I called “Alongshot“, from its blogspot.com site. My main archive of blog posts is still at my original “Reading Nature’s Signals” blog, perhaps to be transferred at some point, and quite worth site searching for key words like this one for mentions of Keynes.
The move is really from one directory to another, on Synapse9.com, needed to upgrad the format to WordPress 3.1.3. The old blog site just got to be a problem.
My original systems physics research is still at The physics of happening, and scattered around Synapse9.com, along with my collections of images, reference libraries, introductions and writing .
My subjects and writing style, of course, will remain just as “primitive” (whether you saw that as a liability or benefit I leave to you) so the software upgrade won’t really change anything but the look and feel. ;-)
…is that after completing a really wonderful education combining physics and environmental design I did some independent research while living in Denver, and discovered a rather effective new method of physical science research. Continue reading What happened to wreck my life…→
A bit tongue in cheek about a serious subject. It’s following from my comment to Dot Earth about how all the climate mitigation plans do actually allow for a mysteriously silly expectation that reducing CO2 could be funded by an economy causing all other economic impacts to endlessly multiply.
Dateline: No York Times 5/12/10
Scientists admit to physical world
Scientists have finally admitted there might be a physical world, in addition to the existence of scientific theory, long used to explain the source of all information.
Despite there being no information to explain it, as theory is ample by itself, scientists admitted today that there was also no information to deny the popular notion that there might be a physical world. It “could be creating natural phenomena and not just our theory” Dr Hyper Foible said. Continue reading Scientists admit to physical world!→
It may appear that everything I’ve ever said before was foolish… or at least from a different point of view.
I still perhaps have some leftover habits from when I, like lots of other people, thought that showing other people how they were wrong might interest them in finding if I was right, and then look for a common understanding. I assumed I would someday find people whose sincerity in that way would be unquestionable. I thought I grew up with people like that. Continue reading Now I’ve grown up!→
Anyone in charge of almost any kind of organization, throwing a party, running a business, etc., will want it to build up to a point where it’s exciting, but not to where you loose control. You usually want things to approach the edge of stability, but not go over it to lose resilience. It’s fun, and in business, makes money and gets the most out of everyone.Perhaps the deep sort of common experience that explains it is playing with a water hose as a kid. The fun really begins when someone turns up the pressure and the person holding the nozzle at the time (usually one of the girls) gets scared and lets go. Continue reading Risky Play→
New systems science, how to care for natural uncontrolled systems in context