02/10/2016 5:00PM This post is very important and quite long (but shorter than a book). I have included dates, as it has emerged over 18 days. Also, it only attends to a very small (but important) part of our whole challenge. I wish I were able to construct an easily navigable, psychologically coherent and logically flowing narrative. Unfortunately, the Magnitude/Scope/Complexity of our emergent reality won’t submit to such naive treatment.
1/23/2016 2:54 PM At this moment my mind is overloaded with many ideas about our challenges and how the confusing distribution of Reality Contexts in the human population is blocking necessary actions. I start this essay, but my mind is so fuzzy with overload that I must lie down and return later.
1/23/2016 6:44 PM LATER. Everything anyone or any organization (org) does is in context with their internalized “reality” or “inner woven/constructed world”. Although we have no direct access to an “objective” reality, when “our” actions are in some “conflict” with “it”, our experiences are not as we expected, and we learn to modify our behavior. With the toppling of dominant Behaviorism in the 1960s by a resurgence of consciousness studies, we seem to have forgotten that conditioning remains the primary means by which organisms learn and change. We don’t usually find fault with our private reality; but rather, find excuses within our private reality to explain our lack of accurate forecasting. Humans, necessarily, must conserve their realities; we can’t change everything in response to each novelty. But the balance may be tipping and our traditional conservative stance is putting everyone and everything at risk.
1/23/2016 9:48 PM I propose that a smallish team of open-minded-persons explore the conjecture that the reason humankind is facing its Crisis-of-Crises is that the Anthropocene involves much more than what is usually listed as the pros and cons of the rise of human civilization. Of special importance are changes in the last century and accelerating during the past few decades. Reality isn’t what be believe it to be. This far from a new conjecture. In 1990 Walter Truett Anderson published Reality Isn’t What It Used to Be; I wish to take this claim up a few notches. Not only is the content of reality changing, but the “nature of the nature of reality” is finally raising its head.
Most conjectures under this title are about how new knowledge or innovation in some domain has resulted in a shift in worldviews and human behavior (e.g, pre-modern, modern, post-modern, post-post-modern – as one mapping, using “modern” as the baseline). Human history is a long narrative of changes in the distribution of different realities in different populations. There are continuing debates between competing conceptions of reality and beliefs about reality.
- Each human experiences and behaves within a different reality, which changes as they age.
- Humankind, at any time, is a distribution of many “cultural realities”.
My conjecture is of a different kind. I propose that our best scientific knowledge about how humans function, learn, organize, and change is but a surface caricature of a much deeper reality. And, that every project or movement to improve humankind (and now to survive/thrive) being based on this best knowledge, is grossly inadequate – resulting in failures in the overall improvement of humankind’s emergence. Everything we do is dependent on the accuracy of the context or reality within which we think and act. We have no problem with this assertion applied to those populations who believe in realities quite different from our own (e.g., ISIS, Tea Party, Racists, psychopaths, etc.). We KNOW they are “quite wrong”; but we also claim to KNOW that our reality is “nearly right”.
I am not calling for a balanced relativity of realities. Some realities are empirically far more accurate than others, in those domains that can be scientifically evaluated. I claim that the BEST of our contemporary views of reality and how it is changing may be missing domains of extreme importance – if humankind is to change in very significant ways to transcend our Crisis-of-Crises.
What if we all continued to believe that the Earth was flat, or that it was created only a few millennia ago? What if men believed that they were biologically superior to women, who were primarily structured only to serve men and birth/nurture children? What if we believed that peoples radically different from us in appearance or behavior were inferior, or dangerous, and must be controlled or eliminated? There are persons alive today who literally believe in these realities. It is more, they actually LIVE IN A WORLD where what they believe IS THE REALITY. The “structure of knowledge” in their brains, which is the context for all their experience and behavior, supports that reality. And, for most, there are defense mechanisms that protect that reality structure (in their brains) from being changed by simple informing; and their social systems usually reinforce those realities. We, enlightened and change agent activists, are well aware that many of the believed realities of these other humans are both wrong and dangerous (to us and our way-of-life).
What if everything our BEST are proposing to do won’t be enough to save us, even if they achieve their OBJECTIVES – because their GOALS (consequences of achieving many different objectives) are equivalent to attempting to create a perpetual motion machine. What if there are psych/social/societal/cultural LAWS, that we are yet unaware of, that make the GOALS following the achievement of our project OBJECTIVES impossible? Are there aspects of reality that we haven’t yet discovered, critical concepts MISSING, that are critical to our survival/thrival? Are there other actions we should be taking to insure that achieving our objectives will result in the reality of our goals manifesting?
Actually, there is one such law, known to a few for many decades. It is but one of many missing themes I suggest we explore. It has been known by some persons for decades, but not known or accepted by most decision-makers. I speak of the Second Law of Cybernetics, The Law of Requisite Variety. Simply stated: if you have a system with N independent variables, to “control” that system you need N levers to manipulate, and in special patterns. The number of independent variables in our societal systems far, far exceed the leverages leaders have available, let alone competency in applying those levers. Fortunately, there are ways to navigate around this law, but it requires knowledge of cybernetics and much more – knowledge humankind doesn’t yet possess – nor is seeking.
1/24/2016 4:02 PM Today I had the insight that the above insight is META – it ties together many previous insights over many decades. It answers the question, WHY IS HUMANKIND IN SUCH A MESS, AND WHY DO WE SEEM UNABLE TO DO WHAT IS NEEDED? The answer is: HUMANKIND DOESN’T ACCURATELY COMPREHEND ITSELF. As a consequence, all activity taken to improve, and now to survive – as a whole – have failed. There have been a great multitude of success and gains, and if we sum up only these, we believe in human progress.
Although our “Big Pictures” have become much bigger (and not really “pictures”), as a comprehensive story/theory it remains incomplete and dangerously inaccurate.
In analogy to solving problems or creating visions, we are successful only when the problems or visions fit sufficiently with “objective reality” (which we can’t directly experience or know absolutely); so that our actions approximate enough that we succeed, not fail. We don’t attempt to make perpetual motion machines or plan actions that violate well confirmed scientific laws of physical and biological systems. Some humans are not yet familiar with these laws, and may attempt to violate them, and fail. Some of us have adequately comprehended physical and biological realities so as to have created the continuing, multi-millennial technological evolution of physical and biological infrastructures. This we define as progress, with the collateral damage of millennia of pain and suffering of many humans, and now the realization that we are severely damaging our home planet. Has this “progress” been worth it?
These successes have blinded humankind to the gross inadequacy of our COMPREHENSIVE knowledge about systems where human persons are the primary components. I am not criticizing our knowledge in the human sciences: psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, aesthetics, philosophy, etc. For a number of reasons, some of which I will cite soon, this quality knowledge hasn’t coalesced or integrated as has the knowledge of physics, chemistry, and biology. We are not adequately aware of this lack of integration and thus have a severely unsound foundation on which to base activities related to the organization and learning of humans – in situations of great MSC (Magnitude/Scope/Complexity).
- 1/31/2016 11:36 PM It has been pointed out that the human sciences aren’t “soft” (as compared with the “hard” sciences of physics), but are the “difficult” sciences, as human systems are far more complex. And yet we continue to use the findings of human sciences without concern that they may be wrong in very significant ways. We simplify them and then apply laws borrowed by analogy from the physical and biological sciences, assuming their validity.
- It would be like applying the laws of classical physics to systems moving (changing rapidly) near the velocity of light or to very small (hypothetical) entities (e.g., quarks) without realizing that our classical laws won’t apply. However, in our case, assuming that laws for small communities also work for large societal systems: cities, corporations, nations, and civilizations can be dangerous.
- In physics, all electrons are basically alike, as are atoms, molecules, biological cell and organs. There are variations, in energy levels or details, but our science works with norms and variations from norms. This may not apply for humankind as a whole, or large populations. DIVERSITY may be a fundamental characteristic of systems with humans as components. As “quantum weirdness” is observed (weird as compared with the classical, sensory observational world), in human systems we may encounter “societal weirdness”.
One of the blocks to the needed synthesis of the human sciences is the questionable assumption that human systems must follow the same laws of non-human systems; even if they are more MSC. We don’t SCIENTIFICALLY explore whether human systems may have some fundamentally unique aspects, that sharply distinguishes us from all other life. All our human traits are believed to have their roots in our primate and mammalian ancestors. Our language, we believe, has evolved from animal signalling. True, there are many emergent features of humans, but most believe them to have resulted from the same evolutionary forces at play throughout the long life of Gaia. Human evolutionary emergence is not viewed as qualitatively different from the emergence of vertebrates, mammals, primates, or even the emergence of multi-celled organisms. Humans may be the start of a new evolutionary taxon, order or even class (should we survive). Many humans do assume fundamental human uniqueness (e.g. children of god, with afterlives) – in ways that are not scientifically valid.
- Persons of this persuasion will claim that science doesn’t have a claim on truth, over faith. Indeed, that population is growing at this time. They claim a superiority of faith-based over evidence-based knowledge (or at least an equal parity). That this dilemma can’t be easily resolved by human processes points to how human systems are different from all other systems in the universe. The convoluted regression involves my need of faith to accept the superiority of evidence-based knowledge over simple faith-based knowledge. Even, the survival/thrival or collapse/extinction of humankind won’t be a valid test of the superiority of faith- vs evidence- based knowledge. This may be THE ultimate conflict, a post-modern version of the Good vs Evil conflict.
- Personally, my own FAITH in the awesome potential and beauty of humankind and the even more awesome magnificence of Gaia (in all its detail, from the evolution & molecular dynamics of biological cells, through the body/brain physiological splendor of mammals, to the integrated, ecological wonder of biomes and the whole of Gaia) makes me confident to believe in the COSMIC story emergent – forecasting the eventual success of an UPLIFT (of the distribution of cognitive competencies in the global human population) through Societal Metamorphosis to a radically nu reality featuring an integrated HUMANITY/GAIA – with a shinning bright multi-millennial future. This can’t really complete with the creation-endgame myths of religions.
This is not a new VIEW of the human story, as it can’t be comprehended visually. Indeed it can’t be consciously experienced or encapsulated in any experiential gestalt. Our “takes on reality”, from abstract-conceptual to perceptually-experiential, are illusionary. YET, this statement itself, your perception of it and what it may “mean” to you – muddles the logical waters. REALITY ISN’T LINEAR; yet small “parts” can be subjected to logical analysis. If you try to focus on some “context”, it become “figure” (contrasted with a new contextual ground). “This is an infinite regress” – but that statement itself depends on hidden context. This situation is fully OK. We don’t need the delusional security of a simple, fixed reality – even though we may have been pushed to such a belief.
- We can make an analogy between logic and geometry. Curvature violates Linearity. Although General Relativity works with curved space-time, at the infinitesimally small local space-time moment-place, the geometry is assumed to be linear/flat. Because our linear logic works in one application after another, we cannot claim that it will work when we scale upwards from question/answer, thru problem/solution to problemateque/solutionateque (which may not follow linear logics).
In terms of our best scientific knowledge, humankind (with our languages, ethics, and aesthetics) is a very, very young (if not embryonic – in analogy) species. I will propose later that humankind contains significant attributes that distinguishes it from all other systems in our known universe. That, in a totally different way, the uniqueness of humankind may be very “real”, but radically different from the belief used by many religions to excuse their actions, making all of nature a resource to exploit. One other, minor but possibly significant fact, is that humankind is the first multi-celled organism to be truly planetary. I recently read a (possibly true) factoid: 98% of the planetary biomass of terrestrial vertebrates are humans, their pets and livestock. Yet, as shocking as the magnitude of impact humankind has had on Gaia, this is not what makes us unique; it is – however, a consequence of our not properly attending to our uniqueness.
What we conceptualize as “Human Nature” (including how humans change) differs between the many cultures and other population groupings, globally. Each believes their view/conception correct and real, while others are wrong and unreal. Even among the higher educated and science accepting groups there are considerable differences in what they believe humans to be and how they change. Changes of this can also be traced throughout history.
I suggest, as a crude comparison, that when our knowledge of human systems becomes as scientifically valid as our current knowledge of non-human systems, it will be as today compared with the fire-air-earth-water and geocentric-wandering stars models of the ancient Greeks. Actually, the comparison is not proper, because we do have a great many knowledge fragments about human systems, that if massaged and synergized, would give us a good start on formulating a better comprehension of ourselves – enough to insure our survival/thrival. Our immediate challenge is to discover what is blocking a “coming together”, forming a new synergy and discovering what more may be needed to catalyze this synergizing into reality.
Partial and seriously flawed models of human nature have, however, been quite useful in enabling power elites to gain and maintain power. Also, some partial models of human nature have given some persons the ability to manipulate other persons. [I am currently listening to a bio of Charles Manson, and how the ideas of Dale Carnegie and L. Ron Hubbard improved his ability to control the lives of many. Why others can be so controlled is as important to know, as why persons like Manson seek to control others.]
The human gene pool may have more variety than any other species (a diversity I will explore later) and different environments can mold these varied propensities into even more varied developmental configurations. Human groups socially/culturally evolve into varied semi-stable configurations – without an viably organized application of adequate knowledge of human nature. Wild animals don’t apply “knowledge of their nature” when facilitating their development; rather it is their “nature” that (we hypothesize) results in their development (as individual organisms and social groupings in diverse environments).
Yet, probably from the moment the NEW HUMAN BRAIN emerged (a story yet to be confirmed) some humans attempted to apply their (limited) knowledge about human behavior to organize social systems, and later societal systems. The Prince, by Machiavelli (possibly Larry’s DNA ancestor), is claimed to be he first codification for applications of power, advice to the elite. Contemporary, mathematical economics makes very clear assumptions about human motivation, that are also known to be false – yet they continue to be applied. So-called experts of human nature consult with corporations, governments, militaries, and other human organizations – their advice sometimes works (partly), but often doesn’t. Therapists attempt to apply their varied models of human nature in treating clients. Parents and other educators apply their models of human nature on their children and students. Everyone attempts to apply their models of human nature on everyone else, and on themselves. Yet, we are far, far from any consensus about “human nature”.
That we often encounter stability and that everything isn’t always collapsing or flying apart, informs us that some of our knowledge is partly correct. There is a partial mapping of contemporary knowledge (of human systems) on the “objective reality we encounter”. That human history is what it is, and that we today face serious challenges, should inform us that this knowledge of human nature has been and continues to be quite inadequate – for the whole. Unfortunately, we prefer to REINTERPRET THE DATA TO SAVE THE THEORY (the early method of science in ancient times). Many prefer to believe that most humans are simply too stupid, or too easily influenced and controlled – or they are too stubborn and uncontrollable. We seek special factors or conditions to blame; but we never query the accuracy of our theories/beliefs about human nature – we even ignore that we have many, conflicting theories/beliefs about human nature.
Or, some persons simply throw up their hands and claim that humans are so basically screwed up that they are unlikely to survive.
Consider one example. It is scientifically accepted, that a global, radical change of the behavior of 90% of all humans – that will enable a peaceful and sustainable humankind to emerge with knowledgeable and voluntary participation – will take a very long time. Such changes have always taken a long time. Cultural evolution is always very slow. Some non-scientific belief systems do believe in radical conversion. Those who remain optimistic must believe that we can somehow make fundamental changes, quickly, without needing to uplift 90% of the global population to the requisite competencies for knowledgeable and voluntary participation. They assume that the masses can be educated to not be violent and conditioned to perform well in societal systems created by the enlightened minority. Optimistic activists, if challenged to provide a possible strategy to achieve this (changing the minds of the elites and herding the masses into compliance for peace and prosperity), they go blank. This query is in their collective blindspots. This may seem harsh, but I challenge you to point to an evidence-based dialog that even acknowledges this challenge. There are no scientifically based scenarios for positive endgames.
- The 2016 USA election Theater of the Absurd is direct evidence of the failure of Electoral Democracy. Our Constitution was designed to keep privileged elites having power over laboring masses. Amendments opened new pathways to being a member of the elite (now shrinking). The Tofflers in Future Shock pointed out the great inferiority of batch-process-influence (elections) on decision-making over continuous-process-influence on decision-making (lobbying and electoral manipulation through campaign financing). It appears that criticizing the adequacy of our sacred constitution is either a conscious taboo or in the blindspot of most Americans. The ideals (real intent) of “democracy” demands a knowledge based, competent electorate. From progressives to reactionaries (liberals and conservatives are in the middle), they all want limited government. They differ only on the degree and kind of limitations. Being a high school valedictorian in the best US public and private school doesn’t automatically equip that person to be a competent citizen in a truly democratic society. Almost all higher educated persons blindly accept our so-called “democracy-in-theory” as being ideal (no need to create a new one), and many appear open to accept the increasing sabotage of even this weak system.
I acknowledge that there are many highly competent and well organized (as compared to contemporary standards) populations of persons engaged in high quality work on (possibly major) social/societal projects as components of a “successful transition to survival/thrival”. None, however – to my knowledge – are even willing to consider the need to sketch/explore how it might all come together – in the short time required. They don’t refuse, the need is ignored – to retain sanity this challenge must be shifted to their blindspot. I speculate that a few activists who have faced this challenge emotionally, have suicided.
I conjecture that I, Larry/nuet, is able to face this challenge because I lack mental imagery in all sensory modalities and am unable to trigger the emotions associated with human extinction. Also, because I am able to confront this challenge, I believe I have discovered a solutionateque to our critical problemateque.
Another important feature of our attempt to bring new order to humankind (and to slow the accelerating slide into destructive disorder) is that we often don’t or can’t apply the knowledge we do have. Even the best knowledge we activists do have about human systems is not applied by primary decision makers (most who are unaware of all but small bits of this new knowledge). To a lesser extent, this relevant knowledge is not applied by change activists. Consider a few examples. 1/24/2016 11:50 PM
1) Informing is a weak means to change human beliefs and behaviors, a fact well known to most, yet informing (even in social media dialog) remains the almost exclusive mode of activity.
2) The vast cognitive diversity of humans, although sometimes acknowledged, appears too difficult to apply. Yet, it may be essential and our new intelligent technology may enable us to better personalize human interactivity, accounting for significant individual differences.
3) Innovative practices seldom spread to mainstream on their own merits. A few may “go viral” by accident, and a few may be given intelligent promotion. But most simply wait for osmosis to distribute, which never comes. The exemplar for this is the food localization movement. Food issues, themselves, cannot be the primary motivator for the majority – unless they are starving, and then they are unable to be rational.
[Chaos, the font of order, is fundamentally distinct from disorder. The present awesome abundance of new knowledge, comprehension, and wisdom bubbling up in contemporary humankind is this fertile chaos. However, it is being blocked from emerging to new order by both the old order and the increasing disorder.]
1/25/2016 1:46 PM I begin to reread what I have written, and will make edits and probably some insertions. I will not yet attempt to compose a coherent document.
1/25/2016 3:03 PM After reading and minor editing, I am concerned that what I have written is not well done, although the ideas – to me – remain sound. At this moment I am at a loss for what to do. I realize that my initial statement, above, “I propose that a smallish team of open-minded-persons explore the conjecture that the reason humankind is facing its Crisis-of-Crises is that the Anthropocene involves much more than what is usually listed as the pros and cons of the rise of human civilization” has yet to be addressed.
2/10/2016 4:21 PM Sixteen days later, after reading again, I feel that each part is OK, but I have no idea how others will perceive this, if they take the time and concentration to study it all.
3/23/2016 3:51PM Another read. Forgot much I had written, but recognize the progression. The key points may be hidden in the verbage.
This has been very frustrating composing. My new computer came with Win10, which has bugs with every app. With WordPress it is inconsistent with paragraph spacing and indentation. If you know of any class actions against Microsoft, pleas inform me.