Archive for June, 2011
For at least a hundred or so years, we’ve had a kind of science in the West that was very rigid and binary. Theories were almost written in stone. People spent decades studying things in private, mostly, before they ever were able to muster up the courage to share it with the world, and if it didn’t “pass the test” of the academic/political leaders of the scientific community, it wasn’t even allowed to be “published”. And if it was deemed agreeable enough to be published, it was published in a fairly private place, where only wealthy specialists were likely to read it (and maybe your mother). This privatization of science worked ok for some folks, and allowed people’s memetic children to get very well developed before being set free in the world. But it meant a lot of highly valuable information, ideas, and corrections got missed and dismissed. And it meant that scientists were pretty a lonely bunch.
Now, with the new media of rapid fire global interconnection, feedback, and diversity we have the opportunity to catch up with all that missing information, and let scientists feel like they are very much a part of the world.
The new kind of science will be an open discussion where all interested parties will be welcome to add their opinions, observations, and questions, at all levels of complexity, combining old ideas into entirely new and more brilliant ones. The new science will be a more feminine process, nurturing memetic children collaboratively, letting them be free to grow into whatever they need to grow into, and dramatically exceeding our wildest dreams of them!
The more masculine, private type science will still exist, as it’s obviously still valuable for some things, but the more public science will become mainstream, and will be where the most innovation emerges and flourishes.
Some people are naturally inclined to favor the democratic process in choosing what to personally believe. The more individual votes they get for a given idea, the more they believe it. These are the people who almost always look to their friends and family (second person) and/or “experts” (third person) to help them make decisions. Kids and younger adults are especially likely to prefer to learn this way.
Other people are naturally inclined to favor first hand knowledge in choosing what to personally believe. The more they have personally experienced something, the more they believe it. These are the people who almost always have to actively test things out for themselves (first person) and/or sit and think by themselves (fourth person) when making a decision (often coming to a conclusion that those around them think is bizarre). Babies and older adults are especially likely to want to learn this way.
A third set of people have a fairly balanced combination of the two approaches. They will consistently make decisions that waver dramatically depending on who they are with at the time.
The problem is that each set has very good reasons for thinking that the other sets are totally crazy and missing major information. For example, we all know that the democratic process can easily lead to cult-like brainwashing situations and fascist states, where people simply do are they are told, and don’t ever test ideas out for themselves. Both personal experience and social norms now confirm that the world isn’t flat, no matter how many people “voted” yes on the idea. On the other hand, optical illusions give us personal experience and social agreement that we also can easily be fooled by our own senses, so personal, first hand experience and intuition aren’t always totally reliable either. And the folks in the middle think that everyone else is crazy because they are so obsessed with one approach or the other, while everyone else sees these middle types as “waffling” all over the place. Which all means that it will take some extra effort to avoid conflict, and keep relationships going relatively smoothly, when you are organizing a group that includes all three different sets.
That extra effort might only need to be letting the different groups know that diversity is normal, and is generally even necessary for gathering all the most important data. Then you can help them be more aware of these three different kinds of “learning” processes that other people have. And finally, working with everyone, you can gather and present a collective pot of basic information about different personal experiences and social norms related to the group’s specific goal will help keep the group working well together, because then everyone can appreciate things from their own natural inclination of evidence gathering style.
Feel free to test this idea out for yourself, or check with others to see which of these categories they tend to work from and what approaches they’ve found useful for working with other people with diverse learning styles to see how true it is. :-)
When things get too large and complex they eventually come tumbling down. Governments all over the Western part of the planet are starting to fall as we speak. And when things fall apart, that means it’s an exceptional time to start from scratch, using all the things we’ve previously learned about how the world works. Iceland is right now rewriting it’s constitution, using the collective wisdom of the networked planet (And Time Magazine’s 2006 “Person of the Year”, YOU!), which has been scientifically shown to be the most effective problem solver known to humankind!
In light of this, I suggest a new constitution for government based on helping everyone meet Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’ very bottom (“deficiency”) cagegories…
I sometimes call this the Human Prime Directive. I’ve used it as the basis for my educational program Binikou, and I think of it as the the most effective and clear set of laws that any exceptionally healthy government or organization would choose to define for itself:
1. Ensure that all individuals have access to the basic input needs for physical health. Specifically, whole food, clean water, fresh air, comforting warmth, and healing light. (Maslow’s “physiological needs” category)
2. Ensure that all individuals have the option to choose from a variety of different kinds of outlets for the free expression of their physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual output needs. (Maslow’s “safety needs” category)
3. Provide the option of conflict mediation to all individuals, with the goal of mutually agreed upon win-win solutions. (a combination of Maslow’s “belongingess” and “esteem” categories, giving people the sense that their needs are important, and giving them ways to solve their problems)
No other laws allowed! Everything the government does must fit within these three categories, and everything that is within these categories the government must try to provide, without causing conflict (no force allowed, including no mandatory taxes, no non-voluntary prisons, and no mandatory “education”, etc.).
The idea is that once you remove synthetic, authoritarian control, and focus on providing individuals with the basics of what they need to be at their best (healthiest, mentally and physically), a healthy government will emerge, naturally, because everyone will be able to grow into a healthy “self-actualized” individual.
Our current government system is so very, very authoritarian, confused, and totally out of touch with nature/reality of what humans need that we have utter chaos and people operating well below their potential as they constantly struggle just to “make ends meet”. Simplifying government, and bringing it’s attention back to a scientific basis for serving human needs seems to the be way to go.
Consider the idea of quantity being about division – taking one thing and making it into smaller parts. And quality being about multiplication – taking two smaller things and combining them into one new, larger, the-whole-is-more-complex-than-its-parts thing.
The world needs you to do what you love, as much of the time as possible, whether it be taking excellent care of yourself, creating something, doing research, or solving problems. There is enough diversity out there in the animal kingdom for everyone to do what they love, and have all the necessary jobs of the planet filled. And filled with people who are at their best!
With love and gratitude for all the brave folks who dared to share their unique ideas with the world, and me! And an extra special place in my heart goes out to my husband, David Rodenhiser, my mom Ellie Budzko, my dad Jim Cronburg, my grandfathers Stanley Stevens and Walter Cronburg, as well as Terran Melconian, Bucky Fuller, Alan Watts, Byron Katie, Richard Bandler, and J.A. Scott Kelso and & David Engstrøm, the guys who came up with a very similar idea to mine, over at the Squiggle Sense.
In continuing to work on my personality map, I realized something highly intuitive, but not immediately obvious on an intellectual level. Given the four main categories of the levels of complexity of thought – first, second, third, and fourth person perspectives, also called physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual ways of thinking – and splitting them into just two sets (for a map with two axis), it turns out to be more useful to split them into
1. first and fourth
2. second and third
Why would this be? Perhaps because reality isn’t linear! :-) Reality is kind of triangular, according to Buckminster Fuller, at least when contracted into the most compact, interconnected individual unit (such as a single human self.) In 3D that’s a tetrahedron, and in 2D it’s a triangle.
So in the two dimensions that the personality map is using, three is the largest number of different points (small circles, essentially) that you can have where all of the different points are connected (immediately adjacent to one another). Think about three of the new US pennies (with their Captain America shields facing up, because we’re all superheroes now!), if you place them down on a table all sitting flat on the surface, and you pack them together as tightly as possible, it makes a triangle! In addition (literally), it happens to be physically impossible for you to add another penny to the set, and still have each penny touch every other penny. Unless… you put the fourth penny on top of one of the first three pennies. Of course, this means that you’ve broken into the third dimension a tiny bit, but since we are trying to compress a 3D personality into a 2D map, this stacking process works ideally for our purposes.
This all means that you can look at the levels of complexity of consciousness – physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual – which are all connected within the human brain, as a small, triangle-shaped spiral that folds over on itself, overlapping the fourth section onto the first section, like some kind of pointy ouroboros.
Then, we can divide the four elements of the self into two halves that are quantitively equal, but qualitatively different. The vertical pile of two “end” pennies/elements becomes one set, and the two middle pennies/elements becomes the other set.
So, first person physical and fourth person spiritual become the “internal” elements of the self, being accessed by the “un”conscious parts of the self (the more primitive levels of consciousness) as intuition. Physical awareness gives one access to the personal history of the body’s states through the body’s own senses, and then spiritual awareness gives one access to the evolutionary history of life itself via the body’s DNA. And then second person emotional and third person intellectual become the “external” elements of the self, being accessed by the (higher) conscious parts of the self using social interaction. Emotional awareness gives one the history of one’s closest companion using mirror neurons (which allow one to fairly accurately experience the same states as someone else one feels connected to). And intellectual awareness gives one access to the history of one’s closest social group (be it a small or large community) by combining data from different individuals within the group in the brain’s prefrontal cortex.
So internal focus is the level of motivation we have for openly expanding the ideas we have in our mind~body. On my map, the more we are enthusiastic about breaking our own deepest thoughts and feelings down into many different parts, the higher we will be placed on the y axis. The more we prefer to keep our thoughts and feelings simple and few in number, the lower we will be placed in the y axis. While external focus is the level of motivation we have for openly expanding our social interactions. The more we are enthusiastic about breaking up our social relationships into many different parts (people), the higher we will be placed on the x axis. And the more we prefer to keep our social interactions simple and few in number, the lower we will be placed on the x axis.
I’ve chosen to use my 2D map of the different general types of brain functions with three divisions for each axis because this way the map allows us to, if we want, sort the types of personalities into a quite manageable set of different categories, primarily for organizational purposes — teachers, organizational leaders, governments, etc. Of course you can always divide up each axis into as many segments as you want, and have as many axis as you want (as in the DSM, used by many psychologists), but having a three by three grid gives us the most amount of detail for the most fully understandable map that is mathematically possible in 2D. (It’s understood that the human brain has the capacity to keep in mind seven, plus or minus two, different ideas at the same time. So nine is the absolute max number of categories for humans to be able to think about at one time and still have a good awareness of them all successfully.
My map is also useful for individuals who want to see where they might best fit into society, based on their typical motivations. Each type is necessary for a fully functioning society, so no matter where one is in this map, they’re valuable! And when an individual has their physiological needs met (high quality food, water, air, warmth, light, and freedom of expression), they will be able to serve society well.
To get a closer look at the latest version of my personality map, click on the picture below…
Arthur M. Young was an astoundingly fascinating philosopher~engineer back in the mid to late 20th century who I very much appreciate. And one of the main ideas that he offered the world in his work on the Reflective Universe was that the levels of complexity~ability we see in things in our reality — from inanimate objects (minerals), to semi-animate objects (polymers), to animal life, to the highest level of complexity of animal life we are aware of (humans) — are defined by the number of degrees of freedom the thing has. The higher number of dimensions a thing is allowed, by physics, to move in, the more complex, and creative, it can be.
Humans are the first species to have the freedom to generally be able to “move” around in 4D space~time, due to our prefrontal cortex, and it’s vast capacity to think in depth about the past and the future. Other species might have some ability to move in time, but nothing to the extent of humans and their big ass foreheads, thus humans are more creative than any other Earthlings, or polymers, or minerals, for that matter, all of which are generally only able to move in 3D space, at most. We’ve even been creative enough to be able to see millions and even billions of years into the past using the technology of archeology and astronomy, so that we don’t even have to imagine it.
Of course, when we consider this, we realize that if creativity in adaptation and problem solving is what we are looking for in society, we need to remove as many of the roadblocks, and other limitations on humans’ freedom as possible. Humans need to know that they are not only encouraged to think about their past and possible future (and to especially focus on making note of the best quality things that serve us well), but to also be encouraged and supported in exploring the full three dimensions of space.
This means no more major limitations on the freedom of movement, north, south, east, west, up or down, for political reasons. Eliminate the national boundaries and remove political protections for excessively “private” property beyond a reasonable amount of personal space for living in. Because, when you think about it, humans often have far less spacial freedom than most other Earthlings, as society has allowed some people to “own” huge amounts of land and buildings for which they are socially permitted to intentionally harm other humans who might have reason to travel through it or us it temporarily, while other species, and all kinds of inanimate objects are often allowed free reign in these spaces. You might not be allowed to hang out in your neighbor’s back yard, but the bugs, birds, bacteria, and boron are all happily enjoying the space pretty much 24/7.
Total freedom isn’t possible, obviously, as some places aren’t suitable for human existence, and giving people at least a little space to “keep their stuff”, as George Carlin reminds us, is probably necessary for them to get their work done, but the more freedom we secure for humans, and other species, the more creative we will be able to be, as we increase our ability to understand the big wide world (and beyond) by exploring it, in all four dimensions, increasing both our physical freedom in space and our mental freedom in time.
The good news is that removing the majority of the physical space restrictions we’ve had up to now will be easy once we consider that they’ve been making us more like inanimate objects, and how they’ve been limiting our ability to be the best problem solvers possible given our brains. And removing any roadblocks we’ve had in our own minds that have stopped us from being able to truly be free to think about our past and future and all the most useful and awesome stuff we can find is even easier, as all that takes is the memory that the first step in putting a human on the moon was to think about it happening…
Turil: Over the course of the entire run of Doctor Who, what do you think has been the most valuable moral/message that the show has offered the world?
Neil Gaiman: You can think your way out of your difficulties.
This obviously isn’t exclusive to Doctor Who, but it’s definitely one of the primary memes that the show offers us.
The more evolved you are as a species, the more you can solve your problems by thinking about them (testing out different options in your head and picking the ones that seem to lead to the most useful results). Timelords may be more evolved than any other species in the universe, but there are other species, including humans, who can do it too, at least sometimes. :-)
I’d also include in Doctor Who’s most valuable memes the idea that curiosity leads to having an amazing life, that having too much power over others makes you dangerous, and that anyone can be a hero given a little support.
Try this out for size, eliminate mandatory income taxes, open up the government to donations of all kinds (monetary and more real resources of matter and energy, too) and then restructure public programs to have the following three categories:
A. Free to All – Services and products that are universally needed. Specifically, the physical inputs and outputs: food, water, shelter, human waste collection, freedom of movement/expression (like legal use of roads, public/shared communication technology, public land use) etc.). The things are all provided absolutely free for the asking, with no strings attached, for all Earthlings, to the best of the government’s ability. This category is the primary goal of all government: to serve the public’s core needs for health.
B. Partially Subsidized, with sliding scale fees based on ability to pay – Services and products that are highly beneficial to both individuals and society as a whole, in the sense of increasing people’s health and ability to do good work for the world, but that are not physically needed for normal healthy growth. For example: individualized education, high-speed public transportation, moderate-sized private housing, and slightly fancier technology gizmos such as personal computers and cell phones and such.
C. Full Price including the cost to society (generally equal to the amount of “profit” a for-profit company would charge) – Services and products that are not really beneficial to people, or which only temporarily benefit a small number of individuals. These would include private yachts, mansions, one of a kind artwork, fancy technology gizmos, personal training, etc.
Earnings from category C and B would go to fund the free or subsidized category B and A programs. Government programs would compete with the private industry and non-profit to provide these things to the public. Category C being where for-profit companies could really be able to be successful, since the profits would be about the same as the government’s “social costs”, though they might be able to compete well in category B for the wealthier folks. NGO’s might be equally successful in the B and A categories, and maybe even in the C category.
Also, all government costs could be paid in real goods and energy (volunteer work, valuable materials, socially useful information, etc.). No money would ever be necessary, but would still be legal as tender, too.
This approach increases the diversity and wealth of the economy, while serving the public’s needs most efficiently, while simultaneously increasing healthy competition in the marketplace.
A word means whatever you choose to believe it means. Words, and all other symbols, are subjective. At best, we can gather a group of individuals together who might be able to generally agree on a meaning for a definition. Dictionaries, legal codes, and glossaries are attempts to do that.
But when it comes down to it, a word means whatever someone thinks it means when they use it. And that changes dramatically, depending on pretty much every factor you can think of that has to do with relationships to all the different people, places, and other things in life. So it’s crucial to remember that when one person is using a word or other symbol, and that usage causes confusion and/or conflict, the very first thing to do is to ask what definitions people are using for the things they are saying.
Lack of communication, a major factor in most problems in relationships of any kind, can indeed still exist when people are openly and freely speaking to one another. Even if we are listening as intently as possible to one another, and believing with all our heart that we are understanding each others, we might not be speaking about the same things, at all.
This is why I’ve been working on a very simple system for categorizing things, based on math patterns. This way we can at least generally clarify the primary factors of an idea, without needing to speak each others’ personal internal dialect, or even the same language. Being able to cut through all the messiness of nuance, when we really need to for the sake of safety and health, seems like an extremely valuable goal. If anyone else is working on something like this (and I hope they are!), I’d love to hear about it.
I’ll post a more detailed explanation of this categorization process soon. But maybe you can simply figure it out from the diagram…
Metaphors, at their best, are actually physics patterns!
Everything is governed by the laws of nature/physics/God/reality (of which we humans only have a very small understanding, of course), so no matter how “soft” the science gets, even to the point of being highly emotional art and spirituality, it’s still all absolutely defined by a physics equation. That equation is very, very likely fractal.
Which is why one can look at a surfer being sucked under an ocean wave and liken it to a human living through the flow of a trauma in their social environment. The “metaphor” is just a more general pattern of the fractal, which appears at many different levels of the whole pattern, with only small differences in the details.
The metaphor — fractal pattern — holds up at a general level, and only breaks apart at the tiny details. Most of the time, in general, the mataphor/pattern will be useful enough for our needs, as long as we remember to leave some wiggle room on the edges for the unique little fractal bits to do their thing.