Some 32 years ago, Prof. Stephan Berko of Brandeis University introduced his Quantum Mechanics course with the following question: “Why do we know that there is a law of conservation of energy (or more generally, ‘mass’ – combined matter and energy)?” After patiently listening to my class’s answers, he responded that they were all wrong. “We do not know logically that there is such a law, rather we perceive the same pattern repeatedly, so we assume such a law.” It was a seminal insight.
The “theory of everything” or TOE remains a myth even as the ever-growing plethora of multidimensional “string” models in physics vie for this holy grail. Even where predicting aspects of perceived reality beyond those upon which it was predicated, a TOE certainly doesn’t account for itself. It is claimed that the “ultimately” refined “true” TOE will be shown to require itself. A physical object turned in a complete circle will come back into itself, a cleverly constructed circular logic would do the same for a TOE. It would be worse than meaningless, however, as now that circular logic created would need explanation by the TOE. Further, the notion that translating perception into theorem creates any new information at all, much less complete knowledge, is plain wrong. [Even in pure mathematics! – see Gregory Chaitin’s “Omega and why maths has no TOEs,” at: http://plus.maths.org/issue37/features/omega/]
No theory could deal with “Everything” unless it contained it, and only Infinity itself can do this. Why Infinity? -- Because anything contained in “Everything”, has a definition. This means a specified finiteness -- a boundary between that which it is, and that which it is not (everything else – or in the case of “Everything” itself, anything but the All). Infinity, on the other hand, has no definition, no boundaries, no rules, and so no exclusions. There can be no laws of chance, no laws of causality, but therefore, certainly no TOE.
Economists and there measures are great for evaluating a huge amount of data statistically and applying some general course corrections. Once upon a time...
It was like in a 2D PACMAN game -- where are the ghosts, where is the food -- okay, go forward and turn right at the next corner and eat -- then we'll reassess. Milton Friedman and his like were masters of the game.
Today, we are like people escaping a flame and smoke engulfed building, and hoping to make it to a new one with a brighter future.
Opening our eyes for a split second to examine the diffused light in the smoke and judge whether to turn right or left, then shutting them for a bit because of the sting -- were we to depend only on that -- would surely doom us.
Rather our legs inform us that there is a chair in front of us, walk along its perimeter and don't trip! Our hands find a doorknob for us, and later the banister of the stairwell. The left side of our face feels the more intense heat and warns us to look towards the right for means of escape. Our lungs warn us that its time to get down and crawl for a bit.
We get vast continuous feedback leading to a continuous, complex varied movement which securely takes us out of the chocking pale red darkness out into the clear blue sky and life.
So it is where our oh so global world finds itself today. Like our whole bodies, the world must become involved -- through a sense of mutual responsibility, through round tables, through listening with an open ear, and speaking with an honestly concerned mouth.
The methods to become this type of society through integral education and media environment stand before us. There is a window of opportunity beginning from when the smoke alarms go off, until we pass out from smoke inhalation. There is still time, lets start using it wisely.
If something always fails to address a problem (or makes it work), and you continue to do it, either you are insane, you enjoy failure, or you are out of ideas and desperate. Assuming it is the last, then what we desperately need here is a paradigm shift.
The scenario is: we have this huge ecological problem (among others of hardly less import) in supporting our present level of production/consumption, and we see don't seem to have a workable solution to permit continuation of this present level.
Let's break a bit of a taboo block on creativity here and start thinking, maybe we could massively lower production and consumption. We could start with needless duplication of product and negative competition, designed obsolescence rather than design for optimum whole life, media creation of artificial needs, and so forth. This alone would solve 90%+ of the problem. In fact, this may bring us within the natural healing capacity of the planet and it might not be necessary to do anything else.
We really need to realize, as Prof. Lomborg seems to wisely point out, is that such keep- the-(needless)-party-going schemes are providing simplistic linear models into a vastly complex, nonlinear, interdependent reality. The names of this game is entropy under the rug, chaos, or Murphy's law. But anyway you slice it, certainly anything that you don't know about, can go wrong and WILL go wrong. And there is plenty we don't know about, on so many levels, till we find out again the empirical hard way.
And if we keep doing this, the we best all go out and buy 7 billion shirts that say "I with Stupid."
"If we stopped running around like headless chickens"
-- And if only that just got us nowhere! Unfortunately this implies the statistics of a "drunkard's walk." To clarify, we should inspect that we are making the situation more confused -- just plain worse -- per approximately the square root of the number of steps we totally take multiplied by the average change in the situation caused by such a step.
-- And yes, indeed, I'd imagine myself as a heart patient with a choice between brand NOW and brand HOPE pacemakers.
Brand NOW consists of a bunch of independent single-transistors pulse circuits spraying my heart with a barrage of small, randomly interspersed electric pulses.
Brand HOPE, on the other hand is a single integrated circuit with complete sensory input to my heart's surface beat pattern and reacts in real-time with a well-balanced complementary pulse pattern, synchronized in both space and time with just the right power.
I am reminded here of a particularly poignant political cartoon from a few years ago. There is a godzilla- esque fire breathing monster labeled "Big Business" destroying a city. A man at a window of one of the still-surviving building looks out into the distance and seeing the approach of an identical monster destroying everything marked "Big Government" approaching in the distance, cries out in joy to a woman in another window, "Thank Heaven -- help is on the way!" With the corruption of any power oligarchy at the helm, switching direction or remaining on one, continues to be at best a drunkards walk ever further from hope. We must change basic human relations at every level to one of mutual responsibility -- through basic integral education to a media campaign of altering societal values (the media can sell anything -- even this...). I recall in late 1973 or early 1974, seeing at a grocery checkout one of these small hype tabloids of "questionable" reliability stating that through hypnosis, Bud Abbott (of the Abbott & Costello comedy team) had determined that his tumors were benign. This may have given him some kind of confidence or hope, but in any case in died in April of 1974. And I can't help thinking, where is this tabloid any worse than the most respect paper and journals that blithely offer the confident predictions and approaches of economic and political pundits. Shall we do something real before our "April" -- or shall we learn the hard way on just what the flowers shall be blooming in May...