How can we get it right, when our underlying system of organizing our Thinking about the World is so badly flawed?

However, Complexity Economics may show a way.  Many of the network patterns it maps out for us to see is the same striking  visual map coming now from:  ecosystem spatial models,  agent interactions in information tech networks, and brain maps from neuroscience. 

 

Check this panel on Complexity Economics, which was attended by some extraordinary people.

 

http://ineteconomics.org/net/video/playlist/conference/bretton-woods/K

 

... and by the way, it occurred to me that early cultures' shape shifters have been "re-languaged" as uncertainty and innovation.  The Chacos' Fox Walker is just such a principle.

 

 

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The problem has to do with the differences between our information worlds and the physical world. 

 

Indigenous groups rely on folktales, legends, myths, and rituals as well-organized and structured models  to make sense of the complex physical world.   Even  their medical remedies make sense if scrutinized by science although they understand and process them differently.  We should learn from how  their cultures simplify complex systems through using or constructing models that are primarily influenced by the tangible and physical like their ecologies and bodies.   Some  modeling practices in social  science are  problematic as they are more theoretical  than actual or practical.

The "models" of indigenous peoples are a vital source of better ways to fit our perceptions to Nature's reality.  Those I have looked at are incredibly accurate in describing physical systems, because they had to live with them - not just visit, record, and return to NGO/government/university.  I am especially intrigued by their recognition of "uncertainty" by assigning it the role of shape shifter.

Would be fun to do a synthesis report on this.

 



M Izabel said:

The problem has to do with the differences between our information worlds and the physical world. 

 

Indigenous groups rely on folktales, legends, myths, and rituals as well-organized and structured models  to make sense of the complex physical world.   Even  their medical remedies make sense if scrutinized by science although they understand and process them differently.  We should learn from how  their cultures simplify complex systems through using or constructing models that are primarily influenced by the tangible and physical like their ecologies and bodies.   Some  modeling practices in social  science are  problematic as they are more theoretical  than actual or practical.

I agree it is often a matter of having people immersed in the complexities of a system, so they can appreciate how it works as a whole.  To me the issue is whether one's model ends up being faithful to nature or not, otherwise it doesn't give you meaningful choices.  

People immersed in the money system don't have any experience of the whole, though.   They generally see growth as a permanent condition that allows ever multiplying money, and consider the growing consumption of the natural world it comes with as "an externality".   In nature, the growth of living things is usually to grow something, though, starting small for building things up using organization and reaching a point of completion, like a plant or an ecology or a society, as nature's common exception to entropy. 

Do you see indigenous traditions or myths that distinguish between those?     One example of a fable about a growth process that couldn't be finished is Disney's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (YouTube video of original fyi), but there could be lots of other ways to tell stories about it, perhaps even some where the protagonist falls in the trap but then finds the secret of escape.  

"People immersed in the money system don't have any experience of the whole, though."

 

Isn't  it  the  case because  a system  is  composed of mini-systems or it is  a whole of mini-wholes?  I don't think all medicine men/women can philosophize, read stars, manipulate bones, concoct  herbal drinks, abort babies, or make poison.  Traditional  medicine is too vast and complex that there should be experts mastering  particular areas, and each area is a whole system in itself.     

 

Filipinos use "salawikain" or proverb/saying to simplify complex knowledge, language, and reasoning.  Usually it is a one-line statement expressed in rhymes and literary style.   It  is effective in explaining  convoluted ideas.  A good example is "Ako ang nagsaing, iba ang kumain" (I was the one who cooked, but  it  was they who ate).  It is used if someone seeks or talks  about fair treatment, just compensation, and acceptable reciprocity.  Instead of confronting someone with long  arguments, this short sentence is enough to express what's in his mind.   This is just an example for language. 

In our village, farmers and fisherfolks can read the color of the sky or the yellow of the sun and predict the day's weather, time, and tide.  If you ask questions how they do it,  their usual answers are long, complex, and  interconnected.  It seems to me they contain the complex dynamics of nature in what they simply see.  Modeling, as a process of knowledge production, also involves seeing and containing complex ideas.   

One of the most important element in understanding and managing complex systems is access to the whole.  Whether that whole is bounded by the planet, as in the global financial system or by a watershed or other physical entity, such as a mountain.

 

What matters is that there is connection between key people in the whole system - so that all parts are visible to everyone at nearly the same time.  This is why financial markets are continuing to fail at regular intervals - key players do not "see" the operating whole.  The triggers for collapse are usually invisible, although can be found in retrospect.

 

Indigenous systems are better at "seeing" the whole system - because if they don't they suffer, and so they shift boundaries or add watchers or tell new stories (update information systems).

Indigenous systems are better at "seeing" the whole system - because if they don't they suffer, and so they shift boundaries or add watchers or tell new stories (update information systems).

 

You are absolutely right.  The sense of community among  indigenous groups is so strong that exchanging ideas is their way of life.  To apply it  to the  system  of economic  knowledge, all  kinds of scholars who work on anything economic should be part of the community that shares economic ideas.  I  just think that  the  views  of  economic  anthropologists  are  as important as the calculations of econometricians.  

OK, so if you're able to think about how one thing in your world affects everything else, you're much less likely to overstep your bounds and you make fewer mistakes.   Sensing that you are unaware of your bounds is more difficult, though.   The trouble caused by succeeding with things beyond your ability to handle it is like that.   It's invisible to you because you aren't thinking of your main purpose as being a threat, even if it's always your biggest threat if you are unaware of how much you or your world can manage, and unable to sense the need to change.   

People using money don't seem aware that their environmental impacts are naturally going to be an equal share of the world total per dollar, on average, for example.  Those mostly are not the impacts you see, but the ones your money asks the world to do for you that you don't see, of course.   People just want more money, though, so think nothing of asking the world to do ever bigger and more complicated things for them.  If we don't see the scale of it we also don't see where it's going.   An economy that doubles in size every 20 years is doubling its impacts too, adding to the past total, and amount equal to the past total, every 20 years.    It's that basic physical proportionality between what we ask the world to do for us, and our ability to manage the complications that's just invisible for most people.  

To me The Sorcerer's Apprentice is about just that kind of run-away success becoming unmanageable, much like our culture's "amazing success" in conquering nature.   It's been a persistent obsession for western culture for 5000 years, I think, and now we're proving ourselves unable to deal with the complications of succeeding.    So far, having success beyond our ability to handle it is not being blamed, though.    From my view, that seems to always be what's actually happening in societal collapses, people sticking with their purposes till it causes their failure, not seeing the bend in the road.

Or seeing the bend in the road, being unable to make the turn. Inertia is a killer.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. has a nice image for this. The market is the world's most powerful economic engine. But if you want to build a safe car around it, you'll need brakes and a steering wheel and, best of all worlds, somebody smart in the driver's seat. 

Push the image just a bit, and you'll recognize the academic. He's the backseat driver. 

Yea, definitely, the emotional inertia created as any school of thought gets reality arranged just as it likes is truly tremendous.   Finding pleasure in moving from one point of view to another, looking at the world in different ways as the world itself changes, only helps a little with the problem.  Nature keeps changing how things we have no control of work, and so makes you look away from your interests, or you don't find what's the problem.   Like having a full tank and your foot on the gas really helps you get going, for example, but it's easy to forget you could take your foot off the gas as well, as the vehicle starts to spin out of control...  It's very hard to pay attention to everything, basically, and sometimes back seat drivers are the first to notice things.
Absolutely true. The unfortunate thing is that as long as back seat drivers stay in the back seat, they have no actual control over outcomes.
I think it's a matter of communication, and the problem that the listener reading their own questions into whatever they hear, making it quite hard for useful knowledge to spread from culture to culture, or level to level, or group to group.  It's not so much that having cellular designs are natural for the thinking of cultures and professions, but the panic response, the way "the driver" becomes desperately focused on the steering, shutting out everything else, when in a calm state of mind they would just take their foot off the gas.

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