Help for reading the design and behavior of your animated world.  

In a nut shell,

 Why is it natural to find reality confusing?

5/20/11 A simple place to start is with how easy it is to become confused if you define the complex world within and around us as your beliefs.   Beliefs and cognitive structures, made of feelings and logic, combining information with personal and cultural values.   That's very different from how physical world is organized and operates, by complex processes that use organization and energy to connect their parts,  rather than theory.   So it's naturally confusing when people define that complex physical world in terms of their rationalizations... obviously, but we do it all the time and seem not to have matured to the point of being able to tell the difference between imagined and observed realities.   That's a craft most people don't seem to realize needs to be learned to keep things straight.

To get your own beliefs to fit the independent natural forms of the physical world we within us and around us, we'd need to suspend belief often enough, and let them drift toward a comfortable fit with the natural world you are experiencing, and specifically NOT define the reality of your experience as a mental construct.   It's not so hard to do, but takes some learning to tell when you're not.   I'm not sure it's the only way, but a very productive one is to closely watch things of nature over which you can confidently say neither you nor anyone else could have control.   

The most fruitful category of things like that seems to be the working units of nature that are organized and animated from the inside, that outside forces can only disrupt perhaps, but behave by their own internal complex  organization.   The easiest starting point for learning to watch how things work from their inside and out of your control is watching them start up, their growth process by which they emerge and new system individuals.    Organisms, cultures, businesses, economies, ecologies, storms, and lots of other stuff, all are identifiable as cells of internal energetic organization, "alien beings" of a sort in that they're alien to how we work internally ourselves. 

Being out of both an observer's and their own environment's control, having behavior purely of their own, the way to think about them is to teach your mind to give in to them.   You let your curiosity yield to their shapes and behaviors, hoping they teach you what they are up to.    It's like the mystery of watching your own children to try to discover what makes them tick, or the inexplicable way your office environment works, as well as for understanding the dynamics of economies and communities and things, or the weather.    As you get the knack, the "communication channel" from "alien being" to mental picture becomes fairly fluid, and you find you're no longer looking at a world made only of your own self-images.  

As you get to a point where your mind gives in entirely, and just drops its preconceptions to simply open up to trust what it is observing, you come to realizations "Ah ha!!! I see how that works!", time an again,  and find that confirmable by the mutual observations of others.

 where you find our world
or people to deal with natural systems they first need to locate them, and then refer to them in nature as their subjects of discussion, rather than to their beliefs about the natural world as their subject, making nature the subject not debate.     Natural systems are energetic networks that work by themselves, using energy to grow out of  their own environments by their own self-organizing growth process.    Because they develop by themselves, their organization is inside them, where it is mostly not observable.    So the trick is to read the implications of the fairly sketchy information available.    The discipline is then not to just find the best answers for your questions you can, but to find questions for which you can have clear and confident answers.   Much more progress is made that way.

         So there's "method to the madness" of reading the animated behavior of natural systems.    Their internal organization is their version of natural laws, the mechanisms of how they work,  and a language that is naturally foreign to an outside observer.   You slowly build up an understanding with observation and reasoning.   If the system is a business or a social culture, one might 1) propose a change of state that might occur for it, good or bad, 2) think of what events might interrupt the current state  3) to initiate a self-reinforcing process that would then 4) change to become a self-limiting process, and 5) lead to the establishment of the new end state, to complete the change.  

         That's a simplified model of "emergence", or “punctuated equilibrium”, for environmental systems, first getting things started and then getting them finished.    Any project you do, even just making dinner, has to begin with getting things started and end by getting them finished, defining a "punctuated equilibrium", and what you pay attention to is what creates the necessary sequence of events.

 what's wrong with our world
P. F. Henshaw  12/01/10  12/7

People get into trouble with believing the stories we make up for ourselves, that consciousness presents to us as fact.    If we get attached to our stories we find it hard to change them as new facts have to be added, because it's embarrassing.     To change that we'd need to stop being embarrassed about asking the "dumb questions" about things left unexplained.   Our hesitancy to question "the story" of the hour or day seems to be what allows a world of interesting and caring people, as individuals, to develop so many ideologies that so sharply conflict with each other and with nature of our world we live in.  It's quite hard to get to the truth when people are embarrassed to mention it, so be become socially committed to lots of convicting stories.

What let's people ask obvious questions without embarrassment is mostly internal, but obviously made worse by social pressure or simple questions avoided for embarrassment becoming increasingly embarrassing.   What helps makes sense of why important truths can be naturally embarrassing is realizing we have "two realities", both material and mental worlds that operate quite differently, though our minds effectively try to hide the depth of our ignorance about the complex natural world from us.   That leaves us trying to explain nature as revolving around our minds, a constant source of great embarrassment, I think.  

Our perceptions work by our thoughts and feelings, but nature works by continuities we don't see.   They clearly work differently from how we think though, so both are quite real.   Healing that separation seems to begin with seeing it as an active learning process of remaking our "maps" for life as being what makes them true.   Just as our social patterns are constantly changing, so are the material processes of nature.   If we don't notice when they are diverging then everything we think we know starts being only self-justifying and so untrue.  

So... A compact way to say what's happening is that this split between our two realities, having been neglected, is growing ever wider and now to the point of driving the world mad, for three fairly obvious reasons: 

  1. We've changed the world so much many of our old stories no longer make sense for how to live on earth 
  2. All our financial, government and business institutions are designed around a story of everyone benefiting from endlessly faster expansion and  change in how we use the earth, making problem  #1 far worse.
  3. Together #1 & #2 are causing a "multiplication of languages" for how the world does or should work, that conflict with each other and make coherently responding to change impossible.
  4. So... though people generally find themselves and others, individually, to be never more congenial and caring, all over the world, we now find our group ideologies diverging to become great self-defeating conflicts over how to use the planet.

What I found is a new scientific method for closely watching what I don't know about nature's true stories, watching them change.   It helps a learning process to see what you're missing, but doesn't do the cultural work of understanding what change in nature and ourselves means to us.   It only lets you see things happening that evidently are being overlooked.    If you're not embarrassed by the natural world behaving differently from our explanations, seeing it raises good questions about it might mean to us, so people's new stories can better fit the changing reality of how to live on earth.

Two of the most widely believed principles of "how to get along" that once worked in the past but are now rapidly undoing our chances of survival as a complex society on a verdant earth are:

  1. the belief in using investment to multiply investments.  Investment is what continually remakes the shape of economies, and doing so ever bigger and faster is directly creating "a train wreck" of conflicting and confused interests all over the world.
  2. the belief that improving profits with efficiencies creates resources for the future, when the actual effect is to accelerate #1 and the rate of resource depletion instead.

Where does that leave us?   With questions that we shouldn't be embarrassed to ask.     Where this challenge to us comes to an "end" is with a world culture that keeps creatively changing, if it survives, but it might not given the circumstance of extreme overshoot.   Cultures and economies would continue to experiment with new ways to live and use the earth, ...but in balance with our capabilities and nature's. Otherwise, continuing to go ever further out of balance, human culture would unavoidably "lose it" both mentally and physically.

History seems to show that lots of other complex societies have fallen prey to this same trap and not survived.

- see also: What Wandering Minds Need to Know, read the Natural Economies posts here, or search my site for discussions, like on the part of this that Keynes noticed.

 how my research method works
P. F. Henshaw  12/1/10   This page is good, but needs updating with some of the findings in the papers at the top of my publications list

11/28/09 - physical science applications Physics of Happening  - general introduction to methods Natural Systems Science 

It can be confusing to ask unfamiliar questions, discover new subjects to discuss.  As with learning a new language, even if everyone has the exact same personal experiences to refer it may take a while to see how to.    I only say that because the ideas are unconventional enough that referring to things simply in my way seems very unclear when read with conventional expectations.   

A good part of that comes from my interest in uncontrolled systems, and the need for new language to make up for the deficit created by science having been mainly built around the study of controlled systems.     Systems with their own independent organization (a business or organism or anything like that) can't be controlled by their environmental pressures, as those pressures are relatively very simple and the internal organization of self-organized and self-animating systems tend to be quite complex, complex beyond representation in fact.   We say the environmental pressures are of "inadequate variety" to control the internal designs and behavior, so I call them “uncontrolled”.  

I represent uncontrolled systems almost simplistically, though, with a single measure traced over time.  It's a simple technique for referring to their natural development phases and and successions (like forest successions or other things).   It's recognizing that series of changing forms of organization that uncontrolled systems go through that has seemed most helpful in perceiving their reality.   Still, this is somewhat "new language" and in writing I often “think to myself” I’m mentioning these things as I write, but people may miss the hints along the way, or I forget to put them in.   So, it's good to ask why I seem to be saying something that makes no sense, if that arises.    I do understand models quite well, for example, and people naturally assume in discussing science that the subject is models.   A great many of the questions I ask are about the things being left out of our models, though, so look for that.     So, here’s an outline of the strategy I use, clipped from a letter.  

  1. I start from observing change over time, looking for the processes that need to develop to fulfill the necessity of continuity in beginnings and endings. Continuity of developmental change (flowing change) is implied by the conservation laws, and finding how nature does it is the trick.

  2. Remember, our ideas about nature depend on our inventing general understandings, but nature does not operate with generalities. 

  3. Because I’m trying to locate the physical processes that nature is using, I don’t go straight off to collecting data for making my own model to use in place of nature’s systems.     

  4. I start with “looking around” for regular proportional change, which means finding trends with implied derivatives either all positive or all negative (i.e. like growth or decay).

  5. Linking together the processes that display them, with transition processes to connect them in succession, is what is guided by the energy continuity implied by the conservation laws.

  6. So my information about an observed process starts as a range of possible paths of continuity, like having upper and lower bounds beyond which things couldn’t work.

  7. It’s an empirical use of physics that starts from evidence of localized growth or decay,

  8. So, in summary, my approach is to

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