succeeds by recognizing two conflicting quirks of human thinking:
A tendency to oversimplify in the service of confirming wondrous wishes
Discovery of abstract patterns of Nature that cannot be denied
who must be obeyed
Both quirks lurk about in the shadows of Keith Devlin's "fourth level of human abstraction."
This "fourth level"
could be a bridge between scientific reasoning and reasoning about social
about "political biases" virtually never enter this level of abstraction.
Effective political discussion must recognize this deeper level of thinking.
Science is impossible and pseudoscience dominates in a society blind to such abstractions.
Likewise, effective and compasionate politics is impossible without the deeper, but necessary, insights.
"Compasionate conservatism" a fourth-level insight, or is it Newspeak?
BELOW ARE SOME ASPECTS
OF POLITICAL LIFE THAT ALMOST NEVER GET DISCUSSED.
HOW MIGHT WE BUILD
THIS BRIDGE BETWEEN LOGIC AND SOCIAL BEHAVIOR?
fourth level of abstraction is routinely ignored . . . because it is seldom
PERCEPTION . . . IMAGINATION
. . . METAPHOR .
. . MATHEMATICS .
. . MAGIC
do they mean?
do they come from?
do they lead?
HUMAN PERCEPTIONS . . . HUMAN
WISHES . . . HUMAN WORDS . . . HUMAN CONCEPTS
shadow of the world which has been brought to us by evolution
||Jean Piaget asked
what specific human skills evolution developed that let us comprehend the
world the way we (sometimes)
do, especially those skills which lead to science and mathematics
it managed that task.
functions are biological.
applied the concepts of Piaget to those interactions with the world we
with opposition reminiscent of Galileo's troubles with the authorities
|Social interactions are
based on human information processes.
points to four distinct levels of abstraction that represent levels of
increasing sophistication of human recognition of patterns in the world,
that lead us to ever more effective interactions with that world.
became "a volcano" (according to his wife)
as he read through the seventeen shelf-feet of K-12 science textbooks he
reviewed for the California State Curriculum Commission, all
... were written
by people "who don't know what the hell they are talking about."
|Elementary science comes
out of evolution's human brain--capable of abstraction leading to more
and more complete grasp of the world's patterns (to
let man avoid Mother Nature's traps)
even the "experts" who wrote those texts only rarely got it right
The scientist who
uses science sees the concepts at the fourth level of abstraction.
Teachers and learners
who do not use the science too often work in the third level.
who can does; he who cannot teaches."
products of imagination often seem real when they are not.
Science is not
simply discovery of facts
Or learning of facts.
It's seeing certain abstract relationships
Seeing patterns that exist much deeper than our perceptions.
Science is simple, but seldom seen.
Science is simple but subtle.
too, is something very different from what it's usually thought to be.
is the discovery of patterns at the edges of human comprehension.
same is true for social interactions.
the "experts," whom we appoint to make the decisions, rarely get it right!
rarely use the deeper insights that could better our plight --
A CRITICAL EXAMPLE
of social issues only rarely examine the simple abstractions of the fourth
when those abstractions are the core of the problem...
they then say,
"All opinions are equally valid because there is no 'correctness' in matters of political opinion." (OFOT)
so, the discussions often resemble discussions of paint mixing by a society
of persons with a variety of colorblindnesses.
|The Boolean relationship
of implication is an example of a fourth-level abstraction.
See it seen, and see it missed:
Look at a fascinating "difference of opinion"
concerning an intriguing
from Scientific American.
|Those political spectrum terms need to be analyzed
by examining how they are used. Their meanings lie in the third level--their
significance lies in the fourth.
Can we identify those arguments rife with oversimplification in the service of confirming wonderful wishes? Can we identify logical imperatives being missed by arguments which are blind to that logic? Can we demonstrate the correctness of our identifications?
Our Web sites have pages (many are hidden) that explore these issues. Gentlemen, and ladies, start your discussions.
Two hidden pages look directly at the "right - left"
distinction by presenting several statements or attitudes that will usually
be seen as defining a person's position "on the specturm." A quote
from Russell Baker introduces this section.
The "Statements" page has many
hidden comments that
are revealed by selecting the text. The page is accessed
from the "Rational Politics" pages (below) via a microlink
located directly under the center of the line of dots in the
text that reads: "to the left..........to the right." The
microlinks connecting these two pages are under the space
between the "0" and "1" of the date.
"Rational Politics...Is it possible?" is presented
on four connected hidden pages:
These pages are reached via
microlink on a page of
misconceptions that is linked from "The
is "starry, starry night."
The microlink is the star
immediately above the moon.
of government that advocates or exercises a dictatorship of the extreme
right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership,
together with an ideology of belligerent nationalism."
"One reason the U.N. was founded after the Second World War was to confront aggressive dictators actively and early, before they can attack the innocent and destroy the peace."
Ethnocentrism, Punitive Morality, and Positive
Feedback are developed in links that diverge from the fable of the Primitive
Man journeying through Devlin's four (plus) levels of abstraction.
There are two versions of the
fable; the hidden version is
accessed thru a microlink
on the left eye of the bald eagle
on the "Perceptions" page.
Follow the links from there to:
person or nation that commits atrocities easily sees those atrocities as
The Trap of Overspecialization (trap of oversimplification)...
Students only rarely understand the science they learn and the consequences
can be tragic. The truly terrible tragedies will come from failure
to realize the importance of fourth-level abstractions.
Ethnocentrism and trends that seem to be leading
toward "the greatest war in the history of the world"--recent
comment by physicist J. Archibald Wheeler.
This page is reached via a somewhat hidden link.
In the "9-11 2001" link in
"Man thoughts...". The "2001" is
is full of traps for the beast that cannot learn."
has the power to destroy humanity. A powerful nation must have decision
makers who see beyond the trap of ethnocentric blindness."
Scalars, Vectors and Tensors
Right - Left is not a scalar measure. It is a rare person, indeed,
that recognizes a vector, tensor, quaternion, or other multicomponent measure
when looking squarely at it. Understanding measure as position on
a line was a pretty big step in the development of mathematics. The
universes that lie beyond that step is one of the biggest terra incognitas
awaiting exploration by those outside the fields of study that force the
student to work there. Furthermore, it's a territory that is spawning
terrible social viruses that are causing potentially fatal societal diseases.
person is free to select the one component out of millions that puts him
or her 'at the top.'"
Advertising is our culture's predominate mode
of communication, of manipulating behaviors.
What would an extraterrertrial visitor from an intellectually advanced
species examine to judge the human species? The ways we use information
to adjust behavior, of course. What would that advanced visitor conclude
from its analysis of our advertising?
the positive, elmininate the negative, and don't mess around with Mr. Inbetween."
Religion is so highly correlated with political-economic
behaviors that it screams out for study of its deeper, abstract commonalities
with the political spectra. "Two topics to avoid are religion and
politics." The reasons for avoiding those topics in our conversations are the most compelling reasons to discuss themat the deeper levels of abstraction, from where
the complexities of human thought are driven.
the 'under God' part of the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional is ridiculous; it's crazy;
it's just plain stupid. Everybody knows that!"
Fourth-level abstractions usually reveal greater complexity that was
The noise in the
news is the sound of Mother Nature sharpening her pruning shears.