Wednesday, June 29, 2011

CHOICE: Either/Or... What about choice Both or Depends?

Empiricism is great when you need to demonstrate certain realities to the unthinking mind. You collect facts, you compare items with each other to determine their differences and their commonalities. You measure the weight of gold, you measure the running speed of a tiger, you measure how much oxygen is depleted during a fire, and on and on.... Then we conclude that we can measure humanity the same way. What is the population count, how many people are working, how many are working in a field with immediately measurable results like manufacturing cars vs those who have less measurable results like producing art?

Empiricism is a tool best left in the hands of the thinker and not in the hands of the unthinking mind. What happens is that the unthinking mind believes that reality is only what can be measured or predicted through calculated measurements like statistics. We then see this in bureaucracies that give out questionnaires to a diverse public who often don't fit the categories presented.

Imagine that before Empirical research, people spoke only in terms of black and white. The thinker needed to demonstrate the reality of color and was able to introduce red and green, so empiricism was born. The problem today is that we have replaced a world of black and white with a world of red and green; we are convinced that red and green is better than black and white. Reality is a full basket of colors including black and including white. So imagine the frustration of the bureaucrat who asks the question "red or green" and receives the answer yellow from the citizen.

Some nations will insist "yellow" is just another word for green and will use the empirical tool to measure this and prove that yellow has many elements of green. Another nation or another group of scientists will insist that "yellow" is just a modified version of red. In the end, the unthinking mind will only see red or green and deny the existence of "yellow".... the unthinking classical adherent will not do a better job because he will either say that "yellow" is really white or will see that it isn't quite white so it must therefore be black.

Our statistics and bureaucracies can only measure what they see and try to fit what they don't understand into categories that can be labeled and measured. Politicians make decisions based upon these flawed measurements and statisticians predict trends on the "red" and "green".

From the thinker's perspective, decisions are made in such a way that when the politician is stuck on a rowboat with a hole causing the boat to sink, the statistician informs the politician that the sinking can be slowed down if the boat has less weight (which is true, but is only part of the problem; plugging the hole would stop the sinking altogether but statistics will never deduce that). The politician hears this so he orders that we throw all our buckets overboard to slow down the sinking of the boat (buckets can be heavy, don't you know), he hopes that the sinking will slow down long enough to be re-elected.... and he gets re-elected because the measurements show that the boat was sinking at a slower rate.

30 years later we are in 2011 and the boat is sinking quickly.... water which accumulates creates weight. The politician is left with little choice but to throw out the undesirables of society from the boat..... hence we cut social programs. Did we just throw overboard tomorrow's Einstein by cutting the educational program? Did we just throw the people who row the boat overboard because they complained that they couldn't row anymore ever since we threw away the paddles; and then replaced them with people who are willing to use their hands to row by using back to work legislation?

Wait! There is news about cutting funding for the artists and the sportsman.... we are now throwing those who inspire us to work harder overboard!!! In 30 years the politician will wonder why the boat no longer moves as quickly as it did in the 1980s. The thinker will point out that they got rid of the heavy paddles, they got rid of skilled rowers, they got rid of those who inspire us to work harder. The unthinking empiricist will scoff and prove that the reason the boat moves slower is that it has taken in more water and is sinking more so we need to throw out even more people to slow the sinking until we reach some unknown port. The thinker will be ignored when he points out that the water would not have accumulated so much if we had kept the buckets, that we would have moved further if we would have kept the paddles.... He will be ignored because it doesn't fit the "red/green" reality of the unthinking mind.

If the thinker was given the power and the authority, he could eventually find a way to find the hole in the boat and then find a way to plug this hole. But Plato has said much the same thing so many years ago and we still refuse to allow the thinker to do his contribution and we delegate the thinker to the confines of the weird or non-conformist and occasionally society is lucky to have allowed an Einstein to enter society's ranks in a somewhat limited fashion.