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May 4, 2009

It is now a month away from being halfway through 2009, and this is my first blog of 2009. Here’s a recap:

I turned 30!

I hate the Octomom (or, as I like to call her, the Octocoochie).

Swine Flu: I’m glad we have the international capabilities for dealing with a pandemic, but do we really need SO MUCH HYSTERICAL NEWS COVERAGE about it??? I can’t even imagine what’s going to happen someday when something REALLY goes wrong. Which ties into my recent observation that, back in the day, when radio programming was the norm, you’d hear, “And we now interrupt this program for a news bulletin.” They would do this for something like, oh, PEARL HARBOR… And afterwards, they would return to the regularly scheduled broadcast. (I learned about this by listening to my mom’s copies of old-timeY radio shows like “The Green Hornet”). There were no 24/7 devoted news channels, who make their advertising money by terrorizing the public and ramping up their ratings. This has led to many of today’s ills; case in point, one child out of the 61,146,753 children in the United States is abuducted or has something bad happen to them, the news outlets are saturated, making it seem like this kind of thing happens all the time, leading to children who aren’t allowed to venture out of the house, and become obese by the age of 5 because they never play outside, and have brain development disabilities because of the lack of Vitamin D.

This also brings to mind the problem with capitalism in general: People’s entire motivation is to make money. Not to do what is in other people’s best interests, or even their own, in the long term. The King of Capitalism, Alan Greenspan, admitted exactly this last year. “Whoops, I was making all of my financial decisions base on the assumption that corporations will make decisions based on their own best interests; instead, they’re motivated by greed and want to squeeze out every last penny. My bad…”

The other day I was also pondering the separation of wisdom and Westernized thinking. I think that when people began to give up their pasts and break free from the somewhat oppressive small-town communities that supported but also repressed individuals, they began to look to science instead of the wisdom and knowledge of their elders. So, instead of asking your grandmother what to do for a stomachache, and listen to her knowlege, which is probably based on generations of trail and error and common knowledge, today we instead turn to doctors and pharmaceutical companies and science; again, in our capitalist societies, these people are motivated by money. They are disassociated from their direct consumer (as are producers of our food, clothes, toys, furniture, salmonella peanut butter, etc etc etc; hello China!) and therefore do not have to directly deal with the consequences of their actions; in fact, as has been discovered in the Peanut Butter case, even when they KNEW it was contaminated, rather than risk losing money, they decided to risk poisoning people and just hope they wouldn’t be held responsible.

Anyways, back to science vs. wisdom–Science makes judgements based on the “facts.” Unfortunately, humans are finite beings and can only see very few of the “facts” in our incredibly complex Universe at any one time. And now things like Yoga and Ayervedic Medicine, based in wisdom and centuries of knowledge, but not immediately understandable by our extremely limited scientific knowledge, and summarily discounted by “Modern Medicine,” are proving to heal in ways that we are just now, in 2009, starting to understand, thanks to amazingly advance technology like brain scans. It’s the swing of the pendulum–I think around the 1950s we thought we had most everything figured out, and poo-poo’d any of the “indigenous” beliefs and medicines of the past. Now that technology is reaching new heights, and we are able to scientifically “prove” the truths that were there all along, the pendulum is swinging back the other direction.

Separation vs. Interrelation is another huge paradigmal problem that I think people are finally starting to see through. I think it all started when some schmuck decided to separate the human body from the soul–ie doctors would take care of the bodies, and the church would take care of the soul. But it doesn’t work that way. Everything is interrelated. Everything in the Universe. It’s basically like karma. You can’t do or say something that doesn’t have an effect somewhere, and an equal consequence. This isn’t magic or voodoo; it’s just  the way the Universe works. There isn’t anything out there that isn’t related to a million other things that humans can’t even begin to comprehend. Hence the mystery of it all. With our telescopes & our microscopes & our internets, we can see little bits & peices of reality, of truth. But the fact is that we are limited; our minds are finite. We can understand and imagine a LOT; but we cannot truly understand the myriad of ways that every single minute thing is interconnect, and the millions of ways things react with one another. And there we are, back to technology and capitalism, based on making money. So it’s better faster more, and we can guess at the effects, but as happens over and over again, a few weeks or months or years or centuries down the line, we find out that our human fiddling, of limited understanding, can have enormous destructive scope. Nothing that humans have ever invented has not had a negative impact, be it trash or pollution or destruction of natural habitats or other living beings. There ARE no shortcuts, no free lunches. There is always a tradeoff. Of course some things are worth the tradeoffs; I enjoy running water. But soon we will run out of clean water. We have to understand that the tradeoff must be a part of our decision-making process; we have to weigh the benefits vs. the cost, and try to mitigate where we can. I’m hoping that the Realization of Universal Interrelatedness is the next revolution, the next Renaissance, the next Age. I’d say that our future depends on it.

Thanks for reading my hemmorhage of thoughts there! I guess I need to blog more often…

 

 

Side note:

Apparently paragidmal isn’t an english word–but I did find the Wiki article about Paradigm, and it actually adresses exactly what I’m talkin’ bout (ie–we thought we had it all figured out til Einstein came and blew everything out of the water…people today think we’ve pretty much gotten everything figured out, but if you read scientific journals or listen to podcasts like RadioLab–HIGHLY RECOMMENDED–you’re realize the secret that scientists know: we know nothing.):

 

Paradigm shifts

Paradigm shifts tend to be most dramatic in sciences that appear to be stable and mature, as in physics at the end of the 19th century. At that time, physics seemed to be a discipline filling in the last few details of a largely worked-out system. In 1900, Lord Kelvin famously stated, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” Five years later, Albert Einstein published his paper on special relativity, which challenged the very simple set of rules laid down by Newtonian mechanics, which had been used to describe force and motion for over two hundred years. In this case, the new paradigm reduces the old to a special case in the sense that Newtonian mechanics is still a good model for approximation for speeds that are slow compared to the speed of light.

Philosophers and historians of science, including Kuhn himself, ultimately accepted a modified version of Kuhn’s model, which synthesizes his original view with the gradualist model that preceded it. Kuhn’s original model is now generally seen as too limited. Making it almost seem like a parallel universe.

Kuhn himself did not consider the concept of paradigm as appropriate for the social sciences. He explains in his preface to “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” that he concocted the concept of paradigm precisely in order to distinguish the social from the natural sciences (p.x). He wrote this book at the Palo Alto Center for Scholars, surrounded by social scientists, when he observed that they were never in agreement on theories or concepts. He explains that he wrote this book precisely to show that there are no, nor can be, any paradigms in the social sciences. Mattei Dogan, a French sociologist, in his article “Paradigms in the [Social Sciences],” develops Kuhn’s original thesis that there are no paradigms at all in the social sciences since the concepts are polysemic, the deliberate mutual ignorance between scholars and the proliferation of schools in these disciplines. Dogan provides many examples of the inexistance of paradigms in the social sciences in his essay, particularly in sociology, political science and political anthropology.

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn wrote that “Successive transition from one paradigm to another via revolution is the usual developmental pattern of mature science.” (p.12)

Kuhn’s idea was itself revolutionary in its time, as it caused a major change in the way that academics talk about science. Thus, it could be argued that it caused or was itself part of a “paradigm shift” in the history and sociology of science. However, Kuhn would not recognize such a paradigm shift. Being in the social sciences, people can still use earlier ideas to discuss the history of science.

 

Paradigm Paralysis

Perhaps the greatest barrier to a paradigm shift , in some cases, is the reality of paradigm paralysis, the inability or refusal to see beyond the current models of thinking [2]. This is similar to what Psychologists term Confirmation bias.

Examples include Galileo‘s theory of a heliocentric universe, the discovery of electrostatic photography, xerography and the quartz clock.

 

 

Additionally, after writing this post and exploring some google results on interrelatedness, I came across a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967 that I don’t believe I’ve ever read…I’m not saying I’m an MLK or anything, but I wholeheartedly agree with what this man was saying:

Life is Interrelated (courtesy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr)

 

MLK Jr.  

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that’s handed to you by a Pacific islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that’s given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that’s poured into your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea: that’s poured into your cup by a Chinese. Or maybe you’re desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that’s poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that’s given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.

One Response to “Add New Post”

  1. Katia said

    First of all I would like to say excellent blog!
    I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was interested to find out how you center yourself
    and clear your head prior to writing. I have had difficulty clearing my
    mind in getting my ideas out. I do take pleasure in writing
    but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted simply just
    trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips?
    Thank you!

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