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June 2017

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A Father’s Day Salute - My Dad’s Left Hand

I thought I’d let my warm-and-fuzzy side out for a stroll and just had this published in The Daily Caller which you can find here or you can just keep reading…

My dad’s left hand is messed up.  It didn’t develop properly in the womb.  It’s an oval-shaped thing with small, dangly, non-working nubs. 

I have never considered him handicapped.  I’d guess the same is true of most kids whose parents were in some manner not physically “right.”

He was a great athlete in his youth.  He’s also a pretty dang good carpenter, plumber, electrician, mechanic, horseman, farrier, farmer, rancher, hunter and fisher.  And yes, he can do all of those.  Better than I am on all counts, even with my working left hand. 

My dad’s birth defect - yes that’s what it is, it isn’t supposed to be like that - has absolutely no bearing on his moral standing as a human.  He is not somehow morally “less” simply because a hand didn’t develop as designed.  His hand is both natural - it occurred, didn’t it? - and unnatural - that’s not how a hand is supposed to be - at the same time.

But in no way is he morally inferior because of this reality. He is not defined by his left hand.  It is an aspect of him, but only one of hundreds, and not a very important one to boot.  I suppose people could use his left hand as the sole means to define him but that would be rather silly.

Each of us is like a multifaceted cut diamond with hundreds and hundreds of aspects.  As free individuals each of us can choose which aspects of a person are of most importance and judge and discriminate for or against them accordingly.  Not everyone is my cup-of-tea and I am certain I’m not for many others. 

I think of this when I see my college buddy’s 20-something son who has developed a serious brain malfunction.  He visits his personal hell on a regular occurrence.  It is heartbreaking to watch.  But he simply has a brain issue.  Just like my dad’s left hand, his brain simply didn’t develop exactly as designed.  It is again, both natural and unnatural at the same time but in no way is he morally inferior; he is not “less” in any way.

I think of this when I see a friend’s autistic child.  He is not morally defective; he simply got dealt a crappy hand in the development of his brain.  Natural and unnatural at the same time.

And I’ve been thinking about this as I read about the growing movement to more fully accept those whose sexual traits exist outside the norm.  Although many in these movements don’t want to accept it, these are natural and unnatural at the same time.  But not morally inferior.  Not morally defective.  Just different on one aspect of the hundreds that make us who we are.

Each of us has unnatural aspects to ourselves.  Some are small and some are large.  Some are hidden and some stand out.  But each of us is so much more than these quite natural differences.  Each individual is a cornucopia of traits.  Some we might like and some we might not.  We can choose our friends and shun others based on a single trait or the collection of the whole. 

None of us are defined by a single facet of who we are. So, why make judgments that don’t encompass the whole person?

My dad is not defined by his left hand.  We don’t need to celebrate his left hand, simply accept it for what it is; a very small and not very important part of a much larger mosaic. And I am dang lucky to have him as my dad.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He is also President and founder of E.I.C. Enterprises, www.EICEnterprises.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world primarily through K-12 education.

Time to Stick a Fork in Conservatism, it's Done

Just had this published in The Daily Caller which you can find here or you can just keep reading…

 

With the Republican nomination and subsequent election of Donald Trump there has been a great deal of hand wringing regarding what it means to be conservative.  Does it mean this or that and who gets to determine which?

Many “conservative” publications have spent more than a few pixels on this topic; and yes, most of the editors believe they get to define it.  They are wrong.

In fact the framing of the entire argument is wrong.  And for all you self-identified conservatives out there please don’t get your panties in a bundle since the same can be said of liberalism.  For both, it is time to move on to something else.

The entire liberal/conservative attempt to frame the world is based on a fundamental falsehood; the falsehood that one’s beliefs and opinions somehow matter when describing reality and that you somehow have the power to pick and choose which to believe, i.e. which is a true representation of reality. 

This is a childish way of thinking.  Yours and my opinions or beliefs matter no more in politics or economics than they do in the hard sciences; which is to say they don’t matter at all.

Rather than attempting to put everything in a conservative versus liberal framework, how about casting that aside and instead building a true versus false framework?  This is what started about 600 years ago in what is now called the hard sciences, in fact this was the birthplace of “science” and look at the results!

We now just need to take the logical steps of extending this way of thinking, this way of looking at and organizing the world to all other areas of our lives - politics and economics included.  No magazine or pundit is required to tell us what it means to be conservative or liberal; instead we all should discard those labels and simply be seekers of the truth.

I can already see the eye rolls; here’s just one more schmoe attempting to tell us his truth, i.e. his opinion.  If you understand the nature of the paradigm shift I am suggesting you will quickly discover this statement makes no sense, it cannot exist in a fact-based worldview.

But I can tell you the truth as discovered over the past couple hundred years.  The first and most fundamental truth is we, humans, evolved on this planet.  Thus we are a part of the natural world and nothing we can do or build can operate outside of the boundaries set by this world.  And please, this fact says nothing about the existence or non-existence of God.

Far too much political and social thought act as though we are infinitely pliable and not the result of 3.8 billion years of evolution.  Those thoughts might have been defensible 100 years ago but not today.

Another truth is statistics.  Einstein once said God doesn’t play dice but on this he was wrong.  Statistics is a primary driver of all things.  Relating this to politics and social systems it means the many will always outperform the few.  Thus individual freedom will always outperform a top-down, hierarchical system.  This is not a political “belief” but an observation of fact and it thus points one towards a limited government way of thinking.  There is no other choice.

Somewhat tied to this is the reality of swarm intelligence and the self-organization it drives.  Swarm intelligence attempts to describe the collective behavior of group animals; think of honey bees, schools of fish, herds of bison, flocks of birds, and yes even good old humans.

The swarm acts as a significant intelligence multiplier.  Rather than relying solely on individual intelligence, this process creates a collective intelligence that is orders of magnitudes beyond that of any individual member.  You can see it in action every day in pretty much every product or service that exists.

This occurs with no leader, no management, and with no one “seeing the big picture”.  In fact having no one in charge is a key ingredient to swarm intelligence.  This incredible increase in intelligence is driven by countless interactions between individual members with each following simple rules of thumb and reacting to their local environment and those members around them.  That’s it.

And although it may be difficult to grasp, this self-organizing behavior has no cause and effect, it simply is.  Almost every advancement in human existence has been driven by this, not those powerful non-profit organizations we call government. 

When we attempt to place leaders in this process the collective intelligence plummets.  This explains why governments and their activities are always going to be far stupider than free individuals going about their daily lives.  This isn’t a political statement but a factual one.

Again, we aren’t talking about knocking off a couple group IQ points but rather magnitudinal increases in stupidity.  This stupidity multiplier isn’t restricted to governments but to all organizations, the larger the worse.  Anyone who has worked in government, the military or other large organizations has seen it every day.

Thus the facts, not some chosen political philosophy, are clear that individual freedom and limited government will always outperform systems of limited freedom and expansive government.

Liberal, conservative?  Those are childish beliefs carried over from the past.  It is time to send them to dustbin of history and to move forward as the hard sciences did centuries ago and to simply become seekers of the truth.  The future of the planet depends upon it.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He is also President and founder of E.I.C. Enterprises, www.EICEnterprises.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world primarily through K-12 education.    

Time to cut the F & E lines

Just had this published in The American Thinker which you can find here or you can just keep reading…

One of the biggest gold rushes of our time looks to be the anticipated market for autonomous (self-driving) vehicles.  Worldwide there are companies and investors throwing billions at the market and what was predicted to happen in 10 years now looks like 2 at most.

The ways autonomous vehicles will impact our daily lives are just now being contemplated but one impact is clear, they have the ability to completely change how we view public transportation, all for the better.

We need to rid ourselves of a bus and rail-based paradigm for public transportation.  A complete stop should be placed on all new activities for a couple of years until the full impact of autonomous vehicles can be ascertained.

Because with autonomous vehicles we can have true public transportation; a self-driving vehicle which comes directly to your home and takes you where you need to go.  For those using present public transportation, think about it.  No more need to get to the bus or rail stop, often this alone requires you have a car; to say nothing of the personal hours saved by going directly where you want, when you want. 

The vehicle, and who knows it may be more of a covered reclined electric motorcycle than a “normal” 4 wheeled car, shows up when requested, where requested.

It deducts the trip from some sort of per-paid or credit card and off you go.  If you have more folks or need more room you simply request a larger vehicle.  And all these charges can be adjusted to the user’s income, thus ensuring the poor have full access. 

There is not a single public transportation operation in the country which charges users the full cost of the service.  Thus subsidies and taxes are already built in, let’s just quit paying for polluting, often empty buses and rail cars and instead use the funds to let the marketplace meet the needs of people; people who are guaranteed to have money in their hands to spend for whoever can provide the most value for the buck.  For the poor this has the ability to transform their lives.  No more 2 hour one-way rides to work!

Prices can be set via the marketplace with subsidies and perhaps usage limitations based on personal income.  The poorest get a monthly 30 round-trips for the maximum subsidy, with lower subsidies as incomes increase.  It can be accomplished relatively easily.

Each vehicle could come with internal advertising or not – to be determined by the user with the appropriate fare adjustment.  This will only further reduce the cost of operations.

Here in Colorado we have the Regional Transportation District (RTD).  It covers the Denver metropolitan area with bus and rail with limited bus service farther out.  Its annual budget is just under a half billion dollars and it employees almost 3,000.   

That is a lot of money that could easily be used to fund a market-driven true public transportation system.  RTD, like many cities across the country, continues to expand on an expensive and polluting bus and rail-based system of yesterday, to say nothing of offering quite limited public service and convenience to those forced to use it.  The only schedule users of this new public transportation system will need is when do they want to be picked up.

Across the country it is time to stop new spending on the F & E lines and all the rest and to prepare for a golden age of public transportation, all driven by… well, nobody.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He is also President and founder of E.I.C. Enterprises, www.EICEnterprises.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world primarily through K-12 education.  We leave the Truth to God ;-)

Stewards of the Planet

I just had this published in The American Thinker which you can find here or you can just keep reading…

Over the past few hundred years we, the human race, have experienced an unparalleled explosion of knowledge.  Although our advances due to swarm intelligence have been growing since the beginning of life on the planet, during the recent past knowledge of the natural world has increased exponentially. 

The start of this rapid increase in the growth of knowledge can traced to the Scientific Revolution.  It was the spark which ignited a complete redefinition of the natural world and how we interacted with it; the ignition of a never-ending search for reality and truth.

It was a paradigm shift in the truest sense; where the old way of viewing the world gave way to a new method of thinking, where only provable, testable, and replicable facts mattered.  This new approach to thinking has transformed the world.

More than that it has transformed the human race to a position no other life has ever held.  We have become stewards of all life on the planet. 

Our technology has the capability to transform the planet – for better or worse.  Our national governments are so large and powerful they can unleash planet-destroying destruction or they can simply create poorly designed systems which sooner or later crash upon millions of citizens, sending ripples of unforeseen consequences in all directions. 

Whether we want it or not, whether we like it or not, for the first time our collective hand is on the tiller steering the future of not just human life, but all life on the planet.

This is not a small thing.  As of right now we are the only known life in a 13.8 billion year old universe; which based on most recent data contains between one and two trillion galaxies and around 700 sextillion stars (that’s a 7 with 23 zeros behind it, or 700 thousand billion billion).  Yet the fact remains, here we stand alone, stewards of it all.

How long we stand depends upon us discarding childish belief-based thinking, i.e. my beliefs and desires actually matter in relation to reality.  Rather we must embrace the progeny of the Scientific Revolution; only provable, testable facts matter in all areas of our lives. 

Yet political systems across the globe operate as though they are immune from this reality, ours included.  How long is this sustainable before it comes crashing down?  We are stewards of an unbroken torrent of life over 3.8 billion years old.  Our political systems and the structures they create should have time-frames of centuries, not just the next political cycle.

Around 66 years ago the renowned physicist Enrico Fermi asked a famous question regarding life on other planets, “Where is everybody?”   

Since the universe is extremely old and if the universe is teeming with life, which many believe it is, one would expect to see evidence of these alien lives – they could be millions or even billions of years ahead of us.  So Fermi’s question and the paradox, “Where is everybody?”   

SETI has been searching the skies for alien radio signals for decades and so far the silence is disquieting.  We are either the only life in the entire universe, a breathtaking fact if true, or we are one of a special many.  Either possibility is staggering.

So where indeed is everybody?  Perhaps it is no more complicated than it is damn tough to make it. 

From a life evolution perspective we’re just now reaching the hard part, the stewards of the planet part.  Whether we like it or not, our actions and choices are impacting more and more of the world around us and this will not be changing.  We had better move forward with our eyes wide open.

We can refuse to embrace a fact-based political paradigm but in that case the future is preordained.  We will simply become some other planet’s Fermi’s Paradox as they look into their night sky and wonder, Where is everybody?

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He is also President and founder of E.I.C. Enterprises, www.EICEnterprises.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world primarily through K-12 education.  We leave the Truth to God ;-)

The Power of Paradigm

I just had this published at WorldNetDaily which you can find here or you can just keep reading…

“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the later ignorance.”  Hippocrates

A new cancer fighting drug is discovered and its use races across the globe.  New technology, new scientific discoveries all freely spread like wild fire.  The fact-based nature of these discoveries, whose roots lay in the Scientific Revolution, (which occurred roughly between 1550 and 1700) are willingly adopted by people far and wide.

Yet not so in our political world.  If this same thinking were applied to political systems every country in the world would have been copying and improving upon the US Constitution for the last 100 years.  There has never been a more prosperous, wealth-creating entity. 

Yet look around the globe and you see incredible resistance to applying the same processes which have allowed the US to become the richest, freest country the world has ever seen.  Clearly the self-propagating nature of the Scientific Revolution is not the same when confronting politics and the stickiness of paradigm is the root problem.

A paradigm is an all-encompassing way of looking at something, a world-view.  It is the means by which we put things in some sort of order and thus grant them meaning.  It is an entrance but also a wall; blocking out and ignoring those pieces which contradict the present viewpoint.

We all operate under the sway of our various paradigms.  Casting aside a paradigm is often a difficult task because it permeates so many other areas of our lives, whether consciously acknowledged or not.  In his classic work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Thomas Kuhn calls this process a paradigm shift, where a new paradigm completely replaces the old.

Image1

Kuhn used the idea of ambiguous images to visually demonstrate the essence of a paradigm shift. These are optical illusions where one sees one image before it “flips over” to another.  Can you make the above 3-dimensional image change?  Note how you can see only one perspective or the other, it is not possible to see both at the same time.  The essence of a paradigm shift.

 

One of the most profound paradigm shifts in the history of humans was the Scientific Revolution.  It was the spark which ignited a complete redefinition of the natural world and how we interacted with it; the ignition of a never-ending search for reality and truth.

It is the fire that gives us robots roaming the surface of Mars.  It is the fire that gives us medical advancements that were almost unthinkable only a few years before.  It is the fire that allows us to live like none before. 

But there is one area which has been quite resistant to the rational, fact-based essence of the Scientific Revolution and that is politics.  Political systems across the globe operate as though they are immune from this reality, ours included. 

Kuhn noted for people who are emotionally invested in a particular world view, the paradigm makes even the possibility of other choices implausible.  Rather than a window, these paradigms become walls which block even the thought there might be alternative and more basic reality beyond. 

Thus evidence that might contradict the paradigm directly is casually discarded.  But over time this avoidance of pesky facts leads to a buildup of “unreconciled anomalies”.  Whatever your present political beliefs, these unreconciled anomalies, i.e. things not behaving according to your worldview, are cascading across the globe. 

The only question for us is the direction these anomalies drive us.  Do we double down and only do more of the same or do we step into the breach and consider a new viewpoint, a new paradigm?

One path leads to destruction and the other to salvation.  We need to end the failing paradigm which is rooted in the belief that our opinions and desires matter.  They matter no more in politics than they do in the hard sciences.  The fire that transformed our thinking during the Scientific Revolution needs to now spread to our political thinking.

By any analysis individual freedom and limited government produce superior results.  The evidence for this is overwhelming.  The laws of statistics and the swarm intelligence freedom unleashes ensures this will always be the case.  This is as much a provable fact as is gravity. 

These truths should become the backbone of all government action.  You wouldn’t board an airplane which ignored the laws of aerodynamics nor should we allow governments to operate as if the laws of statistics and swarm intelligence didn’t apply to them.

The many will always outperform the few.  The many will show far more collective intelligence than the few.  The many will adapt far quicker than the few.

Although it might seem counter-intuitive, this process which has no leader, no management and no one seeing the big picture actually leads to order, structure and progress – not chaos.  In addition, because this structure is very fluid it is quite adaptable to complexity and rapidly changing events; providing far superior results than how governments presently operate.

Top-down, hierarchical, “we know best” thinking should be tossed in the dustbin of history.  Governmental, and in fact all business organizations should be built not just to allow but to capitalize on these foundational truths.  Remember, they are as real as gravity.

Kuhn again notes the ultimate barrier to a paradigm shift is the refusal to see beyond the existing ways of thinking.  We can either collectively follow the essence of the Scientific Revolution or wait until the unreconciled anomalies so accumulate they drive us in a direction which will in all likelihood lead to our collective demise.  The choice is ours.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He also holds a BS in Earth Sciences and an MBA and is the founder and President of E.I.C. Enterprises, www.eicenterprises.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world, primarily through K-12 education.