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April 2017

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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. 

Do your beliefs shape reality?

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

What would you think if you discovered the local school was teaching your child 4+4 did not equal 8 but rather 5?  To damage a child in this manner would border on child abuse.

Luckily we have no such thing.  Schools teach students mathematics as it truly is.  They also do so in many other subjects; imparting the facts as discovered over millennium.  No one is asked their opinion or is any weight given to their feelings when learning about the world around us.

This way of thinking is a progeny of the Scientific Revolution; a time when the concept of science was created.  Science replaced the childish belief-based paradigm, i.e. my beliefs actually matter in relation to reality, with a fact-based paradigm, i.e. only provable, testable facts matter.

Bertrand Russell explained it as “… minds do not create truth or falsehood. They create beliefs, but when once the beliefs are created, the mind cannot make them true or false... What makes a belief true is a fact, and this fact does not… in any way involve the mind of the person who has the belief.”

This paradigm shift to a fact-based worldview has transformed the world to the betterment of all.  Yet one area which has shown amazing resistance to scientific thinking is political systems and their handmaiden, economics. 

It shouldn’t really surprise us since in these areas, unlike the hard sciences and mathematics, schools teach students they can pick and choose which systems to believe; as if their opinions could affect the very nature of reality.  Worse yet, the students are taught their individual beliefs don’t even have to be part of an over-arching coherent and cohesive fabric of reality; just one belief here and another, perhaps contradicting one there.

I’m not blaming the schools.  They are simply teaching from the accepted viewpoint regarding these areas; the present paradigm.  But in what is truly a frightening development, rather than moving forward to a fact-based paradigm in all things, the childish belief-based paradigm is actually expanding in schools and colleges across the land.

Among other things, not only are students being taught they can pick and choose whatever political system they like, they are now being taught they can pick and choose their own biology.  This does not just border on child abuse but clearly crosses the line.

The facts about political systems and economics should have been settled a long time ago; individual freedom and limited government is the only self-sustaining system which is supported by natural facts and real-world observation.  These truths also fit nicely in their part of a coherent and cohesive natural reality; just like all the hard sciences.

This of course makes perfect sense since we are part of the natural world and thus nothing we can construct can operate outside of this natural world.  And in the natural world all mammals, humans included, are made up of individuals who are either male or female. 

The science on this has been settled for millennium in addition to being rather apparent to any sentient human.  And as Bertrand Russell rightly notes, a person’s mind and what they may or may not feel has absolutely no effect on whether this belief is true or not.

Most people who believe foolish things do so because they were taught them.  Our public schools should not be willing participants in this charade whether we are discussing political systems, biology or any other area of existence.  It is past time to demand an end to this school-sanctioned child abuse for both the individual’s and society’s sake.  As science has taught us, ignoring reality never works out well for any.

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. 

What is the science behind free markets and capitalism?

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

The economic system called capitalism has been described in many ways but at its core it is quite simply free people freely interacting with other free people.  Capitalism has transformed the world by producing more wealth than any other economic system in the history of civilization.

But why does it produce such wealth?  Some have said freedom is the magic potion; that left to their own devices free people will outperform any other economic system. 

That is true but the ultimate reason is deeper and firmly based in science and fact.  In the past few decades a great deal of research has been done on what is called swarm intelligence.  Swarm intelligence attempts to explain and understand the collective behavior of group animals; think of honey bees, schools of fish, herds of bison, flocks of birds, etc.

The intelligence of the swarm is a significant multiplier.  Rather than relying solely on individual intelligence, these groups create a collective intelligence that is orders of magnitudes beyond that of any individual member.

They do so without any leader, with no management of any sort, 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.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, but if an individual member did attempt to become a leader the group intelligence would drop precipitously.  And although it may be difficult to grasp, this self-organizing behavior has no cause and effect, it simply is.

Think of the intelligence of one of the members of these swarms versus the intelligence of the group.  We are not talking about adding a few group IQ points but rather increases in intelligence by orders of magnitude.

My hypothesis is this same process is the scientific basis for the success of capitalism and in fact the success of the human race.  This swarm intelligence has always been at work but with our highly developed communication skills and the ability to record and store knowledge our collective swarm intelligence is truly astounding.  Just like the honey bee, our swarm is orders of magnitude more intelligent than even the brightest among us.

And thus capitalism, which is just individual freedom as expressed in an economic system, is absolutely certain to “work”.  It is a scientific fact just as certain as gravity.  And just like the swarm it does so with no leader, no management, and no one seeing the big picture; no cause and effect, it just is. 

And just like the swarm, 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.

Some economists have noted that during the Soviet Union’s existence the central planners had to daily determine the prices of literally hundreds of thousands of things and thus the system was terribly inefficient as they had no way to accurately determine this.  My hypothesis is even if they could have accurately determined each and every one of these prices, they still would have failed.  The stupidity multiplier of their command-and-control economy ensured this.

The science on this is clear.  If we want to maximize our collective well-being and wealth, if we want to maximize our freedom, if we want to maximize our collective odds for survival we must allow human swarm intelligence to do its magic.  And governments are not the solution but are rather the destroyer.  The science is clear.

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.

The Education Plantation

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

In the course of my management consulting, I’ve been to some of the toughest neighborhoods in the country.

If you do business in these areas you know to always visit them early in the day when they are relatively safer. Thus in my travels I’d see four and five-year old kids playing like all four and five-year olds do.

But, as they got older, they developed an increasingly hard look in their eyes. And, by only nine or 10, many had a look in their eyes no child in America should have.

Even at that age, they had put up with more crap than one can imagine. The neighborhoods they were born into have astonishing crime rates. The few terrorize the many and unlike the police, they don’t leave.

Job opportunities are limited and youth unemployment reaches heights unheard of anywhere else in the country. A hand up is not an easy thing to find in these neighborhoods.

In many of these places a culture has taken root where the very keys to success are viewed as being somehow foreign and something to reject, not embrace. These realities are true regardless of one’s heritage but it has fallen disproportionally on black Americans.

What of the education opportunities presented to these children today? The inner-city schools these children are forced to attend are a national disgrace. Education has been called THE civil rights issue of our time by political leaders across the political spectrum.  I disagree, I believe it is the moral issue of our time.

What we see in the inner-cities is the result of a lot of factors.  But a major one is the collapse of the educational system decades ago resulting in generations of people, each receiving a lousy education.  Generations of people pretty much screwed from the womb with their only hope being a chance for a decent education.  Without that they are lost.  Without that they have little hope.  In the face of this desperate need, the schools that are forced upon these children are an obscenity.

It is quite easy for someone who has never witnessed these realities to talk about hard work and pulling one’s self up by the boot straps.  It is much easier said than done.  What future truly awaits a 12 year old with very poor reading and writing skills, little to no math skills, and no command of the English language?  They are supposed to happily go to jobs pushing a broom or flipping burgers?  And fighting for these jobs against an army of illegal immigrants who are willing to work for below-market wages?  Or is a much more logical path one of crime?  Far too many of these inner-city schools are simply one stop on the assembly line from school to prison or the cemetery.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”

But the public education system is doing neither for the poor souls forced to attend these life-destroying institutions.

How many of the problems of the inner-cities in general and of black Americans in particular find their roots in generations of failed education? We will never address the issues of race, crime, poverty and the pathologies they unleash until we at least provide an opportunity for every child in America to attend a quality school where their intelligence and character are developed to the peak of their potential.

Will every parent and child take advantage of this? Of course not. But until everyone who wants it is given a true opportunity to send their kids to quality schools, this country will fail in its basic commitment to those poorest among us. And, when you consider the resulting crime statistics and the cost of filling our prisons, that’s a problem for all of us.

For the richest country the world has ever seen to allow this destruction to these young lives is simply wrong. Not every parent is “parent-of-the-month” material but at least let’s give those who cry out for help a chance by offering them a school which at least has the potential to save their life rather than destroy it.

John Conlin is a self-employed management consultant who lives in Littleton, Colorado. He started End The Education Plantation because he’s seen first-hand the harm being caused by our nation’s schools and believes it’s time to do something about that. For more information, go to www.EndTheEducationPlantation.org.