Saturday, February 16, 2008

You dont know what you think you do. But thinking it's that way makes it like that!

The Uncertainty Principal in Physics

I`m reading 'The Fabric of The Cosmos' at the moment, it's one of the first popular science books i've read for a few years and it's facinating reading. One idea that it covers early on is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal. This is concept provokes perhaps the most fundemental rethink in our world view when we accept qauntum mechanichs, no longer do we believe that we could predict the future of the universe, even given the best possible information on every particle in the universe and infinte processing power. The reason being that on the microscopic scale we are banned by nature from measuring simultaneously and exactly the position and velocity of a particle. This can be explained by thinking of shining a beam of light at a microscopic object, the stronger the beam the more reflected photons, the greater the accuracy, but, more photons also corrispond with more force. Light has a push, which although small, produces a noticable effect on microscopic objects.

The Uncertainty Principal in Life

Obscure physics, perhaps, but the idea of analysis leading to change is important. The imposibility of having a truly independent observer monitoring but not influencing a system seems relavent with regards the news media. In the case of the media, the US elections are a case in point, some of the candidates who late on in the primaries looked marginal where marginal in large part becuase the media judged them to be marginal and throughout the campaign gave them a marginal amount of airtime, wrote about them stating their marginal nature, mentioned them only in passing...the real question is where they marginal or where they marginalised? A similar dynamic plays out in all sorts of issues, how often are advocates interviewed on important developments that they are trying to change only to be asked 'do you really think that this will have an effect, aren't politicians more concerned about [parochial interest]'. Well, the effect of this is vastly different to if the interviewer had asked 'so do you expect a speedy resolution to this, you do seem to have a good case'. Questions have a great deal of incluence, perhaps more so than answers?

Being forced to think something by a question.

The influence of such 'frames' is vast, Herman Daly suggests that many of the flaws he points to in Limits to Growth (i.e deforestation is classed as income, infinte capital can flow from near zero resources, exponential growth can be sustained) have not been examined closely due to a pre-analytic vision (frame) that excludes the flaws from the realm of critical thought. Noam Chomsky explains this by means of an example. Q: Why is it that the US so rarely criticised for it's foreing politics and role in conflicts? A: By carrying out a literature search it was found that the US media have adopted 'peace process' for 'current US policy with regards to a given group of nations' over many years the US was never reported as being 'against the peace process' as the words 'peace process' by defenition exclude this possibility!

These two ideas, of questions being influence, and false pre-suppositions being built into these questions, in part explain the way propaganda works. These issues face green campaigners as a barage, the climate change conversation is filled with so many questions based on false propositions that straightening out the mess is quite a minefield. This minefield can be avoided
in one easy way: don't take on the argument!

Opportunity is the new black. Creating an opportunity is better than winning an argument and removes the need for doing so...the argument is smaller when the cost of conceeding is smaller so make that opportunity attractive and you can't loose.


Climate Change Action

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