Monday, November 21, 2011

ITABIMAS: In the Absence of Better Information Make a Story: Part 2

The Life Cycle of ITABIMAS

ITABIMAS comes and goes. One aspect of ITABIMAS is that it discourages multi-factor thinking. Although extolled as a virtue, looking for a single unifying principle is a bad habit, when in fact many principles are at work in complex systems. Biological complexity is a great example of the breakdown of single-factor simple-minded ITABIMAS. How often have we heard that, "x causes cancer", or that "y cures this disease"? in cancer and disease x and y are often a host of interacting processes. One must consider the space of the interacting processes and not just this simple variable or that. Single-factor thinking is so attractive, so seductive and so irresistible that we do it all the time. One force which modifies ITABIMAS is Dissent, caused by those who ask the question, "Why", or better yet, "What Happened That".

A force which modifies ITABIMAS is Dissent, frequently caused by those who ask the question, "Why", or better yet, "What Happened That". Science encourages Dissent, and therefore a rapidly-evolving ITABIMAS. But even this has exceptions, as we saw in the case of the quasicrystals. The scientific method involves a verification step called Experiment. If a scientific theory doesn't explain the Experiment, one is allowed, even required to say, "We need a new theory." Any theory that holds up with a confidence of five standard deviations is called a "law" (99.9999426697% - BTW) A law is an ITABIMAS with small Dissent. The law of gravity is a good example of small Dissent. It is proven daily. It is proven quickly. It is proven painfully. It has a numerical value. I once knew someone who thought they had a special exception to the law of gravity. I managed to talk them out of it.

There is ITABIMAS war. In Galileo's time someone purportedly staked their religion on the earth being at the center of the solar system. They had to modify their ITABIMAS and took their sweet time doing it. Measurement is good. One can measure where the sun is. Evolution and intelligent design are competing ITABIMAS. If you can't measure something you are stuck. This is what makes fundamentalism a dangerous thing. It cannot be verified. Effective medicine did not evolve from religion. It came from the experiment of the scientific method. I always wanted to heal people supernaturally but it never seemed to work out. I wonder "why" or "what happened that"? Perhaps I was too busy asking questions...

In Religion great lengths are taken to preserve ITABIMAS. Since these ITABIMAS are sacred, religion does not typically tolerate Dissent by definition. If their theory doesn't explain your experiment, one becomes eligible for a Joan-Of-Arc style vertical roasting, real-quick-like-Jimmy, to prevent the ITABIMAS from being damaged and the power structures from being threatened. Religions and their delegates are willing to sacrifice anything, up to and including intellect, to save the ITABIMAS in a strange sort of logic. Stand up in the middle of a church service and start asking the obvious questions. Perform the experiment, see what happens... Suppression of Dissent is common in all venues where ITABIMAS is sacred; In cults, social or religious, in military organizations, at work, and down at the country club.

In Government, the war is between that of Science and Religion. Policy makers can respond, "Because "IT"[abimas] says so", or, "Because "I"[tabimas] say so". Perhaps Democracy is a "safe" religion, I mean, form of government. In Democracy Dissent is purportedly acceptable, in Autocracy it can cost you your head. In Media, ITABIMUS is the end goal. Dissent is maximized to increase revenues. In the tabloid case, any ITABIMUS will do.

In Design, ITABIMUS is fluid until the design is frozen. The effect of Dissent is immediate. The programmer or architect can change whatever they want, however they want, early in the process. As more decisions are made the concrete hardens. As real copies of the design are made, the ITABIMUS starts to freeze. Perhaps any design that lasts unchanged for a thousand years should be considered a religion.

© 1996 L.Van Warren · All Rights Reserved  · Revised 11/21/2011