Yer thing and Hawkings…

Posted on December 20, 2010


Jenny: “Professor, I was just thinking, you keep sneaking  Nobel Prize winner Herb Simon and his Mantra (no conclusions without emotionally anchored assumptions or biases) into your posts – as you just did with the Hawkings stuff. Would you agree that his mantra is one of your main models? Would you agree that it provides one of your main lenses through which you view ‘reality’ and that it helps you make sense of the buzzing confusion. You seem to see Simon everywhere?”

Peter: “Jen’s right Professor – come to think of it I get kinda tired of Simon and his dumb mantra.”

Professor Wiggly: ” Very perceptive Jenny. In fact various scholars (Karl Popper, Don Campbell, Brian Gaines and Stephen Hawkings) suggest that we rely on a tower of models, with little ones at the top and a big foundation model at the bottom that support all the rest. For example check out  the first page off Hawking’s bestseller A Brief History of Time. There he tells the delightful story of Bertrand Russell giving a public lecture on the solar system. A little old lady raises her hand telling him that he’s got it all wrong. The earth doesn’t just hang unsupported in the sky circling round the sun, instead it rest on a giant turtle. Russell asks her what the turtle  rests on?  and she replies: ‘You’re very clever young man but its turtles all the way down.’ Or its models all the way down’. I have them supporting my imaginary bridges into the future. When I’m calm and examine someone’s view of ‘reality’ , or of the future,  I drag out Simon mantra and try to identify that person’s emotionally anchored assumptions or biases. When I examine a Republican’s ‘dumb’ view that we shouldn’t tax the rich it  only make sense if you identify their basic emotionally anchored assumption, for instance  that individual freedom comes first and government interference comes last. Or when you I examine a Democrats ‘dumb’ view of social safety nets for all, it makes sense if you buy their basic assumption or model  that it’s the government’s job to provide security from womb to tomb.”

Jenny: ” So that’s what you mean when you talk about a person’s ‘thing’. You’re trying to examine their tower of models  and locate their foundation turtle, their foundation belief or bias. And do you think that Simon’s mantra is  yer thing?”

Peter: “Nah that’s only part way down the his tower of turtles. His foundation turtle or beliefs is that he knows everything, that he answer any question!”

Professor Wiggly: ” Ouch! But you know Peter  is probably right. Your core self-image is probably your foundation turtle or bias…. and it can often take a lifetime to find it, to find yer thing. Loved ones usually spot  yer thing before you do, and love you in spite of your blind belief, your emotionally anchored bias.”


Posted in: Sciencing