When used properly, emergent properties and complexity are quite useful ways of thinking. My first exposure to them was back in 1990/91 and I REALLY wanted to learn about complexity theory and connectionist type stuff but unfortunately we ran of college $ before I could finish. So it also annoys me when emergent properties and complexity are used for hand-waving, in places where someone could equally say “god” or “magic” etc. They’re using it wrong and for that, I don’t like that they’ve become mantra words.

When used properly, emergent properties and complexity are quite useful ways of thinking. My first exposure to them was back in 1990/91 and I REALLY wanted to learn about complexity theory and connectionist type stuff but unfortunately we ran of college $ before I could finish.

So it also annoys me when emergent properties and complexity are used for hand-waving, in places where someone could equally say “god” or “magic” etc. They’re using it wrong and for that, I don’t like that they’ve become mantra words.

What you’ve said has been a shared complained of mine as well. We lost the subject, the “who is” part. MAK Halliday in Introduction to Systemic Functional Grammar has a section towards the end on grammatical metaphors.

Basically, he gives warning about the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominalization that is so common in the sciences – in fact the sciences depends on it to even exist – as well as other fields. The subject is removed and replaced with a noun to act in its place *as if* it is a real subject acting, but it’s not a real subject at all.

The guy that does the “neurolaw” – whose name I’m forgetting – is famous for that. Thing is, he’s brilliant, yes. He knows what he’s talking about when he is speaking about cognitive science? yes. But, like many people who are experts in their field, they THEN use that as the exclusive lens through which they see EVERYTHING.

So, for Richard Dawkins, naturally _everything_ becomes evolutionary biology.

For the guy that does the NeuroLaw stuff, EVERYTHING becomes cognitive science.

Part of the problem stems from not realizing that we’re always using measuring sticks of different types to _describe_ reality but words do not make the thing, no matter how detailed. They can make a fa

That’s the guy. I saw him give a great speech on Youtube a few years ago, while he was promoting some book. I bought into it *up to a point” – and then he started to go “too far”… and then he kept going further and further off track. You know that point, right? The point where you have to accept a seemingly small assumption, jump over that gap, and then stick Mount Everest (the rest of their argument) upon it.

  I know mine. It’s good to know your own. Took me a while to find it.

Mine is metaphors/analogies. (I’ll generalize to call them all metaphors).

I use metaphors as the “datum” and so in most descriptions of reality, I look for where this description is a metaphor for something else and keep searching until I find the flaw in it, if it exists. It’s one of my main “bullshit sorters” but I also know that the right person could take it down as a flawed “datum”, although I haven’t found it yet myself.

Now, i’ve noticed we have a similar way of thinking. I notice your profile picture seems to show that you and I *might* be of a similar generation (I’m 45). I’ve heard it said that our generation was a very skeptical generation, perpetually kicking the tires of every ideology so much so that our only common ideology seems to be “I don’t have my ideology yet because nothing out there is good enough”.

Now I don’t know if this is true or not but these are the kinds of things I try to spot when ascertaining the truthvalue of things. I suppose it might be kind of a Foucault way of looking at it. [not that I’m experienced with him. I only read summaries and saw a few videos and was mostly impressed with his crossing over his fingers into a grid pattern and explanation of that… it ‘clicked’ well with me].

So, I try to scrutinize myself and those I agree with with even more ferocity than I do people / ideas that I disagree with. Sometimes it’s a pain but it seems only fair.


I tried to disavow my generation for SO LONG…. “I’m nothing like them”… until I read a thing about how common that is among GenX :) But the clincher was watching videos on “HOW TO MARKET TO GENX” made by people in GenY/Millenials… and I was like, “holy shit…. I *am* of that mindset…. that *is* me… I’m _not_ unique or special in that way. Dang it! Good job but ouch!


lol it i hahaha and they sure are. Watching one half play identity politics while saying “we hate the identity politics of the other side” cracks me up. They’re on the same football field playing the same football game and can’t see it.

Then again, they’re rather lucky in a way. They actually believe a lot of these ideologies that they espouse. *sigh*. That always seemed kind of nice in a way.


I speak the language now though. I’m white male first world GenX Northeast US assumptions, a bit of New Jersey and more white bread than I want to admit. I learned to adapt and I understand GenY’s reasons for activism within their ideologies a little better now. I still don’t like it: I’m “But DIPLOMACY man!” guy yet I guess there reaches a point where one doesn’t feel ‘heard’ in a group way from whatever their identity is that they chose to fight for. But it just seems like such a dark way to view fellow humans. Seems like sports to me. Silly sports. But I’m determined to comprehend as best I can so I keep working at it.


Regarding neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, spot on there. Evolutionary psychology is one of my “foes”. I remember it in the 80s when it had a different name.

My take on it: “Let’s speak of present day observed behavior but throw its origins back to prehistory and write a story that sounds plausible to explain away individuality and choice and lump people together in large groups of meat-machines who are bound to act as they due because, hey, it’s evolutionary and therefore genetic and can’t be questioned”.

EvoPsych is very popular in GenY, a strong part of how many were taught to see things. Mind you, I’m accepting generation theory as valid (the GenX/GenY/GenZ designations but they’re handy personality sorters). So I encounter it a lot in my online travels.

I try to combat the logical flaws of it as best I can. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. I could give a dozen reasons why it’s a bad way to go about looking at your fellow humans but I suspect, that we’re of similar generation and we already share a dislike for it based on what we’ve talked about, I don’t think I’d have to.


I drew one up once… i think I was debunking “logic is basis of everything” at the time but it’s a similar idea. I’ll see if I can find it.


I’ll do it in parenthesis :)

(Universe(Us( History(Math(Logic(Philosophy(Language(Metaphor))))))))

That’s kind of how I see it, although it could use some tweaking.


Darn I can’t find it but there’s a beautiful illustration showing a person and it’s labelled with all the different ways that person sees the world from their perspective. Has north south east west, internal body space, external body space, forward backward up down, swath of arms and legs and all the appropriate names for those things. Plus it has a name. Words like ontic, entropic… keep coming to mind but I can’t remember the word used. But it definitely relates.


Deictic there it is. No way I would’ve remembered that or deixis.




It’s not mine :) My illustrations are usually … meh. But when trying to put together an objective view of collective subjectivity, (which is what objectivity is imo :P ) I like this illustration.

Someday I hope to be able to describe everything solely from my perspective without reference to an imaginary camera looking down from the sky from the Platonic realm. But it’s tricky.



When I was a baby, they diagnosed me with cerebral palsy. It might have been correct or incorrect but there was definitely something. Luckily there was a Cerebral Palsy center not far from where I lived, so my mother took me there from age 1.5 – 4.5 yrs old. They rolled me on big balls as the ground came up at me and I didn’t put my hands out. SMASH… Ow. Cry. SMASH ow. cry, and they helped me until I learned to consciously put my arms out to stop the “ow cry” bit.

Whatever brain plasticity magic they did, it worked and I attended regular kindergarten and beyond and no indications of anything serious.

At 21 yrs old, I spent a year volunteering full time there as a thank you and worked with a lot of kids with developmental disabilities like this. It was early 90s. Worked with the kids, set up the computers and alternate UIs. Loved volunteering there.

I live in my head and am consciously thinking through what I *guess* most people do automatically? i don’t know. Even production of words, I get a cluster of similar words arriving simultaneously and I have but 1/4 of a second to choose properly or else I stutter. Thankfully 3rd grade retraining with strawberry paste and determination on my part eliminated it, creating a bigger conscious area for me to stop and pause in before continuing very quickly.

Also born 1/2 blind and 1/2 deaf but I hide it well. As a kid and an adult, I’d often walk around with my eyes closed, trying to navigate, keeping and building a map based upon whatever senses were left. Sound could tell me location and distance, but my sound isn’t binarural so I make do with one semi-working input (the other mostly useless). But touch? My sense of touch is hyper-sensitive.

Pressures. I see everything as pressures . From those pressures (whether it is the pressures of light upon the retina or pressures of soundwaves or pressures of touch), we can extrapolate distance, position, the relative sharpness of edges and boundaries, textures and relationships between differing ‘things’, whether musical notes or the components of whatever food you’re eating. [fat vs salt vs acidic, etc]…


Well, I use pressure loosely (much as I use metaphor to also mean analogy). Example: photonic wavepackets I see as creating “pressure shapes” upon each of the retinal cells, physically moving the surface of each cell and those pressure being changed into electrical impulses (which are like pressure waves of electrons (which actually move very slowly) passing photons down the line like basketball players doing warmups), down the optic nerve, splitting down the what and the where pathways to construct visual reality, one part the imaginary outlines of objects, simplified so we can compress a lot of visual reality into our small craniums and to help us with ascertaining distance (distance being imaginary perspective lines we place over reality to help us gauge distance), and the other half handling the colors, textures and the like, before coming together into a cohesive image, all little blips at a time while the eye saccades continually taking lots of little 2mm snapshots.


But I’m digressing (I do that). Objectification… identification of outlines… yeah, that makes sense to pinpoint vision and touch for that purpose. The differences in ‘hardness/softness’ on the boundary areas (between air and table for example) simplifies to a kind of “hard line”. It’s a pragmatic objectification. There’s no real need for us know the fuzziness of outlines for most activities. But It’s the fuzziness of reality that I love.


Is this your site? I’m getting the sense by the presentation you give that it might be. If so? It’s quite spectacular.

Yes, I agree with you about the photons . I get so used to simplifying that I forget some important things. Nice spotting on the Vitamin A. That’s one area of vision I’m lacking in: the Vitamin connection. [although there’s likely more].


So you’re saying it’s not the surface of the retinal cells that change shape to match the incoming wave but rather the vitamin A within the retinal cells that does so. Fascinating! I really need to read more up on this stuff. I never fully fleshed out the “pressure shapes” thought but it’s on my far too long to-do list.



sometimes I just visualize a whole lot of this going on




Reminds me somewhat of embodied cognition, which is one of the few general ideologies I can actually get behind.

Oh! I see the direction you’re moving into. (I think). I like it. Perhaps the error goes back to one of my favorite notions: analogies that are “stuck” in our cultural training that only work at certain zooms but which break down upon close examination. But they become incorporated into the very languages we are using making it difficult to express concepts *not* using these analogies / metaphors.

Let’s see, what’s an example: Ah! Concept. What’s a concept? It’s a birth of a thought in the brain. Conceived. Why is a thought conceived? 16h century science. They crack open a skull and see the structure of the brain has aspects similar to the shape of a womb.

So brain babies. Concepts. We have concepts born (of what?) in our brain.

Old science, bad analogy, but we’re stuck with it in our languages. How do you break free of that? Hard. Infects how we view things.

What’s an idea? Platonic realm. Plato’s great and the realm is useful but it’s misled billions.


[by error I’m referring to our hypnosis that you mentioned with the sparks]



Yet, an excessively physical explanation doesn’t work either because we’re *using* these conscious systems to explain away the very consciousness that we’re using. How do they do *that* and get away with it with intellectual honesty?

They shouldn’t.


Oh where it is? Ah! I made a poster a year and half ago using the Gene Ontology database as source data, and spent a few long hours going through until I was satisfied at picking out what I thought represented all neurological system processes for all live on earth, including neurological system processes we don’t have.

I matched it up with some pictures, put some drama music behind it, had some fun. Meant to explore it further,



It’s addictive when you get started. I have an ancient Win7 laptop here, $400 over 4 years ago, on the 2nd keyboard, poor thing. I joined Vine in mid 2013 and started making little 6 second videos. By the time the service shut down, I’d made over 13,000 of them, along with a few youtube videos here and there. Once you get used to your own face and voice and how silly vanity is it’s no big deal.



If you want to make *good* videos, that might be harder. I only use free resources. Windows Movie Maker, ffmpeg, youtube-dl, and various one-off tools like one called PhotoFilmStrip which makes Ken Burns type zooms on images and stuff like that. Plus my phone has some editing tools. My problem is I’m too random. I’d love to come up with a nice “everything in one place” site like you did.

Best I’ve done is a “google for my brain” where I collect everything I write (including this) in. I made it public for intellectual honesty but ugly so nobody would want to go through it. http://icopiedyou.com

Not sure what I’m going to do with it ultimately. Used it for analysis a few times, once I gave a dump of it to Mendeley data so I’d have my own DOI (permanent url for academic stuff), .. and threw it through a dewey decimal system AI classifier to learn more about hidden pattern in how I think (learned a lot).

But I rarely stay on one topic long enough to get a theory of everything that matters to me together on it. One day I hope to.



I tried *once*, to get one of my favorite everything-theories together – three years ago this time frame come to think of it. System-of-systems. It was my “leaky triangle” idea. Spent three weeks totally wrapped up in it. Took public notes here, made a few widgets in Processing… suddenly realized, “Wait.. you got a lot more learning to do here”, so I paused it, so it still just sits waiting to see if I return to it.




The leaky triangle was a pretty simple idea. Basically, this: How does information get to us?

It has to leak out from somewhere. Can’t have a closed system that we’re aware of. It wasn’t long after this that I discovered embodied cognition and that was the missing piece – our participation in the whole thing is what I was getting at and didn’t realize it at the time I did the website.


It’s also a slam at “perfect systems”. With any “everything” system, including my own, I try to find out where they leak. The flaws. I don’t want to depend on a fractured ideology until I know where the fractures are. Then again, I hesitate to get on balconies on high floors because I don’t fully trust standing on 4 inches of concrete 50 feet in the air jutting out of a building with wind-sheer going up it. What if they forgot the rebar?

I”ll get on one but not happily




Nice tumblr pages. I subscribed. Followed. Forget what they call it. My tumblr is where I used to dump vines, but they screwed that all up. Now I dump youtube videos there. Looks nice. I’ve never been good at doing a professional presentation. I know how but I’m lazy. Create, dump online, move on to the next thing.



2921 words. Our conversation helped me produce 2921 words. Thank you :) I never FULLY know what I’m thinking until I write it or say it, so this was very helpful to me. Thanks!


Stephen’s awesome. I’m more surface-to-deep-to-surface in my investigations but he’s deep and stays deep. Marvelous mind.



Reductionism is a strong temptation but it falls apart under a systemic analysis.



Splunking. Sometimes I get lost in the caves and come back to old meeting points, then I find new pathways to explore, start digging lateral tunnels connecting to the places I was lost in, increasing the map. Sometimes I get outside and walk around the mountain and leave it behind for a while. Never sure what my destination is. Probably case-by-case.




So “random” is in control of the process. Who is this “random” fellow anyway? Sounds like an unexpected guest.


http://i.bittwiddlers.org/KOj.gif It’s clearly a Rue Goldberg machine to be sure but it doesn’t explain Rue Goldberg. Physics is one of many lenses through which to view reality through. It’s very useful. But there’s other lenses that physics has no answer to because it’s outside of the scope of physics.


The particles metaphor is a useful abstraction that ceases to be a useful abstraction at certain zooms.

Yet, like the balls-and-sticks metaphor used in chemical models of molecules, it’s useful.

But the engineering gets difficult and reality gets a little sticky beyond a certain zoom. From Casimir effect on down, the interaction of forces plays a greater role and points to a larger problem that’s fundamentally related to a simple fact:

the particles metaphor is quite simply, wrong.


The forces metaphor (which is a metaphorical relation to things like “glue” and “oil” and “wind”) depends on a ‘hard object particle” metaphor to continue.

The thing is: a particles+fields view can end up being misleading if handled improperly. I think it’s bold and useful to approach physicality from a different point of view.

is taking a sense-based approach, incorporating our experience of these things as fundamental, rather than accidental. I think that’s a bold and interesting direction to take.


It’s bold because people will argue if he brings it up because it’s different. I just read it for the first time a little while ago. It’s a little different from how I think but its interesting.

From a pragmatic POV, the models we currently use are generally fine. Continue using the models. The aether was a useful model for a very long time. Newton generally works for most things.

19th century science actually almost solved an awful lot of things, which is why we continue to use 19th century science for most things. I love Maxwell and the bunch.

Yet, _somebody_’s gotta peek under the veil and ask some questions. Can’t criticize a guy for that.













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