Metavalent Stigmergy

How New Default Consensus Realities Instantiate

How Does Order Arise in the Universe?

0With all the chaos and ignorance manifest in and among every human experience and societal systems, how can anything reasonable or organized ever stand a chance? In this episode of Closer To Truth, two nobel laureates lend a measure of comfort and hope for those of us who can otherwise barely tolerate the seemingly accelerating disarray of our American dystopia.

One interesting parethetical observation: SUPERSTITIONS, while not exactly rampant, do plague science from within. Scientists are not at all immune to purely superstitious clingings; albeit, said clingings are generally crafted in the elitest of highbrow lingo, which can further cloak their superstitionness to the quotidian querier (yes, it’s a word). However, for those who can SPOT THE BULLSHIT FROM WITHIN, the opportunities for comparatively revelatory expansion are, perhaps, effectively endless.

Some highlights:

MURRAY GELL-MANN: “The whole point of emergence is you don’t need something new to get something new. It is so much nicer to study each science at its own level and find the regularities that jump to your eye at that level, and that’s what emergence is all about.”

ROBERT L. KUHN: Let’s talk about science in the 21st century. How do you see the next two decades?

DAVID BALTIMORE: I think it might not be a bad idea to develop secret antibiotics, antibiotics that we have in our arsenal but nobody knows how they work, I mean, nobody except a certain select group, knows how they work. So resistance to them. I think we have to be thinking that way.

MURRAY GELL-MANN: I think it’s not impossible that the progress in fundamental physics and the possibility of actually learning the basic laws finding the unified theory of all the particles and all the interactions, finding the initial condition of the universes might be found.

ROBERT L. KUHN: What questions do both of you think about at night?

DAVID BALTIMORE: Well, you know, you think, as a scientist you’re often thinking about very dull and mundane questions that come together to form something which is larger than you expect or at least you hope they’ll come together. When I was an experimentalist in the laboratory, and that’s a little while ago I’d go to sleep thinking about why the experiment that I did today didn’t work and that could be because I had the wrong solution, I had used the wrong glassware, I had used the wrong analytic method, or because I had the wrong way of thinking about it. And I, you know, you never know at what level the problem exists, and so you’re thinking about all these things at once, trying to figure out which one you can go in the lab the next day and vary in a way that’ll tell you whether it’s trivial or interesting and give your mind something to think about the next night when you go to sleep.

MURRAY GELL-MANN: It’s the same with theory, you worry about if your theory doesn’t seem to be working, doesn’t seem to be agreeing with the real world you worry about which aspect of the theory you have to change and, sometimes, the critical thing is to find some accepted principle that simply isn’t so, to go outside what they call the box, to go outside of regularly approved ideas in order to find that variant that will work. But, you better make sure that there isn’t some very good reason for that box. Mostly when you’re outside the box you’re doing crank science, but, every once in a while you find that there’s an accepted limitation that is not a real limitation and by. Einstein, for example found that absolute space and absolute time were a nuisance and there was no reason to have them. When I thought of the quarks, for example, they had fractional charge, well people didn’t like factional charge very much, they were, I figured right away that they would be stuck permanently inside of things like the neutron and proton and that was not a popular idea. And, so on and so forth. But I realized that there was no real reason for these forbiddenesses.

DAVID BALTIMORE: I had to accept the reversal of a flow of information in biological systems in order to work on how viruses were able to integrate into cells.

ROBERT L. KUHN: What does that mean, briefly?

DAVID BALTIMORE: That was, I mean, that was the central dogma of the time, it was to say that biological information flows from DNA to RNA to protein, and what we showed was that it could go back from RNA to DNA and that was treated as revolutionary. But actually, when you think about it, it was sort of trivial chemistry to imagine that that could occur. And there was nothing particularly revolutionary except for the fact that nobody was thinking that way.

ROBERT L. KUHN: In fact affirmatively thinking that that can happen.

DAVID BALTIMORE: People actually they hadn’t even thought a whole lot about whether it could or couldn’t.

MURRAY GELL-MANN: It’s like a superstition.

MURRAY GELL-MANN: But it’s very rare in science. You have to be careful, most of the time there’s a damn good reason why people don’t assume certain things.

ROBERT L. KUHN: And it is superstition.

MURRAY GELL-MANN: But, every once in a while, you come across an accepted idea that, [the vast majority of the scientific community says,] “you mustn’t think such-and-such-a-way, it’s just wrong,” and when you look closely, you realize there’s no reason for it and it’s usually an opportunity to explain something that you couldn’t explain before.

Watch this 27 minute episode now, on the ResearchChannel web site.

Written on August 13, 2006