ESSAYS AND BLOGS ABOUT SCIENCE
AND SOCIETY AND OTHER THINGS
I am a retired scientist concerned with social responsibility, science and public policy, life within multiple complex systems, and the excesses induced by ideology.
The historian Crane Brinton once remarked that the weakness of a society is measured by the size of the gap between its ideals and its reality. Both in the U.S. and in the so-called developing countries, we see attempts to impose political ideals upon the realities of economics and social norms. In these pages, we define complex systems and then explore society and economics as nested complex systems. We’ll look at the weaknesses—called unintended consequences—that emerge when imposed ideals conflict with the internal operating rules of the complex system. If you prohibit liquor in a free market, you get organized crime. If you suppress a particular class or subset of society, you get misbehavior, increasing poverty, polarization.
In these posts, you and I will explore how ideals and ideology impact a technical society and its individual members. We’ll examine society itself as a natural—but regulated—complex system. And sometimes we’ll just share the stories and tender moments of living and loving, and our concerns with those things that become reduced to memories.
I try to post an idea here once or twice each month. There are more than 130 posts under the blog menu, each shown with a few-line extract. Most of the blogs remain timely. Scan down repeatedly until you find what interests you, or use the search box in the upper right corner to locate a blog or a page by a word or phrase. Look in the Blog List to see all blog posts by title, after which you can go directly to the post you want by typing in the search box. You can subscribe to receive new posts automatically by email. If you’re new to this site, I suggest you first read Blogs 1, 2, and 3 as an introduction to complex systems. I invite you to comment on any blog or essay, any time. Finally, if your group might might be interested in science for non-scientists, consider my seminar. For important gatherings, I will travel beyond the Bay area of northern California. I do not accept payment.