the one rule to install in your world view

A world view of some sort is fundamental to every person. How sophisticated it might be and ones ability to express it – that’s a different story. In a very real way it’s the causal basis of a brain. It’s a physical structure. It’s a graph of vertices (neurons) and edges (synapses). It’s a particular way billions of neurons connect to each other.
What’s really uncomfortable is when this mental basis gets cracks, crumbles or falls apart entirely. In an emotionally safe environment, ideally provided by parents, kindergarten and school, children can form their world view with a lot less hassle than any changes on it cause if they happen later in life. That’s why world views beyond childhood are mostly of additive nature instead of recursively shaped when it comes to their core. Adding, some editing, some suppressing, but rarely fundamental changes. The “costs” are too high of such a deep restructuring.
From the point of system stability it makes sense if a world view is actually working to stabilize itself. The more solid a fundament the easier life decisions become. The ability to ignore dissonances here is not to be underestimated. That ability can outperform almost any other mode of brain operation apart from half-automated basic modes like survival instinct. A brain has to compare the costs of a change to the much cheaper costs of simply ignoring or bending the disturbance into the existing model. These costs can directly be derived from the fundamental (computational) operations one can perform on graphs. Navigating (reading) a graph is by far the cheapest operation, next comes adding, then deleting and finally editing as the operation with the most cycles required. Think about a simple graph and the steps required (the algorithm) for each operation and you’ll see.
Science works the opposite way. As soon as a you encounter an empirical contradiction of your model you are forced to change your model or throw it over board. No matter how attached you are to it. Notice that throwing over board doesn’t necessarily mean the theory is plain wrong, it might just mean you found a case that’s not covered by it and you are thereby invited to find a higher abstraction that encompasses all of the old model plus accounts for what contradicted the previous model. Measurements can’t lie, so all scientific measurements ever taken will always be true, it might (should) just be the case that our models to explain results evolve to more comprehensive ones.
Just imagine the following. Imagine a person that decides at some point of there life that truth is more important than how one feels about it. Just that simple insight. So so radical and so so rarely. Applied as a rule it means to enact the scientific method on ones own model of the world (again, we all have such a model). It means to adapt or change ones world view as soon as one encounters contradictions. It means to be especially careful to ones resonance or sympathy with any topic or opinion because it might just mean that ones world view is in the process if tightening in on itself… maybe just getting one step too comfortable. Imagine how unbearably exhausting this must be, practically ready at any moment to dump your core in favor of the search for the next more comprehensive iteration. The social pressure on such a person would be immense because social fields are always slow to adapt to fundamental character changes of their members, given they stay members. Yet, imagine what an immensely powerful instrument for truth-finding such a person would be. The starting point in terms of age, culture and class is arbitrary as long as that one rule is carved into “mental stone”. That being said of course a person living within a stable and rich infrastructure has to spend way less energy on worrying than a person worrying about how to avoid going to sleep hungry today. If basic needs are not covered it gets almost impossible for a brain to focus on anything else than the next step in surviving.
So if you can, by all means, do install this one rule in yourself and become a system capable of iterating it’s own operating system. It means leaving behind a lot of places of comfort, but you’ll be better off in the long run. Without the rule your world view just does what it’s architecture compels it to, become more dense and evermore resistant to fundamental change. A ship sailing onward on its self-created ocean, only possible to do so because the infrastructure is sophisticated enough to provide – independent of the quality of what’s in your brain. Of course you can find a group that supports your special kind of world view. A group of like minded validate themselves, that’s what they do. Social validation though is worth nothing compared to scientific validation. Worse, social validation can be very dangerous.

I should not finish this post without talking about myself, not doing it would be weird and dishonest after all of the above. I had a fundamental change of world view initiated in 2011, stable in the next iteration by 2012 and still noticing the ongoing reconfiguration. Very recently I was told something that I have to work to integrate if I want to follow THE rule. So a big chunk of my current model is now labelled as ‘ready for remodeling or phasing out’ and I am expecting this process to happen over the coming years. To be more specific is not in the scope of this post. It helps to write the above observations and thoughts as a way of pep talking myself :) I am not the imaginary person described above, yet I am striving to be it.
Notice that the thoughts expressed in this post are my own, though I would most likely not have them without the influence of Randall Lee Reetz.


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Benjamin Aaron Degenhart

Currently pursuing a Masters in Computational Science and Engineering at TU Munich.

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