Friday, February 28, 2014



                             [based on journal entry of 12/20/2006]

Linear versus global thinking was a problem in writing my evolution book.  Related problems are evident in the science and religion hierarchy; perhaps in other human organizations as well.

Global, or right brain, thinking is difficult to present to others because of the linear nature of speech, writing, and other left brain processes.  Not all are comfortable with the side tracks or tangents, as I mistakenly labeled my insights in classes, insights that are essential to see the big picture of complex subjects such as evolution.  Many want just the facts or essentials and deprive themselves of the chance to get true understanding of a subject.

In ecology, evolution, physiology, and perhaps many other areas, multiple causes are part of the explanation of how a result comes about.  Unfortunately, many scientists have made the mistake of finding evidence for something contributing to an effect and take it as disproof of other factors contributing to the same effect.  Even worse, they find an incorrect conclusion of proof from their experiments and dismiss alternate explanations.

In evolution, I first realized some of the problem when evolutionary connections indicated by morphological gradients leading from one group to another were given a directional understanding that was 180 degrees from an equally plausible explanation.  Perhaps skimpy fossil evidence of age of groups was used or other presumed evidence from anatomy; whereas simple to complex is no more reasonable than complex to simple as evidence of direction of evolution, depending on selective pressures.

In science and religion, orthodoxy is championed by the hierarchy.  They choose the operative principles and enforce them.  When most of it is good, the process is good.  But the process of change becomes geological in speed and minute in immediate quantitative aspects.  The peer review process may lead to an inbreeding that prevents advances based on things reviewers do not fully appreciate.  This is hinted at by the fact that many papers that represent important advances opening new areas of science have had many rejections before finally being accepted for publication.  Eugene Garfield provided many such cases in the “Citation Classics” items profiled in Current Contents, Life Sciences during the last half of the twentieth century.

and on 12/29/2006

Regarding the entry above about errors of science and religion, I was thinking a few days ago that a larger number of things apply that include government and organizations of all types and society as a whole in many cases.  Authority, imposed, elected, or acknowledged, may be given greater credence than deserved.  Tradition or the status quo is hard to overcome.  Majority view is given more respect than it deserves in many cases. 

Was it Abraham Lincoln or Will Rogers who said “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”?

Joseph G. Engemann     2/28/2014

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