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You Can Now See Your Whole Life Ahead, Do You Like What You See?


charles brough
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The idealistic young man can look ahead and see his whole life before him---a job, house, famiy, then old age---and it somehow seems so predictable and meaningless. His parents may hold religious beliefs, but he is educated enought to dismiss the thought of a huge spirit floating down from "heaven" in "the End Times" and the like. He is not going to be suckered into believing in illusions and mythology.

 

So, he figures that once he gets his liberal education from the four years in college he has planned, he will learn what life is all about and find something worthy to be and to look forward to. He is no hippy expecting to find it from some guru in India or Nepal!

 

So, what happens, he spends his four years in college studying a mountainous mass of confusing, conflicting economic, sociological, political science, psychological theories mixed up with five thousand years of easily forgotten history and up up to a billion years of paleontology, anthropology, archeology, etc.

 

By the time he is finished, he has given up ever making sense or meaning out of itl. All he can do is look back at it and regard it as a sort of "trial by fire" used by the upper class to weed out the underclass.

 

But after going through his four years of grade inflation, he is then introducted to degree-inflation. His four years were just first step. He has to get more degrees to really "qualify." If his parents are wealthy, he can become a professional student.

 

I say that in social evolution one can find the explanation of what is going on in the living world to the same extent physics explains the physical world.

 

 

 

 

 

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The idealistic young man can look ahead and see his whole life before him---a job, house, famiy, then old age---and it somehow seems so predictable and meaningless.

...

If his parents are wealthy, he can become a professional student.

This seems to be a generic biography of a small fraction of the member of the upper class of some western nation, such as the US. "Professional student" - one who spends vis life as a tuition-paying student, never matriculating to a paid tutor or teacher - is, in my experience, a very rare lifelong profession - I've not know anyone who remained in it past the age of 40.

 

The lives of most people are not well-described by this generic biography.

 

What is you intention in writing it, Charles?

 

I say that in social evolution one can find the explanation of what is going on in the living world to the same extent physics explains the physical world.

The fictional character Hari Seldon would, per my read of him, agree. :) I disagree, finding the analogy between physics and any of the soft sciences usually associated with a subdiscipline called social evolution to be more deceptive than useful, for primarily the following reason:

  • Physics describes its domain more exactly the smaller it is - that is, the fewer bodies there are in it. Although, in the case of the smallest systems described by quantum mechanics, these descriptions are probabilities, they are none-the-less, when sufficiently small, exact.
  • Theories of social evolution are useful primarily for classifying individual actors - typically human beings - and behaviors by generic actors, into large collection. For small domains, such the behavior of a specific individual person, it isn't very useful, because any predictions of specific event outcomes - ie: Alice does/does not kill Bob on 4 April 2012 - made with the theory is more likely to be wrong than one made using the common techniques of the event domain - ie: detective work.

For sociological models to be reliable - which I believe none of them currently are - I believe they must be agent-based, relying on effective models of how individual people decide on specific behaviors. I'm very interested in this kind of modeling, but believe that little progress has been made in the discipline in the past 20 years. In support of my belief, consider that the most references to significant work in the field with the name arguably most descriptive of this approach, synthetic psychology (such as this cognitive science dictionary entry, typically contain few or no references since Braitenberg's early 1980s work on "vehicles".

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