Analysis vs. Common Sense

The problem with the analytical model is that we have developed the tools to take anything apart to a level where its complexity reveals either too many interconnected elements for us to keep track of them, or, as is the case with physics, indeterminacy, where we acknowledge our inability to know. The human mind can usually keep track of the interactions of three or four elements, but beyond that requires the use of computers. In a similar way in math, it is easy to solve first and second order equations, but beyond that we have to solve them by playing with them on a computer. When we add more elements we can’t get answers, just regions where the answers tend to pool, called attractors. Young_Lady_Old_Woman_IllusionHowever, we keep on trying, because seeing differently is hard to do. We argue here for recognizing our complexity and educating ourselves on the complex adaptive systems theory–and it’s not rocket science. Every living organism is complex enough that complete analysis is impossible, though there are many trying. Every living organism has some ability to read and respond—to adapt in some way—to their environment.  Bacteria are the master at this and we can learn much from them. This adaptability is completely beyond our analytical and computational power – we need to see it differently.  The lady at the right can be seen as a young lady looking away and to her left, or an old lady looking more at you.  In one, the nose is a chin and the eye is an ear depending on which you see.  When you see differently a whole new world is open.

Craig Reynolds is a computer geek who modeled flocking behavior using three fundamental rules: keep a proper distance from your neighbor; aim to the center of the flock, and; move in the same direction as the flock. In our book, The Boids and the Bees: Guiding Adaptation to Improve Our Health, Healthcare, Schools, and Society we look at these rules and how they can bee applied to how we all adapt.

Resilience and Adaptation

We are certainly not the only ones to see this problem, but if anyone has taken the next step we haven’t seen it. There are now many programs that try to build resilience—healthy adaptations—in individuals, but no one has seen such measures as useful on a large scale. As with resilience the next step is going beyond analytical thought processes to see how and why we adapt in the ways that we do. Evolution is made up of adaptations that either prove themselves or are weeded out through natural selection. These adaptations are in our genetic makeup, but the ones we make consciously in adapting to our environment follow the same rules. Those that work in evolution both help us to survive better and lead to the diversity that is the hallmark of a healthy system; our conscious adaptations are more likely to be healthy if one follows the rules. We need to honor and support the survival traits we have inherited, but in this day and age, what is needed is more diversity.

The Role of Common Sense Medicine

We are a tax exempt, research-oriented foundation dedicated to helping fund studies that look in this holistic way at humans and their institutions. If you share this interest in complex adaptive systems theory, we welcome your support in promoting alternative thinking. If you are a research organization we welcome your partnership. If you are an interested person, we have articles and webpages you may follow. In them you will see how changing our paradigm makes sense, and the steps to take in doing so. As Kuhn so well pointed out, when you change your paradigm a whole new world opens up to you. We wish you well in your exploration. BEFORE GOING ON YOUR WAY PLEASE VIEW THE FOLLOWING RULES.

Rules for Healthy Adaptation:
silhouette of a mother and son who play outdoors at sunset backg

  1. Check it out with a group of trusted people. Adaptations aimed at survival are good and necessary, but they tend to what is called ‘gaming the system’ and often use others in the process of insuring one’s own survival. If others are involved our ethic is don’t use people without their understanding and permission. More of what we need today are novel adaptations that increase our diversity.
  2. Find a safe place to play. Dangerous places push one towards the survival mode and gaming.
  3. Experiment with your situation. Mental play, what Einstein did, can be fun. Often the most fruitful mental play is found in what is called a “non-ordinary” state of consciousness. If others are involved the best results are usually in joining with them in playing–it’s called brainstorming, partnership, and teamwork.
  4. Don’t get hooked on the result; yours is not the only right answer.
  5. The purpose of life is to learn, and mostly learning how to love.

(If you have trouble grasping these concepts, attempting to think like a child, with a fresh perspective, may help you arrive at a better understanding of our ideas). Thinking analytically has affected many facets of our society.  Read more about the consequences of analytical thinking in the following areas:


*Insurance is designed to pay for the unexpected crisis. Health insurance started that way in the U.S. but gradually, because the companies we work for were paying for it and getting a better tax break, it morphed into paying for it all. That means we have less interest in getting the ounce of prevention than if we were paying for some of those costs. Children we talk to about the dangers of drugs just say they’ll get a brain transplant if they burn theirs out. That’s why we think that Health Savings Accounts should be promoted by the government more; they put the individual back in a position of responsibility in making more choices in their health care. With Health Savings Accounts an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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