Visualizing Our Future

As an engineer, now far from my educational roots, I still often think of societal and human dynamics in terms of the models I learned years ago at college. In today’s post I am using a fluid dynamics model to explain what has happened to our society, which will perhaps, offer a clue about how to restore a more peaceful, caring, and flourishing condition to our world. The first figure shows a transition from streamline (or laminar) flow to turbulent. The mode one observes is related to the Reynolds Number, defined as the ratio of inertial force to viscous force.… Read More

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Smaller, Not Larger Families Are Necessary to Save the Planet

Today (4/30/2024) the Washington Post ran a guest editorial with this title, “The ideal number of kids in a family: Four (at a minimum).” The author is Timothy P. Carney, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of Family Unfriendly: How Our Culture Made Raising Kids Much Harder Than It Needs To Be. Carney argues that the more kids, the merrier. He writes, The best way to make parenting and childhood happier and less stressful is to have more kids, not fewer of them. . . . Smaller households, where the parents adhere to the quality-over-quantity… Read More

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Ohio to purchase mobile homes to train public school staff in firearms

This above title of this post was the headline in today’s online edition of the Guardian. What a terrible idea! This proposal is a perfect example of what economists and others call a moral hazard. Moral hazards are basically situations in which one party takes on risks that another would bear the cost should the outcome require it. The term can also be used to describe an action that purports to solve some problem, but actually fails to deal with the real causes and diverts attention from an effective course. While the term is relatively new, the concept can be… Read More

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Article Finally Published

After an excruciatingly long wait, my article in the Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion has been published. I submitted it about two years ago. It is part of a special issue, titled: “The Rise of the Well-Being, Happiness, and Fulfillment Driven Organization.” The article is free to download. Just click this link. Here is the abstract: ABSTRACT Modern humans are failing to attain their existential potential, expressed as flourishing. Simultaneously, mega- problems like climate change have arisen as unintended consequences of normal societal behaviors. Both failings lie at the deepest root of modern culture, the way we think we… Read More

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An Important Limitation of AI

The Harvard Gazette has a story today about the deleterious effect AI has on human empathy. Here’s the first few paragraphs: Artificial intelligence holds the promise of optimizing many aspects of life, from education and medical research to business and the arts. But some applications may have a deeply worrisome effect on human relationships. During a talk March 20 at Harvard Law School, MIT sociologist Sherry Turkle, whose books include “Reclaiming Conversation” and “The Empathy Diaries,” outlined her concerns over the fact that individuals are starting to turn to generative AI chatbots to ease loneliness, a rising public health dilemma… Read More

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The Importance of Being There

One of my favorite movies of all time is Being There—Jerzy Kosinsky’s great spoof with, for me, a serious message. Peter Sellers plays Chance the gardener, who morphs into Chauncey Gardiner through a mishearing. Tossed out of his employer’s home into a world he had never experienced, his encounter with it produce a series of misadventures that eventually have his name whispered as a potential presidential candidate. He simply advances through his new outside life by being there, doing his own innocent thing. But it’s the interpretations to his simplistic comments by the several other characters in the film that… Read More

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The Awesome Power of Speech (Part2)

In some earlier, never published work, I explored the work of Jurgen Habermas, the German philosopher/sociologist, who has written extensively on the failure of modernity to bring forth the humanity of our species. I would add, rather, he was writing about flourishing or, better, the inability of modern humans to flourish. More explicitly, he developed his “Theory of Communicative Action” as a way to preserve the idea of the human as a rational creature and to avoid the domination he sees inherent in modernity. He, perhaps most among other living modern philosophers, has been concerned about creating a “rational” society,… Read More

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The Awesome Power of Speech (Part 1)

In this very uncertain time, when the future stability of our societal institutions is imperiled, it is very important to look at the power of speech. Speaking is an act, just like walking or any other movement of the body with some intended outcome. We usually are unaware that speech involves moving the lungs, vocal chords, tongue, and lips. The performative character of speech has been the focus of philosophers, sociologists, philosophers, and others for quite a while. For the readers who might want to go beyond what I note in this blog post, the writings of J. L. Austin… Read More

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Making Peace with Nature

Apocalypse Now is more than a movie title. The list of present dangers is long and getting longer: deserts spreading, wetlands lost, habitats shrinking, oceans overfished and choked with plastic, dying coral reefs, one million species at risk of extinction, record floods, extreme hurricanes, oil spills in sensitive areas of the oceans, air pollution killing nine million people a year, deadly wildfires, half the world living with severe water scarcity . . . . Scientists have been warning us about this for decades. Now we are beginning to hear from other quarters. In a recent speech on ‘The State of… Read More

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How Do We Know What’s the Right thing To Do

I have been puzzled ever since I was introduced to McGilchrist’s divided-brain-model as to what determined which hemisphere would dominate at any moment. That is a different question than asking which one was dominant over a long time. The second relates to the overall character of individual behaviors, as well as the general character of institutional behaviors, from the smallest, like families to the largest, that of societies as a whole. My own work echoes McGilchrist’s finding that modern, industrial societies act as if they have a collective left-brain that has dominates the cognitive domain. My path, however, to this… Read More

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