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As the Paradigm Shifts

Or jiggles, as the case may be.

Paradigm shifts: Overrated?
Paradigm Jiggles (You are in control)
A nice visual metaphor for a paradigm
One Paradigm I want to see Shifted (but why?)
Missing the point of Paradigms

Paradigm shifts: Overrated?

Are "Paradigm Shifts" overrated? Experts (me and some friends) disagree on this. Experts do, however note two things: (1) Most people don't know what their paradigm is to begin with, and (2) there has been inflation in the definition of "Shift".

A Paradigm is a world view, a constellation of theories that one lugs around, whether one is conscious of it, or not.

A Paradigm Shift is supposed to mean a revolutionary change in one's world view. E.g., People thought the sun revolved around the earth, then they decided the earth revolved around the sun.

Whooeeee! Big Shift!

Of course, in the above heliocentric case, you still have the Sun, the Earth, and something Revolving. Some would grumble that this means the shift is just a shift in weight from one conceptual foot to the other. One buttock gets to rest a bit and the other tenses up.

However others say it's not just a tensing of a different buttock, but the taking of a different step. The new paradigm is a flagstone. With your foot on this new Paradigm, you have much better leverage to move on to the next shift of greater understanding. (In contrast, usually we grope our way incrementally in knowledge through the Universe.)

Most "Shifts" are all theory, though, and there's no way to tell if you really have stepped onto a new stone. The test of a Shift is in its practical, substantial applications in the material world.

Which brings us back to Shift Inflation. There are many (of my friends) who play with words and try to pass something like "it's only because we sense the sun that there is a sun. If we aren't there to sense it, then it isn't there and in fact, it doesn't exist" off as a Paradigm Shift, but that is really a head game with few material applications other than chatter over coffee. (Except in the case of Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Series who suggested a search for practical applications to this sort of thinking by envisioning futuristic inventions such as the "Somebody Else's Problem" field. Want to make a mountain disappear? Hit it with the "Somebody Else's Problem" device and hey presto, it's gone. At the same time, somewhere in a galaxy far far away, somebody else now has a big problem.)

But people get excited by their Shifts, however illusory. They say Hark! Epiphany! Revelation! Everything before this was a hoax! We were Blind! And Bald! Now we have the Truth! And a Boob job!

It's OK to humor these people. Civilization exists because we generously humor one another.

You may say it's a matter of degree. Some Shifts are bigger than others. But most people use the "Shift" term like so much New Age packaging, trying to distinguish their re-hashed warmed over idea products from all the other stuff glutting the market. So everything gets hyped as a Shift of epic proportions.

I feel like the Fed here trying to curb inflation. Some dampening of enthusiasm is needed. What most people call a paradigm shift is just a shift in perspective. Call it a Paradigm Jiggle. (This distinction is somehow related to the difference between being a User and being a Believer.)

This site is full of Paradigm Jiggles. I don't want to overturn any major paradigms here (except one). I just want to point out that most people sit on their Paradigms, and don't exercise them, so they get soft and flabby. Then you can tickle them. And then they jiggle. It's fun to wag the fat that hangs down from your Paradigm's arm below its tricep.

So the question here is (for those of you who are Paradigm Pioneers addicted to self discovery):

  • What's your Paradigm?
  • What parts of it jiggle?
  • What parts are firm?
  • What parts are rigid but dysfunctional like a tumor or a knot in the muscle or a javelin that somebody threw that got lodged in your Paradigm's solar plexus and won't come out?

Once you figure out your Paradigm, you can do marvels with it. It's like a car that wasn't running. You can take it apart, figure out why it isn't working, and then fix it, get it to do more than you ever thought it could.

Then again, if that's too hard and you can't get it to actually drive, you can fix or replace the tape player and listen to some tunes.

Or maybe it was fine to begin with and you can break it. Because maybe you didn't want a working car, you wanted a sand box all this time. So maybe, as you're fixing it, and you realize that it's actually a rocket ship, you can discreetly cover over the engine and pour sand on it. But then later, should you need the rocket ship, it will still be there, and now you know.

You see, you have CONTROL over your Paradigm. You can unravel it, discover you don't actually believe what you thought you believed, and then JUST IGNORE THAT INSIGHT! You're human. It's an amazing talent. Don't feel threatened by knowledge. Remember Bluebeard's Egg! You can always ignore what you discover! Let that thought empower you to explore where you would ordinarily fear to go!

This web site for me is where I disassemble my Paradigm in public, ("the Journalist has an obligation to educate themselves in public") making it explicit, transparent, visible, and perhaps, someday, operational.

Currently, my paradigm (or my lack of understanding of my paradigm) leaves me somewhat paralyzed and gloomy. It gibbers with fear that doom approaches (The world is FRAGILE! Stop the KILLING! We are FAILING as a human race! Can't we all just GET ALONG?). It torments me with the egotistical thought that I have a lot of power to do something about the (alleged) doom, so I can't run away from that responsibility. This is countered by a growing Libertarian (or laissez faire?) jiggle. Or something. I don't fully understand that Paradigm either.

Ultimately, my hope is that, once fully functioning, my Paradigm will enable me to take action in the world, by answering the questions:

"Is there any action, other than the minimal self-absorbed maintenance I do now, that I actually need to take in this world?"

and: "If so, what action would that be?"

Part of me hopes the answers will be "no" and "irrelevant" so that I can just go back to goofing off and impersonating opera singers.

So anyway, good luck dissecting your own paradigm. Send me your insights. Or enjoy rolling around in your paradigm and let me grope my way through my own all alone, unloved, ignored.


P.S. A nice visual metaphor for a paradigm that exists in the real world and can takeyou on a cushioned ride through the world is the Zorb. In lieu of doing this Paradigm dissection exersize you could go take a Zorb ride (image to the left is a zorb. ©Zorb, Inc.)

P.S.S. One Paradigm I want to see Shifted:

You know, that pesky "Big Bang Theory" annoys me. Luckily Eric Lerner wrote a wonderful book called "The Big Bang Never Happened" which gave me great delight. No, he isn't some Creationist or card carrying member of the Flat Earth Society. In fact, most Creationists like the Big Bang Theory because it affirms the Christian doctrine of "Creation Ex Nihilo" - of God creating the universe from nothing in a moment, through his "Word".

In contrast, Lerner's book is really cool. Lerner is a "Plasma Cosmologist" and says that Gravity is one of the weakest types of energy in the universe, but it's what Bing Bang theorists hold as the primary shaper of the universe. He says that with everyone in thrall to the Big Bang, scientists aren't paying much attention to the more powerful forces that shape our universe such as electro-magnetic energy (I think that's the "plasma", it's been a while since I read it). I haven't heard any direct rebuttals to this guy. I want to see a documentary on the topic by the guy who did the documentary "Brief History of Time" about Stephen Hawking. 'Til we have more interaction and debate on this topic, my jury is out.

Missing the Point of Paradigms

So I'm arguing with Daddy one day and my logic is thrilling to behold. "Good Point!" cheers my sister as I let fly another zinger. "Yes!" agrees Daddy. "Excellent point. You know, of course, that a point has no dimension." And this is such an excellent point. A line has one dimension. A plane has two. Space (empty space! and so many people confuse space with "nothing." ridiculous) has 3. With time measuring change in position in space you have 4. (Which makes me wonder, does space itself change its position?)

Yes, most of this website is really pointless. OK, it starts at one point, ends up at another, then equivocates right back. Lots of loops and tangents. I know, the teenager in me groans as well. What is the point? What is the purpose? Why? Like mountain climbing or making your bed. You get up, fix the bed, go out, up a mountain, daring rattlesnakes, sweating, hosting ticks. You come home. Right back where you started. You shower. You go back to bed. And then you do it all over again. The spinning wheel keeps on spinning. Fully commit to your paradigm shifting, like the Zorb in 3D and 4D.




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