Monday, August 23, 2010

Lateral thinking, the foundation of progress.

Thinking out of the box, otherwise called lateral thinking (Pensamiento Lateral, in Spanish), is the need of the hour. Although defined as unusual and apparently faulty technique, it is our savior today what with all the myths doing rounds in every area of human endeavour. The present civilization reminds me of what Shakespeare wrote centuries ago:
“But man, proud man,
Dressed in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep.”
William Shakespeare (1564–1616), in Measure for Measure.
No body seems to want to bell the cat in our present delusion with falsehood and distorted thinking, lest s/he should cross swords with the rich and the powerful in every area. Mankind seems to be in a deep slumber driven by advertisements, which are the legal way of selling unethical and dangerous ideas to the public. Power-muscle, money, or intellectual- seems to be the boss.
The scenario reminds me of a new reverse evolution of mankind from man to monkey after having evolved from the monkey to man for millions of years, according to the theory of evolution of Darwin. Even though there are gaping holes in the Darwin’s theory, the neo Darwinists want us to believe that theory. There are academic departments trying to sell the idea. If the idea is that good and is an all time truth, why do we need any one to sell the idea?
One telling example will suffice in the development of our eye from a depression in the skull of lower mammals. To form one rod or cone in the retina we need thousands of biochemical reactions, none of which, individually, has any survival benefit motive. If Darwin were to be alive today he would have written about the reverse evolution in society of man’s behavior, based on what Shakespeare wrote, as seen above.
Science, a laudable effort to understand Nature by man, has now been turned into a greedy business with patents and intellectual property rights. Scientific research frauds are the order of the day with skeletons stumbling out of every major player’s cupboards daily. Serendipity alone rules the roost in every discovery. Today there is a very thin line between science and religion as both have become power crazy!

If Watson and Crick get the idea of DNA structure in one of their dreams, there is some energy that puts that thought in the head in sleep. That energy is otherwise called nature or God, depending on one’s beliefs. How on earth does that thought become Watson’s or Crick’s intellectual property to be used for making money? Thank Heavens; people like Einstein, Heisenberg, Thomas Alva Edison and their ilk did not patent their findings. If they were to do that life would have been that much more expensive for the poor man on the street.
Every single chemical molecule that is studied by the greedy industry becomes their patent for a certain number of years and they have the sole right to sell that to the gullible public at their own fancy rates. If one looks at the NPVr (net present value risk adjusted) for any drug today one would be shocked to know that the profit margin could be in thousands of times of their investment! All this happens because we have made science ride piggyback on technology to let the greedy make hey when the sun shines, thanks to the myth of intellectual property rights. Is the human kind hardwired to be altruistic, as shown by Vernon Smith and David Kahneman in their 2002 Nobel winning study called the “Dictator Experiments?”
“No” says their own colleague John List! On the contrary, the truth is that human kind is hardwired to be greedy (homo-economicus) as shown by Professor John List, at the Chicago University’s economics department. Using the same Dictator experiments with a little alteration in the protocol, John proved his point and also his life’s experience. John did one simple modification in that he told the subjects in the Dictator experiments that they will not be observed by the researchers during the experiment. This little change brought out the real truth. When not observed, every subject cheated, unlike when every subject was altruistic under the watchful eyes of the researchers!
The Nobel committee did not want the truth and John did not get any credit for showing the truth, probably had trouble for him in the department for proving his seniors wrong! True culture is what one does when no one is looking, was the opinion of Henry David Thoreau. That is the essence of India philosophy as well.
Walt Whitman rightly said “that character and personal force are the only investments worth anything.” Unfortunately, what has happened to the world now depends on what Voltaire once said: “every man, as to character, is the creature of the age in which he lives. Very few are able to raise themselves above the ideas of their times.” Let us try and raise ourselves above that curse.
“Truth is bitter”, wrote Aristotle, “it can only influence half a score of men in a century while false hood and mystery drags millions by the nose.’ The scene had not changed centuries later when Winston Churchill wrote that “a lie gets halfway around the world before truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
This blog site would try to bring forth a truth in every area. It never tries for the truth. Let us start with the science of man, which no great scientific master in the past bothered to unravel. They all excelled in exploring the science of inanimate matter which was much easier. Physics and chemistry did just that and biology started riding on the back of those linear sciences.
In the 12th Century when medicine was accepted as a science by the Universities in Europe, medical leaders also accepted the existing science of linear mathematics of physics and chemistry which has resulted in much misery for mankind today. The existing science of medicine uses the linear laws for a non-linear dynamic system-a round plug in a square hole indeed. Manaeveam manushyaanaam, man is but his mind, avers the ancient Indian wisdom. Western science has not been able to grapple with human consciousness which is what man is all about. Let us start from that point for future discussions in this blog site. “Knowledge advances, NOT by repeating known facts, but by REFUTING false dogmas,” wrote Karl Popper, one of the all time greats among British thinkers. We have a very big job on hand to do just that.

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