Removing Roots

The prior two posts compared social problems to roots in our garden.  Tools for finding roots are well established in business, so we can use those to find the roots of our social problems.

Defining the root was a big part of the last post, and it goes a long way to solving the problem.  Getting to know the entire root is important, as every gardener knows.  Leave a little bit of the root, and the weed grows back.  But you can’t leave even a little bit.  Gardeners have all sorts of tools to remove the root, like this one.

Great for removing the root cause from your garden.

Doing this in society is going to require a different set of tools.  What we’re trying to do is start a revolution.  To do that we need to know as much about the root cause as we can.

In society, the root cause will always be people.  Who are they?  What motivates them?  How can we move them the most with the least amount of effort?  What events can capture their imagination and convert them into forces for change, at the root level?  Do they even agree with us that there is a problem?

This is how you start your revolution.  A drastic change in thinking must begin somewhere.  And effectively it always begins with a single person.  From there it will progress one person at a time.

If your cause is just and true, then it will grow.  Your root cause elements will accumulate, and like the gardening tool, eventually force that weed from the garden.

For those who prefer to pull the leaves off of weeds and leave the roots, and complain when they return, move on.  They like to complain, but don’t want the extra effort of removing the weed forever.

Remember, choose your battles.  Come the revolution, there will be many battles.


Root Cause Revolutions

Last post talked about using a root cause analysis to find the true source of our problems.  Tired of electing dictators? who label criticism as “fake news?”   Frustrated because rich pampered playboys get to be Supreme Court judges? even when the women they’ve assaulted confront them?

You’re not alone.  But yelling in their face or complaining to your friends doesn’t solve the problem.  In fact it only makes it worse.  So what should you do?

Dig.  Dig deeper.  Why did this happen?  What created these monsters in the first place?  How are they fed?  Why are they fed?  Who benefits from having dictators as president and rapists as judges?

It’s not going to be an easy job.  I’ve done it, and it’s painful.  And you might not like the answers.  But getting to the answer is an answer in itself.  But like any hard task, you have to remind yourself why you must continue.

To start a revolution.  To change things for the better.  To make this a better world for your children, for their children, for any children.  Even for the rest of the planet.

By asking yourself why, by getting the answers to why, you will find out the exact point where the revolution must begin.  It doesn’t matter if you are thinking about women’s rights, immigration, gun control, or even protecting wetlands.  It all begins at some deep point, and that’s where the revolution must begin.

Last post explained why we call it “root cause” analysis.  Because agriculture is so important for us, when we remove a weed, we know we have to remove it from the root.  And not just part of the root, but the entire root.

The same thing applies to our social problems.  Find the root.  Define the root.  Outline the entire root.

Good job.  No matter what the problem, you can find the root and define it.

Now, there’s only one more step on the way to making this a better world.

Stay tuned.


Democracy versus Trump

Politics is usually highlighted by conflicts between selfish egos, and not necessarily relevant to the study of behavior as a whole. However, the Drumpf presidency is of an unusual magnitude, and bears a quick comment.

Background. President 45 declared he would shut down the government if the Democrats in the house didn’t give him a wall. Why he didn’t ask the majority Republicans in his first two years wasn’t addressed.

The Democrats said no. The Democrats passed two bills funding government, but the Republican Senate and the White House both refused to entertain them.

The Speaker of the House, Pelosi, suggested that Trump should write his annual State of the Union speech instead of addressing the nation. In retaliation, he refused to let her fly military aircraft on what was supposed to be a secret fact-finding mission to war zones.

My observations: Evidence has mounted, and tensions are building. It’s not inconceivable that the USA could see massive strikes and even demonstrations in the near future. However, what’s more important is what the Democrats have NOT done.

Impeachment proceedings seem inevitable. Why are they taking so long? Because of Nixon.

When Tricky Dick was near the end of the impeachment process, he saw the writing on the wall and resigned. Then his hand-picked successor, Ford, pardoned him. Such an escape for a nearly convicted felon has never been so painful to watch as it was then.

Conclusion: The Democrats remember Watergate. If Trump were impeached today, there’s a good chance his successor would pardon him. Therefore, were I the Democratic party, I would consider making the impeachment process a very long and painful part of history. Then, only when a new president (possibly unfavorable to Trump) is ready to be installed, only then would the hammer fall.

You heard it hear first, folks. Pass it on.

FUN Science time

Did you know science could be fun?  Yes, science.

Fun for everyone!

Archimedes did it.  Einstein did it.  Now we can do it, too.

I’m talking about doing a thought experiment.

In fact, not only a thought experiment, but a thought present for YOU.

Let’s make you rich.  Really really rich.

No, not as rich as Gates, or Buffet.  Richer.

Not as rich as Bezos or Zuckerberg.  Richer.

Not even as rich as the entire USA.  Richer.

This is a thought experiment.  We can go where it’s impossible to go.  We can go to the very extremes of possibilities.




As of this moment, there is no income, no particle of wealth, absolutely nothing of value that you don’t own.  The queen’s jewels?  Yours.  The queens toilet and toilet paper?  Yours.

That donkey raised from a pup by that Himalayan monk no one has seen for several decades?


The question for us behavioral scientists is this.  What happens next?

If economists were any good at what they did, they could answer this.  But they can’t.

In reality, you’re going to spread the wealth.  After all, you’re going to want to eat.  You might even want a companion.  All of that costs something.

People who have “your stuff” might feel that you are far enough away that they don’t have to pay you for it.  That Himalayan monk?  Chances are you’re never going to meet him.  Good luck getting that donkey back.

Of course, the incentive for anyone else to work will be diminished.  But they have to eat as well, so there’s a chance that a shadow economy will emerge, based on bartering and some other items considered valuable.  Your items of course, but how will you know?

Slowly, surely, your own wealth will be spread around, so that some kind of work will begin again.  But how quickly?

The problem is that you also own everyone’s assets.  So even if someone works in a restaurant to feed you and others, you will receive the profits.  Which means, ultimately, you get even richer.

Enough fun.  How about comparing our experiment to today?

Today’s world does have a Gates, Buffet, Bezos and Zuckerberg.  These people do have incredible levels of wealth and income compared to select individuals of the past.

How does this impact the rest of society?  Is it a good thing?

There are those who tell me that rich people are good for the rest of us.  But in the beginning there were no “rich” people.  What does that mean?

It means we need to think about this, more, better, and deeper.  And it means we need to do more thought experiments.

Careful though.  They can be too much fun!


Space isn’t big enough for Philosophers

The easiest academic job is in mathematics.  If you’re lucky enough to land a tenured job in that ivory tower in math, your life will be filled with joy.  At that point you’re required to be creative, and the work you do is measured by an absolute standard that everyone in your discipline understands.  There is no ambiguity, there is no room for personality or psychology.  If your work is published, then you can contributed.  Congratulations.

The further we look, the more galaxies we find.Not so for other types of academics.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are supposed disciplines of Philosophy and Economics.  In these, almost nothing that is published can be considered as improving the human condition.  It’s rare enough that a small group of them agree with definitions or methods, but impossible for the entire community to agree on anything.

Example: Go to any symposium filled with some large number of economists or philosophers, and see if they can even agree as to when coffee hour should be called, or where the next meeting is held.  And then hold your breath.

The implications for space colonization should be clear.  If there is ever going to be a virtual ivory tower built on the moon, the first line of academics must be in mathematics and the HARD sciences.  Results count, at every stage.  Slackers are NOT welcome.

Philosophy and Economics, on the other hand, must STAY OUT.  Until those academics learn how to communicate using common language, simple concepts, and consistent definitions, there’s no need for the confusion they would sow.

Ask a philosopher what his discipline means for the world, and prepare to sleep.  The correct answer is that they “think about thinking.”

Don’t even bother asking the economist, even for fun.  It can get ugly.

So the next time you watch a space show, be on the lookout for any academics in the cast.  If they teach philosophy or economics, you’ll know you’re watching a fantasy show that’s light on science.