Let's Prehend
A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design

BIRD, Name the Bird

Little Richard walking in the park with his father, "Daddy, what's the name of that bird." "It doesn't matter." "No, I want to know the name of that bird." "I could name that bird in every human language and it wouldn't tell you anything about the bird."

Granted, naming the bird will help Richard find out what is written and pictured about this bird, and surely Daddy will help with this information. But Daddy Feynman was making another very important point. The human mind wants to pigeon hole the bird, giving that feeling of completeness and satisfaction sometimes called `understanding'. But it's a ruse and a lie. This compelling kind of verbal understanding does little to deeply understand the bird - how it flies and lives, what it thinks and feels, what is its place in the ecosystem and the universe. This Demand for the Integrity of the Model, DIM, this need for the verbal system to dominate the mind, conflicts with the perceptive mode of thinking. This problem needs a special name. Let's call it the Dissociation Of Words from perceptions, DOW. Notice DOW seems driven by DIM. (DOW is similar to the Tyranny Of Words, TOW.)

DIM DOWing is not poor thinking, it is inherent in verbal consciousness, inherent in the nature of the mind as an information processing machine, inherent in our fall from grace. We can acknowledge this sin from our origins and patiently and lovingly correct for it as best we can.

One of the many recent studies showed a video of a crime scene to two groups. One group then described the criminal in great detail while the other group was distracted with other concerns. Then both groups were shown the line up. The verbal group did much more poorly at identifying the criminal than the `non-verbal' group. This study is not only important for law enforcement, it offers an important example of NAB. The verbalization must have `abstracted' the mental image of the criminal and distorted the perception, making recognition faulty.

It gets worse. The entire pattern of verbal consciousness inherently distorts reality to fit its model. Naming the bird, DOWing, `pigeon holes' the bird. The DOWing mode is also seen in defining rather than describing, proving rather than inferring, and other aspects of our Rationalist IDealist, RID, tradition that dominates our intellectual culture. In wholesome contrast, the scientific community struggles against this tradition to study reality as it is, as objectively as possible. Unfortunately, the narrower the descriptions are the more accurate than the more inclusive. Our model of quarks is more accurate than our description of groups. Physics is called a hard science, and sociology fuzzy.

Striving to use this scientific approach, but not reducing the scope of attention is called objectivism. Objectivist do not `believe' but like scientists they know that their images constantly evolve. Objectivists hold that proof is never the last word and is problematic, that certainty is a DOWing indulgence.

Even though our scientific tradition wrestles with by this RIDly tendency, we would do well to apply this objectivist approach to the fuzzier sciences and to human ecology as a whole. ("Let's Prehend, a Manual of Human Ecology and Cultural Design" tries to do just that.)

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