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Explanation via Chaos (Part 5)

SERIES: Explanation via Chaos
AUTHOR: Jim Schofield


High Anxieties: The Mathematics of Chaos This TV programme was an attempt to explain away the Bank Crisis of October 2008 without apportioning any blame. The culprit had to be established as the natural tendency towards chaos in our trusted extracted relations. This was urgent in a context when many others knew precisely who to blame. The problem was to divert such blame away, a team of experts had to be assembled who could effectively carry out this vitally necessary diversion.

At the same time this author had to debunk their apologia and redirect blame to where it clearly should reside. The narrator of High Anxieties goes all the way back to Newton and the Scientific Method to find the answers, but in the process misses the crucial flaw in that method which dated from then. Instead of revealing the limitation of plurality-inspired extractions from Reality, which explain a great deal, the team instead blamed "the natural tendency" of all laws to subside into Chaos without warning. This team's remit becomes crystal clear. It is all our own fault for accepting the validity of extracted law, but, of course, this is untrue! It is clearly THEIR and THEIR COLLEAGUES fault - not ours! Sensitivity to initial conditions was indeed slowly realised, and the pessimism of this team is of that ilk which presses everyone to "give up now you'll never do it!" Indeed, their thesis is encapsulated in Ruelle's assertion that the "combatants in the First World War were not fighting each other... but the Chaos of Reality". Even the self-inflicted demise of Alexander Niapolov in Russia is put down to the inevitability of Chaos in his researches, whereas I'm clear that he topped himself because of the impending success of the Bolshevik Revolution.

An included expert in such matters defines Stability and Instability using models of Hills, Valleys and Smooth, Round Balls, but nevertheless adds nothing of value. The problem is clearly ignorance of Emergence displayed by the whole team. All these experts seemed wholly unaware of the route by which Emergence was grounded as being real. It included Geology, Hegel and the Theory of Evolution, but they had never however thought it necessary to address such events as relevant to their remit.

But slowly, other strands were confirming this change. From Michelet's Historical Materialism, to the new materialists around Karl Marx, a new synthesis was indeed possible. Yet our established thinkers did not consider these ideas. They rushed to the computer as "enabling technology" which could decide whether Laplacian determinism was correct or not, and if not, why not!?
But this was almost immediately scuppered by Ed Lorentz with his clear revelation of sensitivity to Initial conditions in turbulence. Though most saw his work as undermining the whole agreed methodology, others sought refuge in Random Noise. Even this proved fallacious. The whole pluralist method forced many relevant factors into the category of ignorable background Noise. But, sadly for them, these proved to be the very elements which undermined ALL pluralist-derived equations.

Yet the clear direction of study implied by all of this was not undertaken. Interestingly, the makers of this programme include visual identification of formulae which very easily descend into Chaos, without dealing with them in the narrative or in any other way in the programme. In this equation and its analysis lie the seeds of Chaos, but it is not addressed at all. The culprit in computers is surely the numerical methods used in finding solutions, but they are not mentioned either. The overall conclusions are pessimistic and not attributable to any perpetrators. In spite of the actual case of a successfully directed Revolution in Russia, no-one utters a single word about it. In the end it is concluded to be OUR OWN FAULT, we trusted these equations. We pumped up generally stable situations into unstable ones, and we could do no other because we cannot predict such things.


1. The realisation of Emergence in Nature came via a new route. The eons long changes discovered by the Geologists and the philosophical revolution due to Hegel directed attention to Qualitative Change.

2. With its culmination in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution both gradual and accelerated episodic Change were clearly indicated. The “lived with” gaps of the old methodology could not be tolerated, when the only discernable evidence was Qualitative Change

3. But the prejudice against Hegel’s Idealism and the lack of a Scientific Method in Geology allowed these to be “walled off” from the main body of scientific ideas and methodology.

4. But slowly, other confirming strands were emerging. Michelet’s incomparable historical materialism applied to the French Revolution, and the conversion of the best of the Young Hegelians to Materialism allowed a remarkable philosophical synthesis to be begun by Karl Marx and his associates.

5. Episodic revolutionary Change within a background of usual Stability was becoming unanswerable: they did indeed occur!

6. Did any of this get discussed by our team of experts? The answer is, of course, “No!”

7. From the Crash of 1929 and that of 2008 ALL were “nobody’s fault” (or alternatively “everybody’s fault”). They were inherent in the mathematics which drives Reality. What could anyone do about that?

8. And there is more! The next “nail in the coffin” which initially seemed to offer full solutions was the advent of the Computer. The colossal overheads involved in delivering Laplacian prediction might now be tried out with these amazing devices.

9. The appearence of Ed Lorentz seemed to scupper such optimism. In his studies of Turbulence he found that vastly different results could be obtained from the SAME equation, merely due to tiny changes in Initial Conditions.(the famed butterfly effect)

10. Such very small elements in a situation forces a reappraisal of the attitude of all traditional scientists to the question of NOISE! The assumption that such things could be either ignored of removed by averaging was brought into question.

11. Could not the significance of such minor variations change in significance? Could THEY not in special cumulative cases precipitate an overturn?

12. Now this did not force a turn to considering Emergences. The option taken by our experts was much more pessimistic. Determinism was dead!In spite of general stability, it seemed that in the last analysis ALL was down to pure Chance and our pluralistic techniques would fail without any possibility of predicting it.

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