Some Grand Simplicities--
What Else Can You Notice Them
Predicting Or Accounting For in YOUR Life?


Laws of Nature - patterns running throughout the universe and throughout our lives, which science has attempted to recognize and describe. Find what the pattern is and you can anticipate, account for, understand and predict what's happening.

Stuff going on at first looks very complicated until we have a way to sort out our perceptions of it and make sense of them. --Until we catch the pattern of what's going on there. Once we have the pattern or sense of it, it is very simple, very elegant and usually, like a snowflake, very beautiful.

Problem: because they do pervade, the more general of these laws are at first hard for us to notice, just like it's hard for a fish to notice that he's wet. Pervading all of life and experience, it's hard to find "dry" and so contrast experience enough to notice.

Unified Field Theory - the more general or encompassing the law being described, the more powerful, with other laws an example of it. Because of the experience-contrast problem, though, the harder it is to find the most general laws to describe and focus on. Reaching for generality, we still need the description to be specific and exact enough to usefully account for and predict what's happening. Like the Holy Grail or Philosopher's Stone, finding the most precise/most general descriptive law, the Unified Field Theory, has been the quest of much of science since Einstein.

En route to the Unified Field Theory, we find one major step of that snowflake: the Law of Effect - you get more of what you reinforce. It is so pervasively a law of nature because of another law, selection: to last awhile, any complex homeostatic system HAS to be susceptible to the effects of its own presence, its own actions, in a changing world. It HAS to perceive its feedbacks and adapt to them, it HAS to be susceptible to reinforcement, in order to survive. Any systems without that feature get selected out, their elements returned to the soup. All complex arrangements around us and within us, living and non-living, are susceptible to and responsive in varying degree to their feedbacks, i.e. reinforcement.


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All complex arrangements around us and within us tend to be self-organizing, complexly homeostatic (self-maintaining/stabilizing systems) responsive to reinforcement/feedback, hence subject to the Law of Effect. (They fall into that pattern of behavior: not because someone passed a law, but because that is simply the pattern running in their behavior. --Just like the "law of gravity:" no one passed any law that if someone steps off a cliff or a high rooftop that he must be, as a penalty/sanction/punishment be dashed to smithereens below - it;s just part of the pattern of how things are running in that regard.)

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It follows from (it's a piece of that pattern, a branch of that snowflake) the Law of Effect being made so pervasive by the law of selection, that complex arrangements such as ourselves, such as we comprise, and such as we are comprised of,tend to be:

Self-organizing systems susceptible to reinforcement, incorporating some of that feedback back into our own on-going evolution. SOME. We maintain who/what we are, but we change to meet what's going on in the world as it changes around us. This is WHY:

> We learn best mainly from feedback/reinforcement on our own activities, rather than from what's done to us. We each preserve our integrity as an ongoing system, but still have to change to accommodate changes around us.

Socrates, Maria Montessori, and O.K.Moore learned ways to elicit those behaviors from learners whose feedback/reinforcements would be most productive of learning. Montessori and Moore learned to rig the environment to selectively reinforce in desired directions from the spontaneous activities of the learner.

> Santiago Ramon y Cajal (The Histology of the Brain encyclopedia from 1911 and from that, in English, the excerpt published in Charles C. Thomas, Inc., Vertebrate Neurogenesis), hailed as the father of neuroanatomy but his main point overlooked by our neurologists nonetheless, what develops a nerve cell, a nerve circuit, the very brain itself:

--Is not genetics though that plays a role;
--Is not nutrition though that plays a role;
--Is not stimulus though that plays a role;
it is that form of stimulus which is feedback (reinforcement) on one's own activities.

Marion Diamond showed the same thing in her rat studies which showed that when rats were placed in highly stimulating environments but were not allowed to play with the toys themselves, simply look over the shoulders of those rats who were, their brains were as thoroughly shriveled as those of rats raised in stimulus-deprived isolation.

Predict from this pattern:

* Learning passively from TV or the media is brain-shriveling even when the contents are good.

* Learning passively from didactic passive lecture is brain-shriveling even when the contents are good.

* Learning by exploring, doing, playing, and from examining as sensitively as possible your own perceptions instead of someone else's nth-hand information, is productive of learning.

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©1998 by Project Renaissance (regarding this internet version only, other copyrights may apply). While we encourage the free distribution of this article (complete text only, including this notice and acknowledgement of source), we do require that expressed permission be granted by Project Renaissance for any major republication. For minor printing and sharing, we only request that you notify us.

To reach Win Wenger, please visit his website at Project Renaissance.

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©1996-2004 Matthew Turco unless otherwise noted

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