My war with and for Memes.
In one of my Septoes, I have stated that we are living in “memcracies” i.e. dominant memes are ruling over us.
The definition of a “meme” – largo sensu is a cultural element
(see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme) propagating usually epidemically by imitation; however for the subject of this essay- that belongs to Science, higher quality and intellect memes are mainly concepts, ideas or theories.
For all the cases, the concept of meme, is paradoxically not a meme per se, perhaps because important fields of real and imagined knowledge as politics, religion but even established science strongly dislike the idea of meme. Even memes that
are like pathological criminals and or obviously combining
violence, greed and stupidity- re-read please “Stop Koalemos!” are considered genuine truths and not lowly memes.
I have to confess that, based on my personal experience and system of thinking, I have accepted the concept- it has both explanatory and predictive power for me.
The duty of a thinker is to create memes, good ones from the sort that solves problems and does not create or aggravate them. I have failed almost completely to do this; my philosophical ideas including those regarding Cold Fusion continue to be unpopular and in danger to go in complete oblivion when I cannot more promote them. It is a possibility that they will be discovered again around 2050, however it is more pragmatic to survive and prosper than to resurrect and start again, without parental support.
Actually it is about a sensitive process of memefication- ideas are selected by Reality- some become almost immortal memes, while other perish irreversibly. The factors of success are overly complex and contradictory- beautiful simple, low IQ, emotionally charged lies are favored to unpleasant, not positive,
complex truths needing effort to be understood, however miracles (in many senses!) can happen. Sometimes, by sudden collective or just uni-personal satoris, a concept, symbol, image or idea gets value, importance and life and starts to generate
newness and light. It is terrifying to see how the most evil memes of the XX-th and the XII-th Century are prospering just now.
Discovering VUCA, a terrible meme
Recently, I had such a moment of illumination and a concept from the management-leadership philosophy that I have ignored till then- was revealed almost explosively.
Kurt Harden’s wonderful “Cultural Offering”- http://culturaloffering.tumblr.com/
has generously included EGO OUT in a list of “25 blogs guaranteed to make you smarter.” I am studying systematically the other 24 blogs –these are really fine and able to make smarter a good part of their readers. Recently, I have discovered a masterfully written paper:
It was a sui generic intellectual discovery; I realized that VUCA is an acronym as inspiring as SWOT and as stimulating as ASAP – the first examples that come to my mind. The previously ignored acronym was converted in, upgraded to- a shining, splendid meme.
Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous is an excellent acronym, describing huge chunks and zones and periods of our world. Obviously not in the ideal or desired sense- you have to combat VUCA- it is an opportunity for the negative to come first and to dominate us as I have described it in my, now fallen, essay:
A pragmatic strategy for catalyzing self-sustained progress http://fqxi.org/data/essay-contest-files/Gluck_essay.gluck1.pdf
see please:”3. Priority and predominance of the negative.”
Actually, really- VUCA can be many other bad things as: violent/vulnerable + undefined/unmanageable+ chaotic/crazy + arguable/acausal- more or less. The Quaspire blog paper also offers a VUCA Solution: Vision- Understanding- Clarity- Agility a quasi ideal one, to the VUCA problem.
VUCA is nothing new, our first ancestors had to confront it as soon as they were thrown out for a vegan sin, from the Garden where perfect harmony has ruled. VUCA is strongly related to other concepts: directly to “wicked problems”, to hidden parameters and dangers, inherent negativity, Black Swans (Black Raptors is more realistic). In a VUCA World the truths are mainly Pareto Truths or worse- irreversibly fragmented- incompatible Lego pieces, maddening color changing Rubik cubes…the realm of the Twin Peaks principle. The Evil si indestructible and in some places, it always wins”
LENR is also a VUCA World- now.
Please take in consideration this: "Words mean more than we mean to express when we use them," Lewis Carroll”
Let’s investigate how much means the components of the malefic acronym VUCA for our favorite acronym, LENR.
V. Volatility- in which senses is LENR- volatile? My instant reaction to volatile is the Italian word volare- flying, also flying away; when a bit of time is added- disappearing. My primary feeling toward “volatile” is negative due to my professional experience, highly volatile substances are explosive, dangerous too. One of my research tasks during my apprenticeship (1962-3) was to remove even traces of volatiles from plasticizers by steam distillation combined with vacuum and for some months I was focused on this task starting with the Bible-like, unique Perry’s Chemical Engineers Handbook.
12-15 years later I was very dedicated to removing the volatile but very sticky residual monomer, vinyl chloride from PVC- difficult task but of vital importance- because the monomer is
cancerogenic for processors and users.
See please the web-dictionaries for the synonyms of volatile- can you discover a single positive one? Even the good perfumes have a well moderated volatility.
What is volatile in the LENR field? Good results and hopes, first of all. From the very start, lots of ideas were considered to
solve the problems- to make cold fusion reproducible, upscalable- to convert it in the Promised Energy Technology, however all were volatile and have disappeared- illusion, deception and new illusions came. Only the fundamental idea
that cold fusion exists, remained permanent, however can we speak about progress when open questions multiply so much faster than good answers? How else can we call the tens of theories that eventually did not help to define, understand and manage the desired phenomenon- excess heat- than non-answers?
No unity could be found in variety, no stop to the volatility, no explanation of the situation, no solutions to the problems as unreliable, uncontrollable weak effects. No solid and permanent experimental support could be obtained...
These days our community is discussing a theory elaborated by the most knowledgeable scientist of the field, Dr. Edmund Storms, see please: http://coldfusionnow.org/explaining-lenr/
and buy Ed’s book: http://lenrexplained.com/
I could not read the book till now- have to wait till it is in electronic form due to my vision problems- I hope the book explains how the theory can solve the chronicized problems of
LENR. We will come back to this “theory de jour”, however for a technologist like me the seems to be too pessimistic, putting too much emphasis on the inherent difficulty and rarity of the LENR process. For its author, the theory is a certainty and so we have arrived to the second letter of VUCA; to a nasty word-
U. Uncertainty- it is difficult to survive and impossible to be happy with no certainties, both personally and professionally. In LENR the offer of certainties is modest and in most cases what is a certainty for some of us, is falsity and trash for many of our peers. It is tragic we had not been able to manufacture solid, non-volatile certainties accepted by most of our community members.
I am explaining this bad situation based on the personal certainty that Cold Fusion was discovered too early, when Science was not prepared to understand and exploit it as I say here: http://egooutpeters.blogspot.ro/2013/09/everything-i-knew-about-cold-fusion-was.html and in many other writings, in vain.
This remains a personal certainty and many readers (if they read the paper indeed and don’t abandon it due to the bad title)
become certain that my CF-specific IQ is very low and I am simply unable to understand the basics of the field including its
history and essence and heroes...
An other personal LENR certainty (even in my worst nightmares or episodes of depression, I have not the slightest doubt about its validity) is that the working surfaces in LENR must be free of alien gases- ergo the wet electrochemical PdD cell will never become reliable and manageable- those who bet on it will remain prisoners in a VUCA world – for lifetime. Here VUCA is more: Vulnerable- Unmanageable- Chaotic- Adrift (both scientifically and technologically). This idea of poisoning of LENR systems with air was ignored with hostility and generated the certainty that I have pathological ideas re the LENR experiments- euphemistically speaking. Many times I got promises of perfectly reproducible FP Cell type experiments that will invalidate spectacularly the very idiotic idea of air-killing-CF. I still wait for these wonderful results and if uncle Alz allows me, I will discard this certainty, together with my humble apologies.
C- Complex- it seems the field is not able to generate the much desired certainties- as LENR Technology- Yes! however these are coming from outsiders as Rossi and Defkalion- surprise! You could guess that the situation is not simple in the field, this new battlefield has added static and dynamic magnitudes to the third VUCA adjective: complex- and is also confusing, chaotic, challenging. It is full of internal conflicts.
It is an elementary principle of the Scientific Method to develop understanding first and only when you know what happens you are allowed to develop technologies. This is a seemingly healthy dogma. An ideal dogma. But is it always possible to proceed scientifically, is it possible and good- realistic, pragmatic materialistic? What when the science per se is quite VUCA-like
as it is for LENR? Are we “allowed” to try to create a technology by discovering some principles and the factors that determine safety using excellent engineering combined with incomplete science? Many of my dearest friends say clearly NO!, science must come first and overall, however Andrea Rossi, the Defkalion team, I and other technologists admit that “technology first” is also possible. I have published a paper with this title in the first issue of Infinite Energy, so I am an old sinner. I have concluded long ago that the scientific method has some limitations, however these cannot be limitations of technological progress. This paper emphasizes the complexity of the subject: http://egooutpeters.blogspot.ro/2012/06/lenr-and-scientific-method-subject-of.html
Perhaps the situation of LENR is unique because real LENR differs essentially from the model(s) accepted initially that persisted almost unchanged till today. A radical paradigm change will alleviate the VUCA status of LENR
A Ambiguous-we have to consider carefully the fourth VUCA feature of LENR too- it is called Ambiguity but it is worse than this going much beyond the multiple and instable interpretations of facts. The field, for the time given is sentenced to pre-logical thinking, see:
http://egooutpeters.blogspot.ro/2011/03/modes-of-thinking-my-taxonomy.html Correlations and causations seem to be impossible or at least, very unsure.
The experiments are based mainly on trial and error, the results are aleatory, in great extent- cannot be predicted and reproduced at will; the cause-effect relationships are quite mysterious, LENR seems to be acausal. The experimental facts are very diverse and cannot be connected in a logically consistent vision with predictive capacity..
Eventually, the researchers don’t know what to measure as cause and don’t know how to measure the effect (excess heat) because it is usually very small and evanescent. The word ametric adequate for our case is not in the dictionary but is in the wet cells and leads to a tragic reversal of the efforts and creativity, from intensification to measurement.
There are no general rules in such a VUCA world, it is difficult to define/determine what is correct and what is error and it seems the tunnel has no end- it has a 3-dimensional Mobius strip topology- no end, no lighting.
Can be LENR de-VUCA-ized?
Improving the status from inside, using the old paradigm or theories like that of Ed Storms as guide is theoretically possible.
New approaches, ideas and methods from outside (rs) as Rossi and DGT needs practical demonstrations- working technologies, in the very spirit of the VUCA Solution to build vision and understanding, clearly and fast.
I believe these will come and after that the field will really radically Change.
Dum spiro, spero!