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Pilosopiyang Politikal ng Isang Pinklawan, Part 11: Subversives

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

Subversives are subversives because they attack the mental model dominant within some community. Two kinds of subversives. Those who lead communities to "more information," to use Claude Shannon's words, and those who lead to less information -- less information, meaning more inbreeding of ideas. We should protect the former, discourage the latter -- with reasoning, of course.

Mental models are linguistic in nature very much like programming scripts that give us computer systems. Photo by Peter Ruetz, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.

Communities are communities because everyone or almost everyone belonging to these wield the same mental model. Physicists are physicists because they wield some mental model that makes them preoccupied with “interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales” (quote from Wikipedia). Newtonian physicists are Newtonian physicists because they primarily carry Isaac Newton’s mental model as distinguished from that of Albert Einstein’s or that of Quantum Physics’.

As already pointed out earlier here in this blog, mental models are important for the processing of inputs to our systems as organisms so that we are able to predict events that may or may not happen around us. This processing and the eventual prediction of events help us survive the demands of entropy.

Entropy is most apparent when some system is in crisis.

When a community believing in a principle or a system of principles makes a prediction and the prediction does not match or contradicts the actual event, then there is an anomaly.

The usual reaction to an anomaly by a community is to assume that its principle is correct and that the mismatch is a matter of human error. Thus the search for the error that must be somewhere else.

Mismatch may actually be proven to be the result of human error at times. In the case of the perihelion of Uranus, the anomaly involved has been explained away by pointing to some other planet beyond the orbit of Uranus affecting predictions about the behavior of Uranus along its orbit. Thus the discovery of Pluto, the anomaly explained by pointing to ignorance about Pluto.

When, however, an anomaly persists, observed more and more times by more and more members of the community, the anomaly begins to disturb the community. Something must be wrong somewhere that is not attributable to human error.

Anomalies not only persist, they also proliferate. In the case of Newtonian physics, the anomaly regarding the perihelion of Mercury for a while during the 19th Century has persisted and has become intractable. Later, the behavior of light across vacuums is called attention to. Much later, the behavior of electricity across vacuums is called attention to. Attempts to explain the latter two anomalies have led only to yet another anomaly, that which pertains to the Michelson-Morley Nobel Prize winning experiment. Under such terms, a crisis exists.

Crisis is the state of a framework of generalizations, principles, indicated by persistence and proliferation of anomalies.

In times of crises, subversive activities are inevitable. Crisis means predictions have gone wrong. Crisis means human error simply cannot be the only reason anymore for the wrong predictions. Crisis means individuals very much aware of the crisis are going to look for alternative mental models that not only explain away current anomalies but also provide more accurate predictions -- with a wider scope of explanatory and predictive power spatially and temporally.

Crises are indicated by competition between mental models. Late 19th Century and Early 20th Century crisis has been a period of competition between Newtonian Physics that has dominated the world of science up for over a century, on one hand, and alternative physics, e.g., Einsteinian Physics, on the other hand. Late 20th Century crisis has been a period of competition between Einsteinian Physics, on one hand, and alternative physics, e.g. Quantum Physics, on the other hand.

During these periods of crises, subversives show the inadequacy of the old mental models and propose alternatives to it. At some point, some new mental model championed by some subversive wins. A new community with a new mental model is established.

Who wins and who loses is determined by Shanon’s Law, the “more information” law. Mental models that, among others,

  • explain away the anomalies that have, in the first place, caused the crisis,

  • are relatively more coherent,

  • give more reliable predictions with more empirical support, and,

  • promises to open up more areas of scientific inquiry


The direction of time is towards where there is more information. This is what Shannon’s Law tells everyone about entropy.

99.9% of eukaryotes reproduce sexually. Reason is that it is more advantageous for adaptation to have access to more information. Male and female genes together constitute more information. More information, more capacity to adjust to where events go.

Who wins and who loses is determined not by some Emperor with New Clothes. On the contrary, rule by some Emperor with New Clothes inevitably leads to “less information,” less chances of adapting to demands of entropy, less chances of survival.

The progress of science is dependent on scientific revolutions. Scientific revolutions happen because of the work of subversives — subversives who work and sacrifice so that society at large gets to have some mental model that opens doors to “more information.” Without these kinds of subversives, our capacity to explain and predict as a society or as a civilization remains the same as the universe expands in space and time, as more events yet unknown to everyone take place. More events become intractable without revolutions of mental models.

As with science, same goes for civilization at large.

Everyone should remember, there are two kinds of subversives. We recognize here the contribution of the kind that opens doors to "more information," more chances that prolong the existence of our political system.

Not into what those who think revolutions are about taking up arms are interested in. Not sure if they even know what revolutions in science are all about.

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