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a theory of ignorance


I. The fundamental currency in all cultural transactions is certainty based on either evidence or belief.

II. The demand for certainty is always greater than the supply of evidence.


a global theory of mind
v.4 3.14.2014

A unitary theory of mind/brain has to conform to the whole context in which the mind/brain evolved, developed and functions. The design of consciousness serves the function of the body and the body serves the function of the species. The function of the species is self preservation and reproduction within the parameters of homeostasis possible in the environment. Species adapt to environmental conditions and individuals seek homeostasis with the adaptations acquired by evolutionary selection. Consciousness serves the individual by providing semantic modeling refined by environmental feedback and prioritized by homeostasis to guide and adapt the individual to changing environmental and social conditions. Evolution is the process, homeostasis is the organizing principal, genetic, neural, cognitive and linguistic information is the medium.
Homeostatic process is the distributed organizing principal of every living system. A homeostatic system is the biological thermostat that seeks to maintain the equilibrium of hundreds of interacting parameters such as body temperature, blood sugar, blood pressure etc. The collective expression of all of our homeostatic systems, all of those floating set points reacting and adjusting to each other, constitutes emotion.
The evolutionary purpose of emotion is to focus our consciousness on those variables in our environment that are vital to our survival. The waves and troughs of homeostatic imbalance trigger the formation of long chain neurological processes that associate body states, sensory stimuli and the memories of previous homeostatic imbalances to initiate engagement in the environment and to form new memories that connect need with action and reward. Emotion helps us separate and memorize adaptive knowledge from the ocean of everyday experience.
Homeostatic process is the source of biologic value in the successive emergent processes of extended consciousness and is expressed as emotion physiologically, as instinct sub-consciously, and as feeling consciously.
Primary consciousness - attention upon an object or task as prioritized by homeostatic process.
Extended consciousness - awareness of attention and reflective potential to direct attention.
The selective advantage of tool use and the tool-making process required repetition of tool making techniques which created a physical syntax (subject/right hand, object/left hand, verb/action) for remembering and communicating adaptive technologies. This syntax was so adaptive that it generally bi-laterilized connotative and denotative functions in the cerebral hemispheres. “Off loop” oscillation between hemispheres/functions (internally recreating tool making and tool use) results in recursive short term memory and awareness of attention as separate from memory. Memory separate from attention creates time and self as tools of awareness for directing attention.
Syntax of tool-making (sign language as proto-language) bootstraps vocalizations into shared recursive tools/symbols for communication and cooperation. Syntax of language bootstraps short term memory into narrative for creation of long term memory, identity and as mediator of individual epistemic uncertainty. Shared memories inform group narratives as the cultural mediator of epistemic uncertainty.

Derived from the theories of Antonio Damasio, Zoltan Torey, Ian McGilchrist and Michael Graziano.


Globalisation is undermining the basic stability of nation states. The globalisation of labor markets hollows out the middle class in developed nations and spurs the rise in incomes among the poor in developing nations. But the corporate class that benefits the most from the economies of scale of globalisation has no allegiance to any nation state anymore, labor is disposable and subject to arbitrage. So there is no incentive to pay for the physical and institutional infrastructure that nation states provide, corporations can just hop to the next developing nation willing to bid down the price of labor.

Global supply chains turn nations into specialized units in the chain so whole sectors of a nations economy are decimated in the interest of global efficiency but the result is that nations become less self-sufficient and more dependent on globally supplied commodities and services.

So nation states have less control over their economies, are less able to generate dependable revenues and less able to provide basic services to their citizens.  

But the externalities of doing business - pollution, infrastructure, social disruption and resource depletion - are only externalities within the economies of nation states subject to global arbitrage. In a globalized economy there are no externalities, only delayed costs. And now we are all beginning to pay for those costs.

Workers in a globalized economy are expendable. People who work for a living are being devalued, whether they have a job or not and whether they live in a developed country or not. And the governments who represent those people have been bought off by the 1% and refuse to see the problem. That is what Occupy is about.


Evidence-based certainty uses rationality to gradually prove or disprove theories based on empirical evidence. Belief-based certainty works in the other direction, the desired certainty is already known and rationality is abused to build on carefully selected evidence to “prove” that belief.

Belief-based certainty will always have a higher value socially and politically in the short term because it satisfies the immediate need for certainty. If a belief is repeated within a media echo chamber and supports the desire for absolute certainty then it becomes a political certainty for those that need it.

Evidence-based inquiry is a process that only produces a gradually increasing probability of certainty in the long term. Facts will lose the news cycle but quietly win the cultural war.

Markets mediate the uncertainty of survival and governments mediate the uncertainty of markets. The uncertainties of competition in the market motivates individuals to create efficiencies and innovations in order to enjoy the greater certainties of wealth. Government regulates the market to insure competition where it works to create opportunities and replaces the market where it restricts opportunities and exploits inequalities.

So the uncertainty of competition is both the bull that drives the economy and the bear that everyone seeks shelter from. Government has to both enable and disable the uncertainty of competition for the greater good.

Those on the left seek shelter from uncertainty in public sector employment, labor unions and government programs that provide a safety net where markets fail as in education and health care. Those on the right seek shelter from uncertainty in government contracts, government regulations that protect businesses from competition and public funding of the externalities of business which includes the costs of infrastructure, pollution and periodic market failures of the financial system.

Neither side wants to pay for the other side’s protection racket. Both sides have to be kept in check and both are prone to their own particular kind of corruption.

But when multinational corporations cooperate to pit one country against another to create a regulation free global business environment then those corporations have the upper hand and that only creates certainties for a tiny minority at the top and cascading waves of uncertainty and disruption for everybody else.


Politics can be mapped with just two variables - wealth and tolerance of uncertainty. When an individual accumulates a certain amount of wealth their orientation shifts from seeking change to benefit themselves to seeking security to protect what they have accumulated. That point varies from person to person depending on their individual tolerance for uncertainty, the more tolerance for uncertainty a person has the less they seek security from their fellow citizens.


If God is what we do not know then prayer is curiosity, love is faith and sin is acting as if we know what God is.


Analysis deals with a set of knowns and ignores everything outside of the set. But when we consider context first, including what we do not know about a situation, we are confronted with the assumptions that we use to deal with the unknown; religion, superstition, folklore, conventional wisdom and the prevailing cultural norms. So when we consider context before analysis it becomes clear that the underlying currency of our cultural transactions is certainty based on either evidence or belief.

Those are two interconnected sets of certainties, our physical limitations within our environment and a cultural set of shared symbols and values. Our language and shared beliefs help us mediate the uncertainties of our physical existence. Those beliefs are embedded in a personal narrative.

If you were to closely observed someone throughout one day you would find that they acted in ways that reflected a broad range of beliefs. Survival requires adaptability, sometimes we need to be absolutists (to respond to challenges that threaten our welbeing) and sometimes we need to be relativists (to understand the challenges in order to learn from them). However if you asked that person to explain their actions throughout the day you would probably find that they defined their behavior in a narrow singular sense. We like to have a narrative that we can wrap all of the uncertainties of the world—and perhaps more importantly, the uncertainties of ourselves—into a compelling story.

The emotional context of our experience may determine the narrative of how we mediate the unknown. If we feel our past was chaotic then we seek absolute explanations of problems and solutions. If we feel our past was restricted we resist singular deterministic explanations. We all use absolute and relative judgements but explain those judgements in partisan terms to maintain our consistency.

Our narratives do determine many of our decisions but they do not limit our choices. The danger lies when our narrative overrules our intuition, when absolutists impose their judgements upon everyone else and relativists refuse to judge themselves.


If God is what we do not know then we are as God to the experience of others and others are as God to our experience.