Wednesday, November 12, 2008

348. THE QUARTER SYSTEM IS ONE LONG DISTRACTION FROM TRAIN OF THOUGHT. Case study day with a Fictitious Dialogue with an Advisor

A Sample Fictitious Case Study of Intellectual Combat: I am Recommended to Take it Lightly

A typical dense conversation of intellectual combat. I described it very well to a friend of mine today, so I decided to write it out.

Case studies are NOT science!!!

So, only replicable studies are considered science. So, a case study is not science. But my other co-advisor uses case-studies for his research?! Don't you guys talk to each other at all?

Case studies are only for business plans. That's not science.

But isn't there this case study called "Planet Earth." What do you do when N = 1?

Oh, don't go there. Don't go there on me--

And you can't do cognitive maps / cognitive analysis of stakeholders. That's not a scale question.

Yet it is. It's a scale-dependent "perception of the resources and the environment" issue.

But your background is in biology, ecology, and evolution. Why don't you use it?

I am using it! My understanding of biology allows me to construct metaphors between biological and human-environmental systems! My biology background ALLOWS me to cognitively/spatially analyze stakeholders.

You can't connect Psychology and the Environment. A psychology degree is 4 years. You don't have the credentials to study psychology.

You allow me to play on the playground and I can only play on the swings and the sandbox, and you won't let me play on the monkey bars? Why not?

Our school cannot support playing on monkey bars. Sure, our school is interdisciplinary, but you're just being spread out way too thin. There are no psychology professors on campus who will take on an environmental science/environmental media students. The other grad student had to resort to getting a Film-and-Media Studies professor. She has no psychology background.

My sister is a psychologist. I talk to her every day. She received a degree at UCSB. She's getting a physical therapy Ph.D. We are practicing psychology as we speak. I have lived 27 years and you would think that I have observed and manipulated human behavior, to some degree?

Oh, don't go there on me.

Don't economists of this department derive their economic models based on research done in psychology?

Oh, don't go there. That's not true.

If you look at the list of Nobel Laureates the last ten years, did you notice that 2 or 3 of them actually come from the Psychology background?

[No comment.]

When a geologist and a biologist go out to Goleta Beach, aren't their fundamental perceptions and value systems of Goleta Beach different? And why? And how do their values influence their foreseen acceptable and potential management plans of this beach?

Sure, there is some degree of relativism in environmental science, but I believe that there are universal principles in science. We woudn't have cars and airplanes and buildings if it weren't for science.

Don't you wish all the OTHER stakeholders KNEW that?

Well, I see your point. One time I went out on a trip with a European philosopher. There were two groups of scientists: one group from France and one group from the United States. We went to make commentaries on natural and human-built structures, and we all had fundamentally different world views and perceptions of the same systems--

Okay, I see your point.

If we all had some level of common conceptual vision of the same system--some baseline of common perceptual understanding, values, and assumptions--wouldn't we be communicating better? Wouldn't this global environment be managed better?

Okay, I see your point. --- I hope your grandfather is doing okay.

[He passed away last night, November 12, 2008, as I was writing].

I suppose the best way to disprove a stubborn intellect is to acquire the approval of everyone else. It's fun to document Conversations that Venture into the Absurd. Another piece of writing I will have to do is document the Dialogue between me and a former friend of mine, who provided the illusion of orphanage, which played heavily on my sympathy, when essentially he pushed all his family away. And then he pushed away me. So much for being a thoughtful, considerate little Buddhist in the forsest. Save the world, and push away all your family. Uh, the practice of contradictory value systems, eh?

Aside thought: if a system is known very well, in terms of all forms of aspects, then we would have the capacity to manipulate its components to design new systems. So, essentially, in every very-well understood discipline, there is an "engineering" equivalent to the discipline. Humans hardly know and understand non-linear (multi-variable) systems, so, we only have Climate Scientists, not necessarily Climate Engineers. Though Dr. Mary Droser wants my dad to be a Climate Engineer, not just a climate scientist. Essentially, humans are so manipulated, most of this planet is now Engineered Earth.

Case studies require narratives. History of Life on Earth is a Narrative. And all science does is figure out the parts to sync up with the narrative? Relationship between scientific writing and narrative.

Another intellectual bulldoze day: Writing about Ray and family. Then Packed Lecture (4 in 1) on Macroevolution. Dr. Sam Sweet is brilliant. It was these lectures that shifted my perception of Reality. Changed my life, back as an undergrad. Transformed my reasoning abilities from absolutist to relativistic. From deterministic to probablistic. It's a way of living, a way of thinking. Not just some model of macro-evolution. It's a way of perceiving reality. Adaptive Radiation and Mass Extinction. Adaptive Grid Model. Adaptive zone. Key innovation. Island Biogeography extrapolated to a Continental and Global Scale. It was amazing everything Sam Sweet was saying, I had visions in my head. I could conceptualize what he was talking about. How come Valentine could create a Measles World thought experiment? How come I can't? Why not? Okay. Rehash. I look back at that lecture and every single thought in that lecture was profound. It has taken me a few years just to fully realize and conceptualize a small set of lectures of Sam Sweet. Adaptive Radiations and Extinctions? I think I got the "Pigeonhole" term from Sam Sweet and Professor Ackmann in the math department. Seems like physical and intellectual niche space has been divorced. Random stuff in my head.

Wasted two hours doing nothing of graduate school significance. Told Dr. Freudenberg yesterday: "THE QUARTER SYSTEM IS ONE LONG DISTRACTION FROM TRAIN OF THOUGHT." Ha ha ha. Talked with Jaime. He gave me a hug. My grandfather is gone. I love everyone. I give everyone hugs. Everyone is beautiful. UCSB is my academic family. Everyone means so much to me. Maria came by. I think I will be fine. I told Maria I am here because my grandfather would be pissed off if I missed class. She asked whether I was very attached to him. Obviously, yes, she could see. I was crying. Lost a big chunk of history, eh? Not only ourselves within the family, but humanity and human attachment to landscapes in general. A huge symbol for my existence. A baseline symbol for who I am and why I do what I do.

I finally met with Julie Standish, currently at MRL. I thought she would be in the Bren building. I will be presenting the rock crab film (which will be difficult for me), and some images of Scale. What I can do is show an image of a Rock Crab and ask people to give 60-second commentary. Or actually just map ideas on the crab. Then show the film. Then show a few images. The main point of the presentation is to say that in history of science, the university has focused on "the very small." But right now we are at a time where we need to zoom out and look at "the very large." We need to ask big questions and have interdisciplinary, broad-scale problem solvers. You guys are it. This is the next generation. This is our planet, it's our generation, you know. So, when the time comes for you to ask your question in science or whatever discipline for your senior thesis or your masters--I ask you to reconsider at what scale you will be operating at? And it's very important to undersand the big picture before you can zoom in and focus on the very small. Consider what scale of operation you are pursuing. Everyone has a role in their research, from the very small to the very large, from deep time to the present--but please, search and explore the big picture before you go venturing off into some specialized discipline. If you want a coordinated existence of humans on this planet--please consider the big picture. And that's it. The only goal of the lecture is to teach people to teach themselves.

Then I just came home. I want to return to more crucial places.

Such is the day in a life of a graduate student and any scholar on campus: a chronic stream of interruption of train of thought.

No comments: