How EINSTEIN hampered HEALTHCARE, both medical and societal
“So watch closely. Skin remains cut if it’s dead, but not if it’s alive. In the first case, it complies with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, in the second, it does not. You might be forgiven for doubting the existence of an Anti-Gravity machine — but please, for the benefit of global healthcare, never doubt that Anti-Entropy not only exists, but works everytime you cut yourself — providing you still have enough life left in you to heal the skin.” [This appears in the section Einstein and healthcare below — global healthcare here includes avoiding our very own extinction.]
The Glory of Science — Certainty, Consent & Our Scientific Courage — where 2 + 2 NOT = 4 — was Science ever perfect? — Einstein and healthcare — Why ‘Scientism’ fails us — Where’s my meristem? — Where does that leave us?
The Glory of Science
SCIENCE is glorious, but only so long as the Theory behind it remains intact. And the Theory behind “Science” disintegrated just as soon as the speed of light misbehaved. Einstein may have ‘solved’ the one, but only at the grievous expense of the other. The trouble is that human reasoning is based on what humans see. How their reasoning works depends on what they’ve been looking at. Once you go beyond that, then you are into wide open spaces, where fancy can too easily run free — once there, you see and ‘believe’ what you really want to see or believe. But reality doesn’t actually work like that — and I’m writing from a medical background — if you don’t breathe, you die, if you don’t eat you perish — whatever ‘scientific theory’ you favour, you’ve got to respond and adapt to your environment, if you want to survive in it. Though inescapable, that’s not as easy as it seems, especially for a species that calls itself sapiens.
Let’s take the most elementary reasoning that ever there was — 2 + 2 = 4. What could possibly go wrong with that? You don’t even need to be a scientist to ‘believe’ it — everyone does, at least everyone who thinks straight can. So if you’re measuring the speed of light, for example, you write down the distance and the time, miles per hour, or kilometres per second, and you’ve obtained something that will last forever — it will apply throughout the universe, no scientist can ever disagree — there it is, like it or lump it, it’s scientifically ‘proven’.
But before we get on to the scientific experiment which upset this ‘elementary’ apple cart, let’s take another look at that ‘simple’ equation. Thus: 2 + 2 = 4 is what we learn at school — it’s part of civilisation, it’s learning to read numbers in the same way we learn to read words — numeracy akin to literacy; without it, civilisation would not be.
We all know what ‘2’ means — it means twice as many as one. Hold up thumb and forefinger, and you’ve got the number 2. Hold up two more fingers, and you’ve got 4. What’s the fuss about? Well, no fuss at all, provided you stick closely and safely to theory. Venture into the real world, where we all have breakfast, and things immediately become complex. And how.
Certainty, Consent & Our Scientific Courage
Here’s where a bit of scientific courage is called for. We all love Certainty. We cannot abide indeterminacy — it freaks us, it’s unsettling, it could harm us. Uncertainty is for the birds — security, assurance — why, we’ll all pay a lot for some of that — oh yes. In fact one of the prime pressures for having Science in the first place, was to curtail too much leeway in superstition, religion and other popular belief systems. God, in one form or another, helped a troubled humanity feel more Certain. Science has largely displaced what many thought of as religion. People now place as much faith, or perhaps more, in Science than they ever did in religion. So when it’s questioned, as here, discussions can become heated. Burning at the stake does still occur, but usually out of the public eye.
So if you can tolerate a smidgeon of mathematical heresy, let’s take the challenge of 2 + 2 = 4, a little deeper. You can always stop reading, and hope the issue goes away — sadly kicking this particular can down the road, doesn’t even buy much time. These are such everyday numbers, we no longer think twice about them. But they are symbols of something else — that’s both their supreme advantage, and our perilous downfall.
Let’s keep this comfortable at least to begin with. The Romans were happy to say II + II = IV. If you were to read that out to someone, it might sound like “eye eye plus eye eye equals eye vee” (or “ivy”, if you really want to be scurrilous). So what’s happened? Well nothing to the basic mathematics. It still means the same as 2 + 2 = 4. So the scientific principle is retained, it’s just that the symbols, the marks on the page or the notions in the mind, have changed. It still means that if you have 2€ and add another 2€, then you, I, and the candle-stick-maker will have 4€. All other mathematics works in exactly the same way. You take the principle, and you extend it — so nations now have trillions of currency units, which add up and subtract just as 2 + 2 = 4 does on the kitchen table.
But watch what has happened. We’ve changed the symbol — instead of 2, we’ve accepted II, instead of 4, IV. Does this matter? Does it make any difference? Well it introduces the notion of consent. We all agree that 4 is the same as IV. We treat these two symbols as equivalent. We still insist that the equation means the same, whatever the symbol used. And there’s the rub. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a universal thing called ‘2’, which was always there, always behaved in exactly the same way whether you were on earth or on Mars? This could be thought of as the ‘scientific’ ‘2’. What you might almost call, the Absolute ‘2’.
Again, why make a fuss? The catch lies in the word ‘agree’. Did you spot that? Science was supposed to be independent of opinion, independent of personal prejudice or subjective view — and here, at the centre, it’s not. We happen to agree with those brilliant Indian mathematicians who told us we would make more progress if instead of IV, we use 4, and all the other so-called Arabic numerals. Note carefully how choice comes into this. We’ve chosen to do this, Science has not compelled us — we could still insist on using Roman numericals — we’d not make nearly as much progress, but apart from the loss of scope, there’s no way Science can force us. There’s still room for human variability, just as several world institutions still celebrate their ‘New Year’, as if there were precisely 365.2500 days in a year, which there aren’t, and now never will be again.
So for all it’s ‘Scientific proof’, even at its most basic, human decisions, human consent, human agreements signify. There’s worse. As long as the symbols remain strictly that — symbolic — then we can manipulate them, integrate them, juggle them in our minds as much as we like — and we certainly do like. An element of subjective choice comes into it, as to which of the various numerical symbols we’re going to think with — but this is chicken feed compared with the next hazard. We actually live in reality, in the biosphere. We may forget this from time to time, we may overlook how dependent we are on sustenance from our surroundings — but forgetting doesn’t alter the fact — we are, currently, living organisms, and as with all such, if we do not respond and adapt, we perish — it’s the Iron Law of Evolution, as we may be about to find out for ourselves.
where 2 + 2 NOT = 4
So, in order to gain any benefit from mathematical manipulations, we need, at some stage, and sooner rather than later, to bring our ‘computations’ back into reality — and there things are very different. It may never have occurred to you that 2 + 2 may sometimes NOT = 4. Undoubtedly your nursery school teacher would have given you a very black mark had you dared whisper anything of the sort — that’s exactly what you are expected NOT to learn — if you talk rubbish like that, you’ll certainly fail exams, and drown your career to boot. But, let me introduce you to a couple of rabbits. Add 2 of these to another 2, and you get anything but 4.
Feel free to dismiss this as a poor quality mathematical joke — many do. But be grateful that rabbits remain in one place even when you look away, that if you corral them and count them, their number, even their very existence does not depend on how you do that. What seems obvious in our everyday world becomes entirely problematic, not to say Uncertain, in the Quantum world — there such things as photons, electrons, Higgs Bosuns are not really even particles anymore — they’re ‘waves’, ‘events’, ‘occurrences’, ‘fields’ and other utterly other-worldly entities which not a single human being can, nor will ever be able to understand, fully. Enough to get by with perhaps, even to do quasi-miraculous things with them — but understand them 100%? Never.
Manipulate them yes, power our ever more astonishing digital gadgets, certainly — but the more we know, the more it’s obvious our Ignorance will always be vastly bigger, or ‘Darker’ than our Certainty — another nail in our wondrously Universal Scientific Coffin. These sub-atomic entities aren’t even really there, until you count them, and that does mean YOU, or your human scientific representative. Mathematics is well entitled to claim it is powerful, but altering what’s being counted merely by counting it — something seriously amiss here, something that urgently needs bringing up to date.
was Science ever perfect?
So let’s see what was happening 120 years ago. Great sighs of relief were being expressed in the 1890s that science had solved everything, that there was nothing more to know. This was shortly before Relativity and the Uncertainty Principle gnawed their enormous rent in the scientific fabric. How wrong can you be? Well just as wrong as we are in 2017, as it happens. Carlo Rovelli is one of the few scientists who loudly declares that Science will not determine everything, that it is not the highway to Universal Complete and Certain Knowledge — sadly that doesn’t stop too many still working on the basis that it is. From a health-care perspective, it’s the consent, the ‘intent’ already mentioned which gets buried — perfectly acceptable if this were the Clock Work Universe so many of us want it to be — but disastrous to the point of extinction, for an ‘advanced’ species in a troubled biosphere. The vital key is ‘responsibility’, which acquires a pressing evolutionary basis — those living organisms that do not exercise their ‘ability-to-respond’, very soon aren’t.
Here’s where that scientific courage is needed by the bucketful. So let’s take a closer look at what Einstein actually did, and why he needed to do it. The lesson to learn is that exploring reality with ferocious honesty increases our realism, and the more accurate our realism, the better our chances of a healthy life. So in the 1880s, measuring the speed of light did not work out the way we would reasonably expect it to, nor, therefore, in a way we could readily understand. It didn’t at all, and this fact alone is a major symptom of the profundity of our ignorance, and the startling limitation of our way of understanding the planet on which we live.
We all know that firing a bullet from a moving gun adds the speed at which both components are travelling — here 2 + 2 = 4 does seem to apply. This is understandable, it is calculable, it reinforces the notion that we understand where we are, where we live, and how to construct a healthier reality. Into this comfortable world come the ‘naughty’ photons — they simply do not comply. However fast or slow the torch from which light emerges, its final speed is always exactly and precisely the same — the speed of light is independent of the source of that light. Not only are these photons mischievously disrespectful of our plodding expectations, they travel at their own speed whatever. Why would they do that? What makes them so exceptional? What property or characteristic do they have, that they can resist the pressures exerted on them by the very source that pushes them out in the first place — surely Newton’s notion, which applies everywhere else, that reaction and action are equal, applies? It does not. Nor ever will again. Something serious has gone wrong — time something serious in our perceptions changed, and changed radically, to catch up.
So what did Einstein do? Firstly, he accepted that light travelled at a constant speed — it covered the same miles in an hour, or kilometres in a second, universally, irrespective of how fast you launched it. Not an easy thing to accept, because it seriously disrupts our comfortable pre-conceptions. Then he set about thinking up a ‘solution’. In brief, he re-juxtaposed the units in which speed is measured — distance and time, or more closely, space and time. He ‘merged’ them into ‘space-time’ — not the most self-evident way to clarify such a deep enigma, but by throwing even more into the melting pot, he conjured up Relativity, which answered such challenges as to how gravity impacts on the weightless photon, or why the planet Mercury wobbled.
But what else did it do? Measuring speeds now becomes strictly Relative to the speed of that particular individual observer. There is not now, nor ever can now be, an Absolute Scientific Observer. Much of our scientific expectation demands that there be one — a woman-in-the-street, a universal-human-observer, such that anyone anywhere else, who was in the same spot observing the same events, would see 100% the same thing. Wrong. To even begin to approach the slightest possibility of equity in observation, you would need to ensure that the two observers were in the same space-time, subject to the same gravitational and other fields, were travelling at identical speeds, in identical directions. The specifications become too onerous to fulfil. Science is compromised. It’s a busted flush.
If it were alone in this, that might be less disturbing. But it’s not. The demolition job hidden behind ‘Relativising’ things is coupled with the very Uncertainty Principle itself. Here if you want to exploit the astonishing electron, and its ilk, then you are forced to choose — either where that mischievous sub-atomic particle is, or where it’s moving to — never both. How can this not be a serious flaw? Science is all about being ever more Certain than we were before, Science eliminates Subjectivity, Prejudice, Ambiguity — yet here is Uncertainty built into its, and our, very molecular foundations — time to reassess?
Relativity and Quantums may be hard to unify, but taken together, there’s no way they can avoid ditching Objective Scientific Absolutes, whether of evidence, of data or of Knowledge, forever. Reality has taken a turn for the worse, so far as our understanding of it goes — something our yearning for Certainty simply doesn’t want to see. Yet despite our coyness, the Iron Law of Evolution is unrelenting, and though we may now be embarking on a post-truth era, it’s as well to remember that all species can become extinct, none is extinction-proof, however many Einsteins it throws up.
So Einstein did account for the anomaly in the speed of light — unlike any object we’ve ever seen, photons never vary their speed of travel, whatever you do to them, however fast or slow you launch them — they just ignore their origins. But he could only do so by warping space-time beyond recognition. You don’t need to follow the mathematics to know what ‘Relativity’ means — everything is now relative to something else, Absolutes have been shown the door — and this matters, well it does if you want to live long and healthily.
Einstein and healthcare
Dabbling in the fundamental bowels of Theoretical Physics is all very well — but does it stop me having a heart attack? If so, how? Einstein was never medically trained, so how can his genius possibly impinge on my health? All this lurid talk of ‘extinction’, of Iron Laws of Evolution, may scintillate the prose — but what does it do in the real world?
Well, it’s 62 years since I started medical school, so I’ve had longer than most, to puzzle out what doctors do, and why they do it. And what they do, at bottom, is to scrutinise a living organism in any number of circumstances, and then pronounce on what would (or should) help you live longer. People who seek medical attention, and that eventually includes us all, expect to be helped — else why go, in the first place?
So what do doctors know that the rest of us don’t? And it’s here that Science Fantasy meets Healthcare Facts. Because what doctors actually do defies not Gravity, which so preoccupied Einstein, but an even more fundamental Law of the Universe. The simplest way to illustrate this is take a look at what happens when you next cut yourself. Do not be misled by the apparently every-day nature of what then happens, and why. Because in cutting yourself you are providing evidence, irrefutable proof, that Universal Science is wrong, flawed, and grossly inadequate to run our lives by. Don’t get me wrong, as I said at the outset, Science is GLORIOUS, just so long as the theory on which it is based remains intact — once that goes, it is worse than useless — it’s as if we still believed ‘bad air’ caused ‘mal-aria’, and instead of spending good time and treasure on tackling mosquitos, we curbed air pollution.
So let’s be blunt — there is nothing in Science that can possibly account for skin-healing. Think about it for a moment. Cut a hole in a piece of metal, or any other inanimate, life-less object, and that hole stays for all time, just as you would expect it to in any other Clock Work Universe. The cogs whir, the planets circle, and the hole remains where it was, getting steadily worse, just with the passage of time. It’s one facet of The Second Law of Thermodynamics — all systems steadily become ever more ‘disorganised’ — put mathematically, their ‘entropy’, their disorganisation, inexorably increases, without pause, exception or delay.
Please grasp that point very firmly. It matters. There is a fundamental, even vital difference between something which is alive, and something that is dead. What a curiously obvious statement to have to make. But just as photons and their ilk, have properties such as ‘location’ or ‘field’ which we can only grasp incompletely, so here, with every living organism anywhere at anytime, something extraordinary is going on — so obvious at one level, yet woefully hidden at another. Being alive is different from being dead. And our ordinary view of Science cannot specify what that is. Try it. It matters.
You see, in any Clock Work Universe, you find out which cogs impinge on which levers, you work backwards from what you see, find the ‘on’ switch, and ‘eureka’, you’ve solved the puzzle. But for this to be reliable, you have to assume that any and all such cogs as you find, will work identically. Aberrant cogs are ‘excluded’. We build laboratories which specialise in excluding any number of ‘extraneous’ factors, so we can concentrate our attention on one or two aspects of the matter, alone. And, just as mathematics works for the most part, especially in the abstract, there comes a decisive time when we must re-integrate what we’ve learnt, with where we live, reality, aka the biosphere — and it’s then that the same pitfalls emerge. It’s the difference in medical terms between ‘in vitro’, in the glass (test-tube), and ‘in vivo’, in life as we live it. And if your doctor fails to distinguish with utter clarity between these two, I’d advise you to get another doctor.
So watch closely. Skin remains cut if it’s dead, but not if it’s alive. In the first case, it complies with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, in the second, it does not. You might be forgiven for doubting the existence of an Anti-Gravity machine — but please, for the benefit of global healthcare, never doubt that Anti-Entropy not only exists, but works everytime you cut yourself — providing you still have enough life left in you to heal the skin. And by ‘global healthcare’ we mean species health, or, as seems ever more probable, species extinction.
We all understand Entropy — it afflicts every aspect of our lives, all the time, and everywhere — things rust, tear, break, burn, go on the blink, or otherwise break down — no exceptions, no relief. So no difficulty in understanding what Entropy is, nor how the Second Law of Thermodynamics hits us all, universally. So why doesn’t it hit living skin? I don’t know — and nor do you. I’m happy to admit I never will, are you? There is something uncanny, unscientific, incomprehensible about living skin that I can never define, but which, as a living human being, I would not be without.
So let’s give this vital hole-in-our-knowledge a label, a tag by which we can refer to it. Not an explanation, far less a ‘definition’, just a pointer, a verbal symbol which means something we can never, ever fully understand, but which we find to be of vital importance to our way of life, our healthcare. The word I propose is Antropy — it’s an abbreviation of Anti-Entropy, because that’s what living tissue does, and dead tissue does not.
Healthcare uses Science as much as it can, which is exactly as it should be. And Science can indeed by glorious — look at the fabulous benefits that are now freely available to us, anti-biotics, heart surgery, insulin — longevity is now something we look forward to, and would never have improved so much without prodigious cooperation, cogitation and compliance. But underlying it all is something that scientifically we’ll never understand fully — in part yes, from time to time, certainly, but 100% — that’s Science Fantasy, never Healthcare Facts. Surely if we can contemplate basic sub-atomic particles as being forever Uncertain, we can do the same with definitions of ‘life’. Because if we cannot, then as a cognitive species, we are doomed. And if we can, then the future is yet more golden.
Why ‘Scientism’ fails us
We are an insecure species. Being bi-pedal means we cannot run towards prey or away from predators as fast as quadrupeds — that’s a fact of life — try it, next time you chase a rabbit, or walk the dog. The harsh biospheric truth is that if we do not cooperate, socially, we’re extinct. And deep down, we all know this. So one of the main sources of our insecurity is a fear that our fellows will not cooperate, will not socialise, will not help us organise the way we want to. Deploying our new catch phrase — we fear they won’t enhance our Antropy, only our Entropy.
If you spend 5 years talking to murderers as I did, the first thing you notice is that they have been taught to coerce, to push for what they think they want, else they won’t get it. They’ve never learnt that their adversaries are also human beings, who have their own allowances of Antropy, their own pockets of that vital item, that need nurturing too. If you can bridge this gap, and show them that all human beings need emotional support, need social assistance, and can blossom in safe, comforting supportive surroundings — then violence evaporates, as it did in that maximum security prison. [Clinically speaking, violence turns out not only to be ‘wrong’ as Martin Luther King told us all those years ago, it is intrinsically, and 100%, infantile, mindless, born in the kindergarten, where it should be left. Once perpetrators ditch their Infantism, all violence disappears too.]
So to link these threads together, and illuminate the above discussion further, review the following. Many cling to Science as a way to compel our fellow mortals to come to our point of view, to lay aside their prejudices against us, and cooperate in our joint endeavour, of building our golden futures, of surviving. We claim such things as Scientifically ‘proven’, inexorably ‘compelling’ — rather too similar to the coercion displayed by those long term prisoners, until they woke up emotionally. If they don’t like me, won’t cooperate with me, then ‘Science’ will compel them to. They’ll just have to.
So does it work? Has it worked? My ground-breaking work in eliminating alarm bells for three years in a maximum security prison wing for exceptionally violent unstable lifers might have illuminated prison management, and saved innumerable more lives. It hasn’t. It was deemed politically unacceptable, and so buried. The politicians who governed the country also believed that only coercion works — they ‘frightened’ their citizens into doing what they wanted, and to stop doing what they didn’t. They’ve recently been at it again.
You must make of this what you will — here I have been concerned to unpack the notion that Science is robust enough to fulfil this ‘coercive’ unthinking role. The notion that Science can answer this sort of deep social fear, by being Complete, Universal, and Irrefutable no longer bears scrutiny. I label it ‘Scientism’. People are entitled to form their own opinion, but have a care that the beliefs you have maintained all your scientific life do not impact unfavourably on Antropy, yours or others.
What to replace it with? Or supplement it by? Well, we all know quite a lot about Antropy already. Ask any gardener — do plants like to organise? What do children enjoy? Organising. Doctors label it ‘Patient Agency’ — you have a mind of your own — grievous problems arise, especially in psychiatry, when it’s omitted, as largely today. What makes you comfortable and happy — a secure context in which your inherent ability to combat Entropy is given free rein. You want to know more about happiness, even joy, then explore enhancing Antropy — you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Antropy is inherent in every living organism, including especially ourselves. Blossoming is not confined to flowers. Try it.
Stop thinking you must know more, that your knowledge is doomed because imperfect, that Science will be fine once it’s complete. Stop, and look at Antropy, at what living organisms already do, how they ‘organise’ — and how they enjoy doing so, as you do. Einstein undoubtedly clarified photon-travel, and he did so with exceptional and prodigious cognitive input. But he also voted for ‘Scientism’. He enhanced the notion that by Knowledge, we could coerce. And that might have worked in a Clock Work Universe, had it been backed up by a Certainty Principle, by an Absolutism to rectify Relativity — but none of these things work out in our curious reality, in our challenging biosphere. The world is rather different from what we expected it to be, even from what we thought we were entitled for it to be. None of which, ipso facto, need eliminate joy.
So to healthcare, individually and globally. It’s not strictly true that doctors defy Entropy, i.e. the Second Law of Thermodynamics — but it is self-evident that they encourage the living ability of their clientele to do just that. Doctors themselves never heal anything — what they learn, through education and experience is how to facilitate and enhance Antropy to do the healing for them, and for you. Often enough this involves persuading individuals to do things differently, give up smoking, do more exercise, or, as here, to adopt Antropy, or its conceptual equivalent, in exchange for ‘Scientism’.
Nor is the outcome this discussion points to, unfamiliar. It actually establishes a biospheric basis for Human Rights in all their glory. It has certainly been the bedrock of civilised society, for centuries. Free speech, free expression, government by consent — all these enhance Antropy. Coercion has recently come to be the acceptable political way, especially by frightening voters, ‘project fear’ re-emerges — but these are social and healthcare aberrations. They are also risky for the very survival of our species. Antropy is how evolution occurs — so by deploying it more thoroughly, we can at least have a stab at surviving what would otherwise be our very own, self-inflicted thermonuclear holocaust.
Where’s my meristem?
Antropy itself is difficult to define, and therefore to grasp. It’s like measuring a litre of water using your bare hands — what matters about water is that it flows, so keeping it still in one place so you can define (confine), or measure it, goes against its very nature. So it is with Antropy. Let’s take a leaf out of our other planetary co-inhabitants, the plants — after all, we share something like 33% of our DNA with them arising from our common biospheric ancestor around 2 billion years ago, so we are likely, scientifically, to have substantial characteristics in common.
At the heart of every bud is a very special spot, from which ‘growth’ occurs. Cut a microscope section through, and there at the very centre is a bundle of indistinct cells which have yet to form into leaves, flowers, seeds, bark. They are indeterminate. They are immature. This is known in botanical terms as the ‘meristem’. No living plant can do without one, each twig, every bud has one — it’s the ‘growing’ point — and yet, at any given stage, they have no obvious definition, they are botanical germ cells if you like, they are non-descript, they are unlike anything they may later become, as they need to be, so they can grow into whatever that plant then needs them to.
It is precisely for this reason that tightly defining a meristem is self-defeating. Or, put more positively, the reason they are initially indefinable is so that they can thereafter ‘specialise’, they can grow into any number of different plant parts, tissues, leaves, flowers. This is exactly the same with Antropy. The difference being that humans can nudge their ‘meristems’ in a particular direction, they can ‘intend’ them more in one direction than another. There are obvious limits of course, but there is also a supreme biospheric advantage — one which we have exploited so successfully, so far. And also one we are in the steady process of losing, on the primitive grounds that since we don’t understand it, we need pay no heed to those who debase it (politically and scientifically).
So if you baulked at Antropy, change that word for Meristem. Go through the earlier paragraphs, and wherever you see ‘Antropy’, read ‘Meristem’. Meristems are concrete, they are available to anyone with a microscope and a slicing machine — ask any botany student, and if they don’t confirm, tell them to take their course again.
Come to think of it, you don’t even need any fancy kit to get a grip on meristems — just think about grass for a moment. Where do grasslands come from? Why are there so many savannahs, or prairies? Trees are obviously so much more advanced than humble grasses — they can live for millennia, as sequoia and bristle-cone pines show us. How come they recede so regularly from our vast open spaces? We are more ‘advanced’ than any other multi-cellular organism, and unlike for trees, all other species have so far, quailed before us. What happened to those trees? What kept them? Afforestation does occur, of course, but if in some places, why not everywhere?
It’s all to do with meristems. Trees, shrubs and all larger plants keep their meristems where we expect them to be, in their buds, their growth points. Grasses, by utter contrast, do not. They have acquired the trick of growing from below, their meristems are in their boots, as it were. Which has awarded them an astonishing evolutionary advantage. What it means above all else, is that they can survive browsers. So when the herbivores get going, these canny plants permit the loss of their top tips — whereas if larger plants were munched in this way, they’d be crippled, even destroyed. Grasses however, keep their meristems safely ‘down below’, so can live to fight another day.
This leads to that remarkable conundrum — if you want more trees, say in the Highlands of Scotland, bring back the carnivores. More wolves equals more trees. A statement that is impossible to understand, or support politically, if you don’t know about meristems. Wolves don’t plant more trees themselves, but since they cull the top-meristem eaters, the result is fewer deer biting off those trees’ meristems.
So if you want to be realistic, don’t doubt meristems. And if plants can and do have them, why can’t we? Just because you cannot ‘see’ or define a meristem, doesn’t mean it isn’t a vital component of living plants (or of us). Equally, it seems parsimonious to penalise humans, just because we can’t define our ‘meristems’ or locate them as easily as we can in plants. Human ‘meristems’ are assuredly there, and indeed play as vital a part in building our mental picture of the world around us, of the biosphere, as they do in helping plants populate that world. I don’t really know what a meristem is, not fully, neither do I know what Antropy is — but if either is left out of the equation, then I do know our survival on this unusual planet is seriously curtailed.
Where does that leave us?
Some, like me, may have been surprised to read, above, that “there is a fundamental, even vital difference between something which is alive, and something that is dead”. The fact that this now needs saying at all, and saying loudly, is yet more evidence that Scientism, or our inability to concede our Ignorance, has serious implications for life, or, in my somewhat more limited scope, healthcare. Because the next equally important point, indeed the very heart of healthcare, is that life is fragile, it expires.
Why have we forgotten this? Why do we spend so much of our treasure and ‘intent’ on securing quantities of kill-material? Don’t we know life is fragile? Or could it be that we’ve forgotten we have ‘intent’, Antropy, a Meristem — call it what you will, as long as you call it. What an irony it would be if this very facet of our species, our cognition, is also the one thing which condemns our species to extinction. Certainly we are the first ‘tool-using species’ to fashion a thermonuclear termination for us all — those dinosaurs had to wait for a meteorite, we’ve already made our own, or equivalent, and are sullenly waiting for some one to use it on us.
So, because we can create an image of the world around us, the better to survive in that biosphere, we need to have a care as to the precision, the accuracy of that image, or, to use an old misunderstood word, the truth of it. Offering voters better healthcare (unfunded), or £350,000,000 extra a week, pollutes with excrement, the vital air our body politic so desperately needs, if it is not to suffocate. Democracy is known as government by consent, as it should be — however, as any lawyer will tell you, that is FULLY-INFORMED CONSENT, not the garbage currently clogging our ever increasing information channels. Antropy can be betrayed in any number of ways, and us with it.
The searing honesty that Einstein showed over a hundred years ago, needs bringing to bear here and now. Let’s look at that number 2 again. On paper it is a carefully formed squiggle, in Roman, it’s two strokes. But that’s all. Just because there’s a word for it, a very useful word as it turns out, does not mean that there is a ‘something’ out there that is always and Absolutely two. There’s no ‘essence’ of ‘2’, except whatever we may choose, or consent, to allot it — that’s all —underlining that what we consent to, matters in every aspect of healthcare.
The philosophy that emerged from the First World War tried to remedy that Entropic catastrophe by using only words that we could 100% define. Sadly, the most important of them lose ever more significance the tighter you define them. Meristem and Antropy are cases in point. My Antropy has been the source of these few thousand words — they flow more easily on some days than on others — but flow they now do. I acknowledge Antropy, and my ability to deploy it — do you?
Also, as discussed above, there is a crystal clear and proven pathway to eliminating violence on an individual scale — murderers ceased wanting to kill when I was able to encourage them to use their Antropy against the Entropy which was all they had ever previously known. Would this scale up to global health and security? Perhaps we’ll never know. Please think hard about this, and do whatever you can.
This notion that there is a Total view of our world, a Science of Everything has been sunk by those insubordinate photons, and others. Science works, but only some of the time — our theory of what’s out there tends to get frozen, fixed and therefore lethal. We need to use our responding-ability, our responsibility, to keep it truthful, up to date and relevant.
Long before Kant, Hume and Newton, a small group of Quakers (from Balby), 361 years ago, declared that all the rules they had carefully enumerated as to how you should lead a good life, would (of course) need to be modified by what the recipients actually found in life. In other words whatever your ‘theory’, it always needs modifying to take into account what actually occurs in reality, in our biosphere. Life, and as I would say, health, global and individual is more complex than any theory we can conceive of, or conceive of safely — massless photons are inexplicable enough to convince doubters. So despite the corruption and deceits that can come for symbolising, whether with words or number, we need general principles, rules-of-thumb that work more often than not. In medical terms, sensible doctors know the text book well enough to know that what’s in front of them, isn’t in it. They also know that nurturing Antropy on an individual scale is the one and only way they can nurture health. Time we applied precisely the same principles globally, before it’s too late. Healthcare needs to go global.
A final word on war. Cancerous cells fight each other, their DNA ‘programming’ goes awry, they become anarchic, they give us meristem madness — instead of combatting Entropy, as all living organisms must if they are to survive, they promote it from within, leading often enough to death. In this view Sarajevo in 1914 was precancerous. Today, the South China Sea similarly looks decidedly pathological. If you know of a better scientific remedy, tell your friends — if not, tell them this one. But hurry, in all forms of cancer, individual or global, time is of the essence, and today it’s visibly running out. What’s stopping you?
Interested readers might like to click the following link, which discusses how this approach applies to consciousness, and how an Uncertainty Principle also applies to computers, and therefore to any amount of ‘artificial intelligence’ https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=60019 // it’s free.