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The ThoughtTopper Institute

 

The articles included in this ThoughtTopper Institute series were first drafted by Paul JJ Payack over the last several years.  Subsequently, some of the originals were expanded with Edward ML Peters, Ph.D. and published in The Hill and other publications.

Paul JJ Payack
Paul JJ Payack

 The premise of the original articles was that economists and politicians and intellectual thought leaders had missed the essence of the profound worldwide economic, electronic, and academic transformations that had been underway for some time and would continue into the future if constrained by this profoundly limited vision.

In fact, the facts have borne out our original assumptions.  The Global Economic Restructuring has continued unabated.  China continues to rise, the US and the West continue to struggle, and the ancient question of what is real (and true) has again risen to the forefront.

The Lost Decade of Japan has indeed been replicated, as we had feared.  The recovery did not mirror previous recoveries in the US.  And the traditional manufacturing sector continues to erode.

 

Edward ML Peters, Ph.D

 

 

 

 

Paul JJ Payack is president of Austin-based Global Language Monitor.Edward ML Peters, Ph.D. is the managing director of Austin-based ThoughtTopper Institute.

Their most recent book is “The Paid-for Option”, which describes how healthcare reform can actually pay for itself through the application of process intelligence and its attendant gains in productivity.

 




Battle Over Climate Change Explained in Three Charts

 

Climate Change is like an asteroid heading in for a direct hit on Earth.

Obama’s Climate Change Warning (& National Climate Assessment) Doesn’t Touch on the Magnitude of the Threat.

 

June 18-19, 2014, AUSTIN, Texas — The recent report on human-enhanced climate change points to the problem. The US National Climate Assessment, released May 6, 2014, represents the most comprehensive attempt yet to assess the current effects of human-enhanced climate change on America’s (and the Earth’s) future. Why does confusion persist about the subject? After all, Global Warming /Climate Change have ranked near the top of our Top Word lists for more than a decade.

Perhaps the major difficulty is overcoming the fact that:

  1. Few news reporters are well-versed in technical and scientific communication.
  2. Few scientists are well-versed in communicating effectively to a large public audience in non-scientific terms.
  3. The public is not trained in deciphering the reams of information that presents the case that is being argued.

Therefore, lack of technical communications skills inhibit true understanding of climate change news. As a former university lecturer on Scientific and Technical Communications, I’ve created a few rules to keep close to heart.

Rule No. 1 When Communicating a Scientific Truth Be Sure to Communicate the Whole Truth — The audience instinctively knows when you are leaving out some of the story that you think might confuse the issue.

Well known Fact: The temperatures are now the highest in 1,000 years.

Larger Reality: The global surface temperature has fluctuated greatly over the last 2100 years. Scientific and Technical writing professionals would, one hopes, clarify the discussion by writing from the audience’s point-of-view. An educated audience would expect a phrase, such as ‘not in a thousand years’ to mean ‘not ever’. They would likely be concerned if they knew an author to be shading the truth that actually obscures the larger truth.

Suffice to say the global temperature has fluctuated greatly over the last 1200 years as shown in the graphic using four different sources. Also note there was the well-known historical fact of the Little Ice Age, with many early New England documents noting various ‘Year(s) Without Summer(s)”.

 

 Temperature Fluctuation Over Preceding 1200 Years

 

Rule No. 2 Just because any particular analysis might be short-sighted, there is no need for you to be short-sighted also.

Well known Fact: PaleoIndians crossed the Bering Land Bridge to first settle the Americas.

Larger Reality: For the Bering Land Bridge to exist, the sea level had to be about 100 meters (290 feet) LOWER than its current level.

 The Bering Land Bridge About 15,000 BCE

 

The US National Climate Assessment is estimating a one-to-two meter rise by the turn of the 22nd century. Add in the human-enhancement factor and climate change will be even more dramatic (and possibly happen more quickly) than anticipated.

Rule No. 3 In 10,000 BCE, (8,000 BC), New York City was also under a mile (1.6 km) of ice. Jericho was a thriving (albeit small) city at this time. Most people who are aware of this fact, place it in the distant past, say, 1,000,000 years BCE.

Well known Fact (though not true): Climate Change began in the late 20th century OR with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century.

Larger Truth: Climate Change began with the advent of the atmosphere as we know it about 600 million years ago. This atmosphere enabled the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ as millions of life forms suddenly appeared on land.

The climate created by this atmosphere began to change at that time and continues to do so some some 600,000,000 years later though we only have specific details of the last half million years or so, as shown below.

 

 

These are a broad outline of temperature changes over the last 400,000 years as recorded by three different methods. Perhaps the most familiar is the Vostok Ice Core (Antarctica), drilled to a depth of 11,887 feet (3623 m) in 1998.

Conclusion: There are well-known facts that pale before a larger reality. Do not trim your arguments (whatever they be) to exclude the larger reality.

Well Known Fact: Climate Change is happening and its profound effect upon humankind is real. Human-influenced climate change is a new scientific reality

Larger Reality: Climate Change has a detailed in the scientific record for about 4oo,ooo years — and it has been ongoing for about 600,000,000 years.

What was the ongoing debate of our paleoindian ancestors as they watched the megafauna (wooly mammoths, sabre tooth tigers, etc.) disappear as the 5,000 ft (1.6 km) ice cap atop Manhattan melted away beneath their feet?

The paleoindians had it within their power to preserve the megafauna if they had known the consequences of their overhunting.  However, the retreating glacier, a consequence of global cooling, was beyond their control.

Today humankind faces the same two problems. And this time we have a bigger stake in the game. If the will is there, we can stop or at least alter the course of the Fourth Great Extinction. And if the will is there, we can curb at least the human-enhancement portion of climate change, whether or not the planet is subject to the larger, longer-term climatic cycles.

ThoughtTopper Institute: Re-naming the Great Recession

Re-naming the Great Recession

A Retrospective on the Great Recession that Began Ten Years Ago This Year

 

AUSTIN, Texas,  August 9, 2011.  Words have power. Names have power.   Three years ago we spoke to Newsweek about what should the then-current/still-current economic crisis be named. The ‘Great Recession’ was favored by the New York Times and eventually ‘certified’ by the AP Style Guide.  The Global Language Monitor’s position was that the economic crisis of 2008 did not resemble a recession, as we had come to define recessions, and the resemblance to the Worldwide Economic Depression of the 1930s was tentative, at best.

GLM’s position was that we were experiencing was not a recession, neither great nor small, but something of a wholly differing sort:  a Global Economic Restructuring.

Words have power. Names have power. In fact words and names can shape the contours of a debate. And, we might add, words and names carry the inherent capacity to lead us astray. Casting the current reality in the terms of those crises we’ve already experienced, provides the comfort (and illusion) that things are well in control.

It is about time that we admit that what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out, in von Clausewitz’s words “by other means”.

Globe Naming the Great Recession

Originally alluded to as a “Financial Tsunami” or “Financial Meltdown,” the major global media seem to have gained a consensus on “The Great Recession”. In the beginning, most comparisons were being made to the Great Economic Depression of the 1930s, more familiarly known, simply, as “The Depression” in the same way that many still refer to World War II as “The War”. But even these comparisons frequently ended up referring to the recession of 1982, yet another so-called “Great Recession”.

Our recent analysis has shown that while the major print and electronic media have settled upon “Great Recession”, the rest of the Internet, blogosphere and social media world have largely eschewed the term. We believe the difficulty here stems from the fact that this economic crisis is difficult to express in words because it does not resemble any economic crisis in recent memory — but rather a crisis of another sort.

“On War” is one of the most influential books on military strategy of all time. Written by Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz (1780 – 1831), it recorded one of his most respected tenets, “War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means,” which is frequently abbreviated to “War is diplomacy carried out by other means’.

We believe that the reason the “Great Recession” label does not now fit, as has now become obvious, because what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out “by other means”.

This fact has entrapped two U.S. presidents, from radically diverging political viewpoints, in the same dilemma: describing an economic phenomenon, that doesn’t play by the old rules. Hence, the difficulty experienced by President Bush as he struggled to describe how the U.S. economy was not in a recession since the GDP had not declined for two consecutive quarters, the traditional definition of a recession, even though jobs were being shed by the millions and the global banking system teetered on the brink of collapse. Now we have President Obama, attempting to describe how the U.S. economy has emerged out of a recession, though the collateral damage in terms of the evaporation of wealth, mortgages, and jobs remains apparently undaunted and unabated.

And the world, from China to Germany, stands aghast as we continue to argue, in spite of all available evidence that debt is a good thing. “We all say so, so it must be true!” seems to be the all-too-familiar refrain from Washington.

The regional or global transfer of wealth, power and influence, the destruction of entire industries and the so-called collateral (or human) damage are all hallmarks of what is now being experienced in the West.

If one carefully disassembles the events of the last decade or two, you can see them as the almost inevitable conclusion of a nameless war that began with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the embrace of a form of the free-market system by China, India and the other rising states, an almost unprecedented transfer of wealth from the Western Economies to the Middle East (energy) and South and East Asia (manufactured goods and services), and the substantial transfer of political power and influence that inevitably follows.

It currently appears that the Western Powers most affected by these transfers cannot adequately explain, or even understand, their present circumstances in a way that makes sense to the citizenry, let alone actually reverse (or even impede) the course of history. In fact, the larger events are playing out while the affected societies seemingly default to the hope that they ultimately can exert some sort of control over a reality that appears to be both out of their grasp and control.

The good news here is that the transfers of wealth, power and influence has proven relatively bloodless but nonetheless destructive for the hundreds of millions of those on the front lines of the economic dislocations.

And it is in this context that the perceived resentment of the Islamic and Arab states should be more clearly viewed. This is especially so as they, too, watch helplessly as the new global reality and re-alignments unfold.

In conclusion, it can be argued that the reason the “Great Recession” label doesn’t seem to fit now is because what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather an on-going transformational event involving the global transfer of wealth, power and influence on an unprecedented level, carried out “by other means”.

By Paul JJ Payack and Edward ML Peters.  Paul JJ Payack is president of Austin-based Global Language Monitor. Edward ML Peters is CEO of Dallas-based OpenConnect Systems. Their most recent book is “The Paid-for Option”, which describes how healthcare reform can actually pay for itself through the application of process intelligence and its attendant gains in productivity.

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The ThoughtTopper Institute: The Global Economic Restructuring

The Global Economic Restructuring

What we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out, in von Clausewitz’s words ‘by other means’.

This post first appeared on The Hill

November 3, 2010.  It is about time that we admit that what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power, and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out, in von Clausewitz’s words “by other means”.

Originally alluded to as a “Financial Tsunami” or “Financial Meltdown,” the major global media seem to have gained a consensus on “The Great Recession”. In the beginning, most comparisons were being made to the Great Economic Depression of the 1930s, more familiarly known, simply, as “The Depression” in the same way that many still refer to World War II as “The War”. But even these comparisons frequently ended up referring to the recession of 1982, yet another so-called “Great Recession”.

Our recent analysis has shown that while the major print and electronic media have settled upon “Great Recession”, the rest of the Internet, blogosphere and social media world have largely eschewed the term. We believe the difficulty here stems from the fact that this economic crisis is difficult to express in words because it does not resemble any economic crisis in recent memory — but rather a crisis of another sort.

“On War” is one of the most influential books on military strategy of all time. Written by Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz (1780 – 1831), it recorded one of his most respected tenets, “War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means,” which is frequently abbreviated to “War is diplomacy carried out by other means’.

We believe that the reason the “Great Recession” label does not now fit is because what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power, and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out “by other means”.

This fact has entrapped two U.S. presidents, from radically diverging political viewpoints, in the same dilemma: describing an economic phenomenon, that doesn’t play by the old rules. Hence, the difficulty experienced by President Bush as he struggled to describe how the U.S. economy was not in a recession since the GDP had not declined for two consecutive quarters, the traditional definition of a recession, even though jobs were being shed by the millions and the global banking system teetered on the brink of collapse. Now we have President Obama, attempting to describe how the U.S. economy has emerged out of a recession, though the collateral damage in terms of the evaporation of wealth, mortgages, and jobs remains apparently undaunted and unabated.

The regional or global transfer of wealth, power, and influence, the destruction of entire industries and the so-called collateral (or human) damage are all hallmarks of what is now being experienced in the West.

If one carefully disassembles the events of the last decade or two, you can see them as the almost inevitable conclusion of a nameless war that began with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the embrace of a form of the free-market system by China, India and the other rising states, an almost unprecedented transfer of wealth from the Western Economies to the Middle East (energy) and South and East Asia (manufactured goods and services), and the substantial transfer of political power and influence that  inevitably follows.

It currently appears that the Western Powers most affected by these transfers cannot adequately explain, or even understand, their present circumstances in a way that makes sense to the citizenry, let alone actually reverse (or even impede) the course of history. In fact, the larger events are playing out while the affected societies seemingly default to the hope that they ultimately can exert some sort of control over a reality that appears to be both out of their grasp and control.

The good news here is that the transfers of wealth, power, and influence have proven relatively bloodless but nonetheless destructive for the hundreds of millions of those on the front lines of the economic dislocations.

And it is in this context that the perceived resentment of the Islamic and Arab states should be more clearly viewed. This is especially so as they, too, watch helplessly as the new global reality and re-alignments unfold.

In conclusion, it can be argued that the reason the “Great Recession” label doesn’t seem to fit now is because what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather an on-going transformational event involving the global transfer of wealth, power, and influence on an unprecedented level, carried out “by other means”.

Paul JJ Payack is president of Austin-based Global Language Monitor. Edward ML Peters is the former CEO of Dallas-based OpenConnect Systems. Their most recent book is “The Paid-for Option”, which describes how healthcare reform can actually pay for itself through the application of process intelligence and its attendant gains in productivity.

ThoughtTopper Institute: The Scientific Method and Settled Science

The Scientific Method and Settled Science

 

As thoughtful readers have learned since the launch of the Global Language Monitor in the fall of 2003, all objectivity in media is suspect, and for good reason.  The non-bias claimed on all sides of the political equation is itself, biased, since all media have come to see their particular viewpoint as objective and true, right and just, supported by the facts, scientific or otherwise, and agreed to by all learned people (who happen to agree with their particular beliefs).The fact that their audiences steadfastly agree with their positions only serves to re-enforce their particular biases. We all think so, so it must be true!  ( and it is logically consistent, is a frequent addition.)

One of the most dangerous of these biases is the concept of settled science.
Science, by definition, can never be settled.

The Scientific Method has been adhered to since the Enlightenment.   It is composed of five or six steps

  1. Observation
  2. Hypothesis
  3. Experiment
  4. Record and analyze data
  5. Compare the results to the hypothesis.
  6. If necessary, either modify the hypothesis or the experiment

There is always more complete data to be found and always room for another test of the hypothesis, to ensure completeness.

Another time-honored tradition is the custom of employing Occam’s Razor in the decision-making process.   Occam’s Razor is stated in Latin as  Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem (Do not multiply things without necessity).  The principle is essential for model building because, for a given set of data, there is always an infinite number of models explaining the data.

The principle is essential for model building because, for a given set of data, there is always an infinite number of models explaining the data.

In other words, if you have two choices 1) a snowball moves because invisible, alien drones take it and deliver it to its target, or 2) angular momentum you must choose No. 2 because that is the simplest.

If there is any fact in science that cannot be debated, its Einsteins Theory of Relativity.  Yet nonetheless, every year there are numerous well-publicized challenges to differing aspects of the Theory. How can this be if the Theory of Relativity is settled?

The answer is because this is part of the scientific method!

Lest this be seen as an argument against human-enhanced Global Warming, please allow me to point out that this is not the case.  We consider Global Warming as close to settled science you can get but not for the reasons you might think.

Settled Science is not a new term, in fact, its use stretches back some 150 years, although the settled science that it described would seem a Hall of Infamy in the early 21st century.

Settled Science in the late 1800s:

  • The division of Humankind into races differentiated by alleged Intellectual Potential (or limitations), Color of Skin, Shape of the head, and Geographic Location.
  • Segregation of women and girls from higher education.  Alleged reasons:  women’s brains could not deal with rigorous thinking and men would become physically and psychologically unhinged in their presence.  
  • Excluding women from voting for much the same issues.

Settled Science in the early 1900s:

  • Space flight is not possible because there is nothing in space for an engine to push against.
  • Since space cannot be empty, there needs to be a substance and name it ether.
  • The Universe cannot be infinite, so we live in an island universe that we call the Milky Way.  

Settled Science later in the 20th century

  • There are so many safeguards built into nuclear power plants that the odds of an accident are 50,000,000,000 to 1.
  • A population bomb would wipe out millions or billion of humans before the end of the century.
  • An impending Ice Age would settle upon Northern climes before the end of the century with great death and destruction in its wake.
  • Being gay or lesbian was classified as abnormal and a psychiatric condition by the experts in the field.

Settled Science early in the 21st century

  • That nothing can exceed the speed of light was a given until it was recently proven that the Inflationary Stage of the first moments of the Big Bang expanded thousands or millions of light-years in less than a millionth of a second.

With Occams Razor in mind we must come to the conclusion that settled science is a term that often contradicts the Scientific Method, itself and,therefore, must be used with great caution.

 



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