The Theorist vs the Daily Practitioner:
The accurate perception of Reality has a time element. It is impossible to fully understand the present without also understanding the past. And, I think it can be argued that it is also difficult to fully understand the present without also having a type of understanding of the future. Where are things going and what is alterable and what is fixed with regard to the future?
If you have warped perceptions of both past Reality as well as future Reality, current Reality is going to be a challenging area as far as accurate perceptions go. If we don’t know where we were in the past and we don’t know where we are headed in the future, there is a good chance that we don’t have a clue where we are in the present.
It strikes me that readers could take unnecessary exception to many statements that I toss out in the main essay that this page is linked to. I am thinking of statements that may seem to be out of touch with “right now” Reality. Take for example a person who develops diabetes. I would argue that a true theorist should look on the problem as a symptom of a deeper problem – a type of warning light. A daily practitioner would see a person in immediate trouble, likely ignorant of the cause, and would try to come up with an immediate “solution”. Hard to be too critical of the daily practitioner! But there is a balance. There is an immediate small picture as well as a larger, less individual, longer term picture. And ignoring that larger picture is a formula for eventual disaster.
Around 1800, Edward Jenner lived in a society where about a fifth of the population died from small pox. He perfected a type of vaccination that had a dramatic impact on reducing small pox inflections and associated deaths. In a way, some might see Jenner as a theorist. I find that view questionable. But he certainly qualified as a daily practitioner who confronted an immediate problem with an apparent solution. Frederick Banting and several vital associates, in 1921-22, in a very short time period, developed a technique that extended the lives of those affected by diabetes dramatically. A Nobel Prize illustrated the appreciated impact. But both of those seeming victories may well have helped set a pattern that tends to focus on the immediate and lose sight of a bigger picture.
Obviously there is a balance between being a theorist, puzzling over what could be or what should be, and the daily practitioner who focuses on quickly treating immediate problems.
Business men confront the same clash, perhaps on a smaller scale. I have been in situations where the daily grind prevents sitting back and visualizing and planning a course that could drastically change my business activity for the better. Immediate financial survival trumped efforts to leap to a higher level.
Individuals or society as a whole can get out of balance and neglect one side of this teeter-totter challenge, and there is a lot of pressure to focus more on the immediate! The medium long term often gets some attention. But I think that the long term, as in 100 years ahead, is an area blanked out either by lack of interest or by scrambled current perceptions that often make such longer term theorizing and planning either useless or even counter productive.
The Perimeter Institute for Theoretic Physics is an organization in Waterloo Ontario that encourages, as one might expect, activity in theoretic physics. Recently I heard the director of Perimeter, Neil Turok, discuss the field and praise Albert Einstein for laying out the Theory of Relativity. Here was a classic example of someone looking at observable facts, putting two and two together, and based on what was known, speculating on big scale issues that were not at all obvious to most people. And the 100+ years since Einstein put forth his perception of Reality have allowed others to test the theory and discover, time and again, that Einstein indeed had an accurate perception that allowed accurate prediction of the unknown. In the same discussion, Turok was very sceptical of theorists who seemed to ignore known facts and had come up with “theoretic perceptions” that had then yielded a zero track record of predicting anything with accuracy.
We are all theorists to varying degrees. If we want to function with any hope of success, we have to be. We take information that we are confident of and if we have a degree of intelligence, interest, and foresight, we can make very useful predictions that can help us to be successful at living. A rain storm during a Canadian winter, some driving experience, and familiarity with human behaviour, can allow an ambulance company official to accurately theorize the need for extra staff for a specific period of time. Parents can often theorize what parties and what individuals they need to pressure their children to steer clear of, and the results are positive. Individuals theorize on how they can advance their prosperity and what short term moves are needed to assure long term success. Some people blunder badly in this area and entrenched, intergenerational poverty is a result.
When theory goes wrong, usually it is due to building the theory on error. Building on sand. Building on faulty construction materials. Our mental building blocks can be viewed as being, for the most part, perceptions of Reality. We are small and in one place at a time and we live in a soup of perceptions. Even pulling onto a busy highway involves a type of perception. We notice or fail to notice the car speeding along the highway towards us via light signals through our eye and nerve and brain powers. We theorize what will happen if we pull out in front of a speeding car. If we are on our toes, we survive and get places. That type of perception is more or less worked out for us by the amazing design of physical matter and our own structure. But more complex moves are affected greatly by perceptions that we form ourselves or by perceptions taught to us by others. And if those perceptions are wrong, it is comparable to thinking an approaching car is going far slower than it really is – boom – faulty perception causes big trouble!
Another way to view “theorist vs daily practitioner” affairs is to think of a map. If you are operating based on line of sight, you are sort of playing “daily practitioner”. Mrs Smith walks up to the front door and wonders if she can borrow a cooking pan to handle an overload situation in her kitchen. No problem – Mrs Smith is set up in moments. That project of the day was simple. Then word comes over the radio that a storm system is rapidly approaching. The epicentre is at Gainsville but is moving south west, towards your home, at a rapid rate of 50 kmph. Getting to a storm shelter in nearby Pokotown is advised. You know by memory from having seen maps exactly where Gainsville is and you can theorize how long you have to get to Pokotown. You grab another fairly concrete perception item, a city map, and head for cover. But you are unaware that you have been setup with a faulty perception. A sewer main has broken and the logical route to Pokotown along 51st Street is blocked. A detour, right towards the approaching storm is going to be required. Not good!
When you travel, you could do it on memory or trial and error but usually you use a map. If the map is accurate – an accurate transfer of a perception, then the trip goes as planned. If the map and the resulting perception are faulted, you are going to be misled. You have put confidence in error and that means trouble ahead. And these examples illustrate how vital accurate perceptions are – and how it is likely better to know that you are wandering into the unknown rather than thinking you are running on solid perceptions that are really wrong perceptions. Perhaps any map is better than no map but you need to know if the associated perceptions are accurate or iffy, and manage your actions accordingly. Is it possible that society as a whole is running on a type of road map, on a broad set of perceptions, that is speeding it towards a collapsed bridge? Worth thinking about.
Theorizing blunders can happen on a small and on a large scale whether we are talking time scale or number of individuals involved or time and resources committed. And often, faulty large scale theorizing can lead to a long series of small scale actions that then create a type of immediate “reality” that makes backing up and taking corrective action, very difficult if not impossible. Economic system situations, both individual as well as societal are an example. Health situations, again individual as well as societal are at issue. Business systems, individual, world scale, are also examples. Will human life on planet earth exist in 100 years? Just about any thinking person knows that the answer to that question would seem to point to the negative! Well – is there a chance that we are seeing the outcome of some theoretical blundering such that corrective action is very difficult if not impossible?
In my main essay, I am plugging for looking for a very broad theorizing approach. I do feel that the vaccination issue is potentially multi generational and also linked to some really bad (and stupid) theory. And the biggy of the theory blunders is the perception that we live in an unplanned environment that resulted from a roulette wheel process rather than from the mind of a Super Designer / Builder with an amazingly altruistic Purpose and a bag of educational tactics that guide humans towards that Goal, if they are inclined to opt for being wise. But the vital freedom to be a fool is also on the table and can be utilized to the full! The brilliant educational system is in place. The Boss is in control! The students are being well cared for!
I think well of the work of Sir Albert Howard and the vital connection his work has to the vaccination issue. Howard obviously saw the world he worked in as a brilliantly designed system with a stable track record that needed to be acknowledged. He had a view of disease that took the long term into account. And I feel that his theorizing provides a guide to achieve a success where impossible back tracking will not become necessary. Society as a whole is not likely going to change direction. But the remarkable Freedom Package not only allows individuals be individual or herd idiots – it also allows them to use their head and be rebel wise!
Circumstances happened to kick me onto a path, similar to the one that Albert Howard followed. That was a long time ago, when I was in my middle teens. I recognized that the time to set up the events of my life was right then. Theory needed to be acted on if I was to get the ducks in a row. The thought of having a child with leukemia or diabetes or autism did not appeal to me, and I was not convinced that such terrible outcomes drop out of the blue. Avoiding living with a functionally compromised human body also appealed to me. Why not try to control what you can and not look back on the past only after the hammer has dropped? Thanks Albert! I will gladly vote for both Albert H and for Albert E as being valuable Theorists! I have no reason to think that either of you had serious sand pockets in your theoretic base work.