Polar Dichotomization vs Interdependent Causality

Image by Jim Lee

I’m taking a break from the topical stuff I have been recently writing about to talk about the overlying issue childlike binary thought or polarizing dichotomization.

Here’s a quote from an earlier topical blog of mine (Berkeley Tree Sitters):

Current research in neuropsychology (NIMH article) (PBS Frontline Interview) suggests that the frontal lobe(responsible for consequence recognition) of the human brain is not as developed in teens as it is in adults for the most part. Research also suggests that adolescent drinking and drug use stunts development permanently.  

There are unintended consequences of most actions. Most issues are not black and white.

The worst cases are when we accept negitive unintended consequences without question because they become ingrained. That is called intellectual slackness, please add that phrases to your lexicon. Although there are a confluence of factors that lead to intellectual slackness, there are none greater than the stereotypical view that intelligence equates to cognitive processing power. So before you vote or blog or protest, please remember we live in an analogue world.

I also touch on this theme in Free Market vs Command Economics:

There is no such thing as a purely capitalistic or socialistic society. It is a spectrum. The most capitalistically modelled societies have elements of a command economy and vice verse. Similarly, all systems of government have elements of democracy and dictatorship.

I am seeing a prevalence of these kind of lump distinctions in American culture recently. This sort of iconography is binary to the point that it undermines productive discourse on complex socio-economic systems (systems with multiple cohorts and interdependent causality).

I just now (while writing this) found a really interesting book on the topic. It can be found in Buddhism & Science by B. Alan Wallace:

The models of complex, interdependent causality such as those found in evolutionary biology, self-organization theory, or Buddhism go far in avoiding the conundrums created by these unproductive dichootomies by thinking in terms of patters of relationship rather than in terms of fixed, independent entities. These models effectively preclude dichotomizaiton by encompassing their opposite poles within their basic definitions. (p182)

I couldn’t have said it any better. Hold on, gonna reserve it at the library. K, done. Back to the matter at hand.

Here’s a list of some of the most harmful polar dichotomizations currently in the colloquial consciousness: 

Liberals and Conservatives – Very loaded terms with broad, vague popular definitions that are used to provoke emotional responses.

Main Street and Wall Street (current definitions in popular America) – These terms are used to advance a dumbed down economic narrative that overemphasizes polarizing factors and ideologies. 

Democrats and Republicans – How we (as a society) not yet learned through 3000+ years of civilization that partisan politics is flawed a mechanism of power brokerage? There is no consistency over any length of time with their goals and methods. This is true for all political parties in all of history.

Capitalists and Socialists – Economics and public policy is way to complicated to put either label on any person or group. Check out my aforementioned blog on that particular topic. Ideologies, as a generality, are overly polarizing.

Politics is a horrible place for dichotomy.

Art is a great place for dichotomy:


From here @  lawyervslibrarian.com found through google image search.

It is my sincere hope that the slackness approach of polar dichotomization regarding public policy and economics fade from usage and are replaced by the more conscious approach of interdependent causality. I apologize for any pedantics and assure you the irony regarding the title is intended humorously.

~ by prfx on November 13, 2008.

One Response to “Polar Dichotomization vs Interdependent Causality”

  1. VedQLL Thanks for good post

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