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My World View
送交者: jingchen 2020年03月27日13:09:59 于 [教育学术] 发送悄悄话

My World View

Recently I get a message inquiring about my world view. I don’t think about this topic that much. Maybe I just list some of my thoughts about research.

Like many others, I want to understand life. That is my basic drive.

To really understand something, we need to be able to present it as a mathematical theory. We may think we understand something very well. But there can be many inconsistencies in our understanding. Only when I can develop a mathematical theory of life, I can satisfy myself.

A mathematical theory has to be consistent with physical principles. Otherwise, the theory can’t describe much reality. To be specific, thermodynamic processes are the most universal processes in nature. A sound theory of life must be built on thermodynamic theory. The fundamental equations to describe life processes must be thermodynamic equations.

Currently, most equations that describe life processes and economic processes are ordinary differential equations. It is natural to start with ordinary differential equations because they are simpler. Actually, many popular ordinary differential equations, such as those in chaos theory, are simplified from original thermodynamic equations. However, we have to be aware that these equations do not represent reality accurately. We have to be careful when applying theoretical results to interpret reality.

One popular theory is the butterfly theory. It states that the flapping of wings by a butterfly in Brazil can generate a tornado in US. The theory was originally developed from equations on weather, which are thermodynamic equations. Since the original equations are too complex, they were simplified into ordinary differential equations. The butterfly effects were derived from simplified equations.

Do these simplified equations describe weather accurately? No, they don’t. We all know a butterfly in Brazil cannot generate a tornado in US. That is why we can forecast weather conditions very accurately for several days.

However, the theory of butterfly effect is still very popular in social sciences. It has been used to cover up deep structural problems in our social systems. Few researchers point out that the butterfly theory is not based an equation that describe reality accurately.

What I have done is to develop an analytical theory of life and human society based on physical and economical principles. The combination of physical and economical principles is very crucial.  A living system is a physical system that generate nonnegative returns on average.

Some say living systems are too complex to be described by a mathematical theory. But living systems are physical systems. And they are subject to additional constraints, the economical constraints, than general physical systems. Living systems, in particular human societies, must be easier to understand than general physical systems. Indeed, until several centuries ago, we have no clue how solar system works. But our ancestors can handle daily activities successfully for millions of years.

Some say human societies can’t be described accurately by a mathematical theory for humans have free will. When we drive on the road, we don’t think drivers on the opposite direction have free will. We know most of them want to drive safely. Occasionally, some drivers may be impaired. Rarely, some drivers may intentionally collide into other cars. Human mind, just like human body, is evolved to help us survive successfully in this world. There are general patterns how humans think. Human mind is not free.

Our theory consists of three parts. The first part is the entropy theory of mind. Mind is a reflection of reality.  Mind is more efficient if it captures the most important aspects of the world. Entropy law is the most universal law of nature. Entropy flows are what drive the directional movement of the world. The entropy theory of mind provides simple understanding to many psychological patterns.


The second part of our theory is the entropy theory of value. All living systems survive by extracting low entropy from the environment. It would be natural to develop an entropy theory of value. Why such a theory faces great resistance? There are several reasons. One is Arrow’s statement. He investigated the possibility of entropy theory of value.  He observed that Shannon’s entropy measure doesn’t carry weight. So it is not very useful in economics. That was a simple mistake. Information measure does carry weight. A sentence can carry more information than a single letter. Everyone makes mistakes. But when an emperor makes a mistake, only he himself, or his close associates, can legitimately correct the mistake.

The third part of our theory is the production theory. It is an analytical theory of major factors in economic activities, such as fixed cost, variable cost, duration of investment, discount rate and uncertainty. Fixed rate and variable costs, asset duration are the basic quantities in accounting. Governments fine tune economic activities mainly by adjusting interest rates. Our theory was inspired by Black-Scholes option theory. Black had anticipated a general theory on economic activities based on similar method.

Our theory provides a concise and consistent understanding of biological and social activities. It has been around for about two decades now. Yet the established researchers, mainstream or not, take scant attention to it. Why is that?

Social theories are developed to advance the interests of themselves and their groups. The dominant groups hope to maintain the current social structure. They will promote an equilibrium theory, or end of history theory. The marginal groups hope to change the current social structure. Yet to make their theory attractive, they will claim their alternative social structure is the optimal or equilibrium state. Attractive social theories for dominant and marginal groups, such as general equilibrium theory, Marxist theory, major religions,  are all equilibrium theories.

Our theory is a non-equilibrium theory. Human societies are part of the biological systems. This is consistent with the non-equilibrium theory of biological systems in science. Our theory provides a unified understanding of biological and social systems. Our theory provides simple and coherent understanding of vast array of social phenomena. In standard social theories, most social phenomena are attributed to imperfectness, incompleteness, irrationality or externality.

The standard social theories may provide psychological comfort. We all need psychological comfort. It can be provided by religions with much lower costs than the dominant "social science" theories. This is why religions are advancing rapidly in today's world.

Our theory does not provide psychological comfort. It provides solutions to the problems in this world. It is time to leave psychological comfort to religions and leave the study of truth to sciences. The theories of "social sciences" are not consistent with science. The theories of "social sciences" uphold politically correct, and hence suppress factually correct. 

 




 


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