Thursday, March 2, 2017

Denying Complexity

Anyone with even a modest science education would agree that the Universe is a complex place.  At least 13.7 billion years old, it contains billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars, many if not most of which possess their own solar systems.  Our home planet is amazingly complex, composed of complex ecosystems that harbor a vast array of complex organisms.

We have just begun to understand the biochemistry of our own bodies, which are sustained by complex organ systems that carry out complex functions and are subject to complex diseases.  Our tremendously complex brains orchestrate a wide range of complex behaviors and dictate the very nature of our being.

Ironically, it is the human brain, the most complex structure in the animal kingdom, that leads many members of our species to deny complexity itself.  Our imagination has led to mysticism which offers simplistic answers to the mysteries of life and simplistic solutions to the problems faced by our society.  One need only look at the actions and platitudes of our new President to understand how the tendency to deny complexity can lead to rash decisions and produce far ranging consequences.  We cannot solve the problems of human civilization by denying that they exist or by waving the magic wand of executive orders.  Ignorance is no excuse and details matter; life is complex.