A companion blog, The Metacognition Project, has been created to focus specifically on metacognition and related consciousness processes. Newest essay on TMP: Goals and Problems, part two

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Conspiracy vs Patterns of Interest

A controlling agency establishes a condition, passes a law or sets principle in design (new inventions, taxes changed, some new bureaucratic procedure).  Patterns of interest develop in the affected population that can appear to be a consequence of a communicated plan.

We watch all gas stations change prices from day to day by exactly the same amounts.  It looks to us outside of this pattern of interest like an email is going out or phone calls are being made.  But gas retailers have learned that people will not change their buying habits and locations for a few pennies difference, so that it does them no good to lower their price by a few cents: they sell the same amount of gas and only make less money.  By simply responding to their suppliers price and matching price of a couple other stations all stations will have the same price within an hour or two of any change. 

The result is that the highest price the sellers think they can get away with gets uniformly applied in the market without any conspiracy.  If consumers responded to a few pennies difference at a sufficient level, a new pattern of interest would develop.

The world is filled with patterns of interest that, to those observing, seem to be conspiracies.  This can be seen from the behavior of lions looked at from the point of view of zebras: the lions have evolved instincts that support behaviors and learnings that organize group behavior.  From the zebras’ view the lions are approaching them with a plan.  It is, of course, true, but a plan arrived at by the forces of interest mediated by the living system of order, not a conspiracy.

There are, of course, conspiracies.  In 1970, as a young faculty member, I was part of closing down a college after the Kent State and Jackson State killings, and creating a 3 week “teach-in” that looked at the current state of politics in the country.  To accomplish this required a conspiracy in fact, but was only allowed by a much larger “conspiracy” of interest. 

And, I believe we are witnessing a definite political conspiracy, a hidden agenda maintained and motivated by a few powerful individuals spread through government and the business community, to position themselves and their associates to extract wealth that has been protected by regulation and “normal” business practice.  In this process a much larger pattern of interest has formed to raid all the wealth that the new forms of practice allows.  This would be completely expected by those in the administration who understood what they are doing; expected and approved of both as cover for their own thievery and as part of the ideological agenda of weakening the support of government for the people – to make government an instrument for the control and subjugation of the people, not a tool of the people for the pursuit of their benefit.

Conspiracy has been and is common in human action: A few people get together, form a plan and implement it.  Patterns of interest are just as common: A general condition is recognized by many people who respond to it in similar ways.  It may be politically and socially useful for, especially, real conspiracies to muddy the waters by claiming that those who see and point out slimy behavior are foolish and crazy.  Therefore, it is up to as many of us as possible to understand these distinctions and keep them in the public discussion.

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