Simplifying Complexity: Life is Uncertain, Unfair and Unequal

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In life, we often face unavoidable complexities in terms of our ability to understand or influence outcomes. Some questions which arise due to these complexities are: Why can’t the future be made ...
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Complexity Management Principle

Pp. 200-246 (47)

Bruce J. West


Science is about finding order in the panorama of the world and embracing a perspective that includes the falling of apples and the motion of planets; the behavior of the individual and the actions of groups, large and small; the information content of an encyclopedia and the Wikipedia; in short, science does not, and should not, have any boundaries with regard to content. The terrestrial and the cosmic are part of the give and take in science, with the goal of uncovering the principles and laws that determine how the universe functions, along with the individuals within it. For most people, science appears to be separate and apart from the world in which they live. The principles and laws of science do not seem to apply to the general interactions among people; due, in part, to the fact that principles have not been found for everyday decision making; laws have been notoriously absent from mundane thinking; rules have been sought in vain in the growth of society; and indeed canons go begging in the multiple complex phenomena within the human sciences, despite over two hundred years of effort to either invent or find them. In this chapter we examine the Principle of Complexity Management, whereby a system with greater information, but perhaps lesser energy, can dominate a system with lesser information, but greater energy. The principle is a recently proven generalization of an observation made by the mathematician Norbert Wiener, and may be one of these universal principles.


Complexity management principle, Global warming, Habituation, Inverse power law, Laws, Leaky faucet, Memory, Network-centric warfare, Universality Norbert, Wiener.


Research Triangle, Park Durham, NC 27709, USA.