Step two — the ‘yellow duck’

So, the idea (the hypothesis) is that the reason we are facing so many simultaneous crises is because we misunderstand the way the world works.

How on earth am I supposed to develop that into something that resembles a solution*? How can I encapsulate it in a single post? How to explain it in a way that will be comprehensible, when the very starting point is that the ‘truth’ will look ‘wrong’ to us (because it will be different from what we already believe).

What could it be in our (my) thinking that is mistaken? How could I find it? And how could I explain that to myself, let alone you, dear reader?

In a way it would be like trying to explain to a five year old that the yellow duck in the bath is not actually ‘yellow’. It is not made of ‘yellow’ plastic — it is made of plastic that looks yellow because it reflects yellow light.

Or perhaps it would be like explaining to a twenty-five year old that there is no such thing as ‘yellow’ light — that ‘yellow’ is only an interpretation passed to our brain by the ‘cone receptors’ in our eyes.

We think, we teach each other, that there are ‘three primary colours’ in the world. But in actual fact there is an infinite variety of colours. What there are three of is three ‘cone receptors’ in our eyes, each receptive to a different wavelength of light. We build television screens and computer screens with three ‘primary’ colours not because to match reality but to match the way our eyes see. The pictures look real to us, but to animals with two (or even four) cone receptors in their eyes, the pictures on the screens would not look realistic. (There is more on this here.)

This is the challenge.

I am, we are, effectively trying to spot a wavelength of light that our eyes cannot see.

We are trying to detect something that could be all around us all the time — like electricity or magnetism — but we would never know it was there because we do not have a sense that detects it. And, as with magnetism or electricity, perhaps we can detect it by observing the effects it has.

In fact, this is where I started. It is because we are observing unwanted effects in the world that we are looking for something we have not perceived.

(*)And thinking back to the beginning of this post, perhaps I do not need to find a ‘solution’ at all. Perhaps that is part of the problem and the better thing to do would be to find a process, rather than a thing.

I shall talk about this tomorrow.

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