TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE - THINKING LONGER AND HARDER

(- Copyright 2016 by Mike Stewart -)

If we are in sales and marketing, time is important to us. Time is also important to our prospects. In fact,no matter who we are or what we do or what age we are, time is significant. So, before we cover anything else, maybe we should talk a little about time.

In economics, there is something called "the marginal utility of money". To me, someone who has had one economics course, this means that a millionaire will quickly spend a thousand dollars for something he wants; a poor man will consider this expenditure for a long time.

Whether or not someone has used this phrase before, I think there is also "marginal utility of time".

If we are in our twenties, we are rich in time. There is plenty of time to do everything: study, date, work, have fun. The consultant that talks about the value of being persistent may awaken new valuable thoughts and we have plenty of time to follow through.

We will be stereotyped. No matter how smart we are, some will see us as too young and inexperienced. Our worldview may be more influenced by how we want things to be rather than true reality. However, I need to be very careful here because I want to argue that all worldviews are equal and reality is, at least, nebulous. Maybe it is safe to say that as we get older, things will change.

In our thirties, forties, and maybe even fifties, most of us are concerned with work and family. We have less time but we don't think about it. New pressures can change our worldview. Are these changes slow or rapid? I suspect that the more drastic the emotional pressures are (something really bad happens), the more rapid the changes can be. But what is the mechanism of change?

I think that the second greatest understatement you could make is "Life is Complex". This applies whether you are talking about cellular processes or just getting along in the world. One greater understatement may be "Reality is Complex". Time seems to be not only involved in our lives, but in these larger subjects.

As we age into our sixties, seventies, and beyond, time becomes more and more valuable. We realize this on a logical, not emotional, level. When we wake up on Thursday morning we know we have less time left, but the world doesn't seem any different than it did on Wednesday morning. Then something happens and we adopt our view of time on an emotional level.

Now, in our culture, we are stereotyped as too old. However, this may not matter as much to us.

Maybe our worldview can be changed by happy events as well as sad. I do know that my worldview changed and I was a slightly different person on both the day my son was born and on September 11, 2001. I do know that I remember more about these two days than I remember about what I was doing last week. I wonder if this is true for people with other worldviews?

As we age, time seems to move faster and faster. I have experienced this and have heard others say the same. Perhaps this is a phenomenon true for all worldviews? Time also seems to move faster when we are having fun, slower when we are not. Just thinking about time slows it down.

Conventional wisdom is that all our thoughts and perceptions, including that of time, are "in our heads", more particularly in the nerve cells, or neurons, in our brains.

Perhaps our perception of time is simply based on the activity of our neurons. As we age, our neurons become less and less active and we see time as going faster and faster. This would be true if aging slowed down processes within the individual neuron and/or communications between neurons.

If I believe that part of our perception of time is based on the activity level of neurons, I can find proof of this. When we sleep, time passes faster. In this case, the total activity level of neurons is down. Or, to take a more extreme case, all brain activity may stop - for example, after a near drowning in frigid water. Brain activity may not resume for days. Yet when the victim wakes up, he will feel as if no time has passed. If we ever reach the point where we can flash freeze someone and revive them a decade later, they would probably think the procedure had failed and it was only a few seconds later.

The above situation can also illustrate the difficulty of proving one worldview is true and another false. By some definitions, we are dead if we have no brain activity. In fact, no brain activity has caused many "plugs to be pulled".

Some people who have been close to death or even experienced brain inactivity have later reported near death experiences - looking down on your own body, talking to a dead relative, moving toward a bright light, and so on. If your worldview has a strong spiritual component, these reports help support your beliefs. If your worldview is more secular, it is only proof of neurons under stress shortly before or after they became inactive. I don't think there is a way to prove which worldview is correct.

I once talked to an older man, a millionaire who had started a local business many year before. Over the years he had grown the business from just him to almost one hundred employees. I wanted to sell him a specialized computer system. At the time, computer prices were dropping rapidly and more and more people were introducing automation to their businesses.

He told me, in what I considered a rude manner, that he didn't want a computer. He was a millionaire, he'd never used a computer, and never would. At the time I thought he was stupid and arrogant. Today I just think his worldview was different than mine (although I may still think he was arrogant).

Was his worldview wrong? He lived another five years. He didn't have to learn anything about computers, in which he had no interest. His company may have been less efficient, but he never knew it and died still a millionaire. His sons inherited the business. Although they may not have had their father's ability to build a business from nothing, they had the common sense needed to recognize the value of automation. And by then they could computerize the business for much less money. Five years later, their success was continuing and they were growing faster than their competitors.

Are there things that are true across all worldviews, things that we all view the same, things that can draw us together, things that make us better when we sell and more comfortable when we buy?

Before I attempt to answer this, let me make a personal observation or two. Or three or four.

A lot of people, including me, wish we lived in a digital world where everything could be assigned a digit; one equals true, zero equals false. Everything would be simple, either right or wrong, true or false, good or evil. Moral codes would be simple, for example: If you tell the truth you are good, if you lie, you are bad. There is no discussion of what "good" is, there is no discussion of what "bad" is. Good is good and bad is bad. Some people seem to actually believe they live in such a world. They are hard to deal with.

A lot of us think we live in an analog world. There are shades of gray. Some people are very smart, some just smart, some average, some dumb, some are, unfortunately, very dumb.

Or we could live in a quantum world. And then things get weird.

Time may be at the heart of reality, but reality is complex. Mankind is like the seven year old digging a hole. After a short time, he announces he's digging to China. I feel like I might could look at the next shovel full of dirt, but it still wouldn't be much progress.

But applying time to life may be more productive. What is thought, at least in more advanced animals? How do you explain how people behave? I can take a shot at these and other questions. Success would be revolutionary.

One thing I have noticed is faith and religion seem to promote the significance of man. Science, on the other hand, makes us face our insignificance. For example, in a few hundred years, Science has moved us from the center of the Universe to a remote part of one of a billion galaxies. You may not want to continue reading if this is something you hate about Science.

Let us start with Physics and ignore the details. There are many more people who find Physics interesting than there are people who write about Physics. There are many more people who write about Physics than there are Professional Physicists. If you want to write about Physics so that most people, who find it interesting, will understand it, you have to simplify things, for example, throw out the Math.

Again, leaving out the confusing details of how they know, Physicists tell us the Universe is about 14 Billion Years Old and Life has existed on Earth for about 1.5 Billion or 1500 Million Years. I am interested in the Life Part.

In order to help people visualize how long life has been around, science writers sometime relate time to distance. Suppose you drive a metal pole into the ground in New York City and you have a friend fly 3000 miles to Los Angeles and drive a similar pole into the ground there. If you designate your pole "beginning of life" 1500 million years ago, and your friend's pole "today", you can begin walking west toward the future.

When you start your journey, life is simple, one cell organisms. It will eventually develop into multi-cellular organisms and then progress on until it becomes life as we know it today. After you've moved west a mile on your imaginary journey, you see life as it is after a half a millions years. Still single cells. One hundred miles later, you are tired. Life has been around for 50 million years and still all you see are single cells. It is not until you are almost to St. Louis, 500 millions years, one third of the way to the present, that you see the first multi-cellular beings.

What was life doing the first 500 million years - twiddling its thumbs? Maybe we should take closer look at this period.

My current worldview is, like everyone else's worldview, unique. The Internet has changed things. Or at least in my world view, it has changed things. Or I feel the Internet has changed things. Or I want to believe it has changed things. Or maybe I would feel better if the Internet had bent the rules of reality a little.

Remember when I said Science has made us feel more and more insignificant? Copernicus, a Polish Astronomer, helped start this trend almost 500 years ago when he wrote that the earth revolved around the sun. Copernicus was a member of what today we might call "the Establishment". The upside was he got credit for a major discovery. The downside was he could have been burned at the stake.

I am not saying that Copernicus did not discover that the earth revolves around the sun. I am saying I can imagine that 5000 years ago a Chinese peasant named Wong liked to study the stars. He told his friends the earth revolves around the sun. They laughed and called him "Crazy Wong". He was soon forgotten.

Today, Copernicus would still be Establishment, one of the Leaders. Wong would be laughed at, but more people would know his views. Someone might even be offended and there would be a remote chance of violence. But the Internet has bent the rules. If Wong turned out to be right, Copernicus could not steal his idea - the Internet never forgets.

Copernicus could still try to steal the idea, saying Wong hadn't provided the "proper mathematical equations" needed for proof.

How do we take a closer look at Life's early years? The first 500 million years of Life took place more than a billion years ago. The simple life that existed then left few, if any, traces - certainly not any that survive today. I do not think we can ever get detailed information about this period. Nevertheless, I remember that conventional scientific wisdom once was we can never know the distance to stars - something we can now easily determine.

There is another way. Albert Einstein visualized how the world would look to him if he were riding on a light beam, that is, if he were traveling at the speed of light. When he used this creative visualization, he realized time was relative to the observer. This insight lead to a better understanding of reality, more accurate scientific predictions, and ultimately things like the atomic bomb.

I would like to creatively visualize how different people, each with their own worldview, might see Life's early years, the questions they might ask, and how it might explain Life today. Based on my background, I will choose a few scientists.

Suppose you are a biologist examining early life. You would obviously need a powerful microscope.

Early Life was single cell. Genetic Material or DNA could be roaming free inside the cell or it could be within the cell nucleus. It is assumed that DNA moved into the nucleus where it could be better protected. You would expect that the longer life had existed, the less DNA would be free as more had moved into the nucleus. What if a Biologist studying Early Life found this was not true? Would this strange results have any effect we could observe today?

Part of DNA codes our genetic makeup. Life gets complex when a Biologist studies the processes that lead from this code to your blue eyes or my brown eyes. A Biologist might wonder what DNA coded for when Life was young. And did this change as life moved across 500 million years.

And then there is junk DNA, which doesn't seem to code for anything. Its purpose is unknown, although there are some theories. Did junk DNA exist in early life? Could a Biologist or other Scientist, as they contemplate the first half billion years, devise another theory about Junk DNA?

Suppose you are a biologist examining early life. You would obviously need a powerful microscope. Didn't I just say that?

Maybe it would be a Biologist examining early life. Or maybe it would be a Classical Physicist. And he would need a powerful microscope. And then he would have an Eureka moment and there would a paradigm shift in how he viewed Life.

EARLY LIFE CELLS, IN FACT ALL CELLS, WERE NOT SMALL. THEY WERE GIGANTIC !!!

When the first cell of life came into existence, it already contained many smaller units: electrons, atoms, small molecules, amino acids, and so on. These were working together to exhibit the traits we call life. If you took the diameter (not the length) of a human hair which you can barely see and magnified it to the height of the Empire State Building, the diameter of a DNA molecule would be smaller than a little dog standing in the lobby. In fact, it would be about the size of one of the dog's toenails. There is plenty of room within each cell for these units of life to work together to produce their magic.

Since I seem to have strayed from talking about time to talking about a dog's toenail, let me conclude by saying we only have a limited amount of time. This means that when you are saying one thing, you are not saying something else (it also means that when you are doing one thing, you are not doing something else). Deciding what to say and how to say it is an Art. Conventional Wisdom says listen intently to show that you care and to gain time to help you decide what to say.

If this works for you, it is good advice. But I always question Conventional Wisdom. A possible alternative plan is to ask if you might mention a couple of things "before we start". If, for example, you are in sales, you might offer to talk first - so that your potential customer can save time by quickly determining if you might help him, and if he is unsure, can ask the questions that that are most important. If you are facing an angry spouse, you might start with an apology, but might add you've been thinking long and hard about how to make it up to him or her (be sure to have in mind an appealing idea that will make your offense seem less bad).

Return to INTRODUCTION TO THINKING LONGER AND HARDER. Or, if you liked this, send an email to Mike Stewart. - mike@esearchfor.com

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE - THINKING LONGER AND HARDER

 

 
 

( - Copyright 2016 by Mike Stewart -)

If we are in sales and marketing, time is important to us. Time is also important to our prospects. In fact,no matter who we are or what we do or what age we are, time is significant. So, before we cover anything else, maybe we should talk a little about time.

In economics, there is something called "the marginal utility of money". To me, someone who has had one economics course, this means that a millionaire will quickly spend a thousand dollars for something he wants; a poor man will consider this expenditure for a long time.

Whether or not someone has used this phrase before, I think there is also "marginal utility of time".

If we are in our twenties, we are rich in time. There is plenty of time to do everything: study, date, work, have fun. The consultant that talks about the value of being persistent may awaken new valuable thoughts and we have plenty of time to follow through.

We will be stereotyped. No matter how smart we are, some will see us as too young and inexperienced. Our worldview may be more influenced by how we want things to be rather than true reality. However, I need to be very careful here because I want to argue that all worldviews are equal and reality is, at least, nebulous. Maybe it is safe to say that as we get older, things will change.

In our thirties, forties, and maybe even fifties, most of us are concerned with work and family. We have less time but we don't think about it. New pressures can change our worldview. Are these changes slow or rapid? I suspect that the more drastic the emotional pressures are (something really bad happens), the more rapid the changes can be. But what is the mechanism of change?

I think that the second greatest understatement you could make is "Life is Complex". This applies whether you are talking about cellular processes or just getting along in the world. One greater understatement may be "Reality is Complex". Time seems to be not only involved in our lives, but in these larger subjects.

As we age into our sixties, seventies, and beyond, time becomes more and more valuable. We realize this on a logical, not emotional, level. When we wake up on Thursday morning we know we have less time left, but the world doesn't seem any different than it did on Wednesday morning. Then something happens and we adopt our view of time on an emotional level.

Now, in our culture, we are stereotyped as too old. However, this may not matter as much to us.

Maybe our worldview can be changed by happy events as well as sad. I do know that my worldview changed and I was a slightly different person on both the day my son was born and on September 11, 2001. I do know that I remember more about these two days than I remember about what I was doing last week. I wonder if this is true for people with other worldviews?

As we age, time seems to move faster and faster. I have experienced this and have heard others say the same. Perhaps this is a phenomenon true for all worldviews? Time also seems to move faster when we are having fun, slower when we are not. Just thinking about time slows it down.

Conventional wisdom is that all our thoughts and perceptions, including that of time, are "in our heads", more particularly in the nerve cells, or neurons, in our brains.

Perhaps our perception of time is simply based on the activity of our neurons. As we age, our neurons become less and less active and we see time as going faster and faster. This would be true if aging slowed down processes within the individual neuron and/or communications between neurons.

If I believe that part of our perception of time is based on the activity level of neurons, I can find proof of this. When we sleep, time passes faster. In this case, the total activity level of neurons is down. Or, to take a more extreme case, all brain activity may stop - for example, after a near drowning in frigid water. Brain activity may not resume for days. Yet when the victim wakes up, he will feel as if no time has passed. If we ever reach the point where we can flash freeze someone and revive them a decade later, they would probably think the procedure had failed and it was only a few seconds later.

The above situation can also illustrate the difficulty of proving one worldview is true and another false. By some definitions, we are dead if we have no brain activity. In fact, no brain activity has caused many "plugs to be pulled".

Some people who have been close to death or even experienced brain inactivity have later reported near death experiences - looking down on your own body, talking to a dead relative, moving toward a bright light, and so on. If your worldview has a strong spiritual component, these reports help support your beliefs. If your worldview is more secular, it is only proof of neurons under stress shortly before or after they became inactive. I don't think there is a way to prove which worldview is correct.

I once talked to an older man, a millionaire who had started a local business many year before. Over the years he had grown the business from just him to almost one hundred employees. I wanted to sell him a specialized computer system. At the time, computer prices were dropping rapidly and more and more people were introducing automation to their businesses.

He told me, in what I considered a rude manner, that he didn't want a computer. He was a millionaire, he'd never used a computer, and never would. At the time I thought he was stupid and arrogant. Today I just think his worldview was different than mine (although I may still think he was arrogant).

Was his worldview wrong? He lived another five years. He didn't have to learn anything about computers, in which he had no interest. His company may have been less efficient, but he never knew it and died still a millionaire. His sons inherited the business. Although they may not have had their father's ability to build a business from nothing, they had the common sense needed to recognize the value of automation. And by then they could computerize the business for much less money. Five years later, their success was continuing and they were growing faster than their competitors.

Are there things that are true across all worldviews, things that we all view the same, things that can draw us together, things that make us better when we sell and more comfortable when we buy?

Before I attempt to answer this, let me make a personal observation or two. Or three or four.

A lot of people, including me, wish we lived in a digital world where everything could be assigned a digit; one equals true, zero equals false. Everything would be simple, either right or wrong, true or false, good or evil. Moral codes would be simple, for example: If you tell the truth you are good, if you lie, you are bad. There is no discussion of what "good" is, there is no discussion of what "bad" is. Good is good and bad is bad. Some people seem to actually believe they live in such a world. They are hard to deal with.

A lot of us think we live in an analog world. There are shades of gray. Some people are very smart, some just smart, some average, some dumb, some are, unfortunately, very dumb.

Or we could live in a quantum world. And then things get weird.

Time may be at the heart of reality, but reality is complex. Mankind is like the seven year old digging a hole. After a short time, he announces he's digging to China. I feel like I might could look at the next shovel full of dirt, but it still wouldn't be much progress.

But applying time to life may be more productive. What is thought, at least in more advanced animals? How do you explain how people behave? I can take a shot at these and other questions. Success would be revolutionary.

One thing I have noticed is faith and religion seem to promote the significance of man. Science, on the other hand, makes us face our insignificance. For example, in a few hundred years, Science has moved us from the center of the Universe to a remote part of one of a billion galaxies. You may not want to continue reading if this is something you hate about Science.

Let us start with Physics and ignore the details. There are many more people who find Physics interesting than there are people who write about Physics. There are many more people who write about Physics than there are Professional Physicists. If you want to write about Physics so that most people, who find it interesting, will understand it, you have to simplify things, for example, throw out the Math.

Again, leaving out the confusing details of how they know, Physicists tell us the Universe is about 14 Billion Years Old and Life has existed on Earth for about 1.5 Billion or 1500 Million Years. I am interested in the Life Part.

In order to help people visualize how long life has been around, science writers sometime relate time to distance. Suppose you drive a metal pole into the ground in New York City and you have a friend fly 3000 miles to Los Angeles and drive a similar pole into the ground there. If you designate your pole "beginning of life" 1500 million years ago, and your friend's pole "today", you can begin walking west toward the future.

When you start your journey, life is simple, one cell organisms. It will eventually develop into multi-cellular organisms and then progress on until it becomes life as we know it today. After you've moved west a mile on your imaginary journey, you see life as it is after a half a millions years. Still single cells. One hundred miles later, you are tired. Life has been around for 50 million years and still all you see are single cells. It is not until you are almost to St. Louis, 500 millions years, one third of the way to the present, that you see the first multi-cellular beings.

What was life doing the first 500 million years - twiddling its thumbs? Maybe we should take closer look at this period.

My current worldview is, like everyone else's worldview, unique. The Internet has changed things. Or at least in my world view, it has changed things. Or I feel the Internet has changed things. Or I want to believe it has changed things. Or maybe I would feel better if the Internet had bent the rules of reality a little.

Remember when I said Science has made us feel more and more insignificant? Copernicus, a Polish Astronomer, helped start this trend almost 500 years ago when he wrote that the earth revolved around the sun. Copernicus was a member of what today we might call "the Establishment". The upside was he got credit for a major discovery. The downside was he could have been burned at the stake.

I am not saying that Copernicus did not discover that the earth revolves around the sun. I am saying I can imagine that 5000 years ago a Chinese peasant named Wong liked to study the stars. He told his friends the earth revolves around the sun. They laughed and called him "Crazy Wong". He was soon forgotten.

Today, Copernicus would still be Establishment, one of the Leaders. Wong would be laughed at, but more people would know his views. Someone might even be offended and there would be a remote chance of violence. But the Internet has bent the rules. If Wong turned out to be right, Copernicus could not steal his idea - the Internet never forgets.

Copernicus could still try to steal the idea, saying Wong hadn't provided the "proper mathematical equations" needed for proof.

How do we take a closer look at Life's early years? The first 500 million years of Life took place more than a billion years ago. The simple life that existed then left few, if any, traces - certainly not any that survive today. I do not think we can ever get detailed information about this period. Nevertheless, I remember that conventional scientific wisdom once was we can never know the distance to stars - something we can now easily determine.

There is another way. Albert Einstein visualized how the world would look to him if he were riding on a light beam, that is, if he were traveling at the speed of light. When he used this creative visualization, he realized time was relative to the observer. This insight lead to a better understanding of reality, more accurate scientific predictions, and ultimately things like the atomic bomb.

I would like to creatively visualize how different people, each with their own worldview, might see Life's early years, the questions they might ask, and how it might explain Life today. Based on my background, I will choose a few scientists.

Suppose you are a biologist examining early life. You would obviously need a powerful microscope.

Early Life was single cell. Genetic Material or DNA could be roaming free inside the cell or it could be within the cell nucleus. It is assumed that DNA moved into the nucleus where it could be better protected. You would expect that the longer life had existed, the less DNA would be free as more had moved into the nucleus. What if a Biologist studying Early Life found this was not true? Would this strange results have any effect we could observe today?

Part of DNA codes our genetic makeup. Life gets complex when a Biologist studies the processes that lead from this code to your blue eyes or my brown eyes. A Biologist might wonder what DNA coded for when Life was young. And did this change as life moved across 500 million years.

And then there is junk DNA, which doesn't seem to code for anything. Its purpose is unknown, although there are some theories. Did junk DNA exist in early life? Could a Biologist or other Scientist, as they contemplate the first half billion years, devise another theory about Junk DNA?

Suppose you are a biologist examining early life. You would obviously need a powerful microscope. Didn't I just say that?

Maybe it would be a Biologist examining early life. Or maybe it would be a Classical Physicist. And he would need a powerful microscope. And then he would have an Eureka moment and there would a paradigm shift in how he viewed Life.

EARLY LIFE CELLS, IN FACT ALL CELLS, WERE NOT SMALL. THEY WERE GIGANTIC !!!

When the first cell of life came into existence, it already contained many smaller units: electrons, atoms, small molecules, amino acids, and so on. These were working together to exhibit the traits we call life. If you took the diameter (not the length) of a human hair which you can barely see and magnified it to the height of the Empire State Building, the diameter of a DNA molecule would be smaller than a little dog standing in the lobby. In fact, it would be about the size of one of the dog's toenails. There is plenty of room within each cell for these units of life to work together to produce their magic.

Since I seem to have strayed from talking about time to talking about a dog's toenail, let me conclude by saying we only have a limited amount of time. This means that when you are saying one thing, you are not saying something else (it also means that when you are doing one thing, you are not doing something else). Deciding what to say and how to say it is an Art. Conventional Wisdom says listen intently to show that you care and to gain time to help you decide what to say.

If this works for you, it is good advice. But I always question Conventional Wisdom. A possible alternative plan is to ask if you might mention a couple of things "before we start". If, for example, you are in sales, you might offer to talk first - so that your potential customer can save time by quickly determining if you might help him, and if he is unsure, can ask the questions that that are most important. If you are facing an angry spouse, you might start with an apology, but might add you've been thinking long and hard about how to make it up to him or her (be sure to have in mind an appealing idea that will make your offense seem less bad).

Return to INTRODUCTION TO THINKING LONGER AND HARDER. Or, if you liked this, send an email to Mike Stewart. - mike@esearchfor.com