Elmer Rich

Fixing and Repairing the World Is a Good Idea – “Saving the World”– Not So Much

The goal of this blog is to help solve problems. Actually, to help fix stuff – with new ideas and evidence for those ideas. Wee need are good new ideas.  The Jewish intellectual traditions have been perhaps the most productive cultural processes for creating good new ideas.  The Hebrew phrase tikkum olam (TO), which I just learned last week, is the best frame for all the work that needs to be done.  Lots and lots of work.  This blog is dedicated to good new ideas to support TO.

Forget “Save” the World – Let’s Fix Things
“Saving the world” is a kicky, youthful idea.  It has been adopted as a successful marketing phrase to sell pretty much everything.  But “fixing” or “repairing” the world is quite sensible. TO points to concrete and immediate things that are “broken” and the need to do something specific.  Fixing takes work.  “Repairing” things is practical, professional and immediately useful. “Saving” anything or anyone is messianic, wholly impractical hand waving. Of course, repairing and fixing takes real skill, knowledge and work.

TO is a brand new idea to me, so please educate me, — but it makes sense.  I have read it has started to be used more and to refer to general social projects and philosophizing.  Fair enough.  The objective of this blog is much more hard-headed.  There are lots of really hard problems that need to be addressed at many social, political and professional levels.  We need some really good new ideas, better knowledge, more effective principles, policies, practices and practitioners — whether it is concerning people’s well-being, money, resources, social fabric, governance, business, science and enterprises of all sorts.  Things are also getting a lot more complex.

“Complexity, then simplicity. Not simplicity before complexity.”

Accelerating Complexity
The good news is that old ideas, beliefs and knowledge are slowly being recognized as inadequate.  The new transparency of the web is helping prove or disprove claims.  The bad news is that the same transparency is revealing everything to be a lot more complex.  A whole lot!

Whatever the topic, we can now see more dimensions to it – more moving parts.  There are more stakeholders and interests involved.  We are just starting to see the different systems involved in any matter and their interconnections.  There are cascades of events in interconnecting systems.  Knowledge is more detailed, technical and specific and getting more so at an accelerating rate.  We can just start to think about, describe and understand and address problems more systematically. Causes and effects that were largely hidden before are being uncovered.  We are just starting to see how events can lead to cascades of effects in different systems.

Brain Science: A “Copernican Revolution”
This blog will make a (very detailed and extended) argument for learning about and applying the newest, and best, brain and behavioral science to TO.

For the first time in human history we (you and me!) can now starte to understand how behavior is caused – by the brain, of course.  We are literally the first people, ever, to learn this.  All the great thinkers and books and ideas of the past, combined, knew nothing about how behavior was caused.  Nothing.  A smart high school student now knows more about behavior than Newton, Darwin, Adam Smith, Einstein, Aristotle, etc. – combined.  Freud was actually the closest of all great thinkers – but that is another upcoming post: “Freud Was Profoundly Right.”

We stand at the beginning of a whole new understanding of behavior – so let’s use this new knowledge to fix stuff and for TO, shall we?

Let’s stop here. There is a lot more to come.  All I can promise is that I will study the material as hard and long as I can and work equally hard to share it with you. Togther, we will work hard and have great fun! Promise.

Comments, and especially criticisms, are requested.  Long, detailed and really extended arguments are great.  My experience is that good new ideas need a lot of “friction.”  Intemperate, angry, venting, etc. is fine but we are discussing ideas, not people.  Ad hominem and name calling will be blocked, of course.  This is “social” media not “personal” media.

The blog will mainly follow and share peer-reviewed research. On controversies – there is just no time to debunk pop(ular) culture and academic ideas, theories and models.  Nor can we cover magical/supernatural/religious topics. There is already “So much science, so little time.”

I am not a scientist but a (very) hard-headed marketer and business person. My personal pay-off in doing this work is having the best evidence-based knowledge about behavior for my professional work. Whatever helps me understand behavior — I will pursue. Guest posts are welcome as well.

More to come….

Next Post: “Jewish Intellectualism is So Over”

About the Author
Elmer Rich is interested in evidence-based problem-solving in professional, business and policy work. With an M.S. in Lifespan Developmental Psychology from University of Chicago, he works as a professional marketer and communicator in B2B/technical topics in financial services.