I Am Not a Fan of Chaos Theory or Uncertainty (as it is applied)

I was just looking into a book called “Chaos or Complexity in Economic Systems” by one Fernando Alcoforado, and it appears that it will be a real slog.  Quickly I ran across the following:

Efforts of Poincare and Lorenz were added to the contributions of Benoit Mandelbrot(communications engineer), Edward Feigenbaum (math), Libchaber (physical), Winfree (biologist), Mandell (psychiatrist) and others. Chaos Theory or the new Science of Complexity suggests that the world should not strictly follow the deterministic Newtonian model, predictable and certain, because it has chaotic aspects. The observer is not who creates instability or unpredictability due to their ignorance because they exist in nature.

A typical example is the weather. The processes of reality depend on a huge set of uncertain circumstances that determine, for example, that any small change in one part of the planet, there will be in the coming days or weeks a considerable effect on the other part of the Earth. This condition also applies to the economic system. According to Chaos Theory or Complexity Science, chaos is a “mixture” of disorder and order that born of new structures, structures called “dissipative”. Chaos theory suggeststhat the Universe has a cycle of order, disorder, order, and so on. So that one leads the other and so on, perhaps indefinitely. One of the main implications of Chaos Theory hasto do with the return generated in chaotic situations. While closed systems have a negative feedback, open systems evolve chaotically by positive feedback… [emphasis added by me]

See, this is where I disagree.  The bold part is an assertion that the author fully accepts at face value.

I don’t.  Those “uncertain circumstances” are NOT uncertain, not to the real, physical atoms and molecules.  Each of them is being affected by forces and processes and conditions acting upon them.  And each, in its turn, passes on some portion to other atoms and molecules.

The fact that HUMAN SCIENTISTS are uncertain about those “circumstances” does not make the physical circumstances uncertain; those circumstances are REAL, whether the scientists can measure them or not.

Which brings us to the Uncertainty Principle – which has been mangled more than any single concept in science.  EVER.

The Uncertainty Principle does NOT say that circumstances are uncertain. Look it up.  What the Uncertaiunty Principle DOES say is that MEASURING things on the smallest scale is uncertain.  And the reason it is uncertain is that the means of measuring depend on things like light waves and photons, and for the smallest measurements, the photons and light waves are no longer adequate, because they are in themselves as big as the things being measured.  So just shining light on the things being measured actually moves the darned things around.  Putting a measuring rod to them doesn’t work – that would push them around even MORE.

So Heisenberg was simply acknowledging the reality – that they pretty much (so far) had come to the end of the line:  Measuring stuff at that scale, scientists couldn’t trust the values that came up anymore.  They might be off my ten-fold or more – and what the hell good was THAT, if you can’t trust the measurements anymore?

THAT is why it is called the Uncertainty Principle.

But so many people (like Deepak Chopra, who is actually a physicist) run around telling people all sorts of things that have NOTHING to do with what Heisenberg was saying and spelling out.  They turn it into all sorts of New Age mumbo jumbo, and they are simply WRONG.  And Chopra, being a physicists, should be ashamed of himself for misrepresenting it like that.

 So, it is NOT the reality that is uncertain – it is our ability to render it into concepts and formulas that is uncertain.

The atoms and molecules in the atmosphere are not hanging around, all uncertain and confused, about “Where do I go next?”

They go where the force vectors push them.  They heat up per the amount of heat energy around them.  And they pass both on to the next atoms and molecules in the system.

If we could REALLY measure all of the forces and processes in the system, down to the atomic level. and if we could keep track of all of those, we WOULD be able to predict where each molecule goes and how much (and which kind of) energy it would carry with it, and we WOULD then be able to model and predict.

But our science is SO FAR short of having those capacities, so they fake it.

One way they fake it is to blame it all on uncertainty and chaos.  Another way is that they make up things like Chaos Theory to mask their ignorance.  After all, if it is chaotic (OHMYFREAKINGGOD, SHUTTER THE WINDOWS AND DOORS!!), they can’t be held responsible for figuring it out now, can they?

And when they use Chaos Theory and it gives different results each time, the still have the gall to call it “scientific.”  It is NOT scientific.  It’s the same as astrologers who vaguely word their readings so that the client can read whatever they want into it.

And Uncertainty has allowed the ingress of statistics into science.  They, in fact, NEED statistics, because they are pretending to analyze stuff that has no answer with the math of today, but in a world that insists on SOME SORT of an answer, statistics bails them out.  They can say that there is an X% chance of this or that, and they have their asses covered, because when the expected results don’t happen, they can throw up their hands and say, “Well, the odds were that it would happen, but it wasn’t certain.”  In other words, “It was the will of God.”

Chaos Theory and the way Uncertainty Principle is applied – basically they are just turning it all into another form of religion, with a fickle God and his Moving Finger being in charge, not us mere mortals.  Like Pilate, they can all wash their hands of the whole thing, because, HEY, they have Uncertainty and who the hell can beat that ?!  And speaking of hell, beyond Uncertainty, there is CHAOS, the work of THE DEVIL!


Just because our mathematics and our physics concepts are inadequate is no reason to just throw up our hands and pretend utter helplessness.  And as long as our scientists – the ones our society depends on to figure this shit out – CLAIM such helplessness, science is going to be on this plateau a LONG time.

No, what is happening is that we are being sold on the Emperor’s New Clothes. Like the priesthoods of old, these buggers have been baptized into the Holy of Holies, SCIENCE, and when things are over their heads, instead of figuring shit out, they start fingering their rosary beads and claiming, “IT IS THE WILL OF THE GOD OF UNCERTAINTY AND CHAOS!”

They might as well don priest’s robes and stop the charade.


To that atom or molecule, there IS no uncertainty.  It exists in ONE point in space at any given time.  It is pushed by a force F, in direction Y.  It goes in that direction and that atom is not confused about it.  When the force stops or changes, so does the movement of the particle.  YES, it is COMPOUND.  In the extreme.  There are trillions and gazillions of them to deal with.  And that makes it hard to calculate.  But, SO WHAT?  Just because it is over their heads is no reason to invent mumbo jumbo to replace real science or for them to admit that THEY ARE IN OVER THEIR HEADS.

And there is nothing embarrassing about that.  Plato and Aristotle were in over their heads, and they basically were humble in the face of it all.  They TRIED to figure stuff out, but they admitted that they really didn’t know.  But when the title “scientist” came along, THEN it was imperative to not admit when they were over their heads.  It’s like a carny side show game, and they can’t let the makers in on the lie underlying it all.

In other words, in the “sciences” in which Uncertainty and Chaos Theory and statistics are invoked, cover your wallets, if you can.  And don’t expect it to be real science but fake science.

(BTW, do not confuse linear analysis with statistics, even though the language is the same, and the software is described as one or the other or both.  Linear analysis IS scientific, a means with which to convey data.  Linear analysis, is, probably, the direction in which the maths of tomorrow will go, upon which that future math will be built.  But, as in real science, the science of the real world, the linear analysis cannot be any better than the data it is working with. And the data depends on good and precise measurements – and measurements of the applicable things.  If they measure the wrong things, or if their measurements are sloppy, or they don’t follow protocols, the data is sheit, and any linear analysis based on such data is sheit-squared.)


2 responses to “I Am Not a Fan of Chaos Theory or Uncertainty (as it is applied)

  1. Chopra is not a physicist. He is a medical doctor who took a physics class, like most educated people. His understanding of quantum mechanics is minimal, as I recently discovered while watching him ‘debate’ Sam Harris.https://youtu.be/0E99BdOfxAE

  2. Becky – Thanks for the correction on Chopra’s qualifications. My bad. Reading your comment here, yeah, something clicked and I’d read about Chopra being a doctor before. I’d just forgotten it.

    Chopra is actually out there misleading people about all this stuff and not caring that they come away with wrong understandings. Chopra may, himself, believe his understanding to be correct – but he also must know full well that what he spiels is just his own ideas. And as such he should be prefacing all of it by, “My opinion about this is ____________ .”

    The New Age-y audiences he attracts are in no way prepared to understand the science he presents or to discern what is bullshit and what is solid. I KNOW: I long ago was one of that type. Decades in engineering gave me another perspective altogether, and I like to think of myself as living in both camps. At the same time, MANY New Age things are utter crap. Not all, by any means. I won’t go into which ones right now, but I still find some to have some validity, and I’ve found rationales and logic to explain some of them in a scientific way – at least that suits me. But I will be damned before I go out and spout off my opinions as if they are gospel and/or without prefacing my opinions AS opinions.

    I really disrespect Chopra for his phony New Age guru posturing. Especially when I found out how MUCH he and his kind charge for attendance to their conferences. 15 years ago it was $3,000 for a weekend. What ripoff artists! But there are a lot of silly, gullible people who pay it and think that they are being introduced to some of the secrets of the Universe. Chopra and his kind talk in vague generalities and the audience members each sasemble those vague phrases in their heads, each in different combinations and levels of understanding what was said and what it meant. So, everyone comes away thinking something different from everyone else – but when they talk together they all THINK they are saying the same things.

    That is one difference between New Agers and scientists. Science specifically DEFINES its terms – very carefully and precisely. They don’t do that to sound smart, but so that when they say words like “Holocene” or “metabolism” or “macrophage” everyone knows what they are talking about and everyone comes away with the same understanding of what was said. Chopra and his kind do the exact opposite – intentionally NOT defining things – so they don’t prevent people from leaving with misconceptions.

    As you could tell from the Sam Harris debate, Chopra and his kind just ramble and use words incredibly sloppily. HE doesn’t understand it, all, really, so he HAS to do a snow job on people. Its like a school kid who can write and who bullshits the instructors in every essay – as long as the instructors let kid get away with it, he never has to actually learn anything about what he is writing about.

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