I am noting an emerging new dogma and it plays out like this:
" The best ideas emerge on their own from the Bottom UP" I think that this is utter rubbish.
I have just finished Bill Bryson's masterpiece - "A Short History of Nearly Everything" a history of our understanding of how the universe and life works. One thing leaped from the page.
Every truly novel and true idea of how life and the universe works emerged from the mind of ONE person - Without exception.
Far from Bottom up, the masses would attack it. The Masses and the Establishment seem to have an alliance. The Church and the People loved the idea that the world was flat. The medical establishment of the 19th century and the people were certain that disease spread via smells. The education system and most people think that a degree is the best start in life. Governments, medicine and most of us think that more access to healthcare will keep us healthy. Employers and most people think that a job is the best way to be paid to do work.
What truly novel idea has emerged from the bottom up? I cannot find one - can you?
So how do really novel ideas emerge? And how do they become accepted? In many cases the established view was not giving the results. There was a weakness that meant that a novel idea might have a chance. So there is often an environment of weakness of the mainstream view. Such as today, most people know that the established view of how the economy works is not delivering for most people. They don't know what is better but there is an opening.
In some cases new tools allow for a new perspective. Galileo has a telescope that enables him to see what was hidden before. Pasteur uses a microscope to do the same. Pierre Mandlebrot uses a PC to see iteration and so patterns that could not be seen.
In some cases it was just an open mind. Florence Nightingale and Ignatz Semmelweiss noted that less people died if the hospital was clean. They knew nothing about germs. Semmelweiss ironically died of septicemia when he nicked himself with his scalpel!
Some like Newton and Einstein could see the new in their own mind. They could imagine the universe.
Others like Darwin allow ideas to gestate for decades.
Some like Madame Curie are brave and persistent. Her clothes and notebooks are too radioactive to handle now.
All are single minded and all face huge push back. No Wisdom of Crowds here. No Bottom Up at all.
But there is a "crowd" of sorts. And I think it is the tiny crowd of early adopters. It was not until the 1860's that the masses immigrated to America. The people who went there in 1650 were a very different lot. The people out in the west in 1820 were not your average immigrant looking to have a farm. They are surely the real Pioneers. Only when they have made the new safe can the larger crowd come along. Only when they make it cheap enough too.
The "Big Crowd" are the allies of the establishment. They are both threatened by the new - especially if the new works!
So are the Pioneers "Bottom Up"? I don't think so - for they too are laughed at. Yes you all are Social Media Gurus now - but I recall the odd looks back in 2001/2 from nearly everyone. No the Crowd was laughing at us.
Do ideas emerge? Yes they do. But not from Crowds and not easily. It's evolution out there. The new ideas have to take on the power of the establishment and the crowd to win. I think they do this not by adding more and more research papers but by how their application affects people. It helps if the established idea is seen not to work very well. Is medicine stopping the rise in type 2 diabetes?
Navigators in the age of discovery found that Galileo's universe could help them navigate whereas the old system could not. Clean water in London saved millions of lives enabling London to grow and dominate the world. My friends are finding that cutting out grains is making them healthy. Their friends see them and at first laugh. But when they see the difference over time, they might stop laughing and try it. Once America had won independence and established a base of social rules etc, it started to attract attention.
I am finding that so long as the new remains only an idea, the power of the establishment and the crowd is enough to kill it. It seems that the application of the new idea is the key. It is when we see that real opportunities open up with its use that it has a chance.
So, for me, emergence is when the idea is here and when a start has been made to apply it and there is evidence that it works and offers something much better. For that to happen requires that pragmatic pioneers take up the torch and act upon the idea.
Nothing Bottom Up here at all. Revolutionaries yes. Small - Yes. But really Infection is the better model.
Really novel ideas also have to be proved in action to be fully understood as well. The very definition of complexity demands trial and error as things that are truly novel cannot be fully revealed by thought alone.
So why this post? It is time to do. Time to grow the new.