Tetons March 2014

Making Changes

To find the sweet spot in life where there is neither excess nor deficiency we have to make changes. To experiment.

We need to adjust our routine, try new things, to act.

There are two ways to make changes. The right way focuses on the parts. The wrong way focuses on the whole.

What do I mean?

We can only change one thing at a time. Those that recognize this are what Karl Popper calls piecemeal engineers.

"The piecemeal engineer knows, like Socrates, how little he knows. He knows that we can learn only from our mistakes. Accordingly, he will make his way step by step, carefully comparing the results expected with the results achieved, and always on the lookout for the unavoidable, unwanted consequences of reform;"

Karl Popper, The Poverty of Historicism

A holist is impatient with the slower pace required to change one thing at a time and observe the results. Holists desire complete overhaul of the whole so they attempt multiple large changes at once.

Often the result is confusion and chaos.

"The reason is that in practice the holistic method turns out to be impossible; the greater the holistic changes attempted, the greater are their unintended and largely unexpected repercussions, forcing upon the holistic engineer the expedient of piecemeal improvisation. It leads to the notorious phenomenon of unplanned planning."

Karl Popper, The Poverty of Historicism

Holists and piecemeal engineers both make one change at a time. The difference is holists make changes in rapid succession without waiting to assess the results of the initial change before embarking on another.

Changes should be measured. Undertaken with mindfulness. Otherwise, the echo chamber of multiple changes will make it impossible to determine which change to keep and which to discard.

-J.D. Stein | March 2014

Snow Geese, Mud Lake, Idaho

Snow Geese ‒ Mud Lake, Idaho ‒ March 2014

"Our main concern in philosophy and science should be our search for truth."

‒ Karl Popper, Objective Knowledge