Harnessing Science To Understand Human History
Social life is often too complex to understand, but with the help of science, we can gain valuable insight into the dynamics behind society and history.
In The Great Mental Models Volume 2, author John K.
Miller dives deep into seven fundamental concepts from physics, biology and chemistry to uncover some amazingly useful mental models.
From the French Revolution to modern warfare and even why zebras are fast or why Portuguese people do not speak Latin – when you begin to explore science in relation to social life, you will make unique connections that you never would have seen before.
Miller also looks at how fleas impacted European society, as well as what bronze production and driving a car have in common.
With this book, readers will be able to use these findings to better comprehend social life through these scientific lens.
It Takes More Force To Stop Something With Greater Societal Mass
When it comes to social change, mass matters.
This concept can be seen in the way two substances – absinthe and lead – were treated differently during the early twentieth century.
Despite evidence that both had potential health issues associated with them, one attracted a large campaign to have it outlawed while the other was ignored.
Absinthe quickly became infamous its potency and association to murders committed by Jean Lanfray.
Newspapers ran sensational stories demonizing it, which resulted in Switzerland banning it in 1908.
France followed suit in 1914.
Lead’s dangers, on the other hand, were known since 15 BCE but it continued to be used without drawing public outcry until Alice Hamilton provided definitive proof of its effects in 1910s.
But this had little effect; lead continued to be added to paints and gasoline into the 1980s unmolested due to its sheer mass – changing how walls were painted and cars were fueled would require enormous effort.
The physical law of inertia is also applicable on a societal level: the greater an object’s mass or weight, the harder it is for society to pivot away from its course of action or regard for a substance.
This was certainly true with absinthe versus lead; since one had very little mass compared to the other, it was much easier for society (and governments) to make decisions about it than about lead.
Natural Selection: Usefulness Is The Path To Survival
It is an undeniable fact that useful things will rise to the top and be passed down from one generation to the next.
This is evident in a myriad of places, but one great example is the survival of zebras in the wild.
Specifically, the ones with greater speed have a much better chance of surviving any imminent danger.
As they continue to reproduce, this trait becomes ever more prominent in the population at large, as those without it become less frequent.
In other words, slow zebras don’t stand much chance competing against their faster counterparts – thus speed has been naturally selected to spread further with each new generation.
The same principle carries over into language development as well.
Latin became so popular and widespread because it was a powerful tool for communicating during Roman times; anyone conducting business or diplomacy within its domains had to know it in order to be successful.
Post-Roman periods saw Romance languages take over many Latin’s usage spaces due to its complex grammar structures giving way to simpler replacements.
This shows us that when something is useful (in any meaningful context), people are likely going to adopt it, as long as whatever human machinery necessary exists for them to do so easily – making it something that can be passed on from one generation to another if we’re not careful enough trying our best not make sure it persists..
All in all, we see that when somehting is truly worthwhile amountingto being useful or having utility/sustenance value likeable & admirable enduarance attributes then its progeny tends towards proliferation where natural selection governs outcomes without raising any inherent suspicions triggered by external forces biases due intrusion suspicions
Evolution: Adaptability Is Key To Success
The key message at the heart of this section is that early adaptors come out on top.
This concept is illustrated by the example of the British peppered moth, which adapted to changes in its environment and was able to survive and reproduce in greater numbers than its lighter-colored counterparts.
It’s a theme we can also see playing out during the industrial revolution, when factories began belching out sooty smoke that covered tree trunks in black grime.
The moths whose bodies were beige and gray with small black spots became easy targets and those with rarer, darker bodies were able to survive in greater numbers.
This same principle applies to human history, too; when France was preparing for war after WWI, it invested in infantry and constructed a series of fortifications instead of adapting their strategy for a more mobile, fast-paced conflict and integrating air power into their plans.
As a result, Germany easily bypassed these static defences and achieved victory despite having less resources at its disposal.
General Guderian saw the necessity of adaptation and reorganised his tank divisions to employ rapid strategic penetration tactics; these allowed Germany to gain an advantage over their slower-moving opponents who hadn’t made any changes or adopted new technologies.
In conclusion, it’s clear that adaptability is an essential part of both evolutionary processes as well as human success: those who make quick changes to suit modern demands are the ones who come out on top.
The Key Role Of Catalysts In Chemical And Social Change
Throughout history, there have been catalysts that have accelerated both chemical and social change.
For example, take the Black Death in 1340.
The epidemic spread death and suffering but also resulted in changes to European society, such as falling rent and higher wages which put more money in the pockets of common folk, driving demand for new consumer goods.
Another much more recent example of a catalyst is the invention of the printing press.
This device allowed for the quick dissemination of knowledge which ultimately led to a cultural and economic rebirth during the Renaissance.
By understanding how catalysts can accelerate change, we are better able to embrace opportunities that arise from unexpected circumstances or accidents of history with eyes wide open to the potential benefits these catalysts can provide over time.
Catalysts may also provide us with an understanding that simple inventions which we often take for granted have had a transformative effect on our lives previously.
Knowledge Is An Alloy Just Like Bronze Or Steel
Knowledge is just like bronze or steel: when two pieces are combined, they will create something greater than the individual elements.
Think of bronze, which is a combination of tin and copper.
Despite both being useful, each has its own weaknesses; however, when combined, they form bronze which is great for making tools that won’t break easily.
Similarly, steel combines iron and carbon to produce a much harder and more flexible metal than iron on its own.
Adding magnesium, nickel or chromium then produces stainless steel – rust-free!
Just like meleallic alloys combine distinct forms of metal to enable greater capabilities than either by itself could provide, knowledge also brings together multiple sources to leverage the strengths from all components.
Even Leonardo da Vinci knew this — he was constantly jotting things down in his journal about various topics so that he could combine theories from different disciplines in order to be more innovative with his findings.
In essence, he understood that knowledge can be combined in order to add up to something greater than what each element offered individually.
This key message demonstrates the true power of knowledge – it’s an alloy capable of marvels if used correctly!
The Selfless Gift Of Norman Bethune: How Helping Others Can Lead To Mental And Physical Wellbeing
Norman Bethune’s life serves as a poignant reminder that the same physical principles that govern our universe also govern us.
Isaac Newton’s third law of motion, “reciprocity,” states that when one object exerts a force on another, the second object returns an equal force.
When we jump on the ground, for example, our bodies apply a force to the earth which then applies an equal force back to our bodies – this is gravity!
The same principle seems to be applicable in life too: You get what you give – in physics as in life!
Norman Bethune was a medical practitioner active during WWII.
He offered invaluable aid and resources to less privileged communities without expecting any kind of reward or recognition.
The amazing thing about his story is that although he sacrificed a lot of his own comfort and well-being for others, he never felt empty or dissatisfied at the end of it all; in fact, it gave him immense happiness and contentment.
While it would have been great if he had received something in return for all his efforts (like fame or fortune), science suggests that selflessness can bring its own rewards: improved mental and physical health, life satisfaction, self-esteem, and overall happiness!
Perhaps this is exactly what motivated Norman Bethune throughout his humanitarian journey: feeling good through serving others!
The Key Message: Choose Better Leaders To Create A Fairer System
Humans have been living in hierarchical societies since the dawn of time.
In these systems, leaders rule from the top and those below are expected to obey.
But, while this system may be necessary for order, it can also lead to oppression and abuse of power.
That’s why it is so important that humans make an effort to choose better leaders who will listen and respect those under them.
Nations all over the world are still struggling with falling into oppressive hierarchies.
This is a big risk, as it reduces efficiency in decision-making and can lead to those at the top becoming corrupt.
The French Revolution highlighted the importance of picking better leaders who understand that their power comes not just from authority but also from cooperation with their people.
The lesson we learn here is that humans may not be able to live without hierarchy, but they do have a choice when it comes to leadership roles: they can choose people who listen and use that power responsibly for the benefit of all involved.
Doing so helps us create more efficient systems which ultimately serve us best in our society today.
The Great Mental Models Volume 2 teaches us how to use core concepts from the hard sciences (physics, biology, and chemistry) to decipher questions about our world and our history.
For example, why are zebras so fast? Why did governments ban absinthe and ignore the dangers of lead exposure? And what do flea-ridden rats have to do with the Renaissance? These may seem like unrelated topics, but they can all be explained using principles that we learn through hard science.
Ultimately, this book proves to be a great resource for anyone looking to understand our world better.
Through its deep dives into relevant subject matter and its concise summaries of essential concepts, it encourages us to look at both the past and the present in bold new ways.