Scientists made a remarkable discovery late last night, published on Twitter under the hashtag, “#PeerReviewedSoItsOkay.”
This literally changes everything.
After pulling a three year all-nighter at the Extra-Academic Research Something (EARS), sustaining themselves on Snickers bars and bottle goat’s milk, the research team calling themselves “The Mathmen” have produced conclusive evidence that will rock the world. Both the real world and the world of science.
The Mathmen claim that “dichotomies” do not exist.
“I was inspired by my college English 100 course. We were learning about this thing called ‘Postmodernism’ that states reality is a product of our perceptions,” says Mathman Manny Manderson.
“I was like, ‘Woah.’ It seemed like a job for science, so I learned to science pretty good and here we are.”
This and That
As the Mathmen explained it to me, dichotomies are things split into two, like True and False, Right and Wrong, Bread and Butter, and so on. What they’ve done is compiled a list of ways to disprove the existence of any dichotomy.
—First ask, “Does a spectrum exist between these two points?” If so, find two well respected scientists who disagree on the exact point along that line where A turns into B. Bam! Since the point of transition can’t be agreed on, it must follow that there is no actual distinction between the two outside of human perception.
—If that doesn’t work, ask, “Can A and B both be true at the same time?” Since the iDevice 12 Plus Deluxe is Hot and New today, yet it will be Old and Lame in a matter of hours, in the scope of a century, the gadget was all four at once. Therefore, when multiple contexts or scales or scopes are possible, dichotomies are no longer “mutually exclusive.”
—And if that doesn’t work, simply invent a new word that’s even more the opposite than the other thing; for example, in the dichotomy of Fragile and Robust, let there be a new idea called “Antifragile” that’s even more opposite of Fragile than Robust is.
Public Health, a Proof of Concept
When I asked the Mathmen for actually practical examples, they cited Nancy Krieger, PhD. She did some really cool research a few years back, according to herself.
“Just like Postmodernism rejects Modernism by saying we kind of make everything up, she rejects Public Health by saying we kind of made up all the words we use to talk about it anyway,” says Mathman Manny Manderson’s cousin, Mander Mannyson.
In public health conversations, they look at the world as being very well laid out. There is the “proximal,” or nearby causes of disease, such as being f**king sick, then there’s the next layer out, like an onion, the “slightly-less-proximal,” such as oh my God, he just sneeze on me and now there’s germs on my face. This hierarchy continues all the way out into “distal,” such as alien spaceships shooting cosmic cancer rays at us.
The problem with the proximal-distal line of thinking is that it is completely made up.
“When we said ‘this changes everything,’ we kind of meant it,” says Mathman Manny Manderson’s other cousin, Mather Matherson.
Although the proximal-distal models are not strictly dichotomies, they are kind of like a bunch of dichotomies stuck together. Like those experiments you do in elementary school. You know, the ones where you layer waters and oils of different densities until they stack on top of each other? Yeah, proximal-distal is kind of layered like a ghetto-onion like that.
These models break the world down into strict hierarchies, assuming that things can only effect things in the same or adjacent levels. Mrs. Dr. Nancy gives the example of “1973 US Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion,” which is really, really far away—that is, “distal,” ugh—from those who’s health it effected, namely, the women who didn’t want to die from a living being coming out of them or by a sketchy Mexican dude cutting them open for twelve pesos and a burrito.
Is this real life? For me, yes. For you, who knows.
“The proximal-distal line of thinking makes it hard to see the way reality really is, that is, continuously flowing from one time scale to the next, from one complexity scope to the next, and from one Truth to the next, yet anything can have the power to effect anything else, no matter the ‘distance,‘” says Mathman Manny Manderson’s third cousin twice removed Jeb.
“And in the same way, dichotomies obscure all sorts of thinking in all sorts of sciences because they simply don’t exist. Except for a few very, very specific cases. But those are so specific, we don’t actually learn anything from them. So we just kind of leave that part out,” Jeb continues.
“If we want to solve complex problems, we need to see that the shadows on Plato’s cave are pretty d**m fuzzy.” ∎