Sunday, September 26, 2010

Complexity Cartoon

Sometimes, we all get too bogged down in complexity. Complex problems, complex explanations of the problems, complex solutions to problems, complex reactions to the solutions, so on and so forth. So it was a breath of fresh air when my good friend Richie showed me a simple cartoon that may actually explain the dynamics of a complex society better than I can in 10 pages of facts, figures, quotes and ramblings:

Of course, the first chump on the street always gets knocked out because, hey, it's the simplest thing to do!


  1. Shared this with my brother the botanist who for as long as I can remember has often muttered to himself, "All things are complex. Nothing is simple."

  2. As I ponder this topic a minute, I conclude that some basic underlying truths about phenomena ARE rather simple. Here are 2 examples:

    1) Dependent origination (all things arise as a combination of other things).
    2) The Simultaneity of Cause and Effect (all cause is a simultaneously a reaction to an effect)...commonly known as the law of karma.

  3. I believe you're right that there are underlying truths or rules that are relatively simple, but these simple rules can evolve very complex structures and behaviors between these inter-connected structures.

    For example, individual birds in a flock independently follow about 3 simple rules of positioning and flight, and that gives rise to complex patterns of collective flight by the flock.

  4. Showed the cartoon to my brother the botanist who always says "All things are complex. Nothing is simple.", and his comment was, "Or maybe he didn't study history, math, physics, science and so deserved to get smacked."