The Beach Debacle

[Currently still in Draft]

A bit of pre-amble since I expect this post may attract a few new visitors.

An “event” happened Sept / Oct 2021. Something killed-off a large number of crustaceans of the Tees Mouth coast, maybe even more widely. Whatever killed them off it has had a consequential effect on livelihoods of crab and lobster fishers, and probably longer term consequences on the wider marine ecosystem.

How do we know something happened? Many whole, dead crabs and lobsters washed-up on local beaches over a period of days, and the fact so many arrived whole tells us the death and dying must have happened relatively recently and locally. If they had been in the water longer we would expect many more to have been eaten. And the pot fishers reported massive reductions in expected catches since then to this day, 18/20 months later, north of Hartlepool and as far south as Whitby and Scarborough.

There have been several wash-ups on the Redcar, Marske and Saltburn beaches since (about which I’ll say more) and they are increasingly pictured and reported on social media and picked-up by wider media, and we have the spiral reinforcement effect that more people are therefore looking and seeing what’s on the beaches, and reporting, etc … A lot of this becomes “noise” that doesn’t necessarily add to understanding what is actually happening. Further reinforced by the fact, that since the event and story are clearly of “environmental” interest, many of those piling on being more general environmental activists, concerned with sewage-treatment overflows and blue-flag bathing & surfing interests on the same beaches, as well as wider moorland grouse and sheep management, fox-hunting, you name it.

Furthermore since one candidate for the original cause of the event is the placement of Teesworks-Freeport development under Tory management, there is massive partisan political interests on top of the environmental activism.

I’m writing this today in particular because Yorkshire Post picked-up the story yesterday (Wednesday) and posted lots of anecdotal evidence and photos from the previous day (Tuesday) as well as photos and reports back to Sept21. (I’ll make reference to specific statements I take issue with later.) I’m on some part of the beach (nr Marske) every other day, and along longer Marske-Redcar and Marske-Saltburn stretches once or twice every week, and I have a much longer history with these beaches having been raised 5 miles away over 60 years ago. I went down to the beach today, right along to Saltburn again this morning – and some of what I saw, I’ll report later.

People are becoming focussed on “objective evidence” as “facts” which would be laudable, but for the complexity of the situation we are dealing with. Understanding needs a lot more than facts. So I need to say a few things about facts and truths.

Anecdotally …

“I have never seen X”
is much less valuable than
“I’ve seen X sometimes / often before”

… given the same level of unbiased truth in the statements and similar levels of experience / exposure and the distribution of these experiences over time and location – at many different scales. But, as I said above, there are also massive distorting political and environment activism biases in play anyway.

How do we and our journalists get to the truth?
And what should we do with it?

Independent “scientific” objectivity obviously helps, but we are dealing with a massively complex set of circumstances.

Long story short, both independent and government funded retrospective investigations were essentially inconclusive – frankly, as you’d expect given distances in time and geography. Some statistical and expert opinion (how independent?) on likelihood of different scenarios.

One thing seems beyond doubt, Tory management of the port developments, were (a) too quick to award contracts and capital interests to “friends” and (b) too lenient in how “Environmental Impact Assessment” (EIA) controls were enforced on those contractors. (b) follows from (a) and full marks to Teesside Monitor and Private Eye for keeping on top of the Tory corruption and incompetence aspect of the saga.

But none of that helps with the current environmental concerns.

One thing is for sure, a lesson learned hopefully, that EIA should be applied seriously in planning and approval of all capital developments. Had that been done in this case, it would have undoubtedly required environmental monitoring before, during and after the development. As it is some monitoring and testing should be instituted now anyway. It may tell us nothing about the original event, but it would inform something about the ongoing environmental concerns and consequences.

We need to separate questions about “the event” from ongoing observations on the beaches, they may be connected, they might not be.

The original candidate cause was capital dredging and land reclamation activities releasing toxins from land and river bed.

Ongoing candidates are operational dredging, which has obviously been happening as long as the port has been operational, but may be further distributing toxins disturbed by the capital works.

So, at this point I’m left with 3 questions.

    • What are the other candidate causes for the event?
    • Do we have a significant ongoing problem?
    • If we do have an ongoing problem, what are candidate causes and solutions?

What would I know anyway? As well as having regular, long-term, first-hand experience of the beaches, I’m an engineer whose work included computational fluid dynamics. So even though I’ve never done marine dispersion applications, I do have more than just general knowledge of tidal flows. Furthermore, for over 20 years, I’ve been a researcher into knowledge modelling – how we know what we think we know. So, given that I’m focussing the remainder on  what my own observations (like those anecdotally reported by others in the Yorkshire Post) can tell us about those 3 questions.

Candidate Cause(s) Event and Ongoing?

Sea-coal wash-ups are regular occurrences on these beaches. 2 or 3 times each winter is not unusual, though obviously the amount varies. Back in 2017 (pre-Teesworks etc) there was a particularly large sea-coal wash-up. Knee deep along stretches nearest Saltburn. So much fresh coal you could smell it onshore away from the beach. Post-storm winter-wash-ups typically contain sea shells, sea life, kelp stems, and general human flotsam and jetsam as well as varying amounts of sea-coal.

In terms of the original event, and having read the inconclusive reports since, the Tees capital dredging was an obvious candidate and still would be if there were any testing that could shed any light now.

When Pyridine was first suggested, my first reaction was new sea-coal? Fresh coal has tarry and volatile components that include all manner of Nitrogen and Sulphur aromatics and cyclics as well “carbon”. Although I don’t recall unusually large amounts of sea-coal in the original event wash-up, there have been plenty either side of that event.

There are multiple sources of sea-coal over the centuries, some from port loading and unloading operations and from ship cleaning and dumping operations undoubtedly, but possibly more significantly, from naturally exposed undersea coal seams and from subsidence around under-sea-bed Co Durham coal workings – which of course might create fresh coal exposures.

Given we have ongoing interest in beach wash-ups, fresh exposures to sea-coal remains a candidate.

Whilst I’m also looking at how much sea-coal and general weed and flotsam is bound up in the wash-ups, the main interest in recent social-media reporting – and photo sharing – has been the occasionally whole dead and dying sea creatures, mainly star-fish, but mostly how many mussel and razor-clam shells are amongst the deposits.

Significant numbers of mussel and razor clam shells are normal in all wash-ups. How much is an unusually large amount is down to the problem with negative anecdotal reporting above:

“I have never seen X”
is much less valuable than
“I’ve seen X sometimes / often before”
(With the caveats above.)

It’s not unusual they’re there, whether the quantities are unusual is hard to say. Even my own wife says “I’ve never seen so many before.” I’m not so sure, and as I say I’m not so sure that kind of anecdotal opinions can be that valuable.

A previous time there was a social media furore on beach wash-up (23 Sept 2022) – on that occasion there was a lot of sea-coal but also lots of kelp and general human (industrial and marine) flotsam. It was also highly localised stacked-up at the top of a high-high tide with long stretches of clear beach.
[4 images to upload]

This week’s furore was a bit different and I went down to witness the whole beach first-hand today.

Firstly after some 3 or 4 heavy-seas days over the weekend, we had a calm day on Tuesday – when people started posting reports. What’s interesting Tue / Wed / Thu this week is that we are in a spell of shallow tides, with less-high high-tides each day, so you can see three distinct days worth of tidal margin deposits.

There are indeed long sections with many mussel and razor-clam shells over the 3 days, some dead and dying star-fish and kelp stems and, closer to Saltburn, lots of sea-coal. There were also a few dead flat-fish (dabs?) and most interestingly in the densest sea-coal area a large species of clam (120mm x 60mm ?) I’d not seen before and neither had the few people I spoke to on the beach. Even more interesting, not just shells, but several with partial flesh still inside, and a handful of whole living but dying creatures weighing 500g (?)

[To be completed]

My instinct is the ongoing activity is mostly natural but that changes in the “naturally occurring” sea-coal may have something to do with perceived changes. (And there are positive stories too – sand-worm population, and mussel lifecycle / young migration?) (The “event” demands the government take environmental monitoring seriously.)



LLM’s – Note to Self

I’m pretty critical / sceptical at current attempts at AI / AGI and the jargon  around LLM’s (Large Language Models). So without any particular expertise in the current developments (GPT-4 et al) I needed to check out some details:

They’re “Large” in so far as they (arbitrarily) have “Billions” of elements.

They’re “Language” in so far as any representation of a body of knowledge is expressed in some linguistic symbolism – a language.

They’re “Models” in the sense they represent a mass of “data” as an information model. It’s a model of that source data, but not a model of the knowledge or the real world represented by that data.

The form of that model is a “Neural Net” (Artificial Neural Network) whereby the elements are nodes and connections between them are edges – a totally generic network model. They are “Neural” only by analogy with neurones. There is no sense in which the nodes and edges actually represent the elements or processes of biological brains. Similarly there is no sense in which either the learning processes or the Q&A / searching and usage processes represent actual mental processes. They have nothing to do with intelligence or even knowledge in the sense of understanding.

The clever bit – which interests me the least – is the strategy by which the text, symbols & images are indexed and the connections between them are weighted as answers to requests are scored and output weightings adjusted accordingly. A fancy version of Google search algorithms and everybody’s got one of those now.

Now, Networks have been pretty standard for formal information models too, since our ubiquitous platform became the web. Before that models were tables, but tabular or networked formal models represent reality to a greater or lesser extent, as the nodes and edges (tables, columns and rows) are classified and specialised according to some ontology of all the types of element and relationship deemed to best represent the problem domain. A semantic web where properties of the nodes and edges represent meaning in the world, not just a piece of data about it. Modelling done by modellers, with or without the help of algorithmic semi-automation. (For me, long term, this kind of computer-aided modelling is most likely to deliver a model of the world itself and knowledge about it, rather than simply a model of all the data already available to it.) This is an area where I do have expertise and experience.

Anyway the point, again, knowledge of or about something (Kennen / Connaitre) is quite different to knowing (Savoir / Wissen) the thing.

And the post prompted by the coincidence of two Twitter threads crossing my timeline simultaneously this afternoon:

One from Jessica Flack at Santa Fe – a person and institution with deep expertise in the world of information.

One from Sam Norton – a lay person from the computer-based information modelling perspective, but with a deep interest in humans knowing the world.

8/8 Tweet in Jessica’s thread:

1/15 Tweet in Sam’s thread:

Dave Snowden and Mike Jackson

I saw the excellent Dave Snowden speaking at the Annual Mike Jackson lecture at Hull University yesterday evening.

Excellent in every way – Dave’s presentation and his conversation with Mike. All except for the absence of audience questions and discussion, that is, which meant I came away frustrated with my ‘bated list of questions and observations 🙂


Firstly I have too many notes to write them all up here. Suffice to say both the talk and the conversation were excellent and packed with content across many practical and theoretical levels. Whatever language we’re using about Complexity, Cybernetics and/or Systems Thinking, Dave is already famous in this space for his consulting advice provided through the vehicle of his “Cynefin” Sensemaking framework.

Dave’s style is very in-the-moment, talking freely from his immense experience, with presentation material hand-drawn in real-time and very few pre-prepared slides and graphics. Free and therefore also very dense, with aside references that might have been tough for an audience to pick-up without pre-existing familiarity with Dave and Cynefin. For those with existing familiarity, we were treated to an update to the latest incarnation of the Cynefin framework (more on which later, below) and updated versions of the anecdotal narratives and metaphors Dave uses to illustrate the range of contexts that drive our choices of approach.

So, to some specific observations and questions:

    • Doubting Science?
    • The “Superconducting” Phase?
    • Constructor Theory & Counterfactuals?
    • Distributions and Fat-Tails?
    • The “Estuary” Metaphor?

Doubting “Science”?

The deepest topic first. Many practitioners and academics have taken systems thinking down to the most fundamental areas of physics and into cognitive science. Dave is not alone in promoting latest thinking on these topics into systems practice and Mike is not alone in doubting the idea that such science can really be applied to the psychological context of human and social, organisational and political activities. Certainly doubting that law-like science can be applied any more than metaphorically.

Indeed even now, I find myself using “scientism” to critique those that overstretch scientific objectivity into humanity. But in fact my earliest encounter with Dave at the 2003 European Knowledge Management Conference was his quoting:

“Traditional scientific method has always been at the very best 20-20 hindsight. It’s good for seeing where you’ve been. It’s good for testing the truth of what you think you know, but it can’t tell you where you ought to go.”

by Robert M Pirsig
“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”

So, we’ve all been there. The distinction to be made is between the traditional orthodoxy of objective science and more enlightened “relational” views (of systems thinking).

Question: In terms of 21st Century Cognitive Science understanding of individual and collective psychology and the application of systems thinking, what do Dave and Mike make of the work of Iain McGilchrist, Mark Solms, Karl Friston and Chris Fields (ie Markov Blankets / Free Energy / Active Inference and more)?

The “Superconducting” Phase?

The Cynefin Framework is essentially categorising different human organisational situations, where different contexts imply different methodologies and strategies for managing and improving them. In it’s simplest form there are three categories or phases of evolving activity – Ordered, Complex and Chaotic, where Ordered lies on a scale from Simple to Complicated, Complex is the main focus of systems thinking and Chaotic is a different “attractor-driven” beast entirely. The function being not so much pigeon-holing and definitive aims within each as it is the speed and direction vectors of moving within and between these categories. Think phase changes – and specific heats and triple-points.

There is some debate over 3, 4, 5 or more such phases and Dave suggested a “Superconducting” phase – and a physically-metaphorical “Plasma” phase. In fact even the 3 basic phases can map metaphorically to Solid, Liquid and Gas – though metaphors can only take us so far.

Question: does Dave see “superconducting” as associated with the “virality” of a memetic view of communication of ideas and decisions?

(Digression / Aside – for the fluid cases, there is a lot of interest in Navier-Stokes and compressible flow analogies at all scales of the physical world.)

Constructor Theory & Counterfactuals?

Fascinating to hear that Dave / Cynefin has taken on board David Deutsch on “Constructor Theory” and, by implication in the conversation, Chiara Marletto on “Counterfactuals”. An interesting extension to the Dave / Mike dialogue on the applicability of science to humanity. Gives us a different view of science as “laws” that can somehow be imposed on humans. Instead of laws, we have a framework of counterfactuals (possibilities and impossibilities) that far from restricting human freedoms, enables our creativity and ingenuity. Hence the engineering metaphor “constructor”. A scientific update on the old adage “Freedom runs on rails”?

Question: Has Dave seen any real organisation case-studies that have appreciated and explicitly taken up Constructor Theory? (Or is it really just a refinement to methodology thinking with the Cynefin framework?)

Distributions & Fat-Tails

There is a tendency – naturally in all of us – to analyse options and predictions in terms of statistical probability distributions, and test significance of what to care about and what to ignore implicitly in terms of 3 or 5-Sigma (or equivalent) limits of normal Gaussian distributions. Dave showed how superimposing Pareto and Power Law distributions exposed “Fat-Tails” that could be dangerously overlooked or misunderstood with normal tests of significance.

Question: Does Dave see Nassim Taleb’s “Black Swan” work on “Fooled by Randomness” as valuable in this area?

The “Estuary” Metaphor?

Dave used an Estuary metaphor as an example of the range of situations that might affect choices to act within in it. Rising and falling tidal flows, different ground conditions, different possibilities of access. Different types of project or operation might require quite different methods and organisation of resources, depending on scoping in time and geography, in essentially the same context. Obviously very topical for our Humberside audience and for me too in a Teesside redevelopment context 🙂

Question: Is there anywhere use of this metaphor is documented, beyond Dave’s very brief mention of it on the night?


PS – An image of me alongside the Blue Plaque to Jacob Bronowski, an original hero of mine who taught at Hull Uni and lived just round the corner for a while.

Received Wisdom

A thread starter:

One recurring theme of mine is stuff that looks like conspiracy to conspiracy theorists – the coast guy, anyone – is a symptom of having no model or accepted language to account for a felt problem. With the received wisdom of western, objective (scientific) rationality in the dominant culture – feelings don’t get a look in, so people are left with inventing implausible but rational-looking reasoning.

[The whole McGilchrist and Solms line of work is about this. Not to mention a zillion other philosophers and psychologists since time immemorial. By excellent evolutionary design our (left) brains are “Baloney Generators”.]

Anyway started a Twitter thread that will probably go ignored, but I wanted to capture.

Starts with the first post of a thread (into which I interjected):

And the real world example fuelling the current furore:
#Boris and #Covid

Definitions of necessary and essential are limited to those that look rational.


And I couldn’t resist this one. More right wing people and channels find this stuff easier to criticise, and conspiratise, although as a social- liberal-democrat and “free-thinker”, I completely disagree with their reasoning.

Ain’t “science” wonderful?” is the right rhetorical question though:

Like the law, often “science is an ass”.

Fundamental Information & Computation

I’ve often noted that I hold an information monism – its processing & communication – to be underlying both the physical and the mental. In fact as recently as my previous post, I include it in a summary of my position linking information & entropy with systems & cybernetics. My “What, Why and How do we Know?” epistemological journey started in Sept 2001, and I made my first explicit reference to the fundamental nature of information and (quantum) computation in Jan 2002Dr Brian Josephson, Dr David Deutsch and BCS Cybernetics in one post.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Particularly fascinating this week is a new 2023 edition of “Complexity, Entropy & the Physics of Information” published by Santa Fe as the proceedings of the May/June 1989 workshop of that name, itself part of that history. The original foreword by editor Wojciech Zurek and new preface by original participant Seth Lloyd also provide a history of the subject.

Beautifully produced and indexed, some of the 32 individual papers have been available elsewhere, the collection includes Wheeler and Kaufmann as well as Zurek and Lloyd. And we find Boltzmann, Shannon & Wiener in the opening para of the historical preface.

Herman Melville presaging Gödel in the opening disclaimer “I promise nothing complete; because any human thing supposed to be complete, must for that very reason infallibly be faulty.” Gödel is one of Zurek’s references too, not to mention Melville and Gödel in my recent Goldstein and Spinoza post.

And also announced this week, starting in May, a six-part course “Physics as Information Processing” by Chris Fields” at the Active Inference Institute.

It’s all connected.

What Am I Thinking?

Thinking about an upcoming dialogue, I thought I’d compose a brief outline of what I’m about in 2023. A conversation starter.

I’m doing “Systems Thinking”.

For 20+ years, I would have called it “Cybernetics” by which I mean the original sense of the term – how humans as living things decide and govern ourselves for the best, individually and collectively – (Cybernetes = Governance = Gubernatorial). Of course in the second half of the 20th century systems and cybernetics became more and more associated with engineered systems – information systems, digital computers, automation & control, robotics, “cyberspace” and the like. Even organisational management systems becoming embodied in the information technology.

So much so that many today, even high-quality thinkers about the eco-socio-cultural processes of humanity, the ills and potential solutions that face us, baulk at cybernetic / systems language, even basic terms like information, algorithms, computation and systems. It’s understandable. These things are now so closely associated with “tech” and with programmable, deterministic – objectifying & de-humanising – applications in every corner of everyday life. But it needn’t be that way. Social engineering too has a bad name, as if it’s something technocrats do to other humans, but engineering (ie ingenuity) is simply something we humans do. We make things happen, creatively.

So, rather than systems engineering, think systems thinking and think soft systems.  Systems of governance, whether individual / group / organisational or state / political, whether hierarchical or democratic or any heterarchical mix of these.

I’m using systems thinking simply to say, it’s better to think of things in terms of their functional relations, internal with component parts and processes, and external with their environmental systems and structures, their ecosystem. And in saying that I’m making absolutely no presumptions about those things being physical, biological, social/cultural or intellectual/conceptual. They’re better treated in terms of functional relations as opposed to objects – in terms of the architecture of many such relationships. Such relational thinking predates the “western” intellectual history of either philosophy or science – including systems science – and was embodied in any number of pre-historical / indigenous / aboriginal ways of life.


With such broad thinking, we quickly bump into all aspects of life, the universe and everything. My own areas of interest probably best illustrated by these three examples:

    • Relational Philosophy
      As I say above, relational thinking is prehistoric – embodied in human traditions long before being intellectually documented in our philosophies and/or sciences. A very recent example from Matt Segall referred to the percept<>concept distinction being an issue underlying so many of philosophy’s enduring problems. Percepts being the things we perceive by direct participation the world, as opposed to the concepts we attempt to capture, name and define intellectually – to get a grip, get a handle on them. Recognising the former as more fundamental than the latter, Segall takes the radical empiricist position (after William James) and takes a dynamic process view of the participatory interaction (after A.N. Whitehead). The English language has sadly lost the knowledge distinction between (say) Savoir / Connaitre (in French) or Wissen / Kennen (in German).
    • Brain-Mind & Consciousness
      Whole libraries have been – and continue to be – written about these topics. Modern approaches range from panpsychist philosophies to neuro-physiological and psychological sciences. All bets appear to stumble on the so-called hard-problem of first-person experience. Two recent thinkers and writers interest me most, seeming to be closest to explanations of these. Iain McGilchrist would reject my use of systems thinking language but he nevertheless takes a wholly architectural position in how our best view of the world comes from integration of left and right brain perspectives – our divided brains architected that way by evolution for good reasons. Mark Solms embraces systems language but focusses on the functional integration of the upper (more recently evolved) and lower (more ancient) brain components in explaining not just how consciousness works but how our first-person perspective is supported.
    • Free Energy Principles and Active Inference
      Free Energy and the complementarity of Entropy and Information are as old as Boltzmann and the formalisation of thermodynamics as a science. They have been increasingly exploited in two directions, inwardly towards the fundamental elements of physics itself and outwardly into the completely generic behaviour of systems as described above. Karl Friston has done most recently to elaborate these in systems thinking terms. Solms has used Friston’s work in his explanation of the evolution and functioning of first-person consciousness (above). Furthermore Friston’s work is being used by a growing community to describe and create an evolutionary ecosystem for human and environmental flourishing.

Active Inference Entrepreneurship

The hype around the Free Energy Principle and Active Inference is mushrooming at an amazing rate. This paper … :

Designing Ecosystems of Intelligence from First Principles
Karl J Friston, Maxwell J D Ramstead, et al (2 Dec 2022)

… has several co-authors associates with VERSES as well as AII and (Wellcome Foundation & UCL). The plan is an ecosystem (a network operating system) for distributed intelligence, both artificial and human.

The vision for that comes from the paper, which Friston (Chief Scientific Office of VERSES, now) says was a response to Ramstead’s idea. But this feels like the “evolutionary interoperability” using a “hyperspatial modelling language” some of us have been banging-on about for more than two decades.

Only skimmed that video so far, but the hype is breathless. Karl being interviewed … again!

Getting hard to keep up. I’ve had two goes at engaging with AII, but it’s moving, and the language evolving, so fast … and I have other personal priorities to capture my own writing. Aaagghh!!!

(Really need to pick-up on the formal schematic n-dimensional modelling language and tools ASAP. Ditto my other drafted post on softening machine expectations.)


PS – a bit left field, but tonight – right about now, so I’m missing it – is a Pari Center (Alex Gomex-Marin) talk with Sheldrake reflecting on his “banned TED talk” about his Science Delusion.

Right about the time I was hearing him talk a couple of times in London.
(Love the fact it was Myers and Coyne that got it banned.)


The McGilchrist Manoeuvre

Introductory dialogue in a series (of 6?)
Series title: “Attention as a Moral Act”
(Upcoming 2nd one on “Valueception”.)

McGilchrist Objective? – the opening para of the Intro to TMWT says it.
[Quote to be added]

Polymathic? – Trivium – interest from childhood and Winchester school.

Sacred connection? – from a godless household discovered theological interest in the arts and classics as an undergraduate – before his Oxford PPE / philosophy / history / literature / classics post-graduate trajectory – so not just a conclusion of his later research work.

Trajectory? Oliver Sacks was one of his first contacts with the mind-body “lesion literature” and moving into medicine, neurology, psychology and psychiatry.

John Cutting at the Bethlem & Maudsley – introduced to split-brain fascination, before Baltimore abnormal / lesion / split-brain research associated with mental / medical conditions.

Louis Sass – Madness and Modernism – extraordinary influential read.

Schizoid / deluded, individual and society lost touch with right-brain capability – hence the books TMAHE & TMWT over 20 years, originally whilst working (in Baltimore).

Vanessa Dylyn documentary – The Divided Brain and many household names.

The McGilchrist Manoeuvre – Jonathan Rowson’s term. Chapter 20 of TMWT is the “door” assuming you already have a general idea of Iain’s hypothesis. The Coincidence of Opposites “Coincidentia Oppositorum“. Not just reductionism, but the law of non-contradiction, are the barriers. Need both thing (left) and opposite (right) and their integration, both are “good” and important. (Is that all JR is dubbing the manoeuvre? Yes it is – he quotes his own definition later. In terms of opposite brain hemispheres, already clear from TMAHE.)

Important – little used – concepts in this chapter are:

    • Hormesis  – poisons in small quantities can be beneficial. We (and trees) need adversity, headwinds real and metaphorical. Just right amounts / concentrations of stuff – eg water in whisky, cocoa in chocolate
    • Syllapsis – (to be added)
    • Enantiodromia – Jungian term for the idea that things include their opposites and one can morph into the other over time. The road up is the road down, depending how you look at it.

Definitely a Taoist, could be a Christian. They’re not incompatible.

So why “attention”? – simply that left and right attention are of different nature, and therefore how we attend gives us different knowledge of the world. It’s a moral act – we are not simply observers, we are decisive creators in our choice of attention to the world.

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