This page is a unorganized collection of various interesting concepts I keep coming across. Maybe i will organize them at a future date. For now, i am just collating them. Descriptions are short. At some places i have linked them back to some blog i might have written. Elsewhere, just wikipedia or a specific page on the web.

1. Metanarratives
This is well covered on another page i have by this name

2. Simulacra
A simulacrum is a hyper-real object. It is not false. It is not real. It replaces reality without destroying it. It has an existence of its own. It does not hide anything. A good example is the matrix in the Matrix Triology.
More nuanced examples include the simulacrum of democracy. This is closely related to meta-narratives. A simulacrum is more concrete though.

3. Tidier than thou
I have written a blog on this topic. It is based on the growing recent observation amongst experts from diverse fields that human beings sub-consciously and very persistently hunt for patterns amongst all sorts of noise. They find the proverbial signal sometimes - but otherwise they "invent" it.
Nate Silver's book with an explicit coverage of this issue is quite handy. Daniel Kahnemann's book also covers it in great deal. Fooled by Randomness is of course equally vocal about this.

4. Underestimation of the role of chance
This is very clearly expounded in Fooled by Randomness and is linked to Tidier than Thou above. But standalone it is a useful concept. From politics to economics and from academia to social discourse, people constantly underestimate the extent to which nature and life are random. One tendency is to find patterns - as per 3 above. Another one is to attribute it to specific non-chance causes such as skill, vision, courage and some such human quality.

5. Behavioral approach
This is in contrast to the rationalist approach. Under the rationalist school, a human being acts as per calculations of a rational mind. Emotions are allowed, but only in the domain of defining the ends. The rational mind then is supposed to act as per the defined end.
In the behavioral approach, no assumption is made of a human being's disposition. The actual behavior of people is studied and then models built to explain the same.

6. All paths and particularity
Why did the universe evolve a certain way. Besides laws there is a lot of random symmetry breaking in the process of evolution. Some take it at face value and leave it there. Others believe other paths possible also evolve into distinct universes. The logical extension is - all that can happen is happening is some universe or other. Nothing is particular inherently. It is only particular in a given universe.
This covers things as fundamental as value of constants of nature (Speed of light, plank's constant, gravitational constant etc) on one hand and specific history of a person on the other.

7. The selfish gene
While human beings think they are living and making merry (or not) and the genes merely help them procreate, some take the opposite view that genes use human beings are mere carriers and have their own agenda. Might seem a little anthropocentric but has some interesting connotations.

8. History, geography, biology and key drivers
This is best addressed in Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. He considers these three to be the most potent drivers in shaping human history. The concept is quite relevant. There are some macro factors such as these that affect course of human history much more than actions of even the most powerful individuals or organizations. And interestingly enough, these factors are based more on chance than anything else.

9. Endogenous money
Classical economics has assumed money to be merely a medium of exchange and thus quite irrelevant to actual study of economic behavior. It is supposed to be exogenous and inconsequential. The endogenous money school essentially makes money a produce of economic activity and thus a part of it. Thus it needs to be studied carefully and jointly with other economic variables.

10. Meme
As gene is to human body, meme is to society. A meme is an idea, thought, belief that propagates amongst members of a society. Interesting point is that it does not need to be beyond truth (like belief in god, which some think is a matter of faith and thus not suitable for enquiry of proof) or true. A utterly wrong belief can spread and survive. What is even more interesting is when a belief can shape behavior - sometimes making it self-fulfilling.
"Deficits are bad" is a meme.

11. Reflexivity
When the knowledge is about a self-aware individual or group, the acquisition of this knowledge by that group starts to affect the content of the knowledge itself, we have what is called reflexivity. Under this worldview, cause and effect are intricately intertwined and have a feedback loop. The crucial ingredients are self-aware actors and their being aware of the knowledge. With these present, it is hard to imagine an equilibrium where the objects of knowledge continue their activities oblivious to the knowledge itself. A comment on how they behave alters their behavior and thus the comment in turn.

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