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Related Words, Beliefs, Background for Choice #13

Worldview Theme #9B: Simply In God's Hands: Apocalypticism  

for a summary read these 5 entries in order given: end of game strategy, Armageddon theology, messianic fervor, End Times, Revelation--book of 

Worldview Theme #13:
Complexity--In Our Hands: Dancing With Systems

for a summary read these 5 entries in order: systems, levels of organization, complexity theory, emergent properties, wholism

algorithm -- a problem solving procedure or method that is known to eventually give a solution.

algorithm, evolutionary—a computer program used to solve complex problems by assessing the “fitness” of various candidate solutions.  After initial assessment,  new candidate solutions are generated by “mutations” and “sexual genetic recombination” and assessed in an iterative process that halts when an optimally stable solution emerges.

angel -- a bodiless, spiritual being, limited in power and intelligence, but nonetheless superior to man. In traditional belief in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, good angels live in heaven , are able to visit Earth (in both visible and invisible forms), are sometimes depicted with wings, and sometimes provide messages and / or offer protection. Dark angels, living in Hell, are the evil counterparts of good angels.

apocalyptic--associated with the end of life as we know it, and to the so-called End Times described in the prophetic literature of various religions

artificial intelligence -- involves the development and utilization of computer systems for problem solving, emulating, mimicking, or simply exhibiting intelligent behavior or behavior associated with human beings.

Armageddon theology -- religion based on awaiting and preparing for a climactic final battle between the forces of good and evil, God vs. the Devil. See also nuclear Armageddon

catastrophe--a disaster, calamity, tragedy; see catastrophism

catastrophism--view that Earth's geologic and life history has been mostly shaped by catastrophic events with global affects such as cosmic impacts,  large volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, etc.  Influenced by theology / Biblical events  such as  Noah's flood, this was the prevailing view up until the mid-19th century.  For the opposing view, see uniformitarianism

chaos theory --can be understood on two levels: popular and technical.  Popularly, chaos theory involves hidden patterns that underlie seemingly random events and suggest their interconnectedness. Technically it is the theory of  non-linear systems whose behavior can be modeled by mathematical equations that can’t be explicitly solved -- their solutions can only be studied by computer. In theory accurate predictions as to the future behavior of such systems can be made, but these solutions are only good if the initial state or conditions of the system are known to extraordinary accuracy.  For some systems, a very small uncertainty in initial conditions can have very large future consequences. Thus if your initial modeling fails to account for "a butterfly flapping its wings in China", the result may be unexpected very rough weather in North America!

climate model feedback loops—there are many conceivable ones, whether or not and the extent to which they actually operate is a challenge to figure out and source of uncertainty. Here are two: 1) Albedo Feedback: Albedo refers to the % incident sunshine that is reflected back from a surface.  As global warming increases temperatures, highly reflective polar sea ice melts--replaced by darker ocean water.  This lowering of the albedo results in more solar energy absorbed (darker surfaces are better absorbers), higher temperatures, more ice melting, etc.2) Water Vapor Feedback: Increasing temperatures lead to more evaporation, which—since water vapor is a greenhouse gas—traps more reradiated heat, leading to higher temperatures, more evaporation, etc

complex systems -- a system in which there are many agents interacting with each other. The agents themselves can be simple, like grains of sand in a sand pile, or complex , like the people who interact in the free market system.

complexity theory--Wikipedia says this "emphasizes interactions and accompanying feedback loops that constantly change systems. While it proposes that systems are unpredictable, they are also constrained by order-generating rules." According to E.O. Wilson, this is part of  "the search for algorithms used in nature that display common features across many levels of organization." Discovering such algorithms could lead to understanding how living cells emerge from non-living molecules, or how a conscious mind results from interconnected neurons. 

computer--a general purpose, programmable machine that manipulates data, performs mathematical / logical operations, and executes programmed lists of instructions typically at a high speed. Modern computers do this using semi-conductor based microprocessors, memory and other chips, and include various peripherals to allow the user to interface with the computer and conveniently input, output, access, represent and organize information in various forms.

control system--generally consists of subsystems / processes that control the output. Found  in both the natural and manmade worlds, they can be open or closed (feedback ) loop.  The former controls output based on input only: a toaster is an example--where color (darkness) of toast is the output.  Such simple systems do not measure output so they have no way of correcting for disturbances from a preconceived model.  Heat will be applied for a predetermined time regardless of the thickness or type of bread slice.  By adding a feedback loop that measures output--and using this information correct input--better performance / regulation is achieved.  Thus, in a thermostatically controlled closed loop heating system,  room temperature is measured and fed back to determine whether a heating furnace needs to deliver more heat to a room.  see feedback 

cosmic catastrophes--Events can happen in space or objects arrive from space that bring catastrophe to planet Earth--conceivably the end of all terrestrial living things.  Catastrophic events include supernova explosions of nearby massive stars that send deadly, life-threatening radiation toward Earth. The probability of this happening in the next millennium and significantly impacting terrestrial life is very low, but considered over a time frame of millions of years it is certainly a possibility.  Dangerous objects arriving most notably include large chunks of rock (asteroids) and "dirty snowballs" with rocky cores (comets).  While asteroids of the size (around 6 miles across) that most probably hit the Earth 66 million years ago and killed off the dinosaurs are obviously to be feared, smaller objects (tens or hundreds of meters across) are also of concern. The probability of such a catastrophic impact happening in the next millennium depends on the size of the object: it is very low for mile-size objects, and much much higher for the smaller objects. A higher probability but lower impact event would be a large solar flare / mass coronal ejection. This could send lots of energetic particles toward Earth and result in catastrophic disruption of human electronic / communications infrastructure.

cybernetics -- the study of how systems learn and evolve, including how they manage themselves.

data—information, often expressed with numbers, collected through observation, is typically gathered, collected, reported. After being expressed in the most convenient form to represent the knowledge involved, it may then be analyzed and displayed in graphical form.

Devil, the--conceived of in various religions as the supreme supernatural evil being and enemy of God.  Often depicted (especially in Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions) as tempting humans by offering them something they desire in exchange for their soul, the Devil is supposedly assisted by evil spirits or demons.  Most people who believe in the Devil conceive of God as a moralist.  The Devil has long served as a scapegoat: those who did evil acts can claim they were possessed and blame it on him!

ditheism -- belief in two equal gods, one good and one evil

dynamic system -- a system in which component parts are interrelated so that changes in one part of the system have effects elsewhere in the system.

Earth's natural cycles--study of that very complex system, the roughly 8000 miles in diameter spherical planet  Earth, is facilitated by considering its numerous subsystems--some of which are naturally conceptualized as cycles of matter moving within and between the Earth's biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere.  Driven by input of solar energy, especially critical to life is the closed system cycling of six chemicals--providing individual oxygen, water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur cycles. The key to understanding the appearance of the Earth's surface landforms--and operating over a much longer time frame--is the rock cycle.  

ecosystem -- a self sustaining natural community of animals and plants.

emergent properties -- unexpected properties that emerge when higher levels of complexity are considered, properties that can not be predicted from lower level considerations. Examples include 1) at the level of individual cells, it is unexpected that intelligence emerges at higher levels of complexity, (likewise the emergence of consciousness is unexpected) or 2) at the level of individual atoms, it is unexpected that simple one cell living organisms emerge at a higher level of complexity. Chaotic systems provide other examples. Where such  properties emerge, clearly the whole is much more than the sum of the parts. 

engineering design -- the process by which scientific principles, engineering analysis, mathematics, computers, words and pictures are used to produce a plan or design, which, when carried out, will satisfy previously identified and well defined human needs.

end of game strategy -- a strategy that can be adopted by a participant in either games or real life interactions with others in which belief that the game is about to end determines the strategy employed. Examples: 1) if you are certain you’ll never see a particular person again, you may decide that it’s okay to cheat that person out of something , and 2) if you are certain that Armageddon is fast approaching, you’ll have little incentive to care about the long-term environmental health of the planet.

End Times--in Judeo-Christian tradition this is a future period of great upheaval, trial and tribulation that precede the prophesized coming (or second coming) of the Messiah.  Supposedly various omens will be seen confirming prophecy and ushering in this era (which some feel has already begun!)  

eschatology--the part of theology concerned with the end of the world and events which Christians call "The End Times"

evil, the problem of -- this problem has plagued philosophers at least as far back as the ancient Greeks. Epicurus (341-270 BC) appears to be the first to consider it at some length. Simply put, it has two aspects, one religious, one secular, that can themselves be stated as questions, First, why does an all powerful, all knowing God allow evil to exist in the world? Second, how should society fight human’s wicked and evil acts -- won’t fighting them with evil (violence, vengeance, capital punishment, etc) just result in more evil? Those who embrace non-violence, forgiveness, and oppose capital punishment basically feel that good can not come out of evil. Others argue that if evil is left unchecked and unpunished, and not countered with strong action, then more evil will result.

evil, the problem of  and how various religions handle it –Christianity--from the Bible's book of Job onward, it recognizes there is a problem; Islam --Evil, pain, and suffering is not a problem: it is a fact of Allah's creation.  And Allah does not owe man any explanations...As the holy Qu'ran (4: 78) puts it: "Whatever good befalleth thee, O man, it is from GOD; and whatever evil befalleth thee, it is from thyself."; Hinduism-- "For Hindu thought, there is no Problem of Evil.  The conventional, relative world is necessarily a world of opposites.  Light is inconceivable apart from darkness; order is meaningless without disorder; and likewise...pleasure without pain." (Alan Watts in The Spirit of Zen);  Buddhism--Buddhists use the existence of evil as a reason not to believe in God as a benevolent, loving Creator.  As the Bodhisattva sings, "If the creator of the world entire they call God, of every being be the Lord, why prevail deceit, lies and ignorance and he such inequity and injustice create?  If the creator of the world entire they call God, of every human being be the Lord, then an evil master is he, (O Aritta) knowing what’s right did let wrong prevail! (from Bhuridatta Jataka)  

exorcism -- a religious ritual performed to rid one of an evil spirit

extraterrestrial life--although efforts--most notably looking for artificially produced signals using huge radio telescopes--have been ongoing for nearly 50 years, intelligent life has not been detected!   Beginning in the mid- 1990s extra-solar planets have been detected. There are now hundreds of such discoveries, allowing astronomers to conclude that, most likely, the majority of stars possess planets.  Given that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies, and that galaxies each typically have hundreds of billions of stars, odds seem good that at least one of these (besides our Sun) has a planet where (like Earth) there is intelligent life.  One might even guess that such life is commonplace...But then (as physicist Enrico Fermi asked), "Where are they?"  Some have suggested that the lifetime of advanced civilizations is short (they destroy themselves, like we may!) and this explains the nil results of project SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence).  Of course, no reputable astronomer believes that unidentified flying objects represent alien spacecraft visiting Earth! 

fatalism vs. determinism–fatalism is belief that people are powerless to do anything other than what they actually do.  Fatalists believe that human deliberation over possible actions they could take is pointless since in the inevitable end it will not matter. While fatalism and determinism technically are different, both fatalists and determinists believe that the future is in some sense already set or determined.    

feedback–information modifies the state of a system, changing it so that future system behavior changes. Learning provides a simple example, where the system involved can be, not just our knowledge but, our entire worldview. Here the most important lessons learned change our behavior the most. Voting in an election is another simple example of a feedback process at work. Feedback also has a place in technical devices: where  information about the state of a hardware system (output) is fed back to the system input to adjust, regulate, or modify its behavior.   Positive feedback reinforces input and can lead to exploding (or imploding) output.  Negative feedback opposes input and can lead to stable behavior.  Both can be present in complex systems.  Technology-based  examples include thermostats in heating / cooling systems, and elevator position / speed controls. Biology based feedback examples include blood sugar regulation in the body, populations of prey / predators in ecosystem, etc.          see control system 

free lunch, there is no such thing as a--refers to the belief that neither a person nor a society can truly get something for nothing: even if something appears to be free there are always hidden costs. The costs may have to be paid in the future, someplace far away, by someone else, be distributed over many people, or they may show up in another form (such as an opportunity cost, environmental cost, increased disorder, etc.)  The physical basis for this belief--which becomes a principle for ecologists and others studying closed systems--can be found in the laws of thermodynamics.  Economists link it to opportunity costs being incurred when choices are made. (If something is free, no opportunities are forfeited!) 

futurist--a person who works with data and mathematical models and makes predictions about future behavior of some system or conditions of interest based on current trends, expected constraints, understanding of system dynamics, etc. 

global education--wholistic education that focuses on whole systems and emphasizes the interconnections and interdependencies that traditional, reductionist education often overlooks. It extends boundaries of concern, and strives to involve the whole person--seen as a thinking, feeling, and doing creature.

goal oriented behavior—refers to the clear envisioning of some outcome, objective, or purpose, and then diligently working toward making this a reality.  Debate centers on whether certain individuals make such repeated use / are so preoccupied  with this behavior that it constitutes a character trait, or whether people occasionally go through states where they have an extreme focus on just one particular goal but are otherwise not so inclined.

homeostasis and death--when external stresses overwhelm the organism's ability to maintain normal steady state conditions known as homeostasis, the results can be malfunction, disease, and--if the damage cannot be repaired and homeostasis restored--death.

human body systems–Medical science recognizes ten of them: 1) integumentary: skin / structures derived from it —protects, senses, regulates temp; 2) skeletal: made of bones and cartilage—  provides support and protection; 3) muscular: skeletal, cardiac, internal organ  muscles —they help us move & function; 4) nervous: nerves, brain, spinal cord,  sensory organs—a chief regulatory system;  5) endocrine: glands that release hormones—  with nervous system regulates metabolism;  6) circulatory: heart, blood vessels serve as transport system; lymphatic subsystem defends body vs. disease; 7) respiratory: lungs and air flow paths—supplies oxygen to the blood and gives off carbon dioxide; 8) digestive: stomach, intestines, glands (liver, etc.) that secrete juices to break down food, excrete waste; 9) urinary: kidneys and urinary tract—produces urine,  regulates blood chemistry, removes wastes; 10) reproductive: in male & female versions, consists of gonads, other structures to perpetuate the species.

imminent--refers to something that is impending and expected to happen very soon

information theory -- a part of cybernetics, its focus is the area of communication theory with respect to transmission of information contained in signals. A highly interdisciplinary subject, it both draws on and has applications in many areas: engineering, physics, computer science, psychology, linguistics, art, etc.

integrating vs. reducing--in studying organized wholes where a hierarchical multi-level structure exists, consider two contrasting strategies:  integrating or synthesizing and moving from lower level to higher level vs. reducing as part of an analysis and moving from higher level to lower level.  The first of these approaches takes a more "wholistic" view, the second a more "reductionistic" one. 

Internet-- the publicly accessible global information and communications network consisting of millions of smaller computer networks (maintained by households, commercial, educational, and government institutions, etc.) typically interconnected by fiber optic / other cables and satellite / wireless links through standard communication (IP) protocols. It includes the inter-linked, hypertext transfer protocol (http) based, web pages viewed with a web browser known as the worldwide web (www).


Internet Search Engine use--involves typing word(s) or a question into a software based internet (or web) search tool (like Google), and (hopefully!) benefiting from the results  (information provided)  in terms of learning and problem solving.   Doing this whenever one has a question or problem--indeed, coming to think of the Internet / Web as an extension of your own brain! -- is an important skill to acquire. Those who have this capability clearly have a big advantage over those who don't--provided they learn which sources can be trusted!! 

Judeo-Christian-Islamic Conception of God–this is based on likening the relationship between man and God to the relationship between a child and his father.  Of course a child eventually grows up and becomes independent of his father, whereas, here, man does not: he is always subject to God’s authority and must obey his commands.     

levels of organization--a term that many connect with systems theory, but in general refers to an organized  whole (either natural or manmade) that can be understood and studied by focusing on its parts, which are organized in hierarchical fashion. Two examples: 1) The Earth's living things can be studied by biologists who focus their attention on one of these levels:  biosphere, ecosystem, community, habitat, population, organism, organ, tissue, cell, molecule.   2) If an American citizen is having a problem and seeks government help, he or she might make an appeal to elected officials at various levels: city councilor, county commissioner, state assemblyman, congressmen, President--these being representatives at various levels of government.

manmade global catastrophes--Human actions can bring catastrophe to planet Earth--conceivably the end of all terrestrial living things.  Such human caused catastrophic events include most notably all out nuclear war and environmental disaster.  Based on what could have happened during the Cuban missile crisis at the height of the Cold War in 1962, one concludes that the probability of a future global nuclear catastrophe is not so low as to be negligible.  Possible manmade global environmental disasters of greatest concern in recent years most notably include destruction of the atmospheric ozone layer, which shields Earth from excessive deadly ultraviolet radiation, and global climate change resulting from greenhouse gases that burning of fossil fuel and other human activities put into the atmosphere.  Given the development of modern technology and the potential for accidents or deliberate evil acts, many other candidates for such disasters exist including 1) biological hazards / germ warfare / plague,  2) chemical hazards / poison gas warfare / irreversible pollution, 3) genetic engineering related misadventures,  4) nuclear radiation hazards, etc.

mass extinctions—according to University of Bristol professor Michael Benton, in his book, When Life Nearly Died, the five biggest mass extinctions have three things in common: 1) “many species became extinct, generally more than 40% to 50%”; 2) “the extinct forms span a board range of ecologies, and they typically include marine and non-marine forms, plants and animals, microscopic and large forms”; 3) “the extinctions all happened within a short time, and hence relate to a single cause, or cluster of interlinked causes;” In terms of millions of years ago (MYA), these events occurred 440, 370, 252, 200, and 66 MYA.  While the last of these global disasters—when a roughly six mile across asteroid hit the Earth and ended the reign of the dinosaurs—is perhaps the most famous, the event 252 MYA that marks the boundary between the Paleozoic and Mesozoic geologic eras was the worst.  Caused by 300,000 years of continuous volcanic activity over most of what is now Siberia—culminating with molten rock encountering huge deposits of carbon-rich underground deposits and sending gigatons of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere leading to greenhouse warming of over 12oC (nearly 22oF)—it killed 96% of  all species in the oceans and over 70% of all those on land.  Many argue human activity is causing what could become a sixth mass extinction.

messianic fervor -- intense feeling and passion created by the religious belief inspired by prophets that the long awaited return of a beloved messiah is imminent. While some promote the wished for return as a symbolic event, many literally expect the messiah to return and lead a battle to defeat the forces of evil. See also prophet. 

metasystem transition -- the formation of a new, more complex system from a simpler system, where the new system consists of systems of the simpler type as its subsystems and includes a mechanism which controls the production and behavior of the subsystems. Such transitions can result in emergent properties. 

model -- a human construction created to represent a pattern of relationships in data or in the human or natural world. Models can take various forms: mathematical, computer based, mechanistic, etc.

moral hazard–results when a person,  institution, or large group of people is partly shielded from risk (due to insurance, prospects of government bailout, safety features, etc.) and acts differently (is less careful creating a hazard.)  Examples: 1) drivers with airbags drive more recklessly, confident that if they crash the airbags will protect them; 2) a person wearing a face mask mingles more closely and more often with people during a pandemic like corona virus than he or she would without the face mask; 3) an investor buys non-investment grade (junk) corporate bonds because of the perception that the company is “too big to fail” and the government will come to the rescue, if need be, to prevent that from happening

moribund--a person, place, institution, system, etc in a state of dying or near death

network--a structure of interconnecting entities—which can be physical parts, people, concepts, etc.

neural networks -- used both to understand / model how the human mind works and in the development of artificial intelligence, like the human brain, neural networks are designed to learn from experience. Just as the brain can compare data stored in short term memory to similar data contained in its long term memory, neural networks similarly employ pattern recognition software. They also use software that allows for tackling several parts of a problem at the same time until a solution is found -- something that incredibly complex system known as the human brain does.

noneconomic variables -- things important in the human world but difficult to quantify or put a monetary value on -- including environmental, educational, health, cultural, aesthetic, sociological, political factors.

nonlinear -- refers to system behavior that is not linear. Linear behavior is behavior that mathematically can be represented in graphical form where system state points plotted fall in a straight line. In words, linear behavior can be described as being predictable and proportionate. Example: suppose you are using a hanging spring scale to weigh something. Suppose something that weighs 5.0 lbs. extends the spring 1.00 cm from its unstressed position, and a 10.0 lb object extends the spring 2.00 cm. In other words, doubling the weight, doubles the extension. You’d predict that a 20.0 lb object would cause a 4.00 cm extension. This is linear behavior and it characterizes this system for weighing small objects. But what if you hung a 200 lb object on this spring scale -- would you get a 40 cm extension? Perhaps -- but most likely you’d have problems: 1) the spring could break, or 2) the spring could be deformed so that it would no longer function as it had previously. In other words, if you exceed the limits of this system’s linear behavior, you expect nonlinear behavior.

nuclear Armageddon--whether brought about by a judgmental vengeful God acting out of "disgust with His Creation,"  by a psychopathic leader of a nuclear armed nation, or the ultimate in a tragic accident, the result of an all out nuclear war would be an unimaginable Hell on Earth. While it is essentially impossible for thinking people to conceive of a logically plausible angry God who would do this, the absence of rational thinking / decision-making  also characterizes the second route to this end of human civilization as we know it. 

Both routes to it share a common feeling--pre-mediated vengeful hate--and a common action: sin. With sin defined as "an act which violates moral law"--this would be the ultimate sin (either in utilitarian terms of "the worst possible result for the greatest number of people" or in Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God terms. In contrast, the third route could be triggered by  random processes. It would represent the "victory" of those who view human existence with cynicism and refuse to find--or work to put--any meaning in it. 

nuclear war, environmental effects of--begin with radiation from the blast and radioactive fallout (some can last for decades), causing mutations and irreversible genetic damage to living things, and conceivably could extend to include the end of human life on Earth.  All out nuclear war–by injecting massive amounts of sunshine-blocking particulate matter into the atmosphere–could produce a "nuclear winter." Agriculture would collapse; extinction of the human species could result.  A 2008 study indicated soot from burning caused by even a small nuclear war could destroy 70% of Earth's protective ozone.

nuclear terrorism--generally refers to terrorists using or threatening to use either nuclear weapons or dirty bombs (which disperse radioactive material). It could also include their attacking nuclear power plants in an effort to cause release of ionizing radiation into the environment.

nuclear weapons--explosive devices that unleash nuclear energy and thus are typically around one million times more powerful than explosives involving the same amount of mass but based on chemical reactions (like those involving TNT). The first such weapons--atomic bombs involving nuclear fission reactions--were tested and used in 1945 by the United States to help end World War II. By 1954, thermonuclear or hydrogen bombs--involving nuclear fusion reactions--had been tested by both the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Whereas the former typically are equivalent in explosive power to (at most) hundreds of thousands of tons of TNT, the latter's explosive power can be measured in millions of tons (megatons) of TNT.  Such hydrogen bombs can be delivered by missiles that can strike targets thousands of miles away in less than an hour.  A one megaton bomb striking a major city like New York would immediately kill an estimated four million people; another three to four million would be dead from radiation exposure / fallout after two days. While the U.S. and Russia still have the bulk of the world's nuclear weapons--together possessing around 25,000 warheads--seven other countries have them. 

occultism--refers to the study of the occult and thus the pursuit of hidden knowledge.  Occultism is to be distinguished from mysticism in that, unlike the latter, the former is concerned with magic, alchemy, astrology, numerology, strange rites, secret formulas, etc. and is sometimes associated with malevolent supernatural  beings.  

organ systems of complex animals--an organized group of tissues and organs which work together and perform a specialized set of functions is known as an organ system.  Complex animals including humans typically have ten such major organ systems: skeletal, muscular, integumentary (skin), nervous, endocrine, circulatory and lymphatic, respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive.

Q Anon conspiracy theory—launched in 2017, this involves a great mysterious good guy patriot Q who is an battling evil collusion between deep state forces embedded in the US government, Satan worshippers,  and child molesting pedophiles.  The battle is supposed to culminate with the “A Great Wakening” in which people in general finally realize that Q Anon believers have been right about the threat all along—and the final victory of the forces of good / God over the deep state / Satan forces.

quantum computers--unlike conventional digital computers which fundamentally recognize only two states--called  on or off, 1 or 0, high or low, single bit, etc.--these computers of the future would use qubits (quantum bits). Such use of quantum mechanical states / phenomena would greatly extend computational capability and allow certain types of problems to be solved much faster than is currently possible.

quantum entanglement—of subatomic particles like electrons and photons.  Quantum mechanics long predicted that two entangled particles—even if separated by vast (many light years!) distances would behave as one particle if perturbed—and do so instantaneously! Meaning if one was disturbed in a way that a property (say spin) was changed, the other would instantaneously be similarly disturbed.  In the 1930s Einstein ridiculed this prediction (which was difficult to reconcile with both common sense and his relativity theory!) , but it has not only has been physically demonstrated in recent decades, but is now being put to work in the development of quantum computers.

pandemic—worldwide epidemic of infectious disease

paradigm--a fine example or model illustrative of some pattern or prescription

prophet–an inspired person who supposedly speaks the word of God or communicates divine revelation

reductionism -- the philosophical belief that understanding a complex phenomenon, system, structure, organism, etc. (or solving a complicated problem) is best done by breaking it into smaller, more manageable parts (problems), and studying those parts (or first solving those smaller problems). Often accompanying a reductionistic approach to understanding is the belief that the whole is nothing more than the sum of the parts. Reductionism is the opposite of wholism (holism).

religious dualism -- belief that a good spirit (God ) and dark spirit (Devil) battle for control of both the universe and people’s souls.

resilient--able to recover from trauma and setbacks without breaking down 

Revelation, book of--the last book of the New Testament of the Bible is sometimes referred to as the Apocalypse of (its author) John since it provides an account of the last days of the Earth / God's harsh judgment based on his vision.  The contents of this controversial and difficult to understand book represent a prophecy of end times built on vivid imagery, metaphor (the four horsemen of the Apocalypse being the most famous) and use of magical numbers--most notably 7 and 666 (the latter representing the number of the beast).    

sensitivity analysis--refers to studying how sensitive a model's output is to changes in input.

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Goda sermon written and first delivered in 1741 by Massachusetts’ colonial preacher Jonathan Edwards which includes vivid and frightening images of the burning in Hell fate that, he claimed,  awaits those who don’t find salvation in Jesus Christ.

social media--according to Wikipedia they are, "interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation or sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks" Just as internet search engine use capability provides a big learning / problem solving advantage to those who have it over those who don't, those skilled in social media use have a big "influencing people and changing attitudes / behavior" advantage.  Of course social media  are notorious for spreading disinformation! 

systematic--based on system or planned, orderly procedure; see also systems

systems -- regularly interacting entities forming unified wholes.  Separated from their surroundings by a boundary, mass, energy and information flow both into and out of the system. These are also transferred within the system between its component parts.  While examples of systems can be found everywhere throughout the natural, manmade and conceptual worlds, they vary greatly in complexity. In the natural world cells, an animal's circulatory system, the human brain, ecosystems, the Earth, and the Milky Way Galaxy can be understood as systems.  In the manmade world we can similarly consider household cooling systems, automobile braking systems, computers, automobiles, buildings. In the conceptual realm computer models simulate real systems that exist in natural, manmade realms, along with parts of the human societal framework.  As these examples suggest, many systems are themselves composed of systems (called subsystems), and particularly complex systems may have many levels of organization.

systems, hard vs. soft--basically a hard system can be quantified  (adequately represented with numerical data), modeled and involved in simulations much more easily  than can a soft system.  Not surprisingly systems involving mindless elements interacting (like atoms and molecules) can be better modeled (with much more confidence) than systems which consist of interacting people!  

technofideism--belief that technology will save us.

technology assessment -- a procedure that involves   1) collecting information about the technology and how it will be used in meeting specified objectives, 2) identifying impacts of its use in various areas (environmental, economic, social, political, etc), 3) assessing impacts and identifying tradeoffs, 4) formulating, then examining alternatives, with quantitative models and forecasts, 5) making recommendations including designating a preferred alternative that best meets objectives while minimizing impacts / other concerns , and 6) making plans for monitoring performance.

top down vs. bottom up–contrasting approaches to bringing change, solving problems,  structuring interaction (compare centrally planned economies, market based ones), etc. The former typically involves a very small number of people (sometimes even just one person) at the top setting policy that works its way down through various levels of organization to ordinary people at the bottom. The latter approach typically involves ordinary people at the bottom finding that something works, a groundswell of enthusiasm develops--or in a more modern context something goes viral on the internet--and eventually word of this development reaches all the way to the top. Here is another summary: top down: within a government or organizational power structure...assemble the experts and smartest people  to understand a particular problem have them study the situation, produce a report, and legislate or implement it! bottom up: within a community of dissatisfied individuals...identify each other, share visions, organize, set goals, have meetings make this grassroots people power work to bring change at state, national level

values -- abstract qualities, principles, beliefs, or aspects of behavior that a person or a whole society holds in high regard after making value judgments.

value judgment -- comparing either something concrete (person, object, etc) or something abstract (quality, principle, etc) to some idealized standard. A value judgment is what bridges the gap between “what is” and “what ought to be”. Closely related is the act of valuing, which can be thought of as choosing (from alternatives) and taking appropriate action to acquire something (concrete or abstract) or hold onto it.

virtual--not real, imitated, simulated. Many computer-based models attempt to predict future happenings in the real world by experience based on what the model learns about a virtual world it simulates with system dynamics know-how and the computer's help.  

vulnerability--the extent to which something (person, place, institution, system, etc.) is susceptible to being hurt, wounded, or damaged by external disturbances 

wholism (or holism) -- a philosophical orientation that promotes consideration of whole systems , rather than exclusive focus on individual, component parts. This consideration is urged in the belief that the essence of the system can not be grasped by merely analyzing its constituent parts. Examples of systems that lend themselves to wholistic study: a human being, the human species, the Earth’s biosphere, planet Earth, the Milky Way Galaxy, the universe. The opposite approach to wholism is reductionism.


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