Director of Research: Alvin Lowi, Jr.


Announcing the formation of an internet colloquium of investigators of applications of scientific method to the study of social phenomena.

THE PHOENIX is the mythical bird that supposedly rose from the ashes of its former lengthy existence as a symbol of kingly power to become a fabulous free-flying creature. THE PHOENIX symbolizes for the FORUM a rebirth of human social life under spontaneous natural order welcomed and facilitated by scientific discovery.


SOCIONOMICS is an interdisciplinary study of the nature of social relationships, applying principles from evolutionary psychology, complexity theory, Austrian economics, and the ethical theory of moral rights to understand interpersonal development, spontaneous order, and social harmony.


The Tucson Center for Socionomics Research (TCSR) is a division of the ADAM FERGUSON INSTITUTE (AFI). AFI is a non-profit educational organization located at 34100 Center Ridge Road (Liberty Center Building), North Ridgeville, Ohio. AFI is served by a panel of distinguished advisors from the academic community. They are: Charles Buckalew, Nancy Davis, William Peirce, Jeremy Rakowski, Michael Spicer, Lawrence T. White, and Gary Wolfram. The members of our Board of Trustees are: David R. Ferguson (President), Dennis D. Miller (Vice-President), Jack D. Smith (Secretary-Treasurer), and Michael Goldstein. Ed Caldwell is the Executive Director of AFI. Contributions are tax deductible under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code.

Adam Ferguson was a Scottish philosopher of the enlightenment period. A contemporary and friend of Adam Smith, he wrote "An Essay on the History of Civil Society" in which he said: "...nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design." This key insight helped others, such as F. A. Hayek, develop the concept of an unplanned yet orderly society (spontaneous order). Thus Adam Ferguson is a substantial figure in the natural law line of continuity that runs from the Stoics to Bionomics. Ferguson's writings remind us that civil society does not require human design, but it does require human understanding lest we disrupt the progressive capabilities that are inherent in the nature of civil society. Regarding the public interest and liberty, Ferguson states: "The public interest is often secure, not because individuals are disposed to regard it as the end of their conduct, but because each, in his place, is determined to preserve his own. Liberty is maintained by the continued differences and oppositions of numbers, not by their concurring zeal in behalf of equitable government."

TCSR also sponsors the CACTUS CLUB (An Internet Dialogue Group of academic authorities in the various disciplines related to socionomics and professionals working in the field of inquiry), the SONORAN SOCIETY (an e-mail discussion circle composed of academics, professionals, students and laypersons having special concerns in social affairs), a RECOMMENDED READING PROJECT (a compilation of selected literature relating to socionomic subjects and considered appropriate to the study of them, with internet access to sources of print copies of the publications) and an INTERNET COURSE OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDY IN SOCIONOMICS.

David R. Ferguson, Founder and Director of the Center (tcsr@worldnet.att.net)

Rob Logan, Webmaster (rob@logan.com)

Alvin Lowi, Jr., Director of Research (alowi@earthlink.net)


The Director of Research declares that he has no idea what a research director is supposed to do as such other than to seek and find directions research may take and raise the questions that may stimulate others to join him in a community of inquiry to search for answers.


The Heather Foundation, Spencer Heath MacCallum, Director (sm@look.net)

THE HEATHER FOUNDATION is dedicated to furthering understanding of society as an evolving natural phenomenon of spontaneously patterned cooperation among freely-acting individuals. Taxation and other institutionalized coercions are viewed as evidence of insufficient development of social organization, a condition to be outgrown. The Foundation sponsors research, lectures and publications. It also preserves and administers the intellectual estates of persons who contributed notably to the humane studies. Areas of focus include philosophy of science and scientific method; the inspirational aspects of religion and the aesthetic arts; monetary theory and alternative money systems; risk management (insurance) and its role in society; and the institution of property in land in relation of community organization. The Foundation is currently the literary estate trust of Spencer Heath, Arthur C. Holden and E.C. Riegel, as well as print publisher of Peter B. Bos, Erik Don Franzen, Spencer Heath, Arthur C. Holden, Alvin Lowi Jr., Spencer H. MacCallum, and E.C. Riegel on various subjects in the areas of its focus.


There are currently 24 prospective participants in the Phoenix Forum. Participation requires nothing more than an interest in science and socionomics. Scientific and mathematical preparation is advantageous but not essential. Access to e-mail is desirable. Those interested in participating should inform the Reseach Director at alowi@earthlink with the understanding that peer review calls for disclosure to the other participants, all of whom having consented to being identified in the Tucson Center web site.


An Investigation into the Application of Quantum Theory to Human Action Proposed by Alvin Lowi, Jr.
Working paper for review: 26 pages
References for study: The works of Fritjof Capra, Richard Feynman, Friedrich Hayek, Spencer Heath, Max Planck, Ilia Prigogine, Erwin Schroedinger.

Scientific Method applied to Social Phenomena
Proposed by Alvin Lowi, Jr.
Working paper for review: 120 pages
References for study: The works of Bruce Ames, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Percy Bridgman, Giordano Bruno, Fritjof Capra, T.C. Chamberlin, Jack Cohen, Morris Cohen, Arthur Eddington, Richard Feynman, Benjamin Franklin, the Gestalt school of psychology, James Gleick, Friedrich Hayek, Spencer Heath, Arthur Koestler, Thomas Kuhn, Edward McCrady, Ernest Nagel, Max Planck, Karl Popper, Hans Reichenbach, Matt Ridley, Michael Rothschild, George Santayana, George Soros, Baruch Spinoza, Ian Stewart, Lewis Thomas, Lao Tzu, Frank van Dun.

Mr. Lowi:

My apologies for the long delay in getting back to you with my review of your paper, "Quantum Theory and Human Action."

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with your efforts. So often those of a scientific bent who approach matters involving human endeavors overreach; how many times have we heard the claim made that, with just the right information and calculation, we could actually scientifically determine, a priori, what individual human actions would be undertaken by specific people in specific circumstances? And even in addressing generalities, the error is often made -- witness the "science" of certain economists who, having learned the mechanistic or physical models that can allow us to more readily understand complex economic phenomena, then seek to force the recalcitrant real world to follow those models!

So it was with relief that I read your sentence, "Admittedly, making statements about human affairs by analogy with physical theory is a hazardous undertaking." I found your paper refreshingly tempered by this modesty; even while you laid out very specific and very relevant scientific parallels to what we observe in the undertakings of man, your obvious caution made your proposed analogies all the more credible.

I have little to add to your basic points. I found your review of the physics behind your ideas excellent, enabling even me (though I'm a mere fourteen years removed from my undergraduate physics classes, I must admit to having quite the clouded recollection of much of the specifics!) to both recall and comprehend the specifics of that science with which your paper concerned itself. And I found your parallel between "permissible" and "impermissible" behaviors in the physical world and "moral" and "immoral" ones in the human world excellent.

The only area I see that might deserve more study and development is that concerning the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Your mention of it piqued my interest, as I've long had a personal interest in some of the erroneous attempts to apply that law to specific cases in both the physical and human worlds. I wonder if it might not be valuable to address this more fully. Your passage referring to Mises and his hypothesis about human action -- that it is undertaken to substitute a more satisfactory state of affairs (to eliminate "unease") -- had me thinking about the obvious difference here between the physical world and the human one: in free-market human action, the tendency is toward greater order, not greater disorder. Is there something to this that might further inform your study? If not, perhaps this is a subject for yet another paper!

Beyond this, I did circle a handful of spelling and language errors (David can tell you I'm quite pedantic when it comes to English!). I'm sure you've caught these yourself, but if you're interested in a list, let me know and I'll send that separately.

Thank you for the opportunity to review this excellent work.

Jim Vinoski

Dear Mr. Vinoski:

Thanks for your generous comment. I would appreciate receiving your collection of spelling and grammar errors. I collect them, too, but, alas, not very systematically.

It seems I have a long way to go with this paper. Unfortunately, most of my reviewers, unlike you, may be intimidated by the subject. So 'till now, I'm pretty much alone in my views, an all too familiar condition for me.

Your point on the apparent difference in the natural course of "entropy" in the physical as compared with the human worlds is well taken. An exploration of this subject probably does belong in another paper. If you are interested in taking up such a study, may I suggest a couple initial steps. First, distinguish what is meant by social phenomena. Then, formulate an operational (observable/teachable) concept of social order that could be quantized in terms of a property like entropy.

Appropos of the first step, I recommend the intellectual posture recently stated by Spencer MacCallum for the benefit of a dedicated soldier of Ralph Nader's Green Party: "I'm a social anthropologist and as I see it, if it's not wholly voluntary, it's something other than social organization." Also instructive is Ferguson's 20 April 1999 Cactus Club excerpt from Hayek on "The Results of Human Action but not of Human Design."

The second step is a more frustrating one because a candidate for the particular property with which to correlate social order might turn out to be "PROPERTY" (otherwise known in Anglo-Saxon common law as private property). So we encounter here an anomoly in the common language which must be overcome. We might follow MacCallum's lead on this and use the term "ownership" or "proprietorship" instead of property. What better criterion to characterize or track social order?

The observation that human society operates to reverse the supposedly dismal but purely physical consequences of the Second Law of Thermodynamics in nature is not original to me. I got the idea from Spencer Heath (Citadel, Market and Altar) who may have picked it up from Erwin Schroedinger (What is Life?). I am also aware of similar notions coming from F. Hayek (various), L. Thomas (The Lives of a Cell) as well as I. Prigogine (various). As recently as August 15, 1998, SCIENCE NEWS carried an article by Peter Weiss entitled "Another Face of Entropy" in which he explores various self-organizing phenomena in physics like crystallization. Apparently, contrary to conventional thermodynamic wisdom, spontaneous order-building is going on in nature even at the primitive physical level. So the degenerative notion of the Second Law of Thermodynamics is not even applicable to all physical phenomena.

While grounding in classical thermodynamics is a comfort to us engineers, this preparation does not license us to apply the laws of thermodynamics to biological and social systems as if they were mere heat engines. If I were a social or biological scientist, I would be wary of mechanistic notions that have no experiential grounding in these fields of phenomena. As it is, such intrusions involve a particular kind of philosophical ignorance called reductionism. Reductionism leads to such absurdities as dealing with your wife as you would your car. I fancy the quantum viewpoint because it seems less prone to reductionistic abuse.

The laws of thermodynamics are simple abstractions. They merely declare the impossiblity of certain kinds of perpetual motion machines. A so-called perpetual motion machine of the first kind is an engine that is said to continuously perform work on its surroundings without taking any net energy input from its surrondings. Thus, the "First Law" gives us the famous conservation principle that leads to the definition of energy and its work and heat equivalents.

A perpetual motion machine of the second kind is an engine that performs work continuously as its sole output while receiving heat from a single external source. While the first law declares that one cannot get something (work) for nothing (no heat input), the second law says one has no assurance of even getting something for something. It says one is obliged to give back part of the heat that he receives in order to have any chance of getting any work at all out of the system on a regular basis.

A consequence of the "Second Law" is that the cyclic integral of the heat transfer per unit temperature is a unique property of the state of the system. Back in the 19th century, Rudolph Clausius named this abstract property "entropy." It is not known whether either Clausius or his predecessor Sadi Carnot were trying to characterize the internal order of mechanical systems when they discovered such a property of state as entropy. Regardless, the change in value of that property has come to be associated with the trend or direction of change in the level of internal organization or order in a thermal system. This tenent of thermodynamics implies that the internal order that is otherwise invisible is indicated by the capacity of a system for doing useful work. Whether or not plausible, most engineers believe this to be so.

To be consistent with the Second Law, the entropy of a real system undergoing a change of state in isolation must always be on the increase. This law is moot on the question of what is happening to its internal order. However, it does predict that a declining fraction of the energy remaining in the system is available for performing useful work.

The capacity of a system for doing work is another state property which combines internal energy, pressure, temperature, volume and entropy. This property is known as "availability." So another consequence of the second law is that the "availability" of a system tends to decrease with the passage of time (it never increases). One might conclude from this result that old heat engines don't work as well as new ones. If living organisms were heat engines, diseases would be consequences of increases in entropy. This is obviously inconsistent with the biology of the situation. Life involves replication, growth, regeneration, reordering, resistance, healing and reorganization. Human life involves innovation and recreation as well. Innovation is new order, i.e. order of a kind hitherto unseen anywhere or order in a place where none had been found before.

Since the availability for doing useful work has become associated somehow with the level of "orderliness" of a system, and an INCREASE in entropy is related to a DECREASE in "availability," the term "entropy" has become a virtual synonym for internal disorder in a mechanical or thermal system. Some even go as far as to refer to disorder in general as "entropy" although such usage takes license with both the etymology of the word and Clausius' intentions.

Some sophisticated intellectuals, emboldened by the sheer simplicity of the Second Law insight, go so far as to assert that the world in general is bound to become more disorderly because of age, wear and tear. They declare that sight unseen and left alone--i.e. spontaneously--"the world is going to hell in a handbasket" or "the younger generation is going to the dogs." Why? Because it's supposed to, isn't it? Its a law of nature! If you don't believe it, ask any self-respecting thermodynamicist. Accordingly, we are instructed to believe in SPONTANEOUS DISORDER. Now what better argument could you find for political government? Fight fire with fire!

I have no idea how anyone, even Sir Bertrand Russell, calculates the entropy of the universe. Supposing he could, I doubt I could agree with him on what constitutes world order as revealed by inspection. Russell was inclined toward technocracy or aristocracy as befitting his social status and the political influence to which he aspired. I have no such aspirations.

To the present, order in human affairs is like beauty--a perception that belongs to the beholder. Clearly, there is no broad consensus on what social order looks like. While I can see a definite and pregnant kind of order spontaneously evolving in laissez faire situations, many others of my acquaintance become demented in reaction to my descriptions and denounce what they see in the very same situations as life-threatening chaos. Then they fantasize an entitlement to shelter by the grace of some hypothetical benefactor more omnipotent than nature. In any case, if what they see fails to fit their preconceived notion of order, they are inclined to condemn the natural situation as disorderly or anarchistic.

Oh well, such is the intellectual state of humanity--primitive. One-on-one experience is peaceful enough. There may even be enough innocent curiosity for discovery of the alternative paradigm--SPONTANEOUS ORDER--to occur. Then, learning can progress. However, en mass, the primitive state of mind prevails as expressed in polls and political elections.

Contrary to the old saw ("familiarity breeds contempt"), it seems that a lack of familiarity is what breeds contempt as opposed to tolerance and innocent curiosity. This inclination bred in zenophobia seems to be at the root of all human prejudice. For example, all Jews, Negroes, Indians, Mexicans, Chinese, Albanians, or whatever distinct cultural class of people are said to "all look alike." Whereupon, individuals of those ethnicities are put into hypothetical collectivities after which sociologists busy themselves fashioning stereotypes to be used as straight-jackets that fit no particular person that ever lived. Based on such ideological misfits, public policies are engineered with which to contrive an improved world order. Since public policy can only be implemented by political means, politics inevitably results in increasing disorder. Thus, the degenerative prognistication of the Second Law of Thermodynamics is apparently realized by political systems.

In the communication field, a kind of "entropy" has found utility in keeping track of the level of noise that arises in telephone and telegraph networks during the transmission of information. Noise in information systems is said to be analogous to irreversible disorder in thermal systems and Shannon, the founder of information theory, is said to have figured out how to calculate it taking his cues from classical and statistical thermodynamics. To my knowledge, Shannon achieved the only fully supported extrapolation of the entropy-increase-is-growth-in-disorder idea outside of classical thermodynamics. Most other non-thermodynamic usages of entropy are reductionistic stunts.

It takes a good imagination to infer something about the internal order of a thermal system undergoing change regardless of what one learns from merely calculating the integral of dQ/T (entropy). To devise and corroborate a single parameter of order for a social system is a somewhat more challenging bill of fare.

Thanks again for your thoughtful comment on my paper.



The following dialogue developed among three members of the Phoenix Forum following some commentary on the proposed scientific study of socionomics. This particular line of inquiry was initiated by Eric Szuter:

Subject:     Re: resources etc
Sent:        2/24/19 12:23 AM
Received:    3/1/99 8:36 AM
From:        Spencer H. MacCallum, SM@Look.net
To:          Eric Szuter, EricSzuter@aol.com
             David R. Ferguson, tcsr@worldnet.att.net
             Alvin Lowi Jr, alowi@earthlink.net


You said:

>After reflection, I think you are right, I need to drop the term
>"resource." How about this for a new an improved definition?
>PROPERTY: the resultant of an organism's combining information with raw
>materials of nature.

"Raw materials" still carries the implication that it will be used for something. It's another way of saying "resources." Perhaps "materials of nature" or, more simply still, "events?"

You then defined "data:"

>DATA: recorded observations of previous events.

I wonder if the brain records anything that is meaningless? Why would it do so? In fact, COULD it do so if it could not file it in the appropriate mailbox?

Perhaps a meme forms the instant anything is recorded, the recordation and the attribution of meaning being instantaneous. Wouldn't that be congenial to the thinking of the Gestalt psychologists?

I didn't copy to Dave or Al because questioning the aptness of the term "resources" seemed such a small and obvious matter--a "tuning," as you say--that I didn't want to burden them with it. But raising the question of the possible relevance of Gestalt psychology may enlarge the discussion again, so I'll copy this to them.


>Thank you for keeping me on my toes. Now is the time to fine tune these
>concepts, not after I publish them for all the world to see. In this
>mornings email you state:
>SM: If you call it a "resource," that means information's ALREADY combined
>with it in the speaker's mind. The word "resource" means the speaker has
>some idea how it might be used to advantage. You can change this by
>dropping the term "resource" in favor of "anything in nature."
>EJS: Of course, you are referring, ultimately, to my provisional definition of
>"property." After reflection, I think you are right, I need to drop the term
>"resource." How about this for a new an improved definition?
>PROPERTY: the resultant of an organisms combining information with raw
>materials of nature.
>The other issue is certainly debatable. If a zoological organism gets an idea
>how to use a rock. That particular raw material of nature (the rock) then
>becomes a resource to that particular zoological organism. The idea of the
>rock as a resource is a meme. My provisional definition of a meme is:
>MEME:  information associated with a specific complex of neurons in an
>organism's brain formed as a result of comprehension.
>Now we must refer to our latest provisional definition of "information:"
>INFORMATION: data organized into a format from which meaning emerges
>and the provisional definition of "data:"
>DATA: recorded observations of previous events
>Combining these operational definitions we can make the following statement:
>A meme is recorded observations of previous events organized into a format
>from which meaning emerges. (A meme by definition must have meaning.)
>You may be surprised and interested that the latest thinking in biology about
>memes is that each meme is physically represented by a system of neurons
>in the zoological organisms brain. So when I say "in principle" a meme is
>observable, I am referring to the possibility that with better technology a
>particular meme could be observed as a particular collection of connected
>neurons. This is no more out of line than saying in the early 1900s that DNA
>is "in principle" observable before it was in fact observed, or that particular
>loci of genes were "in principle" observable before it was in fact accomplished.
>So,  referring to following statements of yours:
>SM: But of course, it isn't combining information with any "thing" at all,
>but with an idea in the speaker's head. It's combining information with
>SM: How in the world do you observe this "observable action of the
>organism." If it's wholly mental as you seem to say, it is entirely
>to say that it is in principle observable. Any scientist would have
>trouble >with this particular direction you're taking.
>EJS: I hope you would see that the memetic property (akin to Galambos primary
>property in ideas) is not combining information with information but
>combining information with the raw materials of nature available in the brain
>of the organism. Also, I hope this dispels the idea that any scientist would
>have trouble with this line of thinking.
>Again thank you for keeping me on my toes. I elected not to cc anyone since
>your email to me was private. If, however, you would like to forward this
>discussion to the group, it's fine with me.
>Your devoted student,

The Research Director interjects:

Subject:     Re: resources etc
Sent:        3/1/99 2:44 PM
From:      Alvin Lowi, alowi@earthlink.net
To:          Spencer H. MacCallum, SM@Look.net
             Eric Szuter, EricSzuter@aol.com
             David R. Ferguson, tcsr@worldnet.att.net


All this word-play suggests a refresher is in order on Percy W. Bridgman's "operations" (see pp. 5-15 of THE NATURE OF PHYSICAL THEORY, Dover/Princeton, 1936). Since "observation" (in contradistinction to idealization and abstraction) is a physical act, observations must employ words that denote certain reproducible and repeatable PHYSICAL operations that can be taught and experienced. The meaning or definition of such words for the scientific purpose at hand, whatever other meanings may be conveyed by them in the common language, is confined to the recipe or instructions for having the physical experience that is denoted by the word. Einstein's advice deserves repeating: "Since you can't see what they say, watch what they do."

Bridgman points out that since we can never get outside ourselves, we must ultimately rely on what is done rather than what is said. Only in this way can "private" science become "public" science. A consensus can develop only on matters external to the possibly imaginative but obscure mind or brain of a person. Until a matter is demonstrated to the senses of others and experienced by them through their own physical efforts, there is nothing for them to consider but rhetoric and reverie, and nothing for them to do but engage in mental gymnastics (some would say mental masturbation). This barren exercise Bridgman referred to as solipsism.

Imagine what it is like to convince yourself of something through an act of static self-consciousness. Then, by contrast, consider the inevitability of your acceptance of the facts of experience as they unfold. We must accept the future even though we cannot really know what any new situation promises until we try out the recipe and experience the consequences. When we try it out, we generate data descriptive of the event which can then be recorded for fact. This is a purely human experience known as science. On the other hand, what can you know about someone else's introspections and mental ruminations, no matter how poetically expressed?

If the word "meme" is to represent a significant observational aspect of a science of society as suggested by Szuter and others, it must denote a procedure for looking at it which any of us can learn to carry out. Likewise, such terms as "property," "contract," "aggression." coercion," "happiness," freedom," "liberty," etc., must have such an observational handle as well and for the same reason--coherent communication. Maybe we don't have the instrumentation at hand to specify how to go about looking at and measuring these concepts in fact. If not, we cannot depend on such words for theoretical purposes at the present time. They remain only heuristic devices until such time as operational definition becomes possible and practical and done.

Now, where does this leave us? Actually, as scientists, we have very little to go on if we stick to social terms that have established operational definitions. In fact, most of our lexicons of social discourse provide tools of language with which we can entertain ourselves by building castles in the sky but nary an outhouse here on the ground.

I doubt this is just a matter of "tuning" in on the procedures underlying the entrance of the word into our vocabulary--looking into the etymology, so to speak. While etymological scrutiny is always good practice for operational competence, I think operationalism and science involves a change of attitude as well as activity. We would be wise to remember that we habitually select words to fit our preconceived notions of the world. Only reluctantly do we submit our ideas to a test for falsification and operationalizing our words is basically an accommodation to such testing. We'd rather argue in the abstract than look and test, even though arguments rarely if ever produce any new knowledge.



David Ferguson poses the following challenges to the scientific method:

>Subject:     superstitions
>Sent:        2/25/19 2:43 PM
>Received:    3/2/99 9:12 AM
>From:        David R. Ferguson, tcsr@worldnet.att.net
>To:          Al Lowi, alowi@earthlink.net
> How would you explain a paradigm shift from believing it is your democratic
>duty to vote and pay taxes to believing that democracy and taxes are immoral
>as currently practiced?  Would both of these beliefs fall in the category of
>superstitions since neither can be observed or subjected to the scientific

Subject: Re: superstitions
Sent: 3/3/99 10:03 AM
From: Alvin Lowi, alowi@earthlink.net
To: David R. Ferguson, tcsr@worldnet.att.net

Dear Dave:

Your query contains too many important issues bundled together to handle as one. I'll try to break it down.

A paradigm is no simple concept, but it must have an observable aspect for the word to have entered the common language. The challenge of science is to trace the background experience to its origins in fact, describe it in operational terms (like a recipe) and code it for repetition by others. I wish I could do that for you here but alas, I am unprepared. All I know is that a paradigm is a recognizable pattern of human behavior of some sort. As as such, a paradigm evidences some sort of order in reality from which can be inferred a certain system of beliefs or ideology.

The idea of a paradigm shift is a somewhat more exotic notion. How one paradigm can totally replace or supersede a contradictory one is an intriguing study in its own right. I suppose this study is in the field of psychology, perhaps the evolutionary variety. It certainly figures prominently in the market introduction of any new product or service. In any case, a paradigm shift comes down an ideological revolution. Perhaps a more instructive way of looking at such a phenomenon is from the viewpoint of an epistemological breakthrough as suggested by Thomas Kuhn in THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS (Univ. of Chicago, 1962).

As to whether the particular paradigms you mention might be considered superstitions, I suppose any pattern of belief can be a superstition if it is based on faith in someone else's authority rather than one's own reasoned experience.

To develop faith in and devotion to omnipotent government is not such a feat for a distracted person hardly weaned from his mother's tit. Belief in the propriety of servitude, redistribution and protection under the acclaimed benevolence of an anomolous but flocculent collective is not so far-fetched a religion for those animals who attribute their means of survival to pandering and predation. If dogs have ideas, this reverence for authority would be the ideology of Pavlov's Dog.

To develop a faith in some kind of "higher" order of things in nature based on the rewards of some kinds of abstract virtues is bound to be a somewhat less alluring proposition. An even harder sale notwithstanding its grounding in reality is a belief in the virtue of digging out a life for oneself, posponing material gratification while he is digging. The virtue of work is a hard sell to one for whom work is perceived as a drudge at best and a punishment on the average. The fanciful program that can pass for being able to provide all comers a free ride will have little competition. Who will strive to obtain what is given away or "ought" to be provided without effort by "somebody" as a matter of right?

The rewards of moral rectitude are not so readily visualized in action and nobody wants to appear to be a loser or a sucker. Indeed, until science can demonstrate the practical value of morality in the here-and-now, more opportune or expedient behavior will be expressed and ostensibly sacrificial behavior will be shunned. People behave pretty much like the famous socialist George Bernard Shaw said: "Morals are like a pair of drawers. They can be dropped at the convenience of the wearer." The morality paradigm is vulnerable to such clever derision.

Clearly, both of the belief systems identified by you have been and are now cultivated by systematic indoctrination--consider what the public schools and churches are doing. So far, the more exploitive ideology has held sway over the more altruistic one. Closer examination probably won't reveal any surprises here. As Murphy says, a Smith and Wesson will beat a royal flush every time.

Follow the money, stolen or not. Opportunistic "self- interested" persons do as if there is no tomorrow. This is not to say that a prudent person would ignore the risk of a comeuppance tomorrow. It is just that most people at the present time have been conditioned to have faith in political government and their corporate handmaidens to look after their future come what may. So what if the future as presently predicated by the exploiters and their planners turns up broke. Omnipotent government will fix it when it happens, won't it? Not likely! But most certainly, "omnipotent" government will claim credit for whatever fix spontaneous society manages to come up with. Behold the recurrent spectacle and pageant in Washington.

What about the long run? Who cares? Like Keynes said, "In the long run we are all dead," which was true enough for him. In the long run, nature prevails. All synthetic social contrivances (political institutions and their mythical "rule of law") are eventually superseded by spontaneous order among the survivors subject only to "natural law" as best they can figure it. In the Western world, it begins to appear that the survivors are the greater number. Here, more and more children come to know their grandparents and even great-grandparents, a testimonial to human progress in dealing with the real world in spite of the burdens of the legal one.

The political form of democracy you mention is a paradigm that can be observed in practice. Its scientific study is called political science or political economy. The technological counterpart of this science is national conquest and political hegemony, otherwise known as the government or state. Voting rituals in political elections are well understood by the exploiters but not at all by the victims. I would say with some sadness that political science is somewhat more mature than the science of economic democracy or spontaneous social order. Perhaps this is attributable to more clever people having more urgent purposes.

Certainly, political phenomena enjoy sharper operational definition than their free-market counterparts. This should not be surprising considering that Plato, Aristotle and Machiavelli got this field of inquiry and application off to a head start with good funding from their client emperors, generals and princes. The political approach is so invasive and determinedly monopolistic that, once its hegemony established, voluntary reciprocal alternatives are not only handicapped in practice but the associated social phenomena become difficult to discern even for a determinedly rational person. Not that politics had no worthy competition--there were the Stoics who invented natural law and refuted both majority rule and dictatorship over 2000 years ago.

As scientists, we are the intellectual descendents of the Stoics. Our quest is not so much to see humanity become devoted to a particular ideology as it is in developing a working understanding of the nature of human action, and then to develop an appreciation among our fellows for what the Stoics called natural law but could not perfect for the lack of an appropriate science.

To succeed where the Stoics failed, we must confront indeterminacy and accept the fact that our legitimate authority is limited to what we can support by coherent observations that run the risk of falsification by others. Politicians and moralists are under no such constraint. For them, indeterminacy may actually aid their ideological campaigns. The former exploit indeterminacy to conceal from the public the reality of their blatantly obvious schemes for expropriation. The latter make a virtue of the invisibility of their vision of the future of humanity, taking refuge in dreams of fantastic proportions like a world to come in which blind faith and loyalty to leadership are somehow more important than skepticism, knowhow, prudence and industry.

Science is the antidote for and the antithesis of superstition in whatever field. Progress in the face of superstition is most evident in physical and biological affairs. I am optimistic that a little bit of progress in the development and application of scientific method in social affairs will be no less successful in replacing superstition as the animating force in this aspect of human life. This prospect is what keeps me going.



David Ferguson inquires further into the nature of a science of socionomics and how its experimental requirements can be achieved.

He wrote:

>Subject:     New Bastiatland
>Sent:        3/7/19 6:43 AM
>Received:    3/7/99 7:44 AM
>From:        David R. Ferguson, tcsr@worldnet.att.net
>To:          Al Lowi, alowi@earthlink.net
>CC:          Rich Hammer, roh@visionet.org
>Richard Hammer's Free Nation Foundation wants to help establish a new
>nation.......... shall we call it New Bastiatland.  Would this then allow us
>to make the observations that would enable socionomics to be more
>scientific?  Must we, on the other hand, be less than scientific without
>this type of controlled experiment?

Dear Dave:

As I see it, every entrepreneurial venture is a scientific experiment. Each one is founded on hypotheses that assert some aspect of social reality will be tested by the outcome of some contemplated plan of action actually implemented. Each one submits to operationally coherent criteria for success or failure. Each one proceeds on the basis of volitional effort and investment.

Presumably, Free-Nation's new nation project would encompass all manner of entrepreneurial ventures inasmuch as its population all, employers and employees alike, would be expressing the essence of freedom--entrepreneurship. So, such an elaborate project would be a very ambitious one from a science of socionomics point of view. But it would not necessarily be the only kind of experiment to show how scientific socionomic studies can be. Fortunately, a science of society does not depend on having a population totally free of institutionalized coercion to be able to prove the viability of purely voluntary and reciprocal social arrangements.

The case against institutionalized coercion in the modern world is well made by O'Rourke, Bovard and others following in the intellectual footsteps and refutational tradition of De La Boetie, Bastiat, Spooner and Nock. Opportunities to falsify experiments in statecraft seem endless.

However, if such refutations of naturally doomed political programs were enough, humanity would have unburdened itself of parasites, blunderers and plunderers long ago. This just goes to show how right Bastiat was, viz., that all the refutations of all the vulgar fallacies do not add up to a treatise on social harmonies and how they work. I call this dilemma "Bastiat's Lament" because he complained his short life was too much occupied combatting sophistries to develop the harmonies of thinking and acting that would well serve the species. By contrast, the Free-Nation project represents a unique proposal to cultivate a harmonious social situation in practice which would expose the projected viability of spontaneous society on a comprehensive basis to falisfication. Such an effort is worth a lot more learning than any heroic campaign to try and reform the political establishment.