We often believe prediction in natural sciences is natural while prediction in social sciences is difficult if not impossible. Is it true? We will look at prediction in natural science first.
We can predict the ocean tides ten years from now. But can we predict the location of a particular water molecule in the ocean ten years from now? We can’t. Similarly, we can’t easily predict the fate of a particular person ten years from now. But the general trend of a society may be easier to predict.
We often claim that human actions are difficult to predict because humans have free will. But human actions are driven by their self interest. This is much like ocean tides are driven by gravitational forces from the moon and the sun. Surely there are random and unpredictable elements in actions of individual persons, just like there are random and unpredictable elements in movements of individual molecules. But the overall movements of the society, just like the overall movements of the tides, are largely predictable.
If human actions are largely predictable, why human society will decline? Aren’t humans have rational expectations? Don’t we make rational decisions? We’ll think about drug use. People use drugs because they bring great short term pleasure, despite the fact of long term harms. At the society level, we often make decisions that benefit the current generation, at the cost of future generations. Japan is the country with highest average age, highest life span and one of the lowest fertility. It may not be an accident that it is also the country with highest government debt/GDP ratio.
In societies with little central authority, biological instincts determine that fertility remains high. But in societies with powerful central governments, high taxation greatly reduces the ability of working population to support large families. In general, people with fewer or no children have more energy to be involved in politics and therefore dominate political agenda. People with few or no children, less burned out by child care, also tend to live longer. So in societies with powerful central governments, old age welfare generally triumphs young age child rearing.
In societies with powerful central governments and high taxation, more resources can be concentrated for coordinated use by the governments. So these countries appear to be more powerful on the international stage. Canada and China could not afford two children in each family for their own citizens. Nevertheless, their governments shower money generously overseas to harvest praises and admirations from foreigners and domestic residents who are high on their moral superiority. But all societies with below replacement fertility will eventually decline.
In natural sciences, things that are easier to predict are harder to change. It is easy to predict ocean tides. But it is difficult to change tides. This is because ocean tides are caused by powerful forces, gravitational forces from the moon and the sun. Similarly, in social sciences, things that are easier to predict are harder to change. It is easy to predict the long term consequences of legalization of drug use. But it is difficult to change the tide of events. This is because drug use generate large amount of profits for many powerful social groups. This is why predictions about long term harms of many policies are actively suppressed in mainstream media. The general population are often caught by surprise by the catastrophic events because their predictions are discouraged, discredited and dismissed.
I listened quite a lot of Holmes short stories recently. One thing strikes me. In many stories, the main characters are not married or don’t have children. To start with, Holmes himself is a bachelor.
I listened to the stories while I was going to sleep. Many details may not be correct. Anyway, here is what I remember. On YouTube, many of the Holmes stories are numbered. I put down the numbers as well as the titles for easy reference.
1. A scandal in bohemia. The king and his former lover, both were getting married, were not young.
2. The red headed league. The main character, an old man, is a bachelor.
9. The engineer ‘s thumb. The engineer is a bachelor. In that story, the criminal targeted bachelors, probably because nobody would look for them seriously if they are missing.
13. The silver blaze. The horse trainer, who was kicked to death by the horse, had a wife, had a mistress, but had no children.
14. The cardboard box. Of the three sisters, only one is married and childless. The tragedy occurred probably because one sister is not married and the other one is childless.
15. The yellow face. The couple is married for three years, childless. The lady has one daughter from previous marriage.
18. The Musgrave ritual. The main characters is a bachelor.
19. The reigate squire. The host to Holmes and Watson was a bachelor.
25. The empty house. The murdered victim, a wealthy man, break off an engagement.
27. The Dancing Men. The couple in the story don’t have children.
36. Abbey Grange. The couple have no child.
37. The second stain. The secretary of European affairs and his wife don’t have children. The killed spy, who was 34, was not married.
The vanishing of the Atkinsons. The Atkinson brothers are not married. One of the brothers left a girl pregnant before their disappearance.
The mystery of the Addleton curse. The son of the archeologist, as well as himself, died of uranium radiation.
Overall, the number of children in Holmes’ stories are very small.
My father just left, an hour ago. Leaving me with unparalleled wisdom. He held my baby for hours each day and gave me the space to rest.
"It is never a burden to me," he says softly. "I learn so much from holding a baby." He held me and my four brothers for years and he's teaching me how to hold mine now.
He holds her and watches her with such gentle patience. Making the observations that I had missed myself. "She likes to be held in this position first," he says to me. "Then she likes to be shifted like this. But the third time she cries, she is hungry."
My father is the one who taught me how to Observe and to draw much deeper connections. He sees the simplest and most fundamental things — and yet they are the things no one else takes time to see. He is the most intelligent man I have ever met and I am grateful to be in his presence.
When I was little, my mother would paint the most beautiful landscapes onto our bedroom walls. Lush jungles of animals and nature, with corresponding names in English and Chinese. I remember one huge glass living room window in Singapore, where she spent weeks creating these beautiful wall stickers. A gorgeous spread of red flowers and green leaves, and, of course, their labelled names. Matter of fact, she labelled everything! Little cue cards covered the house - cupboard, table, chair, bed, mirror, sink, you name it, she labelled it. I was having conversations with adults by one and reading not long after. And it took me nearly twenty-four years to really, sincerely thank her. My mother and father both — they were such. great. parents — and I never even realized. They devoted so much time to our growth and education and made sure our minds and souls were fed. We were hungry little beings, always curious and wondering, and they always took the time to answer our 'whys'. Even in my teens, when I would walk in the woods with my father, I would still ask him questions and he would still answer thoughtfully. If he didn't know the answer, he would think hard about it, and come back to me with a possible explanation. He would listen to me, no matter how much I talked, as if I said the most interesting things on the planet. My parents never shushed us or acted too busy for us - we were their number one priority. This morning we had Sunday brunch with Bear's parents, whom I also adore so deeply. I can't help but feel this explosion of gratitude for the ones who raised my man so sweetly. They shared stories of when he was a mischievous little one (nothing's changed) but also loyal and strong and heart-warming. And I'm already looking forward to the day when our babies call in their own precious families. Family. It's a word that I know is triggering for some and so undervalued in our current culture. Yet this gift is priceless, the lessons we pass on, if we love and respect each other. My parents were not perfect, by any means, but they taught us to care for each other. And this is what I held on to, in my years of lonely roaming — the faith that I would, one day, have a Family. Where Laughter rang loud. Where Happiness was possible. Where little feet would pitter and patter around... Family. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm thankful for these people. The ones who raised us so very well and placed us on solid ground. This morning I sketched out a little educational card for Baby with our family tree. And I realized it's exactly the kind of thing my mother once did for me. So much of me is who I am because of the devotion and guidance of my parents. And I'm only just starting to comprehend the love that they have for me. Now I'm sitting here crying because I'm almost forty weeks pregnant and hormones and parents and everything. A few years ago I didn't even talk to my parents and now they'll soon be visiting. And I'm so grateful to my Baby for helping me to understand how much Love was always here with me. I've always been Loved. I've always been Love. And that will never leave me
When we meet acquaintances, we often talk about weather. This is the topic least likely to offend people. Are there topics more important than weather? Of course there are, such as politics. But talking about politics will easily offend others, especially in a diverse population.
Today’s western world is very diverse. There is little common interest. Talking about weather, or climate, is the least offensive topic. One might argue climate change is a controversial topic. Well, try something else. You’ll know climate change is the least offensive topic. We are simply talking about weather, or climate. And we pretend we are discussing something truly significant.
I grew up on the rhymes of Dr. Seuss. The rhythm and sounds of the rhymes rolled off the tongue in a sing song fashion. Although I didn't fully comprehend the real world meanings behind the stories, just listening to my dad say the wild, wacky words sent little sparks of joy through my mind.
I was never the strongest English student. The "right answer" wouldn't come to me the way it did in science and math. The first time I enjoyed writing was in second grade. The poetry unit taught me that I had a knack for rhyming things, but I never thought much of it.
Fast forward to middle school. My best friend and I wrote raps for fun, and most open ended school projects would be a live performance of the Asian Eminems. I loved rapping, but I had no desire to take my words farther than the classroom.
In my first year of high school, I was anything but outspoken. I had so many thoughts inside of me but I lacked the self confidence to speak out. Meanwhile, poetry club gathered for the first time at Gleneagle Secondary. I joined, hoping that I could learn from the senior poets in my school. They taught me how to improve my poems, but more importantly, they taught me how to express myself. Performance was a moment in time when everyone was willing to listen to what I had to say, and because of that, I treasured the moments I was on stage. Eventually, I was able to take that confidence with me into everyday conversations. Through the school team, I was able to take part in Hullabaloo, the provincial spoken word tournament. It was a mad scramble of workshops and bouts and showcases that left me itching to improve. Through the connections I made at Hullabaloo, I was invited to perform poetry, from elementary school show cases, to local charity performances, to the Richmond World Festival.
Stepping into an unknown world of spoken word gave me confidence beyond the stage. I developed the know how to speak in all kinds of situations. Spoken word ended up helping a quiet boy speak up.