5 Interesting Concepts That Try To Explain Everything

Explaining How The World Works

When it comes to explaining the simplest things, we can get caught up in complications and go off in tangents. In their 2012 question, Edge.org asked a group of thinkers and scientists a simple question in the hope of getting some simple explanations. What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation? The responses were compiled in their latest book, This Explains Everything, which contains dozens of explanations of scientific, psychological and philosophical concepts ideas.

In our series covering this book, we have compiled 5 of the explanations that make you think and look at everyday occurrences in a new light.

Here are 5 Interesting Facts That Try To Explain Everything:

1. The Scientific Method – An Explanation For Explanations

“Humans are a story telling species. Throughout history we have told stories to each other and ourselves as one of the ways to understand the world around us. Every culture has its creation myth for how the universe came to be,….At one extreme, creation myths discuss the origin of the universe, and for thousands of years one could take the position that this will never be more than a story—how can humans ever figure out something that complicated and distant in space and time? ”

For me, the scientific method is the ultimate elegant explanation. Indeed it is the ultimate foundation for anything worthy of the name “explanation”. The scientific method of testing stories and giving them a form of credibility can change this from something more than a mere story, something testable and reliable. “Human culture contains much more than science—but science is the part that actually works—the rest is just stories.”

Nathan Myhrvold
CEO and Managing Director, Intellectual Ventures; Co-Author (with Bill Gates), The Road Ahead; Author, Modernist Cuisine – Extract from This Explains Everything

2.We Are Dreaming Machines That Construct Virtual Models Of The Real World

Dreaming is so similar to waking, that you can’t trust any sensory information as proof of your existence. You can only trust the fact of thinking or, in contemporary words, the fact that your brain is active… The only difference is that while dreaming, your brain is not perceiving or representing the external reality, it is emulating it and providing self-generated inputs…The waking state is a dreamlike state guided and shaped by the senses, whereas regular dreaming does not involve the senses at all…We are basically dreaming machines that construct virtual models of the real world.”

Eduardo Salcedo-albaran
Colombian philosopher – Extract from This Explains Everything

3. Sexual Conflict Theory

When it comes to harmonious relationships, the theory is if the mating strategy of both partners is the same, and honest from the beginning, then there is no reason for conflict.
“Sexual conflict occurs whenever the reproductive interests of an individual male and individual female diverge…If a man is pursuing a short-term mating strategy and the woman…a long-term mating strategy, conflict between these interactants is virtually inevitable.”
“When relationships are entirely monogamous; when there is zero probability of infidelity or defection; when the couple produces offspring together, the shared vehicles of their genetic cargo; and when joint resources cannot be differentially channeled” – then we have the conditions for sexual co-operation and no conflict.
David M. Buss
Professor of Psychology, University of Texas, Austin; Coauthor: Why Women Have Sex; Author, The Dangerous Passion– Extract from This Explains Everything


4. Being Physically Elevated Induces People To Act On “Higher” Moral Values

“Philosophers and psychologists grappled with a fundamental question for quite some time: How does the brain derive meaning?…in the 1950ies psychology treated the computer as the most appropriate model to study the mind. Now we know that a brain does not work like a computer…its job is to drive and control the actions of the brain’s large appendage, the body.”
The physical world drives our brains understanding of the world and the concept of verticality makes it easier. When we think of our movements as up or down, we can navigate through our environment. We also associate other characteristics as up or down, such as good or bad, rich or poor, and rankings in society in the same ‘up or down’ way.
“People in a shopping mall who had just moved up an escalator were more likely to contribute to a charity donation box than people who had moved down on the escalator…Similarly, research participants who had watched a film depicting a view from high above, namely flying over clouds seen from an airplane window subsequently showed more cooperative behavior than participants who had watched a more ordinary, and less “elevating” view from a car window.”
Simone Schnall
Director, Cambridge Embodied Cognition and Emotion Laboratory; University Lecturer, Department of Social and Developmental Psychology CambridgeExtract from This Explains Everything

5. Energy Flows And Chaos

“What explains the extraordinary complexity of the observed universe, on all scales from quarks to the accelerating universe? My favorite explanation is that the fundamental laws of physics produce natural instability, energy flows, and chaos. So a scientist must look for the explanation of how nature’s laws and statistics brought us into conscious existence.”
Natural instability is what created the universe in the first place. As water that turns to complex and unique snow flakes below a certain temperature, nature has a tendency to complicate simple things. This explanation demonstrates how the universe was created out of a great amount of stability and in a moment (the big bang) started a chain of events that led to complexity and where we are today.
“…the physical Earth is full of natural chemical laboratories, concentrating elements here, mixing them there, raising and lowering temperatures, ceaselessly experimenting with uncountable events where new instabilities can arise. At least one of them was the new experiment called Life.”
John C. Mather
Senior Astrophysicist, Observational Cosmology Laboratory, NASA’s Goddard – Extract from This Explains Everything

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Dr Prem Jagyasi and Team (C)

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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