being natural, Intelligence, less is better, simplicity

JUST A PIECE OF STRING

In the Sixties, when Boeing produced the first Jumbo jets, the Federal Aviation Authority refused to grant a licence to carry passengers. Why? Because they required to know the weight of the plane. Boeing had spent a lot of time, money and energy trying to work out a way to weigh this unusually large aircraft, but without success.

As it happened, a visiting salesman heard about the problem, and said that he thought he could help. At first, he was not taken seriously. However, he insisted, so the engineers and executives thought they could lose nothing by letting him try. So, they asked him if he needed anything. He said: “Just a piece of strong, a measuring tape, and a tyre pressure gauge.” Needless, to say, there were a lot of raised eyebrows.

The salesman walked up to one of the planes sitting on the tarmac and did a few very simple things. First, he wound the string tightly around the base of a tyre, where it touched the ground. He then measured that length. He did this with several tyres, just to get an average. He then took the pressure of each of those tyres, again just to get an average. Next, he counted the total number of tyres. Finally, he did a quick calculation on a piece of paper and turned to Boeing’s and announced the weight of the plane. There were more than a few red faces, but Boeing got its licence, and the salesman got his contract!

This story is just one of countless examples of intelligent simplicity – where you do something that looks too simple, yet is very intelligent. In complete contrast to the very expensive, complicated, time-consuming methods that Boeing had tried, the salesman’s method cost nothing, took almost no time, and was the opposite of complicated. Yet it was far more intelligent, because it worked!

Intelligence, simplicity

Coincidence – A Form of Intelligent Simplicity?

We know quite a lot about the physical nature of the universe, and this is what science studies. However, we know next to nothing about its deeper nature, and it does not help that science denies that this exists. I believe that we can get a glimpse of this deeper nature from an unexpected source – coincidence.

Carl Jung gave this a fancy name, “acausal synchronicity”, but changing its name did not take us very far. For me, coincidence reflects two facets of the deeper nature of the Cosmos. These are (a) total connectedness, and (b) the fact that the Universe is constantly giving us useful things, such as information. I really do mean total connectedness. Everything in the Universe, whatever its size or nature, is instantaneously connected to everything else, regardless of distance. The speed of light is not a limiting factor. Significantly, this includes us. We, too, are totally connected to everything, and to each other. Many scientists seem to believe this, and they give it odd names, such as “quantum entanglement” and “non-locality”, no doubt to make it sound serious and respectable! And, although it might not seem like it, the Cosmos is constantly making information and other things available to us. The key is to be aware of this, so that you can benefit from it. What happened in the last couple of days is a typical example.

While chatting with a friend yesterday, I happened to mention the phrase “raining cats and dogs”. Neither of us knew where this came from. This morning, while communing with Nature, I was browsing a book about Canada. I turned to the section on Prince Edward Island because I recalled that an acquaintance had a summer home there. That is when I noticed a paragraph about one of the island’s famous sons, Thomas Haliburton. I read that it was he who coined several well-known phrases, such as “raining cats and dogs”!

What I believe happened was that I semi-consciously put out a request about the origin of the phrase. The Cosmos picked up the request – because it is its nature to do so – and fed back the answer to me, in the form of the paragraph in the book.

Just to repeat the important point – I think this kind of thing happens a lot, possibly every day. That said, few of us make good use of coincidence. We do not notice it all, or if we do, we give it little value. We just say, “That was strange”, and then pass on. In doing so, we miss a lot, and we fail to connect with the deeper nature of the Cosmos. That is a pity.

While many still believe that the Universe is dead, unconsciousness, meaningless, and without intrinsic intelligence, the opposite may be true. It may turn out to be a living being, highly conscious, packed with meaning, and intelligent beyond our comprehension. The existence of coincidence is just one part of a wide range of evidence supporting this. The Cosmos is both intelligent and simple. It knows where to find information, and it uses the simplest means to give the information to us. However, to be able to receive what the Cosmos is giving us, we have to be like the Cosmos. We, too, have to be in a state of intelligent simplicity. In my next blog “Nature Always Responds to our Questions”, I will take this theme a little further.

Taoist

Introducing Chris Thomson

Introducing Chris Thomson – A Catalan Scot

Perhaps I should say a few words about me

I am Scottish, from Glasgow, and I live in the Pyrenees in northern Catalunya. Although still part of Spain, the people here are keen to have their freedom and independence. It’s not unlike Scotland. The countryside is rugged and beautiful, and the people reflect this. They are not easy to get to know, but they are worth getting to know!

I have had an eccentric career, and this no doubt reflects who I am. I spent a short while trying to be an economist at the Bank of England, often wondering what my role was. As much to escape London as anything else, I moved north to do research in scientific Chinese. By this time I had a young family and this is why I looked for something that seemed more stable…so I became a lawyer in Scotland. I never really felt comfortable doing this, so it came as little surprise when, in 1985, I found myself Chair of the Natural Medicines Commission. That changed a lot, because I was able to explore “new” initiatives, such as the New Economics and the New Physics. I even trained as a psychotherapist!

Arguably the biggest change came in 1998 when I was invited to join a new think tank in Scotland. In theory, it was about new thinking and new ideas. In practice, people are resistant to most things new, and I discovered this painfully. Although a lot of people talk about change, very few actually do it. There are a host of reasons for this, and I am sure we will encounter some of them as this blog develops.

I find it hard to describe myself these days. In fact, I prefer not to be categorised. I would rather be thought of as just a human being. I realise that this probably goes against the tide, but again this is who I am.

What interests me most these days? Many things…primarily the people I love…my daughter and my son, my three grandchildren, and my partner Ana. And I love flying down the mountains on my skis.

Am I interested in world affairs…Trump, climate change, grotesque inequality, and so on? Of course I am, but I don’t let it get to me. The main thing, I believe, is to try to live wisely and well, to be as fully human as possible, and to have a lot of laughs.