Catatactic Levels

You can divide many things up into hierarchical levels. Each one is made up of the one below. But even though it consists of the same stuff, it is different. That is what we mean by ‘more of the same is different’. Once there is enough of something you have to change your perception and start looking at it from a macro perspective. It needs to be approached with a different analytical toolbox.  Consider the following:

  • subatomic particle > atom > molecule > molehill > mountain > planet > galaxy > universe
  • gene > person > family > community > nation> UN
  • microchip > motherboard > PC > operating system > word processor > this sentence
  • facts > story > spin doctor
  • stock price > Dow Jones Index > index futures
  • shopping transaction > company > economy

The rules and assumptions that apply at one level should not be used at another level. Scientists have long been aware of this and each scientific discipline has its own techniques and theories even though you can stack them all together like a set of nesting tables. Consider this chain of disciplines: physics > chemistry > biology > psychology. Physics concerns atomic and subatomic particles. Chemistry studies molecules which are made from atoms. Biology examines creatures that are made from DNA molecules. Psychology  probes the mind of humans. Does that mean that chemistry is just a subset of physics ? Or that psychology is just applied biology? No scientist would think so. Each discipline has its own rules and analytical techniques which are appropriate only to its own field. So despite the fact that the human brain is made up of sub atomic particles, your shrink is unlikely to be consulting a physics textbook when listening to your problems (unless he is verybored) . If you ever catch him doing it, you can tell him that he has committed a catataxic blunder.