Monday, October 29, 2007

Facebook and Secret Societies

A link to this video can be found at

I've talked a number of times about the very important idea quantum mechanics teaches us: reality and information are interchangeable. By the time we are holding the biggest-picture-of-all idea of reality in our heads, we are "outside the system" in the domain of indeterminacy: this is where all potential expressions of reality reside, because this is where the information that could potentially represent all possible realities also resides. But also included in what we're imagining by then would be other ways of organizing information which are not expressed as physical reality, and the concept of "memes" is a very useful way of thinking about this.

Google has become such a part of our lives by now, it's easy to forget how much it has created new ways to link information together, and therefore how easily it allows us to map the rise and fall of memes: one of my blog entries that mentions that idea is "Seeing Eye to Eye" . Now let's talk about Facebook, a tool which is linking people together (much as Google is already doing for information), creating brand new networks and connections throughout the world. There is even a fan-created Facebook group for Imagining the Tenth Dimension (thanks, by the way, to Chris Liakos of the University of Georgia for creating this group). The exploding popularity of Facebook is such a cool development because it allows us more than ever to see how ideas and people are all connected together across time and space, which is one of the central themes of my project.

Which leads to the song posted at the start of this blog. What is the difference between a deliberate manipulation of our reality by unseen forces, and the idea that our current situation is just the result of (as Homer Simpson so aptly puts it) "just a bunch of stuff that happened"? The answer, I think, is that both interpretations can be applied on a sliding scale, and that is the nature of any large and potentially random data set: even in a completely random set of numbers, there will always be groupings and patterns that can be teased out if a certain viewpoint is applied (for a very simple example, if I toss a coin 100 times, the outcome is almost certainly not heads/tails/heads/tails/heads/tails and so on, so the list of results will contain sections with more "heads" results and sections with more "tails" results that we could zoom in on). I call this idea "conceptual framing", and I have posted a number of previous blog entries that touch upon that idea.

One of the most-discussed questions at the Tenth Dimension forum is whether God fits into this puzzle we are imagining. Here's something I posted into that particular discussion thread a couple of weeks ago:

Quantum physics says information and reality are interchangeable. The set of data that represents our universe has organized patterns within it. What's wrong with giving those patterns a name?

Since one of the central ideas of my book is that the other parts of the multiverse are just as real as the observed universe we live in, I believe the broadest application of the anthropic principle applies - the reason we live in a universe finely tuned to allow our existence is because there are other universes tuned in ways that wouldn't allow us to exist (and some of those other universes would have intelligent organizations of matter marveling at how lucky they are to be in a universe with constants so finely tuned as to allow their existence).

Are we here because of a God who wanted to create a universe that allowed us to exist? By the time we're thinking about the big picture of timelessness within which all those possible universes exist, I believe there's room for us to recognize organizing patterns within that data which we can call God if we choose to do so.

I talk a lot about the memes that connect us together and the organizing forces that those memes could represent in the higher dimensions. As I say in my book,
in the highest dimensions, the meme that says 'I prefer gravity over no gravity' would be important, while the meme that says 'I prefer the Beatles over the Rolling Stones' would be meaningless...

and also...
Memes that prefer life over no life, continuance over destruction, creativity over repression, innovation over failure, and order rather than entropy would appear to have the upper hand when we think about the version of our own universe that has survived since the big bang, and which we are living in today.

Does the universe we live in have hydrogen as the most abundant atom because of the universe's (or a Creator God's) desire for it to be so, or is this fact nothing more than the result of "lucky" throws of the quantum dice? (I've posted previous blog entries here about the amusing concept of the Great Hydrogen Conspiracy.) Whether you believe one idea or the other has a lot to do with your personal conceptual framing, and like most of this ideas I'm exploring in Imagining the Tenth Dimension, I propose that there are ways to see how both ideas can peacefully co-exist.

The video at the start of this blog was created by Jason Doucette, and the audio is a 1986 recording of me singing the song. Here are the lyrics to that song, which is about the underground connections which may (or may not!) be thought of as being part of the forces that got us to this particular position in our fifth-dimensional probability space.

words and music (c) by Rob Bryanton (SOCAN)

I believe in secret societies and underground confederacies
That move in my life
I believe in sisterly sororities and brotherly fraternities
And they’re part of my life

And there are signals, and there are signs
Right before us all the time
But we stumble deaf and blind
Cause we never realize

There are wheels that turn, that we never see
There are eyes that are watchin you and me
There are tears people cry cause they’ll never be free
Trapped in the arms of a secret society

I believe the guy sittin next to me waits for a sign from me
To show him I know
What he needs, or maybe what I need from him, but he won’t ever let me in
It’s a common tableau

Yes it happens all the time
We’re all sendin out signs
Cause we all need to know
Who are friends are, who’s the foe

Cause there are deals that are struck that play with our dreams
And there are people who move in places unseen
And pinocchios who dance as if they live and breathe
Tugged from above by a secret society

Oh, I believe it’s true

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

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