Systems Sinister LO27379

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 10/11/01

Replying to LO27353 --

Dear Organlearners,

John Dicus <> writes:

>I confess -- I'm a recovering engineer.
>Though I'll be talking about the events of 09/11 in an
>"engineering" manner, in no way do I mean to be insensitive.

Greetings dear John,

It struck me profoundly that had to warn fellow learners that you mean not
to be insensitive. We all know that you are not insensitive! So why did
you have to write it? In my opinion it is because you are aware of the
immense occurance of disciplinary thinking which is a kind of
"one-to-one-mapping". People with disciplinary thinking may easily be
offended by what you had to say. They are not able to perceive that you
are inviting them to sit for a while on the chair of the engineer, walk in
the mocassins of an engineer and wear the hat of an engineer.

People desire "one-to-many-mapping" in thinking. This desire is tacit.
When they encounter an unfamiliar person, they assume that this person
thinks with "one-to-one-mapping". They make this assumption because far to
many people think with "one-to-one-mapping". So when this stranger begins
to talk, they soon become offended because of the very assumption which
they have made.

Anyway, Thank you very much for sitting for a while on the chair of the
engineer, walk in the mocassins of an engineer and wear the hat of an

>A few days ago, my wife and I went to visit our
>daughter in Manhattan. It was spooky -- not only
>to actually see the site, but also to see how it has
>effected the people that live there.
>The very same kind of silence and respect I
>experienced in France was evident in NY.
>Everyone was careful as they walked about.
>They spoke softly.

As a result of my own "one-to-many-mapping" in thinking, I have explored
on several occasions several countries in Southern Africa. Wherever
whatever disaster had struck recently, my observations were exatly the
same as yours. Sadly, most of these disasters were human made and thus
could have been prevented.

John, let me give you an engineering example. Several Banthu nations lived
for at least a millennium in the valleys of the long Zambezi river. Most
of their villages were situated close to the river because they had to
carry the water to their houses. Then two immense dams were constructed in
the Zambezi. First the Kariba was constructed and then much later the
Cahora Bassa a thousand kilometers lower down. Engineers take carefully
the risk of floods into consideration when building dams, giving them
extra strength where necessary.

Engineers also work with so called "flood lines" like 10 year, 50 year or
even 100 year flood lines. The base their flood lines on actual documented
measurements. All actual measurements for the Zambezi is less than a
century old. But for any person exploring along the Zambesi and thinking
with "one-to-many-maping" a disaster was pending. Dor example, with a
knowledge of biology such a person would have observed how different kinds
of trees are found further way from the river as well as the age of the
trees in each population corresponds with the topography. With a knowledge
of geology such a person would have observed "geologically recent" (within
a couple of millennia) alluvial deposists as well as rock displacements.
With a knowledge of antrhoplogy the person would have noticed how the old
villages (before the construction of these dams) were situated outside
even a 200 years flood line.

That disaster struck two seasons ago. It rained in all the catchment areas
as well as all the drainage areas. All land was soaking wet and the two
dams were filling up faster than ever before with water which should have
rushed to sea and according to which the villagers should have responded.
Suddenly the first the valleys between the two dams were flooded and
eventually also the lower valleys after the Cahora Bassa. Thousands of
people drowned and millions lost all of the little which they had.

>When you consider that the Hiroshima explosion is
>estimated at 10-12 kT (some estimate higher), that
>small area in Manhattan suffered the equivalent of a
>bomb 1/5 to 1/6 the "power" of the Hiroshima explosion.
>And it came, not from the speed of the planes, but
>from the enormous quantity of fuel, and the systematic
>dropping of the tall, heavy towers.

John, thank you very much for the viewpoint of the engineer. Allow me to
add the following. Let us keep the "free energy" conversion, the
associated "entropy production" and the time span in which it happens also
in mind.

An atomic bomb converts all the nuclear free energy into light and
supersonic sound waves (shock waves) into less than a second. This is why
the destruction is so immense. The immense chemical free energy of that
much jet fuel was released in in about half a hour with its associated
entropy production. The two towers were never designed to cope with so
much chaos focused on those storeys directly hit by the jet liners.

I wish I could find the exact information on how much free energy through
electricity the two towers consumed. I suspect that they used in about a
week as much free energy through electricity as what was released by the
fuel of the two jets in half an hour. In other words, since the two towers
had been erected, they used the same amount of free energy as which some
two dozen Hirosma bombs would have released. But it happened over some
thirty years rather than 30 seconds. In that thirty years much
constructive things had beeen accomplished by the people using that

I have done similar claculations on the food eaten by all the people who
have worked in the two towers the past thirty years. In this case it the
chemical free energy (the "calories" which many people worry about ;-) I
arrived at a figure of about three Hiroshima bombs.

The people in the valleys of the Zambezi suffered the equivalent of some
100 Hirishima bombs during the first couple days of flood. In this case it
was the gravitational free energy released with its associated entropy
production. While it happned air forces of countries were flying bombs
around so that our own meager air force had to bring resque and relief to
the victims of the flood.

>Systems Thinking at its worst.
>I suppose this is why so much of the conversation
>on lists such as this deal with our values, morals, and
>dreams. ST is a powerful way to create a future of
>your choice. What do we choose?

John, we will have to incorporate into our Systems Thinking (ST)
definitive patterns which will allow us to distinguish between
constructive and destructive outcomes in whatever we do. Should we choose
not to, then our ST will always be vulnerable to horrendous abuse as you
have described so vividly from the engineer's point of view.

I am convinced that the 7Es (seven essentialities of creativity) are a
certain way to incorporate these definitive patterns. Perhaps there are
other ways too, but I am incapable of finding them. The 7Es are liveness,
sureness, wholeness, fruitfulness, spareness, otherness and openness.

What you have done in your engineering description, was to establish the
identity of the energy released into the two towers. What I did with my
extra verbalage on electricity, food and floods, was to weave that
identity into a categorical context. In other words, what I tried to do,
is to help fellow learners to grow in sureness ("identity-categoricity").
We cannot live, work and think without using free energy and producing
entropy. But should we do it in the wrong manner like doing it fast when
it should have been done slow or doing it slow when its should have been
done fast, the outcomes will easily become destructive rather than

I get regularly enquiries from fellow learners why my book is not yet
published. I do not think that I will ever publish it. The reason is as
It tells about "entropy production" and "free energy" conversions in both
the physical and spiritual worlds. That information alone, to use your words,
may be used to arrive at "Systems Thinking at its worst".

But the book also tells of the complexity of creativity, authentic
learning, believing, loving and the 7Es. Of all these things mentioned the
only thing which can bind all together is love by way of the 7Es. Sadly, I
also know how too many people think excessively in a fragmented and linear
manner. This will undo whatever could have been accomplished by the 7Es so
that "Systems Thinking at its worst" will result.

I have to take the lessons of history into account. Two centuries ago
Goethe gave the world wholeness as a pattern to guide systematic thinking.
Little came of it. Almost a century ago Jan Smuts gave the world once
again wholeness as a pattern to guide evolutionistic thinking. Again
little came of it. Some half a century ago even David Boehm gave the world
wholeness as a pattern to guide scientific thinking. We have yet to see
sufficient wholeness in scientific thinking. In the abscence of sufficient
wholeness I have decided to withhold certain empirical evidence in the
book and rather focus on promoting the 7Es.

Peter Senge writes in the Fifth Discipline that wholeness is essential to
Systems Thinking and thus to the LO. Thinking of sureness, I shake my head
up and down with respect to the "identity" of this statement. But with
respect to its "categoricity" I shake my head left and right. Why? There
are too few people who understand just how absolutely essential wholeness
is to all our thinking.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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