KEW Episode 61: The Are vs Should Problem – Change is Hard, but Resisting Change is WRONG!

In the next few videos I focus on CHANGE. I have covered changing old beliefs, changing the way you think, changing your habits. But it wasn’t until Episode 47: Changing Behavior Changes Beliefs that I actually started to realize how critical CHANGE is.

Change is the key. The main element. The obvious, yet hidden mechanism of life.

One of my chief assumptions is that we we are vehicles for, or at least highly influenced by, our DNA.

And change is what our DNA was designed to do.

In Episode 55: The Bully and your DNA Part 2, I go in to detail about how and why I think DNA is so important, but I’ll reiterate here.

The Universe is constantly changing. It’s been well established by multiple branches of science. I’m going to assume most of us accept that tenet. I will further argue that the fact that things will change is one of the few things we can predict about the future. And we can look to the past and see things were different before. So we know that wherever we are today is likely to change. How it will change is hard to say, but we spend a lot of time trying to figure that out.

An unpredictable future is more dangerous than one that is known. Yet we WANT to know what’s coming up so that we can prepare. Will it rain today? Do I need a jacket? Will the weather be good while we’re at the beach? Will my retirement accounts be worth anything when I need them?

So, in essence, the world/universe/environment in which we live is going to change through time. Ok. Got it. So, in order to live in this world/universe/environment we probably need a mechanism to deal with change.

A crystal ball might seem like the most useful tool, but if you think about it, that only helps the individual. Sure, if we could predict how much Bitcoin would be worth next week we could make a lot of money. Or if we could know how many avalanches would occur in a certain area we would know where NOT to build a ski resort. Those things are helpful, but they only really increase the fitness of single individuals. And in the long run, biology is more interested in the whole than the parts. Because we are all connected, after all.

Enter DNA.

DNA is an ideal molecule to facilitate generational changes in individuals through time by allowing for responses to extrinsic environmental changes. In other words, DNA gives individuals the capacity to REACT to environmental changes at a rate commensurate with the changes themselves. Individuals can react, reproductive success is affected, and the environment selects for fitness in future generations. Species persist.

But I’ve talked a lot about that in other Episodes.

The conundrum I talk about in Episode 61 and 62 is how humans seem to resist change. In the past 200 years or so, it seems that human evolution has entered a period of minimal change. We have established cultural norms and rules that select for ‘sameness’ and predictability in individual behavior. In some ways this makes sense for behavior management as the Earth gets more crowded, but I worry about superficial and short-term changes trickling up to affect our general opinion about change.

Because change isn’t going away. We can never control it all. Control is an illusion, anyway, and we will never control the weather or the economy. We can depart Earth to inhabit Mars, but we will eventually have the same problems we have here.

I am concerned that our resistance to change in our daily lives is going to reduce our ability to evolve and persist as a species in the long term. In the short term, we will lose creativity and diversity of ideas and intellect, which will in turn stifle our ability to navigate the future. In the face of change we need creativity and diversity, not sameness and conformity.

I hope you enjoy this miniseries about change. More next week.

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