When the Forest Does not Let to See the Trees

English: A forest path in southern Finland. Su...
A forest path in southern Finland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human thinking tends to search for a reason for any behavior. It is slave of the cause-effect principle; however, this principle has been questioned by many philosophers and scientists during many years. Newton’s classical mechanic showed that for any action there is a reaction. This is the physical view of this principle, but nowadays this classical knowledge has been overcome by quantum mechanics. Modern physics shows us that we can talk about more probable states instead of a perfect known behavior. We know that the behavior at the macro level is the result of the integration of the interaction of particles at the micro level. The transfer of energy between particles in a highly uncertain world produces a well-defined behavior of the whole.It is difficult to understand directly why water always boils at 100º C looking only at the movement of the atoms, but it can be mathematically demonstrated through statistical physics. In simpler words, the trees let to see the forest if we use statistics to see it.

Nature can produce a very exact result at the macro level although uncertainty domains a process at the micro level. But, can we transfer this reasoning to social sciences as economy and get physical-style models to analyze economy?

I suppose that this could be a proper approach, looking how a single person interact with other ones producing and selling goods and services it should be possible to make a similar mathematical process to model the behavior of the whole economy. However there are two facts that make the process very different to the boiling point of water:

–          People are more complex than an atom, because they can store a lot of information; however the energetic state of an atom is defined (in this article without considering quantum mechanics) only by its velocity (kinetic energy of the atom). The state of an atom will be defined by its vectors position and velocity. There are only six-parameters that can be used to store information about the system, and it has no memory.

–          Modern societies can spread information all over a set of individuals, this fact should be similar to be able to define instantly certain parameters of the energetic state of an atom. For instance, we cannot change the direction of movement of a particle, it only can be changed colliding with other particles and interchanging its kinetic energy, but an economic journalist can change suddenly the investment decisions of many readers.

Both effects produce that economic models do not usually work properly, and economy is usually working very far from pure markets. For instance, today, the world is been excessively politicized. In current situations, many investment decisions are not made thinking on the interaction between certain economical agents, they are made looking at the political color of the people with you are interacting. Imagine that the energetic state of an atom did not depend on the neighborhood where collides with other ones but on its “political orientation”, namely, it can collide only with a certain non-geographical subset of atoms.

How should we focus this problem? The cause-effect principle must be revised considering the existence of uncertainty at the cause-effect relations, we can think that cause-effect relations are not only geographical, and we should include other sources of energy transfer that can put all the particles of the system in a certain state. The spread information establishes new cause effect links between different agents, increasing the complexity of the system and then acting as a new source of energy because it can change the energetic state of the system, it acts as an external energetic radiation on the atoms.

When the complexity of the system increases and non-geographical group links have a strong influence on the system  we cannot make simple models because the forest (the non-geographical groups that define paths inside) does not let to see the trees (only those near the path) instead of because the trees do not let to see the forest (to consider the forest the integration of the effect of all trees).


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