07 April 2024

Fear of Change


Fear of Change


Topic by Norma

Essay by Lawrence



We have discussed Change numerous times in the past so I will limit myself to address our topic today.


It seems to me that there are two basic forms of change: progressive change and what Thomas Kuhn described in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, as paradigm shifts. Progressive change is normally harmless and we do not really fear progressive change.


By progressive change I mean something like doing something more efficiently or at least better. No one should be afraid of knowing how to fry an egg better, or maybe finding a quicker route to arrive at the office on the metro. Machine prototypes and models in science are something like always improving and always trying to get better.


It is, however, paradigm shift type of changes that might create fear in us. Kuhn was of course discussing change in science and the environment these scientific changes happen. A key fear in paradigm shifts is the fear of the unknown, an unknown phenomenon, an unknown future for those who invested lifetime in developing or investigating the old model of science.


In our lifetime we had to experience paradigm shifts such as digital technology, cultural changes, such as those in gastronomy, news reporting and entertainment and, but not exclusively, financial services and maybe population movements. Change is always omnipresent, but it is the details that can ruin our day out of nowhere.


In a way scientific change such as DNA used for new medicnes or real time artificial intelligence analysis of medical data (to mention just two examples) are progressive changes. We can reasonably argue that progressive type of paradigm shifts are generally welcomed even if this does not mean we can be complaisant about such changes. Change is one thing but taking things for granted is another matter.


We should be, however, fearful of destructive paradigm shifts that do not necessarily make change more efficient or downright oppressive. Destructive changes are changes that are introduced to oppress or disadvantage people and in many cases for the gain of those who introduce them. For example, the ubiquitous presence of digital equipment is also a means to spy on individuals and indeed to abuse human rights such as person data privacy.


The reasons why we should be afraid of destructive change are varied including, but not limited to: lost time and investments we spent into learning the old model; being put at a disadvantage with changes and having limited or no resources to transcend to the new model; destructive changes introduce instability and uncertainty. Indeed, fear is a natural emotional instinct to alert us to dangers real or perceived; if we did not have this instinct, we would perish in no time at all.


In short, progressive changes help us become better and solidify our stability where we can improve and flourish. Destructive changes put us at a disadvantage by introducing instability turmoil. Instability also exposes us to exploitation by those with resources to buffer themselves against such changes.


Best and take care








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PhiloMadrid Skype meeting: Wed 10th April at 8:00pm: Fear of Change



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