Symmentropy in Small, Fuzzy Doses

This fourth small dose of Symmentropy works like a steroid. It will make you feel fuzzy, then better, but there may be some unpredictable side effects. We have to discuss fuzzy logic before more non linear storytelling.

Fourth guideline to nonlinear storytelling

Fuzzy rules for turning thoughts into stories.

By Lee McGavin

In the stories that explain the the fourth guideline of symmentropy the one consistent element is fuzziness. Not the fuzziness of a peach or favorite teddy bear, but the soft focus that our mental lenses give to definitions. The first guideline provides the need for stories to explain complex ideas and provide meaning for experiences. The fourth guideline shows how we reduce intricate patterns to stories that explain the meaning we develop from our adventures. The human brain has an amazing capacity for making sense out of very complicated choices. We make decisions every waking hour that defy our ability to explain how we arrived at a conclusion.

You have probably played “20 Questions” or some derivative of the game. You are trying to guess a secret identity by asking questions that can only be answered with yes or no. Your first question might have been “Is this person alive?” This question creates two groups of people, the living and the formerly living. These are nice binary choices with simple solutions. Then you ask, “Is this person an actor?” The response should be yes for Denzel Washington, but what about Orah Winfrey, Steve Van Zandt and Clint Eastwood? The edges of the group need to be a little bit flexible when we consider people who have been successful in more than field. Instead of a yes or no response, we consider the available stories to come up with an answer that is the best fit. Beginning with games that children can play easily, we develop a clear understanding of groups that have fuzzy edges that require us to make fuzzy choices.

Fuzzy Sets
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From Logic and Spiritual Reflections Avi Sion
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Lofti Zadeh

A mathematician at the University of California is usually credited with taking a set of principles that was well know in upper level mathematics and formalizing them into a set of procedures for using fuzziness in precision settings. One of the goals for Fuzzy Set Theory was to establish statistical measures of human definitions or a way to express our fuzziness in more concrete terms. Briefly consider how well a "yes or no" rule works for the group of definitions that my family provided for dementia:

First Child of Peary Street (CPS) – Her definition was symptoms she saw every day as she shifted from being the daughter to being the “mother” of her mother. Her role was to get the practical details completed by overcoming the limitations.

Second CPS – He did not need doctors or definitions and definitely did not need to deal with a third senior that was having difficulty staying in the real world.

Third CPS – He was content to allow his mother to deal with the disease on her own terms as long as steps were taken to keep her from inadvertently harming the people around her.

Fourth CPS – Her mother said that nothing was wrong, so not matter what you saw or heard, it was normal.

Fifths CPS – Dementia patients have rights to the best possible quality of life and everyone is obligated to insure those rights.

Sixth CPS – It is not the disease, but the legal issues that are most important.

Seventh CPS – I feel more like one of the grandchildren and am wondering if what I say matters.

The fourth guideline of symmentropy predicts that the group would tell their stories to illustrate their ideas and feelings about when and how to help. Since the group applied the Peary Street rule of privacy with politeness before honesty, we completely failed to achieve a coordinated effort in any direction. There was no effort to turn thoughts into stories leaving us unable to provide a glimpse into the seven individual definitions of dementia. There could never be a consensus on anything. The first four guidelines create a foundation for how stories function to allow relationships, partnerships or group interactions. Peary Street's children treat that baseline very poorly:

Guideline 1 – Stories were horded to pro secrecy and power in the group

Guideline 2 – Anger and resentment from the past bubbled beneath the surface without being discussed.

Guideline 3 – Responses to group members were predetermined based on caricatures.

Guideline 4 – Fuzzy understandings were rejected along with creativity in problem solving.

My family locked themselves into their prison of binary responses. Consider the new game of 20 Questions that we played that would lead us to a course of action. Question one, Is she over 85 years old? Yes. Question two, Is she in good health? Well, that is a little more difficult. When you insist on a yes or no answer, you lose sight of the goal of providing assistance because if she is good health, she does not need help. Without stories, without a fuzzy set, without a coordinated view of her needs, we had no starting point on assessing how we could help as a group or as individuals.

The heart of symmentropy beats a fuzzy rhythm. Storytelling defines the fuzzy edges each of us sees for defining our actions. Symmentropy's guidelines define our fuzziness with human math rather than micro chip binary math. Everything about symmentropy assumes that we communicate with each other and manage our stories to create some sense of aesthetics. That we tell stories so that we can appreciate the beauty, joy, fear, horror and everything else that makes up the human condition. Our sense of wonder and beauty does not have linear correlation to anything because it is fuzzy and individual. Our individuality permits complex storytelling that bridges our differences to allow empathy to be the moral of the story. Rules and structure keep us organized and do that particularly well when the rules are fuzzy.

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