Roger von Oech

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Jorge Castillo

I think that one of the biggest dogmas for politicians is that they must win elections. Maybe the winners-take-all perception of elections is not so good. What if the winner must "pay" with some kind of "loss"? What if the winner must "pay" some kind of "tax"? If the power incentive is not so attractive to politicians then maybe more people with a genuine interest would be candidates.

Contemporary designers' dogma is functionality. Do we really like everything to be simple and useful? Or do we need also some complexity in our lifes? What if someone design the QWERTY furniture line (not the "best" one but also not impossible to live with)? There's value in bad design too: for example, McDonald's chairs and tables are on purpose uncomfortable so you don't stay so long and let other customers to uncomfortably enjoy their Big Mac!


these are good and useful questions, but there is a problem. Since we live inside our personal dogma set and see everything from that perspective, it is actually next to impossible to note what our own dogmas are... we are essentially blind to them and can barely see them for what they are.

Perhaps through friendly, if confrontive, discussions or interactions with others, our own dogmas may become apparent. If so, we can choose to keep the dogma.. to hold our position.. or perhaps adopt some other viewpoint.

But will not that viewpoint, also have a dogma set?

Charles Meyrick

Here's a dogma that blinds its believers: Darwinism.
Like astronomers who twisted themselves into knots, trying to fit the evidence of the heavens to the twin dogmas of circular orbits and an Earth-centric universe, biologists must posit increasingly complex and unlikely events to match evidence to a belief in unguided natural progression; or to explain away the lack of evidence for the dogma.
What if (heresy alert) biology obeyed the second law of thermodynamics, that order tends to degenerate into disorder? (Note that Darwinism requires biology to follow an exactly opposite law: that chaos will organize itself into order.) How would our view of nature change if we believed that it was in a state of devolution, rather than evolution? Might this explain the disappearance of the Neanderthal, a creature that would appear to be superior to homo sapiens?
Darwinism requires that what exists today be superior to what existed yesterday. That is what "survival of the fittest" means. If, however, what exists today is not necessarily superior to what existed before... perhaps we cannot breed up a superior New Man (Aryan Man, Soviet Man). If the arrow of time points not up to an ever brighter future, but instead down to a more dismal future; or flat, to a future much like the present: if that is the case, then all utopian schemes are fighting history rather than working with history. Which would explain both their failures, and the price they exacted on humanity while failing.
At a minimum, it would be humbling to contemplate the possibility that we represent not the high point (so far) of evolution, the "fittest" by definition, because we happen to be here now. Perhaps we are a way station on a downhill slope.


My school didn't teach physics until we were 16(too many yrs ago). During the first lesson the teacher complained that by this time most of us had developed mindsets that made it difficult for us to experience the universe from a physics perspective. He gave us ordinary life examples such as sunrise/sunset, elevators that went up & down instead of in/out.
The following summer my family rented a cottage on the shore of a lake. Each evening I would go down to the shore, face west looking over the water at the sun & chant - 'The earth is rotating away from the sun.The earth is rotating away from the sun.'
It took a couple of attempts but I finally broke through that conceptual barrier & experienced the visceral thrill of actually feeling that I was on a rotating globe.

It amazing/frightening how much time we spend living - what I call oblivious to the obvious. Look how long it took for scientists to 'discover' air. - mairead

Two asides
Why are they called elevators when they move in two directions? Why is up light usually coloured white(divine)& down red(demonic)?
What could we use to replace the beautifully poetic words - sunrise /sunset?

Shakespeare's Fool

Must be my Darwinian Dogma.

The trouble with "survival of the fittest" is that it reduces to "survival of the survivors" and implies nothing about progress or regress to any standard we might propose. It guarantees nothing about whether the average IQ of all organisms (or of any species) will rise or fall with time.

Also, at least since Arno Penzias won the Nobel Prize for what has become known as the Big Bang, Entropy Theorists have had to deal with a universe that has DECREASED in entropy over its history.

So the increasing organization of human life follows the historical direction of entropy in the universe rather than running opposite to it.

Charles Meyrick

Shakespeare's Fool: I agree with your first observation, that "survival of the fittest" is tautological, and thus teaches us nothing.

I'm not so sure about the second obseervation. Surely, as the universe expands, entropy increases? See, for instance,

Now, if one is of the Big Bang school that believes the universe will collapse back in on itself, then explode again, in an endless cycle of expansion and contraction, then, perhaps, the amount of entropy would go through an increase/decrease cycle. But the Big Bang theory does not *require* an eventual collapse. The cited article suggests that there are physicists who believe that entropy can increase infinitely.

See also: (search for "entropy" on the page) for an argument that entropy in the universe is actually constant, with radiation temperatures decreasing or increasing to maintain the balance as the universe expands or contracts.Thus, "a recollapse does not involve a decrease in entropy."

But I am not a physicist, nor do I play one on TV. Can you point me to some sources that argue that the "universe... has DECREASED in entropy over its history"?

Shakespeare's Fool

How do we know that entropy has decreased since the Big Bang?
We are here. We exist.
Think of what the Big Bang theory says about the condition of the universe at the beginning:
Nearly absolute uniformity.
Same temperature everywhere.
Think of the uniformity of the background radiation at the edge of the universe.
That is a state of high entropy.
Now we have hot spots like the centers of stars and cold areas like most of the universe.
This is a state of lower entropy.
So, if the theory is correct about the state of the universe near its beginning, entropy must have decreased.
You don't need to have a study to show this.
There was too much entropy at the beginning for you to exist. But you exist. So entropy must have decreased.

Charles Meyrick

John, I'm not sure how you are defining "entropy". Here is an excerpt from a website at Johns Hopkins University:
Entropy is " fact a measure of the degree of disorder. This is perhaps best illustrated by the example of the adiabatic free expansion of a gas: There is greater order when the gas is confined to a smaller volume. Disorder grows as does entropy if we allow the gas to occupy a larger volume." (

So, entropy has nothing to do with uniformity; rather, it has to do with the degree of order. The farther apart molecules are, the greater the entropy, regardless of whether the molecules are evenly spaced. When the molecules are far apart, there are more places where any given molecule can be without bumping into another molecule; when the molecules are compressed into a smaller volume, there are fewer places that a molecule can be without bumping into another.

Thus, just before the Big Bang, when (according to the theory) the universe was compacted into an infinitesimally small point, entropy was very low; after the Big Bang, entropy increased, as the particles of the universe blew apart.

Your final paragraph makes my original argument: "There was too much entropy at the beginning for you to exist. But you exist. So entropy must have decreased." You assume that I exist because order has arisen out of chaos, which is perfectly consistent with Darwinian theory. Because you are consistent with your logic and honest in your views, you conclude that entropy has decreased. But this flies in the face of all evidence. Like the ancient astronomers who sincerely believed that Earth was the center of the universe, you are forced either to construct an increasingly elaborate set of theories to explain contradictory evidence; or you are forced to reject the contradictory evidence. Your conclusion that "entropy must have decreased" is the latter course.

Shakespeare's Fool

If I understand your comment, you see the universe developing from nearly uniform temperature and pressure to varied temperature and pressure as an increase in entropy. I see that as a decrease.
I am willing to agree to disagree.

Roger von Oech

Charles, John (Shakespeare's Fool), and Maired: Not much entropy in these comments!

Graham Horton

One designer dogma which I find particularly annoying is the belief that it is more important to win design prizes than to produce objects that meet customers' needs. A concomitant dogma is that the prize criteria be abstract and internal rather than pragmatic and useful.

Two common examples are advertising and architecture. Prizes are awarded for commercials which are completely unsuccessful in imprinting the product in the viewer's/reader's mind. Similarly, two buildings on our university campus have won architectural prizes which have serious deficiencies from my (the user's) point of view. In the first building all the projection surfaces are mounted next to the windows (with no possibility of lowering blinds) so that it is virtually impossible to make out the images being shown. In the second, (our university library) the roof began to leak owing to a design error only one year after after completion and had to be completely overhauled.

Roger von Oech

Graham: Thanks for your comments. You make some good points!


Buildings are expensive and not everybody is able to buy it. Nevertheless, loans was created to support different people in such cases.

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