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Convergence (by Wojciech Gryc)
yourself updated about Convergence by visiting http://www.fiveminutestomidnight.org/convergence.
Muir, a naturalist and conservationist of the late 1800s, once said,
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to
the rest of the world.” It is easy to see the interconnectedness of
plants, animals, and other members of ecosystems; this lesson has been
stressed many a time in elementary and secondary schools. It is much
more difficult, however, to see a similar interconnectedness in
society, but it is there. Politics, economics, human rights,
international studies, and development are all interrelated. Political
purposes, for example, may affect how people’s human rights are
respected. Economics is a key tool for the development of nations,
both in the first and third world.
however, can be extended to include just about anything. The Five
Minutes to Midnight workshop focuses on bias in the media, and how
specific words are used to distort people’s perception of the issues
being reported. Many people are shocked to hear about this, and many
of methods used by propaganda artists and the media rely the science
of psychology and cognition.
On a more
theoretical level, this applies to many scientific concepts and
theories. Programmers who work on competitive games like chess,
checkers, or other strategic games often incorporate the use of
something called the Minimax Theorem. This mathematical concept falls
under the category of “Game Theory” which has been extended and
used by economists. John Nash even won the Nobel Prize in Economics
for his role in developing game theory.
connections between psychology and mathematics with the media and
economics, respectively, are visible. The connections, if one looks
hard enough, present themselves in many facets of the social sciences.
In “Constructing International Politics”, an essay printed in Theories
of War and Peace, Alexander Wendt mentions these connections.
According to Wendt, neoliberalism and neorealism, two categories of
theories used in the study of international relations and politics,
actually use game theory to explain some of their concepts.
example can be found in realism. This school of thought regarding
international relations treats nations as competing states with one
simple interest: to be most powerful. If one were to assign different
point scores for wars won, sanctions, and other factors affecting
international politics, and treated the entire system as a game where
players play against each other in an effort to win (much like Risk,
or other popular strategy games), one could use the Minimax Theorem to
calculate a rationally perfect strategy.
international relations? Indeed, there seems to be a connection, and
many more can be discovered. If you tug hard enough on a certain
branch of human knowledge, the entire tree will shift and respond.
analysis, and critical thinking are all important skills that must be
applied in doing work with current affairs. In many cases, however,
what people read and what actually happens in the world is dictated by
many seemingly unrelated factors. Interdisciplinary research is the
key to advancement and success, and doing so between the sciences and
social sciences is an important step.
asking the regular questions about war and peace, try challenging
yourself (and others) by asking unconventional ones like, “How can
artificial intelligence be used to develop new political theories?”
or “What applications will nanotechnology yield for economics?”
many cases, it is difficult to see a connection, but perseverance is
key. With this in mind, please visit http://www.fiveminutestomidnight.org/convergence
within the next few months. “Convergence” is a project dedicated
to connecting science with social science, and finding applications
that will benefit two worlds that are treated as separate and
unrelated entities much too often.
E., et al, eds. Theories of War and Peace. Cambridge,
Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1998.
Casti, John L. Five
Golden Rules: Great Theories of 20th-Century Mathematics -and Why They
Matter. Canada: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996.
Quotations." Wisdom Quotes. 2003. 29 June 2004. <http://www.wisdomquotes.com/cat_connections.html>.
Muir Exhibit." Sierra Club. 2 June 2004. 29 June 2004.
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