What Are You Thinking? 

Cover. Lonely Man. Photography: Andrea Zorzetto.


This text is an excerpt from The Theory of Human Collective Systems [2020] by David Murrin.


Principal 3: 
The Hidden Lateral & Linear Structure of Human Societies

3.1 Two Sub-Types of Humans Operating Symbiotically

The evidence is that humans have very different physical appearance and abilities, characteristics and skillsets. But whilst it is easy to perceive differences based on character, physical appearance and performance, it is much harder to determine the differences that are a function of our brain's hard wiring and functionality. 

Having studied human thought processes specifically with respect to quantifiable market movements and behaviour, it is our own conclusion that the greatest differences lie in the hardwiring of the human brain and has resulted in a bifurcation of the human herd that operates in a symbiotic mechanism into lateral and linear thinking.

3.2 Right and Left-Brained Thinking

Whilst modern neuroscience has shown that brain function is spread across the whole brain, the old notion of right and left-brained thinking still has validity in terms behavioural traits of individuals.

As such, we prefer to describe these two processes as linear [left brain] and lateral [right brain]. They are far more differentiated or polarised in males, who seem to favour one side or the other in terms of predominant behavioural traits. However, females, perhaps because they exhibit greater cross-lateralisation between the brain's hemispheres, seem to be far less polarised in their behavioural traits. Indeed, if we take the ratio of left-handedness, which is one of the clear links via cross-lateralisation to right-brained dominance, we see there are fewer left-handed women than men.

3.5 The Role of Linear Thinking

Our hypothesis is that human societies have similar divisions which are filled by those with genetic optimisation for their roles. The biggest differentiation comes in the way our brains are structured. Roughly speaking, 70% are linear thinkers who act out the accepted roles and processes within a society's normal boundaries with functions related to IQ, EQ, education and family values and history. Their role is to make society function across all levels, acting as the mass behind a human system. However, within a purely linear system, progress is only iterative and gradual, and given time the system will coalesce into a very structured and rigid hierarchy that is resistant to growth and evolution. Thus, when such a pure linear human social system encounters an entropic* event, it rarely fares well or even survives. 

entropy [n.] lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.

3.6 The Role of Lateral Thinking

Enter the other 30% of the human population who are lateral thinkers that provide adaptive thinking ideally suited entropic adaptation i.e., overcoming the challenges of war and natural disasters. These humans feel separate in various degrees from the body of the 70% of linear society. That separateness, although often attributed to upbringing, is in fact genetically hard-wired. They are by nature less connected to the group consciousness of the 70% linear herd, and that degree of separation sends them on a path that questions and challenges the precepts of the society around them. As a result, they are often individualistic, creative, intuitive and strategic with the ability to solve problems. However, these abilities require IQ processing power to first absorb the linear rules and systems of the mass society and to then construe their own internal version of the world. 

3.8 Dyslexia and Lateral Thinking

Dyslexia is not a 'disorder' but an evolutionary advantage that can be harnessed in times of entropic change. Because the dyslexic gene appears to be the personification of the lateral-thinking or adaptive human gene, enabling people to see problems in visual form, dyslexics embody an ability to perceive patterns where others see nothing. The best estimate is that 20% of the UK population is dyslexic. However, dyslexics with a low IQ are unable to interpret the information fed to them by a linear educational system, as before that information can be useful, they have to build an internal mental hologram that they can then populate with the information of conventional education. As that hologram is increasingly populated, they see linkages between information points that linear thinkers could not see and, as a result, see patterns. A few go on to make new quantum advances in thinking that feedback positively into society.

3.9 Leadership and Lateral Thinking

There is clear historical evidence that the lateral gene is the leadership gene within human societies. Lateral thinking is associated with highly developed strategic thought processes and empathy that allows a leader to relate to and build connections with those they lead, helping them facilitate leadership at times of great risk. Most importantly, lateral leadership allows the society to overcome entropic challenges such as wars. Thus, the greatest anti-entropy optimisation [growth and advancement] in human systems is achieved at stages where lateral leadership is not only at the top of the structure but cascades down through to the lower echelons and works symbiotically with the more iterative thought processes of the linear body of the society.


'Lateral thinking is associated with highly developed strategic thought processes and empathy that allows a leader to relate to and build connections with those they lead, helping them facilitate leadership at times of great risk. Most importantly, lateral leadership allows the society to overcome entropic challenges such as wars.'


Interestingly, lateral thinkers tend to prefer flatter empowered command structures than linear thinkers, who are hierarchical by nature. Wealth creation aspirations, which are common to the creative energy of lateral entrepreneurs, and wealth creation focused political values are closely linked. Conversely, linear thinking has a close association with wealth distribution, as they tend to have a lesser ability to create wealth themselves. Furthermore, even the small government model is something more natural to lateral thinkers, whilst big government and linear thinkers have strong associations as they feel comfortable in large hierarchies. 

3.10 Leadership and Linear Thinking

In contrast to the lateral style of leadership, when a linear leadership rises to power it is usually in a period of relative stability, when problem solving is not required and where political interconnectivity can appear for a time to be acceptable leadership. However, linear leaders will almost inevitably be intolerant of lateral-thinking subordinates as they are subconsciously threatening. In so removing this element of their leadership cascade, they weaken the system's resilience to entropic shocks, such as looming conflict. 

In essence, linear-thinkers prefer hierarchy and control rather than empowerment as their main hallmark of leadership. But also because right-brained thinking is, in essence, threatening to a centralised hierarchical structure, as it risks overturning the established order of society, of which they are embedded and which they perceive themselves as the guardian. 

3.11 Leadership and Human Herding

This raises the fascinating topic of the balance of the optimum human system. Under our Five Stages of Empire Cycle, the most constructive phase of a system is when it is in expansion and thus manifesting the greatest collective anti-entropy. In that state, lateral-thinking leadership dominates the system and provides a counter to the collective herd behaviour of the linear-thinking 70% of the population. However, in decline, the leadership has become dominated by linear thinking, which only reinforces the herd behaviour, increasing the amplitude of the collective's extreme moods producing higher levels of destructive entropy that ultimately collapse the empire from within. 


Principal 4: 
The Cycle of Empires Linked to Lateral and Linear Leadership

During the steady-state low-entropy environments that have endured for many years, there will always be a tendency to move to linear leadership, which maintains the status quo. However, in periods of rapid growth and high-entropy environments, systems that cannot shift to lateral leadership swiftly and effectively risk total failure. This pattern can clearly be seen in the leadership of an empire cycle.

4.1 The Expansive Phase

The early stages of this phase are very rigid, as the initial stages of regionalisation is also highly enfranchised and incumbent in nature. However, by the end of the regionalisation phase, new ideas and beliefs rise to the fore that represent better adaptations, as the social system driven by demographic expansion needs to increase its resource base to survive. Those new concepts will then be manifest in a revolutionary group that engages in a civil war and overturns the old, rigid structure. The regional civil war is led by lateral thinkers who then overcome the linear leadership and release the expansionary forces within society that embark on a raid and expansion through conflict. The entropy of civil war breaks up the old establishment and allows new ideas to be adopted swiftly.  

The ensuing anti-entropic nature of expansion means that all of the empires' structures become lateral in nature. The creative expansion then continues throughout the second phase of expansion. Leadership across society becomes dominated by right-brained thinkers who then further expand the system's knowledge horizon by leaps and bounds, which in turn increases the system's competitive edge and ability to keep expanding. 

4.2 The Peak: Maturity

In the early stages of maturity, the momentum in the expansion of the knowledge horizon continues with greater resources that then facilitate a golden age. As an all-powerful empire, there are very few entropic challenges to the now-dominant system. As the empire builds out institutions of power in a stable environment, they increasingly become occupied by linear thinkers who, as they gain increasing power, seek to throw out the maverick lateral thinkers. Until, at the top of the cycle, there is a civil war or event that represents a shift in power to the leadership with linear thinking. 

4.3 The Contraction Phase: Overextension and Decline

By the time overextension commences, society has developed numerous complex social organisations based on ideas and constructs that if challenged by new knowledge will resist strongly [encumbrance and entitlement]. From that point onwards, the system is in a state of rigidity and increasing morbidity that then prevents adaptation to new information, which in turn accelerates decline into collapse. This is the result of lateral-thinking and creativity having been gradually weakened within the system. Consequently, its absolute and relative productivity declines and debt is used as a substitute to maintain apparent growth and to perpetuate the status quo of the empire. 


'As new empires rise to challenge the hegemony, the linear thinkers fail to see the threat and finally the system collapses when conflict breaks out and the lateral thinkers of the hegemonic challengers easily overcome the linear thinkers of the old hegemony.'


This is a period of destructive incumbency, where incompetency [and corruption] seems to survive. Then as the empire accelerates its decline, lateral leadership outside the government or political system attempts to gain control to save the system. This is why a fracture of the political system is common in the later stages of decline as the few remaining lateral leaders try to wrestle for control of the linear incumbency. As new empires rise to challenge the hegemony, the linear thinkers fail to see the threat and finally the system collapses when conflict breaks out and the lateral thinkers of the hegemonic challengers easily overcome the linear thinkers of the old hegemony.  


Principal 5: 
The Cascade of Change

5.1 The Horizon of Awareness

The total collective knowledge of any human society at ay time represents a horizon of awareness. These constructs are adopted almost in entirety by the 70% linear body of the human system as the current reality. Within that accepted reality, those that expound it are then free to live out their daily lives and to focus on maximising their productivity and outcomes within the collective construct. 

5.2 The Cascade of Change

Lateral thinkers are programmed to optimise anti-entropy by questioning and harnessing the opportunities provided by fluid situations, seeking discrepancies in the accepted reality. The process whereby the realisation of the one cascades down to the many to modify and expand the collective horizon is often overlooked and poorly understood. 


The lateral thinker sees a discrepancy in the horizon of awareness and then, by intuition, creates a new theory or concept that he or she later rationalises, such that it is explainable to others.


When the new idea is shared with individuals from the linear body of the human system, they will usually reject it out of hand, as a dire threat to the current well-understood order with the current knowledge horizon. This response is epitomised by hostility as the new construct potentially destroys the certainty of the old one it replaces and any associated human social structure. 


However, other members of the lateral thinkers in a human social system will be the first to recognise and adopt the new reality, one by one.


That new reality then builds momentum as more and more people adopt the new reality in a cascade that then starts to penetrate individuals within the 70% linear body of the system.


When a critical number of approximately 5% of the total population adopt the new paradigm there is a quantum shift, in which the new construct almost instantaneously becomes part of the new collective horizon. This enhances collective coherence, which in turn optimises collective anti-entropy.


The speed with which new ideas are adopted is dependent on the phase of the nation within which the new construct is postulated. During late regionalisation and expansion to empire, there is fertile ground for change. But in the phase of overextension and decline, where iterative leadership dominates the system's leadership, the receptiveness to new constructs is low. This is the reason why decline then accelerates and new, more creative anti-entropic systems rise up to fill the vacuum and then take their place.

5.3 The Forces of Denial

There is an old saying that the only constant in the universe is change. However, the linear body of a human system will, by its very nature, seek to go against the universe by maintaining the continuity of its familiar knowledge horizon, especially if any change potentially challenges a mature, hierarchical and complex social structure based on a precept that risks are being substituted for a new concept. 

Thus, human systems contain dynamic tension and the ongoing struggle between new ideas and old-established ideas. The position of a society on the five-phase life cycle dictates the speed of assimilation of a new idea, as the dynamic tension around the forces of lateral and linear thinking are played out.

5.4 The Impact of High-Entropy Events

These are wars, natural disasters and pandemics. All threaten survival, which catalyses change and forces rigid institutions and preecepts to be challenged and thus to change. This is the entropy of the universe smashing up against the rigidity of human anti-entropy in mature and hierarchical systems. And the universe always wins. If there is no natural event that forces change, another rising empire will provide the entropic impulse to the old hegemony. The old hegemony either adapts or is overwhelmed. 

5.5 The Level of Collective Fear

Because fear and denial are of course closely linked and, as such, are very much part of the process by which denial is acted out and flat-earth thinking is reinforced, the greater the levels of fear in society, the more resistant to change it will be in a low-entropy environment. However, in a high-entropy environment, fear to survive drives the need for change.
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