Mind Optimization Part 19: Fractal Psychology

Everything in nature is fractal, where the same pattern repeats on different scales, from micro to macro. The same patterns present in nature – trees, ferns, are certainly also present in us, and our psychology.

This video is part nineteen of twenty-six excerpts from a presentation hosted by SOUL Food Salon in March 2019.

You may check out the full playlist of this video series on The Art and Science on Mind Optimization here. Alternatively, you can also click here to watch the previous video and here for the next one.

Video Transcript

One of the most powerful lessons for me has always come from fractals. Do you guys know what fractals are? Fractals are this like … They think fractals are the language of God. Fractals are kind of how very, the complexity of the beautiful world you see is made. The way fractals work is patterns, repeating on different scales. I picked ferns because this is a very easy one to see. If you look carefully at the ferns, you’ll notice that the big fern leaf looks a little bit like the little fern leaf and the little fern leaf is made of littler fern leaves and these littler fern leaves could be made a little fern leaves yet.

The brilliant thing about fractals is with a very simple set of rules, one fern leaf, you can design immensely intricate and complex things. We see fractals everywhere. Look around. I’ll give you guys some more examples. Romanesque lettuce is beautiful. You look at it and you think, “God, that thing is so complicated and intricate.” To me, this is almost like human psychology. It’s so complicated and intricate, yet, fundamentally, there are some very simple rules that are very basic and prevalent like the fern leaf. For Romanesque lettuce, there’s the rule of little and the little nubbits are part of bigger nubbits and the bigger nubbits are part of bigger nubbits yet. You see the bigger nubbits here and those bigger nubbits make up an even bigger nubbit. This is what we call self-symmetry.

Self-symmetry in mathematics and in fractal theory explains that very simple patterns repeated on different scales can make things look really complicated. Like trees. Trees are immensely complicated and all the tree really is is a simple rule, branch, and divide. But look what trees can do. You look at a tree and you would never think a rule so simple could create something so complex, and I’m going to tie this into psychology in a minute because the reality is humans are not that different.

If you want to speak about anatomy, our blood vessels look like trees. The same rule, branch and divide, branch and divide, branch and divide and it can get infinitely complex. Our lungs are designed the same way. Our bones are designed the same way, so we’re very much in many ways, living fractals. There’s this importance of simple rules that repeat on different scales that give rise to the complexity of life and I also think our psychology.

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