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Risk-enhancing Cognitive Implications of the Basic Mathematical Operations


ADD as a disaster enabling process
MULTIPLY as a disaster enabling process
DIVIDE as a disaster enabling process
SUBTRACT as a disaster enabling process
Incomprehension of advanced mathematical operations increasing vulnerability to collapse

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This exploration uses the set of basic mathematical operations as a means of providing a mnemonic framework to highlight weaknesses in comprehension tending to accelerate processes of global civilizational collapse, as variously foreseen (Thomas Homer-Dixon, The Upside of Down: catastrophe, creativity, and the renewal of civilization, 2006;   Jared M. Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, 2005; Johan Rockström and Anders Wijkman, Bankrupting Nature: Denying our Planetary Boundaries, 2012).

The exploration can be seen as consistent with the work of George Lakoff and Rafael Nuãâ?±ez (Where Mathematics Comes From: how the embodied mind brings mathematics into being, 2001). However, the focus is on associating the much-discussed strategic challenges of the times with the familiar mathematical operations: ADD with problematic forms of growth; MULTIPLY with increasing population; DIVIDE with the tendencies to divisiveness; and SUBTRACT with ensuring less than the whole truth.

The argument concludes with recognition that mathematics offers a multitude of other possibilities, most notably that associated with INTEGRATION -- so obviously a challenge with respect to the many domains of human affairs. However, as recent research has indicated, humans have instinctive capacities in that respect -- well demonstrated in acrobatics and the capacity to catch a ball, with which so many are familiar.

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