by Jeff Wilfahrt
Aug 22, 2014, 9:00 AM

Trouble with you is the trouble with me

What you’re looking at in the image above is the CIE color space with the added feature of temperature.

The point of using this image is that it is irregular. Its ordinal and abscissa gradations fit our western need for organization. But the science of light and color indicates our vision, our ability to perceive is anything but linear. We see the physical world in a constrained way. Maybe it is even fair to call it occluded.

Lived in this world for many years writing engineering code at good old 3M. Had to deal with the implications of all this in spectral measurement. Wasn’t easy at times. It was inspection software for a high speed web line making multi-layered film. Miles of it. Some of it was on your first laptop. It was incredible science and technology. Writing logic assessing quality control measurements had some real challenges.

So what’s this got to do with anything we progressives advocate?

Well, it would seem we have trouble communicating to our adversaries that there is nuance in the world of politics. That simplistic assumptions about taxes, the size and role of government are ignorant. Government, societal needs and life itself are complex, irregular and require a lot of thought to riddle out. Sometimes we get it wrong, but ever so slowly we define the characteristics that we can measure and act upon.

Print the darn thing out. Pin it to a wall in your home. Throw a dart into the irregular space.

Now tell us, what is the hue, what is the saturation, what is the intensity, what is the temperature of the color where the dart impaled the printout. Hell, tell us precisely what that color is… I dare you because those of us versed in this stuff will probably prove you wrong, at least scientifically. And the darn thing about science is it is reproducible. Facts are like that, they stick.

Life, society, health and all things of the human experience are complex. There are no concise neat little answers. Any answer has those nagging questions, hue, intensity, temperature and definition generally in my little simile.

Progressives inherently understand this point.

Societal things are nuanced and exist in an irregular space. Regressives, the current right wing of politics, will never get this fundamental thing so long as they adhere to simple un-nuanced solutions. For them colors exist in a linear space and they can’t make the intellectual leap to the image above. Too many facets to sort at once, go for the simple.

“It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.” Albert Einstein, “On the Method of Theoretical Physics” The Herbert Spencer Lecture, delivered at Oxford (10 June 1933)

There is a quote attributed to Einstein that may have arisen as a paraphrase of the above quote, commonly given as “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” or “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

The right wing has gone too simple.

Understanding leads to knowledge, the alternative is a state of ignorance and total misunderstanding.


“Trouble with you is the trouble with me
Got two good eyes but we still don’t see.”

Casey Jones, Grateful Dead, Words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia

Thanks for your feedback. If we like what you have to say, it may appear in a future post of reader reactions.