The Dueling Loops of the Political Powerplace

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The Dueling Loops of the Political Powerplace

Postby Guest » Mon Jun 05, 2006 8:25 am

This thread is for discussion of the Dueling Loops paper. Of all the documents at, this one has been the most popular.

Here are some things I'm wondering the most about, particuarly the last question:

Does the dueling loops social structure really exist?
Does it expain why change resistance to adopting sustainable practices has been so strong, especially in the United States?
Are the low and high leverage points identified in the paper correct?
Will the sample solution elements work or will it take something else?
Is it possible to confirm these propositions by experimentation?
Why hasn't anyone else been working in this direction?
If the dueling loops are that fundamental, why haven't they been discovered before?
If these concepts are sound, how can we get the word out about them to the environmental community?


Jack Harich
Atlanta, Georgia, US


Dueling Loops and Leverage Points

Postby Guest » Tue Jun 06, 2006 3:34 pm

I would like to ask you the same question you posed, Why hasn't some one else, the environmental community perhaps, worked with this "dueling loops" theory. Do you have any ideas why?

Also I find the high and low "leverage points" interesting. What would be a high leverage point?

Thank you

Jack Harich
Posts: 292
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 5:43 pm
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, US

Postby Jack Harich » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:21 pm

Re: Why hasn't some one else, the environmental community perhaps, worked with this "dueling loops" theory. Do you have any ideas why?

Good question. I really don’t know why. I originated the theory about a year ago and have since published it on the website, but have not yet published it in a book, magazine, or journal. I’ve tried 2 environmental magazines and 1 academic journal so far, but was rejected in all three cases.

In addition, the website is so new, only 2 years old, that hardly anyone knows about it. Traffic is very light, about 5 to 10 visitors a day. The reason no one has worked with the concept may be that very few people know about it, and so no movers and shakers have yet heard about it.

I have contacted two organizations, the Sierra Club and the US Association of the Club of Rome, about this concept and related concepts. But to my surprise they expressed little interest in taking an analytical approach to the problem, and so potentially useful insights like the Dueling Loops structure just did not register with them. This seems to be due to the fact that most environmentalists are married to whatever problem solving paradigm they are using. This causes any other paradigm, such as an analytical approach to the entire problem using a formal process and simulation modeling, to be either incomprehensible or automatically rejected.

Re: Also I find the high and low "leverage points" interesting. What would be a high leverage point?

This is an important concept. Please see the glossary entry for Leverage Point.

An example of a high leverage point in the human system is the one discussed in the Dueling Loops paper: the general ability to detect political deception. This can be “pushed” on by methods such as educating voters on how to tell truth from falsehood in typical political appeals. But this is a very counter intuitive concept for most environmentalists, who have become habituated to pushing on what are in reality low leverage points. A good example of a low leverage point is covered in the glossary entry for More of the Truth.



Technical questions

Postby Guest » Sun Jul 16, 2006 4:06 am

First of all, what software processes the *.mdl files that represent the models? Are these files hand-written, or generated by another program?


The vulnerability of Truth Ratings

Postby Guest » Sun Jul 16, 2006 5:09 am

Truth Ratings could be easily countered by the corporations. The reason is that, if anybody begins listening to Truth Ratings, then those who are currently in power can create a corrupt Truth Rating organization that rates themselves as truthful and their opponents as liars.

Imagine that, in the spirit of direct action, appears and begins evaluating political statements. It is funded by donations from its users. The corrupt statements are flagged as such, while the correct statements are also marked properly.

Due to the fact that corrupt politicians control the government, would fail to get the government to create a method of certification that would prevent corruption of the Truth Rating system. But they can try anyway.

A few people begin to visit regularly, and when it finally has a few hundred thousand users, this leads to corrupt politicians and corporations feeling a little bit of pressure in the form of a slight loss in support, and perhaps even an increase in active resistance.

The corporations respond by creating, a commercial website with millions of dollars in funding. Owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, it is immediately advertised on television and, and has millions of hits per day during its first week of operation. Unlike, gives ratings that are either reversed, or simply useless-- designed to promote the agenda of corporations. Because it can afford a larger staff of raters, it has a larger library of political statements, and it can rate a political statement on the same day that it's made. Fox News begins to display live Truth Ratings during political speeches, expanding the audience beyond the Internet community and spreading huge numbers of false memes regarding the honesty of Fox News and George Bush. If they choose to publish any reasoning for the ratings, they can simply publish more lies, which most people will believe. could even go further, by creating its own private certification board, which would, of course, refuse to certify any real Truth Rating organization. (Or they could make an agreement with VeriSign, or any other equally-corrupt corporation.)

The vast majority of the polulation would become familiar with and come to trust that organization without ever hearing about would cease to have an effect on the general ability to detect deception.

Jack Harich
Posts: 292
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 5:43 pm
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, US

Postby Jack Harich » Sun Jul 16, 2006 8:09 pm

Hi there,

First of all, what software processes the *.mdl files that represent the models? Are these files hand-written, or generated by another program?

Sorry the page on the Dueling Loops paper didn’t say. I’ve corrected this by adding a new page to the site. You can get to it from the bottom of the Dueling Loops page. The new page is titled The World of Simulation at

The new page describes how the mdl files can be run using Vensim software. This is available for free and is the identical software used to create the models. You can run the models with Vensim. Even better, you can tinker with the models to explore your own notions. You can also create your own models from scratch with Vensim.

Hope this addresses your needs,


Jack Harich
Posts: 292
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 5:43 pm
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, US

Re: The Vulnerability of Truth Ratings

Postby Jack Harich » Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:50 pm

Regarding "The Vulnerability of Truth Ratings:"

This is an excellent, thought provoking scenario. From the viewpoint of the work at, a scenario like this is just another problem to solve. The way to solve it would be to apply the System Improvement Process.

An analysis of this scenario would probably show that this is just another form of deception, and would require the full battery of solution elements sketched out at the end of the Dueling Loops paper, and not just the one element of Truth Ratings. For example, education on the Truth Test would precede the launch of Truth Ratings. This would allow citizens to read and understand the written rationales behind each Truth Rating. If a rationale was fallacious, those who were now truth literate would spot it. If that turned out to be the case, then it doesn't matter how many millions of dollars the opposition invests in counter deception, such as a In fact, if enough people were truth literate such a move would probably cause a backlash.

But what, you may ask, if the fallacious rationales behind each rating are themselves done so cleverly that even a truth literate person cannot spot them? Well, I don't think that is possible, judging by how easily the entire field of science has been able to keep countless charlatans at bay.

But, you may counter, it might be possible to throw in a lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). Wouldn't this make the Murdoch machine purr like a kitten? Hmmmm, I think that is exactly the sort of thing the Truth Test is designed to spot so easily. But I could be wrong, because these solution elements have not yet been experimentally tested.

I really like the points you have raised. This post reminds me of what John Maynard Keynes said about the stock market, and how he found it so easy to beat: "There are very few people who are looking more than 5 or 6 levels deep." What you are speaking of is contingency or decision tree analysis, and scenario planning. The solution elements presented at have only been lightly roughed out. They have not begun to look into the many possible counterattacks from the opposition, such as your scenario. But if the high leverage points the solution elements are pushing on are the correct ones, then it will be relatively easy to execute the overall strategy successfully.

Thus the real question is have we identified the correct high leverage points?

However, if the powerful analytical tools we have at our disposal are not continually applied, then it will be very easy, as you suggest, to successfully counter Truth Ratings.

I was curious. This is a very insightful post. What is your background? How do you find it so effortless to think in these terms?

Thanks for such a thoughtful post,


George Turner
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2005 5:02 pm
Location: Cumming, Georgia

Hi there! Can I jump in?

Postby George Turner » Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:02 pm

Certainly there will be issues containing or supported by falsehood which may be difficult for the average Joe to analyze. However, most political deception tends to be fairly obvious. The "big lie" comes to mind: The bigger the lie, the more people it tends to fool. For example, classical communism build its huge following by promoting the simplistic notion that wealth is a fixed quantity in a given society, that it is static, non-growing, and therefore must be siezed and shared.

As another example, looking at the advertisements of candidates for my local county commission race (primary election tomorrow), and knowing just a bit about the voting records of the incumbents and who is supporting the challengers, it is fairly easy to show that certain promises made cannot be supported by the candidate's record.

I see the truth ratings as being supported by two bodies of fact: 1) the list of common fallicies and 2) inconsistancies between the politician's promises and his prior performance. The latter is, of course, more subjective and would be the most likely to be challenged. However, challenge is good, it draws attention to the politico and his defenders and sows seeds of doubt about his credibility.

And credibility is what is most at issue here. A truth rating service must have raters with unquestioned credentials. These organizations would probably need to be non-profit and be funded by subscription.

George Turner


Re: dueling loops of the political powerplace

Postby Johan » Tue Jul 25, 2006 12:34 pm

Hi Jack and the others ,

I am a new visitor ( from the Netherlands ). After quickly reading the website and the "dueling loops" document I want to share some of my visions and I also have some questions.

To start with I want to say that I completely agree with the idea that good and durable solutions for the problems that the world is facing can only be achieved by changing the structure of society. If you see the problems and you trace them back to their real origines then it becomes clear that the current foundations of our society are causing the troubles that many are trying to solve ( or are saying that they are trying ).

I am aware of existing "hypotheses" that are stating that the world is ruled by "corporations" and money. In a way this is true , but on the other hand are corporations also again owned by shareholders who are "normal" people. And their products are bought by "normal" people. Essentially large corporations make their money by giving the "public" what they want . Who is the main perpetrator , the public or the corporations ? This makes it a complex problem .............. it is not just a conspiracy of a few bad guys. Our whole society and behaviour are causing it.

I have some ideas and models also which I would like to share later when I see time to post them. They are not exactly the same as the ones from Jack , but there are some essential similarities.

Jack , I have some questions regarding the "high leverage" points:

- If some activists would succeed in exposing lies and corruption , would the majority of people so easily change to the "other side" ? Would exposure of some liars be enough to convince the majority of people that we are on the wrong track ?

Personally I doubt it , because most of the people are own-interest-first oriented and trained because our world society has always been like that.
I think that the majority of people has to acknowledge that we have a problem ( also within our own behaviour ). Just like that an alcoholic or a drug addict must first acknowledge that he/she has a problem before solving it. In this scenario an interesting question would be: are there "high leverage" points to create such a kind of awareness ?

Another point of concern would be that it can only be solved at a global scale. If for example the US would get a government that is very willing to really solve these issues , but the Chinese would continue just like now , then all efforts would be useless. The fact that the same self-destructive behaviour occurs all over the world is also an indication that it is not just caused by western-capitalism , but that the problems are caused by behaviour that is resident in all countries/cultures and all human beings.

I am looking forward to your reactions and views.


P.S. I would also like to become a member of this forum , should I send an e-mail for that ?



Postby Johan » Tue Jul 25, 2006 2:24 pm

Resistance to change is something that can be understood by studying change management principles and cultural anthropology.

I think the only way to come up with real good solutions is to form a multidisciplinary thinktank of people who:

- Are from all different relevant disciplines ( there are many disciplines involved )
- Are capable of thinking deep , original and outside regular pathways if necessary
- Are open minded and not pre-occupied by any existing theories or at least as much as possible ( no human being is that for 100% )

Maybe we could try to form such a group ?


Jack Harich
Posts: 292
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 5:43 pm
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, US

Postby Jack Harich » Tue Jul 25, 2006 2:30 pm

Dear Johan,

Thank you for joining in the discussion. This is a very thoughtful post, because you have so quickly grasped the central strategy that sustainability problem solvers must follow. That’s a nice way of phrasing it: “Good and durable solutions for the problems that the world is facing can only be achieved by changing the structure of society.” What might happen if most environmentalists saw the problem this way?

You pose a number of penetrating questions that no one has good answers to. I feel there are only two reliable ways of answering such questions, when dealing with a complex social system problem: structural analysis and experimentation. The work at has only performed a modest amount of the first. The Dueling Loops paper is one example. But we have not yet been able to mount a serious effort on the next step, which is experimentation. This will soon come to pass, I hope.

Along these lines, perhaps you would eventually like to run The First Experiment? This is a mind opener. It is easily performed with a small group of friends or coworkers in 30 minutes, plus an hour or two for discussion afterwards. See the “Work at” section of the site for how to do this. Once you know how to design, run, and interpret social experiments, many of the questions you pose can now be answered reliably in a short amount of time.

We look forward to your “ideas and models.” Feel free to share them here. If you have files you would like added to the site for reference purposes, just mention that in your forum discussion.

Concerning your questions about high leverage points, I will start a new thread on that very important area and reply there.

Thanks and welcome to the forum,

Jack and the many folks behind
Last edited by Jack Harich on Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jack Harich
Posts: 292
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 5:43 pm
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, US

Postby Jack Harich » Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:06 pm


Regarding “the only way to come up with real good solutions is to form a multidisciplinary think tank:”

Again, some nice thoughts here. But if you have poked around in the environmental literature and history, there have been many such endeavors. None made the critical difference. The UNEP has had projects with people from many disciplines, not to mention many cultures. The Club of Rome thirty years ago did the same. There are a number of think tanks with people in economics, sociology, biology, etc, that have also gotten nowhere. Their members prided themselves in being interdisciplinary, open minded, original thinkers, etc. But they failed anyhow.

Why have these efforts failed over and over again? I suspect that we are dealing with the phenomenon of an entrenched paradigm. Please study the Kuhn Cycle in the Glossary for more on this, before you read the rest of this message.

You are intuitively alluding to the Kuhn Cycle with your mention that to achieve a breakthrough, problem solvers must “not be pre-occupied by any existing theories.” But those who are living in what Thomas Kuhn calls “Normal Science” cannot see the world any other way, other than the one that is focused on by the body of knowledge they are using. They may think they are not biased, but they are. This has happened thousands of times in the evolution of science. And it has happened tens of thousands of times in other areas, such as the problem we are dealing with here.

What the world needs here is not a new organization, but a New Normal Science.

It follows that to mount an effort to solve the sustainability problem and create this New Normal Science, all we need to do is get people in existing organizations to use a few of the right new tools. On the home page of these are listed as “a formal process that fits the problem, systems thinking, the Scientific Method, simulation modeling, and focusing on the complete problem.” There are innumerable examples of how to apply these tools on the site. Study of these examples, many of which take a novel direction, should open many minds to the New Normal Science.

Hope this helps,


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