Ram Poudel

Ram PoudelIn existographies, Ram C. Poudel (c.1977-) (CR:29) is a Nepalese-American mechanical engineer, thermodynamicist, and sociophysicist noted, in hmolscience, for his 2012-present work in sociophysics topics, such as: social atom theory, social field theory, among others.

In 2006, Poudel, having completed his MS in mechanical engineering, began lecturing on thermodynamics to mechanical engineers at Tribhuvan University, Nepal.

In 2011, Poudel was the project head (Ѻ), as a mechanical engineering professor, at the Tribhuvan University, for the Asian Development Bank funded “Effective Deployment of Distributed Small Wind Systems in Asian Rural Areas”, which was a success, during which time Poudel realized that he was the only person in the department without a PhD, after which he wrote to his advisor at Tribhuvan University, who resultantly sent Poudel to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, to get his PhD. [1]

In 2012, during his first year, at UMass, Poudel worked as a teaching assistant for a course in systems identification, amid which he envisioned doing his PhD on “Energy and the Poverty Dynamics”, conceptually-based on a Navier-Stokes equation (Ѻ) [compare: Arthur Iberall] for a social field, i.e. a “social fluid” model, or something along these lines. Poudel proposed this idea to his new UMass advisor, who in turn gave him Howard T. Odum’s Energy Basis for Man and Nature (1976) and Environment, Power, and Society (1971) to read, which initiated Poudel’s engagement in trying to grapple with the subject of mechanical engineering based social energetics and or social mechanics, focused on poverty betterment. [1]

In 2014, Poudel became a coordinator for the Energy for Capabilities Development Partnership group, whose aim, supposedly, is to “to integrate the capabilities of interdisciplinary sciences (such as moral science, natural science and economics) to further research on sustainable development, among many others”; the following, e.g. is one of their economic thermodynamics models, supposedly developed by one among their group:

E4CDP.org (economic thermodynamics model) c

In 2016, Poudel, in his “Energetic Foundation of Statistical Economics”, outlined what he called “energetics economics”, according to the logic that “it’s not money that moves the world around, but in reality energy”; Poudel, following discussion of Steven Hawking, and how his "social field" theory attempts to employ classical field theory as a basis, gave the following two cultures rendition: [1]

Two cultures (Poudel)

Poudel then, following some derivation, and talk of kinetic energy (see: social kinetic energy) and potential energy (see: social potential energy), gives the following so-called "energy of an individual" in society equation: [1]

Energy (individual)

which is reminiscent, in some sense, of the social cannon ball model.

Dynamics of Social Evolution | Anon Review
In Mar 2019, Poudel, and co-author Jon McGowan, submitted “The Dynamics of Human Society Evolution: an Energetics Approach” to the Hindawi-based journal Complexity (Ѻ), the abstract of which is the following: [3]

“Human society is an open system that evolves by coupling with various known and unknown (energy) fluxes. How do these dynamics precisely unfold? Energetics may provide further insights. We expand on Navier Stokes’ approach to study non-equilibrium dynamics in a field that evolves with time. Based on the ‘social field theory’, an induction of the classical field theories, we define social force and social energy and Hamiltonian of an individual in a society. The equations for the evolution of an individual and society are sketched based on the time-dependent Hamiltonian that includes power dynamics. In this paper, we will demonstrate that Lotka-Volterra type equations can be derived from the Hamiltonian equation in the social field.”

The article is dedicated to Richard Adams and his The Eighth Day.

The first reviewer, and anon physicist of some sort, is as follows:

“I am not sure why this article was submitted to this journal which publishes rigorous interdisciplinary research based on rigorous and precisely defined mathematical modeling of biological, ecological and other complex systems. With no clear justification, the authors present postulate after postulate presenting a ‘social field theory’ in which a social field based on energy is postulated to exist obeying equations used in physics.”
— Anon (2019), Complexity Review of Poudel and McGowan’s ‘Dynamics of Human Society Evolution”

Here, Anon cogently asks what justification is there that a “social field”, formulated in energy terms, (a) exists and (b) obeys the same equations for fields as used in physics. This, certainly, is an area of historical importance, that could be addressed more in the opening of the article?

“It is hoped that precise meaning and quantification of this ‘social field’ will be done using ‘big data’ at some future time by an unspecified method, not a hint of how this might be done can be found in this article.”
— Anon (2019), Complexity Review of Poudel and McGowan’s ‘Dynamics of Human Society Evolution”

Anon, here, seems to be alluding to the “big data” stylized so-labeled “social physics” of Alex Pentland, which, to note, has about as much “physics” in it as a box of crayons.

“An individual is postulated to interact with the postulated ‘social field’, through an interaction similar to that of gravity and Coulomb's law! In this postulate, there is an undefined ‘social distance’ whose clear definition and quantification is again left to some future method. None of it is based on any empirical observation of any sort.”
— Anon (2019), Complexity Review of Poudel and McGowan’s ‘Dynamics of Human Society Evolution”

Here, certainly, Poudel could have given actual numbers for the reader to digest, so to found his argument, such as done experimental studies as found in: Heini Hediger’s 1955 measurements of reaction distances and social spaces in animals in zoos and circuses, Edward Hall’s classic The Hidden Dimension: an Anthropologist Examines Man’s Use of Space in Public in Private (1966), James Dabbs’ “sidewalk study” (c.1972), or Dov Cohen’s “hallway study” (c.1994).

“Subsequent parts of the article consist of postulate after arbitrary postulate, on energy of individual, Hamiltonians -- which are also used to write thermodynamic Gibbs relations! -- and on and on. It also postulates "quantization" of social energy with no mention of any empirical data that might lead one to think such a postulate has any basis on real societies.”
— Anon (2019), Complexity Review of Poudel and McGowan’s ‘Dynamics of Human Society Evolution”

Here, Anon presents us with his ignorance of thermodynamics. Specifically, Clausius derived his internal energy function (1865), based, in part, on the 1834 force function model of William Hamilton, all of which was subsumed into the Gibbs function of Willard Gibbs, aka Gibbsian, of chemical thermodynamics, which applies at the social level, wherein systems are isothermal isobaric and freely-running (Lewis, 1923) as first pointed out by: John Q. Stewart (1940s), who taught this at Princeton, Lawrence Henderson (1930s), who taught this in his "Sociology 23" at Harvard, and Henry Adams (1908), who used this in his social phase theory, among others.

“The article simply does not have the rigor to meet the standards of this journal and it will be incomprehensible to its readers. There is no point in going into specific mathematical comments, except to note that earth's magnetic field deflects high energy ions, not photons; photons are not scattered by static magnetic fields. Life on earth is protected from the high energy UV photons by the ozone layer. I cannot recommend this article for publication.”
— Anon (2019), Complexity Review of Poudel and McGowan’s ‘Dynamics of Human Society Evolution”

Here, in conclusion, Anon freely admits that he is victim of an auto-Sokal affair, namely the subject matter, he as been presented with, far surpasses his intellect (see: hydraism), so his reaction is to dismiss it as incomprehensible non-rigorous pointless nonsense, which is the exact opposite of the way things are, in reality. This is a common polemic in hmolscience.

Dynamics of Social Evolution | Dixon Review
Next, we have the review of psychologist James Dixon (Ѻ), author of the following view:

Why does matter get up in the morning? If we except that matter is the constituent part of organisms, why does it bother to do anything at all? Why does it show us things that we call ‘agency’ or ‘intrinsic motivation’? What is it doing? Why does it care?”
— James Dixon (2020), “A Unifying Theory of Organisms”, Jun 22

which, to note, brings to mind the 2014 collaborative effort on the top of the “thermodynamic lens” by chemical engineer Marc Donohue and psychologist Richard Kilburg; in any event, here is the review:

“This manuscript takes the position that large-scale social collectives or societies might be effectively understood from the perspective of ‘energy flow’. The authors provide a compact, but balanced review of major previous scholarship on this, and related, theses. They also quite fairly acknowledge the inherent limitations to such an approach, in terms of explaining all the nuances of culture, tradition, religion, and the like. The authors draw on well-established models in physics. and seek to rework them into a social framework The thrust of the manuscript is to outline how such a mapping between physical and social concepts might be profitably made, rather than demonstrating empirically the utility of the models. I found quite a bit to like about this manuscript. I think many researchers agree that at some fundamental level all phenomena in biology, including collective behavior, must be about energy flow. It is not yet clear how exactly to conceive of this relationship, but the current manuscript represents one thoughtful attempt to do so at a very large scale. I learned a lot reading it, and I think others will too.”
— James Dixon (2019), Complexity Review of Poudel and McGowan’s “Dynamics of Human Society Evolution”

Here, we have a good sober call (see: two cultures call) for more papers like this in this area, coming respectively from a scholar in humanities, aka the Shakespeare culture of C.P. Snow’s two cultures world, which is in sharp contrast to the Anon review previous, a representative of the Clausius culture of Snow’s world.

“I have the following suggestions for improving the manuscript. I think it would be helpful to spend more time defining the variables for the social field. I found myself not feeling like I fully understood the meaning of these variables, and the motivation for choosing them.”
— James Dixon (2019), Complexity Review of Poudel and McGowan’s “Dynamics of Human Society Evolution”

This is good advice. Poudel, by page two, e.g., has already introduced the acronym SFT for the phrase “social field theory”, but has not yet given a definition of what a “social field” is? Indeed, into the first few pages, it does not seem as if Poudel has defined one single "variable", other than to say that a "force is a gradient of the potential energy". It would seem to behoove Poudel, if his overall aim is to "propose the existence of a new type of 'force', especially among social beings, not fundamental as electromagnetic, gravity, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear", to spend a little more time defining variables like "energy", "force", "field", and "social field", as Dixon suggests?

“Likewise, the concept of energy seems to expand in the latter stages of the manuscript to include things like ‘information’. I found this perplexing, and would ask the authors to say more about how they are defining energy in their model.”
— James Dixon (2019), Complexity Review of Poudel and McGowan’s “Dynamics of Human Society Evolution”

This a red flag. Attempts to equate “energy”, in units of joules (see: SI unit geniuses), to “information”, in units of bits, is but a path down the rabbit hole of Alice and Wonderland or a chase after the Jabberwock of Alfred Lotka (see: Regarding Definitions).

“I was surprised that the concept of "money" did not feature more heavily in the manuscript. Perhaps it would be helpful for the authors could comment more fully on how they conceive of "money" in their framework.”
— James Dixon (2019), Complexity Review of Poudel and McGowan’s “Dynamics of Human Society Evolution”

Money, energy, and force is a difficult subject, to say the least.

Dynamics of Social Evolution | Annila Review
Next, we have the third review by auto-characterized biophysicist Arto Annila:

“Your paper does not look convincing with "Navier Stoke's" since it should be Navier-Stokes equation.”
— Arto Annila (2019), “Complexity Review of Poudel and McGowen’s “Dynamics of Human Society Evolution”

Here, Annila is saying that if you can’t even spell the surnames of the theorists right, namely Claude Navier and George Stokes (not Stoke), in the abstract, how do you expect people to believe that you can build a whole new social fluid theory on top of the original fluid theory?

“I don't see a scientific reason why you propose a new type of force and distinguish living from non-living. This goes against evidence which is my main reason to recommend rejection.”
— Arto Annila (2019), “Complexity Review of Poudel and McGowen’s “Dynamics of Human Society Evolution”

Here, Annila might be referring to this passage:

“Can energy flow alone create forms and structures? Or is structure/organization the basis of energy flowing through the system? Should such questions have a universal answer? Does the answer depend on whether we are talking about the living or non-living world?”
— Ram Poudel (2019), “Dynamics of Human Society Evolution” (pg. 6)

Here, also, we can reference Annila’s 2016 “Atomism Revisited” (Ѻ), wherein the only point at which Annila employs the term “life” is in the term “lifetime” of subatomic particles. Hence, possibly, Annila thinks you are attempting to define a new force, like a “bio-force”, or “bio-energy” (see: bio-Gibbs energy), or “bio-field” that is unique to living domain of your “living / non-living” divide you seem to have situated?

“On the other hand, I favor your aim to write down an equation of motion. However, for me Newton's second law [see: laws of motion] in its original form F = dp/dt or in its integrated from TdS/dt = d(2K)/dt is good enough to explain social phenomena and behavior (google my homepage arto annila helsinki for publications). I also favor your style of writing by asking questions but to me, your knowledge in physics does not convince me. For example, Hamiltonian is per definition for a static system, whereas you are talking about evolving systems.”
— Arto Annila (2019), “Complexity Review of Poudel and McGowen’s “Dynamics of Human Society Evolution”

In this last part, Annilo makes a good point: on the surface of your paper, you presume to be jumping from William Hamilton’s 1834 “On a general method in dynamics by which the study of the motions of all free systems of attracting or repelling points is reduced to the search and differentiation of one central relation, or characteristic function”, wherein the word evolution is not employed, to explain not just evolution, but evolution of social systems? You should give a little pretext for this big JUMP, e.g. by citing: Lawrence Henderson, Harold Blum, or Adriaan Lange.

Poudel completed his BS in mechanical engineering in 1999 at Pulchowk Campus, Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University, Nepal, his MS in mechanical engineering in 2007 at Northern Arizona University, after which he taught thermodynamics for ten years; presently he is a coordinator at the University of Amherst, Energy for Capabilities Development center, which in 2014 began to develop and employ theoretical sociophysics like theories. [2]

1. Poudel, Ram. (2016). “Energetic Foundation of Statistical Economics” (history, V:0-2:30; energy equation, 5:35-), 7th BioPhysical Economics Conference, Jun 28.
2. Ram Poudel – LinkedIn.
3. Poudel, Ram and McGowan, Jon. (2019). “The Dynamics of Human Society Evolution: an Energetics Approach”, 37-page article submitted to Complexity (reviews: Arto Annila, James Dixon (Ѻ), and anon), Mar 10; ArXiv.org (Ѻ), Apr 8; APS.org blog summary (Ѻ), Jul.

Further reading
● Poudel, Ram. (2014). “Social Field Theory” (Ѻ), Blog, E4cdp.org, Nov 15.
● Poudel, Ram C., Zheng, Kangbin, Wood, David and McGowan, Joh G. (2015). “Atomic Analogy of Poverty” (pdf), Manuscript, Jun 16.

External links
Publications – E4CDP.org.

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