What does the Fork say?

Over the years, the question "can a person truly change?" has fascinated me. Still, I have never found a way to explicitly answer that question primarily because it is similar to questions like "Does God exist?" or "Do we have free will?" In other words, because these questions are largely experiential and have been debated for millennia, one's input has either been considered by those before you, or your input is patently ludicrous. As a result, the returns to investment on this endeavor are minimal unless you are convinced you have something truly revolutionary to say. Thus, I took on a different version of the question: When one traces their intellectual growth, can there be an actual hard fork? When put this way, I contend that intellectually, there can't be a true hard fork. There is, however, an approximation of a hard fork.

To define terms, a hard fork (primarily used in the blockchain) is essentially a radical change that forces a split in visions on a network's protocol. When applied to one's life, it is a radical change like a "come to Jesus" moment or switching from the left of the political spectrum to the right and vice versa. It is choosing to reject one's religion and other examples in this domain. In groups, when hard forks happen, we know the ideological concentration of the parties. When hard forks occur, the fence-sitters are made uncomfortable because the fence very quickly disappears. A soft fork, on the other hand, also used in blockchain, is the opposite, where there is no splitting in visions. One vision remains dominant, and different competing visions just adopt the update.

When you think about it, there can't be a true hard fork unless one either experiences a case of schizophrenia/multiple personalities, which are, rightly so, classified as disorders, or becomes an entirely different person. Obviously, if one is a wholly different person, there no longer is continuity in one's intellectual growth; thus, this endeavor is useless, and change means nothing. As a result, there can't be a true hard fork because of the peculiar mental faculties, temperament, and genetics at play. This means a unique thread ties each individual's decision-making processes and the results thereof.

There is, however, an approximation of a hard fork that can occur, although it rarely does. This hard fork happens when a person does make a seemingly contradictory decision like changing ideologies. This hard fork is not to be seen immediately but is made evident through the power of compounding. When people double down on a decision that, over time, compounds in such a way that the alternative and the reality would be vastly different, they have essentially hard forked. In other words, when soft forks compound, the differential outcomes are so significant as to be exact opposites, with the individual remaining distinguishable from the impact of both decisions. Essentially, intellectual soft forks compounded over time = intellectual hard fork.

That said, we are still left with the question: can a person truly change? Well, the answer to that is complicated and thus more suitable for another post.


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