Is He on the Level? The Master of Complexity.

“Is he on the level?” and “What level?” are two questions you might ask after learning about Dr. Michael Lamport Commons and the 16 levels he invented. The 16 levels are parts and parcels in Dr. Michael Lamport Commons’s “Model of Hierarchical Complexity.” The model rates how complex a person (or a bacterium) is, compared to all other persons (or bacteria).

Who is Dr. Michael Lamport Commons [pictured here]? He is a “Corresponding Member of the Faculty of Psychiatry Institution, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center,” according to the Harvard web site. He is an “Assistant Clinical Professor,” according to Dr. Michael Lamport Commons’s web site.

He is many things. He is director of the Dare Association, a place of complexity that subspecializes in undue influence.

He is a fixture in many scholarly journals that you may not have heard of. According to Dr. Michael Lamport Commons’s Wikipedia page, which boasts a warning about veracity:

He is on the governing board of the Journal of Behavior Analysis Online. He is co-editor of the journal Behavioral Development Bulletin and past co-editor of the Journal of Behavior Analysis Online. He was a senior editor of Quantitative Analyses of Behavior, Volumes 1–11 and of four volumes on Adult Development including Beyond Formal Operations: Late Adolescent and Adult Cognitive Development and Clinical Approaches to Adult Development, as well as associate editor for a special issue of Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior on the nature of reinforcement. He is the consulting editor of Moral Development Series.

What is the Model of Hierarchical Complexity? Dr. Michael Lamport Commons explains:

Model of Hierarchical Complexity (MHC)… is a measurement theory that analyzes the developmental difficulty of tasks represented by the Orders of Hierarchical Complexity. It represents the behavioral developmental stages at which an individual is performing while completing a task.

The MHC has 16 levels, Dr. Michael Lamport Commons explains:

It organizes behaviors into orders of complexity ranging from 0-16. The lowest order, order 1, corresponds to automatic responses to a single stimulus, such as taxes in bacteria. Each order above this is composed of two or more lower order behaviors organized into a new structure.

In this exciting action video, Dr. Michael Lamport Commons explains—in a way someone can understand, in theory—his Model of Hierarchical Complexity:

What about Dr. Michael Lamport Commons himself? What level is he on? Could there be a 17th level? These are all questions.