As I sit to write what I expect will be a somewhat lengthy set of compositions over what I further suspect will be a period measured in years rather than months or weeks, I’m compelled to ask a simple question – why? My ego would tell me that I have some rather earth-shattering and profound insights to offer a world that would be well served by my publishing them, but truly this is unlikely to reflect reality. While these observations are somewhat important to me, at least I believe them to be, it’s entirely possible that nobody outside of my immediate family will ever read these letters, and even for them it will probably be more of a curiosity regarding what I’ve been doing with my time all these many nights feverishly clackity-clacking away at my old HP keyboard.
It’s entirely possible, in fact, that my observations are not particularly unique and/or novel. There are, no doubt, people spending their lives, full-time, studying the underlying philosophy behind the practice and application of science in the early part of the 21st century; certainly more time than can be devoted to the task by someone otherwise employed with a 40+ hour per week job, a 8-10 hour per week commute, family, social obligations, study, etc. I may come with some “real world” observations that may truly add value to the overall conversation, but it must further be conceded that my “real world” observations come with much of the attendant baggage I’ll be discussing in the early letters in this volume.
What follows is the collection of condensed-into-word thoughts and musings that have been rattling around in my head for the better part of my now 3-decades-plus long adult life. These are thoughts and wonderings that have cost me countless hours of sleep, have distracted me during times “when I had work to do” or when I frankly should have been paying better attention to what my wife, children, etc. had been saying to me. It is my most sincere hope that by putting these thoughts, musings, and the like to electronic “paper” I will once-and-for-all get them out of my head so that I have some hope of a decent nights’ sleep and to be more present when other people are taking their time to speak with me.
So, in the final analysis, this is a vanity project. Not “vanity” in the sense that I feel these words of brilliance will bring me fame, riches, accolades, and whatnot. No, “vanity” in the sense that a much smarter man than I have been attributed to saying, “Vantiy of vanities… all is vanity, and striving after wind.” (Yes, that’s Ecclesiastes, Chapter 1 – verses 1a and 14b – for anyone who cares to look it up.) I don’t expect any sort of coherent philosophy of science to spring brilliantly from these musings and (it ought to be said up front) ramblings, and (without any false modesty implied or intended) any coherence and/or brilliance that does magically arise will more-likely-than-not be accidental. I am an extremely imperfect vehicle for any sort of philosophy to be birthed from, but I do have some hope any who read this may perhaps be given some cause for thought, and perhaps even study, on the topics addressed herein.
Thus, as I hope to expose some of the cultural and political biases that have, I believe, corrupted the practice of science it seems reasonable at this point to expound as briefly as possible on what I see as my own biases. Only fair, right? I am very much a stereotypical product of my generation – early Generation X – born in 1966 to working-class parents in the New Jersey bedroom community suburbs of New York City. Dad was a high-school gym teacher and coach, mom was a homemaker, and despite the fact they probably rarely if ever had 2-nickles to rub together my younger sister and I needed for nothing in the material sense. We managed, which was fine. But as my generation came along we found ourselves sandwiched between our (primarily) Baby Boom parents and (again, primarily) Millennial children who seem hell-bent on arguing with each other over our heads all the time, which seems to suit Gen-X’rs just fine for the most part, leaving us, frankly, just rooting for casualties.
That may perhaps seem comically cynical, but I think it describes the philosophical perspective from which I am coming. I don’t take “cynicism” as a virtue by any means, but I feel it does serve a necessary tool for self-extraction from the bombardment of mass media anyone in the early 21st century must navigate. And I don’t believe anyone is able to dispassionately assess the practice of science in this time until and unless they can remove themselves from said bubble.
Now, let’s get some seeming contradictions out of the way up front. I am an unapologetic nationalist – and as I’m also of almost purely-European descent, I suppose in the modern parlance that makes me a “White” “Nationalist”. In so far as I think that traditional Amero-European culture is, generally speaking, worth preserving, and that it ought to be open to any and all who wish to adopt and conform to said culture, I suppose that (what is used as a) pejorative would apply to me. I don’t see Amero-European culture as being particularly superior to all aspects of other cultural choices available, but it’s what I’m comfortable with and, frankly, in this day and age when you can just jump on a plane and land in whatever culture suits you better I have to wonder why people go through the trouble of trying to change the underlying culture – just go someplace that suits you and be satisfied. Go in peace, go with whatever god you believe in – but go. And honestly, I’ve worked with plenty of people over the years who have done precisely that, happily.
That said, I’m also a practicing Kabbalist and Freemason, for whom “universalism” is the order of the day. That may seem like an impossible circle to square for someone who is cultural nationalist, and conceptually it is, in fact, virtually impossible to reconcile those positions. Fortunately for me, I don’t live in the conceptual world. I honestly believe that the Freemason view of universalism and “brotherly love” is complimentary to the Kabbalistic view of “healing the world by healing the connections between us”, and that both represent the future. However, we have created in the early 21st century an utterly and completely interdependent world – where, as it’s been said, a butterfly flapping its wings in Asia sets-off a hurricane in North America – but we are the most egoistic, most self-centered, most inwardly-focused collection of humans ever. We are totally and completely interconnected, and we are loathing every second of it. Humanity must evolve, and evolve quickly – or else we’re going to destroy ourselves.
That evolution however is not going to come about by egoistic, self-centered calculations. But in reality, by dropping our internal shields, walking out of our self-imposed media and cultural bubbles, and connecting, on a personal and spiritual level. Take a look at any “social” “media” platform these days and show me this is happening. Hell, the guardians of said platforms are precisely part of the problem – they have no problem censoring content they deem “offensive” where by simply changing a couple of adjectives in a heretofore “offensive” posting – voila! – the post is no longer “offensive”. The media bubbles grow more insulated from each other, and to the extent people from various bubbles attempt to connect the reality is that often-as-not they just end-up yelling past each other.
Go ahead, show me I’m wrong. I’ll wait.
Back already? No surprised. Well then stay with me because here’s the hopeful part. I think the biggest part of the problem is that the change that needs to happen is, in one way, happening – it’s just with the wrong people. What “social” “media” has done is brought people together. That they’ve chosen to self-segregate into their own bubbles is, well, perfectly predictable. We are, after all, tribal; and tribalism is the oldest “ism” in human history. It is literally hard-wired into hundreds of generations of civilization and I honestly don’t feel a need to expand on this concept. If you don’t believe me, take a cursory look at the history of civilization (eastern, western, doesn’t matter) and it should be clear that tribalism is the foundation of all of them. Post-Modern philosophers such as Schmitt (in his scathing critique of liberalism, for example) refer to this phenomenon as a friend/enemy, or us/them relationship, but the concept is the same.
What if, rather than using “social” “media” to reinforce our bubbles, we used it instead as a means to break-down the bubbles, and actually connect with people regardless of their differences. In fact, to get Kabbalistic for a minute, what if we connected above our differences? Examine that possibility for a moment and you can see legitimate reasons to be hopeful. Universalism, in one form or another, is the future; of that I have very little doubt.
Yet by now you’re probably wondering, given all of that, how can you possibly be a Nationalist? Well it’s pretty simple, really. I don’t see the changes in humanity that are absolutely necessary to bring about this revolution in thought, action, and society happening. At all. And as there is no reason to believe that said revolution of consciousness will take place in the (optimistically) 30-40 years I have left on this rock, well then, I’m back to having to choose between the imperfect options I have before me. I continue to work on my own connections with others locally (in Freemasonry) and globally (in Kabbalah), and certainly do hope that we can heal as a people globally before something truly awful happens.
But hope ain’t a sound strategy for living your life in the real, practical world.
I’ve been given the opportunity to travel a bit in my life (for work, mostly) and, warts and all (and there are plenty), I find Amero-European culture to be the best fit for me and, political conservative that I am, would prefer that it not change very much.
OK, enough about me and my navel. To the point of it all. I don’t want to spend too long or develop too detailed a treatise here in the introduction, but it’s fair to give any future readers at least a sense of where I’m coming from. As I stated in the outset, I’m not “anti-science”. Very much to the contrary, I am very “pro-science”. I am one of science’s biggest cheerleaders. Yay science! But science has limitations and it’s the failure to respect, or even acknowledge, these limitations that is causing a great deal of additional and unnecessary strife in the world.
My central thesis is both simple, unoriginal – science doesn’t discover anything. “Discovery” is, put simply, the realization of something not known to exist previously (not a dictionary definition, but close enough to be non-controversial, I hope). In other words, by discovering something, we bring into reality something that was, prior to this realization, not known to exist. Columbus, for example, didn’t “discover” America, as if “America” didn’t exist before Columbus landed in the West Indies. In fact, it’s now reasonably well known that Columbus wasn’t even the first European to land in the Western Hemisphere; Scandinavian and Viking cultures, for example, had settlements in Greenland and modern-day Maritime Canada hundreds of years before Columbus charmed Queen Isabella out of some of her treasure.
Most scientific “discovery” is really just improving on an existing structure within which we can hope to better understand the incomprehensibility of the world in which we live, with an eye toward using that knowledge to improve the quality of our lives. If we think about science as an act of creation, rather than discovery, then perhaps the idea is a bit more palatable. As such, we’re not really gaining any particular insight into the actual functions of the forces that control our existence. Rather, we’re empirically arriving at frameworks within which we can operate to describe these forces we cannot feel, touch, or really even understand at a first principles level, but of which we can see their effects and causes and thus draw conclusions about them.
Perhaps an example would help to illustrate this idea, so let us take gravity as such – something we believe we understand at a fundamental level. Since an apple anecdotally struck Sr. Isaac Newton’s anecdotal head, we have come to understand a concept called gravity as the force of attraction between bodies. Over the years we’ve even developed a “universal gravitational formula” relating the force of attraction between bodies as dependent on the respective masses of the bodies (the very concept of “mass” is something else entirely claimed to be understood) and the distance separating them. And presto! Gravity is completely understood.
OK, sounds great, right? Well, in many ways it is. We are able to use the concept of gravity in all way and manner of applications that can help to develop technologies such as “heavier than air craft”, but do we really understand gravity? Have we reached some sort of immutable, irrevocable truth about this seemingly universal force of attraction? No, we have not. What we have is a structure, a framework, that we can use to describe some natural phenomenon that has been observed in our natural world – nothing more or less. We have, in short, discovered nothing; we have, instead, created. The power of that creation is directly proportional to the utility of that creation to the advancement of our understanding of nature, but no matter how powerful and useful, it is still just a creation of our intellect and not an unveiling of some underlying first-principles process.
In the past, religious interpretations have almost always found that The Hand Of God (for widely varying definitions of “God”) play a part in the processes of Nature. The planets, stars, winds, waves, etc. all moved because God (or The Gods) willed them to move, or directly caused these phenomena as a manifestation of their power. Today, modern thinkers poo-poo this as ancient superstition, but I believe this is just modern arrogance, ingrained in our post-modern, post-faith cultures, to immediately discount any sort of religious or supernatural (itself an arrogant term, as if we understand all of Nature) influences on what we see in the natural world. Take, for example, one of the “multiverse” theories first (almost jokingly) proposed by Schrödinger in the mid-1950’s, which (very briefly) states that our universe is just one of many “universes” being churned out from a central energy source, somewhere “out there”. Now that may all sound very “sciencey” but all one needs to do as ascribe some degree of consciousness to this “central energy source” and BIG BANG! – you have almost precisely the religious concept of the existence of God “proven” by science. QED.
Still, all of this would be fine if what we were confronted with are a bunch of geeky folks in lab coats and pocket protectors arguing at each other over the rims of their Coke-bottle glasses. The problem comes from what I will be addressing presently – “science” is now being forced into the realm of public policy and is thus being utilized in a way that it was never equipped. “science” is being devolved into its own dogma, with its own set of cultural norms and biases, its own punishments for heresy against the dogma, and its own arrogance that it, alone, is the gateway to Certainty in this uncertain world. “science” is becoming a deified version of the practice – it is becoming “Science”. Something not to be debated, not to be questioned; and the practitioners are devolving into oracles who are not to be argued with, but are to be accepted with a faith precisely that required from religious leaders of old. This has happened gradually, over the course of decades, as the technological progress brought about by scientific invention (that is, creation) has certainly enhanced the quality of life of perhaps billions around the world.
Science, and those who practice it, are rightfully to be thanked for those contributions. They have made the lives of many far easier, relieved many of the burdens of back-breaking manual labor, and provided well-paying and (in many ways) highly satisfying jobs to millions.
But the deification of “Science” threatens all of that, and is, I fear, bringing us to the brink where science, itself, can break down and bring us to an age darker than humanity has ever known.
This is what keeps me up at night. And this is why I need to get these thoughts written down.
And so, without further delay, we begin.