An Epiphanic Epitaph for the Coming New Reality of Science


Science sits on a threshold of a new reality, and while not begging special knowledge, the majority of scientists have seen it coming but only now are able to allow themselves to consider it.

Science is embarking on this new reality, as occurs in so many revolutions, by casting off the illusion of its masters. Perceptions of control warp the mind, and struggles for reconciliation, and pleas for acceptance are neither harmless to knowledge, nor our ability to perceive it. There is an alpha in the process of science, which begins with admission of ignorance, polluted by specks of presumed knowledge, sometimes tainted with hubris. And the structure of Logos then proceeds, like a broken algorithm, in fits and starts, toward an approximation of a process we amusingly in retrospect call discovery. The Dominants in science seek validation, through quantitative measures of their own success, of their own primacy. Both the measures and their social primacy eventually show themselves, to be both temporary and false. The Betas seek to find, in this hot mess of Science, some validation of understanding, which has a longer run, but which is also eventually replaced, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Many feel their way through science, which is incorrect, for rational discourse demands logic; however, it is also a myth that feelings have no place in science. The scientist in control of their faculties use reason to decide what things to have feelings about, but not necessarily how to feel about those things.  The scientist who gives that control to others has sold the tools they need to thrive, like a painter selling their brushes, or a sculptor selling their tools.

There is only but one nemesis of knowledge and that is ignorance, which itself is not always innocent; at time it is foisted upon the public when the processes of science pose perceived threats to a paltry coherence that holds some in power, which itself is also a placeholder in the longer time frame of history. An ethos for The New Science is to not seek the lost civilization, nor the forgotten knowledge in eons long past, except as a child pondering an amusement park. Seek instead what we are losing each day in the exponential orgasm of information production without reflection; seek what is lost by ignoring the moments between; seek to know what others know and credit them profusely for the grains of truth they stumble upon. Seek to hold on to what will be forgotten and lost to time if we fail to recognize it. Use the most robust tools, the most powerful designs and tests for deducing from without, not inducing from within, the next slippery sliver of something that might be knowledge. And when all else fails, do not settle for merely adding or pruning leaves from the Tree of Knowledge.  Instead, shake it at the base, question its assumptions without hesitation or apology, explore the what-if possibilities of alternative growth patterns and run the simulations in your mind on possibilities if past false assumptions and conclusion deep in the heart of the wood had been, at THAT time, recognized to be incorrect, or incomplete.  Because rest assured that many, if not most, will be discovered to be wanting, perhaps in our equally conceited now, or in some distant objective, reflective, demure and retiring future foolishly satisfied with its own imperceptible foibles.  When rot sets in, it is necessary, and the duty of every scientist, to dig the tree of knowledge up, to examine its roots for the healthiest parts, and then to plant and nurture those for a new beginning, which begins at the start of the story, not only at the end.  And most of all – now this is important – become and remain an activist for objectivity, reason, deduction, and passionate impartiality. That in and of itself is a goal, not a prescription.

If, in all of this endeavor, you manage to make some money while generating knowledge, more power to you.  But remember two things:

(1) money should be side-effect of a robust science, and, if you are “successful”

(2) use all three (money, knowledge, and power) wisely.

-James Lyons-Weiler, PhD

Allison Park, PA

May 2, 2017

One comment

  1. As much a philosopher as scientist. As if the two could ever be considered separate fields of study. Your prose is always a pleasure to read.

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