Introducing an early twentieth century doomsayer, Oswald Spengler, he writes,
As genuine progress has stalled, hype has surged. A 2015 study of biomedical papers found that between 1974 and 2014 the frequency of terms such as “novel,” “innovative” and “unprecedented” increased 15-fold. In the current Issues in Science and Technology, technology scholar Jeffrey Funk contends that technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain, driverless vehicles and robotics are “seriously over-hyped, a phenomenon driven by online news and the professional incentives of those involved in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.”
The so-called pure sciences aren’t so pure either. Prominent physicists persist in promoting glitzy but unconfirmable ideas like string theory, inflation, multiverse theories and the anthropic principle (which holds that the universe must be as we observe it to be because otherwise we wouldn’t be here to observe it). In mind-science, theorists advocate models–based on quantum mechanics and information theory–that make consciousness a fundamental component of reality. Like the anthropic principle, these mind-body theories reflect our narcissistic insistence that we are central to the cosmos.John Horgan, “Jeffrey Epstein and the Decadence of Science” at Scientific American
Actually, we can’t prove that we are not central to the cosmos. Horgan’s always interesting and he is likely onto something about the decadence, even if he is casting the net too wide at times:
The Epstein scandal is just a symptom of a deeper ethical sickness. Is accepting gifts from a sex offender really worse than taking money from the Pentagon? Or the Koch brothers, who thwarted efforts to combat climate change? Or the Sacklers, whose firm, Purdue Pharma, catalyzed the opioid epidemic? In our hyper-capitalist world, careerism, ambition and greed trump ethics and the idealistic pursuit of truth for its own sake—or for the benefit of others.John Horgan, “Jeffrey Epstein and the Decadence of Science” at Scientific American
As it happens, the world is a mixed bag and the worst tyrannies have generally been the ones that impose totalitarian Virtue.
Meanwhile, re decadence, some of us are dismayed by the widening circles of crappy behavior. Recently, some physics non-entity got targeted by the raging Woke in the wake of Epstein’s death. It’s a classic in #MeToo politics gone insane unless there is way more to the story than we’ve heard—and so often there isn’t, really.
Well, at the post, some commenters hijacked the discussion to… Donald Trump, the Rent-Free Tenant in their heads. Not clear how Trump totally dominates the boundless, nonlocal space in so many people’s heads. He should do a cost/benefit analysis, maybe… declare the space in their heads the property of Trump Enterprises, Inc. Nothing, it seems, would change.
See also: Jeffrey Epstein Certainly Lies In An Unquiet Grave…
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