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April 11, 2011

A Species in Trouble; the Quest for "Control"

As noted in recent entries, the pace of human cultural evolution was accelerated when we added writing (literacy) to our cognitive skill-set a few thousand years after the last Ice Age. Of comparable importance was ascendancy of the Scientific Method, the organized beginnings of which can be dated from the lifetimes of Galileo and Newton, which, by a remarkable coincidence, are linked chronologically. Galileo died the year Newton was born, in 1642.

The importance of their combined contributions to knowledge can't be overstated: for the first time, human conceptual abilities were enhanced by a set of rules that, when applied with a modicum of transparency and intellectual honesty, could reliably lead to insights (theories) that could, in turn, serve as both guides to further investigation and bases for organized disciplines with shared vocabularies and methods of measurement. In other words, advances in the basic sciences eventually became commercially valuable in ways that made individual lives easier and more productive, thus rapidly leading to a cascade of effects that stimulated growth of both wealth and the human population. To the extent those disciplines were mutually understood and shared their results, progress was even more rapid, as can be seen by comparing the growth of technology from 1800 on.

Unfortunately, political control of how science is funded and applied has remained in the hands of competitive sovereign governments with quite different cultures and ideologies. The same is true of the multinational corporations that compete almost as intensely as nations in a world, that is being made smaller, more competitive, and more crowded by the same sciences governments are attempting to “control.”

All of which may explain how humanity has arrived at its present impasse; perhaps more accurately described as a plethora of impasses confronting the species all over planet: ideological, climatic, religious, political, and financial.

If we look to the Behavioral Sciences for guidance, we are disappointed because the human competitive impulse still seems to be clearly in control despite the lateness of the hour.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at April 11, 2011 06:26 PM