Free for a worldview?

Posted: 01/04/2014 in Mandtao, ONE planet, Science
Tags: , ,

Mandtao 30/4/12


“Ultimately these problems must be seen as just different facets of one single crisis, which is largely a crisis of perception. It derives from the fact that most of us, and especially our large social institutions, subscribe to the concepts of an outdated world view, a perception of reality inadequate for dealing with our overpopulated, globally interconnected world. [p4] ”

I am going to thrash this out now, because otherwise it will be nagging me throughout. It is not the worldview that is the issue, it is power. The worldview implies within it a notion that we can choose our view of the world. Because of the egos of academia or science there is an unwritten assumption, knowledge is out there and it is only a matter of discovery that this knowledge can be found. Then a scientist has a “eureka” moment and the truth of that knowledge becomes integrated into academia per se. This is so far from the truth it is staggering that the intellectuals within these communities actually believe it.

Let us consider the process that might be called academic apprenticeship. School, we must pass exams; university, we must pass exams; if we then pass those exams we get admitted into a research programme where there is a rigorous method to be adhered to. You have already been inculcated by this stage – jumped through so many hoops. In research you study all previous knowledge on a subject and then extend that knowledge. Sounds reasonable until you actually examine how that knowledge is extended. Numerically is the best way I can think of conveying this. Suppose we consider that the axioms that science is based on be specified as level 0, maybe the Greeks were discussing these axioms. As academics did further work these levels increased and increased until their work had little connection with the original axioms. The academic work that a Ph D student might work on could be that s/he consider levels 95-100, and through detailed study they examine minutiae at this level, detail it and cross-reference it with existing literature, and a Ph D is awarded if the researcher has been rigorous. One of the major criteria would be a recognition of innovation, but that innovation would not be concerned with the questioning of the axioms but that at the appropriate level their work had not been seen before.

This process of meticulous minutiae is reinforced by the academic job structure. A professor is installed based on published work. If the published work is recognised as some level of quality then a university wants to be associated with that quality. Within the department the people climb the ladder the same as they do anywhere else, and their position and commensurate salary is based on how they increase the body of work associated with the professor. If a professor gathers a team of people who work together well, the work can attract funding, and this reinforces the position of the professor. The essence of academia is the reputation of the professor and the amount of research funding they can attract.

And who is there to ensure this happens? Above the professors, the people who could be innovative, are a set of bureaucrats whose ambit is not the search for knowledge but the protection of the institution. Let me elucidate what happens to the search for knowledge by considering research into treatments for cancer. Cancer is on the increase, and there is much money connected with it. Cancer is not understood but the established approach is to consider that cancer develops from the genes. Once the cancers grow from these genes, then a regime of chemicals, chemo and radiation therapy are applied usually with little success. And the typical result is death. One horrendous by-product of this process is that the cancer industry makes huge profits, and there are many people employed dependent on these profits. It is significant to understand this, many of the people involved in the cancer industry are dependent on the status quo view of cancer and its treatment.

However there are a small but significant group of people who claim alternative approaches to cancer. They claim that cancer is a lifestyle disease, and that an improved approach to life including healthy eating avoiding of chemicals etc. could lead to the healing or avoidance of cancer. People who say this follow macrobiotics or Gerson. On top of this there are people who say that B17, cannabinoids or baking soda can destroy cancer cells. I am not qualified to attest to these, but Harvard scientists are, MIT scientists are, Oxbridge scientists are. So the question is why aren’t these institutions carrying out this research. Politics and funding? Scientific research is expensive, and who has the money? The cancer industry favouring the status quo. Suppose such funding became available to a reputable scientist then the institutional protector would prevent its usage, and if it got beyond that stage influence would be applied with threats of the withdrawal of funding elsewhere being issued.

In the movie Forbidden Cures W Edward Griffin describes how the 1%, in this case Rockefeller and Carnegie, took over medical schools:-

Prior to this, in the 19th century, US medicine was both homeopathic and allopathic. Homeopathic medicine attempted to aid nature to heal the body itself, and allopathic medicine used chemical or operations. At the turn of teh 20th century the film says people did not favour either. After the financial take-over of the medical schools doctors treated with pharmaceuticals.

Quite simply academia is typically now not free in its search for knowledge.

However philosophical worldviews don’t usually directly affect the profits of the 1% so much as possible cancer cures, yet approaches to academia which could change academic direction into a more open consideration of knowledge would be discouraged by the institutional gatekeepers. When Capra says that we subscribe to an outdated world view he does not say that that world view is restricted by the influence of the 1%. Does he perceive it that way? I don’t know but for me it is important to state from the outset that science is not independent. The scientists are controlled by funding both internally and external to their particular institutions. The search for knowledge is completely fettered by these restrictive forces, and any discussion of the current search for knowledge cannot possibly be complete without stating this caveat as being of fundamental influence.

I want to note here that my views could be discounted for bias (see Academic Failure)

Finally I want to discuss the chicken and egg of scientific discovery. Which came first the chicken or the egg? is an amusing question. No answer. But in science which comes first theory or practice is routinely answered as theory, it is one of those scientific axioms that is unwritten yet fundamental. Which came first Free Trade or Adam Smith? Scientific ego answers Adam Smith, the non-egoic answer is that there could have been any number of Adam Smiths who could have slipped into the slot that the practice wanted. In other words the prevailing powers wanted a theory that would allow for the exploitation that became known as Free Trade. Who is Milton Friedman? He is trickle-down economist with many prizes. Jamie Johnson made him angry with insubstantive arguments about the wealth gap, Friedman is not wisdom at its highest. Friedman does not usually have to defend his position because trickle-down economics are the lies the 1% want us to believe so that governments can be free to give all kinds of money to the rich including bailout to bankers. Friedman does not appear to me to be a wise man, he was the stooge whose theory fit the capitalist need at the time. Theory and practice? A simple discussion can yield doubt.

Scientists want to believe that they are in control of scientific worldview, that is their ego, that is their claim to fame, so when you read a book on science this position has to affect your perspective.

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  1. […] Free for a worldview? […]

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