Archive for September 16th, 2017

We Think, Therefore We Predict As Scientists

September 16, 2017

Intelligence Produces Science & Previously Theories Thereof, In Monkeys, As It Does In Men:

Intelligence adapts to (known) circumstances, and, or predicts “successfully” the future. Adaptation and prediction is why intelligence evolved.

The adaptations and predictions intelligence brought were so successful, that the most intelligent animals reproduced more (thus brain size has been steadily augmenting among apex species, in the last 600 million years). The preceding was initially a polite answer to astrophysicist Ethan Siegel who wrote publicly that “Successfully predicting the future requires theoretical science”. No, it doesn’t, or then lemurs are theoretical scientists! Because lemurs can predict some elements of the future, just as human scientists can. Many a scientist shares comparable lack of awareness about the capability of other species to predict the future, too… Such arrogance is to the detriment of science in the public eye. Because the public, even if it doesn’t say so, smells a rat, when confronted to such statements, and rightly so.

To “successfully predict the future“, no “theoretical science” is required, or then “theoretical science” has been practiced for millions of years, by apes and their predecessors!

“Science” is what we know, for sure (or so we think). “Theoretical” science is guesswork, which will become “science” if it’s successful. That is, truthful. Philosophy is why and how the foundations of the theory, any theory… evolved.

I Think, Therefore I Eat

[But I don’t try to eat those frightening, nasty human super-predators, who are only trouble.]

Of course many people claim to know, to profess, even, plenty of haughty theories, whereas, in truth they are just paid to disseminate not just fake news, but false knowledge (think of many economists, and their “free market” lies, or “intellectuals” revering religions which brought the Dark Ages, as horrendously happened with Middle Age theology, and is still happening with Islamophilia). And there is a difference between false knowledge and the true knowledge new art and poetry can bring. Yes, art and poetry can be knowledge.

So yes, prehistoric men carrying fire in fire cages, or fire starting kits, were scientists: try it on your own, with what you find in nature, to realize how much knowledge is involved in basic fire husbandry. Ötzi, the 5200 years old neolithic person found in a melting glacier, carried a fire starting kit comprising more than a dozen different materials…All indispensable for fire starting, from dried mushrooms to flintstones.

Right, we know more, than our ancestors because our knowledge is more significant, deeper. We know fire is the chemical combination of an oxidizer and an oxidant, and we even know now how thermonuclear fire works, something even Albert Einstein had not figured out (as Ethan Siegel, him again, points out, as the thermonuclear fusion possibility computation crucially depends upon Quantum “Uncertainty”). But that does not mean we could start a fire in a wet, cold European winter and save ourselves from sleeping outside by scaring away Cave Bears with fire, from the local caves they also craved.

Indeed, left in a jungle to our own devices, we would quickly perish, from lack of… science, while prehistoric men would have seen only business as usual. Stumbling across that fact, professor Jared Diamond erroneously deduced, or at least, wrote, in his famous “Guns, Germs and Steel” that New Guineans were smarter than Europeans (!)

We shouldn’t be too arrogant, and believe we are so fundamentally different from Homo Erectus, a million years ago, learning to master basic skills such as clothing, firing, cooking, etc… Yes, we have more cerebral capability. But the task itself, science, knowledge, is not fundamentally different. Yes, there is a scientific method. But, even more fundamentally, there is a philosophical method. Either will be readily applied by wild, cerebrally advanced animals, even cephalopods. But, of course, certainly not in some human societies. In some societies values are inverted, to serve a few: those we call plutocracies. In particular they value stupidity more than intelligence. Precisely because if the individuals of such a society adapted and predicted the future, they may try to get rid of the satanic ones who exert power (“kratos”) on them.  

Arrogance, and even dominance, are marks of stupidity, except when directed at the stupid. Thus, by being arrogant and dominant, all too many scientists implicitly claim that non-”scientists” are stupid. If one really supports science, that’s real stupid, as science can’t exist without support of “non-scientists”. In truth, civilized people may not all be philosophically minded, but they are much more scientifically minded than is usually assumed.

So remember: although, relative to what it is today, science in Julius Caesar’s time may seem to have amounted to much, that doesn’t mean it was trivial. Some scientists may feel they are the geniuses who make science all what it can be, but they are delusional: it’s the society which makes the science (even the great mathematician Michael Atiyah became aware of this recently, and the necessity for mathematics to adapt accordingly… By making itself useful. However we are very far from it, considering the ridiculous obsession mathematicians have with infinity).

Scientists are just the organs of more or less scientifically minded societies. This is clearly what history shows. Few societies created science, or, more generally, really big ideas.  Such societies were, first, philosophically inclined to do so (for example Athens and the Ionian Greek cities at their apogees). The societies created the scientists, the scientists didn’t invent the societies. Trade did the rest.

And the first mood those societies should have is curiosity, an open mind, a lack of hubris, and a capability to predict possible futures. The downfall of Athens was caused by a shortness of openness (just like Sparta, Athens restricted citizenship to the point of drastically reducing population), an incapacity to predict the highly predictable fact that Athens, once besieged, or on the fleet, thus seriously overcrowded, would be attacked by a plague (Pericles bemoaned that he had predicted everything, but for that), and all of this rendered possible by an hubris so colossal that Athens soon engaged in war crimes (the case of Melos).

Thus scientists’ miens should display all these truthful characteristics of spiritual, mental openness, and humility. To claim only scientists can foresee the future, is flaunting just the exact opposite: it’s hubristic, closed-mind, and dumb. Not a good way to inspire youth with the search for truth. Nor is it a good way to inspire the political and social leaders, who, themselves are often little more than children (JFK, Obama, Macron; in the Middle Age, Europe was often led by outright children: Edward III was 16 years old when he took power, jailed his mom, and prepare to launch the “100” Years War).

Patrice Ayme’

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