Expect The Unexpectable, History Of Science Says, Evolving Common Sense


Expecting the unexpectable evolves common sense to a higher form. There is no scientific method, per se. There is common sense, which has been “scientifically” driven, that is facts driven, certainty driven, for ten million years, or more.

Even a bear, or a mountain lion have (a lot of) common sense (and those who do not want to be eaten have to dialogue correctly with the common sense of their potential predator; that’s why once I hit an aggressive youngish bear with a big rock, to knock some common sense into him, reminding him the evidence that attacking a human was expensive and dangerous [1]; bears and mountain lions understand the language of flying rocks very well, and attribute respect to those who can command to them…). 

Because science is common sense propelled, there is no “method” for finding new science, as the famous physicist Feynman pointed out very unambiguously in his Lectures on Physics. When new facts are uncovered, common sense has to work hard to articulate them into logic (a live example of this is entanglement in Quantum Physics; I have proposed a way out that nobody else has proposed, namely a finite speed “Quantum” interaction; the point being, the idea has to be tried). 

Now some superstitious religions target common sense, deliberately… with the aim of demolishing the notion of common sense, because populations which cannot make sense can be exploited. An example are sects in a religion according to which, if you say that only cretins would believe that a so-called prophet flew to Jerusalem on a winged horse, you should be killed… for “blasphemy”. 

I think, therefore I watch for the expected unexpectable… Torres Paine, Patagonia…

By contrast, in Western Europe, the concept of “cretin” was derived from “christianus“… Fanatical Christians were not held in high esteem, but rather as mental retards. This shows a completely different, highly disrespectful mood towards fanaticism. And reading Middle Age literature be it at the popular or academic level, shows an extremely skeptical attitude to Christianism as an end-all, be-all. 

Actually European Middle Age popular literature, at least in the center of intellectual civilization, France, casually insists, for centuries, that “scripture”, when it evokes it, may well be a big lie (“Se l’Escriture ne nous ment“, if Scripture does not lie to us, is a preferred formula in the 1100s). In the end Western European common sense killed the mood which said that accusing them of blasphemy was a plausible reason for killing rebels against the established order (even the tyrant Louis XIV of France had to put an end to the nonsense of making witchcraft a crime in 1682, describing it as fraudulent magic, a definition which did not as such prevent witch trials, but made it difficult to convict people of a capital crime). 

However, in some regions dominated by some Muslim sects, after making religious fundamentalism illegal around 1200 CE, there was a relapse (some of it in part an indirect effect of the conquest by the Mongols, which killed the intellectuals), and that’s how what was once the world’s wealthiest region became the poorest: because it got bereft of common sense… And that was all a plot.

In today’s world, scientific progress is a must to insure the survival of civilization, and its eight billion bearers. COVID, if nothing else, has made this clear: many thinkers, for the longest time, had forecasted that terrible pandemics were around the corner (among other incoming disasters)… In part because of jet travel, which made “tourists” travel arguably in worse conditions than slaves of the Atlantic slave trade a pandemic danger (slaves could lay down, and had to exercise an hour a day of the slave ships… Only first class travel allows you to lay down…) For ecological reasons, this sort of mass travel was already morally deplorable.

Some hope that fighting climate change is just a few regulations away (like outlaw mass air travel). That seems to be the “common sense” driving Biden and company. It is an erroneous common sense. The correct sense, not yet common, is that “Climate change” will not get under control without drastically new technology, driven by new science…

So how to get new science? Well, from new common sense… How can common sense become “new”? From new facts. Common sense is built from common observations. Common sense will vary according to what people commonly observe. 

For example, old common sense, up to a few generations ago, said that what was small was like what was big, just smaller. An application was the “homunculus” theory: that humans started initially with very small reproductions of themselves, and then those homunculi grew big. Modern biology has a very different (sketch of an) explanation: it starts with DNA. 

When I was a child, my own dad once told me in Africa that to believe the very small was just like the very big, just smaller, made… no sense. And indeed this is what Quantum Physics has determined: Quantum Waves rule, and they do not accept to be put in boxes, as, after all, they are waves, hence non local… So, observing these new facts, common sense can only be inspired, and change: the solution to the very small is the nonlocal. There is no very small, there is instead there is the very much, not there… 

This sort of example extracted from science tells common sense it needs to evolve, and realize that, often, the problem is not the problem. Instead, an unexpected solution is found, changing the problem to something with higher dimensions. Old observations then become something flat, labyrinths observed from above. And thus is a root meta-observation of common sense looking at all theories, past, present, and future: expect the unexpectable...   

Patrice Ayme

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[1] The bear, in remote backcountry, Little Yosemite Valley, had attacked half a dozen hikers half an hour earlier, persuading them to leave their backpacks for ursine inspection and taxation. I did not surrender mine, and I got charged… But I defended myself successfully. The bear was shot and killed by rangers three weeks later. 

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