• ssu
    4.5k
    That violence can defeat science. There is a tipping point after which, it's just all decay.Caldwell
    Violence can defeat quite much everything.

    Yet I think even the most violent, ruthless tyranny will look at part of science as important: to get technological advancements in warfighting and surveillance and control capabilities. Those who want for the society to "go back" into a better time still somehow acknowledge that in the defense of their realm they have to have up-to-date weaponry. Naturally such limited interest in science won't do much, but at least it's not anything.

    Yet I think the real danger is that science falls down to similar level as technological innovation, thought as just a part needed in investment to get economic growth, to improve our existing gadgets. When science falls down from it's actual philosophical quest for new knowledge, that will be "the decay" of science. Nobody will admit it has happened or will happen when it happens.

    Science is then just a 9 to 5 job for people who have trained to be scientists. And their agenda is to get financial support to basically have a job that feeds themselves and their families. And this money comes from various donors that are interested in certain type of research. And hence scientific research is not made by curiosity, but by the interests of foundations and those who have money.

    So what does the "decay of science" look like?

    It's like the historian that dreams of writing history about things that interest him or her when he or she is retired. But before that, the historian has to write histories that he or she is successful in getting funding. That historian, even if not a scientist, isn't alone.

    file-20190704-51312-1xexgnr.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=1200&h=1200.0&fit=crop

    And of course, the academic world can easily be made extremely bureaucratic and not have the least interest to do actual science, but replace it with pseudoscience.
  • Wayfarer
    13.6k
    Well if science got us into it, it's only science than can get us out of it. Plus a major change in attitude.
  • I love Chom-choms
    48
    Or we could just go to Mars with the same attitude.
  • 180 Proof
    5.6k
    ... the decay of science.Caldwell
    :chin:
    Another thing is that the scientific enterprise does not exist independently of "other phenomen[a] in the history of histories of human civilizations". Obviously, if the human civilization enters a decline (as a result of a global catastrophe, for example), its scientific pursuits will decline as well. Conversely, it is hard to conceive of science undergoing a decline in the midst of a burgeoning civilization.SophistiCat
    :100:
    Science earns its keep by providing the technological means to strip-mine nature.apokrisis
    :up:
  • Manuel
    1.4k
    The anti-science stuff is used as a weapon since anybody can say that a study is biased or ideological or whatever. And it's not difficult to find a graph that shows whatever correlation you like.

    I think it sometimes can be unhelpful to speak of science in so generalized a term in connection to political affairs. It's probably better to refer to the subset of scientists engaged in the relevant domain of concern.

    The reality of the survival of science will depend upon whether we manage to be around in the next 100 years, or if we will all blow it up. But I don't think these cynics or critics will do much, it's not particularly new after all.
  • Caldwell
    521
    God my brain is toast. Tired from work. :sad:

    Where were we?
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    National boundaries are suffocating science.

    This is seen with the lack of agreement around the world as to the per ton cost of carbon emissions on the environment (the world vs a nation), and on the flip side with the joyful events happening in the EU as to a collectivist effort to enhance science with such projects as CERN or ITER and a carbon tax.

    The downside is that Europe is paying a heavy cost to pay for the technology needed to tackle climate change first, while the US picks off which technologies to adopt for their own situation (that eventually will persuade the US).

    China can mass produce as much as it wants but only Europe is truly preparing for a new economy and will likely have significant returns in their investments in the future.
  • Caldwell
    521
    Just to clear up some things. The organic cyclical school of thought is what we're trying to attack here. I don't subscribe to the idea of "decay" right off the bat, at least not yet- but just humor me. After all, the dark ages really happened, and at at time when advancement in scientific knowledge was also robust -- the decline or decay does happen!

    Second of all, I'd also like some science philosophers here to come out and say something to the criticisms I mentioned in my first post. Please tell me the merit of the Decline Theory of Science, for lack of a better word. I know you guys are out there -- I owned a book dedicated to the writings of scientist philosophers.

    I don't see this at all. Imo science has been on the rise for 8000 years now. It has to repeatedly reinvent itself. At times it may have become stagnant, sometimes there were rapid breakthroughs - but that's just in the nature of science.Hermeticus
    Reinvent. Saying this is on par with saying it's cyclical. Because the nature of narrative is the same. Does science really reinvent itself?

    What do you mean by that? Science is a concept. A framework for building knowledge. You can "defeat" scientists, people who advocate science - but the concept itself is untouchable.Hermeticus
    Again, saying science is a concept is similar to saying it is organic. The narrative -- pay attention to the narrative. Since you cannot go to a lab and actually experiment on "concept", just like Spengler cannot experiment on organic cycles of activity, your narrative is just as good as Spenglers.

    Is that what you understand as decay then? Again, I don't see that at all. Worship, belief without justification and blind indoctrination existed before science and have been declining as the scientific method evolved.Hermeticus
    Oh I have a better understanding of decay -- but that's how cyclical thought thinks of what happens when science decayed -- what replaces it? You don't think other beliefs can become dominant? Look, think again. Just because we have computers and wireless technology it doesn't mean we've solved that issue. Funny thing is, we as believers of science don't have to worry about outside forces. The argument goes that the power and authority of scientific knowledge will eventually cause its own demise. Science cannot be attacked from the outside. It can only be ruined from within.

    Caveat -- violence can defeat science, but in another sense -- violence can ruin anything, @ssu is correct. So while I mentioned it in my OP, that is one worry that is of a different nature. Point #1 is the sinister idea. I mean, like, violence is like duct tape -- it can severely constrict anything.
  • Caldwell
    521
    Well if science got us into it, it's only science than can get us out of it. Plus a major change in attitude.Wayfarer
    See now you're getting it.
  • Wayfarer
    13.6k
    Hey I got it before. :wink:
  • Caldwell
    521
    The anti-science stuff is used as a weapon since anybody can say that a study is biased or ideological or whatever. And it's not difficult to find a graph that shows whatever correlation you like.Manuel

    I'm glad you mentioned "anti-science", because this is another issue apart from the decline theory of science. Science cannot be ruined by the anti-science movement. I can think of an analogy --fighting zombies is a lost cause. Eventually you'd get bitten. But can you make it harder for them to get you? Yes! But what is the point? Well, could be a 15-minute fame, you're an ideologist, or you like excitement.
  • Caldwell
    521
    Hey I got it before. :wink:Wayfarer
    Awesome! :cool:
  • Caldwell
    521
    And of course, the academic world can easily be made extremely bureaucratic and not have the least interest to do actual science, but replace it with pseudoscience.ssu

    Hah! You're getting it too!


    :chin:
    180 Proof
    Be quiet, Proof!

    National boundaries are suffocating science.Shawn
    This is a concern that is true, yet at least not anti-science.
  • Caldwell
    521
    Spengler seems to draw an analogy between biological organisms and civilizations (cultures), treating the latter as a superorganism and, he reasons, just like biological organisms e.g. a human goes through multiple stages of development ultimately terminating in death, cultures/civilizations too undergo a similar multi-stage evolution.TheMadFool
    Yup. I think he truly thinks it is organically growing.
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    Yup. I think he truly thinks it is organically growing.Caldwell

    A shoal of fish is not a fish. :grin:
  • Michael Zwingli
    158
    ...just like any other phenomenon in the history of histories of human civilizations -- science is cyclical.Caldwell
    Here we have the old notion of all cultural phenomena being "cyclical", as if they were resurgent beings. My opinion is that this represents a fallacy of misperception, albeit one fairly common within society...what one might call a "social legend", an example of "pop philosophy" tinged with superstition. One might say that the perception of "cycles of cultural phenomena" is no more than phenomenological!
    ...violence can defeat scienceCaldwell
    Quite true. Violence backed by sufficient force can "defeat" or demolish any human undertaking. Even so, there appears to be little danger on the horizon to scientific inquiry from human violence, at least as far as I can see.
    There is a tipping point after which, it's just all decay.Caldwell
    This, based upon the notion of "cyclicality", appears a fallacious expectation. I would think that the future limitations upon scientific discovery will be the cause of technological limitation, rather than cyclical "decay". Scientific inquiry rests upon the foundation of technology; scientists can only inveestigate what advances in technology will allow. As technological advancement speeds or slows, so scientific inquiry.
    ...science is anathema to other, equally powerful, schools of thoughts.Caldwell
    Perhaps to theistically religious fundamentalism of various types. With theism on a slow retreat in the "western world", though, I think this poses little danger. Here in the States, I would worry more about the future of Christianity than about the future of scientific inquiry. Biblical creationism, despite it's cultural embeddedness in some parts of the U.S., has become no more than a sideshow...a curiosity, and Christianity no more than a cultural tradition largely devoid of belief. Nor would I worry much about science in the Muslim world; quite a number of scientists continue to emanate from South Asia and, to a lesser degree, the middle East. There will always be your Afghanistans, but that situation is more of a failure of culture, of the failure of a culture to adapt to a changing world (or alternatively viewed, the failure of the world to accept the permanence of a particular culture), much as in Somalia, than it is the result of religion. I see no reason to bemoan the future of science in the Muslim world in general.

    The bottom line: there's way too much money to be made as a result of scientific inquiry for us to be worrying about it's future, at least here in the west. When all is said and done, "the bottom line" is, indeed, "the bottom line". To tell the truth, society may eventually (soon?) have to "push back" against science in the area of technological innovation, particularly in order to protect our individual privacy in an age characterized by the monetization of information.
  • Hanover
    6.9k
    So, what do we commonly hear? -- anti-vaxers, superstition, creationism, etc. While you are welcome to touch on these subjects, let's think of what we can ignore regarding the decay of science, as prep work. Then, we can move on to the real 'reality' of scientific survival:Caldwell

    I see a distinction between (1) superstition/creationists and (2) anti-vaxxers. Both are anti-scientific, but, as to #1, that deals with the enchantment issues described by Weber, where he described how science has replaced religion in modern society. If you are arguing that we're returning to religious based reasoning, your concern would be of a re-enchantment, where we are devolving back into a theocratically and mythologically based epistemology for understanding basic facts of day to day existence. I really don't see mass scale movement in that regard.

    As to #2, I think the anti-vaxxers are playing upon the Kantian distinction between (a) the skeptical method and (b) skepticism. The skeptical method requires ongoing investigation in the face of uncertainty, but implicitly accepts there is a general method for arriving at knowledge. That is where I think most scientifically inclined people would fall. Skepticism, on the other hand, questions the entire enterprise of whether anything can be known, and I do think that is where many of the conspiratorial anti-vaxxers fall. They scoff at the idea that there is reliable knowledge available due to whatever bias they can imagine might be skewing the results. The anti-vaxxers parade themselves as (a), when in fact that are (b). They're not just hyper-analyzing the data on vaccines; they're questioning and rejecting the scientific method.

    The problem with the general skeptics of (b) is that they have to have some ability to navigate the world, so they must abandon their generalized skepticism at some point and then just start arbitrarily accepting information as correct, without any real principled way to confirm it. It seems that as long as what they accept is not mainstream, it begins to have an air of credibility to them. We end up with people ingesting cattle deworming medications to treat a virus that has an otherwise scientifically proven preventative vaccine. That result is truly bizarre, but it has nothing to do with superstition or re-enchantment, but is the end result of an irrational, inconsistent generalized skepticism of science that doesn't have a replacement epistemology.

    It's the reverse Nietzschean quandary where we killed God through our disbelief in him and now we have nothing left in its place and so we spin in circles rudderless. These people killed science, so now what are they going to do?
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    Well if science got us into it, it's only science than can get us out of it. Plus a major change in attitude.Wayfarer

    To go to the devil to ask for help against the devil. — Reverend Samuel Parris (Salem Witch Trials)

    All good!
  • Tobias
    163
    I hope to see a debate or discussion regarding the anti-scientific sentiments or movement towards the decay of science. So, I'll suggest some ideas that could help stir the subject into the darker reality than what we're used to. This is written in a rush, and there is certainly much room for improvement.Caldwell

    Maybe I can write a story, the first part of it adapted from Orhan Pamuk, a famous Turkish writter, but I do not remember which book. Anyway, in the old Ottoman Empire there was a scientific council, the Ulema. The Ulema advised the sultan on all questions scientific and theological, which, for the Ulema were one and the same. They applied Aristotelian philosophy, Islamic teaching and Sufi wisdom. The Ulema held a venerable position. The Ottoman Empire was at the height of its power. Its military might and its bureaucracy were unrivalled. Istanbul was a city of splendour.

    A terrible plague struck the city though and the Sultan asked the Ulema for council. After a number of days of study they delivered their opinion. The plague was an evil greater than whatever pestilence had befallen the Sublime Porte. It must have been a true evil, an evil only brought about by satan himself. The question was how to get rid of the devil. The Ulema reasoned as follows: the devil tries to corrupt and therefore he will dwell in corrupt places, like brothels and coffee houses. They should be closed without hesitation. The devil dwells in places where money exchanges hands so all markets should be closed. The devil dwells in places where many people gather and where he can corrupt many faithful and so mosques and schools needed to be closed down as well. Where people are the devil is so people should be sequestered as much as possible until the devil leaves the city. And so it was done. The spreading of the plague subsided, and the Ulema was held in even higher regard, truely men of scientific and religious excellence, with a masterful insight in the workings of the world. They had saved the city relying on the greatest scientific principles, those of theoogy and aristotle and sound logic. It must truly be the greatest scientific body in the world.

    But the Ulema declined. After many years this venerable institution became seen as obscurantist, backward. The Empire could not compete anymore with its rivals, France, Britain, and even Russia. They held on to the old ways while the Western powers embraced empiricism. The question though is why the Ulema feal, what made Western science so good? Is it the relentless criticism and continuous testing of its resultsm the spirit of critique? The Ulema were not used to critique, hierarchies were fixed, the great hocas became old... the west was new and up and coming and sicentists continuously test each other and battle for results. It led to the system we know now, with peer review, countless journals, publish or parish and a relentess rat race of all the little cogs in the scientific machine. And so science flourished and perhaps still does.

    But... what does relentless critique do? At some point the critique turns against itself. The scientifi method, where only the data counts is a myth. Facts are fabricated says Bruno Latour, even the machines on which we type influence our results. Who you are impacts on what you write and no one is immune from his or her own identity say the postmodern researchers and the proponents of critical studies of various kinds. Science has become reflexive, self critical, aware of the risks it has helped produce. It became afraid it has become an accomplice to climate change and the atomic bomb. How does science decay, well by its own hand, by the very same thing that made it so strong, relentless critique. The conspiracy theorists, the Q's they are symptoms of a deeper, an maybe you say darker reality @caldwell Criticism has turned from a battle in which the best argument survived into a fearful dance of those aware of their limitations and where objectiveity has been dethroned, The shamans merely fill the gaps left behind. the violence is self inflicted and fed by a pesimistic and prudish age where moderation is key and. Gradually the teachings of the old Ulema start to hold sway again, because people are adrift and because science comes with so many disclaimers the people have started to fear that the medicine is worse than the cure. Because people started to long again for the unshakable truths of the Aristotelian order. Indeed pandemics are proper ground for scientific revolutions...
  • Michael Zwingli
    158
    If you are arguing that we're returning to religious based reasoning, your concern would be of a re-enchantment, where we are devolving back into a theocratically and mythologically based epistemology for understanding basic facts of day to day existence. I really don't see mass scale movement in that regard.Hanover

    I agree...I doubt very much that our societies shall return to belief in "knowledge by divine revelation". Such appears to be warranted, but I can discern, however, a need in our secular age for what I would term "quality mythos", not necessarily epistemological in nature, but rather for the same reason that we need poetry...for the exemplification and elucidation of truths regarding how to live, how to percieve and approach problematic life issues, and how best to meet the challenges of life. Our culture seems to want for this type of quality mythos (unless you consider Louis L'Amour novels to fit that bill, which I do not). Certainly, scholars as diverse as Joseph Campbell, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Robert Graves have expounded upon the place within a culture of quality mythos, even within the culture of ourselves: homo rationalis.
  • Caldwell
    521
    Here we have the old notion of all cultural phenomena being "cyclical", as if they were resurgent beings. My opinion is that this represents a fallacy of misperception, albeit one fairly common within society...what one might call a "social legend", an example of "pop philosophy" tinged with superstition. One might say that the perception of "cycles of cultural phenomena" is no more than phenomenological!Michael Zwingli
    The cyclicists actually have a refined notion of cycles. And it has nothing to do with resurgent. A phenomenon of cycle has a beginning not yet mature as to have claws -- but rather, an awesome growth that's full of goodness. Like science. But shall we admit we prefer the linear framework of activities, humanity, or civilization? I am actually undecided.

    This, based upon the notion of "cyclicality", appears a fallacious expectation. I would think that the future limitations upon scientific discovery will be the cause of technological limitation, rather than cyclical "decay". Scientific inquiry rests upon the foundation of technology; scientists can only inveestigate what advances in technology will allow. As technological advancement speeds or slows, so scientific inquiry.Michael Zwingli
    I'm beginning to feel like an apologist for the cycle theorists. But here goes. They actually predict the opposite of what you're saying. They don't foresee a limitation. And that's where the danger lies they say.

    The bottom line: there's way too much money to be made as a result of scientific inquiry for us to be worrying about it's future, at least here in the west. When all is said and done, "the bottom line" is, indeed, "the bottom line". To tell the truth, society may eventually (soon?) have to "push back" against science in the area of technological innovation, particularly in order to protect our individual privacy in an age characterized by the monetization of information.Michael Zwingli
    Maybe "worry" is unfit here. I will backtrack a bit. Let's go ahead and say, no one is worried. Spengler is not worried, for sure. I think your statement above misses the point. The decline theory of science acknowledges all that! Unlimited technological advancement and financial gain. There's nothing that you can think of in a maximizing fashion that they haven't already articulated.
  • Caldwell
    521
    If you are arguing that we're returning to religious based reasoning, your concern would be of a re-enchantment, where we are devolving back into a theocratically and mythologically based epistemology for understanding basic facts of day to day existence. I really don't see mass scale movement in that regard.Hanover

    To be honest, I really can't decide. For one thing, we can't undo facts.

    Because people started to long again for the unshakable truths of the Aristotelian order.Tobias
    Yes! We want to smell the earth not hide behind the theory of numbers and symbols.
  • Tobias
    163
    Yes! We want to smell the earth not hide behind the theory of numbers and symbols.Caldwell

    Yes we do. We long for the earth and give rights to trees. And the symbols and number are countered by other symbols and numbers. Cost benefit analyses clash with impact assessments and we learn that the numbers we get are dependent on the numbers we feed and the answer becomes 42 like some sort of oracle proclaiming the wish of the Greek gods.
  • Banno
    14.2k
    The Parable of the Ulema; thanks for that. :up:

    Perhaps we should consider a return to paganism; or worship of the sun? Or back to animism. We need a grounding in the reality of the world around us.
  • Michael Zwingli
    158
    Perhaps we should consider a return to paganism; or worship of the sun?Banno

    Emperor Julian lives! And, in the person of Banno (who ever knew?)

    Actually, I rather wish he had lived, and driven Christianity back into the Levant. Not that the purported teachings of said Ye'shua are without taste and merit, but that the theosophic soup in which they are served is most unflavoursome. Coming into, say, the nineteenth century, I think that worship of the sun, even a deified sun, would have been a preferable situation to worship of a God which is but purely a figment of the imagination. I believe it would have made the (eventual) transition to non-theistic religion much easier than it will be now (I hope).
  • unenlightened
    5.9k
    Edward Gibbon, in his classic work on the fall of the Roman Empire, describes the Roman era's declension as a place where "bizarreness masqueraded as creativity.” — Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

    You heard it there first.
  • Gus Lamarch
    893
    I hope to see a debate or discussion regarding the anti-scientific sentiments or
    movement towards the decay of science.
    Caldwell

    Science has become something of a "dogma" of the religious and fundamentalist past; in a way, we are trapped by the "absoluteness" of the arguments developed by it. Indeed, anyone who dares to repudiate any claim taken as "canonical" by scholars in the field will have his body cleansed by the calls of intolerance - like heretics on a stake.

    “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” “Science and religion are not at odds. Science is simply too young to understand.” “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded: -That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

    Very arrogant of such an insignificant species to actually think that they have attained the absolute truths of the Universe, through tools which they themselves have created, with their misinterpretations of an unsubstantiated and completely subjective existence. But it is understandable that in a mind as small as that of an ordinary man, the inability to understand the individuality of thoughts, and finally, of "perspectives of the world", prevails, because, when questioning without end, something that structures itself in matters which only such dogma can theorize and hypothesize about, a dark cloud, filled with resentment and its self-awareness of its complete indifference to reality, ends up causing minds that are definitely authentic to drown in a complete deluge. Perhaps only wisdom and its eventual antithesis, ignorance, can - in a cycle - repel this evil that remains permeating humanity - resentment!

    “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents... some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying views of reality, and of our frightful position therein , that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of the new Dark Age.” - H.P. Lovecraft

    Perhaps it is our reality, which H.P Lovecraft refers to, which we should be content with:- The strong embrace of knowledge, many times, can suffocate you to death.

    But am I defending total ignorance, complete retrocess? Not at all; I defend the "authenticity" of the human mind, and all its ideas, whether logical or illogical, religious or scientific, old and new. The decay of some method of study, due to its inability to give us a total and "true" answer to reality, is caused solely and fully by our resentment - the hatred caused by the incapacity; the awareness of the unconsciousness of existence before us; the lack of Man's "specialty" - towards our own limitation.

    - And what would be the correct method then? Are we doomed to "unknowing"?

    Maybe so, maybe not, and maybe, we're only doomed to what we're capable of deserving - we'll never know!

    The only "truth" is the complete and total subjectivity of existence, which does not include "absoluteness", and not even by science, we will be able to transform the essence of reality, so that it enters according to our intrinsic need for realization , which, through the purpose, made us develop just one more method of us, continuously, to "search":

    - Science!

    "Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come, when memory of us will have been effaced." - Seneca

    "Many unknowings are reserved for ages still to come, when memory of us will have been, eternalized." - Gus Lamarch
  • Caldwell
    521
    "Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come, when memory of us will have been effaced." - Seneca

    "Many unknowings are reserved for ages still to come, when memory of us will have been, eternalized." - Gus Lamarch
    Gus Lamarch

    :grin:

    But am I defending total ignorance, complete retrocess? Not at all; I defend the "authenticity" of the human mind, and all its ideas, whether logical or illogical, religious or scientific, old and new. The decay of some method of study, due to its inability to give us a total and "true" answer to reality, is caused solely and fully by our resentment - the hatred caused by the incapacity; the awareness of the unconsciousness of existence before us; the lack of Man's "specialty" - towards our own limitation.

    - And what would be the correct method then? Are we doomed to "unknowing"?

    Maybe so, maybe not, and maybe, we're only doomed to what we're capable of deserving - we'll never know!
    Gus Lamarch
    We have everything we need to prevent the fall into ignorance. Very well enunciated! No one is truly anti-rationality. We will know when we get there. I am saying this because I trust the human mind.
  • Caldwell
    521
    ↪Tobias
    The Parable of the Ulema; thanks for that. :up:
    Banno
    I second that.
  • Bylaw
    85
    Corporate control of research. Corporate control of scientific journals. Corporate control over regulatory bodies (IOW poor science, biased science being approved by bodies that are not objective or independent). Corporate control of media - which then can marginalize ideas, research, criticism and scientific debate that might undermine corporate research.
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