Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Scientists reveal the world as scientists wish it could be : historians reveal the world as it really is ?

Is reality really parsimonious ?

The central contention of mainstream science is that reality is fundamentally simple , predictable and controllable.

Or is reality profligate ?

By contrast, the historians claim that reality is extremely complicated, multi-causal, interconnected and endlessly dynamic.

Both views are collectively pre-biased : but which is evidence-based ?

Now while scientists freely admit to a collective bias to see parsimony everywhere, they also feel that the historians are pre-biased -- towards seeing plenitude and profligacy everywhere.

This newsletter's central contention is that what the historians see is what we laity also see on the surface of reality - daily and everywhere.

But what scientists claim to see, we laity do not yet see.

Although many of us share the scientists' wistful longing that it actually exists, somewhere under all of reality's surface morass.

So historians (think of them as defendants in a trial) do not have to prove their contention ---- merely to point to daily existence.

By contrast, surely it is the task of the scientists and their social scientist fellow travellers to prove their case for 'deep simplicity' "beyond all reasonable doubt" in the court of evidence.

But to date they have failed to demonstrate (with concrete examples) that if the ultimate base of reality is very simple, that it somehow follows that it is both predictable and controllable by humans.

Scientists have gotten away with their repeatedly refuted claims because by and large historians haven't done their jobs.

Historians have failed to examine the scientists' efforts as sceptically as they have examined the claims for the successful control of events made by politicians, generals and financiers.

Clearly , by my criteria the Era of Modernity was the era of scientists - so why isn't today's Era of Commensality the era of historians ?

Its a question I've often asked myself .

In a more public sense, history professors  Jo Guldi and David Armitage have asked the same question in their "HISTORY MANIFESTO" (Cambridge University Press) .

Their book-length manifesto was released on October 2014 in various formats - including an OPEN ACCESS (free downloadable) version.

I urge anyone wondering why historians have been so silent on on urgent issues like climate change to download and ponder Guldi and Armitage's book.

Now I know scientists seem currently on the side of the angels with regard to climate change.

But my contention is that the scientists - in the past and even today - laid down the intellectual runway that allowed climate deniers to take wing.

So my newsletter will keep on contributing to tomorrow's battle over climate change --- by looking back seventy five years --- at yesterday's failed claims for the Norden bombsight, synthetic penicillin and New York eugenics research....

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