On The Money;
Economics for the 99%
The Method To My Madness pt 2
What’s My Objection To Objective Science?
For centuries now, objective science has ruled the world. About 500 years ago, objective science overthrew God, and replaced religion as the chief source of human knowledge about the world, during a period known as The Renaissance, or “The Enlightenment”. Sure, religion was ripe for an overthrow. Religion had become incredibly corrupt, violent and oppressive, and did little for the millions of poor people who served it so, well, religiously, but today, objective science has failed, and the seeds of it’s failure were there from the beginning.
For a while, objective science seemed like a wonderful thing. The freedom to study the world, and publish your findings without fear of being condemned to death as a heretic must have been quite refreshing. In its early years, objective science made great strides in understanding how the world worked, especially in the field of physics.
Sir Isaac Newton, besides earning himself a knighthood, and a distinguished place in history, remains a household word to this day for his groundbreaking work in describing the mathematical relationship between objects in motion. This was such a big deal, they even named a cookie after him. Newton’s way of looking at the world, as a collection of objects, in motion or at rest, falling and bumping into each other, became the foundation of “objective science”. Suddenly, science, specifically physics, was all about objects, and the transfer of energy between them.
Lots of people jumped on the “objective science” bandwagon, and soon, the “scientific method” was born. Science teachers all over the world, in all kinds of fields, from chemistry to sociology still teach this scientific method. The scientific method is a way of designing experiments, and scientists all over the world use it religiously.
Using the scientific method, the scientist tries to isolate one particular variable in a complex system, and then looks for something that determines change in that variable. For instance, a scientist might start a number of identical plants, raising them in exactly the same soil and nutrients, and then vary the amount of light the plants receive, to see how that effects the plant’s growth rate. Ideally, the scientist finds a cause and effect relationship, that can be expressed in the form of a mathematical equation, x hours of sunlight produces y amount of new growth, for instance.
While physical objects yield very easily to this kind of experiment, producing mathematically predictable results, complex systems, specifically organisms, like plants, animals, people, families, cities, or the economy, do not yield such cut and dried results. Organisms teem with variables, and scientists find it difficult, if not impossible, to control all of them, as well as they do the variables of objects, like chemicals, rocks, or metal parts.
Objective science taught us a lot about organisms, but never with the kind of mathematical accuracy and predictability of physics, and the more complex the organism, the less predictable the results, and the harder it was for scientists to find these mechanical cause and effect relationships. That didn’t stop them from trying, though. In the mean time, the objective science of physics really took off.
Thanks to “objective science”, physics gave birth to modern technology. From the steam locomotive and the cotton gin, to the ipad and the X-Box, the world of applied objective science, commonly called technology, transformed the world, and our lives. Not only did theses new things change our lives, objective science itself, made us feel smarter and more powerful.
We began to believe that through objective science, we could unlock all of the secrets of the universe and know the mind of God. This was the goal of “The Enlightenment”, to explain how the universe worked, in scientific equations, rather than religious terms. When we saw the first nuclear explosion, and learned the equation E=MCsquared, a lot of people thought we were getting close to that goal.
Despite the fact that physics had left biology, psychology, sociology, economics and other sciences that study organisms in the dust, many scientists in those fields, and most laypeople, still assume that objective science will eventually unlock all of the secrets of the universe, and so they continue to pursue objective science, believing that only the vast number of variables inherent in the study of organisms, prevents scientists from completely grasping the mechanics of life, but they think they are getting close too.
These scientists think that unraveling the mysteries of the universe is a good thing, in and of itself, but more importantly, they believe that we can use this knowledge to make the world a better place to live. This idea has guided our culture for the last 500 years. These were the assumptions behind the rise of objective science: That objective science would unlock the mysteries of the universe, and that we could use that knowledge to engineer a better world.
That’s why they overthrew God and religion to begin with. Not that God and religion didn’t deserve to be overthrown, but now objective science has led us into a system more corrupt, violent and oppressive than even the sickest ambitions of the most sadistic Cardinals of the Spanish Inquisition. Objective science has become a scam, a way to make money, and a political tool to bamboozle the public, and instead of helping us to engineer a better world, it has unleashed hell on Earth.
Fans of objective science, and there are many, usually see the mysteries of the universe as falling into two broad categories: The stuff we already understand, and the stuff scientists are studying right now, so that we will understand it pretty soon. Most of them still believe that we will someday unravel the mysteries of the universe through objective science, and that we will use that knowledge to make the world a better place to live, but they couldn’t be more wrong, and the further we pursue objective science, the more obvious that fact becomes.
The truth is, We don’t have a freakin’ clue! We are no closer to unraveling the mysteries of the universe that we have ever been. The mythology of the Big Bang has no more truth in it than the story of Adam’s rib, or the story that the whole world sits on the back of a turtle. These stories all provide convenient ways to explain what we see around us, but I wouldn’t take any of them too seriously. Before you call me a heretic for renouncing the Big Bang, you should consider a few things.
First, almost all of the scientists in the world are working on projects aimed at developing new products. They’re developing new drugs to treat depression, finding ways to make weapons more lethal, figuring out how to make computers smaller and faster. Sure, some of them are staring out at the universe and trying to make sense of it, but more of them are creating dangerous new life forms that they can patent and unleash on the world, to make money.
They aren’t unraveling the mysteries of the universe, so much as they are unraveling the fabric of life itself, because that’s where the research funds come from. The companies that fund science, expect to turn a profit from it. The same people who drive scientific research, also drive our economy, the scientists working for them care more about their paycheck, than uncovering the ultimate truth of the universe. The Big Bang is not really a big deal to most of them, it is just how the universe looks to them.
Second, and this is the important part. Even though the world looks to us like its made of objects, some living, like plants and animals, some not, like rocks and ice cubes, the world only looks this way to us because this is what we need to see in order to survive. Our brains don’t have anywhere near the capacity to understand the universe. We only see what we need to know to get ourselves fed and laid. In other words, how the universe looks to us, has almost nothing to do with how the universe is. What we don’t comprehend, and doesn’t help us survive, we simply don’t see at all.
Objective scientists themselves have provided plenty of evidence to prove it. According to astrophysicists, everything we have managed to detect in the universe, only accounts for about 2% of what they suspect is really there. They don’t mean that beyond the reach of our telescopes there is more stuff, they mean that all around us, there is more stuff, like dark matter, dark energy etc. We simply have no way of detecting it.
Einstein’s theory of relativity showed us, quite dramatically, with the first nuclear explosion, that the world is not made of objects, however tiny. Instead, the universe is made of energy, and that space and time aren’t nearly as real as we, or Newton, imagined, at least not outside of the observer who experiences them.
Even though the universe appears as though it sprang into existence out of nothingness, from one single point, no one was outside of the universe to observe it. There is no such thing as absolute space and time. Instead, space and time only exist in relation to an observer, that’s what Einstein meant by relativity. Since there were no observers, outside of the universe, before the big bang, there wasn’t any space or time in which that mythical event took place. What would the Big Bang be without any time to expand, or any space to expand into?
I know its hard to imagine anything outside of space and time. It’s impossible really. That’s what I mean by incomprehensible. Looking at the universe as something that exists in space and time is kind of like looking at a pie chart. When you see data expressed in a pie chart, you can make some sense of it, but when you only see pages and pages of raw data, it doesn’t make any sense at all, so you don’t bother. Everyone knows that a pie chart is not a real pie, and that data does not become sweet gooey filling when you make one. This is not a perfect analogy, but nothing is, really. It’s incomprehensible, that’s the whole problem, and that’s my point.
Does all of that seem incomprehensible to you? Good! It should, because it is. It’s time we faced that fact. The universe is simply beyond our comprehension. We don’t really know any more about the universe than an orangutan, or a chimp or a hamster for that matter. None of us in this world really knows any more than we really need to know to get ourselves fed and to get ourselves laid, and some of us don’t even know that much.
By the way, what I’m telling you here, is called a phenomenological analysis of objective science. Phenomenologists don’t make discoveries that capitalists can turn into products, and so they don’t make much money, outside of the philosophy departments of some colleges and universities, where they occasionally find work as professors. If this stuff sounds interesting to you, I suggest you find a college or university who employs one, and take a few classes in phenomenology.
Alright, now that we’ve gone over the deep end, you are probably asking yourself, “What’s all of this got to do with economics?” The short answer is that while objective science taught us a lot about objects in space and time, it never really told us much about organisms. Phenomenology, on the other hand, can tell us a lot about organisms, not everything, but more than objective science. Again, if phenomenology sounds interesting to you, find yourself a good phenomenologist, and take a few classes.
One basic principle of phenomenology is that organisms are always more than the sum of their parts, unlike machines, which are simply the sum of their parts. Plants, animals and people are organisms, and they are also part of a larger organism called the ecosystem, which is part of a larger organism called the world, which is undoubtedly part of a larger organism we call “The Universe”. . There’s much more to us than meets the eye, and that’s why objective science never really told us as much about us, as it did about objects. The economy is also an organism, and it’s part of a larger organism called “society” which is also part of the ecosystem, etc. This means that there is more to how we feed each other, trade with each other, and compete with each other than meets the eye.
On The Money, Economics for the 99% offers a phenomenological analysis of economics. You’ll notice that I include my personal perspective, as well as an environmental perspective, a workers perspective, a consumers perspective, a political perspective and a social perspective on the subject of economics, instead of just looking at the mechanical flow of money around the globe.
The phenomenological method of study, involves observing phenomena from many perspectives, rather than trying to describe it as an object or a machine. The world is more than resources, people are more than consumers and the economy is more than a machine that feeds one to the other. I also include a bit of humor, because readers are more than just digesters of information. Call me crazy, but there’s a phenomenological critique of objective science that’s On The Money.