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Thread: New dark age

  1. #1 New dark age 
    ox
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    Are we now entering a new dark age for man when progress will stall and even move backwards as happened in Europe between the 5th and 16th centuries?
    The world today is obsessed by population growth, economic crises and global warming. History is bound to repeat. It was Galileo and Newton who paved the way for the industrial revolution. The equations of Maxwell led to the electric revolution. Those of Einstein led to the atomic age and those of Planck and others led to the quantum revolution. But since the latter half of the 20th century, not much (reference Smolin's 'The Trouble with Physics'). It would appear from the historical evidence that it takes just one genius to come along to change the world.
    My top 10 would be: Pythagoras, Euclid, Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Riemann, Planck, Einstein, Heisenberg, Schrodinger. As you can see, nobody in the last 50 years has matched these. There are plenty of theorists, but they have focused on unearthly science such as black holes and antimatter. Maybe exponential population growth is to blame where people's lives are dominated by the media and there is no room for the lone genius.


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    History never repeats itself. Parallels between “then” and “now” might be good book fodder but the contexts are so vastly different that it is always a matter of history moving on, not repeating itself. One slightly amusing parallel could be drawn between the monks in the middle ages who expended (wasted?) all that mental power and analytical effort trying to figure out the nature of their God, whom it turns out doesn’t even exist, and Smolin’s complaint that today’s monks are the string theorists ensconced in their ivory towers calculating how many universes can balance on the head of a pin. But this too shall pass, and this time in much less than a thousand years.


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  4. #3 Re: New dark age 
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Are we now entering a new dark age for man when progress will stall and even move backwards as happened in Europe between the 5th and 16th centuries?
    No. It is true that the current global communications and trading struture makes it more prone to catastrophic failure - a fact noted weel before the current global economic panic. However, that same structure affords humanity with a generally efficient mechanism for evolving new strategies, processes, tools and goals, in an increasingly synergistic manner.
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    The world today is obsessed by population growth, economic crises and global warming.
    Obsession is a bad thing. However, the rightful concern for these issues is one of the reasons we shall likely not experience the dark age you predict.
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    History is bound to repeat.
    Why? Santayana said "Those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat it." Fortunately there are enough persons in positions of power and influence who agree with Santayana's remark rather than John Ford's probably apocryphal, "History is bunk!"
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    It would appear from the historical evidence that it takes just one genius to come along to change the world.
    My top 10 would be: Pythagoras, Euclid, Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Riemann, Planck, Einstein, Heisenberg, Schrodinger.
    It would appear that you don't know how to read historical evidence. (I'll set aside the fact that you completely omitted Bacon, who invented the scientific method, or - amazingly - Darwin.) None of these men were working in a vacuum. There enlightenment was partly donw to their intrinsic genius, but it owed much also to the thinking of the times. They were more than figureheads, but certainly less than single geniuses striding unaccompanied across a plain devoid of intellect.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    As you can see, nobody in the last 50 years has matched these.
    Just on the wrong side of the fifty years we have Watson and Crick. Straddling the fifty year barrier are Harry Hess and Tuzo Wilson who, along with several others, revolutionised geology with plate tectonic theory. Much as I detest the pile of junk we have to work with there is surely no doubt that Bill Gates has transformed the way we work and CERN transformed the way we play.
    In short, I just cannot agree with your statement because of the immense evidence to the contrary.
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    I agree with John Galt's response, but I would also like to add that we are in a dark age of sorts; one of status quo. In no other time in human history has humanity experienced such peace, order, and cultural stagnation because of it. It would seem that great change can only happen once the dominant system has been usurped, contrary to claims from a certain "Magical Negro".
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  6. #5 Re: New dark age 
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    History is bound to repeat.
    Why? Santayana said "Those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat it." Fortunately there are enough persons in positions of power and influence who agree with Santayana's remark rather than John Ford's probably apocryphal, "History is bunk!"
    Trouble is, nobody believes it's actually repeating when the time comes. They tend to want the repetition to be identical to the original event even down to the specific name it's called by among leaders contemporary to the events. It seems history never quite repeats closely enough for everyone to be aware of it.
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    Might I add that the term 'dark ages' is a bit loaded.
    Now that the romantic view of the middle ages seems to have died out this overly pessimistic view has popped up.
    It's not as if the entire worlds intellectual light was doused after the fall of the West- Roman empire.
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    Whether it is repeating or not, we each one should always do the 'good things' ourselves.

    Dark it may be, but never let this make us flustered, that won't help.

    And, in my opinion, genius can't change the world by himself/herself alone.
    Genius can foresee some great knowledges which make them great.
    While, actually, the most basic changes are made by the normal people.
    So, don't put your hope on some genius. They are only human like you and me on earth.
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    I read a book called Tipping Point, which described the phonomenon of rapidly spreading, changing 'fads'... for want of a better word.
    It describes how someone can rapidly change the world around them, by the type of people they know, their personality and charisma, and their situation.
    Arguably, the 'genius' scientists, and historical figures, could have been in the right place at the right time, applying the right force of personality, and were helped on by the right people.
    Arguably, had Galileo decided to stay quiet, and wait for his persecuters to die, or lose interest, his theories wouldn't have had the same impact.

    Great historical figures don't necessarily become so by their feats, but by how they are perceived, and picked up in the public consciousness. Other, equally talented, or intelligent, or 'worthy' figures, simply fail to capture interest, and so are forgotten.

    But I digress: perhaps the reason we don't have as many great figures is that the media creates idols of people who simply aren't as 'great' as those of previous ages. After all, one man perhaps, who is known as a great scientist, Stephen Hawking. Whilst his contribution is not 'great', his condition makes him famous, and thus he is considered 'great'.

    FDR, American President is said to have won the election due to how he was seen to have battle polio. I'm not saying he would have lost the election, but it was a big factor.
    More recently, Barack Obama was elected amidst a wave of popular feeling, but how much of a factor did his colour play?
    What I'm trying to say, is can we really credit huge change to these specific individuals, or their situations?

    As for the changing of the world... Asimov's novels are filled with theories, perhaps fantastical, about how the world is heading along a predetermined course, dictated by the mob movements of the billions of people that inhabit it. He says that even though the actions of one individual can not be predicted, the actions of billions can; just as in physics, and atoms. This is what he calls 'psychohistory', and by maths, in his sci-fi books, this can be used to predict the fates of nations.

    Perhaps he's right?
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  10. #9  
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    I'm interested to read that 'God turns out not to exist', and what about Darwin, Crick and Watson. Some people think that the stars are reachable. I would say THAT is a fantasy. Humans have nearly always lived in a world of fantasy.
    I'm a big fan of Darwin but how does it really help to know that we've evolved from monkeys? They don't teach you that at school. As for Crick and Watson, this led to Dawkins and the harsh reality that we are only animals and just like other life forms we are merely carriers for our genes. The gene is the thing that is favoured and not the individual when it comes to evolution. 'Genes carry stable information from one generation to the next, while individuals flicker in and out of existence'. (Atkins). They will never teach that one in school. So what does all this achieve, other than simply dehumanising us?
    And that's the point. The more we know, the less human we become as individuals, with humanity swamped in statistics. The more we know the more likely we are to plunder the earth's resources, and with that the population undergoes exponential growth, until one day, the buffers have to loom out of the mist. The new dark age will be one of dehumanisation, catastrophic climate change and huge pressure on populations to migrate.
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    But wouldn't the problems faced by humanity lead to advances in science? With all the scientists focusing on global warming for example, they are likely to make new discoveries and develop new technologies as a result of their work.
    The wise man believes half of what he reads. If he knew which half to believe, he'd be a much wiser man.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    ...
    And that's the point. The more we know, the less human we become as individuals, with humanity swamped in statistics. The more we know the more likely we are to plunder the earth's resources, and with that the population undergoes exponential growth, until one day, the buffers have to loom out of the mist. The new dark age will be one of dehumanisation, catastrophic climate change and huge pressure on populations to migrate.
    So pessimistic you are.
    We can't go back.
    So why not looking ahead?
    Isn't it better to do as a human-being and move others than be upset here?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Some people think that the stars are reachable. I would say THAT is a fantasy.
    But you would be wrong. We already have four spacecraft approaching the boundary of the solar system which will likely reach another star evetually. Perhaps you meant unreachable by humans. What makes you think so? We can already envisage a number of technologies that could achieve this. We already have the technology to do it in a crude, slow and expensive way. We lack only the will and the money. Perhaps you also doubt that we will colonise Mars. If you do then your failure to appreciate the application of compound growth to an unconfined economy would explain your faulty scepticism.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    I'm a big fan of Darwin but how does it really help to know that we've evolved from monkeys?
    1. We didn't evolve from monkeys. We and monkeys evolved from a common ancestor.
    2. Evolutionary theory is far more important than just defining Man's origin.
    3. You might as well ask how does any knowledge help.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    As for Crick and Watson, this led to Dawkins and the harsh reality that we are only animals and just like other life forms we are merely carriers for our genes.
    1. Darwin, not Dawkins established we were animals.
    2. What do you mean only animals? Animals are amazing constructs and humans perhaps more amazing than most.
    3. Dawkins selfish gene is an interesting speculation that doesn't stand up to rigorous examination.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    They will never teach that one in school. So what does all this achieve, other than simply dehumanising us?.
    Well if you believe dehumanising rubbish it will tend to put a damper on your spirits.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    And that's the point. The more we know, the less human we become as individuals, with humanity swamped in statistics.
    Speak for yourself. The more I know the more I find my individuality and that of every person on this planet (and personally, every primate on this planet) to be enhanced and enlarged.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    The more we know the more likely we are to plunder the earth's resources, .
    No. At one time we thought our resources were practically unlimited and we acted accordingly. At one time we thought the ocean could accept our wastes indefinitely and we acted accordingly. Now we know those presumptions were faulty and we are changing our behaviour.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    and with that the population undergoes exponential growth, .
    Except that the growth is no longer exponential and is expected to flatten out this century. The population level then will arguably still be too high, but your expectation of continuous exponential growth is wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    The new dark age will be one of dehumanisation, catastrophic climate change and huge pressure on populations to migrate.
    I bet you are great fun at parties.
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    Like Wangwy13 I don't see history as wrought by a few "great men". I think that one reason there are less great men today, is, we at last are giving credit where it's due - and greatness has become so commonplace.

    That's not to say gigantic strides are made. In terms of technological advance the industrial revolution's really running out of steam. The present rate of significant invention or change is nothing like it was a century ago. Perhaps it can't be?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    In terms of technological advance the industrial revolution's really running out of steam. The present rate of significant invention or change is nothing like it was a century ago. Perhaps it can't be?
    While I loved the phrase 'the industrial revolution is running out of steam', your basic contention is crap.

    The transformation of our working environment by the pc and email is enormous.

    The advent of inexpensive airtravel has transformed the lifes of hundreds of millions.

    The emergence of the mobile phone and social networking sites has dramtically changed the dynamics of our relationships.

    The advances in medicine are even more dramatic. Developments in crop production have been huge. The list goes on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    The transformation of our working environment by the pc and email is enormous.

    The advent of inexpensive airtravel has transformed the lifes of hundreds of millions.

    The emergence of the mobile phone and social networking sites has dramtically changed the dynamics of our relationships.

    The advances in medicine are even more dramatic. Developments in crop production have been huge. The list goes on.
    It's worth noting that most of those "advances", while in vague terms like that seem good, have many negative effects depending on how you look at it. The reliance on impersonal social networking, the need to constantly be doing something (cellular phones tend to be whipped out whenever there is a lull), etc. Change has taken place, but how most of humanity uses that change can be considered negative.

    Modern medicine, and crop production, can also be seen as harmful if we take "medicine" to mean "pharmaceuticals" and "crop production" to mean "cloning and genetic engineering". With each benefit comes a huge negative impact generated by an increasingly greedy capitalist system. "The end of food" quite well illustrates how food is getting, well, less sustaining in favor of traits only loosely correlated to nutrition, such as size (an easy example is the ever increasing in size Apple). The pharmaceutical industry reaps over 20% in profits (higher than any other reported business, excepting the CRAZY profit from text messages) on treatments that, in clinical trials, barely have success rates higher than placebo, but "high enough" to be "passing grade".

    There are plenty of symptoms of societal decay in the United States, one need only look for them. Advances in science do nothing to stem social decay, unfortunately.
    Om mani padme hum

    "In dishonorable things we are not bound to obey any man." - The Book of the Courtier [1561], pg 99 (144 in pdf)
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    Pong made no comment on the quality of change only upon the quantity of change. It was the quantity that I addressed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    Dawkins selfish gene is an interesting speculation that doesn't stand up to rigorous examination.
    It doesn't seem that you get the point of the theory. You will know when you do because that will be one of the most defining moments of your life, when all of life - past, present and future falls beautifully (and horribly) into place. Better to read all of his books rather than just The Selfish Gene. The next time you walk through a graveyard, look at the stones and realise that they were live individuals, now gone. But their genes may well be surviving in other bodies.
    'Genes are survivors. We are their temporary vehicles, and they don't care what happens to us'. (Dawkins)
    I accept that Darwin defined us as animals but he knew nothing about genes and consequently the unit of natural selection, which is the theory popularised by Dawkins. But, of course, you can't tell the people.
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    Pong made no comment on the quality of change only upon the quantity of change. It was the quantity that I addressed.
    True. I wasn't really correcting you as much as I was adding on to it for clarification reasons. Sorry if it seemed otherwise.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    The transformation of our working environment by the pc and email is enormous.

    The advent of inexpensive airtravel has transformed the lifes of hundreds of millions.

    The emergence of the mobile phone and social networking sites has dramtically changed the dynamics of our relationships.

    The advances in medicine are even more dramatic. Developments in crop production have been huge. The list goes on.
    It's worth noting that most of those "advances", while in vague terms like that seem good, have many negative effects depending on how you look at it. The reliance on impersonal social networking, the need to constantly be doing something (cellular phones tend to be whipped out whenever there is a lull), etc. Change has taken place, but how most of humanity uses that change can be considered negative.

    Modern medicine, and crop production, can also be seen as harmful if we take "medicine" to mean "pharmaceuticals" and "crop production" to mean "cloning and genetic engineering". With each benefit comes a huge negative impact generated by an increasingly greedy capitalist system. "The end of food" quite well illustrates how food is getting, well, less sustaining in favor of traits only loosely correlated to nutrition, such as size (an easy example is the ever increasing in size Apple). The pharmaceutical industry reaps over 20% in profits (higher than any other reported business, excepting the CRAZY profit from text messages) on treatments that, in clinical trials, barely have success rates higher than placebo, but "high enough" to be "passing grade".

    There are plenty of symptoms of societal decay in the United States, one need only look for them. Advances in science do nothing to stem social decay, unfortunately.
    These complaints are nothing new though, look at 19th century works like The Condition of the Working Poor in England by Engels or Hard Times by Dickens, there was no absense of complaints over negative effects of new technology. It is human nature that anything new will be used for both good and bad.
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    Then should we not focus our efforts intensely on improving what we so often call "human nature"? Indeed, the suggestion that it is our very nature only allows us to excuse such behavior, and makes it worse by excusing it.
    Om mani padme hum

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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    Pong made no comment on the quality of change only upon the quantity of change.
    Well I meant both. Your own examples contain those changes I meant:

    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    The transformation of our working environment by the pc and email is enormous.
    Our working environment. Yeah, like the transition from livestock-powered farm to working in electrified city.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    The advent of inexpensive airtravel has transformed the lifes of hundreds of millions.
    The advent of travel itself had already transformed us. Travel by steam ship, train, automobile.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    The emergence of the mobile phone and social networking sites has dramtically changed the dynamics of our relationships.
    Key word here is phone. A mobile phone embodies the ubiquitous qualities of both radio and telegraph, that's all.

    As for social networking, consider that a century ago people spent the greater part of their evenings reading and writing correspondence, and feeding heaps of unwanted mail to the fire. In fact we received so many personal letters we normally threw them away after reading. Engagement in "social networks" was limited only by endurance at the desk.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    The advances in medicine are even more dramatic. Developments in crop production have been huge. The list goes on.
    Advances like "vitamins" or "germs" were huge. Try to imagine grocery stores or hospitals before pasteurization or sterilization. Or farms before wire fences, tractors, or pressure irrigation.

    It's like you're saying plasma TV is a big deal, and I'm saying B&W TV was a bigger deal. I think your perspective takes much for granted. Like you can't see the lightbulbs. Our disagreement is subjective vs. objective, isn't it?

    Recent technological advances on par with say, reinforced concrete or X-rays, could be listed on one hand. We have the internet, and kinda have atomic power. Satellites. Not much else to galvanize a person living in the fast & furious 1900's.
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    It's hard to understand...

    Seems some of you really believe this is a dark age. And others not.
    You talked a lot about different theories and your understanding to the theories as well.

    But to me, you are just ask questions to yourselves.

    See. Darwin, selfish gene, Internet...
    How hell does these get relative with Dark Age?
    Why not thinking about what we can do?
    We are human-being, not puppets which can just wait for the Dark Age coming.
    It's may be Dark Age. But it's definitely not perfect.
    You wise man debate here make no sense to get us out of 'dark age' nor to make this world better!
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    I think lemmings are glorious. So there.

    Or if any overpopulated nation wants to invade Canada, be my guest. I'd support a U.N. resolution to that effect wholeheartedly. Don't you see Wangwy13 groups lack the collective nerve? And only groups have authority now, since the alternative is potentially much worse.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I think lemmings are glorious. So there.

    Or if any overpopulated nation wants to invade Canada, be my guest. I'd support a U.N. resolution to that effect wholeheartedly. Don't you see Wangwy13 groups lack the collective nerve? And only groups have authority now, since the alternative is potentially much worse.
    Er, Pong, I don't understand your comment because my English is not very fluent.
    Do you mean I am one of the groups who have authority now?
    I am a normal college student....

    I was to say that these theories or phenomenon exist already.
    We can't go back to change them.
    So in my opinion, what we can do is to walk carefully.
    What you guys talked about, selfish gene, Internet... They are all true.
    And these things are not born bad or born good themselves. It depends on how we use them.

    If time proves it is dark age, I will be fear.
    But fear don't help, I won't be flustered.
    I am fear, I am working hard without being flustered.
    Even tomorrow is the end, I can say I did what I can do.
    That's it.


    And, I'm a lemming?
    Is it a Canadian humor?
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    (Double post)
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    The thread began with Ox observing how rarely we see great individuals lately. Great thinkers like Newton or Darwin. He takes this as a sign that we are entering a dark age.

    I countered by suggesting the world is no longer structured such that great men are necessary. Instead, the greatness rises from groups of people - the collective mind. But I added that advancement seems to have slowed, after surging about one hundred years ago.


    Lemmings are arctic rodents similar to hamsters. They often breed themselves up to amazing huge populations the land can't support, and then go on massive migrations. Famously, herds of lemmings sometimes run up to an ocean cliff, where they're pressed off by more crowding lemmings that can't see the cliff. And many lemmings die.

    Sometimes we say people are like lemmings. We act as a dumb group and die as a group, because of the group. I don't think that's so shameful. The alternative is to follow a leader.

    We don't give much authority to leaders now, because history taught us great men abuse power and hurt more than they help. Groups of people (e.g. nations) have authority now. Democracy!

    That's a nice ideal, but I think it dooms nations like the Bengali to die like lemmings in the sea. The collective mind of Bangladesh doesn't work like an individual human mind, and I fear it can't deal with rising water and overcrowding. Collective minds are sophisticated in some ways and idiotic in others.
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    Pong, thank you.
    I understand the 'Lemmings' now.
    About the leaders' authority and groups' authority, I agree with you.
    The world is different.
    When Newton found the three laws, few can read and write.
    Now...
    Also it's why Hilbert is the last mathematician who can make achievements in the whole area of math.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Incoming Dessert
    But wouldn't the problems faced by humanity lead to advances in science? With all the scientists focusing on global warming for example, they are likely to make new discoveries and develop new technologies as a result of their work.
    That's kind of like trying to solve your financial problems by borrowing a lot of money and then burning it in the fire place, because you think that putting yourself in a desperate situation will motivate you to become more resourceful.

    You know what will happen? You'll come up with some wonderful ideas that *would* have worked back when you still had the money and credit available to implement them.

    Same goes for the world situation. Once it gets bad enough we won't be able to build our way out of it because we'll be too busy just trying to get enough food to eat. Our smartest people will drift through life with little more than a third grade education. They'll be more motivated, sure, but totally powerless.

    Quote Originally Posted by pianist
    I read a book called Tipping Point, which described the phonomenon of rapidly spreading, changing 'fads'... for want of a better word.
    It describes how someone can rapidly change the world around them, by the type of people they know, their personality and charisma, and their situation.
    Arguably, the 'genius' scientists, and historical figures, could have been in the right place at the right time, applying the right force of personality, and were helped on by the right people.
    Arguably, had Galileo decided to stay quiet, and wait for his persecuters to die, or lose interest, his theories wouldn't have had the same impact.

    Great historical figures don't necessarily become so by their feats, but by how they are perceived, and picked up in the public consciousness. Other, equally talented, or intelligent, or 'worthy' figures, simply fail to capture interest, and so are forgotten.

    But I digress: perhaps the reason we don't have as many great figures is that the media creates idols of people who simply aren't as 'great' as those of previous ages. After all, one man perhaps, who is known as a great scientist, Stephen Hawking. Whilst his contribution is not 'great', his condition makes him famous, and thus he is considered 'great'.
    I tend to agree with this assessment. Culturally, we used to be more of a meritocracy, so we made heroes out of highly competent people who could do amazing things.

    Now we're more of an "effort"-ocracy. We make heroes out of people who work hard without regard for whether their hard work actually accomplished anything. Everyone loves the guy in the wheel chair who "struggled", instead of the able bodied genius who does the impossible. Nobody loves that guy. They're scared of him. They want to believe their kid could grow up to be like him, and that isn't true if he has a genetic advantage. ... but.... if he has a genetic disadvantage instead, then your average kid might be able to grow up and do even better.
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  30. #29  
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    I think there is evidence to suggest that no one now can really change the world.
    I've started to read Richard Dawkins' latest book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' which is the proof of evolution. But this is not his first book on the subject. In fact after 'Climbing Mount Improbable', 'River out of Eden', 'The Ancestors Tale' etc. I reckon this must be at least his fourth book to try and convince the public the truth of evolution. Once again I imagine it will meet with resistance and apathy by the theologians, politicians and schoolteachers who will simply point to the Bible, Koran, Vedas etc. for their stories of creation.
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    Maybe the problem is that our society has become too polarized between education and non-education. All through history, the people who affected change were the people that you might call "liminal".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liminality

    That is to say that their ideas were just a few inches past the outer limit of the general consciousness of their day. A person who had ideas that were too advanced would simply have been ignored as a crackpot (or burnt as a witch).

    When I'm working with someone that's struggling in higher level math, I usually find that it turns out their problem is that they didn't understand one of the earlier principles from a lower class, and it makes it impossible for them to handle the principles they're learning now. If you try to teach somebody calculus when they don't even know algebra, they'll get frustrated with you pretty fast, and give up.

    So, maybe religious people think scientists are crackpots because the current body of science is too far outside the edge of their consciousness?
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  32. #31  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    So, maybe religious people think scientists are crackpots because the current body of science is too far outside the edge of their consciousness?
    I don't necessarily think that religious people think that scientists are crackpots.
    I think they are just ignorant of science. For instance my local priest asked me one day when talking about evolution 'Yes, but what is a gene?' This man is a highly intelligent (and Oxford educated man) who presumably has never thought much about science. I guess that science is regarded more as a marginal subject and of little relevance to the average person. How many books, say that Dawkins publishes, are ever going to enter the public consciousness? Consequently there is little to stop the world sleepwalking into disaster.
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  33. #32  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    So, maybe religious people think scientists are crackpots because the current body of science is too far outside the edge of their consciousness?
    I don't necessarily think that religious people think that scientists are crackpots.
    I think they are just ignorant of science. For instance my local priest asked me one day when talking about evolution 'Yes, but what is a gene?' This man is a highly intelligent (and Oxford educated man) who presumably has never thought much about science. I guess that science is regarded more as a marginal subject and of little relevance to the average person. How many books, say that Dawkins publishes, are ever going to enter the public consciousness? Consequently there is little to stop the world sleepwalking into disaster.
    Maybe that's the problem then: science is different from most other academic pursuits because later principles always build on earlier principles. Without knowing the earlier principles it's impossible to understand the higher principles.

    Contrast this with other fields like poli-sci or philosophy where an educated person certainly knows more than an undereducated person, but everything they say could be said in a way that makes sense to a layman.
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    How exactly are we in a similar situation that brought about the Dark Ages after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire?

    1.) Did the modern world lose its former heartland and attempt to reconquer it, only leading to a series of devastating wars that destroyed much of the wealth and infrastructure of that heartland (as in how the Byzantines under Belisarius and Narses conquered Italy from the Goths then attempted to hold on to their conquests when the langobards invaded)?

    2.) Did a series of massively successful invasions lead to the conquest of nearly half modern world and lead to an almost complete disruption of all trade routes throughout the rest of the world (like say how the Islamic invasions conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa, plunging Europe into economic depression as trade routes were almost instantly cut off)?

    3.) Has the modern world gone through a series of civil wars, say every 5-10 years or so, over the past 250 years, after saying goodbye to a golden age of civilization 400 years past (like say how Rome went through the Crisis of the Third century and the endemic civil wars that would plague it till the fall of Constantinople in 1453).

    4.) Has the modern world been invaded by anything resembling the Huns?

    I guess my point is how in the world is our situation today similar to the Dark Age of 1500-1000 years past?
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  35. #34  
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    I'm a big fan of Darwin but how does it really help to know that we've evolved from monkeys?
    We didn't evolve from monkeys. We and monkeys evolved from a common ancestor.
    I'll concede that I didn't word this correctly, but how about this somewhat ambiguous quote from Dawkins:
    'Humans are not descended from monkeys. We share a common ancestor with monkeys. As it happens, the common ancestor would have looked a lot more like a monkey than a man, and we would instead have probably called it a monkey if we had met it, some 25 million years ago. But even though humans evolved from an ancestor that we could sensibly call a monkey, no animal gives birth to an instant new species, or at least not one as different from itself as a man is from a monkey, or even from a chimpanzee.' (from 'The Greatest Show on Earth').

    Should have worded it that way, sorry!
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  36. #35  
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    Quote Originally Posted by KomradRed
    How exactly are we in a similar situation that brought about the Dark Ages after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire?

    1.) Did the modern world lose its former heartland and attempt to reconquer it, only leading to a series of devastating wars that destroyed much of the wealth and infrastructure of that heartland (as in how the Byzantines under Belisarius and Narses conquered Italy from the Goths then attempted to hold on to their conquests when the langobards invaded)?
    Depends on who that heartland is. Germany used to be the center of scholarship before WW2. They certainly lost a lot of wealth and infrastructure over that war, and physics slowed down quite a lot afterward.

    2.) Did a series of massively successful invasions lead to the conquest of nearly half modern world and lead to an almost complete disruption of all trade routes throughout the rest of the world (like say how the Islamic invasions conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa, plunging Europe into economic depression as trade routes were almost instantly cut off)?
    The cold war basically cut off trade between half the world and the other half. Nuclear politics complicates attempts to bring stability to most of the third world (by now, most of those territories would have been conquered outright by the industrial powers, and better governments set up.) Those countries are not available to us as trade partners because there's too much chaos for them to produce anything worth trading.


    3.) Has the modern world gone through a series of civil wars, say every 5-10 years or so, over the past 250 years, after saying goodbye to a golden age of civilization 400 years past (like say how Rome went through the Crisis of the Third century and the endemic civil wars that would plague it till the fall of Constantinople in 1453).
    If you look at Europe all together as the modern Rome, then both world wars would be civil wars that disrupted their ability to hold onto their colonies abroad.
    England lost its status as the world leader, and WW2 (including the aftermath) is when Europe lost a lot of grip on its colonies. It would be almost fair to say that the only part remaining of the colonial era is the political borders the colonizers drew.


    4.) Has the modern world been invaded by anything resembling the Huns?

    I guess my point is how in the world is our situation today similar to the Dark Age of 1500-1000 years past?
    Oh, the huns are on their way. We call them "terrorists" or "Islamic fundamentalists" They're getting more and more organized, since the USA has decided to provide them with a common enemy, and thus help them unite.
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  37. #36  
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    Some good points made. I think that any dark age has to relate to a loss or suppression of information. In a climate changed world I would imagine information will be stored on computers but will be of little use to people battling just to stay alive. The Gaia hypothesis suggests that the earth's population will reduce to 1 billion by 2100. The Time Machine vision of HG Wells suggests that succesful humans will be living underground and cannibalising those left to fend for themselves on the surface.
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    The term "dark ages" is obsolete in the field of history
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