Science and Scepticism

From Combat Diary 27

There have recently been many web attacks on UFO believers and “New Age” folk, mostly by scientists and sceptics. Why are scientists so afraid and so censorious of all contemporary heightened experience? Science did not emerge new-born as a clean deal devoid of metaphysics and owes its very life to mystical cosmologies. Chemistry for example, certainly emerged from alchemical ideas, and more often than not, language and hence psycho-social concepts play a part in evolving “scientific” ontologies. Rutherford, after his famous experiment, said to Soddy (his assistant) “don’t say we have achieved transmutation – they will call us alchemists.”

This surely represents the paranoia of the lower middle-class from which most scientists emerge. For them, the need for good behaviour ranks with the need for scientific “truth.” Many fundamental scientific ideas came from what Arthur Koestler calls in The Sleepwalkers “fantasy-prone intellects” dabbling in cosmologies. Kepler and Copernicus were such examples and neither would have been allowed to enter modern grey university structures. According to recent scholarship, Newton spent most of his time involved with alchemical ideas and certainly Faraday’s intense preoccupation with mystical Christianity caused what today would be called bouts of insanity. Many mathematicians (particularly those involved with number systems) speak of awe when, through synchronicities, the system appears to be conscious of what they are doing and the investigator appears to become the investigated.

Evidence for this “effect” has recently emerged from the work of Robert Jahn at Princeton.[1] Such a “live” dialogue between Mind and Nature was of course fully understood and accepted by Shakespeare and many other Renaissance thinkers and writers.

Cosmologies are present in all human expression from soap operas to nuclear physics, and they are all created around various kinds of complex metaphor, Metaphor is in turn involved with the mysteries of personality and character. The assumption of objectivity as a clean mode of perception is therefore a most risky first premise. The path from the first marks on Marie Curie’s hand to nuclear fission alone is paved with questions of politics and race, religion and philosophy. This path is anything but a road on which factual sand grain is piled on top of factual sand grain in a simple linear sense of “disinterested” sixth-form science and common media “objective presentation.” 

Science is therefore a live cultural theatre, representing a dirty, noisy, and often slaughterous path to what we call “discovery.” The reasoning involved in the process is often engineered self-deceptions based on jury-rigged metaphors, such as “lines of force” and the “limit” in the Calculus. As Whitehead pointed out in Adventures of Ideas, much psycho-social propaganda is present in scientific progress as it struggles for cultural Prime Time. We might well bear in mind the thought that a well-behaved universe is a universe which is easy to control politically.

 Since bland corporate conformity gets us absolutely nowhere in science or anything else, the “outsider” fulfils an essential anomalistic function. In this respect, corporate team-work was almost unknown historically. All the great mathematicians and scientists were highly differentiated and idiosyncratic individuals just like the theoretical physicist Jack Sarfatti. Certainly the brilliant Sarfatti, whose work we often feature, puts a human face on science, often revealing it to be a veritable snake-pit as full of anger and bitterness, conflict and tragedy, fraud and mistakes as an estaminet full of frenzied Impressionist painters, which most scientists are in a way.

 In this respect, science has yet to be socially and psychologically demythologized. The manufactured images of the toothpaste commercials of inevitably admirable and “brilliant” folks have to be changed, if only because most scientists are anything but brilliant! The white-coated “good and clever” bourgeois sons and daughters, well-behaved and socially adjusted to a fault, is yet another Orwellian lie.

 If, just like the nut-and-bolt Victorian Station Masters of Old Ufology and their Maoist convictions, we believe that by getting rid of all deviations from the norm, the shining truth will be revealed, then we are guilty of practicing intellectual eugenics and we all know where that led to.

 Watch this Space!

[1] See hwww.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,68216,00.

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