Monday, April 25, 2016

Lucifer's Technologies: The Deal with the Devil Comes Due

Lucifer appears in another great literary work, also written in the 17th Century; Christopher Marlowe's Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. This treatment of the Faust myth predates Goethe's more famous version and tells the story somewhat differently. But the basic contours of the story remain the same, that of a brilliant man who sells his immortal soul to the Devil in order to gain forbidden knowledge, a pact he believes will grant him advantage in this life.

The Faust myth resonates in the Information Age, as we surrender more and more of our sovereignty- and our humanity, in fact- to technology and science. You hear more and more now about the Faustian bargain we've made with technology, as the honeymoon ends and the disruption and destruction that technology causes to industry, to community, to identity itself continues to mount.  

With the rise of robotics and Artificial Intelligence (not to mention the surveillance state and drone warfare), prominent figures like Stephen Hawkins and Elon Musk are sounding the alarm, warning that humanity's very survival is at risk.

But it's too late to turn back now; the Pact has been signed.

At the same we've seen the rise of Scientism, a new religion that claims that science is the answer to every question and that all of humanity's other pursuits and beliefs should be subordinated to it, because science is the only method we have to determine what is true or real. 

That art, religion, philosophy and indeed every activity in which humans interact and communicate should be placed under science's thumb, which in the real world would mean setting up Soviet-like committees to inquire into every human activity that had not been legally prohibited.

Scientism is perhaps the most Satanic philosophy the world has ever seen, for reasons that will soon be made clear. 
We can start here, with this story from Reason:
Science Is a Good Substitute for God 
Believers in sci-tech progress tend to be happier than the religiously faithful, says new study 
Religious believers tend to be happier than non-religious folk, according to a long line of psychological research. Scientists have suggested several possible explanations for this phenomenon, including the ideas that religion offers a greater sense of control, provides a purpose for life, and reduces uncertainty.
The researchers concluded that "both belief in scientific–technological progress and religiosity were positively associated with life satisfaction, yet the association with belief in scientific–technological progress was significantly larger." In fact, life satisfaction was three times more likely to correlate with a belief in sci-tech progress than belief in religious doctrine.
Well, it must be true, right? Science says so. I mean these people ran a scientific psychological survey that was in no way biased or weighted towards a predetermined conclusion, right? That's not how science works, right? Not so fast. Read this:
Last summer, the Open Science Collaboration announced that it had tried to replicate one hundred published psychology experiments sampled from three of the most prestigious journals in the field.

Scientific claims rest on the idea that experiments repeated under nearly identical conditions ought to yield approximately the same results, but until very recently, very few had bothered to check in a systematic way whether this was actually the case. The OSC was the biggest attempt yet to check a field’s results, and the most shocking. In many cases, they had used original experimental materials, and sometimes even performed the experiments under the guidance of the original researchers.
Of the studies that had originally reported positive results, an astonishing 65 percent failed to show statistical significance on replication, and many of the remainder showed greatly reduced effect sizes.
OK, so psychological science is rife with fraud. That can't be true of the harder sciences, right? Wait, what's this in the The Boston Globe?
In science, irreproducible research is a quiet crisis 
 Evidence of a quiet crisis in science is mounting. A growing chorus of researchers worry that far too many findings in the top research journals can’t be replicated. 
“There’s a whole groundswell of awareness that a lot of biomedical research is not as strongly predictive as you think it would be,”said Dr. Kevin Staley, an epilepsy researcher at Massachusetts GeneralHospital. “People eventually become aware because there’s a wake of silence after a false positive result,” he added. The same is true in every field of science, from neuroscience to stem cells.
Yes, science is in a state of crisis, one that has become so egregious that the mainstream media has been forced to pay attention to it. The Baltimore Sun:
Increased competition for funding has led science to drift from an emphasis on rigorous reproducible research to flashy high impact studies, which in some cases have been subsequently found to be erroneous or exaggerated. This has led to a perceived reproducibility crisis, in which the credibility of scientific findings is increasingly questioned. 
In combination these trends could lead to a loss of public confidence in science, creating a vicious cycle that could undermine the entire enterprise. If this happens, society will lose its most powerful tool to navigate the crises that lie ahead.

"Flashy high impact studies, which in some cases have been subsequently found to be erroneous or exaggerated."
If you read the science news carefully that's pretty much all you see these days. I looked at this phenomenon a while back, the outrageous headline tailored for social media which is always accompanied by the Big Walk-Back buried at the bottom, preferably below a bunch of pop-up ads. 

They rely on the short attention spans of the reader, most of whom simply catch the flashy headline on their iPhones and go about their daily business secure in the knowledge that the Machine is humming along nicely, that the Great Arc moves ever upward, that the hard times will be over soon.

It's all a lie.

More and more serious thinkers are sounding the alarm that the Age of Miracles is over, that all the low-hanging fruit has been plucked, that Easy Street is coming to a dead end. Some call what we're looking at "The Great Stagnation", and Scientism and technohype are in fact desperate tactics to divert attention to that brick wall looming in the immediate distance.

"Flashy high impact studies, which in some cases have been subsequently found to be erroneous or exaggerated." 

And it's getting worse. The high is getting more naked, more desperate. It's actually worrying. Here's some of the recent miracle stories you may have seen in your Facebook feed:
Ready, set, think! Mind-controlled drones race to the future!

Wow, that's amazing! Oh, but wait...

Here’s how the technology delivers an abstract thought through the digital realm and into the real world: Each EEG headset is calibrated to identify the electrical activity associated with particular thoughts in each wearer’s brain — recording, for example, where neurons fire when the wearer imagines pushing a chair across the floor. Programmers write code to translate these “imaginary motion” signals into commands that computers send to the drones.
Programmers write code to translate these signals...WTF? OK, I get it. This is bullshit

This is not the direct-to-drone Vulcan mind meld the headline promises at all. This is just more EEG brainwave stuff, the kind of thing we've been seeing since at least the early 90s, and probably before. It's the compsci version of the old baking soda and vinegar volcano.
But wait, what's this miracle?
Auto Focus Contact Lenses May Soon Become a Reality!  
Wow, that's amazing! Oh, but wait... 
Jiang, however, admits that getting a working prototype of the auto-focus lens is still five to ten years away. He says, "It is a very challenging project. You need to get tunable lenses, a power supply to drive the lens and the electronics, and everything need to be flexible."

Five to ten years is Scientish for "half past never."
How do I know this? Because I'm still waiting on about thousand technomiracles that were promised back in the 80s. Plus there's this: 

Why Scientific American's Predictions from 10 Years Ago Were So Wrong
Recently, we did an experiment: We took an outdated issue of a respected popular science magazine, Scientific American, and researched exactly what happened to the highly-touted breakthroughs of the era that would supposedly change everything. What we discovered is just how terrible we are at predicting the long arc of scientific discovery.
Well, that was ten years ago. Someone or Somebody's Law or Ever-Increasing Wonderfulness has surely fixed all that. Let's see:
New Technology May Beat the 'Memory Bottleneck' with Plain Old Silicon!
Wow, that's amazing! Oh, but wait... 
Don't go and dump your SSD quite yet. Even just confirming all of this will take years. Still, it seems clear enough that the memory problem has a solution—if not this, than one of any number of alternative avenues being pursued for nanoscale non-volatile mea...bla bla bla bla bla...
Oh my God, have you ever read such equivocal bullshit in your life? I have. Because I've been following these guys for 30 years or so...
DARPA is investigating self-mutating vaccines to take down viruses! 
Wow, that's amazing! Oh, but wait... 
We’re years away from this being a feasible solution in humans but early results are encouraging, with engineered TIPs reducing viral loads in cultured cells around 20-fold. The next step will be animal models, and it’s entirely possible the whole idea will fall down there, long before it even enters a first-in-man study.
"Years away." 

"Entirely possibly the whole idea will fall down."

OK, so what's the point? The point is keeping this late-Soviet-model science-worship machine on the road, even though it's obviously popping gaskets and leaking fluids. Well, at least that's equivocal bullshit. How about flaming bags of dogshit?

Well, there's a one-stop shop for that: the Transhumanism superstore:

Forever Exists! Secrets to Immortality Uncovered!  
Wow, that's amazing! Tell me more!
Transhumanist scientists are deeply working on to “knock outthose genes” which are leading to age-related problems. Well, this is less complicated than adding a new piece of DNA. However, deciding which gene to be knocked out is still a riddle for scientists, according to HEALTHAIM.
"Deciding which gene to be knocked out is still a riddle for scientists." Translation: the secrets to immortality have NOT been uncovered. Don't worry, though, because....
Humans Will Be Immortal Cyborgs By The Year 2050, Expert Predicts!  
Wow, that's amazing! Oh, but wait... 

Dr Pearson says that by 2050, people will be able to connect their brains directly to computers and, ‘could move their mind into an improved android body.‘This would allow people to have multiple existences and identities, or to carry on living long after their biological death.’ 
‘What’s exciting is that it is no longer nature which is forcing changes on us but our own breakthroughs.’
But wait, none of this technology is anywhere close to existing. I mean, nowhere. This is pure Singularist snake oil. The myth that human progress is on this straight curve upward from the caves to the stars comes from these people:
Evolution May Have Sped Up After Humans Cut Up Their Foods!  
Wow, that's amazing! Oh, but wait... 

Researchers have determined that the development of stone tools used to cut up raw meat meant humans spent less time chewing and more time doing, not to mention thinking.
Determined based on what? Personal experience? How is this science? Sounds more like a bunch of bros turning a bonghit session into a press release.

Here's this chestnut, variations of which keep popping up regularly:

Scientists Zapped Mouse Brains with Lasers to Bring Back Lost Memories! 
Wow, that's amazing. Oh, but wait... 
It’s a fascinating result, but brain-zapping lasers probably won’t be used to treat memory loss anytime soon. As scientists begin to identify specific neurons that code memories, Roy said, others can work on developing ways to target them, including with drugs. “I think people would be very excited to get similar results,” he said, “without viruses and lasers.”
Read the story- the actual experiment is almost orthodox Pavlov. I guess it was funding renewal time. Speaking of which:
Scientists claim they can create babies without men by injecting eggs with artificial sperm!
Wow, that's amazing! Oh, but wait...  
"It's important to note that the sperm-like cells produced in the study were not fully mature sperm as we might know them. " 
"In spite of these encouraging results, we are still some way from immediately applying this technique as a potential cure for human male infertility," he continued.
This is one of those stories that isn't even news. A similar story showed up on National Geographic News 12 years ago:
The End of Males? Mouse Made to Reproduce Without Sperm 
Dads, in the mammalian branch of the animal kingdom, are often out of the loop when it comes to producing progeny. After that initial contribution of sperm, they are excluded from pregnancy and are all but superfluous even after birth, when nurturing falls to Mom. Now Japanese scientists have streamlined reproduction even further—they have eliminated fathers entirely.
The experiments in question here deal with so-called Parthenogenesis. But given the conspicuous lack of apparent repeatability with this science, you have to seriously wonder if this is science or something else entirely. 

Why? Because one of the most prestigious science journals in the world made this grave statement in an editorial:
“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.” - Dr. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief, The Lancet
So, my question to the I Fucking Love Science crowd would be this: Do you still want a Priests of the Temples of Syrinx world where scientists dictate what is and is not true? 

The fact is that Scientism is a classic circling-of-the-wagons maneuver, a symptom that science is in fact in crisis, that the Age of Wonder may be over. This is where the same prediction from 1900 or so is thrown up in protest, but that was an entirely different world, one without multibillion science laboratories in every major country in the world working 24/7/365.

One science journalist wrote 20 years ago of the End of Science, and recently took stock of his predictions and found they held up quite nicely:
Our descendants will learn much more about nature, and they will invent gadgets even cooler than smart phones. But their scientific version of reality will resemble ours, for two reasons: First, ours… is in many respects true; most new knowledge will merely extend and fill in our current maps of reality rather than forcing radical revisions. 
Second, some major remaining mysteries—Where did the universe come from? How did life begin? How, exactly, does a chunk of meat make a mind?--might be unsolvable. 
So far my prediction that there would be no great "revelations or revolutions"—no insights into nature as cataclysmic as heliocentrism, evolution, quantum mechanics, relativity, the big bang--has held up just fine. 
And here he makes the same diagnosis of the state of the scientific world that many other principled insiders are making:
In some ways, science is in even worse shape today than I would have guessed back in the 1990s. In The End of Science, I predicted that scientists, as they struggle to overcome their limitations, would become increasingly desperate and prone to hyperbole. This trend has become more severe and widespread than I anticipated.  
Oh, has it indeed.

Well, what about AI and algorithms? We're hearing so much about them these days, and how they're the new game-changer. What's the reality on the ground?
Complex algorithms are usually quite difficult to develop and often take longer than experience with other software projects would indicate. Although there are exceptions, complex algorithm projects usually take between four (4) months and several years. True research projects in which new mathematical or logical methods are developed are extremely unpredictable and typically take years.
What about Silicon Valley? Won't it save the world? They certainly act like it. Wait- what's this?
The number of start-up firms in the United States has been declining in recent decades. Prior to 2000, the employment effects of this decline were partly offset by the presence of a small number of high-growth young companies. That pattern seems to have changed.
While social media continues to churn out endless technohype, literally promising the Sun, Moon and Stars, serious people look at the situation on the ground with a more sober eye. The implications are grave: 
Ben Bernanke sees the great slowdown in technological progress 
Indeed, some knowledgeable observers have recently made the case that the IT revolution, as important as it surely is, likely will not generate the transformative economic effects that flowed from the earlier technological revolutions. As a result, these observers argue, economic growth and change in coming decades likely will be noticeably slower than the pace to which Americans have become accustomed. 
Such an outcome would have important social and political — as well as economic — consequences for our country and the world.
And now there are books out there on this, books that policy makers (as opposed to politicians) are going to be studying and considering as the world economy lurches and sputters:
In a three-month period at the end of 1879, Thomas Edison tested the first practical electric lightbulb, Karl Benz invented a workable internal-combustion engine, and a British-American inventor named David Edward Hughes transmitted a wireless signal over a few hundred meters. These were just a few of the remarkable breakthroughs that Northwestern University economist Robert J. Gordon tells us led to a “special century” between 1870 and 1970, a period of unprecedented economic growth and improvements in health and standard of living for many Americans. 
Growth since 1970? “Simultaneously dazzling and disappointing.” Think the PC and the Internet are important? Compare them with the dramatic decline in infant mortality, or the effect that indoor plumbing had on living conditions. And the explosion of inventions and resulting economic progress that happened during the special century are unlikely to be seen again, Gordon argues in a new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth.
The book attempts to directly refute the views of those Gordon calls “techno optimists,” who think we’re in the midst of great digital innovations that will redefine our economy and sharply improve the way we live. 
Nonsense, he says. Just look at the economic data; there is no evidence that such a transformation is occurring.
No, in fact, it's just the opposite. The rising tide isn't lifting all boats, it's actually flooding out most of the country.
For most Americans, wages are just not keeping up. Incomes actually shrank between 1972 and 2013. And it’s not going to get any better, predicts Robert Gordon.
If robust economic progress in the first half of the 20th century helped create a national mood of optimism and faith in progress, have decades of much slower productivity growth helped create an era of malaise and frustration?
One-time techno-utopians like Jaron Lanier and Douglas Rushkoff haved turned into Jeremiahs, sounding a warning about the ravages of the New Economy. But are they just voices in the Wilderness? No one wants to get left behind when the new world dawns, so boat-rocking is not very fashionable. Everyone still believes the Sun will come out for them tomorrow.

But more sober thinkers are surveying the world around them and noticing that progress has slowed, if not stopped. Or in fact begun to move backward, no matter how many useless (and unused) apps you can download to your smartphone.

We keep hearing about the automation revolution but as with so much of our Tomorrow, it seems to be perpetually on the horizon. You're constantly hearing scare stories of Robotomageddon at the same we're hearing warnings of projected labor shortages.

The fact is that while automation is on the increase, it's also risky, expensive (requiring major capital investment) and can be difficult for companies to integrate. The threat of AIs and robots could be real or it could be more hype from a high tech industry desperate to keep the profits churning.

We (apparently) have this science, but nothing seems to actually be changing:

For the past 20 years, as a science writer, I have covered such extraordinary medical advances as gene therapy, cloned replacement organs, stem-cell therapy, life-extension technologies, the promised spin-offs from genomics and tailored medicine. 
None of these new treatments is yet routinely available. 
The paralyzed still cannot walk, the blind still cannot see. The human genome was decoded (one post-Golden Quarter triumph) nearly 15 years ago and we’re still waiting to see the benefits that, at the time, were confidently asserted to be ‘a decade away’. 
We still have no real idea how to treat chronic addiction or dementia...There has been no new Green Revolution. We still drive steel cars powered by burning petroleum spirit or, worse, diesel. There has been no new materials revolution...physics (seems) to have ground to a halt...And nobody has been to the Moon for 42 years.
And so the question is asked: what happened to Tomorrow? Why has the train ground to a stop? And as this author asks, what got the train going in the first place?
Why has progress stopped? Why, for that matter, did it start when it did, in the dying embers of the Second World War? 
Ah, yes. Why indeed. 

I have an idea. But I guarantee no one is going to like it...



  1. I still have an outstanding deal with Satan. Not necessarily my brightest move, and it's turned out to have been a little harder to keep my end of the bargain than I initially anticipated. Well, he's been around for awhile and I haven't seen any indications of impatience so far. I figure, the most important thing is not to forget it. Maybe remembering it for the length of time I've had no means to fulfill my end (over 10 years now) IS the test?

    1. Well, I hope you got a good deal. I heard the fine print is the killer.

  2. Yes. This is why I don't read those websites, or FB, or this other nonsense. Scientism might be the ugliest cult, as abusive and destructive as any, cloaked in goodness and "for all humanity", but in actually hateful, soulless, and death-worshiping.

    I'm starting to wonder at the backlash & contractions we can all see coming, if there is much of a future for the human species. IMHO, if the future will be more materialism, more "people have zero Free Will", more big-business, Douchebro, "I Fucking Love Science!", rich-get-richer Same Shit Different Day, there is no reason to *want* a future for the human species.

    Of course, I don't believe that they will get their way. :) I hope that the real Human Future is only beginning, and I think each one of us can make a positive difference. Connect with your fellow humans. Make a change, take a chance. Live, Laugh, Love.

    At least, if the worst happens, you'll have lived as best you could. :)

    1. I think the IFLS has peaked, thankfully. It really trivializes science, which I think most people recognize. They don't actually love science, it's just a totem to cling to for status reasons.

  3. Chris,

    "the outrageous headline tailored for social media which is always accompanied by the Big Walk-Back buried at the bottom"

    This describes every report of a medical breakthrough I've ever seen on the BBC News site for the past decade. Every. Single. One. I no longer bother to read them, as very few are ever repeated.

    I recall Robert Anton Wilson also ringing this warning bell back in the 70s, but the concept was too new and so mostly generated laughter. What a difference forty years of declining paychecks and diminishing (scientific) returns can make.

    "Why has progress stopped? Why, for that matter, did it start when it did, in the dying embers of the Second World War?"

    Oh, I have some ideas, but I'll keep quiet and wait for the next post. Bet we agree more than not. But, I'll say this: Great invocations require great magicians...

    1. Looking back at 1970s culture there definitely seemed to be an understanding that things weren't working and that humanity would kind of hit a brick wall some time in the early 21st Century. I vaguely recall Jacques Vallee mentioning studies in his Forbidden Science books (he was possibly looking at limits to growth computer models) that by the 2020s humanity would hit a severe inflection point.

      Jean Gimpel thought that the US would decline in the 70s as the easy returns from technology ceased based on comparisons with other developed societies in the past (his book The Medieval Machine was pretty good).

      Lots of warnings of sorts, but we hoped the problems would go away. They didn't.

    2. Well, we're stuck in an endless 70s tapeloop, only without the good music and movies. I didn't realize RAW was on this tip but good on him. Gordon explained it's all about funding- getting press hype when it comes time to reapply for grants. That makes a lot of sense to me.

  4. I do feel like am stuck in an endless Groundhog Day as the media promotes ersatz innovations that never quite seem to do the job they promise.

    For fun, here's a Horizon documentary from 1978 - its probably been mentioned before, but is about the then new technology of microprocessors. Note how the issues covered - automation, software, how will we handle mass unemployment - were already well-know almost forty years ago. Also note that although modern tech is somewhat more advanced the basics were all there decades ago, and the problems they were struggling with (mainly AI) are still generally unsolved today.

    (main documentary first 50 minutes, followed by a studio discussion - if the link doesn't work you can find it by Googling 'Now the Chips Are Down' & there should be various versions online.)

    1. Yeah, this version didn't play for me. I
      ll try to check it out somewhere else. It sounds very interesting. I'm a bit skeptical about mass unemployment though. I think robots have been drastically oversold. I guess we'll see though.

  5. Prior to the Industrial age, inventions (not to be confused with commercial products) were a matter of necessity, often emerging from outstanding need and rarely as a commidity in search of a use. But in the past century, we've seen an increase in products introduced either to deal with invented problems (several health, beauty and pharma products come to mind) or replace existng products or services with "improvements" that were increasingly diminishing in their returns. Computers and phones top the later list - really, the new ones are a lot faster and prettier than past models, but they still do the same job, but with so much flash, so many bells and whistles that most people never use most of what they're given.

    Necessity drives true progress. Otherwise, we're spinning in place.

    1. Well, it's also a question of the sales force driving the process rather than R+D. That's most definitely the case with software. I'm actually really surprised by how little the graphics software I use has changed in 15 or 20 years.

  6. One of the more thought provoking essays you've banged out recently. I'm often struck by the increasingly obvious fracturing between the technological innovations that increase automation on the one hand and on the other the cultural inertia that tells the masses 'By the sweat of thy brow shalt thy earn they bread' (cue Charlton Heston). I'm struck by how many people rant and rave to me about how kids these days have no work ethic. Why should they? Making people pizzas takes a work ethic? The bosses say that making those pizzas really should only pay $10 an hour but your rent is $1500 a month. So I guess those lazy, indulged millenials will have to supplement by hustling in the criminal economy. One can only hope that the movement behind a guarenteed income can overcome this intense right libertarian hatred for the 'free lunch'

    1. The libertarian right has no power- the Kochs are talking supporting Hillary Clinton. The impediment to a universal wage is the ruling class deciding it would be cheaper to let everyone starve.

  7. Twilight of the idols. So long Science Officer Spock.

    1. Spock's been gone for a while now...

    2. I'm stuck in a time warp watching Star Trek re-runs. Spock the Vulcan. And Vulcan the Roman god of metal tech. I agree with you. I'm just wondering who will be the new god?

    3. I'm an old Trekkie as well. :) Remember, Spock was only *half* Vulcan. Once he learned how to not only accept, but to embrace his Human qualities, he was a better, stronger, happier man. :)

      There are many lessons to learn from Star Trek. :) "Nemesis", was IMHO the worst of the movies, but Picard has a line there with a lot of meaning: " And that is what it is to be human. To make yourself more than you are."

      Maybe we don't need a new god. Maybe we just need to live up to our potential.

    4. I like that idea, Anna Elizabeth.
      After all, meet the new god, same as the old god.

    5. :) I'm glad you like it.

      If I'm anything, Spiritually-speaking, it's Gnostic. And it just seems to me that if there is anything we can control, anything we can do, it's to improve ourselves, we can become better at being human.

  8. The Secret Luddite? If one looks up to space and the incredible exploration/innovation that is going on, me thinks much is progressing. Some people are of course looking to the elimination of cancer, some who will be long dead before a cure. How in the hell did we go from Lucius to Debbie downer with tech? Economies of scale are working. It is the incredible huge outlays for Military supremacy, that suck the lifeblood of this country. Nothing else compares. I for one was very impressed by landing a rocket on a barge at sea recently. Electric cars are happening, Solar power is growing, Do not despair people, real progress is being made with sustainable technologies. What Humans need most is compassion/Nous. All else is a sideshow. Dennis

    1. Dennis, I don't mean any of this as personally against you, but you're talking about a Billionaire with a personal space rocket, Solar power I don't have the money to invest in, an electric car I can't afford, and real progress that helps me not a jot. Last month, I had to buy groceries & gasoline for my Girlfriend, she fortunately found a job since then, and we haven't seen each other in weeks because we're both absolutely broke beyond essentials. Most of my friends are in similar circumstances, 1 paycheck away from homelessness.
      I'm not saying chuck it all and live in the Bronze Age, but all of this sounds like propaganda.

    2. Yeah, this economy is breaking a lot of backs. It works for the rich and not too much else. And the problem is that rich control the entire political system now and workers have no voice. So yeah, the sideshows don't impress me much.

    3. It's hard to say what will happen next, it feels to me that everything is nearing a breaking point.I personally am living through the most challenging last six weeks I've evers faced. I'm making a serious effort to enjoy what I can, take action with what I can, and get outside everyday and get some fresh air.

      I'm finding out I'm stronger than I evers knew, too. :)

    4. solar shmolar. I could post a ton of links about the limits of solar. This one is more recent about the false economy of rooftop.

      Also, apparently solar doesn't work at night.

  9. At least tech keeps the piranhas where they belong, away from developmentaly disabled children and battered women with that go-to major for the dumb-as-a-rock middle class (psychology).

  10. Progress has been replaced with incremental technocratic efficiency gains that translate into longer hours of work for less pay for most of the world's workers. The Myth of Progress has lost much of its post-War potency. Filling that void we see many completing myths raining down from above and welling up from below.

    1. I think that situation is only going to get worse. The ball is not only in the 1%'s court, so is the court, the parking lot, the judges, the concession stands and the broadcast rights. I don't see a way out right now.

  11. There are still plenty of technological advances that are possible, but most of them are going to be engineering feats, not fundamental game changers. Even hyperspace drives that keep being hinted at don't seem to be based on any reassessment of how space or time works. Mostly just coming to grips with alternative ideas like those used by the Nazis or Tesla or whoever. Whatever jazzy stuff they reveal will likely be nothing more than adumbrations of alterna-tech from the late 19th to mid 20th century that just wasn't convenient for TPTB to reveal.

    1. There are certainly advances. But the point that most of these observers are making is that we probably won't be seeing any breakthroughs or miracles. Humanity may well return to its normal state of relative stasis.

  12. Not only is there immerse chicanery within the various scientific fields of Western Society the argument is easily made about the determent of these "sciences" to human beings, animal kingdom, plant kingdom, and the very planet herself.

    Case in point. Dr. Tyrone Hayes, a Black-American Chemist, years ago was hired by an argibusiness to conduct research on their synesthetic herbicide. Long story short Dr. Hayes found clear evidence that showed that herbicide cause severe endocrine disruptions leading to changes in sexuality and other abnormalities. Dr. Hayes was stalked for years and threatened about his findings and he had to go public as a means to protect himself.

    Now I know this information being connected to LGBT issues will be controversial; regardless of ones' feelings for LGBT community we should all be able to agree just from a medical standpoint it's not a great idea for toxic chemicals to be within the human body.

    Likewise, there are other known synesthetic chemicals in common usage that are also various endocrine disruptions such as deet which is commonly used in bug replant. Deet is a derivative of DDT which is an ingredient in "agent orange" used during Vietnam on the so-called Vietcong. Yeah, so the people we are discussing the disembodied "they" are a right nasty lot to say the least.

    1. My apologies I meant... '....the argument is easily made about the detriment of these "sciences" to human beings, animal kingdom, plant kingdom, and the very planet herself'

    2. Apologies again for the typo, I meant.... 'Likewise, there are other known synesthetic chemicals in common usage that also cause various endocrine disruptions/body toxicity such as Deet which is commonly used in bug repellent....

    3. Well, I had a neighbor who used Roundup- swore by it. Always told me I should use it. I told him I'd rather have the weeds. He had a beautiful carpet of a lawn, no dandelions or anything. When he was alive. Died in his mid-40s from massive cancers in his lower abdomen. Is there a connection? I don't know. But I'm not willing to find out.

  13. "We still have no real idea how to treat chronic addiction..."

    We have at least two great methods for treating chronic addiction. One is to participate in a 12-step program under the direction of a sponsor who has been through the program themselves; the other is to take a massive dose of entheogens under the care of a trained shaman.

    Neither of these methods reduces the human participant to a malfunctioning machine which a good mechanic with an M.D. after his name can fix with a pill.

    "Progress" is likely to continue along theses and similar lines, but materialism is a dead end.

    1. Well, there you go. Treating addiction means stepping outside the materialist paradigm, which is more inconceivable than addiction itself. I've actually seen materialists- a lot of them- say being an addict is better than turning to religion to overcome your dependency. I can't believe how fucked up we've become in this society.

  14. ' Dr Pearson says that by 2050, people will be able to connect their brains directly to computers and, ‘could move their mind into an improved android body.‘This would allow people to have multiple existences and identities, or to carry on living long after their biological death.’

    ‘What’s exciting is that it is no longer nature which is forcing changes on us but our own breakthroughs.’

    But wait, none of this technology is anywhere close to existing. I mean, nowhere. This is pure Singularist snake oil. The myth that human progress is on this straight curve upward from the caves to the stars comes from these people' The downloading consciousness to computer was what Terrence McKenna pushed as acoming, and this is why he, as was Leary, known as a psychedelic transhumanist. And whether knowingly or unknowingly was really working for the people pushing scientism-as saviour to the impressionable psychedelicized youth through the generations. We in fact live in this fked scenario which goes on about all the 'amazing brave new world' technology they done got and YET the growing of a PLANT which can be used for both recreation and medcine, cannabis is outlawed, as is picking naturally growing from Mother Earth magic mushrooms. THAT is the real insanity of it all. Fuck their fkin gadgets and phony promises!

  15. Beautiful collection of links here SS. I don't know how you don't blow a gasket wading through the scientism bollocks.

    "Five to ten years away". I think they mean "Five to the power of ten years away".

    BTW, have you read 'Science as Salvation' by Mary Midgley?

    Written in 1991, it's a scholarly takedown on the Singularity (or Omega Point) as it was at the time. She goes after Barrow and Tipler and Freeman Dyson (Col. Kurtweil hadn't quite broken onto the scene with his 'Dark Enlightenment' yet, the Horror).

    I'd already felt that our current paroxysm of tech-worship and crude materialism was the last moment of vitality from a dying belief system - and MM says much the same in that book. Of course, everything takes longer than you think, even when you know it takes longer than you think, so no doubt we're in for a few more years of this odious tech-tripe before the final death rattle.

    I think of J.G. Ballard's comment that the US and Middle East are sick societies, and that people grab onto their religions with a desperate fervor when there's nothing left. Well he made one small mistake, and left out the civil religions - because the nauseating hero worship of St. Jobs of Cupertino, and his successor, Pope Elon I, shows that people will grasp just as desperately to their smartphones.

    Anyway, kudos. This article's a keeper.

  16. ‘What’s exciting is that it is no longer nature which is forcing changes on us but our own breakthroughs.’

    - but but but according to materialism, only matter exists. Therefore EVERYTHING is nature. WE are nature, and our MACHINES are nature. It's all just "atoms moving in the void", or are they incapable of remaining consistent with the logic of their own belief system for longer than 3 minutes? Apparently not.

    Carl Becker had this Enlightenment muddle pegged in the 1930s.


    It was all very well for the philosophical tutor to say to the young prince: ‘Religion and morality and politics should be based on natural law, they should be in harmony with the nature of man.’ The young prince, if he knew his philosophy, might very well reply: ‘The universe, I am told, is only matter in spontaneous motion, and man a mechanically determined product of nature; so that all things, just as they are—priests as well as philosophers, superstitions as well as enlightenment, tyranny and the Inquisition as well as liberty and the Encylopedie—are already in harmony with nature.’ What then? In that case the Philosopher would no doubt need to ameliorate abstract reason before he could ameliorate society. A society so obviously wrong could never be set right unless some distinction could be drawn between the custom that was naturally good and the custom that was naturally bad.

    A distinction between good and bad! Not a novel idea, certainly; on the contrary, a very old, a most Christian idea. Must the the Philosophers then fly, as Hume put it, to revealed truth? No, it was scarcely necessary to go as far as that; but it was necessary to execute a strategic retreat from the advanced position occupied by abstract reason, from the notion that nature has "no more regard to good above ill than to heat above cold." Otherwise, the campaign for a regenerated society was surely lost, and the great project for making dukes and peers useful no more than a dream...

    Thus, the innate ideas which Locke had so politely dismissed by way of the hall door had to be surreptitiously brought back again through the kitchen window; the soul that Cartesian logic had eliminated from the individual had to be rediscovered in humanity. The soul of the individual might be evil, it might be temporary, it might even be an illusion. But the soul of humanity, this something "essential to" human nature, this "common model of ourselves" (and what was this but the old medieval "realism" come to life again?) was surely immortal because permanent and universal.

    Carl Becker, 'Heavenly City', p.85-86

  17. Engineering stuff and techniques that you mentioned on your blog are awesome. Being a electrical Engineer I really enjoy your all posts and learn a lot not only Electrical engineering knowledge but others technologies and tools as well.
    Love from EDesk

  18. Sync alert: the latest episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is about the degradation of scientific studies and how "science" as it is reported by the media is not science at all but more like religion. When I watched the episode tonight, I was floored by some of the things John Oliver said because they sounded so similar to this post that it almost seemed stolen. I recommend watching it or at least watching a clip on YouTube if you don't have HBO.

  19. Devil is perhaps the most wide-spread character in literature, he may be pictured differently but the effect is the same, he is enticining people to reveal their vices. To know more follow

  20. A friend of mine, a high-flying veteran banker, made me really uncomfortable on the phone the other day when, after announcing his eldest son's wedding, he quipped, "for the past five years my son has been the CEO of a startup company which has yet to produce a penny in revenue."

    And yet, the story is far from unusual nowadays. The MBA industry teaches gimmicky courses on "how to make a million-dollar company into a 50 billion-dollar company", and feeds the budding managers the illusion that they can, if not save the world, then certainly eradicate hunger in Africa. While sitting in an air-conditioned office in Zurich and drawing down an investment banker's salary. Obviously. And with zero knowledge of world history, philosophy, ethics and religion.

    "Modern" is increasingly synonymous with "out of touch with what is REAL".