As modern French intellectual Monsieur Bernard Henri-Levy opined recently in The Virus in the Age of Madness (see my review), a backhanded tract aimed at the lugubrious machinations of others around us,
Never had one seen, on every screen on the planet, the image of commentators yielding the spotlight to hospital spokespersons, newcomers to the forum, sometimes knowledgeable, sometimes less so, but always enveloped in a continuously expanding aura, like Tintin's mysterious star -- or a video game in which Dr. Fauci's steely eyes slay the fearsome coronavirus dragon.
In short, he goes on to warn, we are just as nuts to trust scientists, who are humans first, and who gave us the much-feared lab-created Frankenstein monster, who, like our novel coronavirus that is neither alive nor dead. Hmph. The good Dr. Frankenstein got off easy, dying on an Arctic floe, chasing after his creation. We won't have a floe to fall back on.
Some of them have been flat out nuts. The CIA's Sydney Gottlieb (more irony in a surname). Edward Teller, happy father of the H-Bomb and universal conflagration -- why settle for ba-ba-Boom, when you can have da-da-Doom?). And a story I read last year about Sir Isaac Newton still brings chilblains. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, he personally oversaw the beheadings of counterfeiters who had the mettle to meddle with the medal of coins of the realm, making me wonder if it wasn't the fall of apples that gave him understanding of gravity but falling heads and their rate of descent. Flip a coin, heads or tails. Trauma.
But since I brought up Gottlieb, it raises another distressing coincidence, Master Jarry tarries at McGill, home of MK-ULTRA, the infamous CIA-funded "black site" where patients were unwittingly fed LSD and had agents and doctors and scientists f*ck with them and their minds. And speaking of the CIA and science, under their Operation Paper Clip thousands of Nazi scientists were provided entry, jobs and new lifestyles in America after WW2. And more recently, men of science, if you count psychologists, were responsible for setting up the Enhanced Interrogation (torture) program that saw terror suspects waterboarded until they wrote poetry to their waterboarders, says CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou.
Obviously, none of this is to say that scientists, in general, are untrustworthy -- quite the opposite. As Levy quite succinctly says of doctors, but is equally true of scientists in general, "All doctors have at least this in common: they all take the side of rationalism against the imbecilic obscurantism of those who prefer superstition and magical thinking to reason and thinking." And this is the starting point for rebuilding our dignity in the face of all the bullshit scientists have pushed at us for years in the name of ka-ching not knowledge -- again, see tobacco, oil and climate. There's a lot to answer for. Certainly, the worst thing we could do to bona fide objective scientists is return them to the high priest state of alchemy. Not when we need their rationality more than ever.
The problems with scientists, and the way we report on them, is part of a larger problem of how we, as a collective, are managing information, especially in the Internet Age. It's already been acknowledged repeatedly that we are all having trouble establishing an authoritative source for important information. We have seen that the MSM can be horridly bipartisan and divisive, and willing to withhold important public interest information to protect money and to keep valued highly placed anonymous sources. Postmodernism has relativized our values; we don't share the same linguistically-understood ideals anymore; our Inaugurating presidents swear on Bibles that neither they nor we take seriously and preside over a democracy that now seems passe'. The Internet, with attendant its social media addiction, means we continue to hurdle toward a merge with machines where a totally new consciousness is beginning to emerge, where individual identities are swallowed up by the System that never lets us alone -- we are always online sharing every little tidbit of our thinking, with the result being we are becoming RAM-level reactionaries, and don't do much deep-thinking anymore.
As Thomas Kuhn used to say, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, "each scientific revolution alters the historical perspective of the community that experiences it, then that change of perspective should affect the structure of postrevolutionary textbooks and research publications." In short, we're waiting for the language to catch up to the knowledge we already have. It's a curious thing that just as we reach that point in history -- and I myself am shocked that this paradigm shift is occurring in my lifetime (analog to digital to quantum) -- becoming Gods in our own re-making when our self-annihilation seems, at the same time, so inevitable. In some queer way, the transformations of the LGBTQ community, the freedoms it implies about body and identity, seem now like harbingers of our future. As if we were becoming a species of David Bowies falling to Earth, androgynous and imprisoned in our own skins.
Mind-blowing stuff. Bong, please.
(Article changed on January 4, 2021 at 01:24)
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