April 17, 2013
through a succession of errors.
Wordsworth in the Tropics
is the prelude to every real advance of
Culture consists, in large measure, of commonly shared sets of assumptions and expectations about reality.
It is a kind of lens through which we
look at the world, one that is implanted in us in infancy and
childhood and that is continually readjusted throughout life.
According to the curvature and distortion of our lens, some things
appear substantive that are actually only phantoms, while other
things that are indeed quite solid and real are, to us, invisible.
For example, recently most Americans have been convinced by politicians that crime is the result of too few people being in prisons - this despite the well-known fact that their nation already incarcerates a greater percentage of its citizens than does any other, with no observed effect on the crime rate (unless it is an inverse one).
They have likewise become convinced that the poverty of the Third World is due to the sad circumstance that people in certain "backward" countries are "not yet ready for democracy," are inherently unindustrious, or are overburdened by irrational tradition.
Meanwhile nearly everyone (in the U.S., though this is not so much the case elsewhere) studiously ignores the clear fact that the Third World has been - and continues to be - systematically plundered by corporations that routinely use the power of the CIA, the World Bank, and (if necessary) the U.S. military to dominate or destroy indigenous enterprise.
While this fact is frequently pointed out by certain "radical" political scientists and by the alternative press, it is rarely mentioned by politicians or by the mainstream media because its widespread acknowledgment would be inimical to the purposes of power.
But no one is surprised, because most people
believe that this is how politics works - that political worldviews
are always shaped more by the self-interest of powerful individuals
and groups than by mere facts.
Science was meant to stand above culture. This was, and is, a laudable ideal.
But science's quest for objectivity has always had to contend with two unalterable obstacles:
Science does not stand above culture; it swims in it.
In science, as in religion and politics, there are,
And so the history of science is full of examples
of dogmas constructed and defended, evidence suppressed or twisted,
and alternative theories ignored.
But we seldom look at contemporary science with the degree of skepticism that such past failings would seem to warrant.
Yet when a lengthy
series of theoretical presuppositions is necessary to form the
concepts which lead to experimental and equipment design in a
typical research project, which then yields data that must be
processed according to the same theoretical presuppositions in order
to make sense, then it should be clear to us that even many of the
"observed facts" of modern science are largely hypothetical.
... and so on.
My objective here is not to denigrate the achievements of those who have expanded the territory of the known, but merely to call attention to - and honor - the great ocean of the unknown in which our collective knowledge floats.
As we noted there, physicists are fond of pointing out the limitations of the "Newtonian paradigm," in which space is Euclidean, the Universe is (in principle) entirely predictable, and matter is made up of billiard-ball atoms.
The quantum and relativity theories of the
early twentieth century are often hailed as having liberated the
human mind from mechanistic and dualistic assumptions, and as
confirming the mystical worldviews of Eastern religions.
In light of a statement like this from one of the most eminent scientists of our century, one cannot help but feel a certain bemused skepticism at the attempts of some science popularizers to create a mythic worldview for the masses out of a "new" physics that is already beginning to look a bit tattered and worn around the edges.
Virtually all of our current technologies are powered by the liberation of energy through the breaking down of complex materials into simpler ones through combustion and explosion, which produce expansion and heat.
Schauberger believed that these processes represent only the destructive side of Nature, and that we have ignored Nature's creative forces - which are characterized by centripetal, hyperbolic, spiral movement, the lowering of temperature, and the creation of new complex forms.
He maintained that our technologies should be going with the flow of Nature rather than forcing actions that are contrary to it.
Schauberger designed and built an "implosion generator" which was said to have attained "negative friction"; he also invented,
However, his work was largely ignored during his lifetime.
At present, about a half dozen groups worldwide are seeking to develop and implement technologies based on Schauberger's pioneering ideas.
Rather, they must analyze infinitesimal traces of radiation that have presumably traveled thousands or millions of years to arrive here from stars, galaxies, quasars, and even more exotic objects lying at unimaginable distances.
With so little to go on, their
analyses of these traces must inevitably incorporate some of the
very hypotheses they seek to validate. This can lead to problems.
According to current views, the objects with the greatest red shifts
are furthest distant and are receding fastest, which means that the
Universe is expanding in every direction. Hence it must have
originated in a huge explosion - the famous Big Bang.
Halton C. Arp was formerly listed as one of the top twenty astronomers in the world, until he began cataloging apparently-associated celestial objects with differing red shifts. He began to openly suggest that at least some red shifts are not a measure of recessional velocity and distance. His reputation plummeted.
I.E. Segal's chronometric theory of the cosmos predicts a quadratic rather than a linear relationship between red shift and distance, which would do away with the expanding Universe altogether.
Some red-shift measurements do indicate such a quadratic relationship.
H. Alfven, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, posits a Universe shaped more by electromagnetic than gravitational forces; his theory rules out the possibility that the Universe could ever have had a diameter less than one-tenth its present one.
Hence no Big Bang.
The upshot of all of this is that we
really do not know when or how - or if! - the Universe began; nor do
we know what forces are primarily responsible for shaping it; nor do
we know for certain how far away distant objects are or whether they
are moving toward or away from us.
Meanwhile, serious questions have been raised about,
Unfortunately, that book is far from complete. In fact, of the ten major geological periods, only five or fewer are represented on two thirds of the Earth's land surface. In some places the "periods" occur in the wrong order. And most fossils used for dating rock layers overlap from a few to all ten layers.
The result: the "geological column" by which we construct Earth
history is largely hypothetical.
However, there is growing evidence to suggest that the planet's surface may have been shaped to a large extent by ancient global cataclysms, some of extraterrestrial origin - that is, by collisions with comets and other interstellar debris.
dinosaur extinctions now widely attributed to a comet impact, cosmic catastrophism as it applies to the geologic past is on the upsurge.
But the idea that similar bombardments could have occurred since the
origin of humankind is still officially unthinkable.
Critics of radiometric dating have questioned the assumptions on which these methods rest.
(For example, does the radioactive decay rate remain constant despite changes in temperature, cosmic ray influx, and pressure? Evidence suggests that it does not.)
Critics also cite instances in which objects of known age, such as freshly-cooled volcanic rocks or just-felled trees, have yielded wildly inaccurate radiometric dates in the thousands or millions of years.
But if the radiometric techniques are essentially
useless, then how seriously are we to take the interminably repeated
assertion that scientists "know" that the Earth is four-and-a-half
billion years old?
Biology is, of course, the science of life; but biologists are generally averse to telling us just what life is.
The strategy that is currently popular is to try to erase the conceptual boundary between life and non-life, though even the simplest living cell has characteristics profoundly different from those of any non-living entity.
The difficulty comes because many scientists assume that biology should be reducible to chemistry and physics; they abhor the idea that living things might possess some fundamental principle not present in non-living matter.
And yet all
attempts to generate life out of chemicals (that is, to reproduce
the processes that must have - according to theory - brought about
the beginnings of life on Earth) have fallen far short of their
But what kind of evolution, and what has driven it?
The idea that chance
genetic mutations could add up constructively seems far fetched,
since few if any beneficial mutations have ever been seen to occur
in Nature. And then there are structures, like the vertebrate eye,
which simply would not have functioned until an entire complex of
individual features was in place, though none of these by itself
would have conferred any advantage to the organism.
Moreover, natural selection implies fierce, unending competition.
Yet, as entomologist P.S. Messenger puts it,
Nature instead produces unending examples of cooperation.
Differing species, and members of the same
species, go well out of their way to avoid competition wherever
Our overwhelming ignorance is masked by sweeping declarations about the creative powers of natural selection, and we are deprived of the insights that might come from an honest assessment of the limits of our knowledge of life's origin and development.
Meanwhile, unorthodox but promising ideas - such as,
... are typically given short shrift.
In the past few decades, new techniques - such as the
tracing of mutations in mitochondrial DNA - have offered intriguing
clues as to the timing of our early ancestors' significant
migrations. But these techniques are not without difficulties.
British science writer Elaine Morgan, in her books The Aquatic Ape: A Theory of Human Evolution, and The Scars of Evolution: What Our Bodies Tell Us About Human Origins, has offered a promising proposal - that during our early evolution we humans passed through a long phase of adaptation to the shallow water of lakes, rivers, and sea coasts.
As Morgan points out in her books, the features that separate us from other primates are precisely ones that appear in aquatic mammals such as manatees, dolphins, sea lions, and whales.
Morgan's hypothesis also goes a long way toward explaining the dearth of early human fossil remains.
During past Ice Ages the level
of the oceans was up to three hundred feet lower than at present. If
human beings were shore-dwellers, most of their remains were likely
But in several instances human artifacts
or remains have turned up in deposits that are much older. While
most experts continue to discount these anomalies, others are
quietly beginning to concede that human beings may have been
in the Americas for twenty to fifty thousand years - or longer.
For over a century, renegade archaeologists have theorized that the Mayans and Aztecs were influenced by Egyptian, Phoenician, or Chinese explorers. Most such theories perished for lack of incontrovertible evidence.
During the past two decades, however, Barry Fell of Harvard, and others, have published descriptions of coins, petroglyphs, and other artifacts that seem to prove that Celts, Basques, Libyans, Arabians, Romans, Egyptians, Hebrews, and Chinese all visited North America at one time or another.
The scientific establishment remains unconvinced.
Since no other Egyptian monument shows similar weathering (despite similarity of materials), this would seem to indicate that the Sphinx was built in an era long predating the pharaohs.
Professional Egyptologists are adamant that the Sphinx is less than five thousand years old and was 'constructed' by the pharaoh Khephren, and ask:
But the archaeologists offer no alternative explanation for the Sphinx's deep water channels.
Despite some progress in the past decade,
we still have no generally accepted theory of consciousness and we
still do not know how memories are stored and accessed.
Nevertheless, both anecdotal and
experimental evidence for such psychic phenomena persists, albeit in
maddeningly elusive forms.
Two surveys (Stevenson, 1970; and Braud and Dennis, 1989) suggest that paranormal experiences coincide with days of minimal geomagnetic activity; another (Raps, Avi, et al., 1992) shows a high correlation between solar activity (which seems to influence the geomagnetic field) and the outbreak of psychiatric illnesses.
Given that the Earth's magnetic field is diminishing, should we prepare ourselves for the widespread occurrence of psychic - and 'psychiatric' - phenomena?
In virtually every field, widely-accepted views are plagued by internal contradictions; and in many cases these problems are hardly peripheral, but pertain to bedrock issues.
Moreover, they tend to compound one another: a scientist in one discipline (such as astronomy), in order to clear up a problem, will often rely on "facts" from another discipline (such as physics), believing that the conclusions he reaches thereby are solidly supported - when in reality they may be resting upon the flimsiest of foundations.
This process snowballs from discipline to
discipline, specialist relying upon specialist.
We have created a system of knowledge consisting of millions of observed facts arranged in such a way as to give an essentially false view of the nature of reality.
My point is not that science has made no valuable contributions - it has! - but that we always need to see those contributions in context and to appreciate their limitations and the tradeoffs we have made for their sake.
The legendary Lao Tze reputedly wrote,
Ironically, we in the industrialized
world - who pride ourselves on living in an "information society" -
are perhaps further from having genuine knowledge than were people
in most "primitive" cultures throughout history.
It could be argued that each is a twisted manifestation of (or substitute for) a healthy human drive.
Our task in creating a new, life-affirming culture must be to carefully remove all three of these props and to replace them with a single sound taproot reaching deep into the heart of the soil and the soul.