Monthly Post

Science as Enchantment

All things considered, this may seem like an odd time to start talking again about the nature, history, and future of enchantment.  That was one of the core themes I explored in posts during the first half of the year, granted, and I had much more to say about it when the pressures of a world system coming unglued made it necessary to talk about current events instead.

The fast lane to national bankruptcy and a default on the federal debt.

Those pressures haven’t abated at all—quite the contrary.  The United States is currently trying to pay the costs and provide the munitions for two wars abroad, at a time when our government is close to US$34 trillion in debt and our defense industry has focused so intently on carrying out devastating raids on the national budget that it can no longer accomplish such subsidiary tasks as manufacturing bullets and bombs in adequate volume. Joe Biden’s approval ratings are dropping so steadily that he may just finish his term as the least popular president in US history, and his party is lurching toward open conflict between pro- and anti-Biden factions, not to mention pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian factions.  Meanwhile Trump rises steadily in the polls and his party is drawing up plans for the most sweeping reforms in the US bureaucracy in most of a century.

At the same time, the US economy is stumbling into stagflation, that awkward and theoretically impossible condition where economic activity slows but prices keep rising. (Hint: it happens whenever the price of oil rises due to supply constraints.) Commercial real estate is in freefall and several other economic sectors are in deep trouble, but Biden’s flacks are insisting at the top of their lungs that everything is fine and the economy has never been better. It’ll be intriguing to see what effects that exercise in over-the-top gaslighting turns out to have; if history is anything to go by, the results will not be what Biden’s handlers want.

Remember that wonderful shining future we were supposed to get?

There’s more than this going on, of course. I could fill an entire post quite easily with signs of crisis from the nations of the modern industrial West, and another post with the evidence that much of the rest of the world is prospering as our decline picks up speed. For the moment, though, I want to set that aside and talk about enchantment. That’s not as pointless as it may seem; just as politics is downstream from culture, culture is downstream from imagination, and imagination is downstream from the states of consciousness that give imagination its context. Those states of consciousness change over time, and the change isn’t necessarily one-way.

This was the theme of an interesting recent piece by British journalist Mary Harrington in UnHerd. Harrington notes the difference between the modern experience (not merely “concept”) of the cosmos as lumps of matter tumbling pointlessly in the void, and the medieval experience (again, it was never just a concept) of the cosmos as a living whole in which not even the tiniest corner was without life, intelligence, and spirit. She then goes on to point out that the medieval way of seeing the world is much more accessible to us than many people like to think, and ends by suggesting that the flight from purely pragmatic social engineering to the moral crusades of left and right and the increasing influence of religious ideas in public life may herald the reenchantment of everyday life.

People in the Middle Ages and Renaissance experienced the universe as a grand harmony.

To regular readers of this blog, this will not be any kind of surprise. Since the beginning of this year, starting with a review of the implications of Jason Josephson-Storm’s insightful book The Myth of Disenchantment, a series of posts here has talked about what the word “enchantment” means, why so many fashionable thinkers have insisted that it belongs solely to the discarded and devalued past, and why I think it will be among the most essential concepts for making sense of the future immediately ahead of us. The news stories mentioned above, and the broader unraveling of industrial society in which they each play a role, might best be seen as stages in the dissolution of one state of consciousness and the birth pangs of another.

It’s been fashionable since the days of Max Weber to define the modern state of consciousness as “disenchanted.” Central not only to Weber’s core thesis but also to most modern conceptions of history, including the works of Ken Wilber, Owen Barfield, and Jean Gebser we discussed earlier this year, is the belief that modern thinking is uniquely free of mythology and magic, that we see the world in its bare nudity — free of the fancy conceptual clothing that hid its allurements from past ages. It’s a convenient way of justifying the most absurd product of the collective egotism of modern times, the blustering insistence that the people of every past age and every other culture were too stupid to notice that the only reasonable way to think about the world is ours.

However cozy and convenient that belief may be, it’s hopelessly mistaken. It’s long past time to talk about that.

William Blake used to watch fairies dancing. In earlier times, that was much more common.

We can begin with one of the standard modern historical notions about the evolution of thought in the Western world.  The standard narrative holds that the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century led to the collapse of the enchanted world of the Renaissance and its replacement by the soulless world of modernity.  It’s quite a lively little morality play:  there’s the whole population of Europe, believing in elves and magic and the rest of it, and then the scientists show up and prove that they’re just plain wrong. The elves exit stage left, hauling the Earth away from the center of the universe as they go, and once a bunch of elderly conservatives read their lines bewailing the loss of beauty and meaning, and the scientists sing a little ditty in praise of Truth and Reason, the curtain falls on a thoroughly modern world.

This isn’t just a bit of pop-culture blather, although you can certainly find it throughout current pop culture. It also has a central role in classic works on the history of ideas such as Alexander Koyré’s From the Closed World to the Open Universe, Sigfried Giedon’s Space, Time, and Architecture, and Rudolf Wittkower’s Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism, and in far more recent works as well. To a very real extent this narrative is the cornerstone of modern Western industrial culture, the story we use to explain to ourselves where we came from, where we’re going, and why that matters. It’s also a drastic falsification of what actually happened.

What actually happened is clear if you look at the timeline:  the abandonment of Renaissance ideas of universal order, meaning, and value happened before the first stirrings of modern science, not after it. By the mid-sixteenth century, the same currents of thought that drove the Protestant Reformation were already shredding the Renaissance synthesis and rejecting the old enchanted world. Much of what led Protestant reformers to break with Rome, in fact, was precisely Catholicism’s reliance on religious enchantment:  the precisely scripted rituals and sacred objects that, to the enchanted mind, possessed a link to the spiritual realm, was what the disenchanted minds of the Reformation could not accept.

Michelangelo’s David, reflecting the Renaissance cosmos.

You can see the same process at work in the shift from Renaissance to Baroque art. Consider two statues of David, one by Michelangelo, the other by Bernini. Michelangelo’s sculpture is one of the supreme works of Renaissance art; it is at rest, like the stationary Earth of the old cosmology, occupying a central place in the viewer’s cosmos, oriented toward nothing outside itself. It is also proportioned according to the sacred geometries of Renaissance tradition. Bernini’s statue is one of the great works of Baroque statuary, and it differs in exactly the way the world of the early modern West differed from that of the Renaissance: it is in motion, oriented toward the far distance, and its proportions aren’t based on any sort of sacred canon; they were chosen by Bernini purely on the basis of what pleased him.

Bernini’s David, reflecting the modern cosmos.

The arts are remarkably useful here as a way of checking the traditional narrative. Histories of science love to talk, for example, about how Johannes Kepler discarded millennia of tradition by postulating that the planets move around the sun in ellipses rather than circles. They don’t generally mention that ellipses had become fashionable in architecture more than half a century before Kepler picked them up, and churches and plazas with elliptical patterns were springing up all over Europe by the time his writings were in vogue.  It’s not that Kepler followed the evidence and stumbled across the ellipse; it’s that ellipses were fashionable, and Kepler figured out how to apply them to astronomy.

Now of course the facts that Kepler got his basic model from the pop culture of his time, and the sciences more generally followed the lead of early modern art and popular culture rather than blazing the trail the currently fashionable narrative assigns them, aren’t enough by themselves to disprove those narratives. Doubtless true believers in modern science could claim that the vagaries of intellectual and artistic fashion that made ellipses, infinite space, bodies in motion, and the rest of it popular in the cultural sphere just happened to spawn a set of concepts uniquely suited to make sense of the natural world.

Yet there’s another difficulty here, one that philosophers have been quietly discussing for some decades now.  You may be aware, dear reader, that scientific popularizers like Neil DeGrasse Tyson hate philosophy. The issue we’re about to discuss is a core reason why. It goes by the name of underdetermination. It’s worth taking some time to understand what this means, because our world is already being shaped by the consequences of the underdetermination of scientific ideas and that process is still in its early stages.

Like most of the serious questions that keep philosophers busy, this one can be described quite easily. Let’s say we have a set of observations about nature that we’re trying to understand, and we come up with a hypothesis that attempts to explain them. We draw some logical conclusions from that hypothesis, and come up with an experimental test that can go one of two ways: one way that supports the hypothesis, the other way that doesn’t. We run the test, and the result is the one that supports the hypothesis. We repeat this process with several other experimental tests, and each of the results supports the hypothesis. Does this prove that the hypothesis is true?

No, it does not. It simply shows that the hypothesis successfully predicts the outcome of the specific tests we ran. That’s important, and it’s well worth knowing, but it doesn’t prove that the hypothesis is true—only that it’s useful.

It gets worse. Given any set of observations, it is possible to come up with an infinite number of hypotheses that will account for them.  It’s impossible to think of all those hypotheses and figure out ways to test each of them against the data, for the same reason that if you try to count from one to infinity in any finite period of time, you’ll fail. Thus you can be sure, even if you spend the rest of your life running tests, that there are still an infinite number of hypotheses out there that fit all the data you’ve gathered just as well as the hypothesis you want to prove.

Making and testing hypotheses, 40 hours week plus overtime.

Now of course the obvious response of scientists to this argument is to demand that philosophers come up with one—just one!—hypothesis that explains the evidence gathered by some modern science as well as the accepted theories do. The philosophers’ proper answer is, “Sure—just give us a few hundred well-trained grad students and a couple of decades.”  Current scientific theories look as impressive as they do, and succeed as well as they do in predicting the behavior of things in the world, because armies of scientists have beavered away for a couple of centuries tinkering with their theories to make them fit the observed behavior of nature as closely as possible. That’s what scientists do, and they’re good at it. The models they’ve created do an excellent job of predicting the behavior of many things in nature—but again, that doesn’t make those models true.  It just makes them useful.

The history of science is among other things a potent antidote to the claim that today’s accepted theories have some permanent claim on truth. No theory of nature has ever looked as imposing and convincing as late nineteenth century physics. The physics of that time provided fantastically accurate predictions of nearly all of the phenomena in nature. Sure, nobody had figured out how the sun could keep producing light and heat long enough to fit the geological evidence for life on earth; the planet Mercury had a wobble nobody could explain, and attempts to explain it by postulating another planet named Vulcan hadn’t succeeded very well; and heat and light radiating from a black body behaved in ways that really didn’t seem to make any sense at all—but all those were tiny little details that would surely be solved with a little more work.

They didn’t topple his statue, but that’s about all that was spared.

By 1910, due to those tiny little details, the entire structure of late nineteenth century physics was in ruins. All those carefully developed theories had to be scrapped because the tiny details turned into vast gaping chasms that ran straight through the middle of physics. Worse, the two theories that more or less accounted for them—quantum theory and the theory of relativity—contradict each other in important ways. That’s why physicists ever since have been trying to come up with so-called Grand Unification Theories to bridge the gap. They’ve failed so far, and there’s no particular reason to believe that a second century of effort will bring them any more success.

The collapse of certainty that flattened the soaring edifice of late nineteenth century physics isn’t unique in the history of science. It isn’t even unusual. As Thomas Kuhn showed more than half a century ago in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, this is the normal rhythm of scientific discovery and explanation. It happens for a reason I discussed in an earlier post: scientific facts are social constructs.

Every step along the way from the first inkling of a hypothesis to the published textbooks that enshrine (or entomb) the work of past research is shaped, often to an overwhelming degree, by social interactions among scientists, between scientists and the institutions that pay them and finance their investigations, and between the scientific community and the larger society.  Nature gets a vote in there by way of experiment—that’s what makes science more practically useful than many of the other ways our reality is socially constructed—but scientific reality is still a social product.  Why does one hypothesis get turned into the centerpiece of a theory while others get discarded?  By and large, it’s a matter of social pressures within the scientific community.

How too many scientists regard the rest of us.

Glance back over the history of science, too, and you’ll notice something else that doesn’t get much comment:  the influence of social factors over scientific inquiry has increased over time. Consider the phenomenon of peer review. Back in the nineteenth century, that didn’t exist.  A scientist who completed a series of experiments published a paper about them, other scientists read the paper and did their own experiments to support or disprove the claim made in that first paper, and the whole thing would be hashed out in the letters columns of journals, sometimes for years, until it was clear who was right. That sort of free-for-all made for excellent science, and may explain why the rate of technological advancement was higher by most measures in the late nineteenth century than it is today.

Today?  If you submit a paper to a scientific journal, it goes out for peer review, meaning that the journal sends it around to three or four acknowledged experts in the field and won’t publish it unless they give it a thumbs up. The politics around who gets to be peer reviewers in each subset of each field of science are intense and often bitter, and quite often a paper that offers evidence disproving the conventional wisdom in some field of science will be denied publication no matter how good the research is, because the peer reviewers are committed to the defense of the status quo. They may have good financial reasons for that:  in an era when most funding for scientific research comes from corporate sources or from government bureaucracies “influenced” (we can use the polite word) by corporate money, who gets funding and who doesn’t has much more to do with quarterly profits than it does with good science.

Over time, in other words, the models of the cosmos upheld by scientific institutions, by the media, and by schools and universities as the truth about nature have become more and more influenced by social factors. Meanwhile, while scientists are encouraged to criticize the work of other scientists, people outside the scientific community who raise awkward questions about the validity and accuracy of this or that model are shouted down by the propagandists of science, and by all those figures in authority who benefit from claiming that their ideas shouldn’t be questioned.  In effect, scientists have become the priesthood of the modern industrial world, handing down claims about the cosmos that no one else is supposed to question, and (as priesthoods always are) being manipulated by existing power structures to defend the status quo.

How too many of the rest of us have come to regard scientists — and not without cause.

This same insight can be summed up neatly in another way.  The claim that the coming of science meant the end of enchantment is completely mistaken, because science is itself an enchantment. The world inhabited by true believers in science is an enchanted world, a world where certain people in white lab coats have a unique ability to know the truth about nature, and the rest of us are supposed to accept whatever they say on blind faith, no matter how often the approved dogma changes and no matter how much harm it causes. There was no disenchantment of the world; instead, we exchanged an old enchantment for a newer one. Granted, the new enchantment had its advantages, but it also has had tremendous costs, and the bills are still coming due.

Yet there’s another factor in play, because the enchantment of science is breaking down around us right now. We’ll talk about how that’s happening, and what that means, in future posts.


  1. Great stuff as always, sir!
    It amuses me to no end the reaction(s) I get when pointing out to enthusiasts of the Simulation hypotheses that their idea reinstates God as the programmer.

  2. It is only by interfacing with your work, Mr. Greer, that I have come to enjoy the application of seeing one set of modern circumstances as an extension, or another version, of something as ancient as our species.

    I work in industrial electricity, power distribution, etc. and if science is our version of an enchantment, then my industry is an occult guild system – an equivalent to the free masons, the golden dawn, etc.

    We are hired as apprentices, become initiates in the rites, with lodges for various critical tasks – generation, transmission, system protection, distribution to customers, cathodic protection, etc. We have our secret rituals that are handed down from master to apprentice, with ancient texts (i.e. “Theory and calculation of alternating current” by Steinmetz) and hidden masters (Nikolai Tesla); regular guild meetngs develop the rites (ASTM and IEEE standards and test procedures).

    Viewed in this way, my anxiety at work has dropped considerably – I am but a lowly initiate working in one of the grand lodges sub-groups. We pass on our secrets and magical numbers (square root of 3 is a big one) by meditation (“I am on my break”) and tests of mettle (“Fix this”) and knowledge (certification tests and civil service exams).

  3. Back in the 80s when I was a struggling young father with barely a high school diploma I got a job selling and trouble shooting chemical dispenser systems for hospitals, care homes, research labs, and restaurants. Some marketing puke decided we should wear lab coats. I was instantly moved from being an invisible prole to being treated as Someone You Can Trust.
    Doors opened. Strangers were differential. Women who before wouldn’t give you the time of day were giving me an appraising look.
    The Enchantment…..

  4. That Kepler’s observations of the heavens followed from a study of geometry will not be a surprise to anyone who has studied the liberating arts and sciences; nor will it cause a Freemason pause, such concepts being inculcated early in their journey.

  5. Finally a stripping of the altars a conservative can relish. It has been in many ways the most truculent, hubristic, and repressive priesthood in history, since perhaps the days of ritual human sacrifice. And I’m not sure they don’t even do some of that. At least indirectly. Who isn’t tired of Science as a religion, even it’s high priests show signs of PTSD? Are they even doing Science? Nice summary, excited to continue this vein…my son was helped a lot a few months ago when I explained that our modern mythology that we have no mythology IS our mythology. That made sense to him and a penny dropped. Largely because of your work could I see that clearly enough to convey it at the right time

  6. A pretty obvious observation is that this modern priesthood of scientists will likely end up being severely discredited once it is realized in hindsight just how much harm the Covid mRNA “vaccines” caused.

  7. Last year I couldn’t find my glasses for 4 months. Either Saint Anthony was so swamped with requests he hadn’t got to mine yet, or even he couldn’t find them. One day I was kneeling on my bed with my feet hanging over the edge.. Something hit my heel in such a way it could only have fallen from the ceiling. Turned out to be my glasses. Now I wonder if this was St. Anthony having a little fun with the return of enchantment, or for that matter if the gremlins finally dropped my glasses while playing with them. Or if St. Anthony said sternly, “Return those immediately before she starts out driving to [Puppyville, the next town over] and ends up in Fiji!” and the gremlins petulantly flung down the glasses. Either way, I can’t find a “rational “ explanation for lost glasses falling from the ceiling

    Also on things that aren’t “rational,” I’d like to thank St. Expedite for his quick help.

  8. “a paper that offers evidence disproving the conventional wisdom in some field of science will be denied publication no matter how good the research is, because the peer reviewers are committed to the defense of the status quo.”

    I’ve seen that one myself, and not just from corporations, but from politics. Back in the late ’90s applications for research grants had to include a discussion of the relevance of the proposed subject of study to the problem of global warming (as climate change was known at the time) even if the project had nothing to to do with climate. Unless you genuflect to “the narrative” no money for you! That is largely why I went back into industry. That and I like standing in the middle of operating large scale machinery.

    A few years later I started looking at getting my Professional Engineering license. I found the same thing, “List the projects you have been a part of, and how each of them affected Global Warming.” Not “What actions did you take to make sure your pressure vessel did not launch itself into low earth orbit.” I dropped the notion to get a PE license partly for that, and partly for other reasons.

  9. I’ve been reading that the placebo effect is getting stronger and stronger. I’ve also read that if a doctor is fooled and thinks that a drug is real and give it to the patient it works better. Where does the primary (and even 2nd hand) placebo fit into enchantment and can we expect placebos to work even better in the future?

  10. I listened to that podcast you did from 2017 with John Crowley this morning. I was glad to have been able to listen in on that conversation, and glad I didn’t miss it again when it was brought up this past week. This discussion of storytelling was great, but I enjoyed the whole thing.

    I need to finish Storm’s book… I left off at the beginning of part 2. In the first part, I really enjoyed reading all of it, but really liked how he showed Crowley’s creative use for enchantment, of James Frazer’s take on disenchantment.

    Either way, I’m glad you are back on this series, though yes, those diversions to current events were necessary.

    Science can certainly be read as enchantment. Kepler, Bacon, Goethe, Novalis, oh my!

    Musical selection of the week: Laurie Spiegel, Kepler’s Harmony of the Worlds, composed and realized at Bell Telephone Laboratories.

    Here is a bit I wrote about this:

    Like many musicians before her Laurie had been fascinated by the Pythagorean dream of a music of the spheres. When she set about to realize Kepler’s 17th century speculative composition, she had no idea her music would actually be traveling through the spheres. Kepler’s Harmonices Mundi was based on the varying speeds of orbit of the planets around the sun. He wanted to be able to hear “the celestial music that only God could hear” as Spiegel said.

    “Kepler had written down his instructions but it had not been possible to actually turn it into sound at that time. But now we had the technology. So I programmed the astronomical data into the computer, told it how to play it, and it just ran.”

    Moore on that here:

  11. Dear JMG and commentariat,

    Just a little note on circles and ellipses. I am not a mathematician, but I love the discoveries of mathematics and its humility (it always restricts the areas in which its calculations can yield results); there are non-Euclidian spaces, which enable to define shapes to all appearances more similar to circles as triangles. Similar (complicated) equations could, to my theoretical knowledge, be used to transfer/calculate/redefine ellipses into circles (and back). Therefore, it is not “truer” to calculate planets’ orbits as elliptical rather than circular, it is just far, far easier (more practical).

    Thank you for the text!

    Have a nice day.
    With regards,

  12. My prediction for the year 2024 is, that the FED will present the US debt statistic in a logarithmic scale.

  13. There are a bunch of reasons I believe scientists and doctors will be in real trouble as eras and sentiments shift. I have argued that medicine is currently in a Dark Age despite the publicly-promoted view that medicine is in a state of haute advancement. People seem to be dying in waves of Covid vaccine-caused injury in my area, which is about 90% vaccinated. From what I can tell, the vaccine shortens the lifespan of the elderly by 5-10 years. It is causing miscarriages and problems with pregnancy. It is cutting down a lot of young people with nerve disease, turbo-cancers, and heart attack. The kids who got it are sickly — the seasonal flu turns into pneumonia instead of just going away. It is my opinion that having scientists and doctors in one’s lineage will be a source of shame in a couple hundred years. This isn’t just because of the Covid vaccines of course; those vaccines were merely the cherry on top of the cake.

  14. Well hell, what should we trust in now? “Trust the numbers” has been one of my favorite mantras when following the science of whatever for a while. I love your posts and always eagerly look forward to the next, but they always leave me a little (or a lot) disoriented!!

  15. This version of science here has some qualities of a malign enchantment (as you said the bills are still coming due)… but some other modes of science, may be less priestly, and have other enchantments about them. The kind of stuff done by Phillip Callahan comes to mind. I hope there will be room for more along those lines as the priesthood loses some of its clout.

  16. Donkey32, ha! I like that. Yeah, I bet that gets colorful reactions.

    Old Steve, that’s just it. Relativity theory explains the behavior of some things in physics, quantum mechanics explains the behavior of other things, and the two theories contradict each other right down to the core. The devil settled into his usual residence in the details, and has been rubbing his hands and cackling as he watches scientists frantically try to reconcile two irreconcilable models, all the while pretending to the rest of us that everything was just fine.

    IBEW, delighted to hear it. Does your hall still use the old ritual for its meetings? As late as the 1970s, I’ve read, most IBEW halls still did so, and the ritual — I have a bootleg copy — is absolutely standard fraternal lodge stuff. Here’s an image of the pages giving floor work for the hall opening and the initiation ritual:

    Longsword, excellent! I’ve used that myself — Joseph Max and I once did a radionics demonstration at a Pagan convention wearing white lab coats, the ritual garb of science. It really did add something.

    Harry, granted, but in this case it’s a little more than that. Kepler wasn’t just influenced by geometry — although he certainly was; he was also influenced by current fashions in architecture and popular culture.

    Celadon, excellent! Your son is now much better equipped to deal with the world.

    Mister N, we’ll be talking about that as this sequence of posts continues.

    Your Kittenship, that’s a classic case of apportation. Back in the day people assumed that fairies did it; no doubt some kind of fancy way to avoid talking about conscious beings will be invented if the phenomenon ever becomes so common that it can no longer be denied.

    Siliconguy, oh, good gods, yes. The intrusion of politics into science and engineering has become really blatant of late — with predictable negative effects on the quality of science and engineering.

    Kurt, about time! The entire expanding-universe business was so obviously a projection of Faustian notions into the cosmos that I’m surprised anybody took it seriously.

    Bradley, that’s a complicated subject and one that will require a lot of discussion down the road a bit. The short form is that the placebo effect is one of the standard modalities of magic, and the fact that it works when it’s the doctor who believes in the drug shows that magic works.

    Justin, glad you liked it! I got the graphic of the celestial monochord from your blog, btw. 😉

    Markéta, that’s a good point. Back in the day, astronomers did very good planetary math by assuming that the planets moved in a circle whose center rotated around another circle; there are doubtless an infinite number of other ways to do the thing, too.

    George, that seems embarrassingly likely.

    Degringolade, I know he reads my blog, and I certainly read his, so you’re not entirely wrong…

    Kimberly, I don’t think it’s going to take a couple of hundred years. If things continue as they’re going, there could be violent blowback within this decade. I hope not, but that’s what it’s looking like.

    Ken, thank you.

    Joshua, numbers are just another human language — a very useful language, and one that can say some very important things, but they’re still just a set of abstractions in human minds. You might as well say “trust the English language!” The terrible and wonderful reality of human existence is that we have no direct access to truth — all we have are parables, metaphors, symbols, and stories.

    Justin, that’s a major hope of mine, and one I’m working on.

  17. Yes ! A return to the Enchantment series. I really enjoyed the first sequence, and if more pressing issues make you put it aside again in the near future (very well might), that’s OK, as long as it’s not indefinitely shelved 🙂
    Sidenote : Recently you mentioned some readers from wayback who were asking “whatever happened to our JMG of old ?” Well it so happens that since I discovered Ecosophia (Aug 22), I’ve read it and then jumped to The Archdruid Report (currently Jan 2013, I go backwards) and I can say I don’t agree with ’em. To each his/her own, but I find your current work much more potent.
    Thank you for everything, and please do keep up, onwards and upwards, just like our civiliza… Wait.

  18. I think you are right, but I do wonder about the hidden positive benefits of the enchantment of science, specifically when combined with Protestant religion. It certainly seems to have neatly killed off experimentation in fields of knowledge that would have been utterly disastrous to us as a species, far more so than the not so great effects of environmental pollution and heating up the planet. If so, this cycle of enchantment, for all its frustrating effects on those of us that think differently, may have had an intended effect.

  19. Yes, yes, yes! Just like Marxism has been a religion in its own right to replace the traditional religion, so too, Scientism has been the new enchantment to replace the traditional enchantment. To my mind, both Marxism and Scientism are kind of like fake meat: over-processed and of questionable nutritive value. Humans cannot live without enchantment: it’s just that some enchantments are better for the soul (individually) and society (collectively) than others. I’ll take the traditional enchantment over the modern one any day!

    Speaking of enchantments, yesterday I came across a surprisingly insightful column in a major Canadian newspaper (of course, it was a tabloid which only ‘peasants’ read) which stated that given Prime Minister Turd’s obsession with Global Boiling and his determination to force 90% of the public and industry into penury through ever-increasing carbon taxes, the man is clearly a fanatical adherent to the Church of Climatology. I had a good giggle over that. His eyes certainly have that abstracted glaze of a true zealot.

    “…the enchantment of science is breaking down around us right now. We’ll talk about how that’s happening”. I can say it in two words: honk, honk! 😊 (reference to the truckers convoys against the mendacious mandates) That, at least, seems to be part of the process: the ‘grubby peasants’ of Monty Python’s Holy Grail (truckers and other blue-collar workers who have their feet firmly planted in the reality they see around them) called ‘bovine excrement’ on the pronouncements of the ‘hoity toity’ supreme authorities in the medical establishment (in their ivory tower – or is it glass house?) and their enabling governments, and proved its falsehood by gathering in the tens of thousands in close contact with each other, including hugs galore, for weeks on end without the slightest increase in cases of the dreaded ‘cooties plague’ in Ottawa back in the winter of ‘22. Nothing like a good 114 dB honk – or a thousand – to help break an enchantment!

  20. Haha, excellent post JMG! “Trust the science” took quite a hit with the “vaccine” debacle..As one trained in science at (famous) University who took a very different path, I get a kick out of scientific scams like the ridiculous claim that they had found a room temperature superconductor, or that Musk was going to take people to Mars by 2025….I also enjoy annoying my friends with astrology, which has proven quite useful despite its lack of peer reviews….,Kudos, though, to Einstein who couldn’t believe in “spooky action at a distance”, but suggested an experiment that proved it true through entanglement…Whatever his faults, Einstein was a true scientist…

  21. The antidote I’ve always used to belief in the current claims of “Science”– in particular, its models of the universe– is simply to imagine the same science performed continuously over 100 years, 500 years, 1,000 years, 5,000, 10,000, 50,000 100,000 years, and so on. Are we to suppose that the scientists of the year 200,2024 have the same model of the cosmos that ours do, or even one slightly resembling it? I then imagine the same sciences being performed by beings more intelligent than humans– say, with an average IQ of 200. Would they come up with the same models that we have? What about beings with an IQ of 500? 1000? What about beings whose reasoning capacities are to ours as ours are to single-celled organisms? And what about the beings who are to those beings as those beings are to us? These chains can be extended indefinitely, even if there are no such beings in the cosmos, or in any imaginable cosmos– the knowledge is still exists in potential. Suppose beings who are to the beings who are to the beings who are to the beings who are to us as we are to paramecea have been investigating the nature of reality for one million years. What does their universe look like? Do we really think it has even the slightest resemblance to the universe of Neil DeGrasse Tyson? This would make poor Mr. Tyson among the most knowledgeable beings possible, in any possible universe, and that would make our era of history the most privileged imaginable. So much for the Principle of Mediocrity! Can anyone believe such a thing?

  22. I have also been reflecting on when science may have gone wrong. My take is that the 19th century experimentalists certainly retained an awe and respect for Nature, and they didn’t wish to see it lying bleeding and cut up into little bits on the ground. For instance, Michael Faraday apparently talked about a thing called the “electrotonic state”, which underlies all electrical phenomenon. More than a century later, Richard Feynman said he wished he’d understood physics naturally as potentials, instead of fields or forces.

    Those of course are all variations of aether theories, which still sits there quietly in quantum physics, called the vacuum, and people try to forget about it.

    I’ve been trying to trace where it went awry, and I put it down to Heaviside’s reformulation of Maxwell’s original equations. Maxwell’s equations – those things that underpin the modern world – were in quaternions, a mathematical formulation that does not close off other worlds, however, they are fiendishly difficult for most to interpret. So Heaviside, a staunch materialist, simplified the difficult parts of Maxwell’s work, and replaced the more exotic concepts like pure magnetic fields with mathematical abstractions that could easily, and were ignored. Doing so created the modern world, but it seems to have been a bargain, because after that, experiments that were shown to be inconsistent with Heaviside’s reformulation were ruled to be wrong. And still are, outside of the quantum world, that seems to allow for some madness over very short distances and timespans.

    Some people have been trying to rework the equations to provide for more, there’s an outstanding paper below. I checked its citations though – only 2. Still forbidden 🙂

  23. Your Cute Kittenship,

    (I hope this is a proper way of greeting, if not, excuse me, please, I am not a native English speaker:o))

    There is a perfectly scientific explanation of the glasses disappearing; little black hole formed next to them and sucked them in. Now, the timely return might be explained as the little black hole becoming unstable and changing into a wormhole…which returned your glasses and crawled away.

    Now, if we suppose this is what really happened, the only remaining question is, why on Earth would St. Anthony read our scientific papers?

    Have a nice day! :o)

  24. >That and I like standing in the middle of operating large scale machinery

    You don’t need a PhD for that, just work in construction.

    >The models they’ve created do an excellent job of predicting the behavior of many things in nature—but again, that doesn’t make those models true. It just makes them useful.

    Although give them credit for getting as far as they have. It’s like trying to figure out how a car works without ever getting to look under the hood, but instead crashing cars at each other and looking at the debris left behind. In fact I wonder if we don’t really have a theory of the nucleus, so much as a nuclear crash theory, what kind of bits and bobs you’ll see from a crash. A piston rod is a piston rod, no matter what but I wonder if they don’t quite fully understand the role it plays in the engine. If we could only look under the hood…

    My criticism of science in general is even when parapsychic phenomena is reproducible, they still refuse to study it. That, IMHO, is inexcusable.

  25. The whole idea of the western experiment is an interesting one, because underneath it is the inherent assumption that something that occurs in a unique point of time under a unique set of conditions is then applicable to all times and all conditions. As you say it doesn’t mean anything is true, all you can take is a useful technical assumption forward.

    This is quite hilarious when you step outside the Faustian bubble, because the same thing applies to western jurisprudence. A precedent set by a judge under one set of circumstances is then applicable down the ages under similar set of circumstances. It’s all Faustian will to duration, and something the Greeks and Roman’s certainly opposed. Classical jurisprudence is such a refreshing change in its utter pragmatism for the individual case before it.

  26. @Joshua (#18)

    If we just follow the money, the Almighty Greenback itself can give the ultimate word on who/what to trust:

    ‘In God we trust’ [*AHEM* …all others please pay cash]

  27. Following on from my first comment about trusting the numbers, F. Scott Fitzgerald said you can either place your trust on “the hard rock or the marshy shore.” It’s an apt metaphor for this week’s post. If we can no longer believe in the hard rock of science (which turns out to be just another enchantment) what should we then put our trust in?

  28. Thibault, glad to hear it. In place of “onward and upward,” I offer an alternative from a long-ago Archdruid Report post:

    “Who is the hero or the heroine who will turn the pages of the long-lost Gaianomicon, use its forgotten lore to forge a wand of power out of the rays of the Sun, shatter the deceptive spells of the lords of High Finance, and rise up amidst the wreckage of a dying empire to become one of the seedbearers of an age that is not yet born? Why, you are, of course.”

    Peter, oh, I don’t think it was a mistake at all. For any number of reasons, the particular enchantment we’ve been under was appropriate for its time. It’s just that its time is over.

    Ron, what you’re saying, then, is that science is spam-chantment. Gotcha. 😉

    Pyrrhus, if Einstein were a young scientist today there’s no way he would get published in the journals. The spam-chantment protects itself against genuine scientists!

    Steve, that’s an excellent point!

    Peter, that’s an interesting question. I don’t think there’s a point when it “went wrong” — no matter what, any set of human models was doomed to be too simple to make sense of the universe, for the simple reason that human beings simply aren’t that smart.

    PumpkinScone, exactly! The Faustian will to infinite extension is also a will to power, and that shows up embarrassingly in both these cases. Notice that our jurisprudence doesn’t accept Roman precedents…

    Joshua, the problem is that science isn’t actually a hard rock. It’s a marshy shore with a bunch of people in white lab coats standing on it, up to their knees in mud, loudly saying “My feet aren’t a bit wet!” There is no hard rock — that’s the wonder and the terror of human existence, and it’s also the meaning of that much-abused word “freedom.”

  29. It struck me from the first that Dr. Mabuse’s, er, Tony Fauci’s holy mantras, dutifully repeated by the regime media, of “I am the science! Trust the science!” were little more that pathetic attempts at enchantment. I myself did not find them particularly enchanting, however.

  30. I am surprised no one has mentioned that blatant superstition of Scientism: the Occam’s Razor.
    As an engineering principle (and early scientists had to be a little bit of tinkering spirit in them, there was no industrial ecosystem to provide the trinkets they needed for their experiments, after all) the Occam’s Razor is as sound as it is pragmatic. Every moving part you add to a new design is another component that will require ongoing maintenance in the best case, and more likely than not another source of potential failure as well. In my current profession, it is said that it is twice as hard to debug a computer program as it is to write it in the first place; so you must write it in such a style that you’d imagine a halfwit to have done, in order to be able to contend with it at the full of your brain power when the time comes to fix it.
    But if you are in the business of describing the external world AS IS, the Occam’s Razor is pure hubris. Not only these realities must be cognizable by the human brain, but they surely must be easy to grasp as well. More over, if scientific knowledge compounds over time (because you will use scientific doctrines as axioms in the construction of your hypothesis), the constant application of this principle by generations of scientist turns into a one way ticket to Dumb-down-ville; a Tower of Babble, so to speak.
    Now, if we could repurpose the scientific method (with lowercase ‘s’) as a way to build “astral machines” that help us give rhyme and reason to the torrent of sensory inputs Reality presents us with …

  31. I think I have posted these quotes before, but they are very fitting for today’s post so I’ll take the risk to repeat myself:

    “… it seems probable that most of the grand underlying principles have been firmly established and that further advances are to be sought chiefly in the rigorous application of these principles to all the phenomena which come under our notice.” (A.A. Michelson in 1894, Nobel prize for physics in 1907).

    “To upset the conclusion that all crows are black, there is no need to seek demonstration that no crow is black; it is sufficient to produce one white crow; a single one is sufficient.” (William James)

    “I’m still confused, but on a higher level.” (Enrico Fermi)

    These three quotes I use to present to all of my older students at some fitting moment during their physics classes. You can’t mimic a white crow moment, of course, but it helps to have heard that they exist. Likewise it is good to know that even the most eminent scientists were prone to make complete fools out of themselves and lastly it’s not bad to have a simple working maxim that might help to prevent to make a fool out of yourself and stay curious instead.

    Well, there’s a saying that you sometimes hear in the German alternative medicine, spiritual healing scene: “Wer heilt, hat recht.” – “Who heals is right.” It’s interesting to notice, how quickly you shut the doors again once you have escaped one chamber of ignorance to the next. I find it to be understandable, though, for to endure the pain of the fire of not knowing can be a burden hard to bear.

    Lastly, for all who might be interested in this, I’d like to advert the exchange of letters between Pauli and Jung which in an English translation can for example be found here:
    Judging from what I have read so far, Pauli was, by way of exploring his unconscious mind with the help of Jung and his students, an enchanted scientist in the way that he could see enchantment of nature. Others might have been as well, as the occasional quote from Pauli’s or Jung’s meetings with Bohr, Einstein, etc. suggests. Beyond that you will find Fludd, Kepler, Kant, Schopenhauer, UFOs, synchronicity, alchemy, divination, astrology, dream work and sophisticated hypotheses on how the (collective) unconscious and the world of matter might have common roots in the book. Truly a wild ride.


  32. >There’s more than this going on, of course. I could fill an entire post quite easily with signs of crisis from the nations of the modern industrial West, and another post with the evidence that much of the rest of the world is prospering as our decline picks up speed.

    And this is the song I listen to while reading those paragraphs.

  33. The book Art & Physics by Leonard Shlain is a breezy survey developing the thesis that ideas that first stir in the minds of artists often soon wind their way into the theories of natural philosophers and scientists. A casual beach read for folks who enjoy thinking about these sorts of connections.

  34. Thanks, JMG. Now I am going to have the Monty Python Spam skit going through my mind all night long… 🙂

  35. Great post. I know personally what it feels like to move away from a cold, materialistic view of the cosmos. As I’ve said before on this blog, I used to be a staunch materialist, but after doing a lot of introspection and reading philosophy, I had to reject materialism. Now I view the universe as a part of the Absolute, pure infinite consciousness. The entire cosmos is full of life and spirit. It IS life and spirit. This paradigm shift was hard to pass through, but it absolutely changed my life.

    I remember when I first learned of the idea that science is socially constructed like any human effort and that it doesn’t give us a real objective, third-person view of the world. It was a few years ago in a philosophy course when I was still a materialist. Back then I bristled at the idea, but now I have come to terms with it. It doesn’t make science useless, but it means we have to practice more humility and understand that science is deeply interwoven with cultural biases, class relations, and societal values. It has fundamental limits, like every other way of human knowledge.

    Science is a toolkit that is used to create models that describe what we observe, nothing more. As you said, the models are useful, but not necessarily true. Science describes how reality seems to behave, but it doesn’t uncover the fundamental nature of reality. When we forget that our models are convenient fictions and not the real reality, we replace the territory with the map and end up with materialism.

    I was reading a book by Jaques Vallee. In one part he made an argument that science is not equipped to properly investigate the UFO phenomena, because science has been most successful with parts of the universe that behave mechanistically, without intelligence. Think of the ‘hard sciences,’ like chemistry, geology, meteorology, physics. Science has a harder time with things that behave intelligently and reactively, think of the ‘soft sciences’ like psychology, sociology, history, economics, etc. Science would have an extremely hard time investigating something that is intelligent and doesn’t want to be found. Just to be clear, I don’t believe the UFOs are spaceships from another planet, I think they’re the manifestation of some kind of anomalous intelligence that has always been here.

    Sorry for the long comment, you gave me a lot to think about.

  36. Do apportations normally take 4 months, less time, or more time? How do they happen?

    —Princess Cutekitten

  37. The corruption of “science” is well recognized by those who might be considered “truth seekers”, like doctors trying to do right by patients, engineers who want stable long-term structures, and others on the front line of practical application. For a few decades, plentiful articles in medical journals have documented the bias of industry-funded articles, and highlight the “replication crisis” of the ?majority of publications, that fail attempts at confirmation. This is so well established that essentially all medical practitioners are aware of the problem. Similar issues are seen in many other fields, including nutrition, agriculture and public health.

    To some, perhaps idealists, science is a method of inquiry, an attempt to learn while limiting bias. Open access journal articles, mostly NOT peer reviewed, have developed in response. They are like the wild west of science – some are legit, some frankly falsified, some funded, biased and scripted by the powerful. Good luck figuring out what is what, though there is some helpful raw data out there for perusal, where time for thoughtful study and expertise in questioning methods and conclusions, helps understanding. Humility may not count for much in the opinion of the powerful, but certainly applies in practical applications.

  38. Bradley in comment #11 notes that the placebo effect is getting stronger. I was interested by this, and looked it up. It does indeed seem to be a factor – but they’re focused mainly on pain medication. It’s not clear from a quick websearch whether the placebo effect has changed for things like anti-nausea medication, anti-cancer and the like. Just pain.

    In my work as a trainer, and working with people with past injuries or chronic illnesses, I’ve had many occasions to encounter this. The interesting thing about pain is the large psychological component. Doctors will tell you that if they have a patient with anxiety or depression, even a needle injection causes them great pain. But confident people with good family connections can have horrible injuries and relatively little pain.

    With that in mind, we can ask: what is the psychological state of the people being studied? And this ties in with things like an increase in self-harming behavious among younger people across the world – which this authour quite plausibly ties to smartphone usage.

    Now thinking further, is the increase in placebo effect against pain stronger in people who have more mental health issues? Well… going back to the Science Alert article, it’s stronger in the US. They’re not seeing an improvement in placebo effect in other countries. The country where the culture is the most individualistic and atomised has the most physical pain because of various physical ailments, and has the most anxiety and depression, also has the most improvement in pain symptoms with placebos.

    What I think is that humans are ritual creatures. Participating in rituals with families, communities and priests makes us feel better. Some will take wine and wafer as part of Sunday Mass with a man in a frock. Others will take a white pill as part of a surgery consult with a woman in a white coat. In each case, the adherents of the faith firmly tell us that what is being consumed has properties which will change once consumed, and change the person in the process. Any doubters are angrily dismissed.

  39. Thank you again, JMG, for taking a complex conclusion and guiding a step by step, easy to follow path to understanding. The images are often hilarious and engaging.
    Michelangelo: David is best portrayed as a static pose embodying the ideal structure of a human male in his prime.
    Bernini: That’s, like, just your opinion man!

    I don’t see how the exploding government debt and Detroit-style collapse are the fault of scientism. If the connection is that they’re all tentacles of the same hideously colorless eldritch beast of Elite Overreaching, fine. But all that seems only tenuously linked in this particular essay.

    Continuing with military doctrine, you and commentariat might be fascinated by U.S. Air Force Colonel John Boyd’s collected works. Most of the items are formatted as slides for talks he delivered in person. Printed page 283, pdf page 290 (”Compression”) is a tour de force of synthesized concepts about conceptual synthesis. Boyd demonstrates far more humility in the face of the unknowable than the “trust the science” preachers of mass-media enchantment.
    https://ooda .de/media/grant_hammond_-_boyds_discourse_on_winning_and_losing_a_newly_edited_version_with_an_introduction_afterword_index_and_bibliography.pdf

    My college years were sold to me and my parents as promising the skill set and opportunities described by IBEW Lodge 18 # 3. Of course, no refund was available when I reached the end of doing as told, and there was absolutely no next step into a sustainable career path. My disillusionment… disenchantment… with doing as told by elites took a quantum leap, or relativistic jump, into new depths of disappointment around then!

  40. For those looking for an entertaining walk through the foibles of the scientific priesthood and religion: the book Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis!

    It allowed me to be ready for todays Ecosophia post and subsequent, “Of course!” moment while reading – and I read it 30 years ago when I was but a wee lad.

  41. JMG, I respectfully request you consider a new rule for the comments sections on your blogs:
    That they are places for human beings to discuss ideas developed, or explored for conversation here, by the minds of human beings alone.
    And thus, that presentations of ChatGPT’s word salads, or other generative AI content, be entirely prohibited here, UNLESS the comment is clearly about an individual human’s evaluation of AI-spewed material. Not just copy and paste of what AI copied and pasted out of its archive given a prompt.
    There are already other places on the internet for “let’s see what training contents got barfed up by The System, when I gave it my prompt.”

  42. My favourite period in British history is the time when science really was indistinguishable from magic. As a kind of pilgrimage I’ve visited Merchiston Castle in Edinburgh, home of John Napier, and Dr. John Dee’s study in the former collegiate church in Manchester.

  43. JMG

    This gets into a specific cultural assumption with the way Faustian culture thinks (even in its philosophy) in relation to the past and future. It takes both to be as physically real as the sensory present which of course is debatable as both only exist per se on the other planes. I think from this arises its whole obsession with progress, precedent, ‘laws of nature’ etc and every single field of Western European thought has this implicit assumption and extension through time. It cannot be escaped it unless you for a second stop imagining that the past and the future exist.

    I think this is perhaps the most clear differentiation between Faustian thought and whatever is arising in the USA because it seems to me that the heartland Americans certainly do not share this European obsession with past and future, and are in fact more in common with the Classical love of the present. Europeans deride Americans as ahistorical but that’s the whole point; the precise, lovingly recorded history as we know it is a European obsession. As is the focus on future worlds.

  44. Many people fail to understand that science of itself does not, and never can, establish a particular view of the ultimate nature of reality. What it does – and this is one of the supreme cultural as well as intellectual achievements of mankind – is reduce everything it can deal with to a certain ground floor level of explanation. Physics, for example, reduces the phenomena with which it deals to constant equations concerning energy, light, mass, velocity, temperature, gravity and the rest. But that is where it leaves us. If we then raise fundamental questions about that ground floor level of explanation itself, the scientist is at a loss to answer. This is not because of any inadequacy on his part or on science’s. He and it have done what they can. If one says to the physicist “Now please tell me exactly what is energy? And what are the foundations of this mathematics you’re using all the time?” it is no discredit to him that he cannot answer. These questions are not his province. At this point he hands over to the philosopher. Science makes an unsurpassed contribution to our understanding of what it is that we seek an ultimate explanation of but it cannot itself be that ultimate explanation because it explains phenomena in terms which it then leaves unexplained.

  45. Thank you very much for continuing the enchantment series!

    Your insight that social determination of science has increased over time is glaringly obvious – once one has read it! The argument becomes even stronger when considering peer review for grant approval, which is less transparent and involves more judges than does peer review for publication. Nowadays, results can always be published somewhere, but it becomes more and more difficult to do a worthwhile experiment without a research grant. Many low-hanging fruits have already been picked…

    Independent gentlemen (and rarely -women) doing experiments on their leisure time and money suffered much less influence from society at large, though they were of course also conditioned to a degree by their own social class.

  46. As someone with a scientific background I concur. It always seemed odd to me that modern materialism took one of the many heuristics of renaissance occultism, stripped it of its original esoteric context and made into the only acceptable means of gaining truth. Why that one specifically I wonder. For fun I’ve tried speculating about a society where instead of the scientific method some other esoteric tool, say astrology was adopted as THE engine for truth by materialists. Big budgets building the Large Natal Chart Assembler to the tune of billions of dollars I suppose!


  47. Most noteworthy Archdruid, your essay this week corresponds quite nicely with some thinking I’ve been engaged with, stimulated by a couple of recent comments over in your Open Post on Covid concerning Biomarkers. There was a suggestion there that human health is promoted by judicious sunlight exposure to one’s skin, and that since your body, among several things, manufactures Vitamin D during sunlight exposure, that the System™ has decided that low Vitamin D levels are BAD and higher Vitamin D levels are GOOD since people with higher Vitamin D levels are measurably healthier so therefore: we should consume supplemental Vitamin D to be healthier. But what if better health is the result of more-complex interactions, and Vitamin D levels are just an indicator, a biomarker? That might make supplementing with Vitamin D a fool’s choice, mistaking the map for the territory as it were.

    So many other things pop out. High blood pressure? The numbers generated by athletes during heavy exercise would be assessed as cause for immediate admission to the ER. You’re gonna blow a blood vessel and have a stroke! But what if strokes are caused by WEAK blood vessels rather than higher pressure on said vessels? This seems a quite concise reason why likelihood of stroke is NOT reduced when taking statins, which definitely lower blood pressure (while having all sorts of other less-than-desirable consequences.)

    The guide seems to be: if it’s easy to measure (Vitamin D level, blood pressure, cholesterol) then the medical and scientific community will quickly fixate on the measurement rather than seeking to understand the more-subtle reasons. Noting that, as you say, any given hypothesis may be useful (for a while) even when it’s not true, I conclude we’re in for quite a jolting ride as so many things which were declared as true-True-TRUE develop cracks and ultimately get thrown in the dumpster.

    Best regards as always!

  48. Your observation that the (old) enchantment was breaking down before the scientific revolution surely needs to be complemented by another observation that you have often made: that the (old) enchantment didn’t go away as far as text-books make it seem. The Royal Academy of Sciences pushing belief in material spirits, Newton’s astrology and numerology, the great scientist and mystic Swedenborg, Goethe’s alchemy, William James’ New Thought, Heisenberg and Schrödinger’s quantum mysticism…

  49. Science: “Have I ever lied to you before”
    Me: “How long have you got?”

    I would always cringe when a Christian would say something like ‘see archeology proves the Bible’ (usually because archeologists found something that supported what was in there) as it seemed to me to be subordinating the ‘timeless word of god’ to the intellectual fashions of man. After all if you grant science the power/authority to ‘proive’ you equally grant them the same to cancel/disprove.

    More recently if you use people’s faith in science to bolster their faith in your religion and they lose their faith in science … well let’s just say it isn’t helpful to your cause!

  50. Alan, their sorcery apparently worked on a lot of people. I’m still not entirely sure why, though I have some hypotheses.

    CR, a good point. Occam’s Razor in science is nearly the last word in anthropocentrism — a demand that the universe must be as simpleminded as human beings are.

    Nachtgurke, thanks for these. The Jung-Pauli correspondence is to my mind particularly worth a close read.

    Other Owen, funny.

    Frank, thanks for this! I’ll have a look at it, if only to get more examples.

    Ron, just one of the services I offer. 😉

    Enjoyer, no need to apologize, it’s a useful comment. Was the Vallee book Messengers of Deception? That was where I first encountered the idea that the scientific method becomes useless if the phenomenon it researches is deliberately trying to avoid being understood. It’s a crucial point, and one with many applications.

    Your Kittenship, nobody knows how they happen, just that they do. As for how long they take, it varies.

    Gardener, I’ve been pleased to watch the rise of publication channels outside the peer review system, although of course that also has its problems. It’s one of the things that makes me hope that we can save something out of the wreck of institutional science.

    Hackenschmidt, thanks for this. If you find anything more about changes in the placebo effect, please let me know — that’s a theme of some importance for the project of this blog.

    Christopher, I’ll be exploring the connection between scientism and the failure of government in a future post. As for AI, I’ve been doing my best to eliminate AI-generated spew as it comes in.

    Tengu, excellent!

    PumpkinScone, that’s a fascinating point. I think you’re onto something very important here — a crucial indicator of the collapse of the Faustian pseudomorphosis in North America.

    Robert C, exactly. Science is a source of useful models — what you’re describing as a ground floor of explanation. In the fields where it works — a minority of human experiences, but a significant subset — it’s better at producing useful models than any other gimmick our species has come up with. It’s no criticism of a hammer to say that it makes a very poor saw, and it’s no criticism of science to point out that it makes a very poor source of truths.

    Aldarion, that’s a good point and one I should have included in the post.

    John Z, now that’s an alternate-history story I’d read!

    Bryan, excellent. That’s a crucial point, and reminds me of the old parable about the drunk who was looking for his keys under the streetlamp. Somebody asked him about the details, and he admitted that he’d lost the keys in the alley — but under the streetlamp there was enough light to look for them! In the same way, science fixates on what it can measure most easily even when that’s not the cause…

    Aldarion, granted, and that’s a point I made earlier in this sequence.

    Dreamer, and it’s likely to end up fatal to quite a number of causes as we proceed. More on this shortly!

  51. “The models they’ve created do an excellent job of predicting the behavior of many things in nature—but again, that doesn’t make those models true. It just makes them useful.”

    This is a profound point that is not well-taught in our education system. Too many believe science is fact. Or that scientific theories explain how the universe actually works as opposed to being our best guesses at how it works. All of our science remains abstractions about the universe–not the universe itself.

    For me, realising this led me to a more scientific mindset where I thought far more critically about the science I was exposed to as opposed to blindly accepting it. The latter isn’t science but scientism–a new religion to replace the old ones.

    I simultaneously came to think that science, when conducted as it is supposed to be, is one of humanity’s strongest tools for creating understanding, while also realising that science, as it is too often conducted in the contemporary environment, can be incredibly problematic. (I have seen the latter referred to as Science™.)

    Usually, JMG, I couldn’t have written any of your essays because you think about the world quite differently than I do. But on this occasion, it is one of the few that aligns very closely with much that I have thought about over the past five years. Looking forward to future entries on this topic.

  52. Another Ecosophia post synchronistic to my reading! I’m working through Lee Smolin’s Time Reborn. He’s a materialist physicist, but he does a fine job of pointing out the fallacies under which physics has operated since Newton, such as what he calls “doing physics in a box,” then pretending that the results can extend to the whole universe, a universe in which the measurer and the measurement tools are part of the system being measured, the starting conditions are unknown and unaccountable, and there is crucially only one UNI-verse, which means at a whole-system level there can’t really be any such laws, because a law is a general approximation observable across many different events, and there is no other universe to compare ours to, making anything at the level of the whole a mere observation.

    He does a fine job of showing that contemporary assumptions can’t even stand up to an argument from the basis of physics, without having to resort to philosophy or magic (which further obliterates the assumptions).

  53. Yes, I think it was Messengers of Deception. I have read Passport to Magonia as well.

    Vallee is actually really polarizing in Ufology circles today. There is a divide between the materialist ‘nuts and bolts’ ufologists who believe the phenomena is advanced tech from another planet, and the ‘woo woo’ crowd who believe that the phenomena is psychic/spiritual.

    I think both of those crowds are ultimately are driven by wish fullfillment, (which is what makes the debate so fierce) the ‘nuts and bolts’ crowd hopes we get access to all this alien tech and think it’ll solve all of our problems. The woo-woo side is hoping for a mass spiritual awakening.

    I lean toward the woo-woo side of the aisle. But I don’t believe in a mass awakening. Whatever the phenomena is, it’s elusive and cryptic on purpose.

    A bit off topic, John, but what do you think about crop circles? Are they all fakes? If not, what makes them?

  54. Hi JMG,
    I’m glad you brought up Johannes Kepler in this post, he’s an interesting figure to look into where enchantment is still present in his work. To add more to what Aldarion and John Z were saying, Kepler was also an astrologer for a Bohemian general. Kepler believed that there was an order to the heavens and even ascribed musical notes to the planets. He worked for Tycho Brahe (An alchemist) and used his observations to confirm that the planetary movements were ellipses. Even though Tycho Brahe’s model said the planets revolved around the sun, but the sun and the moon revolved around Earth. A little different than Copernicus’ heliocentric model. It’s an interesting story with lessons for us about competing ideas in science and the influence of existing ideas in science. I view Johannes Kepler as a conflicted man sitting on the fence between two worlds.

  55. SD, the ideas in this post are not at all original to me. Thomas Kuhn and Oswald Spengler get most of the credit, and of course there’s always Nietzsche laughing mordantly in the background, and behind him Kant sweeping up the dust of our hubris and putting it into a neatly labeled bottle. I wouldn’t even bring them up here except that so few people have ever encountered them.

    Blue Sun, now and then I remember Roddy McDowell as Mordred in Camelot, saying: “Your table
    is cracking, Arthur. Can you hear the timbers split?” The enchantment of science was the greatest thing our civilization has accomplished; yes, it’s become an intolerable burden and a catastrophic source of bad advice, but there’s still a great deal of tragedy in its fall.

    Kyle, hmm! I may want to read tht as time permits.

    Enjoyer, oh, I know. Vallee and John Keel are two of the baddest of the bad boys of Ufology, and they’re also the two writers whose work I like the most. As for crop circles, “fakes” is really an unnecessarily harsh way to describe those marvelous works of performance art and ritual. Yes, they’re all made by human beings — by the time I visited Somerset in 2003 it was already an open joke among the locals that farmers were placing orders for the next year’s crop circles, since they were so lucrative to show to tourists . Have you read Jim Schnabel’s book Round in Circles? Worth your while.

    Sean, Kepler was a fascinating guy. Did you know that he introduced several new aspects in astrology, alongside his contributions to astronomy? Like most astronomers in his day, he cast horoscopes to pay the bills. I don’t see him as conflicted, because in his day there wasn’t yet a conflict: astrology was understood as applied astronomy, and everyone used it.

  56. At this link is the full list of all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared at and, as well as in the comments of the prayer list posts. A printable version of the entire prayer list current as of 11/8 may be downloaded here. Please feel free to add any or all of the requests to your own prayers.

    If I missed anybody, or if you would like to add a prayer request for yourself or anyone who has given you consent (or for whom a relevant person holds power of consent) to the list, please feel free to leave a comment below.

    (Also, if you think you might be interested in having anyone pray in support of your own self-improvement, please have a look at the Ecosophia Prayer List Autumn Special.)* * *

    This week I would like to bring special attention to the following prayer requests.

    May the lawsuit for partition of the family land in which Jennifer, her husband Josiah, and her father Robert are involved be resolved justly and for the greatest good of all involved, including the land and its spirits.

    May the brain surgery that Erika’s partner James underwent for his cancer on October 16th have gone successfully; and may he be blessed, healed and protected, and successfully treated for all of his cancer.

    May Kyle’s friend Amanda, who though in her early thirties is undergoing various difficult treatments for brain cancer, make a full recovery; and may her body and spirit heal with grace.

    May Jeff Huggin’s friends Dale and Tracy be blessed and healed; may Dale’s blood and spinal fluid infection clear up sufficiently to receive a heart valve replacement; may his medical procedures go smoothly and with success; and may Dale and Tracy successfully surmount these difficulties.

    In the case of Princess Cutekitten and the large bank who is suing her may justice be done, with harm to none.

    Lp9’s hometown, East Palestine, Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people, animals and all living beings in and around East Palestine, and to improve the natural environment there to the benefit of all.
    * * *
    Guidelines for how long prayer requests stay on the list, how to word requests, how to be added to the weekly email list, how to improve the chances of your prayer being answered, and several other common questions and issues, are now to be found at the Ecosophia Prayer List FAQ. If there are any among you who might wish to join me in a bit of astrological timing, I pray each week for the health of all those with health problems on the list on the astrological hour of the Sun on Sundays, bearing in mind the Sun’s rulerships of heart, brain, and vital energies. If this appeals to you, I invite you to join me.

  57. Excellent essay today, JMG! I’m going to draw Arthur Firstenberg’s (author of The Invisible Rainbow) attention to this, at the risk of it depressing him more than he is already. He was the one who first pointed out to me 25 or so years ago that it doesn’t seem to matter one bit how much evidence of harm from EMFs (specifically, artificial, polarized, pulsed, modulated with random variation in the ELF range) exists, the Powers That Be have a broad brush they can paint it all with as “tabloid pseudoscience,” with examples of such publications available at checkout counters everywhere for all the world to gawk at. I was naive enough then to think that with so much evidence, it would just be a few years before people caught on.

    I was going to hold off mentioning a paper by Panagopoulos et al. (2021) until next week, but now I don’t have to. I am working on a summary of their highly technical paper with a couple dozen mathematical formulas describing in detail the mechanism of how these EMFs can exert a non-thermal effect on cellular biology via the voltage-gated channels that help cells maintain a proper electrolyte balance. (Another possible mechanism of DNA being more conductive than thought is favored by Firstenberg, but the voltage-gated channels hypothesis also accounts for DNA damage via oxidative stress.).
    The reason the activists consider Panagopoulus et al. to be revolutionary is that we would point out all the in vitro, in vivo and epidemiological evidence of harm only to be told there was no possible mechanism for it, end of discussion. Now there is a well-described, documented (shy of 300 references) mechanism. (I’ll post the summary once I’ve got it hashed out, but anyone with a technical background can have a look at their paper.)

    So they’ll just move the goal posts again. If our scientists posed any real threat to the status quo, they’d be jailed together with the journalists.

    Needless to say, I look forward to your post on how this is likely to play out. I don’t know whether it will give much hope to victims of this mess like should-have-been-doctor Firstenberg, but it is best to take a realistic view of the situation and strategise from there. Yasuko Kato’s advice of “Shield your home because there’s no place to escape it and no one to hear you” is what we will have to go with for the time being.

  58. Yeh, as Godel points out with his incompleteness theorem’. There are no proofs for the mathematical prime numbers which are the bedrock of any 3D materialist model. This leaves us adrift on a very vast sea indeed, and it was never intended that we should venture far. A ship would be handy indeed !

  59. JMG and Cutekitten: Apportation?!? So that’s the word for an uncanny experience I had a few years back.

    One day, my wife noticed a strange cat hanging out in our yard. She sort of tried to shoo it away, but couldn’t really get motivated to do it, and the cat didn’t leave. The next day, it was on the porch, and didn’t look well. She and our young daughters were heartstruck, and brought the cat to the vet, from where they phoned me and wanted to me to approve of the $700 dollar vet bill they were about to incur. I came and learned from the vet that the cat was at least 20 years old, had severe, irreversible kidney failure, and other multiple medical problems. The vet recommended the cat be put down. My family looked at me with pleading eyes. I had them understand they were signing up for cat hospice care, and that she (the gray tabby who they named ‘Strawberry’) would not have a healthy carefree life. The vet was nodding in agreement. Wife and girls still wanted to keep Strawberry. I glanced at that poor cat, with the girls’s fingers gently stroking her, looking uncannily serene and comforted. The vet caught my glance, seemed to read my mind, and said, “you know, these cats really understand when they’ve been rescued, and feel so relieved”. The required medical care penciled out at $1400, but since this was a stray, she (the vet) offered at 50% discount. “Okay” I said, and wife & girls were overjoyed, and so our home became a hospice for Strawberry.

    We gave her a little bed, and a litter box next to it, because with kidney failure, she had to urinate frequently. And a big water bowl. She left the bed only to eat, drink and use the litter box, and certainly didn’t play. But everyone in the house just doted over Strawberry, who welcomed all the petting, and would always lift her head for you to scratch the top of it. Even my daughters’ friends would come over and dote. More than once I saw three or four 8-year-old girls sitting side-by-side on the couch, with Strawberry draped over one of their laps like a wet towel, and the girls gingerly ran their fingers through her fur. They were so absorbed and solemn, I felt as if I had stumbled into a religious service. I got pretty attached to Strawberry myself, and devoted time daily to pet her.

    Strawberry was in hospice with us for 6 months. One day, she began having diarrhea, and I knew the end was near as there was no way she could handle the electrolyte imbalances from both diarrhea and kidney failure. I picked up her bed and brought her to the Humane Society, explained the situation, and that she needed to be put down ASAP. The wife and girls understood and accepted this with equanimity.

    The next day was a Saturday, and the rest of the family was out of the house. Just me and our other two cats: one asleep in the bedroom, the other asleep in the living room where I was puttering about. I noticed a gray streak flash by out the window. A few seconds later, I saw it again. Then a third time. That gray streak brought Strawberry forcefully to my mind. I opened the front door and stood in the doorway for a minute, looking into the garden. I saw nothing. Then I heard the tinkling sound of a cat toy rolling behind me, and saw a tinkle ball come to rest against my heel. Our tom cat was still curled asleep, the other cat out of sight. I had a convincing, uncanny sense that Strawberry was present, and was thanking me for giving her such a loving home. I spoke: “Thanks for staying with us. We miss you”.

    The memory of this comes to me often. I’m always uncertain how I should regard it, sometimes belittling myself for being a simpleton or wishful thinker, for regarding the experience as something real: a visitation from a beloved departed cat. So this is a valid experience after all; and I don’t need to disenchant the experience by seeking a prosaic explanation? Apportation? I’ll take it. Thank you for this concept.

    —Lunar Apprentice

  60. In #54 JMG asks, “If you find anything more about changes in the placebo effect, please let me know — that’s a theme of some importance for the project of this blog.”

    I assume you mean the reported improvement over time. The original article is abstracted here.

    There’s a response to the article here,

    and I particularly enjoyed: “Spontaneous remission: Patients in trials appear to get better regardless of whether they receive active treatment or placebo.” That’s the good old “regression to mean.” Who volunteers for a study about health problem X? Generally, if X is just a small problem for you, you don’t bother – you volunteer when X is at its worst! From there, you will either die or get better. This is a confounding factor that few studies of healthcare consider.

    Aside from that, it looks like nobody has wanted to revisit the topic of the increasing efficacy of placebos since that review paper in 2015. Perhaps if they’d made it open access….?

    But related, they have looked at ways to reduce the placebo effect.

    That’s right, they’ve thought, “some of the people we work with feel better, how can we stop that?” They suggest,

    “Of the interventions designed to reduce placebo responses that have been tested in RCT studies, those that neutralize staff and subject expectations and improve the ability of subjects to accurately report symptom severity have shown the most promise. Research staff can minimize expectations by using neutral phrases when discussing expected treatment outcomes, providing neutral information about the study treatments, having limited time spent with study subjects, and emphasizing to subjects that the purpose of the trial is to determine whether a treatment is efficacious rather than to heal or cure. ”

    In other words: don’t empathise with them, and be sure to be indifferent and dismissive. Make your bedside manner worse. Is this a good habit to pass on to doctors?

    But back to the original review: I can’t help but wonder if it’s really that placebos have become more effective, or that “real” drugs have become worse. We’d have to see the full review to figure that out.

    Unfortunately the full article is only available if you pay for it. This is very much in the theme of what you’ve said about scientists turning themselves into a priesthood. Whereas the 19th century scientists were happily publishing to all and sundry and encouraging the public to come to their lectures, nowadays not only are you discouraged from critiquing their research, but from even reading it! – and of course you can’t simply wander into a university and listen to a lecture these days, not in most of the Anglosphere. And to think people once accused Masons of unnecessary secrecy about their wisdom and rites…

    But anyway perhaps you’ll have access. There does exist, which is to scientific journal articles what ThePirateBay is to movies and TV series, sharing them whether the creators like it or not. But that paper’s not up there at this point.

  61. @Kimberly #16 Synchronicity: yesterday I read an article that states that in the Netherlands we have currently a record-breaking amount of pneumonia cases, especially in children ( . The cause is of course declared a mystery.

    In myself there is sadness for the victims of this fiasco and anger toward the authorities that refuse to admit they made a mistake and rather send yet another bunch of people into the abyss. Both my parents are ill with a severe flu and it doesn’t surprise me at all. In September the government started a new booster campaign. My parents didn’t plan on taking it, but they saw so may people around them being very ill with flu’s that they got scared and took the jab. I tried to warn them that the illnesses were enhanced by the jab’s, but they didn’t want to hear it. Yet the data and actual science that I can find show that I am most likely right. Dutch sewage data show that the prevalence of the virus is rising quickly since the booster campaign, and Dutch excess mortality is also rising since the campaign (It was finally back to more-or-less normal since February but now we go again).

    Despite the best efforts of governments and health agencies to ‘polish’ the data or obscure the facts, the evidence is overwhelming as regulars on the Dreamwidth forum like yourself know all too well. But most people don’t have the time and skills to read actual scientific research or have well developed intuition so they just accept or reject authorities and MSM without due diligence. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  62. @ Longsword, comment no. 4; JMG comment, 20: As a school leaver in the doldrums of the 90s, I was hired through a temping agency for a job standing in a supermarket, asking shoppers if they would consider buying a new de-calcifying agent. They sold like hot cakes. I had hitherto wondered if this was because I had a knack for marketing (I never had another marketing job again, so impossible to say), but think in light of your comment it might well have been the fact that the marketing company had dressed up a bunch of kids in lab coats, given them test tubes and pocket protectors, and a sort of fizzing experiment. And, abracadabra, as they say, a new de-calcifying star was born.


  63. I think we can also see enchantment being discarded in the Mannerist style. The Madonna with the Long Neck seems to have thrown out any form of sacred proportion.

  64. I’m sympathetic to your arguments in this essay. I agree with them, even. Yet I’m profoundly uncomfortable seeing them used to turn my own sacred cows into beefsteak. I read your essays to gain a deeper perspective, and you never disappoint. Thank you.

  65. Mr. Greer,

    Considering the Russians, Chinese and Iranians are more advanced then the West in regards to several pieces of technology (hypersonic missiles, for example) would you consider that because they are part of different civilizations then Faustian? Or is it because their nations collapsed in the last century and cleared away a lot of the parasitic managerial classes that are currently feeding off the productive economy and diluting the strength of the engineering-industrial sectors in the West?

    Also, I find it interesting that Russia and China are increasingly less concerned with space exploration besides some stuff for PR purposes and increasingly focused on the world’s oceans. China has been conducting extensive deep sea exploration and mapping projects, been conducting a massive naval buildup and has been developing new deep sea mining and construction equipment. Russia has been making similar moves and is increasingly looking to expand into the Artic and Antarctica. Case in point, Russia has a fleet of around 40 icebreakers – several nuclear powered -while the US Navy and Coast Guard has a grand total of 2 operational icebreakers. Do you think the fact that rival great powers are starting to completely ignore the Faustian obsession with space exploration and focusing on areas we are currently ill equipped to compete against speed up disenchantment of the scientific establishment?

  66. JMG:
    You wrote: “Alan, their sorcery apparently worked on a lot of people. I’m still not entirely sure why, though I have some hypotheses.” I hope you write an article on this because I am still awestruck at the speed at which friends and acquaintances went from distrust of Big Pharna and the drug industry to Big Pharma boosters and RNA “vaccine” maximalists at the seeming snap of a finger. I am interested in any and all insight into what happened here.

    I am also glad to see that I am not the only one who objects to Neil Degrasse Tyson’s dismissal of philosophy.

  67. “I could fill an entire post quite easily with signs of crisis from the nations of the modern industrial West, and another post with the evidence that much of the rest of the world is prospering as our decline picks up speed.”

    I understand that decline is not evenly spread, but still – is widespread prosperity possible when energy is getting more and more expensive? Which countries are especially prospering? I’d be really happy to read the second one of these hypothetical posts (or at least the tl;dr).

  68. @Frank, @JMG:

    Here is another example of art influencing science/technology. It’s the story of Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil, and how Hedy and George came up with the principle behind radio frequency hopping / spread spectrum -which is how Wifi works.

    I wrote it up here:

    The main gist of it is that if George Antheill hadn’t used player pianos in his dada piece Ballet Mecanique, they might not have ever come up with the idea to use the same technology used in player piano rolls, if he hadn’t been exploring player pianos in his compositions. For her part, Lamarr was the one who thought torpedoes could be controlled using radio -there patent was to aid the WWII effort.

  69. Sorry, it might be better if I just share the relevant bits:

    Lamarr had some ideas about using radio controlled torpedoes in the war effort. To help her in its implementation she eventually tapped composer George Antheil, who had also found success in Hollywood scoring films. Antheil had been a part of the Lost Generation, and like many of his contemporaries such as Ernest Hemingway, he had moved to Europe after the horrors of the first World War to live a bohemian and artistic life amidst the cafes and salons of Paris in the 1920’s. It was during this time period when he composed his best known work Ballet Mecanique. It began its life as an accompaniment to the Dadaist film of the same name made by Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy, with cinematography by Man Ray. The techniques Antheil developed in this composition were to be key to the success of his shared frequency hopping patent.

    Ballet Mecanique was scored to use a number of player pianos. He described their effect as “All percussive. Like machines. All efficiency. No LOVE. Written without sympathy. Written cold as an army operates. Revolutionary as nothing has been revolutionary.” There are no human dancers. The mechanical instruments are what make it a ballet. Antheil’s original conception was to use 16 specially synchronized player pianos, two grand pianos, electronic bells, xylophones, bass drums, a siren and three airplane propellers. There were a number of difficulties involved in this set-up that broke away from traditional orchestral arrangements. The synchronization of the player pianos proved to be the largest obstacle. Consisting of periods of music and interludes of relative silence created by the droning roar of airplane propellers. Antheil described it as “the rhythm of machinery, presented as beautifully as an artist knows how.”

    Besides composing Antheil was a writer and fierce patriot. He was a member of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League and wrote a book of predictions about WWII titled The Shape of the War to Come. He also penned a newspaper column on relationship advice that was nationally syndicated and he fancied himself an expert on the subject of female endocrinology. His interests in this area was what first brought into contact with Hedy. She had sought him out for advice on how she might enhance her upper torso. After he proposed that she could make use of glandular extracts their conversation turned to the kind of torpedoes being used in the war.

    Lamarr was herself a staunch supporter of her adopted country, though she didn’t become a naturalized citizen until 1953. Using knowledge she gained from her first marriage with the munitions manufacture she had the insight that radio controlled torpedoes would excel in the fight against the Axis powers. However the radio signals could easily be jammed and the torpedo sent off course. Working with Antheil she devised their “Secret Communications System”.

    The action of composing for the player pianos helped Antheil with one of the aspects of creating their system, which had a striking resemblance to the still top secret SIGSALY system. It is best described in the overview of their patent number 2,292,387: “Briefly, our system as adapted for radio control of a remote craft, employs a pair of synchronous records, one at the transmitting station and one at the receiving station, which change the tuning of the transmitting and receiving apparatus from time to time, so that without knowledge of the records an enemy would be unable to determine at what frequency a controlling impulse would be sent. Furthermore, we contemplate employing records of the type used for many years in player pianos, and which consist, of long rolls of paper having perforations variously positioned in a plurality of longitudinal rows along the records. In a conventional player piano record there may be 88 rows of perforations, and in our system such a record would permit the use of 88 different carrier frequencies, from one to another of which both the transmitting and receiving station would be changed at intervals. Furthermore, records of the type described can be made of substantial length and may be driven slow or fast. This makes it possible for a pair of records, one at the transmitting station and one at the receiving station, to run for a length of time ample for the remote control of a device such as a torpedo. The two records may be synchronized by driving them with accurately calibrated constant-speed spring motors, such as are employed for driving clocks and chronometers. However, it is also within the scope of our invention to periodically correct the position of the record at the receiving station by transmitting synchronous impulses from the transmitting station. The use of synchronizing impulses for correcting the phase relation of rotary apparatus at a receiving station is well-known and highly developed in the fields of automatic telegraphy and television.”

    Although the US Navy did not adopt their technology until the 1960s the principles of their work continue to live on and are now used in everyday devices such as Wi-Fi, CDMA, and Bluetooth technology. Spread spectrum systems are also used in the unregulated 2.4 GHz band and on some walkie-talkies that operate in the 900 MHz portion of the spectrum. Other spread spectrum techniques include direct-sequence spread spectrum (DSSS), time-hopping spread spectrum (THSS), and chirp spread spectrum (CSS).

  70. I want to challenge the notion presented by PumpkinScone that American’s fixation on the present is a good thing (I see obsession with corporate quarterly profits as a manifestation of this). Or perhaps they could clarify what they mean?

    It seems to me that Americans are largely unmoored from their ancestral roots and thus engage in consumerism as a substitute for deep connections with the land and human kin. Many indigenous people of the Americas seem to be very much interested in the past (ancestral tradition) and the future. Consider the Seventh Generation Principle of the Iroquois.

  71. It seems that we have a new Techno-Reinchantment emerging. While that may seem contradictory at first, it makes sense to me. In a more enchanted world the true believer when confronted by some scientific fact, ( to the extent those exist) such as how the laws of physics makes a human walking on water unlikely, would respond with something such as ” if the lord wills it, it will work.” Or if we are meant to be saved by walking on water a miracle will happen.
    But now a true believer in the Techno-utopian dream of progress when confronted with some reasonably well established scientific limit ( of which there are many that are not in doubt) would respond in much the same way, but with a twist. If I tell my techno-utopian friend that as soon as petroleum gets too scarce and expensive we will no longer have air travel for the masses because the energy density of batteries is too low. They will reply ( real life example), that when fully implemented the power of A.I. will solve that problem.
    If one is still a an old fashioned scientific rationalist ( like my thermo professor from the late 1970’s) most of the dreams of a glorious technological future of skittles and rainbows make no sense. But with the convergence of two trends, the discreditation science and rise of a mystical , overhyped and poorly understood computing gimmick any techno-dream can be believed and old fashioned scientific limits ignored.
    I believe that as we continue to slide down the slope of decline these believers in the religion of progress will double down on the mystical power of A.I. and be assured that a better day is just around the corner when A.I. makes that last little breakthrough and solves all of our problems. I fully expect to see full fledged religions spring up around worshipping artificial intelligence in computers.

  72. Book alert:
    Scientism back lash case study:

    Candace Pert: Genius, Greed, and Madness in the World of Science by Pamela Ryckman

    “Candace Pert stood at the dawn of three revolutions: the women’s movement, integrative health, and psychopharmacology. A scientific prodigy, she was 30 years ahead of her time, preaching a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to healthcare and medicine long before yoga hit the mainstream and “wellness” took root in our vernacular. Her bestselling book Molecules of Emotion made her the mother of the Mind/Body Revolution, launching a paradigm shift in medicine. Deepak Chopra credits her with creating his career, and he said as much in his eulogy at her funeral. Candace began her career as an unbridled maverick. In 1972, as a 26-year-old graduate student at Johns Hopkins, she discovered the opiate receptor, revolutionizing her field and enabling pharmacologists to design new classifications of drugs from Prozac to Viagra to Percocet and OxyContin. The tragic irony of her breakthrough, touted as the first step to end heroin addiction, is that it helped spawn a virulent epidemic of drug dependence. Facing the largest public health crisis of the 21st century, Candace was incensed that the Hippocratic oath-“first, do no harm”-would succumb to greed, and as witness to this abuse of power, she was one of few scientists courageous enough to protest. Later, as Chief of Brain Biochemistry at the National Institutes of Health, Candace created Peptide T, the non-toxic treatment for HIV featured in Dallas Buyers Club. As the AIDS pandemic raged, triggering panic across Reagan-era America, the U.S. government poured massive amounts of money into finding a cure, sparking a battle among scientists for funding and power. Bested by rivals with competing drugs yet desperate to help, Candace went rogue, becoming a lynchpin in the black market for Peptide T. After a scandalous departure from her tenured position at the NIH, Candace launched a series of private companies with Michael Ruff, her second husband and collaborator. Naïve to the world of business, she was manipulated by investors keen to wrest control of her discoveries. But Candace too became tainted, believing that her noble ends would justify devious means. Like a mythic hero, she succumbed to a fatal flaw, and her greatest strengths-singularity of purpose and blind faith in her own virtuosity-would prove to be her undoing.”

  73. Hi JMG – yes, “The Science” as we know it in today’s world is certainly in trouble, as reality conflicts more each passing day with the official narrative and modern enchantment. I abruptly found out the influence of social pressures in my career when I got a job working for IBM. Prior to that I had worked over three decades in the earth sciences and as a contractor and independent consultant in Information Technology. I often ran into push back from customers about how to fix problems, especially those costing more money. Lots of gritting of teeth as I soon discovered the customer is almost always wrong. When I walked in door as someone from Big Blue I was very surprised to find….instant credibility. My skills and experience hadn’t changed, just the company logo next to my smiling mug on my badge.

    I also discovered over the years “The Science” needs to be quantified, which led to the rise of “The Bean Counters”, who had trouble thinking outside the box. This became worse with the Information Age, as now everyone had a screen with spreadsheets and reports that provided insight to “the one way, the truth and the light”. Never mind that many critical aspects in life cannot be quantified….

  74. @Patricia O. #62. I’d be interested in your summary when it’s ready. I read “Invisible Rainbow”; at least to me, I thought the author cast his net too wide; just about anything harmful, according to his book, is from RF in the environment.

    I’m having fun seeing what I learn with my broadband RF meter. The new one that goes up to 40 Ghz or so is over $1000. It’s not for me at that price. Most of the RF in my house comes from a cell tower about 1/2 mile away. Last summer they turned it off for about two weeks of maintenance, and during that time the RF level in my house went from “moderate” or low-moderate to slight/negligible. I hope this is not too off-topic. I use ethernet cables instead of wi-fi and my unavoidable cell phone stays in airplane mode unless I need to make a call in an emergency, to the displeasure of some of my relatives.

    Back during the VietNam war era I worked on a couple of frequency hopping radar systems as mentioned above. Thanks to Hedy Lamarr and others… It was the technology of the 1950s and 1960s. It launched my interest in RF and microwave effects.

  75. JMG, re: “AI-generated spew as it comes in.”

    My concern was raised by an anonymous 1200 word post on “AI is a Divinatory Machine,” on your current Dreamwidth open COVID thread. It’s shown with Date: 2023-11-15 11:37 am (UTC).
    Most of it is ChatGPT generated. The commenter only introduces it with “AI is so cool, we can use it for divination” type of remarks.
    Nothing in the post refers to COVID, health, medicine, rules for society said to be justified by medicine, etc.
    It does include your favorite bumper sticker mantra of Progress (TM): “Major technological breakthroughs reshape the global landscape.” Fortunately, we all have time to prepare, as ChatGPT predicts this for 2025!

    Sorry I forgot to include the specific reference.
    Having drawn your attention to it, I’ll leave it alone now.

  76. Justin Patrick Moore # 74. Thank you for this fascinating history!

    I knew a little about Lamarr as an inventor of spread-spectrum technology. I also knew a little about Ballet Mecanique, originally soundtrack for a Cubist film and then a concert piece. I didn’t know they were related!
    I also never before saw a specific description of the invention, time-synchronized stepping through a one-time pad selecting frequencies rather than ciphers.

    Ballet Macanique has been performed! “The original orchestration called for 16 player pianos (or pianolas) in four parts, 2 regular pianos, 3 xylophones, at least 7 electric bells, 3 propellers, siren, 4 bass drums, and 1 tam-tam. The airplane propellers were actually large electric fans, into which musicians would insert object such as wooden poles or leather straps to create sound. At the Carnegie Hall premiere on 10 April 1927, the fans were positioned to blow into the audience, upsetting the patrons.” – Wikipedia

    The cacophony can be witnessed in a mostly human peformance at
    For purists who accept nothing less than the originally scored three aircraft engines and 16 automated player pianos, shows the setup and has the video, with about a minute of silence before the din.
    Warning: This is a very loud piece!

    I confess that even though it’s around ten minutes long, I’ve not been able to endure the whole thing.

    The web site has much more of the history, including links to many other performances.

  77. @Chris from California: Thank you for the kind words! I’m happy to share.

    I’ll see if I can endure the version at the link you sent. Apparently, the band Skinny Puppy had some kind of sound producing thing that was the equivalent of the decibel of an aircraft engine at one of their early shows. My friend Syd who went to that one (and who joined me at their 40th anniversary / final tour this past spring) said that you were issued ear plugs and had to sign a waiver before going in.

    & synchronistically enough, I went to a “noise” show last night to see some old friends mine play in their duo Ohr Streicheln (ear petting). They used some miniature tesla coils and had them arcing into the microphone and bells from an old telephone wired with contacts. It was fun! (I wore ear plugs.)

  78. Quin, thank you for this as always.

    Patricia O, the refusal to recognize the nasty health effects of radio frequency radiation is a fine case study in the social construction of scientific facts. The evidence is robust, the harm is widespread, but because RF broadcasting is so lucrative — and because broadcast advertising to get people to buy consumer goods they don’t need was crucial in preventing a return of drastic boom and bust cycles after the Second World War — you and those like you got thrown under the bus, and the science was edited accordingly. The question is how this plays out as the prestige of institutional science collapses.

    Faraday, a nice touch of Lovecraft there. Iâ!

    Lunar, that’s a classic ghost story. Animals have souls just as humans do, and sometimes they come back to say their goodbyes. You might be interested to know that human ghosts who do the same thing are far and away the most common form of ghost encounter…

    Hackenschmidt, any change in the placebo effect over time is significant. If it weakened for a while that would also be grist for the mill. Thank you for this!

    Jon, that’s an excellent example. Yes, Mannerism discarded the old sacred geometries, and things unfolded from there.

    Alan, you’re welcome. Sacred cows have only two possible destinies; either they get cut up for meat or they’re left to mummify in their shrines. The former is much more nourishing!

    Karl, in both those issues you’re watching the end of the Faustian age. Just as the barbarians picked up Roman military innovations, took them further than the Romans ever did, and swept aside the Roman Empire in the west, the non-Faustian nations have picked up Faustian technology and are now better at it than we are. The entire project of space travel was never more than a Faustian wet dream; no doubt there’ll be plenty of satellites until the inevitable Kessler-syndrome catastrophe ends the space age for good, but it’s a promising sign that the rising powers are putting their resources to more productive uses.

    Chris S, first I’ll have to come up with a hypothesis that seems convincing to me! The whole thing seems bizarre and uncanny in a horror-movie kind of way. As for Tyson, I’m pretty sure his problem is that he’s smart enough to realize that a basic grasp of philosophy makes his cheerleading for scientism look like the faith-based activity it is, but he can’t abandon it for emotional reasons — thus he attacks the messenger instead.

    Omer, think of it this way. Imagine that somebody rounded up all the billionaires in the United States, shook them down for every cent they owned, and then shot them. The people in question then hand out half the seized wealth to the American people — everybody gets an equal check — while the rest gets loaded aboard a rocket and sent into the Sun. The American economy as a whole loses a lot of money…but most people have a lot more wealth than they did. That’s basically what’s happening to the global economy: the US and its allies have monopolized a vast share of the world’s wealth, and are going to lose most of it; other countries will get some of it back, while another fraction will be lost to economic decline.

    Justin, fascinating! Thank you for this.

    Isaac, oh, certainty is easy — you just have to be wrong. 😉

  79. Side note: in the statistics and epidemiology literature there is a body of work (about a decade or two old) that attempts to distinguish between causal mechanism and what can actually be known from a given experiment (if interested, Jamie Robins and Mark van der Laan are key luminaries). This literature has led to some impressive methodologies that at least force the user to articulate in exquisite quantitative detail the underlying assumptions required for causal claims.

    This doesn’t change the fundamentally social substrate of scientific knowledge and practice. But at least many of us are aware of what is really going on.

  80. I’ll read Round in Circles. Looking at a synopsis of it, it looks like a very interesting read. I hope one day we get to the bottom of the UFO phenomenon once and for all, but I doubt that we ever will.

    Another question, would you recommend Steiner’s work? I read some of his book about Atlantis and Lemuria. (Cosmic Memory) It became apparent VERY quickly that he was pulling it from his imagination, not from the akashic records.

    Are his books on philosophy any better? Like ‘The Philosophy of Freedom,’ ‘How to Know Higher Worlds,’ ‘An Outline of Esoteric Science’

  81. Hi John Michael,

    “They’ll think of something”, as an incantation, is not only a dead give away, but it is woefully inadequate and is an almost guaranteed route to failure. I can’t put it any simpler than that.

    They’re all bonkers, that’s what they are! 🙂 But hey, it’s a choice.

    Dunno about your perspective, but science as a tool applied to some problems is quite useful. To apply it to all problems is a recipe for disaster.

    By sheerest of chance yesterday, I came across a reference to Sir John Bennet Lawes, and it’s exactly like what you wrote – when science practised as a more open school, things got done.



  82. @Ecosophy Enjoyer, anybody who is interested in crop circles and Jacques Vallee should read his illuminating online articles of 2010 about this phenomenon. His compelling conclusions are surprising but also very down-to-earth!

    In Search of Alien Glyphs (or are they microwave blasters?)

    Crop Circles, Part Deux: Alien Glyphs, Human Myths, Blogging Bliss

  83. Clay, I don’t see anything really new with it except the AI label. It’s still the same dreary insistence that technology can solve all human problems. Are you at all familiar with Robert Silverberg’s 1967 novel To Open the Sky? Even then he had a computer-worshipping cult as a central plot engine.

    Justin, thanks for this.

    Drhooves, I’ve seen the same thing: premature quantification as a cause of failure. It’s very common.

    Christopher, it was presented by one of my regulars in reference to a conversation that’s been unfolding for a while now. If that sort of thing becomes common I’ll ban it; in the meantime, I thought it was mildly amusing.

    MacScot, thanks for this.

    Iguana, delighted to hear this. I’ll see what I can find.

    Enjoyer, Steiner has to be read with a critical eye. I’ve discussed his career here:

    His volumes on spiritual training are first-rate, and his books on occult symbolism are useful if you remember that he didn’t have any way of checking the truth of his clairvoyant experiences. (The “akashic record”? If that exists, human clairvoyants can’t access it, since no two clairvoyants get the same results no matter how careful they are.)

    Chris, it’s a fascinating turn of events when the most popular words of power also become what I suppose we have to call words of stupidity. “They’ll think of something” is a great example; no doubt they will, and the one thing we know at this point is that the “something” will be astoundingly stupid.

  84. @Ecosophy Enjoyer, regarding crop circles, watch this video by Englishman Richard D Hall from just before the 6 minute mark. An English farmer describes what he saw happen in his field in 1990. It tends to corroborate Jacque Vallee’s conclusions (see my comment #89).

    Crop Circles: The Hidden Truth – Part 3

    Jacque Vallee was also a computer programmer for long enough. In 1977 he wrote and released the world’s first texting app, though it worked on a mainframe computer in those days. It ran on the ARPANET system, which was a forerunner of the internet. ARPANET was used by the the US military and US universities. Because of that experience, Vallee had contacts in US military intelligence. As you probably know, some inventions are developed by the military two or three decades before they become public knowledge. The idea of infra-red laser beams being fired from the sky by drones hidden by invisibility cloaks in 1990 is therefore not so far-fetched!

    Sometimes they don´t even try to hide it. From…Wikipedia! KInd of like the approach, when it´s laid out in the open.
    From the entry:
    >>>E OP Wilson explained that humans had a need for the epic of evolution because they must have a mythical story or a sublime account of how the world was created and how humanity became part of it. Religious epics fulfill a primal need in this respect as they verify that humans are part of something greater than themselves. The best empirical knowledge that science and history can provide is necessary in order to provide a comparable epic tale that will reliably unite a separated human spirituality. He believes the evolutionary epic can be as inherently noble as any religious epic when it is expressed in a poetic way. In a similar vein, biologist Ursula Goodenough sees the tale of natural emergence as far more magical than traditional religious miracles. It is a story that people can work with in a religious way if they elect to do so.
    Hear, hear!

  86. To Patricia O and JMG:
    I work with a scientific team on what is colloquially known as ‘toxic mold’. A small subset of the population are affected very severely by the dampness-associated microbiome that can occur in some homes that have been water-damaged. The mechanism is innate immune activation and a dysfunctional immune response to a pathogen that these individuals’ immune systems struggle to remove in the normal manner. A small percentage of individuals become permanently disabled — both physically and cognitively. Others become environmentally sensitive (there is significant overlap with multiple chemical sensitivity).

    There is no almost money for this. Denial by authorities such as the CDC (who won’t even refer to the some of their own published research on the matter that argues it is a bigger problem than they acknowledge). A majority of studies and reviews say the problem is real if not as well understood as adverse health effects from EMF. I even know of professional medical bodies (outside of the US) saying it is real and needs more research.

    But we all get pointed instead to a handful of reviews by individuals with conflicts of interest to the insurance industry and similar who cherry-pick the literature and basically ignore over 95% of what has been published. The financial consequences of acknowledging this illness are incredibly large for insurance companies, the building and construction industry, landlords and rental tenancy authorities, and even governments, because they are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of so many buildings.

    Nobody wants this, so therefore, it does not exist. And if it does not exist, any further science on it does not need to be funded.

    On a related tangent, somebody pointed out that the CDC/NIH were spending more money on male-pattern baldness than on researching ME/CFS at one point. Given the severity of ME/CFS, this is a travesty. There were also congressional hearings back in the day about the misappropriation of funds by the CDC for ME/CFS research. There is a long history of neglect and corruption around that topic. Given that Long COVID is very, very similar to ME/CFS (which can be a post-viral syndrome), you might wish to remember that Long COVID is a problem we could have had a 30-year head-start on if not for this nonsense. Not that anybody will ever admit that.

  87. Thanks, John. I’ll read that blog post.

    I think the idea of an akashic record is very cool, but I agree with your assessment. Even if real, clairvoyants seem to be unable to access it.

    I guess this leads us to the question of how exactly we can uncover knowledge about the unseen. I guess it is a tentative process of discovery by trial and error, the way every other kind of human knowledge is accumulated.

  88. I have a close relative employed in the health sciences that shows all the signs of enchantment. Fauci is the pope, to suggest that covid had a laboratory origin is blasphemous and gasp-inducing and maybe something to be whispered quietly among trusted confidants but never said openly, the vaccines are efficacious, the lockdowns worthwhile etc etc.

    Well, you can’t fool enough of the people enough of the time because despite what people of science think, other people not in that business have functioning eyeballs. And who said it, that common sense is like air, the higher you go the thinner it gets. And this hasn’t escaped notice.

    I think that the scientific community gets bedazzled and bewitched by all the bushwah of degrees and titles and offices and power and awards. And then there’s the impenetrable jargon and all the attendant rituals and incantations that give a feeling of specialness to users and practitioners.

    And then they forget what they’re supposed to be doing. Follow the science? Who in his right mind really believes that lockdowns have any power over a respiratory bug that spreads like the common cold? Where’s the science behind this? And once they start saying ‘settled science’, it’s bloody over. Time for a reset.

    So, yeah, there’s the enchantment side of it. But then there’s the money. Follow the science? Follow the money. Always follow the money. I doubt that there will ever be a Jesus-like figure to enter the Temple to chase out the money changers. No matter, enough people can see for themselves that the house of science has become a den of thieves.

  89. There is something to it. When I was a Spiritual seeker. It seemed that the Science textbooks and documentaries was like a doorway to the sublime. And promises of progress towards Paradise was occurring even as I read the speculated Futuristic society.

    I was fascinated with Transhumanism and futuristic tech. I loved optimistic Science fiction.

    When I became Christian the Bible was that doorway and Jesus Christ. But the Science I used to idolize lost a lot of its sheen. But the Natural world is still wonderful.

    Although the ugly architecture has played a role in my disillusionment with this purported future too.

  90. Tidlösa, the problem with these attempts at a scientific civil mythology is that when they say “religion” they mean “ideology.” Religion is the art and craft of managing interactions with deities — conscious, intelligent superhuman beings — and that’s exactly what modern scientism, with its far from covert anthropolatry, can’t tolerate.

    SD, thanks for this. That’s another fine example of the social construction of scientific facts. May I use this in a future post?

    Enjoyer, exactly! Human knowledge concerning the Unseen is subject to the same awkward limits as every other kind of human knowledge — but it’s just as possible to add together piece by piece and make sense of the Unseen as it is to do the same thing with the material world.

    Smith, that’s just it. It’s not just that science is making claims to absolute truth that can’t be justified; it’s making these claims in the defense of a corrupt and crumbling status quo, and a growing number of people are fed up to the eyeballs with it.

    Info, that’s fascinating — I didn’t realize (or maybe it’s just that I didn’t remember) that you’re a former believer in science. The path you took from one belief system to another is one that quite a few people have taken lately and far more will take in the years immediately ahead. I’ll be discussing that in an upcoming post.

  91. Nachtgurke @35 (and JMG). Your comment calls to mind a quote that I’m pretty sure is from Neils Bohr, who quipped: “The opposite of a great truth is another great truth”. Scarcely a week goes by where I don’t have occasion to remind myself of that. Not infrequently I hear a ‘great truth’ articulated in the service of some argument or another, and yet it doesn’t seem quite right. Then I imagine the opposite, and sure enough, that seems true too (I need to start writing these things down!)

    I suppose this reflects how our minds really don’t map reality too well, and that much (most?) of reality, to speak nothing of enchantment, wells up through the vast spaces between ‘truths’ we can articulate.

    —Lunar Apprentice

  92. Hi John Michael,

    I’d hope that the answer was stupid because after all, the incantation was kind of similar to that! 😉 Hey, you know what we need here? More grant money! 🙂 That’ll get it all sorted out for sure, then we’ll know, but first show me the grant money.



  93. Disenchantment was well on the way in the West even earlier. The rediscovery of Aristotle, and his thirteenth century incorporation into Western thought was already undermining the enchanted world. Because let’s face it, Aristotle does not exactly lend himself to enchanted anything.

    (The Renaissance Revival of Plato is another matter).

  94. @Phutatorius: That’s fascinating about your work with radar systems. As you probably know, some of the work done with radar systems led to development of some of the aspects of radio astronomy.

    Radio astronomy is one of those things I’d like to see continue in the future. It’s one of the ways we can continue exploring the cosmos without leaving our home QTH.

    And with this cosmic plane being only 1/49th of those available, it would be really cool if we learned some more about dark matter down the road.

  95. Dear Mr. Greer and commentariat,

    Thanks for this great essay. I may not be able to add much to the conversation except that I’m still recovering from my own disappointment – or disenchantment – with science. I was in the state of enchantment you described until I entered university and first came into contact with serious contradictions and, worst of all, nasty institutional science. This reminds me of a young professor who, during a class I attended few days ago, admitted to believing his research area (carbon capture technologies) is a waste of time – so do I – but it pays the bills. Conformity apparently works wonders for some.

    By the way, I love this series and I’m looking forward to following posts. In fact, it was the first posts earlier this year what first sparked my interest in your writings on the occult – the idea of looking up at the sun and seeing a person gazing back fascinated me.



  96. When you say that quantum mechanics (QM) is incompatible with relativity, you mean general relativity (GR) – the theory of gravity. Special relativity (SR) is compatible with QM, but that wasn’t so simple to establish either. QM found its final formulation in 1925, but it was only reconciled with SR after the Shelter Island conference in 1948, when Feynman and others formulated renormalizable QED. Though it might have happened sooner if physicists haven’t been so busy figuring out ways to kill each other during WW2.

  97. >they’ll think of something

    I wonder if cows ever ask that about their ranchers. Just because someone was looking out for you in the past, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re your friend.

    Or that they’ll continue to do so.

    I’m sure Rancher Bob will think of something. I think I might have steak for lunch. Beef is delicious.

  98. >On a related tangent, somebody pointed out that the CDC/NIH were spending more money on male-pattern baldness than on researching ME/CFS at one point.

    Cue the intro to Idiocracy.

    Would they happen to be funding erectile dysfunction as well? Asking for a friend.

  99. BTW JMG, I’m still processing your reply to my cat story. I’ve read your reply repeatedly, as my mind has been reluctant to assimilate it. And I’m still not sure I have.

    So I made a cat-egory error (pun not intended, but I’ll take it): I did not experience apportation, but a cat ghost. And this ghost clearly believed in me.

    So if I’m ever asked if I believe in ghosts, I’ll have to say “No. But I’ve encountered one. A cat ghost no less…”. Or keep my mouth shut… and hide my lived experience…

    Life is strange. What can I do? How can we abide in enchantment if everybody will think you’re nuts?

    —Lunar Apprentice

  100. The thing is I didn’t realise Science was my religion until my conversion somehow made techno-utopianism not so appealing.

    Whatever you hold as your ultimate goal and purpose is your religion I suppose. For many Atheists it was Socialism which even “religion” as they say must be subordinated to Socialism and that it’s values must be written into “religion”.

    So their true religion is Socialism.

  101. Hello JMG! This eye-opening article about ‘science’ in general can serve as a ‘cornerstone’ in not forgetting the fundamental difference between the map and the mapped place, which should always be kept in mind… Speaking of Spengler, I have read his work ‘Man and Technology’ and For modern science, if I remember correctly, he said: The science of the Faustians is neither the statics of the Greeks nor the Arab alchemy, it is a functional science and its aim is only to bend it in a way that it can be used… its aim is not to understand nature but to use it for its own selfish purposes…” He was saying something like this and It may come as a surprise but I have been following you for about 4 years and I am 19 years old now…and I differ sharply from the people around me because I believe in the ‘mythology of progress’…and in one of your posts about Eliphas Levi you mentioned that magic is again religious-magical or You said that it would get its rightful place as a religion of magic, and as someone who is just learning to become a Christian, I am curious about these religious magical practices (I have always been inclined towards occultism since my childhood), and before I forget, in response to another comment, you wrote about those who have recently converted to Christianity and those who can enter Christianity. I’m looking forward to it…and finally, can you suggest me simple practices that I can apply (I’m still in my infancy in practical occultism: even though I’m on another level in terms of knowledge)? I’m sorry if your comment was too long, I’m looking forward to your reply.

  102. I think I have a hard time trusting Steiner about what he says about spiritual things, (planes, spiritual evolution, etc.) Because he was so wrong about physical reality.

    I can test to see if he was right about physical things, like the formation of the solar system, plate tectonics, egg-laying lemurians, etc. And I know that his ideas on these topics are not tenable.

    So how can I put any stock in his spiritual ideas that I can’t currently test in any way that I know of?

    I’m still a novice at all of this so I think there is a side to all of this that I am not seeing yet.

  103. Thoughts of how to approach average people about RF radiation like transmission lines, cell phone towers, wi-fi in general.

    Most people I run into think concerns are all garbage (and of course the sufferers are often literally “tin foil hat” anti social so they can stay well ) If this comes up, I remind people that sunlight is of course a kind of radiation and that people vary alot in regards to how much of that type of radiation they can handle being exposed to. Some can stay in the sun all day, and some people are so sensistive they realy cant be in direct sun at all, they burn very very easily and baddly. Just because most people can stay in the full sun for a few hours or more, doesnt discount the others who are very sensitive. I further tell them that given that, then logically we are going to have a huge varience in handling the other type of radiations, like the RF radiation, so that of course there are going to be people that cannot be exposed to it. We should be sympathetic and try to be accomadating as for other differences and disabilites. I find that people can relate to that and it does make them think differently about the issue. Every now and then in one of those conversations, I will decide it will help the person if I pull out my equivalent of a white lab coat, I should not have to of course, but those types will feel that my BSEE means I do know what different types of electromagnetic radiation are.

    Personally, I have always liked that I live in a cell phone dead zone. And so I can make choices about my own exposure.

    Atmospheric RIver

  104. SD, thank you!

    Lunar, nicely phrased. Yes, exactly.

    Chris, I’m still waiting for my grants to study the reason astrology works…

    Strda221, of course. Aristotle was the high point of the classical Age of Reason, so he was quickly taken up by the forerunners of our Age of Reason. It took a long time for that to work its way down from the universities into everyday life, though.

    Patricia M, ha! Thank you for this.

    Hispalensis, that’ll do it! In my case, the main thing that did it was watching straightforward experimental fraud being practiced by the professors at both of the universities I attended, and realizing that in science as it’s now practiced, the protections against fakery basically no longer exist.

    Thomas, I do indeed. I didn’t get into the technical details because most of my readers aren’t physicists.

    Lunar, welcome to the world that occultists inhabit. There’s a reason why “be silent” is one of the four magical virtues!

    Info, I’ve known some atheists whose religion was socialism and others who were utterly uninterested in socialism — it really does vary. But your broader point is correct, of course.

    Yiğit, what I’d recommend, since you’re in the process of becoming Christian, is that you focus on Christian spiritual practices first of all, and get some experience with them. Those are the foundations for Christian occultism. I wouldn’t have guessed, btw, that you’re only 19!

    Enjoyer, don’t treat Steiner as a source of facts! His facts are dubious at best. He’s a source of practices, and also of symbols. For me, at least, he works better as a resource for occasional insights rather than as a source of primary guidance and instruction.

    Atmospheric, I’m impressed that you make the attempt. Most people I know are very resistant to even thinking about that possibility.

  105. Hi John Michael,

    Ook! Don’t hold your breath waiting! 🙂

    Far out! The weather here has been dry and cool the past two months. Quite mild really, and at this stage there is plenty of ground water for the trees and my water storage is not looking too bad at around 80% full. We’re in an El Nino cycle, which usually means a drier spring. However… Major storm event on the horizon across Australia as El Niño takes a raincheck.

    If I may cheekily suggest, the climate is perhaps getting weirder than the models can account for. 😉 The storm should be pretty mild over this corner of the continent, but elsewhere may be a whole different story.



  106. I haven’t had time to read all the comments, so apologies if this has come up already, but there’s another major flaw with the peer review system: an awful lot of science happens when it turns out something is wrong. However, the peer review process hands control over whether or not the evidence that a theory is wrong to someone who built their career on it. This helps make the peer review process into a means by which the scientific status quo is perpetuated: any truly revolutionary paper will reveal at least one of the peer reviewers was completely wrong about something important; and human nature being what it is, they can be counted on to block the paper whether it’s true or not.

  107. “Patricia O, the refusal to recognize the nasty health effects of radio frequency radiation is a fine case study in the social construction of scientific facts. The evidence is robust, the harm is widespread, but because RF broadcasting is so lucrative — and because broadcast advertising to get people to buy consumer goods they don’t need was crucial in preventing a return of drastic boom and bust cycles after the Second World War — you and those like you got thrown under the bus, and the science was edited accordingly. The question is how this plays out as the prestige of institutional science collapses.”

    I’d also like to add that this is happening at a time when 5G is being rolled out; and there seems to be a huge number of people who were not affected by earlier forms of EMF, or were able to ignore the effects, who are being severely affected by 5G. I’m able to tell if a neighborhood, or even in one case a street, has 5G installed, because I can feel it.

    This combination of a large number of people being newly hurt and a collapse in prestige for the justifications to ignore the problem is probably an extremely explosive one…

  108. JMG

    Yes I think time and how each culture treats it is a fascinating subject because it really is one of the most base assumptions that we take for granted. Of the course the clock as we know it is a Western European invention and other cultures had different ways of processing time and some even barely cared to note it’s passage at all. The west also loves its light capturing inventions such as cameras and film because it is the past that is captured and bottled, something that is quite strange when you think about it.

    Why do we take photos? Even if one cares little for history in general most westerners certainly have an obsession with recording and analysing their personal past. The whole concept of a diary or a biography feeds into this as well, everything is a confession, which of course goes way back to early Catholicism and the problem of the Faustian individual will before God carrying all that guilt/pride because you’re specifically to blame for everything that happens to you good and bad.

    For someone raised in Faustian culture it’s a fascinating thought experiment to take yourself out of the historical and future grounding that the west adores, even in such things as psychology and the concept of personality and your own development. What if what happened to you in the past had no bearing on this day? And it was more a background to the happenings right in front of you rather than direct causality from past to present. I cant escape the feeling that our whole base concept of time, causality and evolution/development is an enchantment. Western science of course depends on it and without I collapses.

  109. White Lab Coats. Hmm… I wonder how people would react if sanitation workers (who work in the interest of public health) started wearing White Lab Coats?

  110. Chris, that’s always the problem with models — a model by definition has to be simpler than the phenomenon it describes, or why bother having the model? But that means that it can never perfectly fit the phenomenon. Where science ran off the rails is where it lost track of the fact that its theories are models and started insisting that the theories were more true than the phenomena.

    Anonymous, a very good point.

    PumpkinScone, exactly! Time and space, as Kant showed, are conditions of human consciousness rather than objective realities; what he didn’t notice is that they vary quite a bit from culture to culture…

    PatriciaT, funny. I’d encourage the experiment.

  111. On the legal/precedent discussion: precedents have a unique significance to the Common Law system (basically, England and the Empire). It derives from Old Germanic tendencies – the old men of the tribe pass down the ancient laws of the forefathers. But it’s a system that has followed the English around.

    Roman Civil Law, however, is the forefather of the system currently used in Continental Europe (and really birthed in its modern form via Napolean). And last time I checked, the likes of Germany is most certainly part of the Faustian grouping. So really, in legal areas, Continental Europe is still in the grip of Apollonian pseudomorphosis, while the English alone have gone pure Faustian.

  112. @Phutatorius#80, Thank you for your interest in that study! I will post a link, hopefully next week, once I get it to a reasonable level of clarity. I hope eventually to add graphics illustrating the cellular processes involved.

    Arthur Firstenberg was forced out of medical school after over-zealous application of dental x-rays left him severely disabled. He was unable to tolerate the presence of some of the equipment he was required to use. After finding that it was non-ionizing radiation that was causing his heart-attack symptoms he began a crusade to warn others and stand up for the rights of other victims. I find for myself as well, that when I discover something affecting me in broad ways (such as oxalates recently), it’s easy to overascribe everything to them. That is how I interpret some of Arthur’s intense focus. (He turns a lot of people off.)

    I am considering purchasing the new $1000 mm-wave meter, as I am part of an organization and we can share it around.

    @JMG#85, I think you really hit the nail on the head there in your reply to me: “preventing the return of drastic boom and bust cycles after the Second World War.” I was aware that it was after the war that a real effort was made to suppress any negative findings on EMR. I and I think most others put it down to national security and the wish to be able to place radar wherever they wanted it. The Navy is known to have suppressed its findings in 1973. But what it has really boiled down to time and again, which I’ve seen in Japan as well, has been a wish to support the economy, especially when other activities were at a standstill, with resource scarcity becoming an accelerating factor. There have also been clear signs of money changing hands behind the scenes to shift jurisdiction over EMR to agencies with no medical expertise. The Soviets punked us over this. They irradiated the Moscow embassy for a couple decades, which given their own scientific findings was hostile and downright inhumane. What could we say, though? There were not supposed to be any effects. We could only hem and haw about “spying.”
    I think it is a wonderful example of the use of magic in changing people’s perceptions. Amazingly effective, and I know that I also benefited from the economic stability of those years. But just like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (which I name in my “Restoring the Basics” prayer), no consideration was given to how to turn it off when the downsides stopped being a minor matter. Now, like with the Pied Piper, a whole generation seems to be in peril, as Hackenschmidt#42 notes above (and I thank them for that link to the mental health article).

    @SD, I think toxic mold is an important consideration, and very hard to escape in Japan, where I am living. (We need to draw Quin Arbeitman’s attention to this as well.) I have to keep a window cracked open at all times, no matter how cold it gets, and it may just be chemical off-gassing in a relatively new home (we have no leaks or water damage that I can see), but I wind up with asthma.

    I was surprised to learn they are suppressing the science on toxic mold too. But, yes, there is the insurance angle! When that dam breaks, it takes the whole industry with it. Same story with the vaxxes. They’re running out of fingers to plug the holes!
    My first reaction to the rollout of mobile phone service in my area was a post-viral syndrome. I joke to people that I’ve had long-COVID for 26 years.

  113. @JMG

    Since someone mentioned his/her professor being a researcher in carbon capture tech, I just was reminded of the whole buzz around this highly techno-utopian concept. I don’t think it’s occurred to most people outside of your readers’ community that the best technology for carbon capture already exists, and it’s extremely simple and cost-effective to implement – I’m talking about plant life, of course. Now, if someone wanted to actually work on carbon capture and turn it into a serious research program that’s not a complete waste of money, my guess would be that the money would be better spent on:

    1) Understanding the mechanisms of carbon capture by plants – incentivizing research into plant physiology.
    2) Using the insights gained from 1) to breed new varieties of plants with the sole purpose of improving their carbon sequestration abilities.

    Of course, no university will agree to this, because it’s ‘too simplistic’. I guess interested people will have to pursue this project on their own dime…

  114. “Joseph Max and I once did a radionics demonstration at a Pagan convention wearing white lab coats.”

    I would have been so much fun if you had augmented the costume with a tall pointy hat with crescent moons and stars on it. Especially a while after just having the lab coat on. And then observed the shift of energy in the room.

  115. Belief in scientism is definitely breaking down. My work involves attending Child Protection conferences in the UK. I notice a lot of parents are skeptical now about vaccines. They usually start off getting their kids jabbed but then change their minds much to the disapproval of the Health Visitors (Nurses who visit kids in the home before they go to school). These mothers are always working class. I imagine middle class mothers would be more likely to tow the line. The medical professionals are not exalted like they used to be which is a good thing in my book.

    I wonder how this lack of exaltation will affect the funding of the NHS here. It eats up huge resources and going into an era of economic decline coupled with the lack of faith in science means there’s going to be massive cutbacks further down the line. The NHS is a bigger sacred cow here than even the Royal family so that should be interesting.

  116. JMG,

    Is it worth making a distinction between “science” and “mastery/expertise”?
    The two are often conflated especially when the former is criticized. (You know the whole “You people are anti-expertise not anti-science.”)

    I find most people have nothing against “mastery/expertise” but almost everyone hates a person who thinks “mastery/expertise” in their chosen field trumps that of other fields. (This is the core of every fight between an engineer and a mechanic that I have seen.)

  117. @ JMG – what do you make of RFK jr’ s rise in the poles? It’s almost certainly a big ‘frack you’ to the two party system. I know the EC makes it a very long shot, but do you think he has any sort of chance of winning?

  118. Enchantment seems to be alive and well in the science of economics anyway. While writing an entry for my own blog on debt financing and Islamic banking, I discovered Modern Monetary Theory. According to Investopedia:

    “Modern monetary theory (MMT) is a heterodox macroeconomic supposition that asserts that monetarily sovereign countries (such as the U.S., U.K., Japan, and Canada) which spend, tax, and borrow in a fiat currency that they fully control, are not operationally constrained by revenues when it comes to federal government spending.

    Put simply, modern monetary theory decrees that such governments do not rely on taxes or borrowing for spending since they can print as much money as they need and are the monopoly issuers of the currency. Since their budgets aren’t like a regular household’s, their policies should not be shaped by fears of a rising national debt.”

    The first thing I’d note is that while this theory is purportedly “heterodox,” it certainly appears to have had a major influence on American economic policy since at least 2008. The second thing I’d note is that it’s been proven to be a steaming pile of bullshale. (Look how well the whole “print as much money as you need” approach worked in Weimar Germany).

    Only somebody who has become utterly lost in a world of numbers and charts could think that you can print as much money as you want without worrying about consequences. And only a bureaucracy that benefits from these ideas and figures they can toss the hot potato to the next administration would take them seriously.

  119. An on-topic video from a physicist.

    Is Science Dying? By Sabine Hossenfelder if the link doesn’t work.
    The video is mostly her talking, so you could just listen if videos bother you. There are some equations displayed though.

    The limits of our mathematics in dealing with non-linear systems is a major topic, and such mathematics may be beyond human comprehension, so then what?

  120. “… there seems to be a huge number of people who were not affected by earlier forms of EMF, or were able to ignore the effects, who are being severely affected by 5G. I’m able to tell if a neighborhood, or even in one case a street, has 5G installed, because I can feel it.”

    That is quite possible. True 5G operates at a higher frequency, and the energy per photon increases with frequency. (Energy = Planck’s constant times frequency). So a boost in frequency may well be cross a detection threshold.

    This gets even more complicated in that some alleged 5G is really using the old 3 and 4G frequencies, they’re just using the 5G encoding system. The range of true high frequency 5G is less than a kilometer, (even less if it’s raining) so it’s not practical out in the country. In my immediate area it would take three towers to cover the 80 homes here. So we get low frequency (low energy per photon) 4G with 5G encoding. That tower is 3 miles away. At least I think that’s the tower I’m using.

  121. I am reading a fascinating book called America Before by Graham Hancock. I guess he has written quite a few books, though i had not previously heard of him. This one deals in great part with exploration and discoveries pushing the dates of settlement in the Americas way back. One shocking fact in the book that relates to this week’s post is the vicious opposition of the archeological hierarchy to anything that questioned their chosen assumptions. It was obvious that they cared far more about retaining their own positions and prestige than they did about the truth. They didn’t merely disagree with the archaeologists who presented the new research, but did everything they could to discredit and dismiss them, including ad homonim attacks. and blocking their careers.
    I shouldn’t be surprised, but I guess I grew up in an age when scientists were so respected, and there is often a bit of an initial shock when I am made aware of the vanity and lack of integrity of so many of them.

  122. Strda221, sure, but we were talking about Anglo-American law, in which precedents do matter — including, in England, precedents from “time immemorial.” But not if they’re Roman!

    Patricia, “follow the money” is always a useful habit, and especially so when dealing with this kind of dubious magic.

    Viduraawakened, and people who are attentive to nature have been saying this over, and over, and over again for many decades. Nobody’s listening, because it doesn’t feed the myth of progress.

    Ron, “fun” wasn’t the intention of the working. We had something to demonstrate, and we did it.

    Bridge, this doesn’t surprise me at all. Thanks for the data point!

    GlassHammer, it’s very much worth making that distinction. Consider an expert in astrology — zero on the science score, but very high on the score of expertise!

    Ben, I don’t think he has a chance of winning, but he may disrupt the race sufficiently to throw the election into the House of Representatives.

    Kenaz, yeah, I’ve been watching the rise of MMT over the last decade or so. It’s stark staring nuts — the precise equivalent of saying “I can’t be overdrawn, I still have checks left!” — but it’s wildly popular among those who think they deserve to get something for nothing.

    Siliconguy, squamous, rugose, tentacled mathematics! I like it.

    Stephen, oh dear gods, yes. I ran into that while researching my book on Atlantis. There’s ample evidence for a human presence in the Americas back before the last glaciation, but the North American archeological establishment until very recently was fixated on the Clovis culture as the first human presence here and destroyed the career of anyone who disagreed. That wasn’t new, either — until the Clovis discoveries made it impossible to maintain this, North American archeologists insisted that no human beings got here until after the last ice age was over, and did the same things to anyone who disagreed. The myth of scientific objectivity won’t survive a good look at how science has always been practiced.

  123. Re “placebo”
    Bradley #11 – “if a doctor is fooled and thinks that a drug is real and give it to the patient it works better”
    Hackenschmidt #65 – ” I can’t help but wonder if it’s really that placebos have become more effective, or that “real” drugs have become worse. ”

    I cannot help thinking that the whole framing of “real drug” vs “placebo” is the nub of where so-called “Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM)” went off the rails. When you think about it, the adjective “real” in this framing can only apply from the POV of the marketers of drugs, for whom a drug is a “real” profit-centre, whereas any other aspect of “heal or cure”, if it cannot be commoditised, marketed and sold, is NOT a “real” profit-centre. From the POV of the patient, of course, everything looks different. Because ANYTHING that heals or cures is “real” to the patient.

    Which means, as Hackenschmidt #65 also pointed out, patients experiencing real (to them) cures or healing, without this being ascribable to the drug in question, and therefore worthy of the marketing claims about to be advanced, is a problem.

    (Hackenschmidt) “But related, they have looked at ways to reduce the placebo effect… [paper citation] That’s right, they’ve thought, “some of the people we work with feel better, how can we stop that?”

    (cited paper) “Research staff can minimize expectations by using neutral phrases when discussing expected treatment outcomes, providing neutral information about the study treatments, having limited time spent with study subjects, and emphasizing to subjects that the purpose of the trial is to determine whether a treatment is efficacious rather than to heal or cure. ”

    That’s right, folks – we don’t run trials to figure out how to heal or cure, we run them to be able to make claims of “efficaciousness” on our marketing blurbs. So, researchers, we need to apply some nocebo tactics to counter any possible placebo effects… Lol! ie – this quote makes no mention of making the drug MORE efficacious, all of its mentions are squarely aimed at “managing” the “placebo effect” in order to dial it downwards.

    JMG #20 “the placebo effect is one of the standard modalities of magic”
    Well, exactly, and specifically in relation to altering consciousness in accordance with will. (Please note that the researchers cited by Hackenschmidt admit they are tweaking the consciousnesses of their research subjects in accordance with their own “will to establish a plausible marketing claim”. ) It seems that the “placebo effect” is the single biggest unregarded discovery made by EBM’s attempts to eliminate all possible confounders to the marketing claims made for its profitable drugs.

    The actual design of a “double-blind RTC” is straight up acknowledgment that the placebo effect exists. However, with a studious and ongoing effort never to “go there” and really figure out what are the components of curing and healing, already active and activateable within the person to be cured or healed. Don’t let anyone else know that the reason we have to exclude patient effects, and exclude doctor effects, is that both patient and doctor are powerful players in the drama of healing, and where is the drug maker’s profit in that?

    Hackenschmidt #42 “humans are ritual creatures. Participating in rituals with families, communities and priests makes us feel better”
    Yes, you got there, though. Please, please keep meditating on this. It may be that this sentence is even better without the word “feel”… 😉

  124. Huh. Sabine’s latest video triggered the memory of an old article I once read. There it is. It’s an old article, from almost the before time, and modern web browsers have a hard time rendering it properly, but it’s still there and readable. Barely.

    TL;DR – scientific growth was exponential until 1970 and then it stopped growing. There are implications to that, which he enumerates.

    There’s the 70s again, when all sorts of long term indicators went from + to -. In any case, Sabine isn’t the first scientist to point this out. It’s just like pointing out the dog poop in the corner of the room – few want to know about it and even fewer want to do anything about it.

  125. Re the 5G issue, I live in a rural area, and have recently been notified by my mobile broadband provider that they will be downgrading their local service from 3G to 2G within the next few months… This does not come with any promise to upgrade to 4G or 5G. But possibly it is becoming expensive to run 3G alongside 4G and 5G. It seems the periphery is being “let go”… and also, that the “periphery” may be where it gets somewhat easier to step off the techno roundabout.

    Atmospheric River – regarding solar radiation, it is fascinating that all of the same people who accuse EMF sufferers of wearing tinfoil hats see no contradiction in being every bit as tinfoil-hatty about the hazards of sun exposure.

  126. >The limits of our mathematics in dealing with non-linear systems is a major topic, and such mathematics may be beyond human comprehension, so then what?

    I remember Bjarne Stroustrup saying something about the power of notation. Once there were geometric problems that were really hard to solve – until mathematicians invented notation that let them think about those things properly. If a math problem is hard to solve, that to me suggests that perhaps our math framework isn’t advanced enough yet to handle it.

    I dunno. If a mere dog can figure out how to open a locked gate, so it can go on a boot stealing crime spree, I wouldn’t give up on us hoomans so quickly. It may take some time though. It did with the dog.

  127. A fascinating question has just occurred to me: To what extent is the mess in the sciences the result of the enchantment whereby people just assumed that the sciences are always purely about knowledge? It’s occurred to me that it would be very, very easy to miss corruption taking root if you assume a priori that it does not exist….

  128. @ Lunar Apprentice, JMG – Thanks for the great quote! I think it was said by Bohr. I looked it up and the full quote goes like this: “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”

    This nicely illustrates that rational logic might not be the only ingredient that makes our world go round and that there might be a bridge between one profound truth with it’s inborn sets of logic and another. He will have known, the Bohr model of the Hydrogen atom bends classical mechanics as far as it could possibly go. But it’s very incomplete and as we know today, there’s no way to rescue classical mechanics into the realm of quantum objects.

    There’s a curious overlap between the world of mind and the world of matter – Jung and Pauli explore it quite a bit and find a lot of analogies between mental phenomena and quantum physics. After reading the CosDoc and it’s fractal characterization of the cosmos, this started to make lot of sense to me. It seems Jung and Pauli were quite close to a CosDoc-like understanding of the Cosmos. It’s a funny coincidence that the wave function that describes a quantum object is usually symbolized by the greek letter psi and the same letter is frequently used by many psychology faculties as an abbreviation for “psychology” (just as the physicists like to use phi). Not that many of todays psychologists seem to care a lot for Jung’s work, though…


  129. Many thanks for your post John!

    The old Spengler was talking about this issue extensively in his “Der Untergang…” the decadence of the Faustian culture is also, of course, a decadence in his science:

    “Now, the history of the higher cultures shows that “Science” is a transitory spectacle, belonging only to the autumn and winter of their life courses, and that … a few centuries suffice for the complete exhaustion of its possibilities. Classical science faded out between the battle of Cannae [216 b.c.] and that of Actium [31 b.c.] and made way for the world outlook of the “second religiousness.” And from this it is possible to calculate in advance the end of western natural science.

    It remains now to sketch the last stage of western science. From our standpoint of today the already declining route is clearly visible. . . . In this very century, I prophesy, in the age of scientific-critical Alexandrianism, resignation will overcome the will to victory of Science. European science is advancing toward self-destruction through refinement of the intellect. . . . But from skepsis a path leads to the “Second Religiousness.” . . . No one yet believes in the exhaustion of the spirit even though we already feel it acutely in all our limbs. But two hundred years of civilization and orgies of scientificness – then one is fed up. Not the individual, but the soul of the culture itself has had enough, and expresses this by choosing to put into the historical field of the day ever smaller, narrower, and more unfruitful researchers . . . in physics as in chemistry, in biology as in mathematics, the great masters are dead, and we are experiencing today the decrescendo of the stragglers, who arrange, collect, and conclude, like the Alexandrians of the Roman period.” (1918)


  130. JMG and Stephen, about this myth of scientific objectivity, I’d like to pile it higher and deeper.

    I just read about something that’s been itching at me for a long time, this business about ice age glaciation and glacial recession. And the reason it bugs me is because, while our scientific authorities pretend that they know all about climate and its variations, they can’t tell us why the ice ages and interglacials happen.

    Yeah, I know, Milankovich cycles. But there’s too many holes with that theory especially with respect to the role of carbon dioxide, which as we all ‘know’, causes global warming.

    It seems that when atmospheric CO2 reached a minimum at the coldest part of the ice ages, the world started to warm. And when CO2 reached a maximum, it did the opposite. That is, the timing didn’t square up. And nobody could seemingly account for why CO2 increased or decreased.

    So now I read something by Ralph Ellis and a professor Michael Palmer from the University of Waterloo. The article and a one hour youtube presentation by Ellis, talked about the interaction of insolation (the Milankovich cycles), the albedo of northern hemisphere ice sheets, carbon dioxide concentrations, topsoil and vegetation in central Asia. And dust.

    According to these two learned fellows, precession and the various orbital wiggles and wobbles of the Earth are a necessary but insufficient condition to cause the big kahuna of climate change; the global cooling and global warming of the ice ages and glacial recession.

    It also appears that carbon dioxide plays a role, but not in the way we’d expect. As part of the regular cycles of glacial onset, decreased insolation caused glaciers to expand. And expanding glaciers reflect back into space most of the light energy from the sun.

    And so the Earth cools more. And so when the oceans cool, they absorb CO2. When concentrations of atmospheric CO2 fall below a certain level, you have a die-off of vegetation in higher altitude grasslands in central Asia ie the Gobi desert. When these grasslands die, the Gobi turns to dust, the dust starts to cover the glaciers, the albedo of the ice decreases, the sun’s energy isn’t reflected back into space.

    And so the world warms, and as oceans warm CO2 is released back into the atmosphere,. And so plant life regenerates, and as the world warms and the glaciers recede.

    Apologies to Misters Ellis and Palmer if I’ve messed this up, but I am no scientist. But I think that’s the gist of it.

    Notice the role of CO2 in this depiction. What Mr Ellis said in his youtube conversation is that industrial dust, especially nowadays from China, is blanketing polar ice and remaining glaciers, causing more of the sun’s energy to not get reflected back into space. And so while yes we’re also pumping CO2 into the air, that’s not the main cause of global warming. Yeah, I know, settled science.

    I don’t know how much attention this paper got, but I would bet not much. I periodically look at this issue of when the next ice age can be expected when I ran into it.. It’s a paper that’s already 7 years old and somehow I missed it.

    If it had gotten any attention I would have expected a great lamentation in the land, hysterics in the academies, a rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, this being the most political and tribal of issues. Is the lack of attention because Ellis and Palmer got it right, making monkeys of those touting conventional ideas? I mean, look at the push to convert to electric vehicles to reduce CO2 emissions and the billions thrown into it. Is it again a case of follow the money? And I know, CO2 is greenhouse gas. But have we gotten the effect and impact of CO2 all wrong?

  131. JMG wrote,

    Ben, I don’t think he has a chance of winning, but he may disrupt the race sufficiently to throw the election into the House of Representatives.

    Wondering if you might elaborate on why you think this. Trump’s popularity? Difficulty of being an independent? His positions? Something else?



  132. Other Owen, yep — thanks for this! I’ve also seen papers based on patent records showing that the high point of technological invention was in the 1880s and things have been slowing down since then.

    Scotlyn, thanks for the data point. Abandonment of rural internet and cell phone service is one of the things I’m watching for, and downgrades of the sort you’re getting may be a step in that direction.

    Anonymous, yep. Intelligentsias very often fall into that trap.

    DFC, exactly. He was a little ahead of schedule — it’s our century, rather than his, that is on track to see the wholesale abandonment of science as anything but a practical technique for problem solving.

    Smith, you’re using some very dubious logic here. You seem to be arguing that since greenhouse gases aren’t the only things that can cause climate change, they don’t cause climate change at all, and since other things are influencing the global climate right now, greenhouse gases can’t be having any effect. Since it’s so very common these days, I’m going to give that sort of thinking a label, and call it the Rasputin Fallacy. You probably know the story that Rasputin was shot, stabbed, clubbed, poisoned, and finally thrown into the icy Neva River, where he drowned. Would you conside that good evidence that being shot, stabbed, clubbed, or poisoned can’t hurt you?

    Edward, the election system is gimmicked so that independents have an uphill race; I’ve also looked at the horoscope for RFK Jr.’s announcement of his independent run, and it’s not promising.

  133. Cotlyn at #133 quotes me,

    “humans are ritual creatures. Participating in rituals with families, communities and priests makes us feel better”

    and comments, “Yes, you got there, though. Please, please keep meditating on this. It may be that this sentence is even better without the word “feel”…”

    I added the qualifier “feel” because the placebo effect is strongest for pain and fatigue. It’s not as strong for nausea, viral disease, cancer and so on. See for example this review of studies – – which concludes, “placebos are sometimes associated with improved control of symptoms such as pain and appetite but rarely with positive tumor response.”

    Now, there does seem to be a paucity of studies of placebos and nocebos on life-threatening conditions. And there are good ethical reasons these studies haven’t been done.

    Nonetheless, all we can say with certainty is that placebos make you feel better. This is not nothing. Most health conditions are not life-threatening, and many will resolve without any treatment at all (placebo or not). But if a person can feel better while actually getting better, that’s a good thing. And how they feel can accelerate the natural healing process, and complement the artificial processes of surgery and drugs. And it can make the job of their carers easier. And so on.

    Working as a trainer, and working with individuals over several years, I’ve often seen how a person’s mental state affects their physical performance and health. For example, just this afternoon one of my clients tried to squat 80kg for the first time. She was buried by it. We put the bar back on the rack, put on some angry music, gave her a hard slap between the shoulderblades, and shouted at her while she lifted – and this time she made it. She hadn’t grown new muscles in the four minutes since her last attempt, the difference there was all placebo. This wasn’t going to get her an 85kg squat, though. So the placebo, like other treatments, has limits.

    More significantly compared to one lift in one session, a person’s attitude strongly affects their health over time. I’ve seen many individuals essentially decide to be well, or decide to be sick. There are people who have aches and pains and come to the gym anyway – they still have the aches and pains, but they’re strong and in pain instead of weak and in pain. And there are people whose slightest twinge or fatigue will have them stay at home – and their aches and pains get worse.

    This isn’t to say everyone needs to go to the gym. There’s many an old grandmother of remarkable physical power who continues walking and gardening and cooking and cleaning well into her 90s despite gnarled arthritic hands, and who would beat her grand-daughter in an army wrestle. I simply use my personal professional experience to illustrate the principle. And also knowing those gym members over the years, I get to know their personal lives – and commonly, those who are physically unwell have poor or few close relationships, too.

    I have no doubt that people enchant themselves into better or worse health. There are processes which could perhaps be explained by science, however science doesn’t want to look at them, because the most extreme and clear examples would require tossing aside medical ethics of experimentation, and the less extreme examples would require admitting some of the most lucrative medical treatments are unnecessary or harmful.

  134. @Anonymous re: #137

    The way it seems to work is something like: knowledge brings expertise (or at least the perception of expertise), perceived expertise brings trust, trust brings reliance, reliance brings authority and can devolve into dependence, both of which produce a power imbalance.

  135. “The limits of our mathematics in dealing with non-linear systems is a major topic, and such mathematics may be beyond human comprehension, so then what?”

    As with the invention of Calculus to measure curves. I do believe Mathematicians will be coming up with ways to measure such unmeasured patterns.

    Physics equations are themselves derived from observed Physics Phenomena. As it is with language which are symbolic representations of ideas and actually existing materiality with particular definitions to allow categorization.

  136. In a few paragraphs, you explained the main theme of the a 24-lecture Philosophy of Science course by Stephen L. Goldman that I listened to from the Teaching Company years ago. It had the jazzed-up title, “Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It”.

    Director Errol Morris wrote “The Ashtray” about his personal experience with Thomas Kuhn who winged a heavy ashtray at him, in case you’re wondering about the title. Morris made a fascinating series, “Wormwood” about Frank Olson who was almost certainly murdered by the CIA seventy years ago this month. Morris is extremely interested in recording history accurately.

    Is all this one of those convergences people talk about?

  137. Given how destructive the Myth of Progress is now, with so much money being wasted on high-tech non-solutions to our problems like nuclear power, what gives? At what point does the religion of progress start losing it’s dedicated followers? I never believed in it but so many middle aged and older people still do.

    I would be curious to know if young people are as prone to believing in this mythology as older people are. Are they so seduced by Amazon Prime, TikTok and video games that they can’t see things crumbling around them? Maybe younger people can weigh in here – is their doubt amongst their cohort? If so, then it’s a promising sign but from what I have seen online they are just as delusional.

  138. @Scottlyn 135: when I take my RF meter with me in my car and I drive through an “underserved” rural area and the green light on my meter begins blinking (indicating negligible RF present) I feel that this would be a good place to live. There’s a certain calmness there, unless I’m just imagining it. On the other hand, the huge arrays of satellites that are being launched to serve these “underserved” areas tells me that they aren’t going to remain “underserved” for very long.

  139. @scotlyn #133: While I won’t deny the financial motivations behind real world randomized trials, there is a more charitable reading of the motivation behind such study designs. If you recognize that the interaction between human beings (such as the doctor and the patient), on the one hand, and pharmaceutical substances, on the other, can each contribute to healing, then there is a logic to try and optimize each on its own.

    Improve the human interaction component. But also make sure that the most effective substances are used .

    It is of course entirely possible that some substances only contribute to healing within a highly effective human interaction, but the logic of science is to first try and establish simple effects, and then interaction effects. That is why double blind randomized trials make sense.

  140. And for your transhumanist future (not to be confused with transhumance)

    After The Human

    The increasingly symbiotic relationship between humans and technology signals a new era in the evolution of life on Earth.

    Since his insulin pump works so well he’s convinced being a Cylon, Robocop, Terminator, or Cyberman will be great.

    The author is from Columbia University. This fails to surprise me.

  141. Great essay, JMG!

    One thing that has always stuck me about the ‘priestly robes’ of our culture– the lab coat– is that is almost entirely affectation. Supposedly, when you are doing Science(tm) you wear a lab coat to protect you and your clothing from icky, toxic, or otherwise undesirable fluids getting on you. That’s the story.

    It’s nonsense, as anyone who has worked with actually hazardous materials will tell you– even anyone who did a particularly rigorous high-school chemistry program. Say you’re pouring out a water sample; maybe we want to test for environmental contamination. Well, then you have to wear a lab coat. Why? This sample came from a puddle or a stream or even a tap somewhere. It won’t hurt you. The lab coat isn’t for protection; the robes are part of the ritual.

    One should realize how silly this is whenever a truly noxious substance is required– like flesh-melting, concentrated acid. You still wear the lab coat then, but you cover it with a pedestrian, workmanlike waterproof apron, and long rubber gloves. Why not just wear gloves and an apron instead of a lab coat, then? Well, we wouldn’t want our priests to look like meatpackers, I suppose. It just isn’t as enchanting.

    I wonder if anyone has ever done a double-blind study in which technicians wore lab-coats or not and analyzed calibration samples? I wouldn’t be surprised if the lab-coat-wearing techs got more accurate results. I doubt you need to know you’re participating in the ritual to get some benefit from it; TSW.

    (I would like to add, JMG, that I was in graduate school about 12 years ago when I stumbled upon your writings– from David Brin’s blog, I thought. I was very much in the same ‘we are the priesthood, and that’s good’ frame of mind he had in those days. I am very grateful to you for opening my eyes to the enchantment I was under, and to a richer, more enchanted cosmos.)

  142. Hello JMG! Your advice is very good, but I don’t know where to start. Can you recommend me some works, please? Thank you again for your help.

  143. Talking about bad science, or frankly just fake science.
    Thanks to comments here i bought the The new Wild, a book that is critical about the entire discourse around so called “Invasive species”.
    Still not completely finished reading it but one thing it shows is that the science supporting claims that invasive species is a huge problem is, mostly just made up. When the author examines some of the numbers that supposedly shows how bad the problem is, it’s either just made up or some statistic or number taken completely out of context and then repeated endlessly. Or a model that looks at one small place and extrapolates what happened there to the entire world
    I can also recommend Beyond the war on invasice species.

  144. re: lab coats

    I ascribe it to Hollywood. Some scientists wear them but most do not. However, it’s a handy shorthand to tell a general audience without having to spend dialogue on it, “Hey, this guy is a scientist!”. You see this with airplane pilots too, when depicted by Hollywood, they’re always wearing goggles and a leather hat, even though if you were to go to the local airport and look at everyone flying, you’d spend a really long time before finding someone with goggles and a leather hat on. Like with the lab coat, there are specific situations where they are called for but 99% of the time, they are not needed.

    But if you’re a filmmaker and all you care about is saving time while looking plausible, every person who’s flying an airplane – has those stupid goggles on, even if they’re in a closed cockpit.

    I guess that the lab coat has effects outside of the movie theater has more to do with weak minds and too much TV, I suppose. “Delusions and fantasies are what brought us down”, they’ll probably say 100 years from now.

    Just for trivia’s sake, here’s a video of a trained chemist going into when you need a lab coat and why.

    For those who do videos, Sabrine Hossenfelder´s take on “the end of science”.

    My very short summary:

    The even shorter summary is that Hossenfelder has stumbled upon the problems of “rational” abstractions and a bloated bureaucracy, which our host has often discussed as connected to the decline of a civilization. That, and the impossibility of infinite Faustian expansion…

  146. Thought 1: Scientism. Usually defined in terms of unwarranted or excessive beliefs, but why care what other people believe? What’s worthy of objection is the use of science to attempt to justify authoritarianism. That to me is a better practical definition of scientism. The thing is, though, authoritarians will use anything to justify authoritarianism. Democracy, security, family, religion, business, you name it.
    Thought 2: “They’ll Think of Something.” There’s a sort of hindsight bias behind this. Every technology, indeed every functional system, that we already do have is the result of people having thought of something, many times over. It’s an understandable misconception that the same success rate should apply to technologies and systems we wish to have in the future. It’s analogous to a newly hatched crustacean saying, “I come from an unbroken billion-year-long lineage of ancestors who have unfailingly survived to reproduce, therefore I’ll certainly survive to reproduce.” Then a waiting seagull eats it, and you see the error in that logic.
    Thought 3: Anti-Philosophy. As I think I’ve posted before, philosophy is to culture as science is to technology. You can use technology without any knowledge of the science used to develop it or understand it; similarly, you can participate in a culture without any knowledge of the philosophy behind it. The need for philosophy arises when you wish to understand, develop, criticize, or alter culture. Denigrating the study or practice of philosophy is just a way of saying you’re fully invested in the cultural status quo and opposed to any deeper examination of it that could motivate changes.

  147. On lab coats as priestly robes …

    One of the smartest undergraduates I ever taught went to Medical School afterwards. At the end of her first year there, her class had its “White Coat Ceremony” — it was actually called that — during which they were formally presented with their first lab coats, each embroidered with the student’s name. (IIRC, parents and friends of the students were invited to attend and witness the ceremony. And there was an official video, to which she sent me the link.) Thereafter they were supposed to wear their lab coats whenever they were in the med school.

    Priestly robes indeed!

  148. It was Ludwig Wittgenstein who was one of the first explicitly to claim that the human animal is by nature a ritual creature: “a ceremonial animal” (zeremonialles Tier) was what he called us, commenting on Frazer’s “Golden Bough” and its treatment of magic. Indeed, ritual seems to me to be essential to the smooth functioning of any society, and its extreme diminuition in the West over the last century or two to be a major source of decline. I think I have already mentioned on this blog Malidoma Somé’s fascinating short book, Ritual: Power, Healing and Community (1993), which makes the same critique of Western society in contrast to the native African (Dagara) society in which he was raised.

  149. Moserait, I get the impression that a lot of people are beginning to notice that the scientific emperor has no lab coat!

    Bridge, have a look at the process by which other civil religions lose ground — Communism’s a good example. It’s not a fast process. In Russia today, the Communist Party is still a significant political force, and of course it’s still got vast numbers of true believers in US college campuses. What typically happens, though, is that a civil religion sheds followers in a slow trickle, and then a crisis arises and the institutional structures built up by the faith come crashing down. We may not be too far from that now.

    Siliconguy, the thing that strikes me about this is how old-fashioned it is. People have been babbling those same slogans for decades now.

    Tyler, hmm! I’d had the mistaken impression that lab coats really did help keep ordinary experimental grime off your clothing. Thanks for the correction.

    Yiğit, you’ll have to ask a Christian for that!

    Heian, thanks for this — I’ve just reserved a copy in my local library system. It looks well worth reading.

    Tidlösa, many thanks for this.

    Walt, I think there’s a point to talking about scientism as a faith-based belief system whether or not it expresses itself in authoritarian terms. Your other two points? I agree heartily.

    Robert, that would be funny if it wasn’t so bleakly precise a portrayal of the construction of the medical industry as an ersatz priesthood.

  150. When I get angry and frustrated at our modern conundrum and it’s lack of proper addressing, something of a reverse cognitive dissonance, it always helps to see smart commentaries and their engagement of what is actually happening before our eyes instead of the starry eyed delusions of a sparkling future governed by the Pseudoscientific Order of the Lab Coat. Thank you!

  151. As I saw in Die Welt today (only the headline, the article is behind a paywall and I’m not willing to reactivate my subscription), Sweden is exiting its exit from nuclear power and will build several new reactors. I wonder what could be the reason? 🤔 Not enough Sun and Wind up there?/s

  152. Re: RF / EMF

    We have a friend who built a faraday cage and put his bed inside it. Reports much better sleep. He lives next to a place that uses a massive amount of electricity, so that was part of why he did that.

  153. @JMG,
    I suppose it certainly can– but then, why not just wear work clothes that can get dirty, or coveralls, like every other profession that works with grime, muck and grease? Nobody else puts on a combination robe and suit jacket to keep clean. You can argue it needs to be quickly-removable in case you didn’t put on the apron and spilled something very bad or of unknown badness upon yourself and needed to take the coat off and run to the chemical shower… if you’re a chemist. What’s everyone else’s excuse? And if it really is supposed to keep your clothing clean, keep splashes off of you– why is the front half open? Why are there lapels?

    The answer to me is obvious: to show off your tie. Indeed, the lab coat needs to be open to show that you are the sort of person of quality who does wear a tie, not like those grubby working fellows in boiler suits, or the nurses in their scrubs. That said tie may be splashed by acid or viscera is apparently less important than displaying it.

    I’m not saying it’s a worthless garment; I’ve worked in a lab. The lab coat does fulfill its stated purpose, to some degree, but it’s not an ideal, rational solution to the problem it claims to solve. For that, look at a surgical gown. No room for ego and classism in surgery, I guess.

    (Admittedly, like an ex-Christian my apostasy from the religion of progress makes me somewhat adverse to its symbols, but I don’t think I’m being totally irrational in my distaste for this one.)

  154. Clay Dennis (#77), JMG (#90), some should write a short story where a supremely intelligent AI is created, and is tasked with solving petroleum depletion, and its highly anticipated answers turn out to be buliding walkable cities, riding bikes and public transit, trains & sailing ships, and growing food locally.

  155. Not sure if you saw this, but State of California scientists are striking and marching because they don’t feel they are getting paid what they deserve. Apparently, $84,000 dollars a year is an insult! I guess they are the new victims? You have to be a victim if you want to get ahead these days.

  156. @Yiğit #110
    The base practice in Christianity is placing faith and trust in Jesus and confessing him as Lord and God, the Christ, the Son of God and as a result being filled with the Holy Spirit. Note these scriptures – John 7:37-39, John 20:24-31, Romans 10:9-13, 1 John 3:23-24 and 4:15-16
    The Greek words for believe and faith (they are the verb and noun forms of the same word) means “to trust in, rely on and adhere to) not mere intellectual assent though that is part of it. Jesus said “the work of God is beleiving in the One he sent” John 6:29 This work of simple faith and trust and adherence in Jesus as the way to the Father and the gift of the Holy Spirit is foundational
    I pray your knowing of the living resurrected and ascended Jesus who said “I am with you always” and “Come to me” and subsequent knowing of the Father and the Holy Spirit becomes wonderfully alive. Once you are blessed with the Holy Spirit inside, you then regularly pray in the Spirit to the Father. and he blesses and rewards you – Matthew 6:6. Jesus has promised that the Holy Spirit will teach you and guide you into all truth. If you haven’t been baptized yet in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, do so. Blessings on your journey!

  157. Hello JGM
    After reading this post I’m a bit in shock over all this. I thougth all our problems were because the society is too overconfident, too corrupt, and too ossified. Also because great empires need great enemies (outside theirs borders) to keep corruption at bay (inside). But I understand you are attacking the scientific method at the core.

    “Does this prove that the hypothesis is true?

    No, it does not. It simply shows that the hypothesis successfully predicts the outcome of the specific tests we ran. That’s important, and it’s well worth knowing, but it doesn’t prove that the hypothesis is true—only that it’s useful.”

    I need to give this a thougth or too.
    Thanks for this blog

  158. Hi John Michael,

    The faith placed into renewable energy technologies looks to me like a hill to die upon. I really can’t quite comprehend how respectable scientists and other leaders in the community can ignore the evidence. The output is good, but it’s not the same as fossil fuel due to intermittency. People are used to consistency of supply. Pushing this technology as a replacement for fossil fuels, looks like a clear cut case of fraudulent thinking to me.

    I’ve really tried hard with this technology to make it work, and it sort of does, if you accept the limits. But the vast majority of people with this technology rely on fossil fuel generators when the sun isn’t shining, the wind isn’t blowing, and you’re in a drought.

    I don’t know what to say and I can’t make it any simpler than that. Do you have any idea why there is a push for this technology in the face of all the issues the stuff causes in the grid?



  159. “Hackenschmidt) “But related, they have looked at ways to reduce the placebo effect… [paper citation] That’s right, they’ve thought, “some of the people we work with feel better, how can we stop that?””

    That is why they should be using the double blind method. Neither the doctor or the patient should know. It’s just a labeled bottle. The placebo looks exactly like the medication. No one expect the lead researcher knows what the labels mean, and he/she does not ever see the doctors or the patients lest the secret slip out. It’s a lot harder to do (and more expensive and takes longer) than you would think. Then if it works (and the sample size is large enough) the medication will have an effect above and beyond the placebo effect that is detectable. Oh, about that sample size, to double the power of a statistical test requires four times more subjects, it’s a square function. Remember when I said it costs more than you think?

    Added to that is the fact that most proposed drugs don’t work. More importantly now the bar is higher than ever, if they work at all they also have to work better than the existing drugs. Spending millions of dollars to create a drug that works no better than willow bark does not make Management happy.

    So the urge to bypass proper rigor with Warp Speed and an emergency use authorization becomes irresistible.

  160. Regarding Sabine Hossenfelder’s video, the real end of science is going to come when fossil fuels run out. What will power the particle accelerators and the massive telescopes and the tabletop experiments and computer simulations which allow modern science to progress when there is no more coal or oil or natural gas? What will happen to society’s belief in existing scientific theories, such as the standard model of particle physics, when scientists are no longer able to perform the experiments which show that their theories have some validity in the world, because they don’t have access to sufficient energy?

  161. I came across this blog post by Maria Farrell about what she sees as the dysfunctional worldview of Silicon Valley:
    She heads it by saying ‘Silicon Valley’s ideology is this: Libertarianism for me. Feudalism for thee.’ What struck me most about it was a paragraph about longtermism:

    Silicon Valley ideology is split on this point [about AI], however. Its more radical cult, long-termism, centres the omnipotence phantasy of future AI risks, but rather than use these drummed up extinction scenarios to lock in control and economic dominance, the true believers speculate about which AI geniuses to assassinate, to avoid Armageddon. Other devotees fight theological battles similar to the number of angels who could fit on a pin-head, but about just how few survivors will be needed to re-seed humanity, after the nuclear war they believe necessary to forestall artificial generalised intelligence. It’s really something to see Silicon Valley’s more zealous children turn the trolley problem back on the founders.

    I’ve heard of the ideas around longtermism, where they consider that if humanity colonizes space and expands across the solar system or even the galaxy the number of future humans in this scenario is vast, so outweigh the numbers around now, but I hadn’t heard of the idea that they wanted a nuclear war to forestall AI Armageddon! This had somewhat sidetracked much of the Effective Altruism movement from things like malaria nets to exclusively focusing on existential risks and the numbers of hypothetical lives in the future that are at risk.

  162. JMG,
    I haven’t seen your Atlantis book. I would be interested in reading it. What is the title and how would one get it?
    Hancock’s theory is that people reached the Americas during the interglacial between 140,000 and 120,000 years ago and developed an advanced culture, which was then wiped out by meteor debris about 12,800 years ago at the start of the Younger Dryas: that they had seafaring capabilities, and worldwide reach and are the culture remembered as Atlantis. Needless to say that freaks out the science hierarchy.
    This is all new to me, but makes a lot of sense.

  163. Augusto, that’s one of the reasons I blog — it’s profoundly reassuring to field comments from readers who Get It.

    Athaia, now all they have to do is figure out that nuclear power is another subsidy dumpster — it’s just not intermittent, like solar and wind power. Then they can actually start preparing for the future that’s on its way.

    Justin, interesting. There might be a profession waiting to be born: Home Faraday Cage Installer…

    Tyler, not so long ago it was quite common for gentlemen to put on a smoking jacket before they lit up a pipe or a cigar:

    It had the same purpose as a lab coat. Farmers, similarly, put on smocks when they went into the fields, especially when doing high-dust activities like harvesting. So the lab coat is a Victorian throwback, in effect. I wonder how much of it was shaped not by chemistry but by 19th-century physics, when you didn’t have to worry about being splashed with chemicals but there was always oil and graphite in the machinery…

    Brother K, why not write one yourself?

    Slink, no, I didn’t see that. Given the absurd price of everything in California, I can see the scientists throwing a hissy fit — but they’d better get used to it, of course.

    Moose (if I may), thanks for this.

    Tired21, thank you for taking this seriously. I appreciate that.

    Chris, to my mind the devout belief that renewables can replace fossil fuels is among the best signs we’ve got that our Age of Reason is over and people are mouthing slogans without thinking about them. Granted, part of it is the cold realization that if renewables can’t replace fossil fuels, and fossil fuels are running out, the entire tottering mess of a society we’ve built is already obsolete and it won’t be replaced by something bigger and shinier — which flies in the face of the most devoutly and mindlessly held beliefs of our age.

    Mark, that’ll get it if nothing else does — but my working guess at this point is that science will have discredited itself long before the oil wells run dry.

    Mawkernewek, thanks for this.

    Stephen, it’s been out of print for quite a few years and it badly needs revision before I republish it. I hope to have some time to do that as some of my other projects finish up. I’m not sure I buy the meteor issue — there are plenty of other things that can cause sudden global warming or cooling — and our one firm date for Atlantis, from Plato, is that it sank around 9600 BC, so the end of the Younger Dryas rather than the beginning is the most likely climate crisis (since that sent sea levels soaring worldwide, drowning coastlands around the world) to have ended the late glacial civilization we call “Atlantis.” More on this in due time!

  164. JMG, you are welcome, I appreciate that you have created a space that is a combination of freedom and appropriate boundaries.

  165. Dear Mr. Druid

    Congratulations – your ideas seem to be going mainstream – the WSJ used the term “magical thinking” in a Nov 16 article discussing the impending defeat of Ukraine. The Duran covers this article in detail in Topic 1151.

    But more to today’s topic, can you please explain the differences between Science and Engineering in relation to today’s post? For example, I see the solutions to global warming (if it exists) as more engineering than science. In my opinion using less energy and keeping a decent standard of living are achievable but are basically political and engineering issues with the political will lacking. Given that the NATO countries want to invade the rest of the world, then invite the refuges in to NATO countries to continue to increase the energy consumption or GDP, and we don’t even have enough ammunition for the current two wars, nevertheless the future wars with Iran, rest of Muslim World, Africa, and then China, and we are not interested in going to a war economy indicates some magical thinking indeed.

  166. Dear JMG,
    You previously said that one of the most effective ways to get through the years ahead is to be able to provide services that people would want. Well, I’m beginning to look at becoming a General Practitioner of medicine in my country, which, thankfully, is far better off than the US due to its relations and connections with Asia as a whole and it’s status as a trade port, even before the industrial age (Singapore). Due to this, worries about student loans, while pressing, are manageable (I hope). So what are your thoughts? Would this be a good idea, being able to source medicines for my family, if needed? Thank you!

  167. Hackenschmidt #143 – thank you for replying and for giving a detailed consideration of the matter. 🙂

    As to your final paragraph – “I have no doubt that people enchant themselves into better or worse health. There are processes which could perhaps be explained by science, however science doesn’t want to look at them, because the most extreme and clear examples would require tossing aside medical ethics of experimentation, and the less extreme examples would require admitting some of the most lucrative medical treatments are unnecessary or harmful.” There is not a single thing I disagree with.

    I think you may have thought that I was completely discounting the effect of the treatment. It might help if I say that – to me – every single medical (or healing) encounter has three major components – the patient, the doctor, and the treatment. The treatment is certainly important. But all three have a role to play AND more to the point, there are zero encounters when any of these three can be discounted. The patient certainly never can be, and the doctor seldom can be… even when a person, say, avails of an over-the counter remedy, they will have read or heard something about it somewhere from someone they trusted, and that person of trust, even if not present, is also part of the experience the patient will have with the over the counter remedy.

    If science wanted to investigate the processes involved in healing (and also, incidentally, the processes involved in sickening), the focus of study would be on the interactions between patient, doctor and treatment. However, if, instead, you want to focus on marketing your wares, for which you need to establish credible marketing claims, then you will do what has been done, and theoretically exclude the effects of doctor and patient, and label what you exclude as “placebo”. But the fact is you CANNOT *actually* exclude the effects of the patient and the doctor, because both are present and fully involved in every case. A treatment does not treat itself. So, when a person wants to know “what works for X” the answer is always going to be “some unique and non-replicable combination of [specific] doctor, [specific] treatment, and you.”

    Thank you again, and be well, stay free!

  168. @ Aldarion #149 – Thank you also, for your considered response. I would raise a question or two, though.

    “Improve the human interaction component.” Indeed! 🙂

    “But also make sure that the most effective substances are used.” I put it to you that there is NO statistical accounting of effects that can tell any doctor that X will be “the most effective substance” for their patient Y who is sitting in front of them. A person is not the same as their abstract statistical demographic counterpart. The doctor may have to have recourse to other substances that will be better for THIS patient, as well as extensive clinical experience, regardless.

    “It is of course entirely possible that some substances only contribute to healing within a highly effective human interaction” In my view, there are NO substances that are not administered within the context of a human interaction, and therefore the point is moot. Effectiveness is a three-way measure – doctor/patient/treatment. All play their part, always.

    “…but the logic of science is to first try and establish simple effects, and then interaction effects.” Yes, the logic of science makes this seem obvious, but the question is whether the logic of science is properly applied to the CRAFT of medicine?

    Again, it seems to me that for the past century or so “science sells” and so, marketers of substances found it useful to be able to establish a “scientific rationale” for their marketing claims. Still, those claims tend to be based on statistical population effects, and the doctor/patient relationship is personal, non-statistical, and highly non-replicable. Wherefore the “logic” of “science” for this application?

    Thank you again! Be well, stay free!

  169. Phutatorius – It is true that there are programmes that do not intend to leave us untouched…

    There is (I hear) many a slip, twixt the cup and the lip….

  170. @JMG,
    I had not made the connection to the smoking jacket. There’s a certain family resemblance, isn’t there? Thanks for that. Now, I’ve never been a smoker, but I haven’t particularly noticed cigarette or pipe smoke damaging the clothing of people who use them, and they wear no special garb. Since the working classes with their pipes and cigarettes got by just fine (and still do) sans smoking jacket, am I wrong to think the smoking jacket was much an affectation and a class marker as it is protective?

    I’m afraid I do not know the evolutionary history of the common labcoat. I suppose I simply assumed chemistry. The history of the lab coat in medicine is available, which makes it *sound* like they come from the medical field, but I don’t think doctors would admit if they took the garment from physicists. Said history reads very much like a description of priestly garments. From an Australian company who sells lab coats wholesale, I found this interesting tidbit:

    “Why do doctors and scientists wear white lab coats?
    One of the most common reasons why doctors, scientists, and other professionals in the medical field choose to wear white is for easy recognition by colleagues and patients. The tradition of wearing lab coats began in the late 1800s, when trained surgeons and physicians began wearing white lab coats as a way to distinguish themselves from fraudulent health care providers and false doctors. ”

    Now later on in the page they do talk about the usefulness of a lab coat for reducing cross-contamination and personal protection– but even the Labcoat Company doesn’t really think that’s what these things are *for*.

    Other sources, readily available, explain the white colour in terms of symbology: symbolizing purity, hygiene, and trustworthiness, then later (always later in the document) try and justify why it’s also a practical choice. It doesn’t seem like much about the design of the lab coat is driven by practical, rational, scientific concerns. (Again, it still does the stated job as well… but not as well as it could if it had been designed “scientifically”, ironically enough).

    I apologize for taking up so much airtime harping on this, but it is worth taking a certain amount of time to understand the symbols of our culture, I’m sure you’ll agree., and this is not one I had considered before. I will drop it here before it gets annoying, however.

  171. In a recent piece on Chris Martenson’s website, he showed a picture of what was claimed to be a Chinese 2- megawatt thorium fusion reactor, which appeared to be something that could easily fit in my not large basement with space left over. I must admit that thinking of this picture made me recall certain pictures of people dropping dead in the streets in China that appeared in early 2020.

    Despite having many solid ideas about the future, Chris’s peak oil deus ex machina is nuclear energy, in particular liquid metal thorium technology, so this latest claim was one he was quite excited about.

    I’m sure that if by some chance the possibilities that this latest claim suggests came even remotely close to being true, then we would certainly not waste the breathing space it would create, like we did with the north slope/North Sea oil fields or with fossil fuels in general. As a species we learn from our mistakes. For proof of this, just ask any Roman citizen of 300 A.D.

  172. Justin Patrick Moor says:
    We have a friend who built a faraday cage and put his bed inside it. Reports much better sleep. He lives next to a place that uses a massive amount of electricity, so that was part of why he did that.
    Do you know what the cage was made of?
    Thanks, Edward

  173. Brother Kornhoer ,

    You should check out Don Mark Baldridge’s story “In The Outage,” from Issue Three of New Maps. It deals with a similar (though not identical) theme.

  174. Continuing on from my last post, this is from this morning’s news. It’s harder and harder to improve on what already exists.

    “Meanwhile, Bayer said Monday its pharma division halted the primary study of its top experimental drug because of a lack of efficacy.

    Bayer wrote in a statement that in a Phase III trial, its experimental anticoagulant asundexian was inferior to Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Eliquis drug in preventing strokes in high-risk patients.

    Bayer was positioning asundexian to replace revenue from blood thinner Xarelto, one of its biggest sellers, which will lose protection from European patents in two years. “

  175. Costumes can be fun. Smoking Jackets have a load of necessary accessories such as Butler, Maid and Cocktails.
    I’m happy to be Content in Bib Overalls with a Flask of Whiskey in a Brown Bag in my back pocket. Style matters.

  176. @Scottlyn 179. For the benefit of my putative, inchoate mental sheath, I have recently been trying to notice what meaning means. Since I had no idea what “many a slip txit the cup and the lip” meant or where it originated, I had a moment of pondering its meaning without much of a clue. But now I know. Wikipedia to the rescue!

  177. Err, I meant to say a “Chinese 2- megawatt thorium fission reactor”. If the claim was for a fusion reactor, then those pictures of people dropping dead in 2020 really would have been credible in comparison.

  178. @Lunar Apprentice,
    Thank you for sharing Strawberry’s story. I had a similar thing happen right before my father passed. We were on opposite sides of an ocean, and he’d already gone into death rattle, but a friend held the phone to his ear so I could tell him goodbye. Then after the phone call, I sat back in my chair. As I sat back, I smelled his cologne and felt the squish of leaning back against him and the soft material of his shirts. I felt his hands on my shoulders, as if he were standing behind me. It was so real I shrieked and whipped around but of course saw nothing. I think someone angelic helped him to say goodbye across the distance.

  179. It’s interesting to hear the background of the lab coats. Similarly, when everyone was insisting we wear masks to protect ourselves against the plague, I said, “As a Jewish person I’m familiar with the idea of wearing a piece of cloth on my head that achieves nothing practical but reminds me of who I am and does make me and others feel good.” This never seemed to go down well.

    Science! is the faith which must not be questioned.

  180. “after the nuclear war they believe necessary to forestall artificial generalised intelligence.”

    That’s dopey. All you need to stop AI is an off switch. Of course in the Star Trek episode “The Ultimate Computer” that is exactly what they forgot. ;-). And when they tried to physically disconnect the AI they did it in sight of the computer which lasered the redshirt.

    As for A1’s question, Engineering is the art and science of using the available technology to solve a problem. The science is an input, but not the only one. You also have to consider Better, Faster, Cheaper; you get at best two of the three of those. Economics also plays into it as well unless the government is throwing money at you. And there are environmental and safety laws as well. It also helps if you can make it pretty.

    My degrees are in metallurgical engineering (extractive division originally) and chemistry (heavy on the inorganic for obvious reasons). The interplay between pure science and engineering made for an interesting career after the navy. The view from the other side was interesting too, one of my chemistry professors called chemical engineers “pipe-wrench chemists”. In his youth he had found a synthesis method that got adopted in industry. Instead of 5 grams in a batch the chemical plant made 500 tons a day. The magnitude of the scale up greatly impressed him.

  181. I never realized this, but there is a massive contradiction at the heart of Scientism: if we already mostly understand the world, then why do we need to spend billions of dollars to discover more? Has anyone else noticed that the claim that we’ve mostly completed the task of figuring out how reality works, the core claim to power, directly undercuts the claim to wealth, in order to do the studies to make sense of reality?

  182. Very late to this weeks post but your comment on Neil Tyson reminded me of this little bit from Alan Watts.

    “I know that—see, a philosopher is a sort of intellectual yokel who gawks at things that sensible people take for granted. And sensible people: “Existence is nothing at all; I mean, it’s just—basic. Go on and do something.” See, this is the current movement in philosophy. Logical analysis says you mustn’t think about existence; it’s a meaningless concept. Therefore, philosophy has become the discussion of trivia. No good philosopher lies awake nights worrying about the destiny of man, and the nature of God, and all that sort of thing, because a philosopher today is a practical fellow who comes to the university with a briefcase at nine and leaves at five. He does philosophy during the day—which is discussing whether certain sentences have meaning, and if so, what—and then he would, as William Earle said in a very funny essay, come to work in a white coat if he thought he could get away with it. The problem is he’s lost his sense of wonder. Wonder is like—in modern philosophy—something you mustn’t have; it’s like enthusiasm in 18th-century England, it’s very bad form.”

  183. Tyler A (#180) wrote: ”Other sources, readily available, explain the white colour in terms of symbology: symbolizing purity, hygiene, and trustworthiness”. I wonder about another possible symbolic reason why white was chosen: during the late 19th century there was quite a pitched battle in the West between ‘religion’ and ‘science’. Given that the cloth that priests, pastors, vicars, etc., was invariably black, it is not a stretch for the proponents of science to have their anti-religion ‘priesthood’ to wear a vestment that is the opposite of black in colour.

    Regarding the ‘white coat ceremony’, I can report that it is alive and well in some medical colleges. We recently had some friends visit us to show off their son’s white coat ceremony at some medical college in the Caribbean. I found it interesting that the parents, who are traditional Hindu Brahmins, were more worked up on this ritual than the ‘sacred thread’ ceremony that their son had a decade ago. To be frank, I found the whole thing to be gauche. And I held my tongue regarding the poor prospects of today’s medical students achieving the dizzying wealth and social status that their parents dream of due to the imminent collapse of Canada’s state-funded medical system and the brewing ‘jihad against science’.

  184. I heard another origin story about the color of the lab coat from my sister, a veterinarian. According to her, doctors back then used to be quite the butchers and their coats were black, because you don’t see blood on black fabric, and so you can go from surgery to surgery without having to bother with such trivialities like a fresh and clean surgical robe, or washing your hands, etc. Only when principles of basic hygiene were introduced did the color change to white, to prevent cheating 😉 and it is said that for some surgeons, it even became a matter of pride to not have that much blood sprayed all over their white coat, to show that they were more capable than their colleagues…

    (Veterinarians don’t like doctors for humans – humanitarians? 😂 – very much, in case you couldn’t tell.)

  185. @ JMG – that’s a plausible scenario. I forgot that the house votes by state delegations rather than by majority of the whole body. That almost guarantees a win for the R candidate under current circumstances.
    How much longer do you think the two-party consensus lasts?
    And, given that it’s only happened once, it seems a distant chance, but what do you think is the likelihood of seeing an 1860-style election with more than two viable, national parties?

  186. A1, I saw the WSJ article, and was greatly amused by it — it’s always struck me as impressively silly that what the mainstream calls “magical thinking” is exactly the kind of thinking that operative occultists don’t do! As for the distinction between science and engineering, that’s a complex matter. Engineers — well, most of them, at least — have to balance compliance with scientific theories on the one hand with making things work in the real world on the other; that’s one of the reasons why so many scientists despise them.

    Jeffrey, that sounds like a good possibility. You might at some point want to do some research into herbal and other low-tech medicines you can source locally, because the global pharmaceutical industry may not survive long into the Long Descent.

    Tyler, smoking jackets are partly affectation but they’re also protective. Back in the day, smoking involved a significant risk of red-hot embers or ash dropping onto your clothing, and the smoke also leaves a gummy residue behind — I once had to clean a used computer owned by a heavy smoker, and it took a long time to get the brownish gunk off every surface. So, as with most human activities, the symbolic and the practical aspects are thoroughly intertwined. That’s also the case with lab coats, I suggest. I happened to mention this thread to my wife, whose father was a high school chemistry teacher, and she reminded me of the time he brought his lab coat home after the school year to be laundered. What came out of the washing machine was the cuffs, the collar, the buttons, and a few random white shreds: the rest of it had been so damaged by chemicals that it dissolved…

    John, thorium reactors — fission reactors, of course — are entirely workable; the first one, as far as I know, went critical in 1965 at Oak Ridge and ran for four years. The problem, as with all nuclear power technologies, is economic. Thorium reactors use molten salt as their working fluid, which is of course fantastically corrosive and thus involves spectacular costs — thus it’s even more expensive than a uranium reactor using water, and those have never been able to pay for themselves. That said, I don’t doubt we’ll see vast amounts of money poured down that rathole too.

    Siliconguy, yes, I saw that. I also note that the only thing “wrong” with Xarelto, according to the articles, is that Bayer can’t engage in crazed kleptocratic profiteering with it any more.

    Michael, and that’s also a highly symbolic outfit! 😉

    Hackenschmidt, ha! No, I doubt they took that well at all.

    Anonymous, hmm! Yes, that makes sense — I doubt the scientific community would be happy if the rest of us said, “Okay, great, you’ve understood most of nature; the few details that remain can go on the back burner while we deal with more pressing problems.”

    Michael, thank you for this! That’s classic Watts, and spot on.

    Athaia, no surprises there. Most of the vets I’ve met were frankly more competent than most of the doctors I’ve met…

    Ben, we could be close to that. Both the Democratic and Republican parties are close to fissioning over their internal disputes.

  187. Hello JMG! Now I’ve made my decision; No matter what this decision costs, I will continue to stay on the ROAD. It is clear that we are at the end of an era… After this time, I have no trust in either scientists or science. I’m sorry, but they are all like prostitutes who go to whoever pays more. -Because they have transformed, this so-called path of ENLIGHTENMENT has been shattered. Crises are breaking out everywhere, wars are coming one after another, and I cannot see any other spirituality other than Christianity as a way to hold on to and experience in this chaos… even if it costs an academic career (which it may not). I have now decided to become an Orthodox Christian and I have decided to announce it because I realized that I have to do as it says in the verses and preach it…. now I need to be Baptized slowly… I would like to talk to other Christians especially about Practical spirituality Thank you everyone in advance I have been drawn to Christianity for years and finally I have found the Way I found it. Thanks a lot to everyone I know and don’t know who contributed to this…

  188. JMG,
    I should have been clearer. The implied claim that I was referring to is that this can be a an economically viable technology and that the device they showed could power an entire small town. Sadly, you are likely right about ratholes.

  189. @Yigit #197 If you define what you mean by practical spirituality, I may have something worthwhile to say in a discussion. Though I will say now be patient as you persevere. Growth day to day is not easy to see, but becomes apparent over time. Blessings on your journey with the Trinity.

  190. Yigit(197)- my brother if you are serious about orthodoxy I would suggest you read a little about the faith, of course, but primarily I would suggest you get a good prayer book and make it a part of your life- pray the prayers when you wake up, before you go to bed, before you eat, PRAY CONTSTANTLY- it will transform you like nothing else. Orthodoxy is not a series of propositions one agrees to- it is an all-encompassing lifestyle you embody- go to an Orthodox church (any and all jurisdictions) and pay attention. smell the incense, see the icons, hear the liturgy and the other services as well. go to as many services as you possibly can and watch what others do, get a calendar and see what days fast days fall on- you will (if devout and healthy) be fasting from animal products for 1/3 of the year. you have decided to enter a counterculture and some demands will be placed on you. and slowly is good- take your time.
    we are living in deceitful times- ugly times- and the orthodox church is full of truth and beauty.
    if you do become Orthodox you will be a participant in and ancient and living faith in the middle of an evil dying empire. it is an antidote (not a perfect one- nothing is) to modernity.
    i wish you well.
    Christ is risen!

  191. ” I doubt the scientific community would be happy if the rest of us said, “Okay, great, you’ve understood most of nature; the few details that remain can go on the back burner while we deal with more pressing problems.””

    Over-production of elites applies to the sciences just as much as it does to managers. Since publish or perish is still in effect that combined with ever less to do has been the source of a lot of low-quality work.

    In chemistry there is something AI might actually be good at. There are tens of thousands of chemical synthesis papers out there, more than a person can possibly deal with. An AI can sort through them and likely find a way to get from available inputs to desired output in the most efficient manner. Of course this will make the elite over-production problem even worse.

  192. Read it and weep:
    I ran across Tyler Cowen’s “The Great Stagnation,” ~2010 going through my ereader this evening. His bottom line : the economy is slowing down because we’ve eaten all the low-hanging fruit. But then his basic assumptions and suggested cures were like those of someone with a patient with TB who tells them, and believes, “you have a very nasty cold here. Let me prescribe some cough syrup and mild pain killers. And chicken soup.” Especially when one of his major cures is the promote science and scientists, and listen to scientists more. Worth reading just to tear apart, I mean, analyze, and put back together for the real world. One wonders what Tyler’s thinking now.

  193. Yiğit, so noted. Please keep in mind, however, that in general, this is not a place to preach.

    John, thanks for the clarification. Here we go again!

    Siliconguy, now if we could only figure out some way to have an overproduction of basic decency…

    Patricia M, I think I need to revisit Cowen and potentially write a post addressing his points. Thanks for the reminder!

  194. Dear JMG,
    Thank you for your timely reply! Your answer gave rise to another question of mine that I’ve been thinking about for a while: Will trade (global, or inter-country e.g. China to India) and globalisation survive the Long Descent and come out on the other side? I’m asking this cause as previously stated, my country is dependent on these 2 factors due to its small size and dependence on imports. However, we are trying to increase our food security with technology (yes, I know), through the 30 by 30 plan! Moreover, there is evidence that we were a trade port even in the 1300s due to our geographical position (safe passage through the Malacca straits, making it ideal for traders), which gives me hope for the days ahead. So on top of what I already asked, I have one more question, if you are kind enough to answer: will Singapore survive? I have pride in my country and its government, and am fervently hoping so due to what I previously stated and our good relations with Asian powers (China, India). However, if I’m wrong, do you recommend moving? If so, to where? Thanks!

  195. Hi JMG,

    I think the portrayal of scientists in this post is that of the statistician (aka the radical empiricist), and I fully agree with your assessment. However, I think there’s another kind of scientists that are radical rationalist and instead put their faith in reason. As will eventually be clear with the scientific method, the rationalist project seems to have reached its limits; yet there’s still some of these scientists out there, mostly theoretical physicists like string theorists.

    If you ask one of them how they know a theory is true they may say something about beauty, internal consistency, or a theorem that proves there’s a unique theory that satisfies some symmetry requirements. They believe/hope that “false” theories all have internal contradictions that give us clues that there’s a “truer” theory out there. The most famous example is the ultraviolet catastrophe of black body radiation in a cage, which was a purely theoretical result that showed mathematically classical physics was internally inconsistent. The reason they use this as the preferred path to knowledge in my opinion is that deep down they hold the core rationalist belief, the principle of sufficient reason; most won’t admit it though.

    Bertrand Russell tried to realize a more modest version of this dream, which was to derive all of math from logic in his Principia Mathematica project. Soon after he started, however, Gödel showed that this was impossible with his incompleteness theorems. Any axiomatic logical system is either incomplete (has things that can’t be proven) or it contradicts itself. So even mathematical axioms in some sense are a matter of preference or practical utility, they’re not handed down to the mathematician by a higher power.

  196. Thanks for another great post, JMG. Two things: first, some of my favourite cultural critics are you, Rod Dreher and Mary Harrington, and you’re all turning your attention to enchantment at the same time, so something is clearly in the air, and I hope the world is ready for it. Second: should those photos and captions — of Monty Python and Twilight — be reversed? Based on your theme, it seems like they would work better reversed.

  197. Another great essay JMG! I would like to point out that, thanks to the peer review process, there is money to be made that is hidden in the flaws of the conventional wisdom. Two examples:
    1) Years ago, medical research identified cortisone as a useful hormone that could have medical uses. It was horrifically expensive. You needed a couple of boxcars of beef adrenal glands to refine an ounce of it, and it was priced accordingly.
    Meanwhile, another scientist who studied weeds in Arizona noticed that an inactive chemical in his beloved weeds was chemically close to cortisone. “Perhaps,” he posited in a paper, “We could refine out this weed extract and chemically convert it to cortisone.”
    The paper was rejected because all the peer reviewers of the time knew that you couldn’t make animal hormones from plant stuff.
    Rejection slip in hand, he proceeded to pick 50 pounds of weeds from the desert, refine out the active ingredient, and then did a simple conversion to make several pounds of cortisone.
    He sold the cortisone to a chemical wholesaler for several million dollars, created the pharmaceutical company “Syntex,” and lived happily ever after.
    2) Nicholas Taleb figured out in business grad school that the probability curve did not actually apply to business– only casino gambling. Using this knowledge, he bet against the last real estate bubble, and against conventional wisdom, and made millions when the bubble collapsed. He is now the philosopher who came up with the Black Swan concept…

  198. I am Romanian and back when I was a child I also saw ferries, now I don’t remember anything. But I know because I told my grandmother and she repeated it for a while and now I remember that she told me I told her I saw ferries when I was a child.

  199. “The opposite of one bad idea is usually another bad idea”
    Clearly the progressive idea that science is going to perform the magic necessary to rescue us from the predicaments of our time is a bad idea. As a short hand, some call this scientism. There is more than one common opposite of scientism and most of them are as bad or worse as guides for living into the future. One bad opposite that JMG rightly opposes are various versions of enchanted worldviews that have attempted to reform themselves to become fashionable in a an age of scientific rationalism. Here one could list young earth creationism from conservative protestant Christians, and various New Age ideas that try to rationalize occult ideas using quantum entanglement or various psychological framings. But in this essay, JMG is drifting toward another bad opposite…namely the strain of thinking popular among some philosophers and sociologists of science that claim that since science is a sociological endeavor, its products are as ephemeral as typical fashions that societies oscillate among. It is hard to show how straightforwardly wrong this idea is using rhetoric in the present era because the post-modernists among the sociologists of science have coopted most of the useful language around this topic to invert many meanings. So an expert in “theory in science and technology studies” is almost exactly the opposite of an expert in “theoretical physics”, with each often attached to a different set of bad ideas.

    To have a hope of communicating across the chaos, .one needs concrete predictions. Here is one to focus on: Will the dominant human societies that follow ours use our understanding of simple configurations of matter using ideas about atoms interacting via electromagnetic interactions described by a recognizable version of mathematics we reference as “Maxwell’s Equations”. The answer is yes and the reason is simple. A society that understands electromagnetism and atoms has access to things like electric lighting, radio communication, aluminum smelters, solar photo-voltaics, drones, and a long list of other things and as a result will always out-compete (militarily and economically) societies that have forgotten or never learned basic science. Someone needs to break through the conceptual chaos and separate practical use of basic science from the scientism that has grown up around it. There is lots of good philosophy that doesn’t depend on expectations for a scientific revolution that will replace the atomic hypothesis and electromagnetism as accurate approximate descriptions of how the universe works. (One can begin to understand the attractiveness of Kuhn and the post-modernists that followed him when you recognize that they offer a rapture scenario by which academics who would rather not solve differential equations can be freed from the bad ideas implemented by technologists (who learned to solve differential equations) without the need for messy details like agriculture and the military that require one to leave the philosophical armchair.)

  200. Dear JMG,
    concerning science and its debacle about the covid vaccines and all the messy and counterproductive measures taken to “control” it, I have to say that, as a man o science, I was relying on the very science facts and data available to oppose them fiercely.
    The problem here is that some other influence has taken control on true science. To resume in a short sentence, current science (especially “big science”) is no more science.
    It has mostly the language, but no more embraces the philosopy of knowledge, nor the honesty behavior (read it as “scientific method”: it boils down to a set of moral rules) that are the core values of scientific investigation,

  201. “Biden’s flacks are insisting at the top of their lungs that everything is fine and the economy has never been better.”
    Justice Jackson’s answer to the “what is a woman?” question was the moment I realized not only was our government officials lying to us accepted, it was mandatory.

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