1) Where to begin? Let’s get this off my chest: I never thought I’d outlive the Republic. Yea, yea, I know – it can be argued any res publica here was moldering in the grave before the Civil War, as it can be argued that living under a mafia is the normal state of civilization – those same Romans who gave us the idea of a republic in the first place did. But there were some of those early Americans who really did love and fight to preserve liberty, and there really was a persistent strain of public responsibility among the imperial patricians. In both those places, separated by 2,000 years, private people voluntarily, even enthusiastically, performed public works, works that promoted and preserved a Republic.
Now? As tempting as it is to blame the schools, which have have been allowed for the last 150 years to teach mindless compliance to authority as *the* one, indispensable lesson, it’s worse than that. I come at this from the science angle, because, weirdo that I am, that was the part of the school library I first turned over in 4th grade. I learned very little science in any specialized or technical sense (still haven’t), but enough basics and enough of how it was supposed to work that, with the exception of my physics teacher in high school, I didn’t run into a more scientifically literate person than the guy in the mirror until college – maybe. This is not a point of pride, but rather terrifying: a bright little kid could learn more science by 5th grade than virtually ANY ADULT IN HIS WORLD. Vivid memories of trying to straighten out my 5th grade teacher about a basic error in what she was teaching about astronomy – and nothing but eye rolls and exasperation from everyone in the room. Sure, I was as obnoxious as you’re imagining, but the lesson *I* got: nobody cares.
The point is not the near-universal ignorance of science among, sadly, even many people with science degrees. It’s that people don’t care. Not that they don’t care about science, they don’t care about the truth of anything. My life-lesson: having people reject what I’m saying AND reject the notion that they could simply look it up themselves -why would they do that? What they want to know is what is believed, or at least taught, by the authority figures of their tribe.They want to comply and have their status as good little members of the tribe confirmed. That’s all that matters.
Truth? What is that?
2) This excellent essay by Ed Fesser suggests a point I’d missed (well, many points – he’s a very smart guy): that, under Kuhn’s notion of normal science, a ‘normal scientist,’ if you will, doesn’t actually need to understand much, if any, science. In the process of expounding his theory of scientific revolutions, Kuhn defines normal science as the ongoing process of working out the implications of the dominant theories, not challenging those theories. Over time, the ragged edges between theory and reality grow, and become harder to ignore or dismiss. Somebody, definitionally not doing normal science, eventually proposes a new theory – a new ‘paradigm’ – that addresses those ragged edges.
To be successful, any new theory must be useful in understanding all the findings and developments made under the old normal science as well as the problems that the new theory was devised to address. Someone is acting in the role of the ‘real’ scientist to develop the new theory, not merely following the established paths of his specialty. He must work with fundamental scientific principles, not merely the rules of the normal science he is seeking to replace.
A normal scientist is, first and inescapably, a technician in his specialty. It is not a requirement that he also be a scientist in the specific sense used above. If I’m splicing genes, say, or smashing protons, I need to know how to do those very specialized activities. If I also understand how science itself works, that’s gravy, and frankly unnecessary to the job at hand – normal science.
On the flip side, it is possible to have a good grasp on how science works without knowing any of the details in any particular field.
Thus: having a Master’s or PhD and 20 years of experience in a science, even a hard science, is not a guarantee that such a person is, in fact, a scientist. As Feynman points out in his often referenced Cal Tech graduation address, science education doesn’t actually address the radical honesty needed to be a scientist, but just assumes and hopes the student picks it up from the environment. This is evidently a vain hope.
And this says nothing about whatever science might underlie the so-called soft, or, more honestly, pseudo, sciences. Nor the guild-craft that is medicine.
Walking among us commoners, schooled as we are for 12 or more years in obedience and following the orders of the authority figures, are lab coat clad legions of technicians and posers making pronouncements on science, about which they know nothing, more likely than not. And we swallow it whole, and pat ourselves on the back for how much we f—- love Science!
3) The thought of an amateur historian:
Germany in 1930 had an elite industrial base in the north, and more rural areas in the south. The north was strongly Protestant. The leading citizens embraced what is historically the second-to-last phase of Protestantism: mysticism (next comes nihilism, towards which the most enlightened had already made good progress) The south was more traditionally religious, and more Catholic.
So: who, generally, supported the Nazis?
- the Press
- professional classes
- petty government officials
- the North, big cities, elites
Who opposed them?
- the military (although on grounds less ideological, more the mere distaste of men of honor and tradition for punks.)
- rural populations
- conventionally religious people
- the South, rural areas, the many
In general, of course, nothing is this simple.
Not what you’ve heard? Wonder why.
4) Practical question: how long before mere association with people with traditional Christian beliefs gets you blacklisted? Arrested? How soon does the active denunciation of Christian beliefs become a job requirement?
Think I’m kidding? Exaggerating? Really? Already, college jobs are off limits, unless you check a few of the woman/person of color/foreigner/sodomite/etc. boxes. Then, if you are, say, Orthodox, you can get a ‘colorful primitive beliefs’ pass for now, where your beliefs are seen as charming and harmless.
30 years ago, a newly-hire Stanford prof joked to me that he was his department’s token straight white Christian male. Because he was.
30 years ago. That would be only a decade into the period of complete conquest of the machinery of university control by the woke. Now? You’re kidding me.
So, already, I doubt you could get hired, or, if hired, last very long at the big tech companies if you refused to cave to the propaganda enforced by the diversity crowd.
5) These days, I find myself not sleeping well, and doing random physical things to get my mind off this stuff. For a pathetic example:
Long time readers with alarming recall and attention to detail may remember us taking down an old walnut tree in out front yard maybe 7? 8? years ago. A local urban lumber guy retrieved the wood, and gave me back a stack of 7′ x 11″ 5/4 flitches, which have been stickered in the garage ever since.
So I dragged a few out. Mostly, hopelessly warped and bowed. So I grabbed a straight edge, tried to find areas where the wood was roughly straight and true, and cut them out. I ended up with the largest pieces something like 3′ x 8″, and whole bunch of hopeless little scraps. A cousin of my wife has a planer and jointer, so he helped my try to flatten a few pieces.
It was not very satisfying. The wood is gorgeous to look at, but next to impossible to do much with. I took a little piece and made the towel rack above. Not the epic pieces of furniture I had hoped to make. Better than burning it in the pizza oven, I guess.
Trees getting trimmed, garden getting cleaned up, I even cleaned and organized the tool shed. Probably ought to flip the compost. After an hour or two trying to work, my thoughts drive me to do – anything else.
6) Sure I’ve told this story before: At 15, I checked out a record from the Whittier Public Library – Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic doing Beethoven’s 5th. Why? Because I’d heard very little classical music, heard that the 5th was on everybody’s list of great classical music, and I wanted to check it out.
So I set up the stereo speakers about 4′ apart on the floor, put a pillow between them, threw on the vinyl, and laid down to give it a listen.
And didn’t take it off the turntable for days. Over and over again – couldn’t get enough. Renewed it. Listened some more, to the point that, for the rest of my life, I could go someplace quiet, and replay that version in my head, note for note.
Until a couple days ago, when I tried to calm my sleepless self with this old trick, and couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get 10 bars in before it got messed up. I hope this is just stress. I’m of the crowd that would trade just about any amount of physical problems for a clear head. But I am very, very distracted these days.
7) Reminder to self: what the Enemy wants is for us to be miserable, freaked out, despairing. He wants our lives destroyed. I hereby resolve: to go to battle with no regard to the likeliness of success – with a smile on my face, a song in my heart, and a prayer on my lips.
8) Final thought: in Perelandra, Ransom tries to protect Venus’s unfallen Eve from the relentless temptations of the devil possessing another Englishman. He reluctantly concludes, after days of argument and trying to run interference, that it was hopeless to treat the devil as if he were also an English don. So he, out of shape middle aged pasty white guy, just goes after him physically, fight to the death.
Oracle of the Lord.