Today and tomorrow, Terry McKenna is going to pick up the thread laid out here over the weekend, to show us exactly where the fundamentalist assault on science and wisdom is taking us, our nation, and our planet. In the meantime, I'm going to be working on a response to Billy Graham's latest rant on God, Satan, and Katrina; it will be appearing later in the week. A free discussion of these issues is crucial to an independent understanding of our moment in time, but even more critically, to a vision for our future. Mr. McKenna, take us forward:
Today, I'm going to build on Brian’s posting Bushland: No Experts Permitted.
If you look at any of a number of issues, it is clear that the Bush administration wants to force experts to bend their ideas to administration policy. This includes all manner of professionals from economists to professional soldiers. This is probably all for the bad, but what might be the most damaging is how they want to stifle science. It is my thesis that we could be creating a tipping point such that the US’s overall lead in science and technology is ended, sacrificed for political (and religious) ideology.
Tipping points have happened in the past. In the Renaissance, Italy was the leader in all spheres of western thought and art. But then the Catholic Church tried Galileo for challenging the Biblical creation myth. The consequence of the trial was a suppression of Italian thought for at least two centuries. Control of Western philosophy and science moved on to Northern Europe.
A less distinct tipping point occurred in the Middle East. For those who don’t know the history, it was Arab scholars in places like Baghdad, starting around the year 800 who perfected the modern numbering system, created “zero,” and founded algebra. They also translated Greek texts and kept western philosophy alive. But sometime after 1400 their mathematics stopped progressing. The end result is the present-day Middle East with its legions of frustrated young men who dream of blowing themselves to smithereens all in the service of Allah.
Medieval China was also wealthy and was possibly the world’s leader in practical technology (having invented both paper and gunpowder) – but it walled itself off from progress by walling itself off from the rest of the world.
Could we be reaching our own, similar, tipping point? Tomorrow, we'll see if and how that question can be answered.