Montag, 23. März 2020

Why We Don't Follow Science Anymore

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Today many people ask: Why people don't follow science anymore? Why nowadays science is hard put to convince the people of its findings? Why more and more people don't listen to the facts anymore? Why are scientists losing their once undisputed authority? Why did facts lose their appeal?
Naturally, you can blame it all on (social) media, propaganda wars, politization and polarization of society etc. But that was too easy.

Recently I was stunned by BBC's Nobel Minds Debate, wherein invited Nobel Prize Laureates complainingly compared our times with the days of Galileo Galilei ca. 500 years ago in that sense, that then as now science has been disregarded.

You can now argue, that this comparison brought forward in this Nobel Prize Laureates debate is a really poor one, since Galileo Galilei wasn't recognized at all by then ruling elites other than today's leading scientists - Nobel Prize Laureates. But the point I want to make goes further.
I want to call your attention to ask why nowadays there is so much resentment among large parts of society against following science, even in the face of science relentlessly telling people being endangered by climate change.

Given that people were following science for long, even into war with the latest technology - as science financially in liaisons with the military always had a big stake in war games - why today people leave the flock of science believers and scientists lose their authority? When analyzing current developments, soon we get to one of the most powerful tools of democratization: social media.
Now more than ever before, via social media people are given a voice, enabled to organize themselves and group easily and quickly to challenge existing authorities.

But there is more to consider: These democratization processes are flanked by more and more people experiencing being squashed like lemons by multinational corporations whose profits skyrocket while large parts of society become impoverished and science does little against these developments.
It's hardly surprising, that people increasingly perceive scientists as underlings of multinational corporations, as agents of keeping consumerism going, continuously inventing new technology supposedly for the people while making the rich uber-rich and the majority population bleeding out financially.

Also IT-specialists have increasingly come under fire for eagerly working on firing more and more people by their inventions, since IT-specialists create algorithms making more and more jobs obsolete without creating equivalent jobs for the people whose jobs they killed, but cynically arguing: We only enable the people to feel free and follow their creativity. Creating jobs galore one cannot live on, even when working multiple low-paid jobs, is only massaging jobless figures to fool the public, eventually leading to the rise of the working poor.

This job-cutting mechanism called rationalization, streamlining under globalization is sold as "future of mankind" ignoring evermore working people dropping out of the job market, as their workforce isn't needed anymore. It doesn't take rocket science to figure out that those mechanisms - making evermore people's workforce obsolete, disadvantaging large parts of society - are a "perfect" formula for raising social tensions right up to revolution, if unaccompanied by a sufficient unconditional basic income.

In times of emancipation and democratization - rather than asking, if there is intelligent life in outer space etc. - scientists were supposed to ask these questions: Do scientists intelligently take enough action to tackle global inequality here on Earth? Does the class of scientists take enough action against the accumulation of capital, in the hands of a very few corporations battling for planet-domination, undermining democratic institutions increasingly? Does academia invent technologies creating jobs the people can live on rather than inventing technologies enabling multinational corporations to kill well-paid jobs en masse?

Today too many scientists and technicians appear negligent of the bread-and-butter issues and the hardships of the people. So many people's perception therefore is, too many scientists and technicians - once highly regarded professions - are in cahoots with big business concerns, killing jobs galore, working against the people rather than for the people being entangled in another type of war, an asymmetrical warfare, a trade war multinational corporations wage globally against the people, against civilians, in a civilization declining.

As long as science appears to be in liaisons with reckless elites rather than siding with the people, science has an image problem and the people's reluctance against blindly following science grows. People followed science for ages when perceiving science and technology as improving the people's living standards.

Scientists and technicians are supposed to improve their battered image of being stuck in their ivory towers, following their curiosity only and working on luxury problems for big business concern. As long as science appears to be taken up in complex calculations while lacking empathy for the people's concerns and forgetting about humanity and its problems, academia will lose the people's respect entirely.

All this we have to factor in when analyzing today's complex situation of science losing support of society increasingly. New devices whatsoever need to benefit the people first, only then - as side effect - it has to serve big business concern. This understanding of social responsibility on top-level has been lost by corporate governance appearing more or less moralless. Company owners shifted responsibility to "nameless shareholders" in a society with shareholder value as only value left.

Therefore the people's faith in scientific facts and in science itself wanes. Today the process, once started with automation (machine breakers), isn't about bringing relief to all households by washing machines anymore - what eliminated washers - but about pushing people out of the market by digitization threatening every profession. That creates a dangerous cocktail. Growing social inequality is an ignited stick of dynamite for any society (dynamite's inventor, Alfred Nobel).

Why is all this important? History has shown, when people were robbed of their livelihoods by certain developments, demagogues have an easy job to recruit people for their wicked ideologies promising an all-too-easy solution. So wasn't it in the self-interest of science to work for the people rather than appearing as accomplice of corporations working against the people?

Dr. Dr. Immanuel Fruhmann

Systemic Analyst and Philosopher

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