Monday, June 4, 2012

Bad Knowledge


"Are there one or many kinds or democracy? What is the role of religion in modern democracies? Is it true that not all societies are mature enough for democracy? Can a nation come out of poverty without a strongly centralized ‐ in fact non‐democratic – politco‐economic regime? How can the spread of epidemics be fought? Can classical economic theory, which posits the same basic model of “rational (bounded or otherwise) man", cope with poverty and hunger in widely differing societies? Universities today generally are not the institutions where answers to such practical problems are found.

What is needed, are new, integrative disciplines. For example a New Economics should integrate classical, mathematical, model‐based mainstream economics with concepts stemming from anthropology, sociology and history, such as institutions, norms, values and aspirations. Similarly for understanding and coping with the spread of infectious diseases."*

Sounds good, right? But it's all wrong.

Democracy limited by religion, urbanization, tradition? Free markets limited by norms, values, aspirations? No!

We need better theories, not ways of limiting the damage we do in trying to apply bad theories. We don't need new ways of applying bad theories to each other.

A better theory begins with love and friendship and pleasure and home and humor and creativity and goes on from there.

The inter-disciplinary model combines the failed-reason of political and economic theories with the reason-less acceptance and adaptation to local conditions of tradition, habit, desires.

The opposite model begins with local traditions, but only the good ones. Those are the above mentioned love, friendship, pleasures, home, humor, and creativity.

The opposite model begins with a reasonable selection of the local conditions, and then continues to reason about ways to perfect them.

Not failed reason added to non-reason. That is for academics, bureaucrats, professionals.

But reason added to reason. That is for human beings.

* The University In The 21st. Century: Teaching The New Enlightenment At The Dawn Of The Digital Age, 2012, -Yehuda Elkana, Hannes Klöpper


Promotion of untested or proven false theories becomes a habit, rewarded by money and power. The habit of reasoning about life and testing ideas, unpracticed, is over time made more and more difficult to practice.

"I suspect my lie did not feel like a lie because it served to affirm what I believed to be a greater truth. My words were a heartfelt and spontaneous utterance of our passionately shared convictions." - Stephen Batchelor

Start wrong and it is a long way back.

“From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other - above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” -
Albert Einstein

Our choice is between the evidence people have reported from their own experience over a period of thousands of years that we are here for the sake of each other, and the theories of our institutions, academic and legal, which say otherwise but make no predictions and are untested or already proven false.