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What the future needs and what the future will get are two different things. I'm quite sure that 50 years from now our grandchildren will be cursing us.

However, as I've observed too often, politicians as a class are invariably educated in non-scientific disciplines such as law, literature and history. All of which create a mindset that looks to learning the lessons of the past for dealing with the present. The scientist's and technologist's ability to look forward to the future and extrapolate from the present is  beyond them.

So at a time when we need a break with the tried and tested, we are saddled with a global decision class incapable of such a leap.

Even worse: As people who cherish political dispute, there is a distrust of scientific truth; for them everything is up for grabs in a he-said, she-said debate where the more skilled orator wins, even if they have the flimsier argument. Scientists are at a disadvantage in this arena, they are used to winning a debate with superior facts. Yet now they seek to  operate in an environment where truth and lie are merely two sides of the same debased coinage.

It's no suprise that entrenched interests which only view the next quarterly balance sheet will win hands down every time.

We're fucked basically.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun May 20th, 2007 at 01:12:43 PM EST
We all have our reasons to despair, as they are plentiful.  But I can't let the old C.P. Snow argument go by, that scientists have "the future in their bones" while those schooled in the humanities are mired in the past. My own formal academic background is in literature, philosophy, the humanities--or perhaps more to the point, a background and attitude from the liberal arts. It takes a certain breadth of interest to see things from the future's perspective, and part of that is to recognize patterns from the past, and from the human psyche.  Scientists can be too narrow in their thinking and processes to do the synthesis, to acquire the vision.  In fact our best visionaries have had experience and knowledge in both camps, and have often expressed that vision in what we call science fiction--which takes scientifically derived possibilities and tests them against the context of behavior as found in other kinds of literature, for a more realistic assessment.

I'm grateful to you for writing a comment, as no one else has. Perhaps the response of others is, as in your parting comment ("We are all fucked basically") and so even thinking about the future leads to that ultimate (and ultimately depressing) non sequiter. So why comment, or even think about it?

The time traveller in the first modern science fiction story, "The Time Machine," by one of those science/literature visionaries, H.G. Wells, comes to a similiar conclusion.  But the narrator of the story comes to a different one: "If that is so, it remains for us to live as though it were not so."  Or more to the point, to do what we can to create a better future, whatever the chances of success.
 

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Sun May 20th, 2007 at 06:03:55 PM EST
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"If that is so, it remains for us to live as though it were not so."  Or more to the point, to do what we can to create a better future, whatever the chances of success.

I comment cos I care, passionately, about the possibility of better futures. That they tend to despairing is my somewhat cynical and dystopian view of our leader class, who tend to do nothing other than suit their short-term ego and electoral needs.

You may be right that I paint scientists too white, but as a class they tend to be more evidence based in their musings than politicians, who prefer rhetoric to truth. Politicians base their careers on building tomorrow as a "better" yesterday. The idea that the conditions that made yesterday possible may cease to be true is outside of their mindset.


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 09:15:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for your thoughts and your passion.  I agree just about completely with what you write in your reply.  

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan
by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 06:13:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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