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Thursday, 27 January 2011

..a way of psychoanalysing the psychosis of the place.

Science describes reality in terms of rules that can be made explicit by dissection or by mixing things together; and ultimately the rules make mathematical sense. Yet science is considered a 'hard' subject, as if seeing into a mystery and remembering what you have seen is somehow harder than not interacting with, making guesses about, or even seeing and understanding.

Science is Popperian conjecture followed by refutation, is measuring changes in the 'dependant' variable as you change the independent variable (whilst keeping all the control variables the same). Science pivots around the question: how does something happen?

But science is a relatively new approach to reality.

Aristotle (some two thousand three hundred years ago) is 'the father of biology' and yet he was not doing science. He observed, dissected and he described, but he did not test. Aristotle was content to believe that old clothes created mice and a rotting fish could gave birth to flies, he didn't ask why or test any aspect of his belief.

Clothes and fish continued to 'give birth' until the seventeenth century.

Because of its newness, science contains relatively few archaic ideas that seem to make sense whilst being  wrong. Phlogiston, as an explanation as to why some elements gain weight and other substances weigh less when burnt makes sense; after all there is a loss and gain of something taking place. The theory of phlogiston is wrong mainly because it lacks precision. As with the discovery of bacteria, so Lavoisier's keen attention to weighing closed vessels (mathematical proof of oxygen) changed the way we see the world.

As phlogiston became oxygen so the alchemical tradition of four elements became the periodic table, and no one feels inclined to explain scientific observations in terms of the four elements because the periodic table both predicts things that can be seen to happen, and explains things that were harder to explain using the old four element theory.

But wrong theories that refuse to lie down and die are zombie theories.

It is tempting to use a conspiracy theory to explain their existence, as elucidated by a Professor of Theoretical Medicine:
If zombie science is not scientifically-useable – what is its function? In a nutshell, zombie science is supported because it is useful propaganda to be deployed in arenas such as political rhetoric, public administration, management, public relations, marketing and the mass media generally. It persuades, it constructs taboos, it buttresses some kind of rhetorical attempt to shape mass opinion. Indeed, zombie science often comes across in the mass media as being more plausible than real science; and it is precisely the superficial face-plausibility which is the sole and sufficient purpose of zombie science.
The theory of conspiracy theory misses the self-evident truth that when an experience is emotion, fiction and poetry ease the heart and make more sense than text books. There is nothing that anyone can do about this; it has always been, will forever be so.

We live in an information rich culture and the truth has always been with us, the more we find out, the less others seem to know. But the mechanism that pulls bad ideas from the aethyr and gives them life has more to do with social conditions -anxiety over job losses and fear for ones children- than by a malevolent other who wants to take control. Richard Dawkins can rave as long as he likes about the stupidity in believing in angels, but ultimately the truth may not be as useful to the individual as the lie the mind weaves to protect itself.

But finally, what I'm trying to say is I want to find a way to bridge the gap between the two worlds -the real and the virtual; and I'm thinking that psychogeopgraphy may be the correct synthesis.

Sinclair “For me, it’s a way of psychoanalysing the psychosis of the place in which I happen to live."