Lamenting our intellectual malaise

20 September 2015

True intellectual innovation is based on the neurophysiological phenomenon of neuroplasticity – the intrinsic property of the brain to form new neuronal connections and eliminate those that have become redundant. It is therefore with some degree of concern that I note, on perusal of the media, that there has been almost no truly innovative scientific concepts generated over the past thirty years.

It is true that we have witnessed an unprecedented burgeoning of technology in multiple areas of life. However most of this technology is based on innovative research which occurred more than thirty years ago! Computers, mobile cell phones, global positioning systems, CAT scans, MRI scans, interactive LCD screens – the list is exhaustive, are all based on older technology and preceding research. Likewise in the spheres of physics, psychology and the neurosciences, real innovative, groundbreaking discoveries with meaningful applications are conspicuously few.

Some thoughts immediately come to mind as a possible explanation for this malaise;

1. We live in an age of super-specialization. There is very little dialogue taking place between the silo’s of interest areas of research. Physicists talk only with physicists with the exclusion of all others. True innovation in this area is low; theories are controversial and generally based on previous controversial models and inconclusive research. One becomes aware that the need to discover a theoretically proposed entity is so compelling that when it is announced, there is always a degree of scepticism. In any event, those subscribing to the nonlocality concept and the influence that the observer consciousness has on that being observed would concur that observer consciousness has in fact brought the entity into existence! So how much of that quantum Standard Model is indeed ‘real’? Finally, no fresh ideas are admissible unless you are a member of this exclusive inner club, with the appropriate credentials.

2. An intrinsic bias is held by the inner kabbal of academia – where it is decided what is acceptable to investigate and what is not. Radical new ideas, even when substantiated with authentic evidence and packaged in an ‘acceptable’ scientific format, are rejected if too far removed from the centre-point of acceptability. An example that comes to mind is the removal by TED Talks of Rupert Sheldrake’s presentation of his scientific investigation of ‘para-normal’ phenomena. It is commonly held that if Albert Einstein had submitted his Theories of Relativity to the current ‘keepers of the gate’ of acceptable scientific substrate, they would have been rejected.

Subscription to the doctrine (theory) of evolution is a precondition before any work is reviewed. Bearing in mind that neither the process of abiogenisis (the spontaneous origin of life from the primordial soup) nor the hypothesis that the process of evolution alone is the sole determinant for the emergence of the human species, has been proven. To quote, ‘to believe in evolution as the sole determinant of the emergence of the human species, you need to have a great deal of faith’!

3. Then there is self-interest and the ‘publish or perish’ mentality. Individuals are publishing excessive articles on ‘acceptable’ topics in reputable journals so as to retain tenure and standing. Often they omit the referencing of others who have performed similar work several years previously. As a result of this drive one has noted with alarm an eighty percent increase in the withdrawal of neuro-scientific articles over the past several years because of questionable authenticity. In the same vein, less than forty percent of concepts described in reputable psychology journals have been found to be repeatable.

And so one laments over this sorry state of our collective intelligence and understanding. The only approach that may correct this non-sustainable situation is a return to authenticity, embrace dialogue between each other and thereby create an integrated foundation – committed to an unbiased, collective exploration of our world. The time has indeed arrived to allow unfettered innovation to flow again into a more hospitable environment of mutual respect and co-operation.

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