The existential society and the belief in scientific facts

Flat Earth
What is the point with some research if there is a widespread tendency among the general public to take private decisions about its truthiness??

I am not the first to comment on, or being inspired by rise of the word truthiness, and I will certainly not be the last. The word recently surfaced in a political satire context and have been bouncing around there for a while, but I think the rise of truthiness is signaling something much deeper than the breakdown of trust and communication between politicians and the citizens. It tells something about what it is to live and act as a modern individual - maybe an existential individual.

Jay Ogilvy wrote an article in Strategy & Business called What Strategists Can Learn From Sartre and it struck me then as being an important point he was making, even if few people understood the profound implications. He starts by telling the reader about when he first recognized when the world became weird, and as a philosopher he understood that large groups of people had gone existential and was basing their actions on something else than what the traditional theories predicted.

If we have gone existential, maybe we should learn more about what the theories of Existentialism tell us about what we base our decisions and actions on.

As a philosophy, existentialism stresses that human beings have almost unlimited choice. The constraints we feel from authority, society, other people, morality, and God are powerful largely because we have internalized them — we carry the constraints around within us.

As individuals we are then disconnected from societal rules and conform ideas because we have already internalized them. We have become the independent judges of the rules of our own actions...

As a parenthesis this also relates to when I wrote about an upside down version of Maslow's hierarchy of needs in November I was continuing along that path. I got some positive feedback. Larry Dunbar commented and suggested to call it a hierarchy of wants, which he believes occurs in a different kind of organism. Maybe he can call this other type existential organisms?

When more and more people become existential it is maybe not that strange that the modern man or woman also are taking their own decision (in the stomach) about what is true or not. What is more unexpected is maybe that more and more people also are questioning things most of us are considering facts. Surprisingly we note that in more and more cases belief are suddenly again trumping facts.

How will this e g affect the roll science have in our future society? When we talk about technology research it is usually just about if it works or not. Belief doesn't play a role between knowledge creating into products and services. When we talk about e g abstract science (as e g Darwinism) and social science it is a different matter. It is only worth investing in science if it is believed to have some impact on society which is questionable if more and more people become existential.

I miss the driving forces towards a more belief driven or socially constructed knowledge diffusion when I e g see the Delta Scan: The Future of Science and Technology, 2005-2055 which Alex Pang wrote about in IFTF Future Now in December.

One thought on “The existential society and the belief in scientific facts

  1. Larry Dunbar

    I want to thank you for giving me this link to James Ogilvy’s article.

    “Where the old economy relied on mass production to meet universal needs, the new economy demands customized innovation to satisfy an endless range of wants and whims.”

    He is describing the same wants and needs I was addressing in my comments to you on Maslow’s hierarchy. What I was trying to suggest, as he explains, we are now a society of wants; as such we could label Maslow’s hierarchy a hierarchy of wants instead of needs.

    I am not a trained philosopher, which could be an advantage, so I am neither an existentialist nor essentialist. In fact, I didn’t really know the difference until I read the Ogilvy’s article.

    To me want and need only defines a potential. Want has all it needs and then some so I call it a negative potential. Need is lacking something so I call it a positive potential. This corresponds to a positive and negative charge in physics and has many of the same attributes as the movement of electrons.

    But it sounds to me, with your use of the words existentialism, truth, faith, and belief, that what you are having trouble with are the terms real and reality. The future is real; reality (according to Howard Bloom in his book Globe Brain) is a mass hallucination. Essentially, in a society the resources go towards those elements that support the reality and away from those that don’t. The future of a society is real and exists. The logic of a society depends on wither it is a society of want or need. The ethics of the society is its worth.

    Perhaps it would be accurate to say: at the local level the elements of a society are very existential; on the national or global level or scale it become more essential.

    Essentially, on a global scale, we are consuming 70% of the world’s savings (and consuming a big chunk of that on war), which are going to have some real and predictable consequences; on a local level, if reality supports it, we are a people who believe in the Bill of Rights and the American Constitution. The one may or may not support the other.

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