Found in 2 comments on Hacker News
patcon · 2021-05-22 · Original thread
Ex-biochemist here, turned political technologist (who's spent a few years engaged in electoral reform and governance convos)

> the goal of research, which is to expand the scope and quality of human knowledge.

But are we so certain this is ever what drove science? Before we dive into twiddling knobs with a presumption of understanding some foundational motivation, it's worth asking. Sometimes the stories we tell are not the stories that drive the underlying machinery.

For e.g., we have a lot of wishy-washy "folk theories" of how democracy works, but actual political scientists know that most of the ones people "think" drive democracy, are actually just a bullshit story. According to some, it's even possible that the function of these common-belief fabrications is that their falsely simple narrative stabilizes democracy itself in the mind of the everyman, due to the trustworthiness of seemingly simple things. So it's an important falsehood to have in the meme pool. But the real forces that make democracy work are either (a) quite complex and obscure, or even (b) as-of-yet inconclusive. [1]

I wonder if science has some similar vibes: folks theory vs what actually drives it. Maybe the folk theory is "expand human knowledge", but the true machinery is and always has been a complex concoction of human ego, corruption and the fancies of the wealthy, topped with an icing of natural human curiosity.

[1]" https://www.amazon.ca/Democracy-Realists-Elections-Responsiv...

patcon · 2021-02-01 · Original thread
heh sorry, maybe it wasn't as strong a primer as I was recalling, since there's lots of noise around the message I was cherry-picking for my comment :)

This one's more to-the-point maybe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcgbLwn_yYE

It's basically saying at every level of existence and perception, actors that see fake versions of reality outcompete and drive to extinction actors that spend energy trying to see truth (and as a corollary, try to socialize truth). Shortcuts always win. Like not just one given level we might try to look at, like our mental heuristics, but at EVERY level.

At its core, it's basically saying "truth" is not energetically favoured in systems.

This gives me tons of pause for thought, in that I wonder how a truism like this might play out at the cultural level of organization, where evolution remains a force at play. I feel aware of the power of stories and lies to create simple narratives at all levels -- is this a manifestation of this sort of information energetics playing out? For e.g., the overton window being a constrained version of truth that [previously] created stability. Or the fact that democracy doesn't appear to actually function according to the folk theory we all tell ourselves, but maybe the simple (fake) story of democracy is what makes it work.[1] Or how we deceive about our own internal state in order to keep social homeostasis with others. Or that truth maybe doesn't have enough benefit to survive unless it has the cover of larger lies/deceptions to offset its penalty...? So what lies allowed the dominance of science to operate up til now, and how might we be shifting that balance within our new digital landscape?

I dunno, I have some background in this stuff, but haven't been in academia for a bit, so it's a bit armchairy :)

[1]: https://www.amazon.ca/Democracy-Realists-Elections-Responsiv...

Fresh book recommendations delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday.