Twilight of the Standard Model

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William Duncan, a good friend of ours who blogs at Off the Grid in Minneapolis, has touched on some truly divine issues in this recent offering.  Does science spell its own doom?  Does the standard-model of scientific reasoning, the unquestioned faith in the syllogism and analytical deconstruction ultimately lead one over the proverbial cliff, or just back to the unforgiving and  fleshy reality of our natures?  Let us follow Mr. Duncan, where few men (or women) have gone before. Perhaps only Nietzsche has gone further. kC

I consider physics to be one of the great spiritual triumphs of modern society. In a way, quantum physics is like coming full circle – a reintroduction to mystery in the universe. Indeed, if the point of civilization is to come to know our place in the physical universe, Science (with a capital S) could be said to be one of the great triumphs of the coming-of-age of humanity.

But then, it is not as though Science sees physics as a spiritual triumph, but more a triumph over nature. Thinking so, it cannot see that Science is in part responsible for the proliferation of nuclear material: in major facilities next to people, nuclear tipped missiles, and out of the barrel of guns (depleted uranium bullets). Phlatlets, chemicals, GMO and nano-particles released into the biosphere with near-total abandon. The wanton use of antibiotics threatening new plagues, while industrial methods dependent entirely upon fossil fuels threaten the exhaustion of the land, waters and air. The machinery of quantum mechanics looks to turn the entirety of the earth into a wasteland.

Which the news last week, that the Higgs Boson is semi-officially discovered, “giving” mass to the universe as we know it, under the standard model of physics, should have been considered another great triumph. Alas, word is, the discovery of the Higgs was supposed to open up new vistas of ethereal landscape, in the elucidation of dark matter, gravity, angular momentum, the “vacuum catastrophe”. It was not meant to be a dead end. To reiterate, the standard model of physics, and the elucidation of the Higgs, does not account for that mysterious substance referred to as dark matter, or gravity, or why anything in this universe spins or spirals, or why quantum physics suggests that empty space is in fact denser than matter by an order of magnitude running to infinity. Consider again the devastation wrought by the fruit of Science, and then you might begin to comprehend, that the standard model of physics can be seen as a dismal failure.

Scientists are still hopeful. They are doubling the energy of their Hadron Collider, ever attempting to unlock the mysteries of the universe by FORCE. Meanwhile, the earth and it’s people languish, under ever increasing aggression, as a million and one ideologies seek to silence every other, as every one and their mother attempts to catch, grab and hold what they can of what remains of the once abundant earth, among a population growing exponentially in a way that would not have been possible without Science. And only a very few on the margins are dedicated to healing.

Do you suppose it is mere coincidence, that the twilight of the standard model of physics arrives, at the same time humanity appears to have reached the carrying capacity of the earth, at the same time war is threatened everywhere, as if we are preparing for one last great conflagration, at the same time the financial system seems on the verge of collapse? Does it surprise you that the fiercest of new “superbugs” should arise out of hospitals? Does it surprise you that the “green revolution”, the proliferation of industrial agriculture, should threaten famine unforeseen at any point in human history? Should it surprise you that in a time when their are so few jobs to be had, they are making machines to replace people in many of the jobs that remain? It should not surprise you, if you have not made a god out of the technology wrought by the ingenuity of humans. It should not surprise you, if you are unconvinced that scientific progress is an unequivocal good, for the betterment of humanity. It should not surprise you if you do not believe that Science is the be-all, end-all of human understanding.

Science will never unlock the full mystery of the physical universe, as long as it is assumed that to understand a thing, you must destroy it, as they do so energetically with the Hadron Collider, as they do with cells by tearing them apart. Science is an extension, at this point, of the will to power, of the will to dominate. Science has driven spirit from life, and in so doing, has stultified. Making of the material universe material ONLY, scientists have closed themselves off to themselves. By banishing the irrational, they have closed themselves off to the full breadth of life. In short, scientists need to get HIGH.

Which I think accounts for some of the recent attempt to de-stigmatize cannabis here in America, a kind of unconscious awakening to the fact that what passes for answers in this culture of high tech this-and-that, are not answers at all, but more like gratification of our basest desires, our most cruel assumptions about what life is and what life is about. Consider that modern Science has desired to understand every material thing in the universe, except that most useful of all plants here on earth, except any plant or fungi that can be considered hallucinogenic. Which is to say, Science has closed itself off to the full breadth of the universe of the mind. To claim the mind as a weak and flawed piece of meat, elecro-chemically active but otherwise inert, is to diminish it and humans and life, in a self-similar way as Religion (with a capital R) cut human consciousness away from the earth (which is precisely why the only thing on this earth as rigid as a fundamentalist for God, is a dogmatic scientific atheist.)

More and more, I do hear scientists talking sense. Referring to the human body as an ecosystem, a kind of mirror of the earth outside. It should follow then, that you cannot poison the body of the one and expect it to thrive, any more than you can poison the body of the whole and expect it to support abundant life. Four hundred years after Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes’, Sir Isaac Newton, et al, elucidated for us the scientific method, Science is beginning to comprehend the bombast, the crudity of it’s ways. Too little too late? We shall see. At the same time I hear some Scientists talking about mimicking Nature, I hear others talking about bio-engineering, as a solution to climate change (and really every other problem there is), which is just more of the same over-weening hubris, a fundamental lack of ability to self-reflect. A most paternalistic and immature desire to control everything.

I wonder sometimes if most of what has been wrought, will have to be lost, before we awaken to the error of our ways? If most of that has arisen from the ingenuity of men (mostly), will have to be lost, before we will accept that the universe and life is considerably more mysterious than we like or care to believe? I wonder too if Science will help lead to the total destruction of the earth and biosphere upon which the species depends, and there will never be anything like a search for understanding, by any human, ever again?

It is not merely the twilight of the standard model of physics. It is the twilight of the standard model of everything human.

Embrace the mystery.

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28 Responses to Twilight of the Standard Model

  1. Music to accompany the reading of a good essay:

    Lacrimosa (The Tree of Life, 2011)

    Oblivion is ok too. You can never not be a part of the universe.

    • Arrowpeakhouse,

      Thanks for that. And to science. And the makers of it. The magnificence of this universe and this earth brings tears to my eyes. If we only ALL had eyes to see ALL that Science has wrought.

  2. leavergirl says:

    Well said, well said.

  3. Disaffected says:

    Excellent post and glad to see you all are doing well. I think you hit on the basic problem right here:

    At the same time I hear some Scientists talking about mimicking Nature, I hear others talking about bio-engineering, as a solution to climate change (and really every other problem there is), which is just more of the same over-weening hubris, a fundamental lack of ability to self-reflect. A most paternalistic and immature desire to control everything.

    Rest assured, nothing has really changed. It’s always ever just better marketed. But as any have said, it’s not humanity per se that’s fucked in the head, it’s just this particularly pathological and virulent western variety of homo fuckedupness that we’ve got to worry about. Which increasingly and very soon will hold sway over all that is on this little blue marble. Better pray to God – if there is one – to pull us out of our current tailspin, cause God knows that we sure as hell ain’t up to the task.

    • Disaffected says:

      I wonder sometimes if most of what has been wrought, will have to be lost, before we awaken to the error of our ways? If most of that has arisen from the ingenuity of men (mostly), will have to be lost, before we will accept that the universe and life is considerably more mysterious than we like or care to believe? I wonder too if Science will help lead to the total destruction of the earth and biosphere upon which the species depends, and there will never be anything like a search for understanding, by any human, ever again?

      Indeed, what if that’s the whole point in the first place? I.E.; another karmic round for the fair inhabitants (“souls”) of a place they called earth in a single universe among an infinite many, learning infinitely many lessons about what it is to be individualized, and thus separated from their higher nature? Or something like that. Hey, sure beats network TV. No flippancy implied.

      • Disaffected says:

        Oh Christ, I hate to get into this again, but here’s the YouTube link, which should post a bit more elegantly:

    • Dis,

      If there is a God, in the Monotheistic sense, He’s a little tardy. I myself call out to the Goddess, mostly, my ancestors, the earth also. Sometimes to God, but I don’t mistake any for the creator. 😉

      • Disaffected says:

        Here’s my latest take on **GOD** if there is one: it’s (it’s almost certainly beyond mere he/she differentiation) so far beyond our current cognitive and spiritual conception (entirely on purpose) that any attempt to conceive of it is necessarily a childish exercise. But I also think that that’s the point in the first place; once again, assuming there is one. And the point of all that is a progression towards an ever higher state of being, “culminating” (a really bad and totally human term, for infinity, by definition, knows no “culmination”) eventually in some sort of transcendence, aka “rebirth.” But I hate to get caught up in in all that “New Age” cliched language, as it invariably carries around so much intellectual baggage. And even more than anything, I’m more and more convinced by the day that the way to any kind of “true” knowledge at all is NOT(!!!) through intellectual pursuit whatsoever, but by pure experience! In other words, while yakking on boards like this (and countless others) is nice, it don’t settle or prove one damn thing! Yeah, I know. I’m just now getting around to figuring that out. Me, who’ve always prided myself on being so smart, undone by my own logic. You live, you learn, you die. It happens to the best and the worst of us.

  4. derekthered says:

    reminds of the old joke about how do you grow mushrooms? you feed them shit and keep them in the dark. we, or at least the ruling class, have the greatest information tools ever available to mankind in the form of the mass media, but it is used for crap, for dancing with the stars, and who survives on the tropical paradise. the public is wandering around trying to figure out how to make the next car payment while our priestly class of politicians and experts lead us all like lemmings over the cliff.
    people need food, clothing, and shelter, plus a little something to fill their heads, something to give their lives meaning, it is the last point where society fails, and why?
    i believe the owners of this world don’t want the citizenry to know what is going on, better to treat them like mushrooms. of course the latest scientific breakthrough is trotted out to dazzle the bumpkins now and then, much like the ancients probably baffled the peasants with the knowledge of the next solar eclipse.
    when i look at the latest political wrangling over how best to divvy up the spoils of empire i just despair, it looks as if the supposed left in the good old USA does not have a clue, the liberal solution is to leave things in place, continue with business as usual while our country and world crumble around us.
    to begin to reform our way of life would mean empowering the people, decentralization, this is the last thing the ruling class would ever want. the current energy intensive system is the way for them to keep power and control, so they will keep rolling out the carnival sideshows all while the cooling pools keep filling up with radioactive poisons.

    • leavergirl says:

      “i believe the owners of this world don’t want the citizenry to know what is going on, better to treat them like mushrooms. of course the latest scientific breakthrough is trotted out to dazzle the bumpkins now and then, much like the ancients probably baffled the peasants with the knowledge of the next solar eclipse.”

      Ya believe correct, my friend. First you baffle’em and awe’em, then you swindle’em out of their birthright (the commons) and tie’em up with debt. Stealing their assets via extortion is then a piece of cake.

      • Disaffected says:

        leavergirl,

        But of course, you of all posters know that the current consolidation of wealth was not so much “planned,” as it was merely an inevitable byproduct of our current and longstanding world view. And that world view includes all of us; the rich who are taking advantage, and the poor who being taken advantage of. Kind of funny when you think about it. Not so much when you’re on the wrong end of it.

        The Show Must Go On!

    • Disaffected says:

      to begin to reform our way of life would mean empowering the people, decentralization, this is the last thing the ruling class would ever want

      derek,

      The more I consider it, the more I think that’s the last thing that “we the people” want either. We’re peculiar creatures, we humans.

      • derekthered says:

        you may be right, but hen how much of that is cultural conditioning? when you think about it, going totally primitive? i don’t think i could hack it. what i am thinking is millions of small farms, perma-culture, “french intensive”, it used to be called. maybe it’s the fact that i am one generation away from the plow.
        now, i am a city boy thru and thru, but think about the acculturation of the real big city folks who are many generations removed from the land, they know no other way, this will be the culture shock.
        when i was a kid we could drive 10 miles and buy whole milk, take the cream off with a baster, and make hand-cranked ice cream, those were the days. i’ve actually been a passenger on a horse a couple times.
        anyhow, small farms, railroads, commodity stabilization boards, these are some of my ideas, probably never happen.

        “And when they split those atoms
        It’s hotter than the sun
        Blood is a special substance
        They gonna pray for that man”

        hoo, hoo, goo, goo, goojube, and all that.

        • Disaffected says:

          you may be right, but hen how much of that is cultural conditioning?

          Well yeah, but that’s the point. We’re “culturally conditioned” from birth. It’s not that we have to be dragged kicking and screaming to our inevitable slaughter (just like the animals that we eat) at the hands of our self-appointed masters, rather, that’s what we ourselves choose for ourselves in the first place! And we do it to ourselves in the mistaken belief that by doing so we’ll somehow miraculously escape the the logical trap we set for ourselves of our own choice in the first place.

          Circular logic.

          • Disaffected says:

            And you’re right, contrary to “Kunstlerian logic,” we ain’t going back to the human driven plows and “victory gardens” anytime soon, short of absolute starvation at least. And even then…

            • derekthered says:

              “short of absolute starvation” being the operative phrase, and with topsoil depletion?
              i’m collecting five gallon buckets, for compost, growing plants, when you’re rootless you can take your garden with you, house plants, outside plants, i’ts good for you, as the swami says.
              naw, i think we are going to burn it all up, figures i recollect were a trillion barrel endowment of which we’ve used half, it figures to be 15 years at current rates of depletion, i think the crunch is going to hit like a freight train, and the ruling class knows it. way i figure it is they’re just trying to keep a lid on it as long as they can, weather the turmoil, wherever it is they have top secret, and when it all burns out? the social system will still be stratified to some extent, but w/o machines despotism will be more local, unless the species learns a lesson, but i’m not holding my breath.

              so, i have to disagree, i really feel that 50-60 years from now gardening may be the only way we will survive, meaning the children, hopefully, as i won’t be around, most likely , or maybe i just like dirt. speaking of which, you can take the five gallon bucket theory just about as far you want. what the hell, with plate tectonics there’s more where that came from. cosmically speaking.

              • Disaffected says:

                Just shooting from the hip, I guess I’d agree provided that we somehow make it through the bottleneck back to a sustainable population of whatever it is (certainly at or less than 1B, maybe 500M or less?). But you know, I don’t think we’re ever gonna make it that far. Population retrenchment (especially considering the effects of climate change) ain’t gonna play out nearly as linearly as we are conditioned to imagine. Beware the exponential function (never mind human nature) and it’s implications! It’s entirely possible that in 50-60 years remaining plant species will entirely dictate what and how much we eat; i.e.; which remaining omnivore/herbivore can best convert the remaining available plant energy to food energy and thus sustain the remaining food chain. Maybe freaking cattle will turn out to be ecologically wise in 2100 after all! Wouldn’t THAT be a hoot!

    • Disaffected says:

      Hey Derek,

      I’ve been doing a fair amount of the usual “soul searching” lately too, as I guess most habitues of this blog are wont to do. And what I find every time I look, just ain’t all that admirable. First of all, for all the talk of and sympathy for “the poor” I have and do profess continually, in the end, I ain’t one of them, and I never have been! Although I’ve never made as much as $100K/yr in my life, nor do I ever expect to, I certainly ain’t wanting for any of the luxuries of the modern 1st world capitalist lifestyle that I can reasonably afford. Nor do I want or intend to renounce any of them anytime soon.

      For two, and here’s the rub, I come from a long line and wide swath of current legitimately poor people in the midwest USA, and you know what? I despise the stupid fucks! REALLY! Believe when I say, I don’t pity the dumb shits in the least, cause they’re ALL surely smart enough to understand what’s happening to them, and yet they stubbornly resist and continue to rail against the powers that might offer them a modicum of relief, while continuing to most vociferously support the powers that seek to undo them! How to explain? I must admit, I simply do not know.

      But, continuing that thought, I think I’m finally over the idea that “our rich overlords are doing it to us.” I think this idea was always in the back of my mind, but I think it’s firmed up dramatically of late. It ain’t the rich doing anything to anyone, it’s everyone – destitute, poor, middle-class, and rich – ALL trying to become richer than everyone else. THAT’S the crux of it. The whole fucking misguided notion that “greed is good,” and that life is all about “keeping score.” And the breakthrough idea is that, once again, (nearly) EVERYONE has bought into it. A MUCH tougher nut to crack!

      So, might be time to get over the idea that “we’re being fucked,” and start asking who’s really doing the fucking and why. Certainly the wealthy could give a shit less – they’ve WON already and are more than happy to continue rubbing in in our faces.

      • derekthered says:

        i hear you bro. i’ve been preaching to the dumbass rednecks around here for 40 years, i’ve gotten nowhere. i just think the social conditioning runs so deep. but i must acknowledge your point, if i can see it, why can’t they. probably because of the reasons you stated. jesus christ, programmed to expect the best, such naivete. and i think of myself as such a hard case, just a shell, an empty defensive shell.

        • Disaffected says:

          And to top it all off, when given the opportunity, the blue collar poor are more often than not every bit as selfish and uppity toward their former peers as the rich as always have been. Morris Berman goes into a great deal of detail as to why this is and always has been in Why America Failed. That book opened my eyes more than any I’ve read in a number of years. And what this all portends for our coming collapse is not good, to say the least. We not only don’t have a subsistence agrarian culture to fall back on (even if we hadn’t already ruined most of the land that was once good for that purpose), but we don’t have the common cause cultural attitudes toward subsistence living anymore either. Having bought into the extremes of our current political paradigms, our approach is now locked into a stalemate between a national government welfare social safety net, or the now ascendant “fuck ’em, let the free market (aka corporate empire) deal with their asses,” aka, let ’em starve. Neither will work in the long run (and rest assured, only the latter will even be tried), but lacking any common cause between the people who have “lost” under the current system, they’re the only games in town. Dark times ahead my friend.

  5. Hey red,

    Don’t disparage mushrooms like that! Er, was that a kind of compliment? LOL. People need to be taking some shrooms, dammit! Or yeah, more of the same ol’ same ‘ol “Dancing with the (semi-worthless) STARS”, and we’re all gonna be seeing sideways-like, eyes growin out our ears and such, radioactive whatnot breaking apart the GENES AT THE CORE OF OUR BEING. Maybe that’s like some evolutionary step forward, but it’s lookin’ to me more like the end of the SPECIES.

  6. Thanks, ALL, who commented and read. I would have gotten to responding sooner, but my city wireless is sketchy, I’ve been avoiding Internet generally, and I didn’t know ’till this Saturday evening that Sandy had posted this, here. Which, Thank you very much, Sandy. A great honor.

    Blessings. All.

    • Disaffected says:

      You da FUCKING MAN WDH! Stop being so damn humble and kick it in the Twin Cities for all of us, OK! And this just in from God, it’s OK if you let it all hang out every now and then too. But keep on keep’n on Sunday-Thursday nights at least. The neighbors are thankful, and God knows, I’ve (he’s/she’s) got enough complaints already.

  7. “The Pirahã, who in some ways are the ultimate empiricists…”

    ~RECURSION AND HUMAN THOUGHT: WHY THE PIRAHÃ DON’T HAVE NUMBERS
    A Talk With Daniel L. Everett

    “Science,” at least as it is marketed—as a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge—is as old as humans. It’s primitive, not modern.

    Modern, i.e., Rene Descartes’, “science” is the dogmatic conflation of natural aliveness with the calculated deadness of machines, needing to understand only enough to control nature like a machine.

    Hell, self-styled scientists will even say it’s not science if it can’t somehow be quantified numerically. Says who? Only a severely crippled machinima could ever think that way.

  8. Disaffected says:

    Greer’s post this week is pretty good too, and the comments even better. I think he really struck a nerve with this one:

    The Sound of the Gravediggers

  9. gregg says:

    great post. i concur… welcome to the machine
    http://www.ehrlum.com/v2012/pages/machine.htm

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