Blackbox Science

This is a philosophical statement – and I know what I said about philosophy, ‘a necessary evil’, right – but I’d been thinking, for a long time, that humans were good, by nature. Then I switched to thinking our nature was neutral, neither good, nor bad, those terms being merely subjective. Then…. now, I wonder if we’re not leaning a little to the side of evil. Life being what it is, evolution being the bloody affair that it is, all the pain and suffering imparted on us by nature, of which we are a part, nature’s agents, if you please.

How much the ideas we hold about reality reflect it as much as they do our needs, our state of mind, our inclinations…. and here I am, going off topic before I even got to it.

Our brains were not created to do science. In a sense, it is a by-product of our ability to think rationally and to recognize patterns. This leads to scientists – or people using science or talking about it – performing all the standard brain-acrobatics when their logic and their understanding fall short of the issue at hand, instead of admitting that they don’t know, can’t explain, can’t understand.

As I may have said in a different post – the principles of logic that are at the foundation of our science are perfect, while the society it is imposed upon using a set of rules we call ‘the scientific method’ is not.

I mean, it is, in the sense that all atoms do what they are supposed to do, all chemical reaction happen as scheduled, and if god needs to throw a die, somewhere in the process, then he dutifully does. Predictable or not, the machine hums along and everything that it does turns out to be the right thing, physically speaking.

But it was not designed to do science; it was ‘designed’ to make children. our brain has irrationalities inbuilt into it, by evolution. I’ve discussed it at length in other articles (you can just go to my ‘About’ page and read the articles under ‘Social Evolution’ and under ‘Psychology’) – the computers we carry on those scrawny necks of ours were never intended to generate error messages. The veracity of he answer to one question is always sacrificed, within our brain, in order to attain the sacred goal of equilibrium, or simply as a tactic for not wasting resources.

We want to see the world as it is convenient and comforting for us to see it. We are not simply limited in our ability to understand, we are checked by our need to not understand the things we would not psychologically benefit from understanding.

So, I have spent the better part of this post making a case for the people I am about to criticize. I have explained why my criticism will be pointless, have no effect: the people who will not benefit from understanding it simply will not, regardless of how intelligent they might be.

As someone once said (in my paraphrase): great talents – with their original ideas – will always be beset by mediocrity, and, as a study has demonstrated, people tend to interpret study  results according to their initial biases, to the point of concluding the opposite of what the evidence point to.

So, when scientists (or whoever) say that childhood trauma does not necessarily lead to mental illness, because not all children who have experienced it will develop a mental condition during their lifetimes, they are doing just that: they are applying an inappropriate scientific model to the problem in order to cover up the fact that they don’t truly understand it.

Childhood trauma – or childhood abuse – is not a chemical compound you can pour into a solution of known properties and, consequently, expect a very specific chemical reaction with a very specific result. Quite to the contrary, it is a series of life experiences, each with its own unique properties, with its own unique content, that act on our brain like the addition of several lines of code to its software would do to the operation of a computer.

I think it’s the fact that we are yet not equipped to analyze and understand this coding that leads us to view human psychology as we do the mixing of chemical compounds; to simplify a much more complicated question, to use something like Newtonian physics when relativistic or quantum physics are called for. This, and the fact that our civilized upbringing has left us full of prejudices that have been beaten into us from a young age, our own cultural biases, so many of which are concerned with human psychology and behavior.

Of course, models like the ‘chemical imbalance model’ also help us treat, ‘temporarily’, the symptoms of a condition we cannot yet cure, not to mention it also helps some of us sell a lot of legal drugs. Let us not linger on this example of barbarism in science….

Likewise, we cannot – cannot – write ‘here there be dragons’ in white spaces on your scientific map, this mind-image that represents our knowledge and understanding of the world that we keep in our heads, or in our libraries. I mean, we shouldn’t, as far as the interests of pure science are concerned. Psychologically speaking, there simply is no avoiding the unavoidable.

It is this cultural bias, I believe, that will prevent, indefinitely, the evolution of a good, rational, healthy, individual-focused mental science. This and the fact that society is not geared to take care of the ultimate needs of any individual. The idea that it should is a relatively new meme, meant to hold our society together (just like any ideology). A good, non-industrialized, individual-centered psychotherapy simply does not fit into the economical and social orders we are living in.

And on this merry note I will conclude my post.

Peace out.

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