The death of world renowned astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, can be seen as another nail in the coffin of genuine science.
Hawking’s honest approach to science was exemplified by his readiness to admit his mistakes. In his 70s, he admitted that a belief he formulated early in his scientific career was incorrect. This form of scientific inquiry, however, has become a rarity in today’s scientific world.
Since about the 1960s, we have witnessed the gradual corruption and downfall of science. The widespread acclaim for science deteriorated, and became replaced with business, Hollywood and sports. More significantly, science itself became infused with goals other than understanding the nature of reality. It became increasingly exploited as a means to inflate people’s wealth, power and respect.
Together with the decline in the appreciation of genuine science came scientists’ needs to serve their funders’ interests. It is now commonplace for governments to use scientists for advancing their political agendas, and for corporations to use scientists for increasing their profits. One of the obvious results is that “scientific progress” and “technological progress” became confused as being one and the same, since scientific R&D is so prominently put to use in developing today’s technologies.
“Together with the decline in the appreciation of genuine science came scientists’ needs to serve their funders’ interests.”
Profit-Driven Initiatives Do Not Benefit Humanity
It has thus become difficult to be a genuine scientist, one who aims to discover the underlying order of nature, and much easier to be a scientist who contributes to profitable high-tech ventures. The overshadowing of truth-seeking science with technology-developing science gained public support as it became a commonly-held belief that new technologies emerge to benefit humanity.
Statements such as “renewable energy is better for the environment” and “social media connects people” have become modern-day axioms in public discourse, creating a perception where each new gadget comes to solve people’s problems and make the world a better place.
However, a deeper look into this phenomenon shows the contrary. For example, electric cars like the Tesla, popularly branded as “good for the environment,” have been found to cause more pollution than 8-year old carbon-emitting cars; and social media, despite connecting people technologically, has been found to have dangerous sociological and negative psychological effects.
“Lurking beneath the façade that technology will eventually solve most of our problems and make our lives better, are discoveries showing how these new “solutions” are actually detrimental to our well-being, because they fail to fix our problems at their source.”
Therefore, lurking beneath the façade that technology will eventually solve most of our problems and make our lives better, are discoveries showing how these new “solutions” are actually detrimental to our well-being, because they fail to fix our problems at their source.
The reason for this is simple: we cannot expect real, long-lasting solutions to our problems if the solutions offered emerge from self-centered profit motives. In other words, everything we create comes from a destructive calculation, because our self-interests are more important to us than the benefit of all people. Stephen Hawking himself once gave the example of how computer viruses reflect the destructive quality of human nature, stating that “the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive.”
“If we want to make further progress toward discovering the laws of nature, and use them to everyone’s benefit, we need to change the way we perceive and relate to reality.”
The Knowledge Science Still Needs to Extract From Nature
With science and technology resulting from our self-centered perception of reality, their capacity to do good to humanity is bound to reach a dead end. However, if we change our perception of reality to one where we wish for the benefit of all over selfish interests, then we will see phenomenal breakthroughs in science and technology: They will function to genuinely solve our problems, and will indeed make the world a better place, since the perception guiding them will become free from exploitative, manipulative and profiteering motives.
Interestingly, over the 20th century alone, science itself did a 180 degree flip on the point that science itself is a result of human perception. It started with the Newtonian view that reality exists regardless of our perception, took a leap through Einstein proving that reality is relative to our perception, and ended with quantum mechanics stating that reality can be created by our perception.
Therefore, science itself has culminated to a pivotal moment in human understanding: If we want to make further progress toward discovering the laws of nature, and use them to everyone’s benefit, we need to change the way we perceive and relate to reality. The underlying motives of egoistic profit and power in this sector need to shift to altruistic motives that genuinely seek society’s benefit.
Hitting Restart on Humanity
To undergo such a fundamental change of human perception, we have to put ourselves into the laboratory as the object of research. That is, we have to actively experiment and find how to upgrade our relations to each other, through educational and social activities in groups. The aim of such social activities and experiments would be to develop an altruistic lens through which we can look at the whole picture of reality.
In my view of the future, researching the structure and behavior of the world through enhanced human connection will provide the major shift that our science needs in order to become truly beneficial for humanity. Ultimately, it would open our eyes to a whole new kind of science, one closer to the inherent balance and harmony that exist in nature.
“Researching the structure and behavior of the world through enhanced human connection will provide the major shift that our science needs in order to become truly beneficial for humanity.”