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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sophisticated Immune Systems: Science [Four]

"Religion is the nourish-crop of Science.  I think it’s very possible that we would have never had Science if we didn’t have the Religious Era first.  We can be grateful for those oats.  Now we have Science, and it’s not clear whether we need to plant any more oats."
~ Daniel Dennett

The memeplex of science has a sophisticated immune system.  It increases our knowledge base not by making it too sacred to investigate, but by testing data and remaining open to new interpretations.  Science views knowledge as a common good rather than private property and seeks to protect that knowledge through vetting discoveries before adding them to the cannon of knowledge.  The process of peer review confers social recognition on those who contribute to the scientific body of knowledge, tying itself to basic human emotions and pleasures.  Science rewards a host society with knowledge, material goods and leisure. 
Perhaps most importantly, Science allows us to reconsider and adopt new strategies.  It allows us to see past our biases & sensory limitations and approach a closer understanding of reality.  This allows us to move from wishing or delaying satisfaction until after death to working towards knowledge and understanding, helping us create a just society.
Unlike political, economic or religious memeplexes which restrict information flows and unequally distribute limited resources, Science (independent of other memeplexes) offers direct and democratic interaction and intervention.  We are no longer dependent serfs but co-creators with this memeplex.  We are what we were in the beginning, the parents and potters of the memes.

Still, the scientific method(s) is far from perfect.  Testing of a new theory is hard to initiate while scientists are committed to a current paradigm (emotionally & professionally).  Objections and dismissals are heard in all corners.  Other memeplexes compete for resources, redirect funding and create emotional blockades in would-be allies.  It is a general inertia.  But we should never assume that the scientific method will triumph in the end.  It is but one memeplex in a global jungle.  It must have its champions.
Reality-testing, the basis of Scientific inquiry, is perhaps the first and truest devotional impulse of our species; discovery for discovery's sake, aiding unconsciously in our survival.  It is perhaps this original devotion that we will now turn to, as we  see the pitfalls of dogmas which limit human flourishing.

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