Using Human History as a guide Could Our Present Civilization Fall Into a New Dark Age?

  1. Montero

    Montero Senior Member

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    @Elventine

    Well.

    Hhm. So, you don't have the time to find the data to support your hypothesis and don't have it to hand, yet you make sweeping statements about the flaws in science. That weakens your argument.

    Funding - having re-read what I said and how you have read it I would like to modify my early statement a fraction. There is a lot of industrially funded research which is unbiased and no-one has any interest in "encouraging" it to produce a particular answer - industry wants to know the answer to "x" and one or more researchers are funded to look at x - PhD students are the cheapest option. There could be say a material science problem - how do this type of materials behave when exposed to the following range of conditions (which is what they'd meet during their service lifetime). The different materials and conditions are divided up into three year projects, various students work on the studies, reports are written, papers are published and at the end of the day the industrial sponsor has the answer on what is the service life of the various new materials and knows whether or not they want to bother to use them. All solid science, totally undramatic.
    No. Most scientists and most companies when they pay for research are looking for what is really happening. Yes, there are times when data is suppressed completely, or results are cherry picked, or conclusions are written that totally exaggerate the data. However other scientists can spot that. They can repeat the experiments and say "hang on, that didn't work for me". The system may not be perfect, or always act promptly, but there are lots of instances in flawed and deliberately skewed research being spotted and publicised. You have already provided links to that happening. Scientists found the flaws in the science. That is the system working.

    Yes a source of funding with few strings attached would be brilliant. It used to exist in the UK as SERC, but it was closed down by the government as being too expensive. I think that was a whacking big mistake as at the time in impacted on blue sky research, but I do also understand if you have a limited pot of money, you can't do everything. I am not up on current university funding as I no longer work in that area. If you want science to have a large pot of money from the government, would you Elventine, be prepared to pay higher taxes to support it?

    While I was writing this, Dave has written an even better answer than the one above. Go Dave.
     
    Jan 6, 2018
    #81
  2. Justin Swanton

    Justin Swanton Loving the view from up here.

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    Ok, but we then need to clarify the parameters of the discussion as the OP refers to past and present. Let's refresh his title and original post:

    Using Human History as a guide Could Our Present Civilization Fall Into a New Dark Age?

    How are we in the present like and unlike past civilizations that have suffered that fate ? What do you think are our vulnerabilities in this regard. And what would be the signs that we are entering a dark age? Are Darks avoidable or are they inevitable in the cycle of History?

    So we need to define what a 'dark age' is. We need to establish the circumstances that precipitate a dark age, and we need to compare these circumstances in the past with present circumstances. Hence we need to talk about past societies and present society inasmuch as forces in those societies could drive them into a dark age. We also need to ascertain if dark ages are preventable.

    The narrative took the turn that any age before the Reformation/Enlightenment/Revolution was dark and it seems useful to point out that that isn't true. If human society functions with reasonable stability - people can live their lives in peace - then I don't think you can call that society dark. If there there is a social breakdown that not only substantially reduces the material sophistication of a society but also seriously disrupts its social fabric in an ongoing way, then you have a dark age. So here's my definition:

    Dark Age: any period in which human society is disrupted to the extent that every individual of that society lives with an ongoing fear of being killed, injured, despoiled or otherwise gravely abused. This disruption necessarily causes a marked decline in the material prosperity of that society.

    Does that about cover it?
     
    Jan 6, 2018
    #82
  3. Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    As an amusing little aside: when I bought my house in the Highlands of Scotland in 1997 it was under something known as Feudalhold or Feudal Tenure which meant that I had a feudal superior who could actually have some say in how the house was used (for business purposes for instance) and demand a feudal payment (something like a penny a year I think!!!!!). Rather bizarrely my feudal superior was actually the Forestry Commission!

    This particular remnant of feudalism was only finally abolished in 2004.
     
    Jan 6, 2018
    #83
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  4. Biskit

    Biskit Cat whisperer

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    It doesn't matter whether you call it a court, a tribunal, an inquiry - the minute you start taking action against someone there has to be some form of process, and all of that requires time and money.

    Again - time and money. No, the current system is not perfect, but where are the resources going to come from to police this.

    What standard did you have in mind. So far as I am concerned, the standard is that you do your best, report what you observed, describe what you conclude from your observations. When someone falls short of that, there is an imperfect system in place to handle it. Probably no more imperfect than any other 'professional' sphere.

    I am very definitely not American. But, call it inquiry, review or prosecution, you have to have some process, someone making the accusation and the opportunity for the accused to defend themselves.


    And first you have to prove the research was falsified. We're back to time and money. And some formal process, because if you start firing people without reasonable grounds, those lawyers will be queuing up with their no-win, no-fee contracts to take the case to an employment tribunal and demand damages.
     
    Jan 6, 2018
    #84
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  5. sknox

    sknox Member and remember

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    Good anecdote that I'm going to turn around to expand on my point. There were feuds (meaning fiefs, not fights between rival families) in the Middle Ages. That's well documents. Where historians object is inferring from that a socio-political system. There were feuds; there was no feudal-ism. Once you aver there was a system, then you start writing books about the system's rise and fall, and reasons for it, and you wind up with a fair number of misconceptions about the whole matter.

    Hey Vertigo, my family will be traveling in Scotland this summer--Edinburgh, Pitlochry then over to Skye and back down the west shore. I'll wave to you. As a Knox, I figure I should visit the homeland at least once. :)
     
    Jan 7, 2018
    #85
  6. dask

    dask dark and stormy knight

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    If you have people in power who continually say (and perhaps even believe) truths are lies and lies are truths then a dark age could be right around the corner.
     
    Jan 7, 2018
    #86
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  7. Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    If you take the Northern route to sky, by way of Achnasheen and Strathcarron rather than Loch Ness, you would go right by my place and be welcome to stop for a brew. However Loch Ness is (obviously) the more popular tourist route!.
     
    Jan 8, 2018
    #87
  8. sknox

    sknox Member and remember

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    That's a kind offer, Vertigo. The route is going to be determined by family consensus, a force far more powerful than any mere mortal. :)
     
    Jan 8, 2018
    #88
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  9. J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    yayadadyayada... You are actually approaching the end of the 'modern' dark ages, s'fars I can tell. The olde guard still have the reins, they really do, but are dying slowly but steadily, kinda like the British Empire, or the Communist Party or the Nazis or like that. Really. The only place left to go is into space, and since they are there ahead of you for the last 50 years, there will be some catching up to do. But then ! The light ages begin anew! Three-quarters of the world unemployed, but with lots of money, we may as well all become writers and artists huh? It will be great.
     
    Jan 14, 2018 at 5:43 AM
    #89
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