All too many people today believe they are reasoning, when really, they are only rearranging their pre-existing prejudices, to the same effect as rearranging chairs on the Titanic would have had. You cannot build knowledge from that set of legos, no matter how creatively you rearrange them, because new information can’t get through the cloud of preconceived notions.

This was pointed out by David Bohm¹ (1917–1992), who was an American scientist who has been described as one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century.⁠²

He also warned of the dangers of rampant reason and technology, when it ignores the spiritual and emotional aspects of our being, and he advocated for the need for genuine supportive dialogue, which he claimed could broaden and unify conflicting and troublesome divisions in the social world.

Today we can see those divisions everywhere we look, regardless of where we stand, to the point that we can no longer see each other, so blinded have we become. We can only see what divides us: our hatred, anger, resentment, and beliefs, as well as our various cultural, political and moral norms, and the xenophobic fear of others that are not ‘like us’.

These divisions are once again being put into play and used to distract us from the activities of the harmful forces arrayed at the upper echelons of business and governments worldwide, so that we — divided peoples — go to war with each other, allowing the real attacks against our person to proceed unhindered in any way. In fact, allowing ourselves to be divided, we aid in the dissolution of our own power, leaving us at the mercy of psychopaths and their attendant sycophants.

One of the greatest and most damaging divisions that has been created between us is that of the fracture between “science” and “spirituality,” and the knowledge that each of these realms can bring us. And it seems that the problem lies more on the side of scientists today — that word being used in the more inclusive meaning of anyone who is an adherent to the belief that modern science is the only arbiter of truth — because scientists are so heavily invested in the belief that reason is all-powerful. As Bohm pointed out, this is a danger to us all — especially to scientists themselves.

To know something is to hold an evidenced understanding that can be put into practical effect, thus it is knowledge with evidence. The scientific method imposes a standard of verification — that the evidence can be verified — thus it uses a higher standard than just practical benefit which just requires that the knowledge be useful. But both are ways to practical knowledge.

Many scientists today conflate unverified-knowledge-with-evidence with belief, rather than seeing its value as practical knowledge. However, to believe something intentionally drops the need for evidence, and this is not what happens in the case of practical knowledge — which is only useful when it has real-world effects.

Unfortunately, along with intentional belief, the insistence that knowledge with evidence must be verified to be true excludes the most important knowledge that we humans can have of ourselves — because such knowledge cannot, in most cases, be verified scientifically.

Only one other kind of knowledge is like personal knowledge, in that it can’t be verified: the scientific method’s own insistence that verification proves that something is true. That particular tenet of the scientific method has never itself been verified, and because verifying its truth requires absolute and total knowledge, it can never be verified to be true scientifically. Many today that could be labeled as a scientist, in my more inclusive sense of that word, cannot even imagine what that last sentence even refers to because they believe totally in the absolute hegemony of Science.

Such infinite knowledge is beyond the realm of science and spirituality. But still, such ideas as Verificationism can be useful — even with its stated defect — and this proves that unverified-knowledge-with-evidence can be useful, for that is all that the scientific method is.

For example, the Geocentric Theory was useful for thousands of years, and even after the introduction of the Heliocentric Theory in the 3rd century BC by Aristarchus of Samos, the Geocentric Theory continued to be useful — most likely because the math needed to perform calculations of the positions of celestial bodies was easier using the assumption that the Sun, Moon, and Planets, orbited the Earth — without much loss of precision. It wasn’t until the 16th century AD that a mathematical model of the heliocentric system was presented by the Renaissance mathematician, astronomer, and Catholic cleric Nicolaus Copernicus, that his eponymous “revolution” took place.

And yet, it wasn’t until proof came 227 years later, well after the “Copernican Revolution,” when Friedrich Bessel succeeded in determining the parallax³ of the star 61 Cygni that the first scientific verification that the Earth did indeed orbit the Sun occurred when Bessel showed that the Earth’s position was changing back and forth each year.

Because the truth of some thing’s state of affairs must be intrinsic to the thing — not to our knowledge or understanding of the thing — unverified knowledge can still prove useful. But even with evidence, unless the thing in question is also non-contingent, necessary, and simple, it is still based in a presumption about a state of affairs whose total breadth can never be directly known by us because it requires infinite knowledge.

This is the reason why scientific knowledge is always contingent, no matter how much proof is gathered. The conflation and commingling of necessary truths, like those of maths and logic, with scientific ‘truths’, is a forgetting of the very foundation of the scientific method — of Science itself. Whenever a scientist ridicules a believer of unverified ideas, he forgets that his profession requires that he himself can never be wearing pants.

Thus, because scientists will forever be restricted to only knowing that which can be verified because of the impossibility of infinite knowledge, theirs is a more limited subset of knowledge. Unfortunately, their desire for that not to be true has led to their schizophrenic belief that nothing can be true unless scientific verification says it is so — a position which is not scientific at all because it relies on things not being true intrinsically, only contingently, which undermines the possibility of anything being true at all.

We are all born ignorant, and learned ignorance can be a useful tool.⁴ Our ignorance at birth allows us to learn. Our learned ignorance — through the un-saying of that which we have heard — renews our potential for gaining knowledge for ourselves. True things will still be true, and thus easily found once again, but webs of unfounded prejudice will crumble and ruin away, leaving us open to a new dawning of the light of intelligence, rather than the dim intransigence that fogs the mind and blocks us from ever knowing each other.

Ignorance is a lack of knowledge; but stupidity is willful ignorance — and idiocy is incoherent stupidity. There is all too much stupidity, and idiocy, going around today, and prejudicial notions are the manure in which they thrive.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།


¹ Bohm said: “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”

² “Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm,” F. David Peat, Addison Wesley, 1997, pp. 316–317

³ “Parallax” is the angular difference in the position of stars from a moving point of observation over time, such as the Earth as it orbits the Sun.

⁴ “The Persistence and Transience of Memory,” Blake A. Richards and Paul W. Frankland, DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2017.04.037

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