The thrust of the news between now and Christmas is something I already know. It may be a good time to talk some “philosophy of science”.
We learn in high school science classes that scientific progress comes brick-by-brick. We learn that scientists form hypotheses, devise experiments to test them, collect data, form conclusions, wash-rinse-repeat. Their conclusions are bricks that get added to the wall of science, a wall that gets built higher and higher over time with each generation of scientists.
That is not how science really advances, argued Thomas Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). Using historical examples, he showed that the model I just laid out describes how science works sometimes, for some periods. Yet the real rhythm of science, Kuhn said, is different: on occasion results come along that do not fit into the brick wall that everyone else has built. These anomalies do not fit the reigning paradigm (a word Kuhn popularized), and so they get set aside. Such anomolous bricks accumulate. Then one day a new thinker shows up and says, If I knock down the brick wall as it stands, I can take all the old bricks plus these anomalous bricks and build a new wall which uses all the bricks.
I can think of a great example (though I forget if it was used in Kuhn’s book). In 1895 the Chairman of the Harvard Physics Department was discouraging new graduate students from studying physics, on the grounds that all of physics had been figured out. There were just two anomalies no one could explain: the problem of black-body radiation, and the photoelectric effect. Over the next decade Max Plank and Albert Einstein explained them, in the process giving us the foundations of quantum mechanics and Relativity, respectively. The “brick wall” on which physicists had labored since Newton turned out to provide good answers on scales in which scientists lived and thought about, but at different scales (subatomic and cosmological) that paradigm fails in favor of those two new paradigms.
Soon our society will enter such a moment not regarding not physics, but politics. Party Line narratives are about to be exploded in favor of a new paradigm brought about by the greatest political scandal in US history.
It is going to be interesting to see how the Establishment and MSM adjust. Some will foolishly flog a failed paradigm beyond what the public sees as reasonable (we may be at that point now with an impeachment-about-nothing impeachment going on, and the main event has not even happened: the revelation of the true reason some people have a conniption about Trump asking Ukraine to investigate certain corrupt matters, a conniption so extreme they would gin up this pantomime play of a US presidential impeachment). Such MSM will keep doing what they are doing now, relying on suggestibility and intellectually dishonest framing, but it will wear thin for all but the most doltish of viewers. Eventually, those who stay flogging the current Party Line will be like those old Borscht Belt Comedians, still trying to make it pay with jokes that went out of fashion in the 1960’s.
But there are others who will act with intellectual integrity. They will realize that the evidence which is being revealed shatters their worldview, and it is time to develop a new one. They who do this have my respect.
Let me pass early commendations to former US Attorney Preet Bharara. On Friday CNN’s Wolf Blitzer had Preet Bharara on as a guest. During their interview, breaking news provided an anomaly to Mr. Bharara, who gave a small but classy demonstration of how to do what I am describing (see at around 2:10).
I predict that what you see in this tape is but that first drop of rain from a typhoon. Message to MSM: the quicker you learn to do what Mr. Bharara does here (it is called “intellectual honesty”), the better your odds of making it through this tempest. Those who think they can beat this one by deflections, or sideshows, or buckets of chicken, are going to look increasingly hapless.
Respect to Professor Nancy Cartwright, a renowned figure in the field of Philosophy of Science, under whom I had the honor of studying at Stanford.
I left 1,500 colleagues and 40,000 shareholders at Overstock in order to come public. Please do me a favor and help them out by doing your Christmas shopping at Overstock.com.