The Emperor Has No Clothes (An email to Adam Grant)
(Here, “The Emperor” stands for “Normal Science”).
Re: Your Ted presentation The surprising habits of original thinkers.
Synopsis of Adam Grant’s Ted presentation for the Cc recipients :
How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies “originals”: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure. “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” Grant says. “You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”
(English is my second language)
“Of course, our failures are a consequence of many factors, but possibly one of the most important is the fact that society operates on the theory that specialization is the key to success, not realizing that specialization precludes comprehensive thinking.” Buckminster Fuller (Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth, 1968)
Following Buckminster, I went to university to intentionally become a “Generalist.” And after two BA, one MA, and 20+ years of independent postgraduate research, I still don’t know any subjects enough to be considered a specialist in any. From a Skinnerian perspective, I am an “original thinker.”
As a “learned comprehensive thinker” myself, I am sending you this email for you to read Can You Handle The Truth, the introduction of my Ph.D. dissertation about the limits of “Normal Science” regarding our survival, which I am writing in absentia. You could come back to me if you can “handle” my critical appraisal of Science, which is harsh on scientists and academics, but critical for our survival; these are thinks that had to be said.
If I am asking you to come back to me, it is because, having been such an outsider criticizing the institutions of knowledge during my time at the university, nobody could ever give me any real support in my academic endeavours. And, after reading the description of your Ted Presentation, I believed that you could. But, after listening to the first five minutes of it, I don’t know. However, I will still send you this email, Cced to many others, in an ultimate quest for your psychological support. (NB to all readers, this quest is also addressed to all Cc recipients)
I would indeed appreciate your support before I undertake the final writing of De evolutionibus res naturas, the theory of universal evolution on which I have been working for the last forty years as an “artisan of global thinking.” This theory of mine will undoubtedly revolutionise our understanding of where “objective knowledge” stands in evolution (in time), and open up a way to our species survival—if I am right, of course. However, I know that I am. As right as Copernicus was in De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, which opened up the road to progress by revolutionising the understanding of where we stand in space.
I am a 71-year-old independent thinker going on 20, with two general BA revolving around biology, psychology, and economy, among other subjects, and one unspecialized MA (acquired at the age of 46) in Zoo-Anthropo-Sociology with a tangential focus on evolution. Plus, over twenty years of independent doctoral work on “universal evolution,” after that, made in absentia on the Internet at the University of Wikipedia. If nothing else, that’s original. Isn’t it? And I know it is, because nobody will understand my findings until I put my theory to paper.
Einstein already knew that. “Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed” he once said. And, since in science ”one finds what he is looking for,” I do have such a theory about what is wrong with humanity. Here is how I independently developed it: I have obtained my second general BA at the age of 36. And, except for my first BA equivalency, acquired at 27 after five years of formative roaming hippie life, all my university degrees and my independent academic endeavours have been intentionally undertaken to find out why is humanity, i.e., science, not able to use the knowledge resources it has acquired trough history to solve the problems that it has created while acquiring them? And this at the outset I wanted to do as a “generalist.” However, I am not a generalist, as I will explain why below.*
If I say that I am going on 20, it is because, given the productivity of modern science in the last century, I have as much basic and superficial scientific knowledge as a zealous young undergraduate had at the end of the Nineteen Century. Today indeed, it takes a lifetime to acquire the same basic understanding. And, when one gets there, if one has “succeeded” in remaining “entirely” human, in not becoming a “specialist,” one can clearly see what is wrong with humanity. Indeed, we survived for millions of years as a species of “generalists” in natural environments. And it is when we began specialising ourselves to live in “environments of knowledge” alienated from the natural world, that you started screwing it up… hopefully not for good. Me? Already aware in my early thirty that we could not keep on going like that, I did my share: I give my life to find out what we can do about it.
It doesn’t mean that you all should be like me. If you would, the world would stop working tomorrow. I am a unique “original” and should remain thus. However, I already did something important in my life which everybody could use for his or her benefit in conjunction to the common good of our species; as it happened in nature. And if you believe that this is not possible for self-conscious human beings, it is because you look at us from the perspective of human progress and not of human survival.
* I am not a “generalist.” This title is indeed too “specialised” for me. Generalists “cultivate” fields of knowledge from a particular learned perspective for the benefit of $progress$; I never have. I have become, instead, a “comprehensive thinker,” artisanally examining the fruit of these fields of knowledge for the relevance of our survival. Moreover, as we had to evolve into Homo sapiens before being able to study our paleo ancestors in the context of our origin in evolution, to observe scientists in the context of their role in survival, I also had to evolve into a type of “learned-ignorant” Homo novus. This is iondeed the evolutionary process through which I had to go throughout my adult life. And such a mental evolution is not not a gene’s matter, it does not happen by “Chance and Necessity” as in biological evolution, but through hard work, creativity, and many personal failures, which need to be “embraced,” indeed, for one to keep on “trying.”
My thesis is a harsh critique of “Normal Science,” made by a self-proclaimed Paleoanthropologist of science. (The only Google results of this link are mine, thus my total “originality.”)
NB As a final note, to exemplified why I have problems getting support from academics, here is one of the “original” observations that my theory allowed me to make as a Homo novus, and why I am totally contented in keeping on trying on my own away from them.
Frightening, isn’t it? However, mentally I have never been afraid of them, since they are all caged in their specialization, and whenever I have met with any of them at the university, I was always “thinking outside their cages,” as if I were visiting mental zoos. And by the way, I always had to pay to enter these “Regional Zooversities”; I still owe the government over $50,000.00. If anybody can do something about that, you’re entirely welcome!
If you read Can You Handle The Truth, you will see at the very beginning an instance of why academics make me sometimes perceive them as “mental Australopithecus“; for example, when they spontaneously burst into laughter at Lawrence Krauss kidding about the fact (?) that “we’re all fucked.” For me, there is only one difference between the spontaneous collective burst of laughter of these academics in this instance, and the spontaneous collective Goo! Goo! Gha! Hoo! Hoo! of chimps engaged in Zoos by a sapiens civilisation―the same civilization that did it for you―and it is that chimps’ Goo! Gha! Hoo! Hoo! in Zoos are not sickening.
And believe me, it doesn’t matter who you are! Somewhere in your professional life, this image of you that I am showing here is there, hiding somewhere. And, if you give my Theory of Universal Evolution any chance, you will be able to find it and make it evolve for the good of all. As I can perceive it pretty soon myself, whenever I concentrate on anyone of your theories, (has I already did, for instance, with the survival “charabia” of Chomsky on grammar, Dennett on consciousness, Pinker on violence, and of many others in this class)* without never being able to do anything about them, since what has to be done, can only be done idiosyncratically, by each. However, we will have to act fast, though. Since has you most know by now, le temps presse!
*I will show many examples of these fundamental errors in my dissertation, once I will have developed enough of my theory. Until then, I cannot mention any of them, since my remarks will be received ab homine, using well established ad hoc theory, which all need to be reviewed for the benefit of our survival.
And neither does it matter if you come back to me or not, my theory will be written by the end of Summer 2016. Your silence will only burst my confidence. I will feel as usual as if I have to explain the theory of relativity to six-years-old needing to go play with their friend theories. And if you think that you have been dumbfounded here, wait till you see the final product. You haven’t got a clue! And, as none of you can in any way retract what I am saying here, none of you will be able to retract my theory. The difference is that De evolutionibus will be as revolutionizing for modern science as De revolutionibus has been for our beliefs at the time. However, it doesn’t matter; we are all going to die, aren’t we? And the only name that will be remembered is mine. If there is still somebody who care to remember anything and if I’m right, of course. However, how can I not be, when still being received under a complete veil of silence, while affronting all of you with that much authority and confidence, and while being in ignorance of the details of all these matters of yours?
What I am sure of is that my theory, if accepted, will help you focus your personal resources toward our survival, the ultimate value in evolution―whoever “you” is.
Still hoping to here from any of you, I remain,
PS The only academic who gave me support lately is Hans Bakker, a retiree from the University of Guelph, who told me that what I am doing is important, and that I should publish my work. Thank you, Hans. The only other comeback that I had was from another university member who said that I had to take some more courses. I think that I answer back saying that I need more classes at 71 as I need a pain in the ass.