Few people understand what science is.
Science is the willingness to ask questions, and to try things in reality, and look very closely at what happened, and try and make sense of it.
Science does not deal in the classical idea of Truth.
Science deals with uncertainty, and balance of probabilities, and confidence.
The more times something is tested, and the more different ways it is tested, the more confident we become of something.
The deeper one gets into science, the stranger it becomes when viewed from a “common sense” perspective.
Why is it so important?
Because most of how people live comes from beliefs, not from questions.
Most people prefer the security of a certainty, rather than living with eternal uncertainty. Hence the common misconception that science deals with Truth, and can prove things. It can’t.
Science can show what worked in different contexts.
We can extrapolate from that to say what seems most likely to work in other contexts, and often that works out.
So the process of science, of coming up with ideas, then working out ways of testing those ideas, then looking at the implications of those ideas and testing out new things, has allowed us to develop understandings of what we are, and what sort of environment we live in.
And many of those ideas are very complex, and not at all what most people think.
Science allows us to get different sorts of confidence in different types of complexity.
In simple systems our confidence is very high indeed.
In complicated systems confidence can still be high, and there is still a place for intuition.
In complex systems, uncertainty is our constant companion.
In chaotic systems any sort of confidence is purely illusion.
Understanding what sort of system one is dealing with, and the sorts of confidence one can apply, is essential.
We are starting to understand the major systems that deliver the sort of consciousness and choice that we experience.
We are not simple.
The world in which we exist is not simple. So the idea that simple rules will work in reality only applies to very limited subsets of reality. Rules can be more problem than solution when dealing with complex or chaotic systems.
Yet in order to make any sense at all of the complexity around us, our subconscious systems simplify it down to a predictive model that becomes our experiential reality.
We don’t experience reality as it is, but as our subconscious systems expect it to be.
Our attention is usually directed to the things that are not as our subconscious expects them to be.
Science is now allowing us to automate things to the point that most important things can be produced at a level of abundance that will meet the reasonable needs of everyone.
Unfortunately, our market based economic systems, and many of our levels of institutions (economic, social and political) are based around the old reality of most things being scarce, and cannot work when things are truly abundant.
To date the major response has been to impose rules to artificially make things scarce (like intellectual property rules – there purely to maintain the existing scarcity based system). Transition from scarcity to abundance is required. Some sort of universal basic income seems to be a useful transition strategy, and it is not simple.
So we are in a time of great uncertainty for many, when many of our tried and trusted systems are failing due to change of context. So we need to change, but we all have our conservative aspects that are resistant to change in certain contexts.
Science allows us to understand ourselves to some useful degree, understand our uncertainties, understand that we are fundamentally cooperative social entities (however competitive we can be in certain contexts), and to develop systems that allow us all to experience security and freedom in ways never before possible.
And that freedom demands of us responsibility in social and ecological contexts.
All form demands boundaries for survival.
We are extremely complex entities, with many levels of form and boundaries allowing the higher levels of form to emerge and survive.
At higher levels, those boundaries are things like morality and ethics, and the ethical and moral systems of our deep past are some sort of useful approximation to the sorts of moral systems essential for our survival into the future. And building a games theoretical understanding of the evolution of such complexity is not simple, it takes many years of work and experience.
So science can deliver answers to most of the problems we face and those answers will demand changes that many will find unsettling.
Science can show that continuing as we have been, without major change, is almost certain destruction.
And when you look at history, change has been a constant, and the rate of change has been increasing. So it is, in this sense, totally consistent with a historical view.
Understanding science, complexity, creativity, technology, and the power of exponential automation is essential to a secure future. And there must be uncertainty in that future. And we can build confidence, provided we are cooperative, rather than competitive.
Cooperation allows for complexity, competition forces systems to simplicity.
We need complexity to solve the very real problems we already have.
We must get past our myopic focus on scarcity and competition, and begin to see the power of cooperation and abundance.
We must understand that the evolution of complexity is much more about cooperation than it is about competition.
Science can do that, if we allow it to, if we are each willing to test our truths in reality.