Only a poor student of history could fail to notice history's cycles. The future can't be fortold in detail, but asking the question "Where are the cycles taking us?" gives you a better chance of guessing general shapes than anything else I know.
So it's easy for a student of history to look out at the United States and guess that we're approaching a libertine peak, and that over the next couple of decades we should expect to see the pendulum swing away from the wild excesses of the Baby Boomers back in a more "conservative" direction.
But at my age, I've never lived through a shift. So had I guessed how the counter-libertine shift would occur last week, I would have guessed a gradual cultural waning of the libertines and a gradual cultural waxing of those of a more conservative bent, with the advocates not changing their own views but their relative influence changing over time.
The debate about the reproducibility of science bubbles onward, with everyone agreeing that it's a problem but of course nobody with power to fix it doing anything about it.
Recently I've been thinking that science as we know it sits in a very unpleasant middle ground.
On the one hand, despite the propaganda institutional science is biased against replication. This holes it below the waterline, and any serious scientist (alas) must consider fixing this in their field their top priority or they are consenting to just spin their wheels forever. We do not work formally enough to produce good results, because merely reaching "Peer Approved Once" and getting published is provably not a solid foundation to build on.
If one is inclined to take offense to that, consider the fact that scientists are supposed to be building on the work of others. It's very simple math to see that even if a uniformly-distributed 95% of the papers published are perfectly correct, that 5% has a disproportional impact on the accuracy of a tower of knowledge; as the tower grows, the chances of any particular new result containing a false result in the set of results it is building on approaches 1 quickly.
Many scientific disciplines would be lucky to have a 95% accuracy rate.
On the other hand, scientists are also not allowed to just "fool around", by virtue of not being able to get funding for it. Even simple experiments must be submitted, approved, funded, etc, all involving processes a great deal more complicated than the simple little English words imply. As a second-order effect it becomes a waste of time to go through the process for a small experiment, making the small experiments even less likely to be conducted than you would initially think. And yet, historically, a lot of great stuff happened from very skilled, knowledgeable scientists just fooling around. In only a few fields can a scientist afford to fool around on their own time and money, mostly the mathematical ones.
The system both crushes away the rigor we're promised in the brochure, and also crushes away any chance of serendipity or discovery on the cheap. The miracle is when we get any science at all.
Widespread angst about school quality is easy to fix... schools just need to look around and copy what's working out there in the real world.
Oh... uh... I may have gotten carried away on that last one. Maybe it should be, uh, covered differently....
While Star Trek was ahead of its time in many ways, you could tell they never lived with the technology they hypothesized. For instance, there's no episode in which Wesley Crusher walks around with his PADD unlocked while cradling it on his chest, causing a Major Interstellar Diplomatic Incident when he accidentally ends up emailing pictures of his armpit to the Klingon High Council along with a text message consisting of "klxitijtjqtktkjjt", which is of course an ancient and dishonorable way of challenging the entire Council to a mandatory duel to the death.
Fortunately, all I managed to do with my accidentally unlocked phone today was start the stopwatch and bring up the texting screen without actually sending anything. But still, it's sorta scary just what socially-horrible things you can do from that touchscreen.
And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, dad?" "I'm home right now,
having some fun and how,
You know we're having fun and how!"
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