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View Diary: Why Can't We Have "Inverse-Amish" Communities That are Hyper-Scientific and Technological? (95 comments)

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  •  Along these same thoughts (3+ / 0-)
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    Troubadour, trumpeter, terrypinder

    The TV Show Eureka is kind of a thought experiment of this type, a community of "mad scientists", a cartoon of what you're thinking of. exists only because of a government-funded private megacorporation that does all kinds of unethical, morally dubious and objectively unsafe things.    Which means it all exists by permission of the Govt military industrial complex oversight (I think there is a general directly assigned, plus it's part of the defense budget so it's subject to Congressional appropriations in the end)

    Even in fiction, there is a recognition that a society based on research and learning isn't sustainable by its own resources.  It either needs constant outside funding, or it needs to focus its research on stuff that can be turned into products for resale (which swiftly turns you into a company town, not the college-like environment desired).

    •  Unjustified assumption more than "recognition." (0+ / 0-)

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 10:35:15 AM PST

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      •  Show me a counterexample (0+ / 0-)

        anywhere in the world or at any point in history.

        I know of none.   I'd welcome being proved wrong.

        Research and learning are expensive and they don't pay for themselves without a relentless focus on products that can meet a current demand.   Historically centers of learning and inventors were paid for with patronage.  Currently, patronage is often replaced by government funding or corporate grants (which both steer research toward their pet concerns)

        It's tough to build a community that is a money pit without becoming beholden to something or someone outside that can provide the funds...and thus warp the community and its goals.

        •  Think of it like this. (0+ / 0-)

          Christianity doesn't pay Amish people's bills.  And yet it's the center of their culture.  They do things to pay their bills that are in accord with their view of Christianity, but their religion is the whole point of their identity.  So why can't the pinnacle achievement of Western civilization, modern science, fulfill a similar role?  Science is not a program, BTW, but a set of principles and methods.  We have no idea what kinds of innovations could come out of such a culture.

          In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

          by Troubadour on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 10:59:42 AM PST

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          •  Science is a methodology, not a cultural morality (1+ / 0-)
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            You make a hypothesis
            You test the hypothesis
            You publish results and methodology of your tests
            Others repeat the tests and review your conclusions.

            Lather, rinse, repeat.

            It's gained traction because it has had success in answering questions about the world, and in finding solutions to problems in the physical world.

            But it doesn't help at all in telling a person how to live his life, or how to treat other people or how to structure a community.   A lot of why not is that much of what is important to people is inside them and can't be measured or verified from the outside.

            If you look at religions, the heart of them is the strictures which give guidance on how a "good" person lives their life.

            A community based on "science" would need to agree on what the definition of a "good citizen" was as their starting point.   Then maybe you could come up with theories about how to ensure more good citizens, test those theories, change things based on the results, etc.

            In the university structure, the behavioral norms are in fact deeply tied to the funding structures and the power relationships between those who provide money, those who do the research that draws the money, those who teach and those who learn, plus those who provide day-to-day support so all of the above can focus on things other than food and shelter.    A modern university campus has more in common with a 10th century religious monastery than any "scientific" society.

            If I was to imagine a society where the highest good was to advance scientific research, it would be a society where everyone tithed to pay for the research, there would be some kind of meritocratic gateway to be one of the chosen few who gets to use the tithe to DO the research and hopefully some way for the community as a whole to get a say in what sort of research got done.

            This isn't all that different from countries where taxes pay for grants for research, with the university and degree programs providing the meritocratic gateway.

            It's just that a science-based subcommunity would be paying a significant amount of income in LOCAL taxation where they could then direct the funds into research benefiting LOCAL concerns (and also the educational opportunities of their citizens for preparing for and passing the meritocratic tests to become a high status scientist, with lower status but still valued positions of research assistant, lab tech etc).

            •  There's no reason science can't give guidance. (0+ / 0-)

              It can't tell you anything if you're just looking to be told, but it can free you to explore if you're an intelligent and courageous mind.

              In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

              by Troubadour on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:19:36 PM PST

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