Industrial Revolution: The Tipping point?

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by coberst, Apr 6, 2010.

  1. coberst Registered Senior Member

    Industrial Revolution: The Tipping point?

    We live in two very different worlds; a world of technical and technological order and clarity, and a world of personal and social disorder and confusion. We are increasingly able to solve problems in one domain and increasingly endangered by our inability to solve problems in the other.

    Normal science is successful primarily because it is a domain of knowledge controlled by paradigms. The paradigm defines the standards, principles and methods of the discipline. It is not apparent to the laity but science moves forward in small incremental steps. Science seldom seeks and almost never produces major novelties.

    Science solves puzzles. The logic of the paradigm insulates the professional group from problems that are unsolvable by that paradigm. One reason that science progresses so rapidly and with such assurance is because the logic of that paradigm allows the practitioners to work on problems that only their lack of ingenuity will keep them from solving.

    Science uses instrumental rationality to solve puzzles. Instrumental rationality is a systematic process for reflecting upon the best action to take to reach an established end. The obvious question becomes ‘what mode of rationality is available for determining ends?’ Instrumental rationality appears to be of little use in determining such matters as “good” and “right”.

    There is a striking difference between the logic of technical problems and that of dialectical problems. The principles, methods and standards for dealing with technical problems and problems of “real life” are as different as night and day. Real life problems cannot be solved only using deductive and inductive reasoning.

    Dialectical reasoning methods require the ability to slip quickly between contradictory lines of reasoning. One needs skill to develop a synthesis of one point of view with another. Where technical matters are generally confined to only one well understood frame of reference real life problems become multi-dimensional totalities.

    When we think dialectically we are guided by principles not by procedures. Real life problems span multiple categories and academic disciplines. We need point-counter-point argumentation; we need emancipatory reasoning to resolve dialectical problems. We need critical thinking skills and attitudes to resolve real life problems.

    How can we become intellectually sophisticated enough to survive our own technological success?

    Can our civilization survive much longer if our citizens fail to become more intellectually sophisticated? Presently it is apparent to me that few citizens have any idea of the problems that we face. If the citizens do not comprehend what is going on they certainly will be unwilling to make the sacrifices required.

    I suspect that we have already past the tipping point. The tipping point is that situation in history, if past, cannot be recovered. There is a tipping point in the human body such that if reached the immune system in the body cannot recover and eventually heal the body.

    I suspect that the human species tipping point might have been the Industrial Revolution.

    They “tranquilize themselves with the trivial”.—Kierkegaard
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  3. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    How so?

    Yet you also said:
    Yeah right.

    Yet you apply a condition from one to the other:
    At which (if any) points in history have citizens ever comprehended what's going on?

    And this is based on what?
    Recovered to what? (And why should we "recover"?)
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  5. jmpet Valued Senior Member

    I was reading up on some wacko religion and they said the world population should be 500 million- this means killing 90% of the people on the planet. If we get down to 500 million, we will be in balance with nature.

    And I was thinking "this is not a bad idea" but then you realize you need to kill 90% of all humans in the process, which makes it unethical. (It'd be 95% of all people by today's world population.)

    We are still living in the Industrial Revolution, we have reached the epoch which we call "modern times" which reflectively will be called "the birth of the digital age" and we are still in the throes of it. We still have a ways to go.

    Personally, I see "us" and "them". "We" are first world, modern age, cutting technological which is half of the world population. "Them" is the other half that are still in the dark. I think the focus should be on a global collective- I see rewards in that.

    I see a site that has 5 billion users in the future- that is the end-product of the Internet- to get EVERYONE hooked up.

    We have a ways to go to the next big leap in the story of man- I don't know if it will be robotics or moon bases or alien contact but we are still playing out 17th century tenets- give it more time before you judge humanity.
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  7. kmguru Staff Member

  8. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    1. You are conflating science and technology. They are different. A scientist and an engineer view things in different ways, have different goals and different methdologies. There is overlap, but nothing like the identity you assume.
    2. What is your evidence that we are socially more disordered now than fifty years ago, or during the Enlightenment, or at the time of the Black Death, ect?
    This is patently wrong. Are you suggesting that string theory, endosymbiosis, plate tectonics, astrobiology, evo-devo, genome mapping, bolide catastrophism, and a thousand other issues are not novel?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    OK. You've read Kuhn, you just didn't understand him, or pay attention to any of the commentary on his thinking, or give a second's attention to the work of Popper.

    Wrong. Engineering and Technology may use such approaches - "I want to build a bridge aross this river. What's the best way to do that?" Science does not. Science says.."That's odd. I wonder why that happens. Perhaps it is A. No it's not A, may be it's B. How would I check to see if it might be B?"

    Strange. I routinely solve my real life problems exactly this way. Why do you think it is not possible?

    This is ignorance masqerading as scholarship. In engineering and science one is frequently viewing things from multiple viewpoints. For a specific example I've quoted in these fora before, when I'm investigating an equipment failure I attempt simultaneously to prove a defect in the component and environmental factors, typically considering several possibilities in the latter category. Eventually the facts are seen to support one of these lines solidly and consitently, but to run counter to the others.

    Any well trained scientist or engineer has these.
    (It's not my fault you apparently spent most of your adult life surrounded by dummies.)

    You seem to have done OK while possessing alll the intellectual sophistication of freeze dried rabbit droppings.

    And some overdose on it.
  9. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    I notice you've started a few threads since you started a thread I responded to a few times: it was about arguing. You never really responded to the points I made or the questions I asked.

    I suppose it would encourage me to participate in later threads of yours if you did this.
  10. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Coberst has a habit of posting his "essays" and not bothering to address replies.
    But he is rather good at posting more (unsupported) speculation in a thread he's started.
  11. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    He won't respond.
    He is incapable of responding.
    I have seen him post a purported response to a query or point on one forum, then duplicate the exact same post on half a dozen or more forums.
    If your queries suggested for one moment that he might be wrong, or that you were disagreeing with him, or that you might actually have moved past his current mode of thinking, then you are an atagonistic low-life, as far as he is concerned.
    He is a sad old man who has sufficient intellect to read the words of 'authorities', yet insufficient to understand these words, or to examine them critically.
    We are seven decades too late to do anything for him.
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Don't commit the fallacy of extrapolating your own experience to the rest of the population. I'm so terriby sorry about the state of your personal world, but mine is characterized by order and clarity.

    I live in a city that has all the resources I need to be happy and healthy. I have a challenging job doing work that is appreciated. I have wonderful friends here, all over the country and in dozens of foreign countries, many of whom I could never have met in person. Music is my greatest joy and professionally composed and performed music of my choice is available 24/7. Two domesticated predators are lying at my feet, radiating love and ready to play. The climate in my house is perfect and there are chipmunks, cardinals, flowers, trees and a brook right outside the door, yet I can walk to a store or restaurant or take the subway to work, a museum, a concert, or just to visit friends. I play in a band and happy people dance to my music. So many wonderful foods are available that I haven't even tried them all yet. I was recently healed from an injury that would have incapacitated my grandfather. I can say and write anything I want that isn't fraudulent and doesn't encourage violence.

    Is there some reason that I should feel nostalgic for the Wild West, the Middle Ages, the Roman Empire, Babylon, or the Stone Age?
    The "paradigm" you refer to is more usually referred to as the scientific method. Its only "controls" are the requirements that evidence, reasoning and peer review are required to support an assertion before anyone is required to take it seriously. Considering that in the past, preposterous legends passed down from the Bronze Age, and unsubstantiated opinions of people whose authority was inherited by blood or seized by violence, were accepted as facts, it's hard to understand why you think that the quite sensible rules of science are a burden.
    You must have missed relativity and genetics. Sorry about that. They were really exciting.
    Like what problems? Big ones like war, religion and poverty? Science is diligently working on all of those. Little ones like feeling a lack of purpose in your life or not being able to get a date for the Neil Young concert? Psychology and sociology may be "soft sciences" but they're still science and they're working on those problems. Nostalgia for a simpler life in the past? Science enabled the invention of technologies that make travel affordable, so you're welcome to emigrate to New Guinea or Waziristan.

    You're going to have to communicate more clearly if you're trying to make the case that science is limited by anything except its own rate of progress.
    No, of course we can't use science to control our emotions, and I suspect you'd be very upset if we could. (Athough I wouldn't be surprised to learn that you occasionally use the caffeine in cola or the theobromine in chocolate, industrial products made possible by science, to improve your mood. Or perhaps a theatrical presentation on a little electronic box in your living room to do the same thing. Or the music of a symphony orchestra or a rock band recorded a thousand miles away and five years ago, playing through loudspeakers.)

    But science does help us understand our emotions, and it helps us sort through the things that affect us emotionally, to help us choose among the various things that make us happy and sad.

    Still, I admit that it does have its limits. Politics is old-fashioned irrationality institutionalized by legend and authority. And because of politics we're happy to allow drunk drivers to kill 12,000 Americans every year, while putting all of our effort and money into fighting terrorists, who kill an average of 300 per year.
    Please provide an example.
    Civilization is, of necessity, hierarchical. Homo sapiens is a pack-social species like dogs and dolphins, and we instinctively respect the authority of the alphas--even though we constantly keep them on their toes by challenging that authority. A civilization built by a herd/flock-social species like zebras or macaws would surely be different. And it's hard to imagine a solitary species like tigers or orangutans building a civilization since they have no instinct to cooperate in the first place.

    So what matters most is the intellectual sophistication of our alphas. The rest of us do their bidding; not always directly, but by playing the roles in the structures they create.
    Our alphas are quite skillful at manipulating us. We just sacrificed a trillion dollars and thousands of lives in order to destroy two countries that bore us no ill will, and to badger a terrorist organization so relentlessly that they relocated into a country that is not entirely hostile to them, not entirely friendly to us, and has nuclear weapons. As my grandfather from Bohemia said, "Give the Americans their beer and their baseball, and they'll do anything you ask."
    What tipping point? What past era would you like to recover? Seventy years ago, when one war killed 3% of the entire planet's population? A hundred years ago, when life expectancy was 35? One hundred fifty years ago, when people kept each other as slaves? Two hundred years ago, when 99% of the human population was doomed to "careers" in the food production and distribution industry?
    What do you wish to "heal" the human race's body of? The inexorable evolution toward a single global civilization with fewer and smaller wars? The ultimate demise of religion? Modern medicine? The ability to travel virtually anywhere? The 40-hour work week? Contraception? The environmental movement? Civil rights?
    The Information Revolution is generally regarded as a new Paradigm Shift of the same magnitude as the Industrial Revolution. Its genesis is blurry but I identify it as the invention of the telegraph, making instant communication possible over long distances. A Paradigm Shift is a major change in our species's world view, and that is exactly what the electronic revolution caused: telegraph-->telephone-->radio-->television-->internet. The borders between people are now only physical and do not prevent us from communicating--using language, the key technology that separates us from all other animals. We now care about people on the other side of the planet who are nothing more than abstractions. 200 years ago people hated the people 100 miles away in the next country.

    Futurists and other scholars disagree on the list of Paradigm Shifts, but my list is the longest:
    • The Agricultural Revolution. Paleolithic humans lived in small extended family units of nomadic hunter-gatherers, trusting and caring for people they had known since birth. Now they had to settle down in one place and live in harmony and cooperation with people from other clans.
    • The Dawn of Civilization. Cities required people to learn to live in harmony and cooperation with complete strangers. Division of labor became common; people had more of a choice in how they spent their lives instead of everyone having to do just about everything.
    • The Bronze Age. Since tin and cooper ore are rarely found in the same place, the technology of metallurgy required whole cities some distance apart to cooperate. A metal-based economy became so complicated that transactions involved people displaced by enormous distance and time, so accounting was invented, which was the first writing system. Unfortunately the down side of metal was the invention of the first "weapons of mass destruction," making war as we know it possible.
    • The Iron Age. Steel tools brought metal technology into everyday life and created more division of labor. Steel weapons made war more common and more deadly. Barbarian tribes, who could not make use of bronze technology because of the need for cooperation with other tribes, could easily mine iron and build steel weapons. In many ways, the Iron Age saw a breakdown in civilization. But eventually huge empires like China, Persia, Rome, the Ottomans, Britain, Spain and others mastered the delicate combination of technology and politics. Many of the bloodiest wars in history were fought during the Iron Age--1500BCE to 1800CE--yet the era also brought us the Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment.
    • The Industrial Revolution. The key technology was the conversion of the chemical energy in fossil fuels to mechanical energy. Machinery was no longer powered by human or animal muscle, so the total amount of work (in the physics sense) done in the world skyrocketed. The industrialization of farming brought a "tipping point" in the early 20th century in the industrial world which none of us would care to reverse: Fewer people in the industrial world were engaged in food production and distribution than in other occupations. The entire world reached that tipping point a decade or two ago, as China, with one-fifth of its population, industrialized. In "the West," less than 3% of the population work in the food industry.
    • The Information Age. There's no standard name for the Paradigm Shift we're living through. Toffler calls it the "Third Wave," others call it the Post-Industrial Revolution. I'm tempted to call it the Electronic Revolution, because, as I noted earlier, I identify its beginning as the invention of the telegraph.
    Each of these Paradigm Shifts brought about a fundamental change in our world view. We started out as a pack-social species who would literally kill members of another clan who intruded on our hunting and gathering territory. (Anthropolgists with modern instruments claim that more than half of adult deaths in the last millennia of the Paleolithic Era were at the hands of other humans.) Yet today we have very nearly converted ourselves into a herd-social species, living in a well-defined minimum of tolerance and cooperation with anonymous strangers, because we know that this makes us all safer, healthier and more prosperous.

    This is a triumph of reasoning and learning over instinct. Anyone who longs for life the way it was before that "tipping point" doesn't really understand what life was like before the Industrial Revolution.
    • You are a farmer, doing hard physical labor, working an average 80-hour week.
    • You have no electricity. No lights, no fresh food storage.
    • You have no engines. You walk everywhere you go, unless you're one of the elite with a horse, or if you're in the one percent of the world population who live in America, a land of uncharacteristic prosperity due to its low population density and untapped resources.
    • You're probably illiterate. Universal literacy was not common until the 19th century. So your news, education and other information are limited to what you can get orally, from people you can contact by walking to where they are.
    • You have no health care. No vaccines, antibiotics, x-rays, hospitals. Doctors can set bones and deliver babies. Because of this, infant mortality is something like 60% and adult life expectancy is in the high 20s.
    • You have very limited access to entertainment or any culture. The nearest town might have a saloon with a pianist and maybe a competent singer, which you might be able to visit a few times a year. The church may have a choir, and if the town is wealthy it might have an organ. Your cousin Zeke might have a guitar, in which case you can all get together and sing once in a while. Three or four times a year a traveling show might come through town. (The people who hang out in the saloon every night are the townspeople, the craftsmen and merchants who comprise about one percent of the population. You'd have to be really lucky to be one of them. The chances are much higher that you would be a slave, a yeoman, or a barely-surviving subsistence farmer in some desolate corner of the world.)
    It's called "civilization." The Third World is the victim of its own structure: countries led by despotic kleptocrats who don't even allow our gigantic shipments of food and medicine to reach the people who need them, but sell them on the black market.

    The industrialized world has tried many ways to modernize the pre-industrial world.
    • Colonization didn't work. You can't drag a society through three or four Paradigm Shifts in a few generations. There are too many miniscule changes required in the way they think.
    • Conquest worked, but only for the conquerors. The American Indians, Australian Aborigines, etc., have simply been marginalized as Europeans took over their land and built countries of their own.
    • Enlightenment works, but only over one single Paradigm Shift. The Chinese Buddhist monks succeeded in transforming Japan and Korea into stable Iron Age societies that retained most of their own culture, but only because Japan and Korea were already in the Bronze Age. It's failed miserably in post-colonial Africa. We gave them modern medicine to combat infant mortality, before they overcame their Neolithic tradition of combating it with fertility, and as a result their population has mushroomed.
    At this point it's possible that the only thing that will work is migration. Let the people who have the necessary education and world view emigrate to the prosperous countries, where they can take their place in the labor force, earn a decent wage, support our economy, and prop up our social security Ponzi schemes, which are going bankrupt because our birth rates have fallen below replacement level. They send money home, and the people back there can use it in whatever modest ways possible to improve their own lives, and perhaps find a way to slowly improve their own governments.
  13. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    Coberst, it is now your turn to post another of your dogmatic ramblings and pretend it is a genuine response to Fraggle's carefully constructed, elgantly phrased, systematically planned offering.

    But go on, surprise us! Do something different for once: acknowledge that you may be wrong about something.

    Pretty please.
  14. Dredd Dredd Registered Senior Member

    If citizens are unaware, then they cannot be faulted for deliberate actions. Scientists on the other hand can be.

    The failure is a failure of the symbiotic relationship of government and corporations who left the citizenry to themselves some time ago.

    The nations will panic when the results of the catastrophic mistakes begin the pay back. All bets are off then.
  15. Dredd Dredd Registered Senior Member

    All experience is local. :shrug:
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Science and mathematics have given us averaging, aggregation, and the other tools of statistics. While every individual's experience is local to him, it is quite possible to determine how large a community can be identified that shares his experience within variances that he finds acceptable.

    What percentage of the people you know--in a variety of countries--feel that their lives are characterized by confusion and social disorganization? Even now, in a time of relatively high unemployment and purposeless war? Smack in the middle of a Paradigm Shift, which by definition heightens feelings of uprootedness and unpredictability?

    Everybody I know is just truckin' along. I myself am unemployed and I have no doubt that a new job is around the corner. The only person I know who is really screwed is a moron who destroyed his own life, and there will always be morons among us.
  17. coberst Registered Senior Member

    What does the Cheetah and the human have in common?

    Quickie from Wiki: “The cheetah is a vulnerable species. Out of all the big cats, it is the least able to adapt to new environments. It has always proved difficult to breed in captivity, although recently a few zoos have managed to succeed at this. Once widely hunted for its fur, the cheetah now suffers more from the loss of both habitat and prey.”

    The cheetah has adapted to its environment by making itself faster and faster. Unfortunately these adaptations have placed it in jeopardy of extinction because in the process of becoming faster it has lost its ability to protect its kill from other animals. The cheetah has become too specialized and thus faces extinction.

    I would say that we humans have a similar problem. We have developed specialization to the extent that we place all of our focus upon technology with little knowledge or appreciation of the human sciences that will make it possible for us to manage this high tech world that we have created.

    Both the cheetah and the human species face the same paradox. They both have so finely tuned their adaption to the world that their specialization will mean their extinction.

    I suspect that within the next 200 years we humans will most likely bring an end to our species and possibly the end to all life on this planet.

    I think that the only way to prevent this is for our species to become much more intellectually sophisticated than it is now; I see little evidence that this will occur. The problems we face today are enormous and while we have the brain power to prevent this we may well not have the necessary character traits to do so. I suspect our species is a dead end species.
  18. Neverfly Banned Banned

    These lines or horribly worded.

    You make it sound as though Evolution is an intelligent act performed by a force of will.
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Cheetahs have recently been observed hunting cooperatively in small groups. Saw it on "Life," the series on the Discovery Channel. This will help. Their hunts will become more successful, and they'll be able to bring down larger prey. Cheetahs are solitary hunters by instinct; this is a striking example of an animal being able to override instinctive behavior with reasoned and learned behavior better suited to survival. Just like our species has been doing.

    Cheetahs have long been popular in captivity in the Middle East. They're worked like hunting dogs and if taken young they can learn to live peacefully with humans, whom they historically avoided attacking anyway. But they don't quite satisfy the definition of "domesticated" because, as noted, they generally don't reproduce in captivity.

    If the zoos figure out how to do this, a captive population may be established that reproduces and ensures survival of the species. Presumably the most successful breeders will be the ones who are most tolerant of human company so the psychology of the species may slowly adapt and cheetahs may one day be popular pets.

    That would certainly take care of the deer population explosion in the USA!
  20. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    And he has...

    Very little.

    This, of course, is arrant nonsense. The majority of the human race don't have high tech and even those that live in a "high tech society" don't rely on it to live.

    Presumably this figure is much like all of your pronouncements: pulled out of your ass.

    I could point out one or two individuals of the species that support your contention...
  21. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    *** MOD NOTE ***
    Coberst, either actually reply to other posters or any future threads by you will be relegated to the cesspoool. And, since you chose to post this Human Science, please show some science, rather than bald assertions and unsupported speculation.
  22. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    TL,DR but the tipping point was the invention of the internal combustion engine.
  23. nirakar ( i ^ i ) Registered Senior Member

    How about we pay people big money to be sterilized if they have had two or less children and are over the age of 28. Also, forcibly sterilize any male who has fathered a child if either the male or female parent were under the age 23.

    Doing the a above on a global scale might reduce the earths population by 5% per generation. It would be gentler than China's one baby policy. I think a billion people is a nice number for how many people should be on the earth.

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