The Connection Crisis

Day 61: Monday

Good morning Zak,

Remember this post from before Christmas?

I wish I could bring you back something that would summarize what Milano means to me… There’s just something in the air here that I wish I could share with you.  Cigarette smoke, smog, and then something else.

What I ended up getting you was coffee and conversation.  Here in Italy, coffee is what you Americans call “espresso.”  In retrospect maybe I should have gotten a different gift, since the coffee-drinking habit might kill us some day.  On the bright side, it may also help us live longer

Many news sources and journalists say that our society is entering a post-truth age.  This is supposedly a recent development.

“What is truth?” -Pontus Pilate c. 32 A.D.


The public too often disposes of facts and evidence in favor of conspiracy theories and other unfounded nonsense.  In a post-truth society, science and fact are sometimes replaced by gut-feeling, superstition… and mystery.

Every year in ancient Greece there used to be this famous religious rite known as the Eleusinian Mysteries.  Maybe you’ve heard of it.  This was an initiation ceremony for the cult of Demeter and Persephone.  As any good history student can tell you, participants in this ceremony were required to… well…

We have no idea what they did.  It’s called the Eleusinian Mysteries not the Eleusinian Tell-Everyones.  Initiates to the cult were required to keep its practices a secret, and they remain a secret to this day.

It’s easy to understand why people were attracted to this sort of thing—it’s about connection.  I mean, secrets can be a lot of fun. They can bring people closer together.  As a case and point, take our blog’s secret peer review process for unusual uses of spoons.  It’s nice to be a part of a small community that shares certain exclusive knowledge—even if that knowledge is of no real consequence.

fvf-lgThe scientific community is like that.  It has its secrets I mean.  Only scientists really understand why we believe humans evolved from fishes, or how the entire universe once fit into a mass the size of a golf ball.  As a layperson, I don’t really have access to all the data and methods that lead to those conclusions.  But Bill Nye, Neil Degrasse Tyson, and other public pundits insist that I adopt these beliefs and the ideologies that accompany them as an article of faith.  Faith in a method and process that I do not see.

Speaking of faith, it might be worth pointing out that the modern English word “pundit” comes from the Sanskrit paṇḍita—a Hindu pandit is a priest or wise-person.

The gradual dogmatization of science has begun to cause us problems.  Whenever philosophical opinion gets presented as scientific fact, it undermines faith in the objectivity of the field as a whole.  Needless to say, this is starting to have very negative consequences…

280px-a_small_cup_of_coffeeBut the biggest problem with the cult of science has nothing to do with politics.  In my view, the main issue is much more personal—it’s about connection.  Unlike traditional cult mysteries, the secrets of science don’t bring people together; if anything they do the opposite.  The founders of the new religion have failed to consider some very fundamental questions: where are the faithful supposed to gather? what rituals will they perform together?

“And if I understand all mysteries and all knowledge, […] but have not selfless love, I am nothing.”

Corinthians 13:2

Those are not rhetorical questions; they represent the main syndrome of our society.  If we solve the connection crisis, if we figure out how to have meaningful human contact in the Age of Information, a lot of the symptoms we’re experiencing will start to go away.

To our American readers, hope Saint Valentine is good to you tomorrow… or whatever you people say.  Seriously though, hope you can find yourselves some coffee and conversation.

Until tomorrow,



12 thoughts on “The Connection Crisis

  1. Interesting post. While we should have faith in the right things, I think it’s always good to not simply accept any theories that scientists or anyone for that matter, tell us. To me that would seem a little illogical and naive. After all, how much more do they know than us? Haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right?
      While I have confidence that scientists themselves are conducting their research as responsibly as they can, I think there’s something inherently dangerous in the way we as a society politicize science. Ideology needs to remain distinct from scientific data. Who’s to say that I would draw the same ideological conclusions if I had access to the resources of a scientist?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not scientist and I understand the theory of evolution. I’ve read Darwin. Thinking rationally and scientifically is something that is not so hard. Our schools should all be providing this skill, this scientific method, more successfully. It’s a big universe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree. Critical thinking is an important skill that citizens of an Enlightenment democracy should cultivate. At the same time, we need to be careful not to marginalize people groups who lack the privilege of higher education.
      My beef with Darwinism is that, really, it’s an entire ideology, not just a scientific theory. We can’t really talk about ’survival of the fittest’ without Fredrick Nietzsche looming somewhere in the background of our subconscious.
      To me there’s something kind of disingenuous about promoting this entire worldview in the name of science. Like, I’m totally on board with natural selection as a scientific theory that explains the origins of species. But Darwinism as a philosophy, that’s another story. In the name of science we tell people they’re in competition with each other for survival. As a humanist, I’m concerned that a solipsist worldview like that engenders a connection crisis.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s not a philosophy. It’s a theory that explains amazingly well how things work. It helps biology and medicine to understand what we see in the world. What Neitze and the social Darwinists did with it is not Science, it’s something else. Check out Darwin’s writings. It’s very impressive even after all these years.


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