I’ve had a book on my “Read Again” pile for a while, which I have finally re-opened, that is essentially about the time in history when science [supposedly] replaced ‘religion’. This book begins by acknowledging one by another author that explains how this change-over happened, but not why.
I use ‘religion’, somewhat unfairly, as a vague term here, to encompass all that is not ‘factual’ and that which science presents itself as capable of discrediting, or explaining by way of measurable facts; that is what science is supposed to do.
My problem is that so-called science, while on the one-hand seems to expand our view of the world around us (and within us), it also, I think, is guilty of diminishing our perspective.
While I’m putting the blame on ‘science’ per se, just like my use of the term ‘religion’ above, I’m using it to cover a lot more, and by that I mean a lot of what science gives us, namely technology.
With what technology we have at our disposal, and is used, abused, and deployed around us, presents us with a limited view of the world.
A simple example follows which came to my attention earlier today.
In my family, growing up, we were late adopters of colour televisions. Up until I turned twelve years old in the 1990s, we had only one TV in the house, in our lounge, a black and white one, that along with my three siblings we had to share at “children’s TV time” – this was pretty much a 2-3 hours on weekdays and available on two channels (there were only four in total back then). We had to agree on what to watch, but one thing I’m pretty sure we all enjoyed was The Animals of Farthing Wood, more on this in a moment.
When I turned twelve I was deemed old enough to have a television of my own in my bedroom and I was blessed with a black and white set that we picked up for £7 from a carboot (we tried to get it for £5, but the seller wasn’t budging). Now I could watch what I wanted and having a high school friend who was into Australian soaps, I started watching those too. I actually despised British soaps because they always seemed (as they still do) to be set in a pub, and about people not getting along; Neighbours and Home & Away instead, while having a pub or a bar along with the expected squabbles to provide gripping story lines, seemed to, I suppose, have “people I liked”, or presented lives that were somewhat aspirational, although being in my teens, I remember talking with my friend about which female characters we liked best (so I’m guessing there were rarely any of those in the British soaps to keep me tuning in!)
Also with the availability of a TV in my room I got into computers, by way of a variety of ‘micro computers’ that again were purchased from carboots, my favourites were my ZX Spectrums. Here a limitation arose, no not the RAM in my 48K model, but the inability to see colours. This issue had already presented itself whenever my dad would be watching snooker or the one time I tried to get into football; not being able to see the colours of the balls, or the colours of kit worn, made viewing a challenge. Perhaps if I’d actually sat down and watched a snooker match from the start, rather than looking at the screen mid-game when all the balls were scattered about, I would know which ball was which, and thus be able to follow what was going on. With my ZX Spectrum I tended to sway more towards programming than playing games, and while I couldn’t see any of the 16 colours* I knew which ones I was using and I’m sure I chose them largely based on contrasting shades of grey.
*These micro computers actually had 8 colours, but each of those had an additional bright option.
It wasn’t until I got to stay with my grandparents for a week or two during the summer holidays that I was able to see my creations (and the games I had) in “full colour”. I would take my ZX Spectrum with me and I would play for hours in their conservatory where they had their second colour TV. Something else I was blessed with here was access to Teletext/Ceefax and I coupled my fascination with it and my BASIC programming abilities and recreated my own “Teletext” pages on my ZX Spectrum; the display essentially looked the same to me with the limited colour palette, resolution, and character set.
Teletext/Ceefax was to me then like an early and primitive form of the internet (of which I knew nothing about); you would key in a page number on the TV remote, or use one of the four colour buttons and the TV would load that page out of the ether. I think the Teletext/Ceefax system was limited to 999 (unscrollable) pages per channel but the information seemed almost endless.
Circling back now to The Animals of Farthing Wood, and I wonder, looking at a fan website someone has created, how viewing the TV program in black and white affected my experience. I must have seen colour pictures from the series at some point and perhaps my brain filled in those ‘blanks’ for me. I wonder also about the stimulating effects of colour TV (and the modern-day screens on our plethora of devices), compared to viewing things in black and white; surely seeing things in full colour is far more stimulating (and perhaps harmfully so). Coincidentally I had a dream this week about rainbows followed by different coloured balls/balloons and I consider that the ‘colourfulness’ of these things was of importance. Being somewhat addicted now to the act of staring at a computer screen all day I recently looked into making my screen black and white; indeed it turns out there is a simple option in Windows 10 to do this (Ctrl+Win+C) – if I make my display less stimulating will I help curb my habit?
The modern day internet seeks to bombard us with ‘stuff’, both information, advertising, and imagery (we can even see some of this in the Teletext image above). But it can also be limiting.
Take Google for example; you search for something and you are presented with a million+ search results. Skip over the adverts and Wikipedia tends to be at or near the top, or perhaps a Youtube video. In the past, in the 1990s/early 2000s it seemed you would more likely land on a personal page with a more personal (and somewhat biased) perspective. Wikipedia is like a general consensus, although I’m thankful for the Talk pages there which I find gives me much welcomed insights, back stories and alternative perspectives. But I know there is more out there, beyond what Google gives me on that first page, or indeed on any of the page; there are those not crawled, and even, I am told a dark web. Not that everything known to man is even on the internet, or a device connected to it (or even in books); something we probably all to easily forget.
If you use Microsoft’s Bing you essentially get how ‘Microsoft’ want you to see the world, indeed, if you use Windows then they encourage you to use Edge and Bing (previously Internet Explorer and MSN), just as Google wants you to use Chrome.
Facebook, likewise, is another window into the world and a platform that seeks to keep you within their confines with not only your personal profile there and your limited circle of ‘friends’ (which in turn have their own perspective of the world limited and personal growth potentially stunted), Pages for businesses and groups, News, I suppose, and a Marketplace for buying things. My understanding of Facebook is somewhat vague since I don’t use it, although I hear tales, and just this week Russell Brand talked about how Facebook want to provide free “Internet access” (and devices) to communities where there is none. The catch? They have to use Facebook’s app. The problem with this? It surely provides a limited view of the world.
I’ve increasingly noticed how the key players in these fields tend to dumb things down for us. I install Windows 10 for clients on a regular basis and it grates me how the ‘voice of Cortana’ suddenly blares out of the speakers in an overly cheerful and supposedly friendly manner, “Hi there, I’m Cortana…” In one of the final setup stages she comes on with “Hey look, it’s the Me part!” (coupled with a colourful animation) where she encourages you to set her as your “personal assistant”. Then the screen prompts me to “hang tight” while “they” get things set up for me when Windows will be, I am told “all mine.” “No it won’t!” the voice screams in my head “It belongs to Microsoft [along with my soul].” Google is no better with its name in basic colours and (not too long ago) updated yet childish font; that Google is partnered with a company called Alphabet says it all.
The system wants us to remain as children with a limited and perpetually naive perspective on the world; the clips from the World Economic Forum (or what ever it was held at Davos), included in Brand’s video, with the woman from Facebook, grinning, presented this truth to me, and sent a shiver down my spine; I’m pretty sure these people know full well what they’re saying (although it could be that they themselves believe their own BS and brainwashing) while they try their best to say it in a friendly yet unnervingly condescending manner as if “it’s what you want, it’s for your own best [you little people that are beneath us].”
TV shows, and the soaps particularly, lead us to believe that’s the entirety of how humans behave and that’s how relationships should be (porn is said to have a harmful effect on how we treat one another, such as presenting men and women as overly sexual, and as if that’s all anyone is about). I have thought previously about how media I absorbed in my youth skewed my own treatment of girls I liked; the pops songs (often very tame by today’s standards, although laced with stuff my innocence didn’t understand) that I listened to, how they surely lead to unhealthy behaviours in me and others, such as obsessive and narcissistic tendencies.
The point I opened with about ‘science’ was because I wanted to try and explain my idea that there is far more to the world than what it (and the system) allows us to see, or perhaps wants us to see. That ‘science’ was presented to the world as Truth hundreds of years ago, and continues to do so, and that all else, like religion, or specifically mysticism, is, I believe, not true. Religions, and indeed mysticism, still exist today; we still have our churches and astrologers and tarot card readers and diviners, but many think of these as nothing more than either quaint, or simply as an entertaining niche for some of the masses that like that sort of thing. But what if those that pushed for ‘science’ way back then did so for nefarious reasons; to either hide from the masses the truth of the matter, or because they themselves were lead to do so, and we’ve all been on this folly ever since. In a previous video by Russell Brand (because my world is that limited) he mentioned the Royal Coronations, and how, whilst televised, don’t show all that goes on, and that there are some most sacred parts that are kept secret; none of this has any basis in science as such, but is of a mystical and occult manner, and therefore to be kept from the eyes and understanding of the masses.
It’s not that I think ‘science’ is wrong, although it certainly can be, but more so that it can present a limited perspective, and one that is not helpful, and potentially hinders the individual (and therefore the masses). Perhaps that was, and still is the intent.