a new theory on what's causing the Great Stagnation
Good article, however this entire thesis is reliant on a single assumption - that there *are* radical, paradigm-shifting scientific discoveries left to be uncovered. There might be a few, but number is steadily falling as less and less of the low-hanging fruit is unavailable.
Thus, you might just be drawing the correlation between falling probabilities of radical discoveries to your own (possibly biased) takes regarding research standardization and the internet as a whole.
So basically, (groundbreaking) science doesn't scale. Or at least we haven't found a way to make it scale.
I think that the answer will be hobbyists, amateurs, not professional scientists. The internet fortunately allows easy publishing of original research. This new groundbreaking research will of course first be ignored because it doesn't fit socially or intellectually with science today. But in due time, its applicability will be recognized (on average, people don't just ignore solutions to important problems).
Then this Science 2 will start to grow, fall into the exact same traps as Science 1. Which will ultimately give birth to a new generation of hobbyists and amateurs, starting Science 3, and so forever in a circle.
Awesome, delicious. This is the type of mildly scandalous thinking that I'm here for.
Lately I've developed this sense that the internet is creating a sort of fizzling out instead of an explosion; I can imagine a type of dystopia where we're all in something like soma holiday, but instead of cheap and meaningless raw pleasure it's cheap and meaningless thought and ideas... we manage to convince ourselves we're doing Good and Important stuff, but it ends up just melting into trite and comfortable nothingness for eternity. This is the feeling I get from the contemporary internet, social media, and science...
Also, I have long had the sense that you could actually do more interesting stuff by *not* reading everything there is to read about a field, but I pushed it out of my mind as ridiculous... glad to have this validation. Great post!
I think you are on to something
This is awesome.
Apollonian: Sean Carroll, Steven Pinker.
Dionysian (at least in spirit): Lee Smolin, Nassim Taleb.
We can think of Insider/Outsider as defined by Auren Hoffman as analog categories in the entrepreneurial world
IQ has been decreasing by 1.2 points per decade since the Victorian Era. It's just that people are dumber.
I enjoyed your article so much I read it twice and took notes, so please consider don't consider these questions the wrong way. If anything, I'm an under-educated simpleton who missed your points and am just trying to understand better:
Are we sure creativity is on the decline? Maybe the center of the normal curve of ideas has ballooned, but are the edges maybe not still there, if not in relative levels compared to 50 years ago or whatever, then at least absolute levels?
What exceptions do you see? i.e., who has made creative breakthroughs in spite of the internet's creativity smothering? Better yet, who's done so thanks to the internet. I wonder what lessons we can try to infer from those anecdotes.
What do you think the problem behind this problem is? My guess: Incentives. Is creativity not as rewarded as it once was? Or incremental gains over-rewarded? Or is creativity riskier or harder to obtain, so the expected reward of going after it less appealing?
The listening-reading distinction feels like another shapelord vs wordcel or lateral thinking vs vertical thinking distinction. The art of hyperlinks and data visualization are inherent to what is missing in science. This might explain why Nicky Case and 3Blue1Brown are both great "content creators".
In the case of metrification, it can be said that we ought to create a kind of platonic "junk" metric. Having a metric that in essence random makes bureaucratization impossible, and frees up space for people to freely think. Alterative would be "multi-objective optimization" or having so many metrics that "A for effort" is justified. Metrification and lack of creative slack is often caused by the drainage of funding paired with "anti-intellectualism" of the fundamentalist masses. Political demands for science to "do real work" or pull funding back into military spending or public welfare.
Egregores, info-bombing, homogenization, and groupthink are now universal constants that cannot be changed, it is now a matter of how we can rely on new techniques to navigate information. I for one think that "second brain" or "knowledge gardens" are good ways to create spaces of philosophical play. (need to figure out a sensible way to publish LogSeq with WIP portions tho, need to grow a pair) The best way to fight against single-mindedness is to become multitudes, to dip your toes in every direction and reconcile the contradictions. And yes be heretical lol.
A similar solution to this in STEM is how we need more engineers (artists) and less "scientists". Engineering training IS anxiety inoculation, and most of the bloggers out there are very theory-driven rather than data-driven or experiment-driven. These theorists are more apt in becoming liberal arts writers (midlist or midwit types) than being a real innovator. When LARPing as an innovator is lucrative and midwit writing are being swamped by spammers, the whole ecosystem collapses. A good tell is if they sound like a "theater kid", a performer rather than a maker. Oh look there is a *writer strike* AND an *actor strike* while the EA and X-Risk theorists run wild. https://archive.fo/pgFdQ