It has been too long that humanity has been devoid of a strong collective direction and common organizational framework. This is the result of, and has resulted in, crystallization of unsustainable counter-productive information flows. Take for example, the interaction of operational physics and its image popularized by media. The youth is brainwashed into masturbating to images of Einstein and Feynman due to sociological reasons like atom bomb and LHC, and string theory is somehow a contemporary placeholder for that lineage. Thus string theory and all similar abstract frameworks in that category get public attention and unquestioned reverence. However, this is similar to believing that just because a group of people ruling a country did well in the past, anything the country produces in the future will never be deleterious. Even though the proposition is clearly false, the romanticized dogmatic image of physics has a deep rooted place in the collective unconscious or the ontology (known or unknown beliefs on ‘what IS’) of society.
In science it is not until way afterwards that the philosophical implications of a theoretic framework are fully uncovered, however it is beyond the capability of popular media (or any low bandwidth information channel) to say when a whole community reaches maturity, and thus is never reported as it cannot be reported. The ravaging media, to sustain the market, now provides the youth contemporary images for masturbation such as quantum gravity, spin foam or twistor spaces, and the cycles persists. These aren’t explicit but systemic lies. By systemic lie, I mean that the image of the size of the available parameter space is misreported, and efforts are made to constrain to an easily accessible but distorted image.
One might question whether the position in which humanity finds itself today is an edge case or a commonplace for society to be in? Has society ever had a direction, a revolution? However, determining this question cannot waver the importance for a need to change. Misrepresentation is an epidemic, just like COVID, and determining the origin does not help one bit in tackling it. Now, more than ever, people need to learn how to unlearn so that they can see what is obviously the case.
What does it mean to unlearn? First, what does it mean to learn? As Deleuze points out in D&R, there is a difference between knowledge and learning. When you gain more knowledge about something, you are simply populating a framework that you already possessed. For instance, you know shirts have colors, but you don’t know what is the color of the shirt of your neighbor. It is easy to get knowledge on that, you just have to go take a look. To learn on the other hand is a different phenomena. To learn, is to be able to navigate your way through a thicket of information in a directed and purposeful way. It is not just getting the value of a parameter, but assembling the whole framework instead.
One of the major problems with the education system is that concepts are techniques are taught so that other concepts and techniques can be taught, so that the person who learns them can be operationally effective in the actual world. Thus what is stressed upon is the carrying out of instructions rather than the comprehension (digital computer- 0 comprehension, maximum effectiveness). Thus the knowledge transmitted is a patchwork of several heuristics, and very importantly contains many lies which creep in the episteme via unquestioned ontology. Sometimes, some false beliefs re-enforce other false beliefs to create an ecosystem of misconception, but it doesn’t matter until it doesn’t come up.
However, now it does matter. The disconnect between science, mathematics and and reality is only growing and intellectual efforts are dissipating due to the gap. It is the burden of our generation to disentangle the lines of reasoning, and re-propagate the corrected understanding as effectively as possible. We must collectively unlearn, and help others learn how we have learnt to unlearn. Sometimes unlearning is in understanding that the space of possibilities was way more than one had earlier fathomed, sometimes it is in letting go of preconceived notions and biases and seeing again from a beginner’s mind. It sounds paradoxical, but to bridge the gap of understanding between human and nature, collective effort must be made to unlearn.