Raed Nerian - Items filtered by date: May 2019


Alright, so I know this will sound completely insane to anyone in the know from the get-go, but here goes anyway.

I've developed a hybrid theoretical framework I believe represents a tremendous step forward with respect to scientific understanding how the human world functions.

You are right to wonder why this matters, and also why I characterize this development as insane. I'll answer both, but you'll have to bear with me a bit, because the answer to both is (as with most things in this world) linked in complex ways. I'll do my level best to be as succinct as possible.

The human world - and by that I mean human societies, economies, politics, so on - is largely driven by decisions made by people who hold certain beliefs about human nature.

Most of these beliefs are wrong.

They are rooted in a wicked cocktail of bad theory, producing poor empirics, a result of centuries of accepting very simple, exceptionally pernicious conceit.

The idea that a bunch of Greek philosophers three thousand years back discovered truths of the world that were re-discovered in medieval Europe, enabling that peculiar society to be the first to "discover" science, to which we owe all progress in human affairs.

This is a myth. A fabrication. A deliberate misunderstanding of history strategically deployed by generations of scientists to justify their maintaining control over the architecture that produces new scientists.

Like any other myth, it has value.

But only when considered from the proper perspective, along with the right caveats.

To become a scientist, at least in the English speaking world, you have to choose a major, spend about ten years of your life (combining undergraduate and graduate levels) passing courses with decent grades, pass a series of "comprehensive" examinations (in quotes because they vary by discipline and sub-discipline), and carry out a formal research project that ends in publishing several academic papers and/or writing a dissertation, essentially a book.

Then, you have to convince five or so people at your university to say you did a good enough job to be awarded a PhD, which earns you the right to sit in judgement on would-be scientists in your own turn.

The myth is that this process is meritocratic in nature.

The truth is that the process is political.

Now no, I don't mean political in the sense of conservative vs. liberal, right vs. left (though it does occur sometimes).

I mean political in the Office Space sense. The banal, endless grind of allocating tasks, responsibilities, and resources within the workforce.

The truth of scientists is that, for all intents and purposes, they live in a world where they are accountable only to their fellow scientists.

This is a problem. For many reasons.

It has resulted in science being fragmented into innumerable independent disciplines, each with their own separate truths that cannot be reconciled.

It has created and sustained the hostile environment experienced by women, people of color, indigenous scholars, anyone not a white male of a certain background - hence why conservatives sometimes encounter it too.

It has bound the basic metabolism of scientific research - the day-to-day efforts of scholars alone or in groups to answer questions of interest - to that of the modern university, an institution that primarily serves as a social gateway to decent employment for the vast majority of students.

Simply put, there are political and moral economies at play that have essentially hijacked science, rendering it an ideology and stalling desperately needed progress in understanding human beings and the global society they've constructed as they are, rather than as scientists imagine them to be.

Academic disciplines, but especially the social sciences, are social organisms inherently more concerned with their own reproductive success than carrying out the vital business of advancing scientific knowledge.

As a result, they have made the natural choice to become cloisters within a church, to create canonical bodies of knowledge all would-be scientists in that discipline must master - that is, prove to their superiors that they know and accept, in order to remain a member in good standing.

Going outside the canon, particularly if it contradicts one of the accepted paradigms within the discipline, is frowned upon - until you have tenure, and "academic freedom."

A boon only granted to those who have not only won the favor of five superiors in the discipline, but have demonstrated fealty to the discipline (and their local department's) objectives for a sufficient time (another 6 or so years).

Naturally, the process of selecting disciplinary canon is political, an effort to reconcile sub-disciplinary tensions (the nature of this sort of hierarchical system is to tend towards niche-seeking, and ultimately fragmentation) under conditions of scarce resources, resulting in the production of excluded perspectives.

Canon ultimately being defined, of course, by what isn't allowed in.

So my assertion that I have come up with a global framework is insane, because it would never, ever be accepted under the scientific status quo, at least not in the English-speaking world. It contravenes the entire mythos of science as demanded by the present political-social economy of academia.

In Europe, or perhaps the developing world, it might. That, after all, is where I source most of the literature essential to building and supporting this framework.

But for the foreseeable future, and probably in my lifetime, I won't have the ability to jump countries, much as I want to. Too many roots where we are, too many obligations to family. Also, I'm autistic, so change is rather difficult - I simply work best from my home, like a wizard in his tower.

Still, I believe all the work I've done over the years, the hundreds upon hundreds of books and papers (sorry trees) I've consumed, has both merit and serious practical implications for anyone who wants to understand and help manage the world better, whatever scale level they work at.

So my plan for this page is to use it as a sort of living document. A living outline, which I will slowly build out as time allows. At first, it'll be just a blurb or two about pieces of the framework, and an ever-extending reading list. That way, anybody who happens on the page can benefit, maybe even take the idea in directions I can't imagine.

Building Blocks

Here the outline shall begin!

And as promised, it is only an outline. This will change - slowly. I am a fiction author (more people will consider my ideas if expressed in that mode, the oldest form of teaching) with a production schedule.

But for a teaser - to concoct the theoretical brew I argue is needed to carry the social sciences forward under a united banner, you need:

General systems theory (von Bertalanffy in particular)

Ecological systems theory (Either of the Odums)

Social systems theory (especially Niklas Luhmann)

Buddhist epistemology

Political economy (Smith and Marx form the foundations)

Agent based modeling and simulation

Groups as primary unit of analysis

Political ecology

Human ecology

Postcolonial theory

Peasant studies

Development theory

International relations

And also just a lot, and i mean a lot, of history.

Core Reading List

This is one of the areas where Wikipedia is an *excellent* starting point.

*More to come.

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