[Fis] The Age of Discord

Bruno Marchal marchal at ulb.ac.be
Mon Nov 25 15:59:18 CET 2019

Dear Pedro,

> On 22 Nov 2019, at 12:13, Pedro C. Marijuan <pcmarijuan.iacs en aragon.es> wrote:
> Dear FIS & IS4SI Colleagues,
> "The Age of Discord" was the title of a lecture that the historian and sociologist Peter Turchin, founder of the       Cliodynamics approach, gave recently in the Netherlands. The slides can be easily obtained in the web (in his blog). The content was mainly referring to a decades-long trend of low progress and rise of inequality, and as a consequence growing social unrest. It would form part of a secular oscillation in history... But I think there is a new potent factor: the hyperconnectivity we talked weeks ago.
> These days we are watching violent demonstrations in numerous countries: Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, Iran, Irak, Lebanon... plus Hongkong, Spain (Barcelona), France (gilets jaunes), and the rising polarization from Trumpism and Brexit. There is a contagion effect in some cases. But a common factor is the influence of social networks. In several aspects: 
> --How easy is to organize demonstrations and activist concentrations.
> --How easy is to disseminate information that efficiently counteracts governments' efforts to maintain social order. 
> --How easyly anger and hatred are shared among the masses, generating a collective climate of insults, physical violence, highest irritation.
> --How easily outright lies, disinformation, vitriolic attacks are jumping from screen to screen to the eyeballs of hypnotized watchers.
> --The proportion of "negative" to "positive" (say of emotional responses) has become the highest in the history of communication.
> My opinion is that the new media and new modalities of hyperconnection, still deprived of constraining cultural patterns, are the genuine movers of this "Age of Discord", without rejecting the other factors implied in Turchin secular views. This time there is something really new agitating history and the masses (like printing press, steam engines...). Is there hope that collective intelligence will domesticate this artificial information flow soon? Of course, without a loss of individual freedoms.
I think that the main problem is the human frequent use of lies, usually for personal interest. The Internet amplifies this phenomenon, and some bad people (tyran, dictators, enemy of democracies) exploit this a lot.

But there were big lies before, like with the pharmaceutical lies on drugs and cannabis, which perdure still today. The lies behind 9/11 (I have made numerous calculation: two planes crashing have a zero probability to lead to three apparent control demolitions), and the mother of all lies: the idea that we can separate theology from science, which abandons this fundamental domain to a mix of tyranny and superstition. 

Yes, Trump and the Brexit can be first palatable consequences of those lies, and it is very problematic. It always lead to violence and barbarity. As I try to explain since 40 years, we will leave obscurantism and the Middle-Âge only when all sciences will come back at the academy. Unfortunately, theology/religion is a too much useful tools for the tyran and the corrupted to be abandon so easily. I was hoping that the discovery that machine/number have a testable theology/metaphysics (testable as it contains physics) would help, but even on this we get the lie by omission, the hide of the information, etc.

We have to transform the Renaissance. That was a progress, but it is not transformed, and that will happen when we can be modest and serious in all matter.

You raise an important point. Some confuse freedom of expression with freedom of lie or defamation.

Note that in arithmetic, many universal machines lie. It is an almost direct consequence of the Gödelian consistency of inconsistency (<>t -> <>[]f;  if I am consistent, it is consistent that I am inconsistent;  Gödel’s second incompleteness theorem. Note that <>t <-> ~[]f, t = boolean constant true, and f = boolean constant false).

I don’t know if collective intelligence can solve the problem. I would say that it is more a question of collective spiritual maturity, and we are at a very long way from this, alas. We are at the age of discord in the lasting Era of Lies.

Best wishes,


> --Pedro
> -- 
> -------------------------------------------------
> Pedro C. Marijuán
> Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
> pcmarijuan.iacs en aragon.es <mailto:pcmarijuan.iacs en aragon.es>
> http://sites.google.com/site/pedrocmarijuan/ <http://sites.google.com/site/pedrocmarijuan/>
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