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Railing against our fate
October 28, 2013

I remember when I was young – a student at the LSE, so many years ago now that I don’t believe that quill pens had even been invented, a giant intellect then, at the height of his powers, was Karl Popper. He wrote about the meaning of science and knowledge. He was also a political philosopher. And his book “The Poverty of Historicism” was a wonderful critique of the soviet system and marxist ideology. But it was his philosophical work around knowledge that defined him in the febrile young brains of that time (the 1960s/1970s).

His idea was that all scientific knowledge was provisional and for it to be a meaningful, it had to be falsifiable. That one had to be able to test it and in principle demonstrate that it was wrong or more likely not as full or complete as it could be.

So, to say that the science is settled on global warming would be a ludicrous thing to say. And to argue as was argued not many years ago and from scientific (Nobel approved) principles, that financial markets were always right was similarly laughable. And I would say that even to attempt to apply scientific methods to mental health and “illness” is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of both science and mental illness.

Maybe it is about zooming in too much – see last week’s newsletter. That collectively, we just cannot see what we are doing because we are too caught up in the detail and entranced by the false prospectus that we can know more and more and thereby be able to control more and more.

best wishes

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Andrew Richardson

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