Thursday, September 17, 2009
In another post-to-shortly-come, I want to talk about one of the "least acceptable" topics in the world of anomalies--the"Little People". Before I expose myself to that level of ridicule, though, I'd like to speak a bit about the concept in the title. Once upon a time [all really good stories start this way], I was teaching environmental planning to undergraduates and this particular seminar had a large "planning concept" type paper due wherein each student had taken an aspect of the current system [transportation or energy or waste management, etc] and , in concert with the other students' ideas, presented a future system which, hopefully was better than what was the status quo. And, they were supposed to present at least one alternative plan and evaluate their two ideas' strengths and weaknesses. One student presented three plans. The first was his "conservative" plan, wherein the current situation was mildly tinkered with in ways which would create little opposition, but would only marginally solve our dilemmas. This is the way, if we're even THAT lucky, that our world actually "works" [parentheses on purpose]. His second plan was a "progressive" plan. [He called it his "liberal" plan at the time--a time before certain vicious assaults on the word rendered it almost unusable.] This plan broke [in several significant ways] from the status quo, was far better at solving the problems in the current system, and would have a major fight to have entrenched interests get out of the way and let it become reality. But it would not take us "all-the-way-home" either. The student took a risk. He constructed a plan that he called "All-the-Way-Fool". I asked him about the name. He said that although he knew that very few, if anyone, would feel comfortable with the radicalness of his plan, he could see that the concept was nevertheless a "correct" one, and the only type of concept which was authentic and worth working toward. He admitted that in the eyes of most people he was a Fool, but he was proud of his convictions. Would that all my students had been that way. The books illustrated above are books going "all-the-way-fool". They are great books. Their authors have tried to open our eyes to the reality of what we are and the vision of what we need to become. They are the products of authentic thinkers who don't hold anything back and who press their cases to an unsupportive "culture". If we'd have paid attention to them, we'd be living in a more enlightened world. Lovins tells us what we really need in terms of energy system thinking; Schumacher tries to wake us up about bigness, power, the inhumanity-of-the-large-organization; Stone clears our anthropocentric thinking aside to get us to consider why Nature itself needs protection against that very bigness and egocentrism; and Callenbach just weaves everything together to envision an entire sustainable world [you may remove some of his sixtyish hangups and still easily retain the message]. Naturally, almost no one wants to seriously contemplate any of this [though by some incredible fluke involving Senators who didn't quite understand what they were voting for, we did get an Endangered Species Act in the early 1970s, when everyone was upset with burning Cuyahoga rivers, dead Lake Eries, and disappearing Bald Eagles. So, what does this have to do with the anomalies? [most of you have already guessed]. Our educational "consensus" and our scientific "establishment" work against any concept of reality that radically challenges it, even if only in the perceptions of the conservative gate-keepers. These gate-keepers include the editors of every main-line journal, plus the administrators of every major organization. For instance, it is OK to tinker at the edges of the "established cant", but one cannot leap off the pier, let alone go for a long swim. Looking for distant planets is perfectly alright. Listening for distant intelligence is barely tolerated. Researching UFOs is completely "foolish". Even in less "pop" areas: Einstein's ideas became the established cant after a big fight. Then, Quantum Theory was barely tolerated, and some still fight against it as a sort of conceptual error [this is how we get preposterous ideas like the "many worlds" hypothesis---that universes multiply everytime an electron does one thing or another]. But to really insert what must go into Quantum Theory [the role of consciousness] to make it work--horrors, THAT'S "foolishness". All the anomalies face this sort of instant rejection. And although a researcher of one anomaly tends to be more interested and somewhat more tolerant of ideas from another, there are less-welcome anomalies than others. With UFOs and parapsychology one can get some exchange of thoughts going in polite company [of non-establishment types]. When you move to NDEs or poltergeists...maybe. Bigfoot? Loch Ness Monster?...you're almost out-of-luck. But "little people"?...forget it! In the next post, I plan to go "All-the-Way-Fool".
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