Michio Kaku and the Myopic Universe

A critique of Michio Kaku’s video “The Universe in a Nutshell

What irritates me about this narrative, is how physicists as individuals and as a group often conflate themselves (and their field of study) with the concept of physics itself. Yes, ‘physics‘ is, in the broadest sense, the foundation of how everything works. As far as we know there is no reason to think that anything that exists or can be known, lies outside of the scope of everything that is physics. I love physics. I love science. I LOVE pure, humble and impassioned investigation.

That is exactly what is lacking!

The idea that physics encompasses all understanding, is no longer true when you are discussing ‘physics’ as an academic field of study, as a function of limited human minds inseparable from their social, historical, economic, philosophical, and cultural contexts and inevitable biases. The word is the same. Their contextual meanings are not.

In this video, Michio Kaku actually implies with straight-faced conviction that “the internet a simple by-product of electromagnetic force” and then has the gall to suggest that “where there is the internet, there’s prosperity”,  subtly confirming the insidious, but endlessly repeated trope that those poor countries must be full of stupid, unenlightened, regressive, helpless people who probably just need to “get it together.” There is not even the suggestion that centuries of colonial domination could possibly have anything to do with this. Not a peep.

Seriously!? Ass-kissing glasses!? This is something we’re looking forward to? Let’s not talk about the significance that every last goddamn motherfucker in that cocktail party scene was as white as my bare ass in January. No significance there. It just a fun internet video, right. What a buffoon! Talk about a zero-foot view! This is a disgusting display of unexamined, white-supremacist,  neo-liberal, self-righteousness bullshit!

There is no more room in this world for scientists to say “I’m only interested in the science” as if to suggest “that other stuff is just for hippies and people liberal arts degrees.” You cannot divorce any science from any of its inherent contexts. You cannot divorce yourself from the affect of your impact in thought-space simply because you don’t geek out about it. You have a fucking responsibility to be aware, or your so-called science will be infected at a level deeper from which any scientific method can save it.

You will miss the deeper meaning of the questions and completely misunderstand the potential effects the answers.

Keeping the scientific method pure within the confines of the question you’re trying to find answers to IS NOT ENOUGH! The questions themselves need to be examined. They must be informed by deep understand of all of the contexts with which it has an intersection and there are many. If you don’t you end up like this guy, perpetuating poisonous, ignorant, unexamined assumptions, glossing it over with a veneer of grand-scale material accomplishments whose impact and meaning are also unexamined.

I applaud the pioneers who have unlocked many of the mysteries of our world from whom I have reaped many benefits. I now also stand in the awareness of many others in our world who still don’t have access to these benefits. I boldly dare to suggest that the scientific community itself is part of the answer to this question. The reasons for, and solutions to these problems are just as in dire need of exploration, and likely more so.

I can get behind science advocacy. Surely to God (pardon the irony), we need more scientific literacy. We are desperately missing critical thinking on the grand scale. Unfortunately, much of the scientific community itself has many gaping blind spots. Not the least of which is the hopelessly imbalanced distribution of the benefits of discovery, but also the increasing rate at which the direction of research is being steered towards myopic goals of the narrowest, most devious and cannibalistic of minds.

The vast, vast majority of us are not in need of stupid gadgets or trips to Mars. This ultimately doesn’t need to be a zero-sum game. I’m not advocating for other lines of thought instead of scientific discovery. I’m advocating that our scientific communities need to have much broader understanding of the world and themselves, and need tread outside the comfortable and privileged domains in which they now reside.

The humility and passion for investigation of our scientific community MUST go beyond mere academic, scientific inquiry.

Our future depends on it.


Posted on August 16, 2012, in Science and Skepticism, Social. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: