A Valuable Phrase

Bertrand Russell photo TCT‘s editor has been going through a phase of reading Bertrand Russell. It is very worthwhile.

Among the treasures to be had thereby is the fact that, at moments, as you’re reading along, Russell hits upon a phrase that packs a truly huge punch. One of these is “insufficiently scientific optimists.”

This concept speaks volumes in several directions, not least of which is its usefulness for making sense of the prevalent habit among greens and lefties of treating science as a problem, rather than a solution. (If you think this is just a minor problem, step over to any major greenish website and get a load of the ubiquity of the “we need new worldviews” trope. It is dominant.)

Russell is genuinely liberating on this vital issue. The problem isn’t science; it is that our overclass and their forebears only respect science insofar as it helps them make money and extend their own power. To blame this on science is a fatal mistake, if you hold out hope for a decent human future.

We are not going to rescue ourselves with shamanism or alt-nihilism or self-referential story-telling. The problems we face are too large and too difficult.

Meanwhile, TCT repeats the point: Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional testimony is part of an elite scramble to contain the data-scraping scandal to “politics.”