April 22, 2013

me+ME: The matter of age
1. The matter of age
Am I making up things?
3. Suppose not: Then what?

About ME/CFS


This time - after a fairly long piece about Ecclesiastes, yesterday - a brief piece on the matter of age. Note that I am speaking vaguely, but at least I know that I am doing so.

1. The matter of age

This is a problem I will not solve but only pose: To what extent is age a problem?

I am also not being precize, but as that is not possible anyway let me give my main two reasons to pose the problem - and I will describe both facts quite hazily, so as not to be tricked into false specificity:
  • First, there seem to be no more real geniuses.
  • Second, it seems most of the people who protest are 40 or older.
As to the first reason, I am not alone, though I cannot find the recent source for it I had yesterday or the day before that right now. This is not very important, as the fact must be fairly evident anyway:

There are hardly any or no more geniuses in science.

This is also not something I just invented: It is already the case for approximately 40 years.

Note what I am not saying: I am not saying that there are no great producers nor brilliant minds. These clearly exist. I am saying that types like Einstein, Von Neumann, Landau, Wiener, and some others - and I mentioned just mathematical/physical types - in the stated cases all born between ca. 1880 and 1910, seem to exist no more.

And my point is - supposing this to be true - is that this is quite strange, since there are quite a lot more scientists now than there were at their time. What you would expect is that there is roughly the same distribution, with three or four time more people doing science, as was the case, and hence also three or four times more geniuses. But it isn't so, to the best of my knowledge.

As to the second reason, I may be alone, or I may be having a blockage all of my own, but even so:

While there is very much in modern Western societies to be quite distraught about, and while some are distraught, it seems far fewer are than were - and it also seems as if the most important ones are quite old.

Of those who protest, Noam Chomsky is in his eighties, as was Gore Vidal (who died last summer). Chris Hedges is in his later fifties. Paul Krugman is sixty.

There are a few in their forties, but not many, and even a few in their twenties, but even less.

Or that is how it seems to me, in very broad terms. So let me ask the pertinent question:

2. Am I making up things?

The problem is that it is quite difficult to say.

As to the dearth of really first class scientists, I feel I am relatively safe, firstly, because others have, completely independently, come to a similar conclusion, and secondly, because there were two major world wars in the previous century, that killed many of the brightest boys, also without having a chance to reproduce themselves.

As to the dearth of young protesters:This seems less certain, and I definititely come from "a revolutionary age" - except that it has been over 40 years of relative quietude, at least in the West, and that seems a fairly long time, also because there was in the West no major obstruction to protest.

So let's suppose I am right, or at least more right than wrong.

3. Suppose not: Then what?

In that case, there may be a minor or even a major stupefication: There will be science, but it will be mostly fairly lowly, and there will be protest and protesters, but they will be fairly rare, and they will fail.

It may be that the year 2001 - actually, the beginning of the new age - really was the start of a long time of slowness, uncertainty, pain and problems, rather like the year 501 was.

I really do not know, and I also will never know, whether I am right or wrong, for it wiill probably take at least one or two generations, of - say - some 25 to 50 years, to be able to say what is the case.

What I do know, or at least guess firmly, is that there is no necessary progress; that there are too many men for the food there is; that those who govern are not competent; and that we may be just at the beginning of a steep and long decline.

Then again I do hope I am mistaken, and there are proportionally as many geniuses as there were, while there are
proportionally as many who protest as there were in the 1960ies, and all there is will only be a minor hitch and then everything will be fine again.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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