Author: oamber

Have We Ever Been Revolutionary?

Bruno Latour’s narrative came from an anthropological perspective, clearly avoiding the of the lens general public. He investigates modernity in his book We Have Never Been Modern and concludes that this notion creates the divide between nature and culture. He even moves on to compare the movement of plate tectonics with the movement of nature and culture. He wants us to think of modernity as a type of faith. The prospect of keeping nature and culture as a hybrid is overwhelming, and Latour suggests that we rethink our definitions. Before modernity existed, the pre-modern society did not create such a division between culture and nature – they were unified as one.

Science these days, in modern time, is viewed as pure. Yet, Latour argues this is not the case. Science is tainted by governments, money, and other powerful regimes, forcing many scientists to become lobbyists. Of course, scientific studies are science, however, it is time for humans to realize its political and ideological impurities. It’s all in tus vs them psychological trend. The modern “us” and the primitive “them” blocks “us” from retracing our steps back into pre-modern times with the pretense that we are not them.

The interconnectedness of science and technology has created a discourse including many fields regardless of people’s socioeconomic class, education, race, gender, geographic location, and job status. This interconnectedness between these various entities is unavoidable. And this is the foundation for Latour’s argument that we have never been modern and are revolutionary.

Currently, the divides between the subjects in the past have been taken down. If we can explain all of the fields using the other, and find truth in each, then we can consider ourselves revolutionary. But we all change constantly, and looking at the timescale of human life, we have changed and evolved dramatically. Revolution is basically in our DNA. But, Latour’s point is that it’s not just what we have evolved from, it’s that we are almost expected to move with change. For example, when you look at the geologic timescale of the Earth, its dramatic changes are very evident. From extinctions to new life, the Earth is constantly changing. But would we consider these changes revolutions? I think that we could, because the Earth itself is creating change through its many spheres of energy. That is why I would like to reinterpret Latour’s argument that we have never been revolutionary and say that in fact, we are revolutionary and it is just a part of what makes us human.

You Never Bite the Hen that Feeds You

At its core, humanity’s only saving grace is the environment. But, most people lack this basic understanding of life. If only people could understand that the environment is going to slay us all, therefore, it does not matter how much we hate each other anyway. This lack of understanding is primarily due to the dishonesty and image common folk have of the elite and educated. The modern day media has caused this foundation of hatred toward affluent people. The complexity and interrelationships spawned by the media’s lack of true reporting skills create a deep-seated challenge in changing the current eye rolling of regular people to trust and acceptance of educated and factual ideas. Right now is the time to challenge and overthrow this attitude of mistrust. The election of Donald Trump was a moment of war for the souls and spirits of humanity. It is now when the spotlight is on the poor reporting done by the media that educated people must voice their concerns. The only real concern that connects everyone together? The environment. People must challenge the media’s use of language and articulate WHY people are so petrified by this election. People must find the humanity in targeting the environment to evoke empathy from all people in all countries, regardless of their race, education, or culture. Because EVERYONE on this planet is tied to the environment. It is especially important to note that the image of opposition must always have a voice. If one does not

It is especially important to note that the image of opposition must always have a voice. If one does not give them a voice, they will not listen. If they don’t listen, nothing will change. And change is what we need. Of course, activism is always a good outlet to create change. However, activism can be just misplaced hate, where nobody is informed and displaces the working class. Activism must take the form of the “new hip thing” – the new hip thing being caring about the environment. How is this done? By changing the narrative by getting people to think about what their stance is on the matter.

The powerful people in society are the ones to be mistrusted. They ask minorities to cleanse a place and move there, which people do because they are not told the truth about the real health implications and negative consequences that are actually found in that area. It is a lack of care and compassion and this is a huge problem that people must work towards eliminating by removing these cancerous people from powerful positions. But this can be done not by challenging the democracy – that is not democratic. It can be done by challenging the definitions imposed by those in power. This brings us to the age-old argument concerning apathy and historic America versus bigotry and racism, an argument whose roots are the foundation of our country – one discovered by egocentric people who forced control over another population in order to gain control. It is this very foundation that must be destroyed and rebuilt and the time is now!

Kuhn’s Scientific Revolution

“Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none.” – Thomas Kuhn, pg .52

Kuhn’s notion as stated above is contrary to the popular image of science. He challenges the normally accepted scientific beliefs. He states that if scientific discoveries are typically viewed as novelties, then this will lead to the end of what people believe to be normal science. Contrary to this point, normal science’s aim is not towards its end or towards strictly philosophical ideologies. But, according to Kuhn, normal science strives not towards progress but towards normal and/or revolutionary stages. Basically, Kuhn revolutionized how people view science and broke it down into stages:

  1. Pre-Paradigmatic
  2. Emergence of Normal Science
  3. Emergence of Anomaly and Crisis
  4. Birth and Assimilation of a New Paradigm

These stages exemplify his point: that science is more than just an accumulation of new ideas. Instead, science is marked by revolutionary ideas that trigger new ideologies (or what he calls new paradigms) that change the way people view and understand science. It is in these revolutionary stages that big breakthroughs happen. His model is a cyclical succession of stages from pre-science to normal science to model drift to model crisis to model revolution to paradigm change and back to normal science.

But what causes a paradigm change? Looking at the structure of education systems (schools) at least in the U.S. and in the schools I have been enrolled in, fundamental models are never disagreed upon. However, this is how paradigms shift. People who engage in questioning what people generally believe to be the fundamental truths end up finding discrepancies in these facts. In normal science, theories are not questioned, however, in revolutionary science they are. Also, in normal science, change is gradual, but in revolutionary science, change is quick. Kuhn mentions the perspectives scientists have on the world, saying that those who work in different paradigms live in different psychological worlds due to their differences in beliefs.

Is Kuhn’s idea really as black and white as he makes it out to be? Is studying science as a philosophy the right way to study? Or, is studying science as a sociology correct? Kuhn believes studying science as a philosophy is wrong. But, he is unable to explain what scientists should do rather than what they actually do. Philosophers assess the goals of specific claims in order to explain how their practice can achieve these goals, so in my opinion, I believe there is a place for philosophers in normal science as opposed to Kuhn’s belief that they have no place at all. Just because something might be a poor argument does NOT mean that its conclusion in untrue, it just means that there are questions the argument does not address and everyone (philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists alike) must work towards addressing these questions.

A Datafied Society

How does big data play a role in ethics and society? Well, it’s obvious to me that there is a disconnect between science and the epistemological and ethical ways people do research. Anytime one analyzes data they add bias by valuing specific factors more or less within their research, whether people like it or not. But, what does it mean to understand data?

There is more data out there now than ever, in the history of mankind and data just as there is more technology now than ever. This highly correlated relationship shows the connection both have to impersonal relations. This disconnect from humanity may be leading these areas of study down unethical paths. We are hardwired towards a very particular path of understanding.

Data can expose society to more understandings and perspectives. It can help people to understand technicalities or contexts. Many people have a hard time discerning both sides of a perspective. Luckily, big data helps to close this gap by providing more accuracy.

However, even though data is getting more open, people need to be more educated about it. For example, people must be able to understand the implicit assumptions made by data sets and take each set with a grain of salt, if you will. Data does not mean evidence or truth but it does mean changing how we live our lives and how we understand them. Yet, our ways of showing data have not changed very much. For example, Robert Hooke’s Micrographia depicts detail hand drawn images just like encyclopedias (both in text and online) have today.  An image speaks one thousand words and shows what can’t be described as bare knowledge. However, the visualization techniques for big data are also causing issues because data sets are typically large, taxing the capacities of the technologies that create it.

Big data is both a conceptual and technical revolution. Information in our world has become datafied, meaning information analysis and processing are data driven. People seek data rather than just pure images as proof. This may be because visuals can’t represent the complexity of modern science…. But what is this complexity anyway? Well, it is a function of seeing closer with better quality and being able to handle more information at once. But, maybe it’s not as complex in other ways. At some point, all of the radical differences in making sense of modern science have to come to a point in which they are no longer complex.

Time will only tell if the progression of big data will keep changing how we do research, hopefully, the need for critical reflection in sciences will be capitalized upon as data science progresses.

Is there a ‘racism’ gene?

Genetics play a huge role in our daily lives, yet, the general public do not know much about them at all except that human beings are different and that there are different races. This cultural reality is mislead and incorrect. Politics, medicine, society, culture, and human behavior all have racist undertones. Science today is unraveling the genetics behind racism, revealing a shocking discovery: human beings of all races have the same genetic makeup, that is, every individual is different in the same way regardless of the pigmentation of their skin (see the Human Genome Project). Scientists in the past have come to this same conclusion, scientists such as Charles Darwin himself. He believed all humans should be treated as a single species. But why does society refuse to accept the true essence of the Human Genome Project? Are human beings inherently racist? Is everyone just fearful that they could be wrong? Maybe. All I know is, that I believe Western thought is stuck in old and entrenched ideas because society does not believe in or understand science. Race is just part of our socially constructed world. We must not stay silent on this issue.

Judy Stone said in her lecture that there is no biological or scientific ‘race.’ There is just ancestry spread throughout the world and each individual has ancestry spread through many continents. As a result of these different ancestries, different populations have different vulnerabilities dependent on the genes they carry. For example, different diseases (like sickle cell anemia) affect different populations – but a lot of times this is just due to their societal and cultural influences, not necessarily genes.

Studies show that human beings (homo sapiens) have been migrating around the globe for many thousands of years and evolved hundreds of thousands of years ago. This migration has mixed our genes from the start. Over a long period, different species evolve from this genetic mixing: introducing distinct populations. Even still, these populations have WAY more similar genetic makeups than different.

Racism has been structured and taught for so many years. It will be extremely difficult to completely unravel these teachings. No matter if you are racist or not, everyone’s lives are affected by racist teachings of the past (and even now!) People must understand there is no connection between what we call ‘race’ and intelligence and health. This must be the new thought spread throughout our society. We must dissipate the cultural reality and replace it with the biological one. This goes for all scientific and genetic understandings – and we must first begin with becoming a more scientifically literate society.


Curiosity is Killing the Human Race

A host of revolutions in science lead us to where we are today: a society imploding on itself. Professor Emanuel began his talk saying “[Climate] Science is driven by curiosity.” Well, this isn’t all bad but it definitely is not all good. A shift in paradigms has changed the world’s outlook on climate… The world has just hit a scary new level of CO2. 400 ppm. There is no turning back now. Heat waves smashing into the Middle East, including Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan, are sure indicators of the path our climate is taking. The instability of our global climate is only just recently starting to alarm us. And I mean recently relative to the human life standards which is only but a teeny tiny speck on the geologic time scale. How can the world have changed SO much SO quickly? Well, many say that humans are to blame and I can’t help but agree.

Governments, poverty stricken areas, national security, population growth, etc. are all variables in the climate change scenario. The web of issues circulating around all four of these categories must be combined at once in order to combat climate change.

India is a developing country. Its carbon emissions are extremely high relative to all other nations in the world. When they start to back-track, and I mean begin the process of reducing their footprint, they will have many options. Depending on what path they decide to take, it will affect how the globe combats climate change. Just this one nation has so much control over the world, and this is just to show the vast implications ALL countries can have on the world’s climate. For example, if India decides to invest more in the fossil fuel industry, there will be no turning back. No matter how “green” or “renewable” the western world becomes, India’s act in-and-of-itself will change the course of carbon emissions for good and the west won’t be able to do anything about it.

If the world puts its resources into finding ways to generate power for our sciences and technologies without burning fossil fuels only then will we be able to change the path our climate has already took. But what will it take? Will it take one massive catastrophe causing millions of deaths worldwide for people to finally get the picture? Will it take losing all of our available means we use to create energy right now? Hopefully not, but the future does not look good.

Climate change is a natural cycle the world takes following its orbits around the sun. What everyone needs to understand is that this natural cycle has been GREATLY and UNCHANGEABLY influenced by humans and our ‘innovations’ and ‘revolutions.’ It is time to start a new revolution in the climate science realm: one that is green and renewable. We must invoke curiosity on the subject so that maybe instead of using curiosity to inadvertently kill ourselves and the world, but to actually save ourselves and nature as it used to be.

Internet: The New Visa

You can find anything, read anything, write anything, and do anything on the internet. All opinions are heard and all information is free. You can even meet the love of your life on the internet. It is a revolutionary space to share global trends. The attractiveness of the internet is the opennesses to its users. It’s basically the platform, the foundation of equality. But how open and equal is it really? Most websites have rights to censor inappropriate posts; and, those websites also get to choose what they deem ‘inappropriate.’ I mean, the internet ‘pioneers’ believed it would transform societies around the world… But did they expect it to change so much? Some people would argue that it has transformed humanity in a diminishing and devastating way. Yes, it gives power to the common folk. Yes, it answers all of our questions and problems. But wait…. rather than a platform of equality, promoting fairness it has become a job-sucker and unemployment-maker. It’s a monopoly diminishing its competition. Look at Google, Apple, and Amazon for example. They have taken over, making other companies reliant on them. Where did the competition go? They got curbed. Bullying and personal abuse have overpowered social media and democracy ceases to exist. Social media has become a platform for mob rule. Its users have become victims of bigotry and hatred.

The internet has become a visa; for better or for worse. Of course, people contribute to the common good of society, pushing compassion and kindness towards strangers. Yet, the majority have (maybe unknowingly) become uncompassionate and hide behind their screens. I mean, without any real human interaction how could one possibly care about another?

The internet is a visa, and those who use it are being watched. And when I say watched, I mean scrutinized very, very closely. We are all connected by the internet. And the internet is quantifying our every move… for profit. Data gatherers are sitting behind their desks watching us as we Google our brains out, replacing our thoughts with typable questions and issues we don’t even have to think to answer anymore. And those gatherers are watching, quantifying, and profiting while we buy buy buy our hearts out as we see every latest gadget that we “need” pop onto our screens.

So the secret is out. We are being watched and we can no longer be lost in the crowd. Those days are over whether we like it or not. And the internet, which was created to help human lives become more efficient and spread the wealth receives in one big F for failure. It’s diminishing humanity, making us more anti-social, and we are becoming one big self-induced egocentric society. I wonder if it’s too late to cancel the visa…..

From EGOcentric to ECOcentric

Now I don’t mean ECO in the “economical” kind of way. I mean ECO in the “ecological” kind of way. As humans, we tend to record history through the sociological lens. Wars, politics, disease, famine, drought, floods, you name it, are all recorded throughout history using a more anthropocentric approach. All of these aforementioned things are caused and dictated by humans and our interactions with other humans. For better or worse, this changes the way we look at science. Statistics show that the majority of Americans are scientifically illiterate – and that’s even including people with higher degrees (such as Masters and PhD’s). How do we get people to start paying attention to and caring about science? Well, Professor Wood, author of the book “Tambora” attempts to look at history not through the anthropological lens, but through the ecological lens.

The objective behind changing the approach to viewing current events and history is to (as Professor Wood does throughout his book) proportionally combine the value of nature with the value of humans. It is paramount that we as humans accept our position as stewards of the earth. We must create a more fundamental moral concern for nature.

For decades the 1815 eruption of Tambora in Indonesia  was not widely understood. Mostly due to the lack of technology and media during this time, many people in the Northern hemisphere did not even know this eruption happened. For years following this eruption caused famine, wars, droughts, floods, etc. Nobody understood what was causing these problems until a century later, when scientists and historians began to expose the science behind nuclear energy, and, in turn, testing volcanic energy and the significance behind their eruptions. This is a prime example of nature’s influence on our lives and our histories.

The current outbreak of the Zika virus could be tied up in one of these anthropological-ecological sequences. What could be causing the epidemic? Most likely something to do with climate change. We can’t know for certain but time will tell. Most importantly, it is paramount for human beings to come to terms with the fact that these epidemics and world issues CAN and PROBABLY are caused by climate change. Whether due to human influences or nature’s course of action.

Finally, we must stop living in such an egocentric world. There is more to this life and the world than one’s self. We can even better our OWN lives by choosing to live to a higher moral standard and becoming stewards towards our environment. It can only help. If humans keep refusing to take this outlook on our future, our future will be quite short. Everything is tied together in the web of life. Let’s all take the g out of ego and make it eco. Not only for the betterment of mankind, society, and health but also for the betterment of our moral standards and nature. For without nature, there will be no mankind.

“You say you want a revolution?”

Mankind has rational thought. We are centered in purpose. Our purpose being figuring out who we are in the universe. Why are we here and what are we doing? We ponder these questions every day. Aristotle, the dominating power of the scientific revolution, says that in this universe, people by nature have an innate desire to know things; and, these things could be anything. At the end of the 17th century, natural philosophers were replaced by scientists who attempted to define “things” by quantities such as mass, atoms, pressure, etc. Did this replacement force changes in how mankind thinks about the world? Yes and no. What came first, philosophical This question follows the same notion as the “what came first the chicken or the egg” theory. We don’t know the answer and we never will know the answer, but, we will try to figure it out anyway.

The word “revolution” itself is basically our attempt to understand the massive changes we see happening in our universe. But are these massive changes actually a specific cataclysmic event in which the modern world tries to conquer the medieval world? Well, that’s what the phrase “the scientific revolution” implies. The science behind the revolution is socially and historically driven. The ideas of mankind’s past philosophers, scientists, and the like entertained new ideas and now, we try to find their wider cultural and social contexts. But what counts as scientific? The answer to this question varies based on time and location. Different generations, cultures, religions, and races all have different perspectives shaping their truisms.

Look at the 17th century again. To people, the revolution during this time meant imitating the past greek and roman empires. To this society, this idea seemed like progress, and, in some ways, it was. This revolution ended up causing a radical change in their current political which ended up in the formation of a whole new political system, for better or for worse. This example delves deeper into the lens of what a revolution means. In this example, we can take a step back and look at a revolution by using the past as example rather than in order to create a new “utopian” system. Which lens is better? That’s uncertain but, we all know that looking through someone else’s prescription glasses can be pretty fuzzy.

It seems like, with all of this uncertainty, many of the changes that occurred during the Scientific Revolution were not purely scientific. In my opinion, the phrase “a scientific revolution” better suits this historical event. There is no universal, definite definition of the term “science” and revolutions are what the definition of the word is meant to be: rotating and turning. This inherently means that a revolution is not a steadfast law. It is shapable, transformable, and changes based on opinion. A revolution is a way to evolve mankind’s need for knowledge and understanding.

The Revolution Continuum

Revolutions are tumultuous and transformative events that attempt to change human society… for better or for worse. Let’s look at the word itself. According to, the origins of the word date back to 1350-1400 A.D. stemming from the Middle English and Late Latin words revolucion and revelutio meaning “a rotation or a turnaround.” Mankind is constantly expanding and transforming. If you think about it, at some level, we are constantly revolutionizing. Whether it be ourselves, our families, our schools, our towns, our countries, our political structures, etc. Throughout time, as mankind grows, many of the transformations evolve into revolutions, usually sparked by some sort of violent act. All revolutions challenge the existing societal order; for example, the American Revolution of the 18th century sought to overthrow political authority.  Others, like the Industrial Revolution, seek economic growth. All revolutions are unique to their locations, causes, and times. Since the beginning of recorded history mankind has constantly revolutionized cultures, societies, political systems, etc. However, all of these revolutions have different connotations. Let’s take a look at that aforementioned timescale of human existence, starting the with modern day 15th and 16th Century Europe. During this time, mankind attempted to capture the glory of the Greek and Roman Empires of the past by thinking about their history. It was during this time that instead of working towards a future goal, they looked back at their past and tried to emulate history.  This historical introspection caused a shift in the conceptual understanding of science in the 17th Century. In the 18th Century these ideas morphed into a national interpretation of science, dominating the political governances and cultural ideals of intellectual societies (still mostly specific to Europe). This cultural shift in Europe permeated the globe throughout the 19th Century as technologies advanced and revolutionized not only the lives of the intellectual, high class, but also the lives of the working class. Just like the course name, revolutions are a continuum of change; they are the revolving door at which mankind expresses the need for systematic change.

One of my favorite poems (written by a German American poet named Arthur Guiterman called “On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness”) captures the reality of the juxtaposition of human (and animal) power and the passing of time:

The tusks that clashed in mighty brawls

Of matedons, are billard balls,

The sword of Charlemagne the Just

Is Ferric Oxide, known as rust.

The Grizzly bear, whose potent hug

Was feared by all, is now a rug.

Great Caesar’s bust is on the shelf.

And I don’t feel so well myself.

This poem shows that human power has a time constraint. It depicts mankind’s need for change; in turn, sparking rebellion and discontent….

                                             a revolution.