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“The proportion of those who can explain the world is gradually shrinking”

March 2, 2017

I really notice this in discussions of global warming and replacement technologies: The proportion of those who can explain the world is gradually shrinking. A very interesting article from which you find:

Too many everyday things are already indistinguishable from magic to the average man. Four centuries ago everyone knew how everything in their village worked. Even a hundred years ago an intelligent person could figure out how anything he would likely encounter, even the steam locomotive. But today people are surrounded by things about whose workings they haven’t a clue. Medical devices, synthetic pharmaceuticals, designer pathogens. The proportion of those who can explain the world is gradually shrinking.

Cell phones, robots, mesh nets, remote imaging, data mining, stealth, invisible lethal chemicals and contagious diseases exist cheek by jowl with ox drawn carts, subsistence agriculture, illiteracy and fanaticism around Mosul and in other global cities.

I used to ask all my engineering type friends if they could explain to me what happens when I push the number 5 on a calculator and then multiply it by 7. They would all explain it in similar ways but nothing ever made true sense. They understood, but I was a primitive. And while my knowledge and skills are sufficient for me to earn a living today, if I were transported back to 1000 A.D. I would have nothing I could tell them that would be of the slightest use to them in raising the standard of living or deepening their knowledge of the world.

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