We live in a world where unprecedented volumes of information exist yet where that information is stove-piped and most people, including people with power, aren’t educated enough to use that information to increase human welfare or reduce human suffering in the maximum possible way. This means physical science but also means psychological and social science, the latter being less obvious but equally important (and what I focus on in this article). As a citizen and one with a degree of power to help people, it is my duty to stay as up-to-date as possible on the advancements of every field of science. That is why I have many YouTube subscriptions to channels which produce science videos regularly and why I search terms in Wikipedia when I am unfamiliar with them. Everything from psychology to genetics is on my radar and I quiz myself to make sure I remember things.
If people did this, systems would be much more efficient but as things are people reinvent the wheel sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t occur to them to reinvent the wheel and they keep moving things without wheels, instead. While the answer to a problem may even be a simple Google search away, they fail to find it. Not only do people not usually keep themselves versed in the various disciplines of human study but they believe themselves to be rational, informed, individuals when they’re not. The average person does not feel uneducated but usually lacks a basic knowledge of common subjects, in both the physical and soft sciences.
The result is that on every level of our institutions, we have people who do not know what they’re doing nor have the responsibility to wield power. There are many relatively easy solutions to social problems that aren’t employed just because the knowledge of those solutions is not exchanged or even sought. Either inefficient, harmful, or inefficient methods are used to accomplish the goals of various institutions. This is true of all science but especially social science where the approaches of authority figures has not changed much in millennia.
For example, when there is a lack of soft institutions, it is compensated for by hard institutions because people know the simple means of punitive measures. The primitive concept of threatening someone with punishment if they don’t comply. Yet the more sophisticated and more effective scientific measures go largely unused and unknown. If there is a lack of knowledge about how to reduce crime through urban design and social programs, then the police move in and much needless collateral harm is the consequence. It is only by strokes of luck that a rare person in authority thinks to use scientific means to solve a problem and, usually, they are outnumbered by others who aren’t familiar with the science.
I believe, largely, in a scientific technocracy to solve our problems. This is imagined by the pop culture as a heartless dystopia void of passion or meaning. That’s stupid because if science isn’t used to solve problems then primitive, inefficient, solutions are employed at the cost of immense human suffering and human detriment. Having more science also doesn’t equate to less art except in the fiction of pop culture. There is no reason that we can’t have a science-based society that is also very creative. The metaphorical left and right brains of society are not in zero-sum competition, they can both coexist in full. And just because a particular person leans more one way, it doesn’t mean they wholly miss the other.
It used to be that explicit science was less needed to administer society. Community leaders had an intuition and informal knowledge of the social and psychological science of their community. There were fewer instances where strangers ruled over strangers. It wasn’t exact and with more modern science combined with that type of informal knowledge, we can be even more exact. We can solve the problems of our society with much more accuracy and increase human welfare greatly by the simple application of the relevant science but only if that science isn’t stuck in university libraries and it gets to the institutions and public servants that can improve lives with it.
In 2020, we have more power to raise humanity’s affection and end human affliction than we have ever had before. Yet, most of it is going to waste. Most people and most people in power lack a even a cursory knowledge and an ability to start to research. If that remains the case then much needless malady will continue.