Alchemical Musings

Seven Day. Time to clear out tabs. Rather a weird bunch this week, at least the ones that inspire some discussion.

First, an article [Link] about how the Schule of Alchemical Studies at the Campus of the Boneyard is celebrating a century and a half of existence. I was not invited. That probably indicates some wisdom on the part of the organizers. At least I shall give them credit as such.

Chemists, at least based on my observations, are the best balanced of the STEM Nerds. Physicists tend to be rather intense and oblivious to any social interaction outside of physics. That’s probably why their marriages seem taken out of soap operas. Mathematicians are the Timothy Learys of STEM Nerds. They are almost continually in a drug modified state that is questionably consciousness. The drug, of course, is maths, which mathematicians correctly view as proofs – all else is mummery and illusion. That mummery and illusion is, of course, all that other STEMs care about with regard to maths. So mathematicians are rather like holy hermits sitting for years on the tops of columns.

Biologists and Geologists tend to be outdoors people. They seem ill at ease inside a building, as if the critters are too mundane and the matter is too newly stuck – even in buildings that were laid down just after the rebellion. They also tend to be acalculate – maths blind – and hence left without roads to think along. The idea of testability is alien to these STEMs, hence they argue and pout about accuracy.

Chemists sit in the middle ground of all this. Also, they have the means and desire to make physiologically active potions. They control the ethanol and use it liberally internally. 

So it is probably best I didn’t get invited to the bash. 

Next, a rather overblown article [Link] entitled “This Is How Online Dating Has Changed The Very Fabric of Society.” I include this because not only is the title contemporary journalistic rubbish, it is amusing. 

Humans have known about incest penalties – the biological kind, not the organizational artificial kind – for lots of years. We evidently learned about genetic stupidity back when we were still Hunter-Gatherers. What the article is really about is social networking as facilitated by the internet. Humans have always had social networking; the drive to geographic dispersion was driven by mating (safe fornication?) and greed; deterred by Us-Them and greed. 

The only thing intriguing about “online dating”, which the journalist does poorly at, is its dynamic, not its medium of propagation. Most social networking proceeds from physical world interaction to internet world interaction. “Friendships” that originate in most social networking are relatively rare. Yes, there are the occasional friend-of-friend associations but these tend to be politeness driven.

But “online dating” is the reverse. Here the “friending” is initiated in the internet world and may propagate into the physical world. But this is the only substantial uniqueness.

Social networks are as geographically diverse as the network substrate which we erroneously call the internet. If we examine the geographical extent of individual’s “friends” then we find it to be large, often multi-national. So such geographical diversity is the norm rather than the exception. What makes “online dating” different is the flow of the “friending”. 

Which seems too alien to journalists these days to explain. 

Or else they think their readers are too cognitively deprived to comprehend.

Lastly, another article [Link] entitled “Wikipedia’s Science Articles Are Elitist.” This one is bemusing and if not for the nausea it engenders, perhaps amusing.

The journalist argues that most STEM NERD articles in Wikipedia are written for STEM NERDs. And this is elitist because Bog journalists have problems reading (and understanding?) them. (The latter question arises from the uncertainty that contemporary journalists are capable of understanding anything STEM.) 

Wikipedia is supposed to be the crowd-sourced encyclopedia of today. When I was a kid growing up I had five sets of encyclopedias. The simplest was the “Golden Book” encyclopedia and the most accurate “The Library of Science.” Over a period of several years I worked my way from one end to the other. And when I went to college I found encyclopedias of even higher accuracy and specialization. I recall one in particular, which was an encyclopedia of chemical syntheses. I recall the section on LSD was well thumbed. I also have a copy of Besancon’s “Encyclopedia of Physics” on a nearby bookshelf.

The point here is that writings – including encyclopedias – are written for an audience. The author has to pick what that audience is and be capable of communicating with that audience, at least if the writing is to be useful and successful.

The problem here is that the journalist seems to think he/she must be the audience. The obvious question is “Why?” I am not sure that question can be answered. Having dealt with journalists over the years, I have found them to be somewhat black boxish.

An easier – maybe – question is whether Wikipedia should be written for journalists. Given their rush to extinction, such a strategy seems ill advised. So we are left with asking who is most likely to read a Wikipedia article? If it’s an article on a celebrity, then clearly it should be written for Bogs, but if it’s an article on STEM NERD stuff? 

And there is the matter of Elitism. How do we measure this? If one is illiterate then all writing is elitist? If one is an omnipotent deity the no writings are elitist? Is any measurement possible in between?

It strikes me that fear of “Elitism” is inherent in Amerikans. If the modal Bog cherishes ignorance, and anything written that that Bog cannot comprehend is Elitist, then Elitism is nothing more than the opposite of ignorance?