The Hard Problem of Knowledge Production

John Nerst:

Is [my idea] new? Eh, who knows, probably not. Intellectual history and modern academia are frightfully vast. But frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. I care a lot about the commonly understood concepts and tools we have available in public discourse but I care a lot less about what knowledge technically exists hidden in a massive and semi-legible-at-best maze of academic journals, books and conference presentations. I’ve said before that I think we have a knowledge logistics problem at least as much as we have a knowledge production problem:

"By a knowledge logistics problem I mean that more knowledge, insight and culture is produced than ever before, and the bottleneck to what somebody more woolly-headed than me might call an 'enlightened civilization' is not production volume but packaging, indexing, compression, synthesis and distribution of ideas."


IMO, there's no practical way to play into a point-scoring culture re: ideas w/o yolking your brain to a harness on which the blinders come standard. That's not to say you should avoid excellence or wealth — nope, nope — just that credentialism and track-mindset are pernicious.

Less Research is Needed

Science advances one funeral at a time. Or in Max Planck's original formulation: "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

Jonathan Blow, "Preventing the Collapse of Civilization" (YouTube video, 65 minutes). Quote: "This is why technology degrades. It takes a lot of energy to communicate from generation to generation, there are losses."

Last updated June 2, 2019.