In early May Florida Governor and current target of conservative hero-worship, Ron Desantis, signed a bill that, we were told, banned vaccine passports. We know it because the organs of Public Knowledge told us this is what happened. Left leaning talking heads criticized the law and right-leaning celebrated it1.
I saw the headlines. I really wanted it to be true. But, then I read the bill for myself.
Yes, it turns out that the bill did - in most cases - ban the use of vaccine passports. It’s also true, however, that the law allowed for forced vaccinations. Yes. FORCED VACCINATIONS.
Here’s the text of the bill that I shared with friends at the time:
Reading the Florida bill for myself gave me Personal Knowledge of its contents. And what it actually said scared the hell out of me.
What was more frightening, however, is that nobody seemed to notice. Instead, anywhere one looked there were only fools - some cheering their hero and others jeering their villain. In this case, Gov. Desantis.
Eventually the reality of reality catches up with the make believe world built on Public Knowledge. In the case of the Florida forced vaccination bill, today - nearly seven weeks later - might be that day2.
What is Public Knowledge?
Public Knowledge is the knowledge we obtain not through personal experience, but through faith. Typically, this faith is handed down by experts, leaders, or media personalities. The trustworthy type of people who must, we feel certain, be in-the-know.
We have no way to personally verify most of this “knowledge”. Even if we did, we don’t see the need. Public Knowledge is the only form of broadly accepted knowledge, after all. If we accept it, it’s easier for us to be accepted.
Who knows when it happened, but today Public Knowledge has become our source of knowledge for all things.
It's as if we would live in a world devoid of any knowledge if the machine weren’t churning out news headlines, expert commentary, and official economic data.
Way Beyond Fake News
A narrative is handed down to us by experts and heroes. Is it true? Or is it fake news? How could we know?
Relying on our legitimate human superpower - mimicry - we look around. Who do we see? Our particular tribe, of course. And seeing their response we know what to do. Copy them.
Responsible and intelligent people know it’s important to be informed. And so we dutifully consume and repeat the Public Knowledge and criticize those who deny it. All along, not realizing what we’ve lost.
Public Knowledge makes us feel smart. And feeling smart, feels good. But, the main attraction to Public Knowledge is that we can totally offload the responsibility of thinking to others - our lords and our tribe.
But does it work?
I think not. Instead, I'd argue that the problems we face today. Problems that could amount to a full-scale breakdown of civilization are caused by the mass abandonment of the greatest tool ever developed by man and its replacement by Public Knowledge.
As I think you'll see, the abandonment of this enlightenment age tool is catastrophic for civilization.
More on that in a moment.
But first a serious question that’ll might hurt just to contemplate… relying only on your actual personal experience and not on a narrative provided or supported by others:
Would you even known there was a global pandemic without handed down Public Knowledge?
Sure, you might have gotten sick. Some did, myself included. But, if the pandemic narrative hadn’t been diligently repeated, I’d have written it off as a cold - which it was - and forgotten about it long ago.
Words carry narratives. And in my head this is how the narrative around the world plays out - bodies in the streets, lost family members, population collapse, etc. But, that narrative is utterly incompatible with my Personal Knowledge… my lived experience, if you will.
Public Knowledge Can be Useful, but…
A tsunami warning, philosophy (some), and applied mathematics are all Public Knowledge that can be useful. But, who has time for that kind of Public Knowledge? And more importantly, it’s a bad business model.
Instead, as in early childhood, we eat what’s spoon fed to us.
The irrelevant. Things like the nasty weather forecast for someplace you’ve never been and know nobody. Or where your favorite celebrity (avatar) went on vacation…and what they wore…ooh!
Contrived Competitions. This includes anything that can be described in terms of a horse race. Think political polls and sports ball scores.
In addition, today’s Public Knowledge is full of dangers that, we’re told, are everywhere at all times and yet we can’t see or touch to verify for ourselves - from viruses to systemic racism. And things that, if we are paying attention, contradict what we see around us like the idea that food costs have gone up only 2.2% in the last year.
The purveyors… the actual spoon feeders of Public Knowledge have an agenda. And the “knowledge” they spread is engineered to provoke a response of one form or another.
How do you know if someone’s trying to manipulate you? Anytime a complicated topic is framed as two sides alarm bells should be going off in your head. Framing the debate as good vs. evil is a favorite of the spoon-feeders. Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life. The enlightened vaccinated vs. the antivaxxers. Racists and Anti-racists. and anything that involves the good vs. the bad. Agitate, divide, and conquer.
Why does nobody seem to know what the hell is going on… with anything?
Because Personal Knowledge has - somehow - been totally discredited, undermined, or trained out of our culture. From top to bottom.
Critical thinking is rare. Perhaps it always has been. But, what we see now amounts to a denial of reality and that is new.
Instead of looking out the window to see what the weather is like right now, we check out the weather app on our iphone.
We place ourselves in Public Knowledge information bubbles and blame the tech giants for censorship. We think the dysfunctions around us could be their fault. Or, the fault of some other higher abstraction like the wrong political party being in charge. We think things would be better if we just got the right kind of Public Knowledge… if only the right “experts” were telling us what to think.
I don’t like big tech or big anything for that matter, but they aren’t the problem.
The problem is us.
In fact, you with your child-like dependency on handed down Public Knowledge are almost certainly the problem.
The Enlightenment Algorithm
How did western civilization rise to our current, incredible standard of living? Science. More specifically the scientific method. However, since the term “science” has been hopelessly corrupted let’s call it by its other name “Empiricism”.
During the enlightenment, Empiricism was the tool that freed humans from their dependency on the deeply limiting Public Knowledge of the time.
How? By giving them a vehicle for gathering and communicating Personal Knowledge.
Empiricism is a like a decentralized problem-solving algorithm accessible to everyone, anywhere, at any time.
No longer were people forced to rely on the spoon fed truth dispensed by the local war lord. Nor did they need to “Trust the experts” (priests).
The truth, and with it, solutions to real-world problems, it turned out, was available to everyone.
Enlightenment thinkers placed particular emphasis on empirical knowledge; that is, knowledge verifiable by experience or first-hand observation.
In the past, people used empiricism to their everyday life. Inventions happened not in ivory towers, but in fields and factories where real people engaged with real life armed with a simple, but very effective tool for understanding the world around us and figuring out how to solve the challenges we faced.
I wonder… how different is our thinking today than men and women condemned to living during the Dark Ages?
Yes, of course, life is fantastically less harsh. But, don’t the same type of deluded abstractions disseminated as Public Knowledge dominate our understanding of the world today?
And like Dark Age humans, without the tools to understand and improve our world, aren’t we resigning ourselves to mere survival through tribalism?
Like them, impotent in knowledge and capability, we must pray for favor from the powerful and salvation from god.