Author Topic: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages  (Read 985 times)

xSilverPhinx

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Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« on: January 22, 2017, 11:15:55 PM »
I'll try to keep this short. :grin:

During the medieval "dark ages" knowledge was produced by the clergy and kept in the Church. It was written in Latin in an age when most of the population was both illiterate and didn't speak that language. Knowledge was simply out of their reach, locked in the confines of monasteries and the like.  :dominidomini:

Nowadays the amount of knowledge that is produced on a daily basis is staggering, we have the internet and access to all sorts of information - and disinformation. In spite of all this, there are parallels between modernity and the medieval dark ages.

It starts with language: since English is the lingua franca of science, wanting access to new scientific knowledge entails learning to speak it. In Brazil, for instance, where only a small portion of the population speaks English past an intermediate level, most of the population has to resort to other means. This is a set back for us and other developing countries, most of which do not speak English as a primary or even second language. The case can be made that even for native speakers of English, many cannot understand a technical research paper.  Most of these papers are written by and for academics, not for the majority of the population, who in most cases don't understand the jargon, statistics and other technicalities.

During the dark ages, knowledge was the domains of the church. Fast forward several hundred years and monastic buildings are replaced by 'ivory towers', institutions of learning and research that produce the knowledge that most of the population does not consume. Sure the population does benefit from innovations and technologies that come out of that research, but when it comes to basic science, most are sadly illiterate, even with the internet and mandatory schooling.   

It's true nobody can hope to know everything but it alarms me to see just how alienated most people are.

tl;dr: Back during the dark ages, guardians of knowledge spoke Latin while most others did not, nowadays they speak English. Back then, the Church was responsible for producing knowledge, nowadays academics produce and consume it.   
« Last Edit: January 23, 2017, 12:51:16 AM by xSilverPhinx »
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Arturo

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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2017, 12:42:58 AM »
I see. :golfclap:
But, uh...well there it is.
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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2017, 01:11:21 AM »
Yes, well. It's The Asmo's knowledge. He claimed it and He wants it. All of it. For His Divine Self. >:(


That said though, also mathematics. Being at least somewhat fluent in it does help - otherwise, you may need to take some dusty academics' word for it when the concept they describe do not operate within the realm of and therefore go against human intuition.

What I'm saying is that access to knowledge of some quality is half the battle. If you lack the tools to understand it with, at least superficially, you won't get beyond "Oh, that's... Interesting?"
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xSilverPhinx

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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2017, 01:16:10 AM »
Yes, well. It's The Asmo's knowledge. He claimed it and He wants it. All of it. For His Divine Self. >:(

The Asmo is a deity, anything is possible. :notworthy:

I was referring to mere mortal beings.  :grin:


Quote
That said though, also mathematics. Being at least somewhat fluent in it does help - otherwise, you may need to take some dusty academics' word for it when the concept they describe do not operate within the realm of and therefore go against human intuition.

Good point.:smilenod:

Besides that, I'd say that the "language" of the future is computer programming.
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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2017, 01:17:04 AM »
Though I agree with what you're saying xSilverPhinx, I think one thing is missing. I'm pretty sure that in the Dark Ages, the majority of the public weren't really all that interested in the knowledge that people in monasteries and convents preserved. It certainly seems that many if not most people today aren't particularly interested in what the ivory towers are producing. At least in the US, there has long been a powerful element of anti-intellectualism running through the culture.

I think that most people find science "boring" even with good teachers trying to show them how fascinating it actually is. That certainly was the case when I was in school, anyway. Then again, I grew up in a small rural community among people who, for the most part, didn't want to be in school in the first place.

Then we have people like Dredge, who are actively opposed to at least certain fields of science, even if they glom on to just enough to argue (ineffectively) against it.

I'm restraining myself from going into a sidetrack about the term 'Dark Ages.'  ;)
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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2017, 01:22:29 AM »


I've found that not only is acedemic research not written for the general public, it also frequently behind paywalls.

I am hardcore in to feeding my dogs, for those who don't know/remember. Of which we actually know relatively little, in many ways. I end up finding studies I cannot actually access without paying usually around $35 all the time (and I really freaking want to know what's in the blueberry study!!!).

So the general public is mostly relying on various interpretations of acedemic articles from biased sources watering them down, without ever even considering issues like controls and sample size.

xSilverPhinx

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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2017, 01:38:01 AM »
Though I agree with what you're saying xSilverPhinx, I think one thing is missing. I'm pretty sure that in the Dark Ages, the majority of the public weren't really all that interested in the knowledge that people in monasteries and convents preserved. It certainly seems that many if not most people today aren't particularly interested in what the ivory towers are producing. At least in the US, there has long been a powerful element of anti-intellectualism running through the culture.

I'm guessing they were not all that interested in some areas of descriptive worldy knowledge if it didn't help with the harvest or other more pressing aspects of medieval life, because then why would they be? However, I think it's safe to assume that most were very interested in the fate of their souls in the afterlife, and for that reason they would go to churches where sermons were in Latin. Since there was no clear distinction between naturalistic sciences (did science as we know it today even exist back then in medieval Europe?) and religious explanations for natural phenomena, I'm considering them one and the same for that time.   

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I think that most people find science "boring" even with good teachers trying to show them how fascinating it actually is. That certainly was the case when I was in school, anyway. Then again, I grew up in a small rural community among people who, for the most part, didn't want to be in school in the first place.

Most people it seems, still find it boring.

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Then we have people like Dredge, who are actively opposed to at least certain fields of science, even if they glom on to just enough to argue (ineffectively) against it.

 :secrets1: It was thinking abut people like Dredge that spurred me to start this thread.

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I'm restraining myself from going into a sidetrack about the term 'Dark Ages.'  ;)

:chin: Please do. :popcorn:

(They mentioned something in history class about the "dark ages" not being so dark, or something like that. I went to a Catholic school were they stressed this often :lol:.  This modern age isn't dark either.)
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xSilverPhinx

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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2017, 01:45:37 AM »

Good gif :lol:

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I've found that not only is acedemic research not written for the general public, it also frequently behind paywalls.

Yes, that's also true. Universities generally pay for subscriptions and you have to be linked to one of these institutions in order to download such papers. 

Quote
I am hardcore in to feeding my dogs, for those who don't know/remember. Of which we actually know relatively little, in many ways. I end up finding studies I cannot actually access without paying usually around $35 all the time (and I really freaking want to know what's in the blueberry study!!!).

I may be able to help you with that. :smilenod: I can access most (but not all) journals though my university.

Quote
So the general public is mostly relying on various interpretations of acedemic articles from biased sources watering them down, without ever even considering issues like controls and sample size.

Yes, and as far as I know, academics don't like journalists very much because in many cases they distort findings. 
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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2017, 04:03:54 AM »
I'm guessing they were not all that interested in some areas of descriptive worldy knowledge if it didn't help with the harvest or other more pressing aspects of medieval life, because then why would they be?

Good point. Similarly, though the world of human society today is largely the product of modern science, people can get through life even if they ignore most of that science.

However, I think it's safe to assume that most were very interested in the fate of their souls in the afterlife, and for that reason they would go to churches where sermons were in Latin.

Though sermons from that era are recorded in Latin, it seems they were given in the vernacular.

Since there was no clear distinction between naturalistic sciences (did science as we know it today even exist back then in medieval Europe?) and religious explanations for natural phenomena, I'm considering them one and the same for that time.

Science as we know it didn't exist back then, you're right. Your approach seems fine to me.  :)   

(They mentioned something in history class about the "dark ages" not being so dark, or something like that. I went to a Catholic school were they stressed this often :lol:.  This modern age isn't dark either.)

Yes, there's been a trend to eliminate the term in history writing, and some Christians in particular seem to find it offensive. Others defend its use. Maybe worth a thread in the "History" board.  ;)
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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2017, 07:29:57 AM »
As knowledge expands so does language. Trouble is it is jargon and shorthand terms that make it impenetrable. But perhaps it has ever been so.

Way back in those clergy ruled Middle Ages the armourer would have had his own terms and language for his job. Same goes for the sadler etc.

No doubt some of the clergy learned these  but they would have been a foreign language to most. Add more specialists, more people in general, more channels of communication, more education . . . And the problem is unavoidable.

Spent a fair bit of my working and hobby time "translating" technical stuff into vernacular and quotidian^ everyday language. This included writing manuals with the assumption that the reader had no previous knowledge of the field.
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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2017, 11:25:26 PM »
Though sermons from that era are recorded in Latin, it seems they were given in the vernacular.

Interesting. I didn't know that.


Quote
Yes, there's been a trend to eliminate the term in history writing, and some Christians in particular seem to find it offensive. Others defend its use. Maybe worth a thread in the "History" board.  ;)

:smilenod:
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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2017, 08:21:02 AM »
Though sermons from that era are recorded in Latin, it seems they were given in the vernacular.

Interesting. I didn't know that.


Quote
Yes, there's been a trend to eliminate the term in history writing, and some Christians in particular seem to find it offensive. Others defend its use. Maybe worth a thread in the "History" board.  ;)

:smilenod:

In the first part: yes, but it still left the clergy able to interpret the scriptures to their own ends. That was why Tyndale's bible was considered so dangerous, despite the fact that only a tiny proportion of people could read it. Can't have the hoi poloi knowing the truth can we?

In the second part: yes, a lot of good stuff came out of the "dark ages" . A TV historian called Michael Wood has done some good work on this.

This was also the time of Alfred the Great, no slouch in the thinking department, as much scholar as warrior.

http://listverse.com/2008/06/09/top-10-reasons-the-dark-ages-were-not-dark/
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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2017, 11:49:49 PM »
As knowledge expands so does language. Trouble is it is jargon and shorthand terms that make it impenetrable. But perhaps it has ever been so.

I agree, there's simply more and more to describe as new things are discovered. :smilenod:

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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2017, 11:55:48 PM »
Though sermons from that era are recorded in Latin, it seems they were given in the vernacular.

Interesting. I didn't know that.


Quote
Yes, there's been a trend to eliminate the term in history writing, and some Christians in particular seem to find it offensive. Others defend its use. Maybe worth a thread in the "History" board.  ;)

:smilenod:

In the first part: yes, but it still left the clergy able to interpret the scriptures to their own ends. That was why Tyndale's bible was considered so dangerous, despite the fact that only a tiny proportion of people could read it. Can't have the hoi poloi knowing the truth can we?

In the second part: yes, a lot of good stuff came out of the "dark ages" . A TV historian called Michael Wood has done some good work on this.

This was also the time of Alfred the Great, no slouch in the thinking department, as much scholar as warrior.

http://listverse.com/2008/06/09/top-10-reasons-the-dark-ages-were-not-dark/

Yeah, I don't know it was because people didn't have access to alternative information back then such as the press (and definitely not the internet - where religions come to die) that brainwashing seemed to be more effective. There was tighter control over what people learnt.   
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Re: Ivory Towers And The New Dark Ages
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2017, 02:44:07 PM »
I think it's important to note that whilst the middle or dark ages were occurring in Europe much progress and advanced study was going on in many other places of the world, such as Asia, the middle east, the Americas, Africa, etc...

In some places scientific progress and productivity soared, I mean think about the amazing cavalry sculptures and funerary traditions of the Northern Wei dynasty in Northern China, along with the many inventions such as paper that was invented in China,  the intricate stonework being done by the Recuay of highland Peru, or the Mayan kingdom and it's splendid cities of Mexico and Central America.

There was a thriving trade in the Indian ocean all the way from Egypt to Korea and Japan, and in New Zealand the Maori culture was being to diverge from it's Polynesian roots.

In the middle east the poets, scientists and philosophers were writing thousands of books and translating other works from different languages, their inventors were coming up with items like the pinhole camera, soap, windmills, surgical instruments, even an early flying machine along, with the system of numerals that we use today.

Of course some of these cultures died away, even experienced their own dark-ages of sorts, but their contributions were many and lasting.
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