Can evidence transform worldviews?

My on-line friend Slav Heller has created a useful map of existential beliefs (MEB) or ideologies which can be used to compare basic worldviews. The scientific-rational worldview is termed by Heller the Ideology of Superior Mind, implying a certain hubris for those who see the world through the lens of reason and science and are not confident in using supernatural beliefs to make sense of the world. His map uses the label Ideology of Power and Domination as underpinning the almost universal driver of ‘progress’ as unending wealth accumulation. Opposed to this is the still minority worldview whcih he labels the Ideology of Nature’s Wisdom.

This article which summarises an academic papaer, makes an assertion and asks the question: Global politics is based on an outmoded and increasingly destructive model of human progress and development. Can science change a dire situation? It argues that the political notion of progress as modernisation and GDP growth needs to be re-examined against a scinetific analysis of its costs not only its benefits.  Costs include, especially, the growing impacts of modern ways of life on the natural environment and on human wellbeing (which are, of course inextricably linked). That many of the world’s most populous nations, including China, India and Brazil, are, in important respects, following this path of progress greatly increases the global threat.

Unfortunately for those wishing to redefine ‘progress’: Changing the political and cultural status quo runs up against formidable obstacles. One is the inertia in the system, with currents ways of doing things locked into place by entrenched and self-perpetuating organisational values and attitudes, and the multitude of existing mechanisms by which the world is run. Another obstacle is the money and effort that vested political and corporate interests put into maintaining their advantage….

the task is to enlarge political debate to question the worldviews that underpin politics. This would open the way for far-reaching policy choices that the current status quo precludes. Politics and the media define arbitrarily what warrants coverage and discussion, and much that is important is left out. … There is no valid reason why the worldview of leaders could not be a central theme of political debate. This would be very different from today’s emphasis on ‘issue’ and ‘identity’ politics, whose elements are kept firmly within the conventional framework of progress.

The article concludes: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are useful, but remain embedded in the orthodox model of development. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provides one model for how to move forward if it can be applied to the much larger task of genuine sustainable development.

Governments and leaders will not implement solutions to the threats facing humanity if they are not convinced of their extent and magnitude, which they are not at present. Perceived scientific legitimacy is a central justification for these political perceptions. Changing these perceptions is arguably science’s greatest challenge today.

On a website that is concerned for the sustainablilty of sentient life on Spaceship Earth the definition of ‘progress and development’, as represented by prevailing worldviews, is fundamental. For years it has been my clear mission to challenge the ‘no brainer’ delusion that unending economic, population and technological exponential growth (human impact on the finite planet) is a fatal trajectory and the resources on this site offer ample evidence of the consequences, but sadly, few indicators of evidence that the worldviews that drive this trajectory can or are being significantly changed.

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