• Stevie Bee

We're right on course. It's time for the business end of 2020.

Science has much to teach us, but it's not about a vaccine

So far, 2020 has more than lived up to expectation — as much as you can expect anything to in a 4-year, given one of the 4’s keynotes is Expect the Unexpected! And with 2020 being a double dose of wake-up — 20 is The Awakening — we’re certainly being shaken from our slumber.

As challenging as 2020 is, it’s not all negative. No number is all negative or all positive. They all have their challenges. As I wrote a little while ago, this is a year of invention (and to a lesser extent innovation); of social movements and causes; of the path less travelled; of the visionary, pioneering spirit. This is also a year of discovery and breakthrough, of revelations and home truths. And just because it favours the unusual, the unconventional, the off-beat, even the eccentric, doesn’t mean we should be wary or put off. This is a golden opportunity to become aware, to understand and to become knowledgeable. They are also key attributes of the 4. To do that will mean not being hindered by attachments. Attachments to political parties or ideologies or certain worldviews, to politicians and leaders in general; even to a news source — all are unlikely to do us any favours. We must become our own gatekeepers. To become aware, to understand and to become knowledgeable requires an open mind. We could do well to heed what the scientific method teaches us; science is highlighted in a 4-year*. The scientific method requires us to be open no matter where the process leads. So, when new evidence comes to light, what we think we know may need to change. The 4 is definitely not about consensus. Nor is it how science works.

In my view, Michael Crichton is right when he says:

“The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period . . . Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.”

Being open requires us to welcome the testing of theories, ideas and beliefs. And what we read or hear or see on the news. Using science as our guide, we can approach a problem, a situation, an issue by asking: What do we think (our hypothesis)? What do we know (our evidence)? And what can we prove (what conclusions can we draw from that evidence)? When the 4 reflects so much upheaval, that framework is a decent guide for a gatekeeper.

Halfway there

We’re just about halfway through this 4-year. The second half of any calendar year sees a ramping up of the expression of that year’s number. If the world learns some lessons in the first half, the second half is less intense; if not . . . So buckle up, this may get bumpier still. Right now, we can look about us for some of the things we’ll be working on from next year on. The covid lockdown (now largely expressed in the trashing of the world’s economies) and racism (expressed in how we treat each other) are the most prominent, to date. There’ll be more, not the least because we’ve been asleep at the wheel, we’ve let things go on too long, we’ve been kicking the can down the road for far too long.

This year is the last of the involutionary years of the nine-year cycle. Next year is a year of transition and change to ready us for the evolutionary years, from 2022 to 2025, after which we begin a new cycle. So, what we collectively raise this year sets the agenda for the next five.

In prep for 2021, let’s focus on what we want to change. Because this year is also about vision, so envisage what you would like to see replace what you want to change. And in a 4-year we are all given full permission to take time out to contemplate those visions, to do some serious daydreaming.

If 2020 is prologue, you know this will be deep. Almost a year ago, I wrote that 2020 “[wouldn’t] be business as usual. It will be novel, inventive and out of leftfield.” That might have been an understatement. I used the word ‘rollercoaster’ as well to describe the year. That might just turn out to be the second most used word of 2020, after ‘unprecedented’!

So, please stay open to the ups and downs of the rollercoaster. You can hide up the back with you head in your lap, wailing, “This is not happening!” Or, you can sit up the front and yell, “I’m ready!” The journey will be surprisingly good for us, though probably not from the current vantage point. Be curious, adventurous, nimble in thought, unattached to the past. Especially that last bit. And remember, nothing is off the table in your imagination.

* Also highlighted in a 4-year are aviation, communications (traditionally radio, television, but nowadays, the internet), psychology and psychiatry.

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