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A Minimally-biased Philosophy of Life: Communicating a Grand Unified Theory

Unfortunately, Grand Unified Theories necessarily face contradictions as they come to market. On the one hand, the most inspired scientists believe that natural law is ultimately simple and universal, so we have strong priors for believing that some such sort of Grand Unified Theory is possible. On the other hand, those people who so far have claimed to have a Theory of Everything (and perhaps also the Key to Human Happiness) have been wrong, 100% of the time, so we have strong priors for believing all such claimants to be crackpots.

The problem is one of time and expectations. Evaluating a Grand Unified Theory takes undivided time and attention, which for most practicing academics is in short supply; with all their funding and publication pressures, few professors anywhere have the time to even think about grand theories, much less create them. And the reasonable expectation is that time spent understanding a new theory would be wasted--that is, all theories so far have been crackpot ones, and so will the new ones. Why bother?

Besides the obvious fact that crackpots have spoiled the reception climate for Grand Unified Theories, there is the questionable institutional position of the theorist him- or her-self. Academics tend to agree there is no funding, time, or institutional support for promoting Grand Unified Theories; it is not anyone's actual job. But few consider the flip-side of that fact: that a Grand Unified Theory, if it comes, will likely come from someone unemployed and/or outside the mainstream, and in addition perceived as arrogant for claiming to know a universal truth. The structure of institutional science has not only made Grand Unified Theories themselves difficult to create and justify, but it has made the careers of their creators seem suspect in advance.

A further problem is budget. The "production values" of scientific publication are going up, requiring ever more time and money to produce elaborate simulations, professional-grade slides, and pretty videos. These features help scientists by making it easier to evaluate new material, but they put up near-impossible barriers to entry for solo theorists without teams, sponsors, or budgets. (This site is in plain HTML to minimize my own investment as much as for intellectual clarity). Even in science, "marketing" is usually a significant expense.

This must end. Requiring production values may be optimal in the short term (by making graphs easier to read and such), but is fatal in the long term, because only sponsored ideas, or sponsored people's ideas, will be considered. This is not only a mechanism for replacing individual creativity with milder consensus views, but a mechanism for ensuring socially unpalatable ideas never get discussed at all. Selectively amplified truth is no longer truth.

Only when information can be propagated among scientists according to its intrinsic quality and not its budget can the Scientific Method take advantage of the insights of individual scientists.