Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.Friedrich Nietzsche
The goal of science is an operating model of the universe. To document enough facts, truths, observations, and opinions in order to stitch and weave and patch together a set of laws that govern existence. A worthy and important goal, most would agree. While science doesn’t actually measure how they are doing towards this goal, we should be able to grab some data for a general sense of their progress.
Based on this, it’s not looking too good, is it? And what is displayed as the ‘KNOWN’, this is a gift. If this slice were made accurate, it would barely have a pixel to its name. If science were my student, they’d receive an I – incomplete.
In the above graphic, UNOBSERVABLE represents the two lambdas, or plugs, that had to be inserted so classical physics still worked. These plugs are DARK MATTER and DARK ENERGY, and represent 96% of what science believes must exist in the universe. Only science hasn’t found these two mysterical forces yet – they are too dark, too foreign, for our tools and understanding to see. They are unobservable. Untestable. And a little embarrassing.
In plain language, this means that the operating model for the 4% of existence we can see is so bad, so far off, that a dark correction of 96% had to be inserted so the math still worked. So that the doodads of the universe could still be sheared and shucked and romanticized in text books and cable television and National Geographic. If any of us had a 96% error rate in our job, we’d be out of work. If we only reported 4% of our income, we’d be in jail.
OBSERVABLE represents the universe we can see, the 93-BILLION LIGHT YEARS we are used to hearing so much about, most often without the dark footnote that should accompany it.
KNOWN is our blue-green sphere – that which we can play with, and touch, and drill, and populate, and pollute. And, as I said, even having this slice visible is a gift. We haven’t been to the bottom of our oceans (70% of the earth’s surface), we haven’t been more than a few miles into our crust (we are only guessing what is below), and our species and thinking and writing and math and brain have existed for just .0002% of the planet’s lifespan. So yes, anything over a single pixel is a gift.
Yet most people don’t view science through the lens of what it doesn’t know. Most folks conflate science with technology, and it turns out a majority of people think its progress is awetastic and spectabulous and a ton of other words that don’t exist (but still trend on the same technology that these words applaud). Lab leaks and rolling outages cast a shadow on popularity, as you can see, but a new vaccine or iPhone quickly shines down forgiveness.
And maybe this is fair – that science is judged by the technology it spawns rather than its accuracy and understanding of existence. After all, the techno-spawn of science touches billions of lives each day, and dark energy hardly ever. But I think this is exactly why science should consider a complete makeover, or a full-frontal reckoning, or a gritty colonoscopy – it seems to have lost its soul. Misplaced its heart. Lost sight of its most sacred purpose – that elusive operating model of existential experience and our human role within it.
So I think what science really needs is a proper séance. To have a seat in that dark room, complete with crystal ball and necromancer, and compelled to stare down the throat of its own existence. Look all the way down to its soul. To find and awaken and then be cracked by SHAKABUKU – the swift spiritual kick to the head that alters your reality forever. To face and fully reckon that which has been hidden away.
And that’s the biggest secret of séance – of metaphysics. Despite all the colorful garb and mystical glam, there are no cosmic runes or whispering dead that give away your dark secrets. You are the one spilling your guts. You flash them, expose them, shout them at the top of your esoteric lungs because you are dying to give them away. Reveal them to someone else so you can hear these dark secrets spoken, but don’t have to speak them.
As a former psychic myself, I can tell you this is exactly how the art of séance works. You don’t flip open some grand intergalactic guidebook and start reading page 32. You start by listening. Listening to the rhythms and shouts and struggles of that chewy human nougat sitting in front of you. And then you tell them what it tastes like. Smells like. Feels like. Sounds like. And yes, this usually leaves a mark. A big one. Few people are really ready to hear what they, themselves, actually have to say.
Science is no different. A proper séance would find science seated in that dark room, at that dark table, listening to themselves. Taking themselves – through their own words – to the realm of shakabuku. A self-guided tour through all they have hidden away and left behind. And the result – that swift spiritual kick to the head – comes from their own foot. The size 13 of science. The obvious punchline that science and séance are one. Different ends of the same popsicle. The theme music may vary, or the branding gets tastier, but at the end of the day they are both experiential ice cream, no matter what flavor or wrapper is used.
Travel back far enough and you will find only séance – the dark and mystic arts – doing both jobs. Alchemy for metals, and alchemy for the soul. Weeds to heal your gout, and weeds to keep the demons at bay. Rocks to tell the past, and rocks to predict the future. Tea to drink, and leaves to live by. And, to be clear, these are not just the roots of science – they are the roots of humanity as well. Our roots. It’s where we came from, and it is persistent.
Let’s set aside labels to simplify this down: Science is a system of knowledge, and séance – or metaphysics – is a system of belief. And belief and knowledge are irrevocably connected, indentured to the other by the common bond of experience.
Science often attempts to neuter belief – separate the observer from that which is observed – through methodology. Science believes this leaves a purer result. A more sanitary outcome with no pesky stains from bias and subjectivity. And this separation is an impossible task, like a selfie without a self.
Belief attempts to either ignore science or spin it – use selective knowledge – as validity of its own systems. Any shortcomings of science are pure gold in the long game of séance. This works because séance not only plays in this life, they have game in the afterlife. No clinical trials necessary. Another impossible task, this post-self selfie.
A couple things seem obvious. For one, both science and séance use the same plumbing in the creation processes for their theories and results and narratives. These systems are designed and plumbed and operated using human cognitive reasoning – an individual reasoning made real and solid through direct experience. The only real difference between the two appears to be who buys the ticket – who rides the roller-coaster of brain, belief, experience, and opinion to reach the desired academic or mystical whoop-de-do.
Psychologically speaking, there is another obvious conclusion: Séance and science need each other. Badly. Like Eve needs the apple to tell her story. The weird part is they both know this – they are just too butt-hurt to own-up. To gulp down the irony that both science and séance need each other for exactly the same reason – context.
Systems of belief (séance) provide an esoteric context of why existence works the way it does, but don’t get hung up on the how. I may not know the means of my arrival in hell, but I’ve been told why I am heading for the hot ticket.
Systems of knowledge (science) provide the context of how existence works – the operating model of reality – but exclude 96% of the data. I don’t know why hell exists, but I can download instructions for creating it.
Eventually these two titans of human experience must inevitably collide. And maybe this fate is keeping them at arm’s length. They are cowed by the explosive potential of those post-collision findings. They fear the remains of that day – that titanic collision – and what still stands and what bends over.
Do we find a creative intelligence behind the workings of existence? A higher state of consciousness than we can currently understand or achieve?
Or we do we discover a 14-BILLION-YEAR-OLD lottery ticket – a winning one? The knowledge that, in the end, we’re just lucky bits of biology in an insanely large test tube.
The real question may just be this: What voice in our head says the collision of science and séance is a binary bake-off – an outcome that is either séance or science with no batter left over to knead another biscuit?
Because if we don’t believe our species can be both blessed and lucky in the same bit of breath, then maybe our plumbing is the problem, not the rivers and channels that feed it.