The modern press, punditry, and pontificators must be careful to define their inflammatory words, of which “nihilistic” is near the top of the all-timer list, probably below “infidel,” “unbeliever,” “insane,” “jackass,” but not many others in the western sphere of derogatory, insult-slamming discourse.
In New York magazine, the latest Quintin Tarantino gorefest Hateful Eight is derided for Tarantino being, once again, “nihilistic.” We’re fighting against received wisdom, but “aimlessly killing and indulging in absurd agitprop murder and gore” is far, far from nihilism, landing smack-dab in “sadism.” Why won’t that word do for Taratino’s video-store clerk fascination with gunsels murdering gun-toting killers? Social nihilism rejects violence as some sort of epic curative balm for the stasis of social reality. The murders of innocent and guilty alike is horrific, sensationally disturbing, and to be avoided as a multiplex choice for laid-back thrill-enjoyment, but many folks enjoy sadism, they like the adrenaline rush of observed violence, so off to the fake-blood spatter of Tarantino or the real-blood spatter of Rhonda Rousey they will go, not as nihilists, but as positivist sadistic gore fans, not non-believers.
In contrast to this pop culture errancy, the great and good scientists of the world donated a few minutes of their highly engaged, sophisticated time demands to respond with neocortexian immediacy to the 2015 EdgeBrockman round-up question of the year, what’s makin’ big news in science for you, homes? Pluto, it turns out, really impressed thess high status folks, as the New Horizons machine evidently flew past the dwarf and took some impressive pictures 3.5 billion miles away. We here at FSN missed that momentous announcement, and did not have any role in the NASA mission. We likewise are not engaged in deep learning big data sets, nor are we part of the CLICK-R or SPIK-R gene therapy sensation. There was some mention that did concern our momentous scientific foundation here, that retiree Bill Gates and his chosen step-wife announced in their year-end humblebrag that things have never been so good in this world, as opposed to the “dominant declinist worldview,” according to the impressed scientist.That, however, was followed by a different scientist who selected the horrific fact that 4,460 people die every day in China because of one factor, air pollution,” as the dominant scientific news of the year. Or is that too “Declinist” for ya’ll?
Social nihilism is not “declinist,” since there was plenty bad in the bad old days – slavery, religious fascism, whites-only on sitcoms, horrific stench on every city streetcorner, and the other endemic ills. Yet to call this social reality the “best of times” is equally absurd. Scientists, especially those of the tenured or millionaire or honorary degree uberclass that Edge-Brockman genuflects to, better get on the ball with the 2016 question – what good is all this scientific endeavor to say hello to a dwarf star 3.5 billion mile away, when a massively free blog pushed social nihilism to the top as the world’s number 1 worldview, given the dynamic insufficiency of the human world’s governing structures to reverse course towards globalized destruction, monumental inequalities, and fatuous commentary?