‘Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.’ Albert Einstein.
He was so right. Now more than ever. Here’s a rambling rant proffering reasons why.
In a world where we are deluged with data; how is it we actually know so little?
In a world where the rich boast bulging bank accounts; how are they so philosophically poor?
In a world where we’re constantly connected 24/7; how is there so much misperception and misunderstanding?
In a world where there are so many of us, crammed so closely together on this blue ball; how can there be so much suspicion, fear and enmity?
In a world full of numbers; how are we not held to account?
Because in each of the above the former can be counted but does not count, whilst the latter counts but cannot be counted.
In a data-streaming era of research, statistical evidence and polls, it seems people have forgotten the one thing that humans were particularly good at, the only thing that will help keep our distinctiveness in the forthcoming Age of Artificial Intelligence.
It’s unaccountable, unquantifiable, immeasurable: it is ‘feel’, ‘intuition’, ‘gut-instinct’, sometimes even just ‘common sense’.
Call it what it you will, it’s that inherent ability we all possess to know if something feels right or not.
But we can’t put a number to it. So we’re afraid to articulate it to a self-blinkered world of deliberate ignorance through a wilful embrace of disinformation. It seems that these days if there’s no way to attribute something to a numerical spreadsheet, factual or otherwise, we cannot factor it into the equation of our existences.
Whilst anxiously pursuing the inevitable cataclysmic catastrophes brought on by statistics doubling for lies and dammed lies, we’re missing out on the indefinable obviousness of plain-as-day home truths that could and would, not only save us, but enhance our todays and magnify our tomorrows.
For example every corporation in the world lives or dies on the strength of its share prices which are dependent on whether year-on-year sales and revenue is up or not. The bigger the number the better we’re all doing right?
But stop to think for a moment – as evermore companies, seek to sell evermore consumer goods at an evermore frequent rate to a frenetically ever-expanding population (which has doubled in just 50 years) along with burgeoning new markets embracing the capitalistic ideals; what we’re really doing is plundering the ever-diminishing precious resources of the planet. And in doing so, racing towards our own extinction.
Although we’re talking about the intangible in this discourse, let’s put that in real tangible terms – let’s put a number on this sort of thing to make it clearer. Let’s take as an example the biggest facilitator of consumerism in the 21st Century – yes, let’s pick on plastic.
According to a report just out – we have produced over 9 billion tons (about 80 million Blue Whales worth of weight!) of plastic – and we’re producing it at a faster rate than ever.
In 1950 we had made only 2 million tons of plastic. But plastics production has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 8.4% since that year. Half of all the plastic that exists was produced just in the last 13 years.
Of all that, only 9% has been recycled and 12% incinerated. The rest is still out there settling and growing like an inoperable tumour in the belly of Mother Earth.
All of this can be counted and should count. Yet climate-change deniers can dismiss such avalanches of ecological disaster with the sort of shrug you’d used to dust off a light snowfall.
But this is a digression in point of this discussion.
What I’m trying to get across in a painfully roundabout way (reflecting the wastefulness that typifies contemporary human existence), is that people that sit in endless meetings in dreary conference rooms trying to obliterate each other with stats, false facts and fake news, frankly know nothing.
Meanwhile it’s the tea boy that’s studying the world through the plate glass windows, as he sets down the insipid cups of lukewarm brew, that knows more about what really matters, than the disingenuous insincerity of the intelligence-deprived self-absorbed busybodies, who sadly wield the cumulative power to contribute to our future self-annihilation.
Not that they would know it.
The mega minds of the world are focused on fixing big business, not seeing that none of us can any longer afford the shiny new utterly-pointless widgets that they we are compelled to buy for no real reason at all.
But we will do so regardless. And we’ll do it with borrowed pennies that the banks are financing with invisible money that doesn’t actually exist, but which makes up a large part of a false economy, that’s still being built on a fragile houses of cards, and which will tumble and crash, at the merest whiff of sleazy corruption accidentally breaking free of the pretence of an organised system of economics, which actually subscribes only to the chaos theory, because that is what will ensue. Again.
So if we could wipe the BS off the desk, if we could strip away the false gods of greed, ideology and ego, what would we be left with? What really counts then?
Us. Us humans. And our core concepts of love, compassion, kindness, understanding, logic and of course our emotional intelligence. None of which can be counted.
Let’s stop shoving made up numbers and facts in each other’s faces and shouting louder than everyone else. Let’s stop, listen, comprehend and discuss. Let’s sweep aside the misconceptions and prejudices and try to get a new focus on how we can work together to stave off the coming calamities.
Because if we don’t, mutual self-destruction is guaranteed – and we’ll end up an annoying footnote in this planet’s 4.5 billion year history, although the planet will frankly heave a sigh of relief once we’re gone.