Life Happens

Source: Technocracy: How Its False Assumptions and Pseudo-Science Could Affect You By Paul A Philips -

I have heard it said that during a PhD life just happens.

Our families and children still need us. We get physically (and mentally) sick and we need time to heal again. Our work colleagues notice our absences both in mind and spirit. Plans change, governments change and so does the weather most of which we notice. Mortgages or rent still need to be paid. Our partners end up in semantic word tangles with us. Our love life changes.

Our love of life changes too.

So that’s where the PhD journey has taken me and I admit I’m at the stage of hating the PhD, getting angry at it, giving up on it, seriously considering what on earth I’d been thinking to have taken it on in life as a mature age student (I started when I was forty years old and I’m now almost forty eight years of age) when it has cost me so much money and time as well as having had it’s toll on my health.

I’ve now decided to do what many PhD candidates find themselves doing when it gets to this stage in the process of nearing completion, stalled, and a year off final draft submission.

With advice from my supervisor, partner and others I am going to “write my way” out of this negative loop.

This is my opportunity to bring in the significant voices of others, to name names and bring to life that which crashes around in my mind keeping me awake till the sun starts to rise when I should have been soundly asleep. This is an opportunity to dispel some myths, unwrap some trade secrets and possibly even bring light into some dark corners of the Internet. An opportunity to build words into paragraphs and prose worthy of literature critique.

To achieve this goal I will write two forms of thesis; as such - (1) an experiential recount of the PhD journey to date and; (2) empirically gathered evidence gathered over ten years of research packaged to conform with the rigour of scientific inquiry known as the academic thesis. Both of these written works will inform the other as themes emerge, ideas meld and my frame of mind changes with the process.

You might wish to consider that as a tongue in cheek stab at the constabulary of postgraduate candidature but I assure you it is not. I’ve had exemplary supervision and if I’d only taken one piece of advice more seriously from the outset and that would have be to write, keep writing and don't ever stop till the final draft is submitted.

I’ll publish this experiential recount as a book when I’ve finished complete with photos, diagrams, tables and other points-of-proof. In essence the experiential recount will become the “backbone” to the thesis and the thesis will become the empirical result of what has been for me a cathartic experience and as my story goes, a cataclysmic life changing experience too.

I could well have achieved this if I’d been as diligent enough and had the fortitude to journal the whole process however, as I’ll describe in detail, I was head down in writing books, papers, presentations, running symposiums, conferences, travelling the world gathering interviews, running an educational technology company to name a few.

So, for some humour.

I’m typing this into a laptop and still have not learned how to touch type although I wished to god I had given the snail pace at which two fingers and two eyes watching every key I press takes to write. That is a key skill anyone writing up a thesis needs to consider - the health of one’s eyes and the apocalypse of postural ailments writing, transcribing, annotating and reading online will have on the human body.

We were not designed as humans to sit prone save for a few flying fingers and flapping forearms to punch into a plastic and aeronautical amalgam of precious metals that depends of vast quantities of electricity to remain lucid and useful. Therein lies one of the key themes and underlying questions I’m seeking to answer with this PhD but not as my formal abstract may suggest - what are the key social and ethical implications (some might say costs) of these technologies?

So the note to oneself in this context is firstly, what are the key effects and likely considerations we need to take as human beings if it is a requirement of our society to provide evidence of our knowledge and experience if we are forced to machine type for literally thousands of hours? Are we to wade through a myriad of other systems and technological innovations to save us this onerous task or as I’ve discovered, are we then having explored to return back to the human-machine interface and gesticulate wildly simply to assemble letters and numbers into words, sentences, paragraphs and meaning?

I’m here at a house sit where my partner herself is in the throes of completing her own PhD thesis.

I can hear you moan as the reader realising that indeed we have both endeavoured to survive what many would state as the sheer lunacy of a couple BOTH doing their PhD’s at the same time. We sit opposite each other as we machine type tonight, discussing upcoming conferences, lamenting time taken away from our children and peering wearily at a growing email inbox, bills overdue and papers unread.

So this is my story of the PhD experience and what I’ve learned along the way. This is also a story of the people who have helped me along the way on this journey and the many people I hope who might benefit from my frank recount what happened and why.

This is a dedication to those significant few who matter, as well as the players in the seedy world of the technocracy { ref: } and the wisdom I have gained from them both through the PhD experience.

“...The term technocracy was originally used to advocate the application of the scientific method to solving social problems. According to the proponents of this concept, the role of money, economic values, and moralistic control mechanisms would be eliminated altogether if and when this form of social control should ever be implemented in a continental area endowed with enough natural resources, technically trained personnel, and installed industrial equipment. In such an arrangement, concern would be given to sustainability within the resource base, instead of monetary profitability, so as to ensure continued operation of all social-industrial functions into the indefinite future. Technical and leadership skills would be selected on the basis of specialized knowledge and performance, rather than democratic election by those without such knowledge or skill deemed necessary.

So this is the process of “writing my way out” and this is the first 1000 words of that endeavour.

A last note, here is an interesting take of that burgeoning belief that technocracy is an ultimate goal worthy of a socialism.

“...Those serving the encroaching technocracy agenda, be them in the capacity of scientists, technicians, technologists, government officials, or academics etc.., whatever their means to an end in support of the pseudo-science, at least some would have to see it as a belief system, blindly ignoring the contradictions or lack of scientific evidence in order to maintain their false beliefs.”

Phillips, Paul A. -