Kitsap: Most people behave as if there are no secrets left to find, but that’s not the case…There are more secrets than there are human beings on earth…STICK IT TO YOUR PIPES AND SMOKE IT!!. Let us learn about Ted Kaczynski. An extreme representative of this view, Ted Kaczynski was infamously known as the Unabomber. Kaczynski was a child prodigy who studied at Harvard at the age of 16. He further went on to get a Ph.D. in mathematics and become a professor at UC Berkeley. But you’ve only ever heard of him because of the 17-year terror campaign he waged with pipe bombs against professors, technologists, and businessmen.

In late 1995, authorities didn’t know who or where the Unabomber was; the most significant clue was a 35,000-word manifesto that Kaczynski had written and anonymously mailed to the press. The FBI asked some prominent newspapers to publish it, hoping for a break in the case. It worked: Kaczynski’s brother recognized handwriting style and turned him in.

You might have expected the writing style to show obvious signs of insanity, but the manifesto is eerily compelling. Kaczynski claimed himself to be a happy man, He said that every individual “needs to have goals whose attainment requires effort, and needs to succeed in attaining at least some of his goals.” He divided human goals into three groups:

Goals that can be satisfied with minimal effort;

Goals that can be satisfied with serious effort;

Goals that cannot be satisfied, no matter how much effort one makes.

This is the classic trichotomy of the easy, the hard, and the impossible. Kaczynski argued that modern people are depressed because all the world’s complex problems have already been solved. What’s left to do is either easy or impossible, and pursuing those tasks is deeply unsatisfying. What you can do, even a child can do; what you can’t do, even Einstein couldn’t have done. So Kaczynski’s idea was to destroy existing institutions, get rid of all technology, and let people start over and work on complicated problems anew.

Kaczynski’s methods were crazy, but his faith lost in the technological frontier is all around us. Consider the trivial but revealing hallmarks of urban hipsterdom: faux-vintage photography. The handlebar mustache and vinyl record players all hark back to an earlier time when people were still optimistic about the future. If everything worth doing has already been done, you may as well feign an allergy to achievement and become a barista.

Hipster or Unabomber?

All fundamentalists think this Way, not just terrorists and hipsters. Religious fundamentalism, for example, allows no middle ground for hard questions: there are easy truths that children are expected to rattle off, and then there are the mysteries of God, which can’t be explained.

In between¯ the zone of hard truths—lies heresy. In the modern religion of environmentalism, the straightforward truth is that we protect the environment best. Beyond that, Mother Nature knows, and she cannot be questioned. Free marketeers worship a similar logic. The market sets the value of things. Even a child can look up stock quotes. But whether those prices make sense is not to be second-guessed; the market knows far more than you ever could.

Why has so much of our society come to believe that there are no hard secrets left? It might start with geography. There are no blank spaces left on the map anymore. If you grew up in the 18th century, there were still new places to go. After hearing tales of foreign adventure, you could become an explorer yourself. This was probably true up through the 19th and early 20th centuries; after that point, National Geographic photography showed every Westerner what even the most exotic, under-explored places on earth look like. Today, explorers are found chiefly in history books and children’s tales.

history books

Parents don’t expect their kids to become explorers any more than they hope to become pirates or sultans. Perhaps there are a few dozen uncontacted tribes somewhere deep in the Amazon, and we know there remains one last earthly frontier in the depths of the oceans. But the unknown seems less accessible than ever.

Along with the biological fact that physical frontiers have receded, four social trends have conspired to root out belief In secrets. The first is incrementalism. From an early age, we are taught that the Right Way to do things is to proceed one tiny step at a time, day by day, grade by grade. If you overachieve and end up learning something that’s not on the test, you won’t receive credit for it. But in exchange for doing exactly what’s asked of you (and for doing it just a bit better than your peers), you’ll get an A. This process extends all the

Way up through the tenure track, which is why academics usually chase large numbers of trivial publications instead of new frontiers.

The second is risk aversion. People are scared of secrets because they are scared of being wrong. By definition, a mystery hasn’t been vetted by the mainstream. If your goal is to never make a mistake in your life, you shouldn’t look for secrets. The prospect of being lonely but right—dedicating your life to something that no one else believes in—is already hard. The prospect of being lonely and wrong can be unbearable.

The third is complacency. Social elites have the most freedom and ability to explore new thinking, but they seem to believe in secrets the least. Why search for a new secret if you can comfortably collect rents on everything that has already been done? Every fall, the deans at top law schools and business schools welcome the incoming class with the same implicit message: “You got into this elite institution. Your worries are over. You’re set for life.” But that’s probably the kind of thing that’s true only if you don’t believe it.

Social elites

Fourth is “flatness.” As globalization advances, people perceive the world as one homogeneous, highly competitive marketplace: the world is “flat.” Given that assumption, anyone who might have had the ambition to look for a secret will first ask himself: if it were possible to discover something new, wouldn’t someone from the faceless global talent pool of more competent and more creative people have found it already? This voice of doubt can dissuade people from even starting to look for secrets in a world that seem too big a place for any individual to contribute something unique.

There’s an optimistic way to describe the result of these trends: today, you can’t start a cult. Forty years ago, people were more open to the idea that not all knowledge was widely known. From the Communist Party to the Hare Krishnas, many people thought they could join some enlightened vanguard that would show them the Way. Very few people take unorthodox ideas seriously today, and the mainstream sees that as a sign of progress. We can be glad that there are fewer crazy cults now, yet that gain has come at a high cost: we have given up our sense of wonder at secrets left to be discovered.

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