The Relationship between The Great Depression & Scientific Materialism

05/04/2016 11:54 am ET Updated May 05, 2016

New Film Questions Current Trajectory of Modern Science

Prior to the 1930’s, the scientific community was significantly more diverse than it is today in terms of attempting to understand phenomena outside of what is currently considered to be acceptable science today, where we only look at the physical realm.  William James and Alfred North Whitehead, two prominent philosophers in the 20th century, defined scientific materialism as the belief that physical reality is all that truly exists.  Materialism seems to be the prevailing viewpoint held by contemporary orthodox scientists but has that always been the case?  Even notable scientists and philosophers, such as self-proclaimed atheist Thomas Nagel, are questioning whether it’s time for a significant course correction in orthodox science away from the reductionist paradigm. 

The way that science is currently configured, especially in the west, is that the majority of scientific endeavors are carried out in the hallowed halls of academics and universities.  The major engine that fuels the experimentation and research required to conduct scientific studies is grant money, most notably through the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Health (NIH).  There are other private and public agencies as well that back science projects but these are the main two and by and large, projects that get funded by the NSF and the NIH are based on the premise of materialism.  The system is somewhat self-perpetuating as those who want to get their projects funded must adopt the worldview of the funding agencies who provide the lion's share of the support for their work. 

Furthermore, the grant process itself is inherently incremental and prone to human failings.  To get funded for a project, your grant must predict in advance exactly what it is that you expect your results to be, even before you perform your experiments.  This shortcoming has culminated in an environment poorly situated for true scientific discovery to happen.  By only moving one step at a time, this manner of science moves very slowly and it’s not uncommon for academic bias or deliberate manipulation of the data to distort the study’s results.

In fact, according to Stanford researcher John Loannidis, most published research findings turn out to be false.  Universities bring in a tremendous amount of revenue in this grant-cycle process in the form of overhead, otherwise known as indirect costs, where they demand up to 50% of any grant money received in exchange for scientists to set up laboratories on their facilities.

In short, the way that we’ve been doing academic research in this U.S. has become a bureaucratic and highly politicized process that it tends to yield questionable and inconclusive results.  What is most fascinating about how we currently do science is to understand just how much of an effect the Great Depression had on the process. 

It turns out that for a ten year period of time, from the early 1930s to the early 1940s, almost all of science was funded by a single funding agency.  There was very little, if any, funds from the NIH and NSF and the majority of private funding for scientific research had all dried up; all but one.  The Rockefeller Foundation.  In and of itself, this wasn’t a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just what happened.  And while many people will want to attach a conspiratorial tone onto this situation, the simple fact is that the Rockefeller’s money only went towards projects that supported their worldview of materialism, also known as scientific reductionism.  

Had the depression only lasted a few years, scientists who were doing research in to more esoteric phenomena could have survived long enough to wait out the funding cycles cut short by the failing economy but after a ten year economic depression, any scientist who couldn’t get funded had to either find another career or engage in more traditional orthodox science.  If you look back over the past 100 years at the history of science, you can notice that starting around 1930; it would appear that all of science was passed through a very restrictive filter where the only thing that emerged from it was materialistic based science.  This bias has remained embedded within the scientific community ever since and has concluded in the soulless world of science we have today. 

Since the early 40s, the resultant bias within the scientific community has produced an extremely lopsided method of science that is long overdue for a correction.  As more and more research has been done in to the fields of consciousness studies, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the model of reality that orthodox science has embraced for 100s of years, and especially the past 80 years, is fundamentally incorrect.

The Physics of the Soul is a new documentary film which takes a look at consciousness and how it’s understood within the framework of Orthodox Science and creates a clear, logical and compelling argument that consciousness simply isn’t just the exception to the rule in science, consciousness is the rule.

The basic premise of the film, which is the first in a ten part series on Healing & Science, is that in order for us to get a much deeper understanding for how healing (or in fact anything biological in nature) actually works, we’re going to need a much more comprehensive understanding for what life and consciousness are, outside of the limited, reductionistic belief that contemporary science restricts us to.

The Physics of The Soul is available on DVDs, as digital downloads and on a rental basis for a nominal fee at with 100% of the proceeds going towards producing subsequent installments in the series. 

See Also: Scientific Journal articles on the film from:

 Frank Huguenard holds a degree in science from Purdue University and has spent decades in product development in Silicon Valley prior to embarking on a career in documentary film production specializing in films bridging the gap between Science & Spirituality. He draws on his research in the fields of combination of psychology, physics, wisdom traditions, sociology and history. You can see his films at

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