The Jumping Jesus Phenomenon

The Jumping Jesus Phenomenon is a humorous theory mentioned (and likely invented) by Robert Anton Wilson to describe the increasingly rapid doubling of human knowledge since the year 1 C.E. to the present. He mentions the phenomenon in a number of his philosophical stand-up comedy lectures, most notably in an hour and a half long seminar given in 1986 titled "The Acceleration of Knowledge". He also wrote down a version of the lecture in his book "Right Where You Are Sitting Now".

Wilson proposed a new unit of measurement, a "jesus", which comprises the sum of known scientific facts in the year 1 C.E., named after the "celebrated philosopher born that year". Note that like like "watt" and other units named after proper names, a "jesus" is not capitalized.

Wilson further proposed, based on rather subjective data sampling, that to arrive upon one jesus took the estimated age of homo sapiens, which he took as 40,000 to 100,000 years.

Each doubling of accumulated information appears to take a shorter period of time to occur. According to Wilson, to reach 2j required 1500 years (1500 C.E.); we subsequently reached 4j in 250 years in 1750, 8j in 150 years in 1900, 16j in 50 years in 1950, 32j in 10 years in 1960, 64j in 7 years in 1967, and 128j in 6 years in 1973. Wilson believed there was no reason to imagine that the acceleration would stop, and further postulated that we reached 256j around 1978-79 and 512j in 1982.

The whimsical and slightly blasphemous name for the phenomenon probably derives from the mild curse "jumping Jesus on a pogo stick".

The "Jumping Jesus Phenomenon" exists as a footnote to several considerably larger works on novelty theory, mostly notably Ray Kurzweil and Terrence McKenna.
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