“The Alchemist in Search of the Philosopher’s Stone,” by Joseph Wright, 1771
Dan Edelstein, a Stanford French professor, has been exploring an aspect of the Age of Enlightenment that is less familiar to most, the so-called “dark side” of the enlightenment. He described the differentiating factors. “The prevailing understanding of the enlightenment is one in which there was only scientific and rational thinking, but there was also a significant number of people contributing to the enlightenment who were absorbed in dubious scholarly pursuits like alchemy, mythology, astrology and secret societies.”(link)
These ‘dubious scholarly pursuits’ are still with us. ‘Web 2’ perhaps?