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QotD: Harari on Modern Science

...modern science differs from all previous traditions of knowledge in three critical ways:

a. The willingness to admit ignorance.  Modern science is based on the Latin injunctioin ignoramus - 'we do not know'.  It assumes that we don't know everything.  Even more critically, it accepts that the things we think we know could be proven wrong as we gain more knowledge.  No concept, idea or theory is sacred and beyond challenge.

b. The centrality of observation and mathematics.  Having admitted ignorance, modern science aims to obtain new knowledge.  It does so by gathering observations and then using mathematical tools to connect these observations into comprehensive theories.

c. The acquisition of new powers.  Modern science is not content with creating theories.  It uses these theories in order to acquire new powers, and in particular to develop new technologies.

The Scientific Revolution has not been a revolution of knowledge.  It has been above all a revolution of ignorance.  The great discovery that launched the Scientific Revolution was the discovery that humans do not know the answers to their most important questions.

(He goes on to discuss how the premodern religious traditions of the world all assert that we already knew everything that we needed to know, and tamped down inquiries.)

-p250-251 in Sapiens

Mele Kalikimaka ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We just received a couple of Christmas gifts from our friends in Lake Oswego.  One of them was a hand made ornament, a chicken sewn out of a red and white floral patterned cloth.  On Hawaii, chickens are everywhere, especially on Kawaii where there are no natural predators for the wild chickens.  The Hawaiians do not think of them as food.

A Brit named Cooke explored the Pacific islands three times and on his third lap he was killed by natives on a Hawaiian island.  I think that was in 1799.  He was trying to kidnap the king, who was clueless.  Empire builders like to start by kidnapping the king.  I just finished reading Sapiens by Harari and he speaks of the progress of empires around the world.  The Aztecs and then the Incas were enslaved by small bands of Europeans who landed and said "We come in peace.  Take us to your ruler."  They were taken to the rulers and promptly captured them, stole their wealth and enslaved their people.  If we are to take any lessons from this, it might be to immediately slaughter any godlike strangers that show up asking for our leaders.

QotD: Godlike Humans?

Is there anything more dangerous
than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods
who don't know what they want?

--Harari in Sapiens, the very last sentence

Thanks for the poem Bobby: FOR LIGHT

For Light

by John O'Donohue

Light cannot see inside things.

That is what the dark is for:

Minding the interior,

Nurturing the draw of growth

Through places where death

In its own way turns into life.

In the glare of neon times,

Let our eyes not be worn

By surfaces that shine

With hunger made attractive.

That our thoughts may be true light,

Finding their way into words

Which have the weight of shadow

To hold the layers of truth.

That we never place our trust

In minds claimed by empty light,

Where one-sided certainties

Are driven by false desire.

When we look into the heart,

May our eyes have the kindness

And reverence of candlelight.

That the searching of our minds

Be equal to the oblique

Crevices and corners where

The mystery continues to dwell,

Glimmering in fugitive light.

When we are confined inside

The dark house of suffering

That moonlight might find a window.

When we become false and lost

That the severe noon-light

Would cast our shadow clear.

When we love, that dawn-light

Would lighten our feet

Upon the waters.

As we grow old, that twilight

Would illuminate treasure

In the fields of memory.

And when we come to search for God,

Let us first be robed in night,

Put on the mind of morning

To feel the rush of light

Spread slowly inside

The color and stillness

Of a found word.

-- from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O'Donohue

I just saw something advertised under that title, and I clicked the link and was disappointed that the page did not come up.  I could use some help regaining mine.  I'm glad that there's been a shake up, hopefully it will get people talking across some lines again.  I'm aggravated by the ascendancy of self righteous ignorance.  What do you call it when you don't even know how much you don't know?  Unconscious Imcompetence.  Like the guy who told an MD/PhD infectious disease researcher "you should study microbes" because antibiotic resistance is no big deal.  I'll take conscious incompetence any time, or even better conscious competence.

I've come to a bit of am impasse with my medical practice, writings, even studies.  I'm losing interest.  It seems so fruitless.  I learn all this stuff and then nobody cares what I have to teach them.  If they want it they think it should be free like what they get from wikipedia.  Dr Google will be the death of me.

The more I read and study I am affronted by the tendency of humans to believe.  We want to believe.  We look for excuses to believe.  It saves us a whole lot of trouble just to believe in something, that way we can ignore all evidence to the contrary and enshrine every tidbit that supports our belief, and voila, the world is meaningful and live is worth living.  Just because we were believers.

Atheists and agnostics really have a hard row to how.  How do you create meaning in life, how do you form a community or tribe, without a belief-based grouping?  Can there be such a thing?  I have seen skepticism elevated to dogma.  Anything can be dogma.  If you think you are not dogmatic, look again.  Everyone is a hypocrite.

QotD: Guru Papers on Psychopathy

The sociopath or psychopath who has that mysterious ailment of being without conscience has adopted as a survival strategy the negation of the goodself, which results in loss of empathy and care.  This adaptation is more likely the result of an emotionally inpoverished childhood than of conscious choice.  If intelligent, a psychopath matinas the guise of conventional morality and is never discovered.  Elevating self-centeredness (the badself) as the only reality, the sociopath's access to human connection becomes power and domination.  Although bright psychopaths are usually able to construct safe ways of getting their power needs met, some resort to violent outlets which can become compulsions, serial murder being an extreme example.  The most heinous crimes are often committed by those who are noteworthy for being unnoteworthy.  Serial killers, like Nazi leaders, are renowned for their outward ordinariness.

--Joel Kramer & Diana Alstad in The Guru Papers; Masks of Authoritarian Power, 1993, p229.

Honeybuns learns to pick

He's been playing daily and I'm impressed--he's actually getting much better at playing melodies, harmonies, you name it.  It's kind of a relief because his singing used to drive me out of the house.  Not that he's a bad singer, but he picks songs that I don't like, for example the one that says repeatedly "you're gonna love me someday".  More like I'm gonna kill him someday, if he keeps singing that song.  But no, the picking is great.  Happy he's practicing.

QotD: Passion cannot alter evidence

Facts are stubborn things;
and whatever may be our wishes,
our inclinations,
or the dictates of our passion,
they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

--John Adams

QotD: Where to Find the Sacred

The great lesson

is that the sacred is in the ordinary,
that it is to be found in one's daily life,
in one's neighbors, friends, and family,
in one's backyard.

~ Abraham Maslow

Rumi of the day: Be Notorious

Forget safety. Live where you fear to live.

Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.

— Rumi, “Bewilderment”



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