January 17th, 2017


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.
critter 2

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