Jun 3, 2010

A Curious Life is Worth Living

I have lots of questions but not as many answers--I realize how little I know, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. To those who've been visiting here since 2004, it's obvious that I have some strong opinions. Yet, I'm truly interested in the truth, the facts, and I believe I'm able to change my mind without feeling stupid for adopting another point of view. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinions but not to their facts.  We can disagree based on our values and priorities but there's got to be some mutually accepted reality.

Now, that's the problem: How we perceive reality, methods of acquiring knowledge, and standards of evidence. Fortunately, we do have methods of inquiry and logic. Unfortunately, they are often discarded in lieu of confirmation bias, lack of interest in asking questions, and personal identity issues.

Since at least the ancient Greeks, we have the fundamentals of reasoning and the scientific method but even after thousands of years and many civilizations later we don't seem to want to learn. We still cling to primitive taboos, superstition, and willful ignorance. It's very frustrating to see a preference for old inadequate answers to some big questions. Many students aren't interested in learning other than the basic mechanics of a profession that will enable them to become rich... That's how most young college students perceive their efforts.

Perhaps it's only in the US where a highly advanced country with lots of scientific talent and research has such great numbers of people who are basically anti-science. That's why in several states (yes, where religion is the strongest) they're still debating about the validity of the theory of evolution--one of the strongest scientific theories we've got!

At any rate, for those of us who are awed by the richness of the universe and the thrill of scientific exploration, it's worth watching Brian Cox lecture at Ted. Enjoy--as I know you will.

" Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam"
 Carl Sagan on the occasion of the Voyager taking a picture of Earth in 1994, 4 billion miles away.