Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On What Everyone's Problem Is and Why you Should All Listen To Me Always

My friend Dean is of the belief that mankind's one problem is that people can have the conviction that they know something exactly and the truth is that no one knows anything.

No one knows what happens when we die, no one living knows for sure where Jimmy Hoffa ended up, and no one has flow there and back with a piece of string to tell us how far away the sun is. Basically, everyone should stop acting like they know shit about shit.

The problem I see with this logic is that it finds fault in the transmission of information, not its quality. We can tell you what happens to the body when you die and their are literally hundreds and thousands of ides about what happens to your consciousness at the same time. Jimmy Hoffa, under Giants stadium or wherever the fuck he is, is pretty certainly dead and it's a safe bet anyone directly involved in that is also dead, so unless you want to delve into one of the thousand opinions I just mentioned and call him up on a crystal ball, it frankly doesn't matter to anyone. As for the sun, there's a whole lot of math that says it's 93,000,000 miles away, which we've decided to call one Astronomical Unit because we are an incredibly vain species and there's no one around to tell us otherwise.

But I haven't explored every religion, I haven't died, I haven't dug up the 50-yard line and seen the bones, and I haven't got an enormous ball of twine and a starship.

Frankly, the problem is that you just have to trust me.

Now I'm a reasonably good source. I am well educated and since we are a vain species, I feel comfortable for the purpose of this discussion saying I am of incredibly high intelligence. It is literally not credible the kind of ridiculous things I know, so as far as we concern ourselves with the topic of knowing any things at random, let us simply say I am qualified to lead the meeting. Also, I'd make serious bank of game shows.

The problem is that not every person is as good a source. I am not even a good source in many places, and this is because no one person can know everything. Thus, we as learners and listeners have to choose the people to listen to when we ourselves cannot prove something to our own satisfaction.

How far away is the sun? It's 9.3•10^6 miles or 1 AU. Ask an astrophysicist, read a book about stars or check Wikipedia.

What happens to us when we die? Don't ask an astrophysicist, because odds are he'll give you some crazy speech about the infinitesimal nature of man and the eternity of matter and quite frankly you can hear the same speech much shorter from a Buddhist monk who, incidentally, is someone qualified to answer the original question.

So yes, it's our job as individuals to pick who we believe to be believable. The problem with that obviously is that all people might not be very good at the job. Or maybe they choose to believe someone and something other people do not. Or maybe they don't like anything they hear at all and decide not to believe anything they don't look into themselves. It's what people do, they diversify, innovate. Sometimes a crackpot idea manages to work even though every credible source says it shouldn't.

In the end the only problem is that being of the mind that everyone has a right to believe whatever they want means you can't do anything but scream into the wind when some other people come to the conclusion that this is a right that you simply just don't have.

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