1/16/13 questions and discussion
1-why do humans have such a difficult time admitting ownership of things they've done?4
2-how can we find out if knowledge is true?7
3-should information be free?4
4-what if any use is there to the concept of evil?5
how can we find out if knowledge is true?
Tor: in my field (economics) we decide what's true based on what we wish is true. People act on emotion, not mental deliberation. We have confused truth with belief. The gun debate, the debt ceiling, are full of this. The scientific method, testing hypotheses, means eventually the contrary will occur -- a better explanation is inevitable. So that method is the tool we use. Some say economics is a soft science with infinite variables. If there isn't a better way than this we have done a miserable job. We should acknowledge that every theory is a fiction. And those fictions last until a better fiction comes along. Every physics thesis has been replaced. Einstein's been wrong now a couple of times. What we're left with is so much uncertainty philosophers are now saying truth is unknowable. Can we here tonight establish some order in this universe?
Art: there's no debate about that fiction. But we have to give ourselves a break. We're just a bunch of primates trying to discover the universe. We're at the bottom edge of awareness. We have to acknowledge our childhood in knowledge. Our thinking is an adaptation of our instincts/biology. The scientific method is the best we can do.
Jon: will we eventually know what's true if given enough time?
Art: yes. We're making up the rules as we go along.
Rick: ancient skeptics said nothing is knowable including skepticism. Skepticism is the only truth I can't find a flaw in. Truth from a Darwinian standpoint places the highest value in "fitness." Fitness says that truth is whatever is useful in its context.
Jon: why doesn't the skepticism stop you, cause you to give up seeking truth?
Rick: We're not supposed to figure it out. We're supposed to do what we do.
Jon: is a psychopath "doing what he does" too?
Tor: an experiment is a "sacred invitation for the universe to manifest itself." A good experiment is useful. For example, in a prison, where the common currency is cigarettes, we can study prison economies. We have observed apes trading. Projections are not certain. What's glorious is not going "gently into that good night." Experimenters affect an experiment's results. This is glorious, suddenly we can build an atomic bomb, enable ourselves to live longer and healthier. Art's ideas on instinct may be about our "programming." I learned to trust my instinct. This is marvelous.
Mike: Carl Sagan said the human race is like a foundling left on the doorstep with no knowledge of where it came from. We can be very humbled by how little we know. 58% of the American people believe that the earth is less than 10,000 years old. How can that be in a country with so much sophistication? How can they ignore evidence to the contrary? In 1957 Hoyle the astronomer proved that our elements were forged in the stars. I don 't run into many people who know that.
Jon: are you worried about the ignorants winning?
Mike: Americans, beginning in the 60s, began to follow the left. It's like we're drifting astray.
Art: asking the right question is key. Gun control: it seems the overwhelming issue is we have lots of crazy people.
Jon: do we Americans have the most crazy people?
Art: no, humans are socialized and insanity is exposed. The more socialized the more opportunity to act out insanity.
Tor: when you were in Viet nam didn't you wish everyone had an M-16?
Art: I thought they did. Guns are generally too dangerous to have many around. We should realize our primate selves living on instincts.
Jon: in the excellent TV series "The Century of the Self" the 1960s are in part described as a time when we began looking inward, looking for a self, our true selves. The upshot of all that effort was that no verifiable self could be found. That this led us to be less rigid when we decided what we would do with our lives. For advertisers it meant we became much easier to manipulate. I typically don't mind uncertainty. Questions have greater value than answers. The most disconcerting people I meet are the ones who are certain of something, especially in matters of politics. We have a lot of that now.
Rick: uncertainty principle: closer we get to truth the more we become aware of infinity. My question is; if we were shown the truth, could we understand it?
Jess: is this because different persons will take different truths from it?
Rick: yes. If the truth presented itself to me I wouldn't recognize it.
Mike: I have lots of experience dealing with mentally ill people. The current gun debate is based on the Sandy Hook incident. The mom was a survivalist nut but didn't do harm. Yet her son with the neurological situation made him dangerous, not her. That situation couldn't have been prevented. Every one of these shootings had the common denominator of revenge.
Tor: one of the discoveries I made when I worked abroad with economists was that they had read the same books and documents I had but had widely varying interpretations from mine. So I understand Jess'/Rick's point. I can make myself believe a great many things. I am intrigued to learn what each of us think is true.
Eric: certain truths we gotta assume (like the will rise in the East tomorrow). Big truths I don 't care about.
Rick: dimensionalism is true (there are at least 4 dimensions). A particle traveling at the speed has no concept of position and a particle in a given position has no concept of speed.
Art: I exist. Everything is made out of moving space.
Mike: people don't want to know the truth. It's too complicated and painful. We're wired for beer. We here at Socrates Cafe like to go to the dance (philosophize), find someone to dance with, but that's about it.
Tor: we are all in a car traveling at 100 miles an hour into a wall and all we are arguing about is who gets to sit where.
Thordis: we defined truth into something that needs to be tested. Then every truth is subjective truth, yet perhaps also true.
Rachel: there's a lot that I believe. It's really what you want it to be. Consensus does happen but in the end it's an individual decision.
Jess: I agree, We are capable of making almost anything true, anything can be rationalized. Truth must allow for contradictions.
Jon: mystery is true. Interdependence, reality's complete coherence with nothing missing and nothing extra is, I think true.
Rick: I notice none of us have mentioned sources like Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha.
Eric: I see it a lot of that with people into guns, and their rights.