Sunday, February 24, 2008

What do you believe is true even though you can't prove it?

Majorly lacking sleep and currently seeing the different pieces of text twirling around each other in harmony with the weird buzzing in my ears. So, if anything seems slightly out of order, practice a lil' forgiveness.

We have a huge advantage of being in the age of "search culture", in which Google and other search engines are leading us into a future rich with an abundance of correct answers along with an accompanying naïve sense of certainty.

How would the cynic and the optimist, the agnostic and the believer, the rationalist and the obscurantist, the scientist and the speculative philosopher, the realist and the idealist, all reason it? Love, existence of God, primacy of the entity called consciousness or life are all issues that came within the bounds of the deliberation.

Too many things to tackle all at once. So you share whatever pops in you mind first.

- I think it would be entirely wrong to suggest that science is something that knows everything already. Science proceeds by having hunches, making guesses, hypotheses, sometimes inspired by poetic or aesthetic thoughts, then goes about trying to demonstrate it experimentally or observationally. And that's the beauty of science, that it has this imaginative stage but then it goes on to the proving stage, the demonstrating stage.

- I believe that today's children are unintended victims of technological progress. Of course greater wealth and advanced technology offers all of us better lives in many ways, but somehow these forces seem to be having some disastrous transformations on childhood. Basic social and emotional skills seem to be lacking more and more along the generations. (Can't figure out a way to peel my younger brother off of his chair from in front of Warcraft.)

- I can't prove it, but I am pretty sure that people gain a selective advantage from believing in things they can't prove. Seriously. People who are sometimes consumed by false beliefs do better than those who insist on evidence before they believe and act. People who are sometimes swept away by emotions do better in life than those who calculate every move, and that gives a selective advantage in certain situations.
But I am in no way a fan of irrationality and excessive emotionalism. Not even slightly.

- I have wanted to know where in the brain memories are stored and how they are stored, the genetic and neural mechanisms. My ability to remember my childhood puzzles me, despite the fact that I have a short-term memory span of a goldfish and that most of the molecules in my body today are not the same ones I had as a child. In particular, the molecules that make up my brain are constantly turning over, being replaced with brand-new molecules. Perhaps memories only seem to be stable. Rehearsal strengthens memories, and can even alter them. However, I have detailed memories of specific things I did over 15 years ago that I doubt I ever rehearsed. If memories are stored as changes to molecules inside cells, which are constantly being replaced, how can a memory remain stable for as long as 50 years? I don't have enough information on the topic to form a belief, but if anyone has any ideas please let me know.

- I believe, but can't prove that the universe is infinite.

Also that chocolate is in no way bad for your health.
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