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News Briefs 10-05-2004

Several interesting history related stories this weekend, as always feel free to post your thoughts…

Quote of the Day:

There is truth in the high opinion that in so far as a man conforms, he ceases to exist.

Max Eastman

  1. Dinosaurs on the ark
    I mean, how gullible can we be? Is it possible that people in North America, supposedly well educated and litterate can gobble stuff like this?

    How many would agree that in the end, we are far from being part of an evolved civilisation?

    1. Black & White Believers
      It seems that some just totally reject science and go purely with faith. It’s got to be either be black or white for them, no room for grey. If they are to fully believe in their religion, there must be no doubt about there being a very literal message within it’s core teachings and any scientific evidence to the contrary must be completely discarded through any means possible irregardless of how absurd their arguments might seem in light of the scientific evidence. This strong belief going against the evidence, while naive to some, may actually help them lead a more productive and fulfilling life than they would have lived otherwise. Perhaps they need or want it to be true despite being knowledgable enough to conclude that it almost certainly isn’t true.

      I would imagine that a similar description could be given to some who ‘believe in’ certain alternative ideas irregardless of mounting evidence to the contrary, although the example above seems pretty extreme.

      Is shedding all unrealistic beliefs critical for a civilization to become evolved? And who gets to determine what is unrealistic?

      1. shedding all unrealistic beliefs
        Hi Rich,

        You asked:
        “Is shedding all unrealistic beliefs critical for a civilization to become evolved? And who gets to determine what is unrealistic?”

        I would say that it depends on how you define being evolved (as opposed to evolution). I personally consider that being evolved, given the context, involves a mental state that does not allow the mind to be so easily manipulated. It would be pointless in my mind to impose a strict code of belief, that would be dogmatic and in any case, people have the right and it is necessary for everyone to live through their own path and program and we must respect that.

        On the other hand, beliefs are the antithesis of knowing. It would seem to me that so long as one clings to any belief system, he creates a mental shield against his own growth.

        How can a civilization be evolved if its parts are not? I would say that shedding all beliefs would be a sign of evolution. If we are one day to manipulate energy, it won’t be based on beliefs but on a deep knowledge of the laws that govern energy.

        Since all beliefs are, at least in part, mental constructs created to fill a void that results from ignorance, my answer to the last part of your question would be that there is no such a thing as a realistic or a unrealistic belief. Reality could match one or the other in overall appearance but the belief would not come with the science of the source of the phenomena. In my definition, An evolved civilization would work with reality, not with speculations and experimentation.

        Is not a civilization simply the result of the association of the minds of its components, in this case human beings?

        As you said, this example is a little extreme. It still is a good one to help illustrate the mechanics behind beliefs in the human mind.

        1. Beliefs, speculations and experimentation
          “In my definition, An evolved civilization would work with reality, not with speculations and experimentation.”

          I’m thinking that perhaps in order to become an evolved civilization, they might need to learn to speculate and experiment in order to help uncover reality. Some may even need to ‘believe in’ things that others consider to be absurd in order to help move the understanding of reality forward for the whole. Of course, there could be many false starts and misdirections along the way with all this speculating, believing and experimenting, but diversity of ideas is heathy to improve the understanding of the whole. As such, perhaps any ‘evolved civilization’ (not based on your definition) would continue to speculate, experiment and hold a variety of beliefs beings that kind of diversity of thought would have helped to improve the understanding of the whole along the way. And this diversity of thought might continue eternally even for the most evolved civilizations beings discovering the entirety of reality is something that may be impossible to fully achieve.

          Still, I agree with you in that I hope that this extreme degree of diversity in beliefs doesn’t continue eternally as mountains of evidence pointing towards the true reality continue to pile up. We should at least be able to narrow in on reality over time even we can’t fully discover it, assuming we are able to continue collecting evidence of reality over time without losing what we’ve already learned.

          1. I understand your statement.
            I understand your statement. My stance on this is more related to the nature of beliefs than on the ‘residual’ interaction of those belief systems and what they create in our collective impression of ‘understanding’ what reality is.

            If I may, I would tackle this from another angle then: Beliefs are a reflection on reality as opposed to a constatation that emanates from a ‘real’ mind. This precludes any understanding from being based on reality but, instead creates this impression of understanding something, which in turn creates a sense of security by psychological extrapolation; a sense of being in control, so to speak.

            What I mean by this is that until the mind is ‘real’ or using reality as a basis for its work, it will remain in a speculative environment or container and will slowly build up its understanding as opposed to its untainted observation and application based on what is. In other words, the amount of reality that can be considered by the mind is directly related to the amount of reality that is at the center of that mind.

            A civilization that would be closer, at least, to a real vision of reality would see the diversity of beliefs dissipate because of its replacement by knowledge as opposed to conditional understanding (to me, understanding is more related to the intellectual appropriation of a concept based on the current state of accumulated experimental memory and its rationalization). The diversity in beliefs would be replaced with the infinite possibilities of reality, represented or activated through the individualized minds.

            Given this and the extremely broad belief palette that we are witnesses of on this planet, this does not suggest that we are part of an evolved civilization.

            Of course this would imply a dramatic shift in our psychological makeup. Even the need to believe in anything creates in us the potential for external and internal manipulation. This of course is another story but it is still related.

            It is obviously difficult to imagine having a mind that would not function on the basis of what we have historically recorded and psychologically experimented. I still say that we have the ability to consider the implications of what beliefs are and what their consequences are. For instance, the ideologies that stem from some belief systems that eventually degenerate into wars.

            This, on the other hand, does not take anything away from what beneficial feats were achieved through the activities of the experimental mind.

          2. Degenerating into wars
            I’m with you now. Thanks for the detailed conversation.

            You also mentioned “For instance, the ideologies that stem from some belief systems that eventually degenerate into wars.” While ideologies have something to do with that, I think primarily that it is just in our nature. The Dark Side of Man: Tracing the Origins of Violence is a good book related to our violent nature. This part of human nature combined with the bigger weapons that technology is constantly providing, makes it so that I’m not terribly optimistic about our ability to continue progressing into the future.

          3. Believing is part of our nature
            Hi Rich, as you say, ideology is not the whole explanation. It is the too often used trigger.

            If as you state our nature is at cause (and I agree) then would it not become important for us to discover what our real nature is and to be ready to act against it? Our failure to do this and our predisposition to rationalize anything that would demand a change in our nature puts the brakes on our ability to ‘evolve’. Instead, we get caught in an infinite spiral of progress, which is mainly applied towards materialistic concepts (like technologically provided weapons).

            Believing is part of our nature.

            We are always on the lookout to control our environment and that includes our neighbors. This is related to the resistance of self-change. If men were capable of real change, they would work less to change others and concentrate on changing their own state and dominate their own nature (evolving). Our nature demands that we change others to control them so that we feel comfortable and need not change ourselves. Our nature also demands that we control our environment so that we don’t need to change our habits. Our nature is one of domination and we should find what is the source of that nature.

            If our nature is one of domination, it is also one that is dominated. I do not believe that we have really grasped the meaning of freedom. I do not believe that it is possible to do so while our nature is tainted with the need to dominate.

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