“For most, belief comes easily. For myself, it is ever so difficult. To a point of contention - I rarely let people get away with languid offhandedness, and at times it becomes an issue. Sometimes people don’t want to think, and then there’s that fact that I can’t seem to stop. So much to know and experience, and other’s wish to delude themselves into a common courtesy of deferential supplication without questioning or really caring to know any answers. Those of us who doubt, we are legion, and we are rare. But belief? That has been deeply evasive for me.
— Uncle Fishbits”—
I assume you mean the Economist article and not the sheep. If it’s the sheep, you are also welcome. But that is important, about the rubber band effect, right? For all our organic meat, we are cutting down the rainforests; for all our ethanol we are raising tortilla prices for poor Mexican families; for our organic foods there may not be enough to eat for everyone. It’s so complex… it’s always so much more complex than a thread on the internet.
Like judging a book, or making assumptions, or exception to every rule, I say!
I saw a Prius driver make a gutsy, skilled, controlled, smart, safe, aggressive, timely move in traffic yesterday. I was impressed, to be sure. I guess they’re not all idiots.
For Brian “Ed” Sauer and his quote about “details” -
"Oh God, how did I get into this room with all these weird people!
On the other hand, it beats being in your average movie theater, and even your average science conference. The believers of strange, strong beliefs are having a particularly ripe form of myth, tapping directly into hidden cultural structures that probably shape the rest of us as well, though indirectly. But how does one look with them without, you know, succumbing?
The answer is provided by Ted Schultz and cohorts. You look into the strange beliefs with all the tools and skepticism of science, and you look into the strange believers with the tools of science and the sympathy of a good anthropologist or psychologist, seeking not the insult of cure but the compliment of understanding.
The urgent hand points and says “LOOK!” (Aliens! My past life! The spoon is bending!) An infant looks at the pointing hand and the excited face. The adult looks where the hand is pointing. Some adults look again at the pointing hand and the excited face.
“The fact is that the average man’s love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. -H. L. Mencken”—(for and from Ndege)
“In any organization there ought to be the possibility of discussion… fence sitting is an art, and it’s difficult, and it’s important to do, rather than to go headlong in one direction or the other. It’s just better to have action, isn’t it, than to sit on the fence? Not if you’re not sure which way to go, it isn’t.
— Richard Feynman (p.100, “The Meaning of It All; Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist”—
“Skeptical habits of thought are essential for nothing less than our survival — because baloney, bamboozles, bunk, careless thinking, flimflam, and wishes disguised as facts are not restricted to parlor magic and ambiguous advice on matters of the heart.
— Carl Sagan”—