Words are a very imperfect means of conveying our thoughts. The original idea is distorted by a vague and stereotyped vocabulary, ambiguous grammar and meaning. And then it is distorted again by the different definitions and mental models of the recipient.
Meaning is in people. Words are very imperfect symbols for communicating an idea.
When we speak, we take an enormous set of abstractions linked with sensorial associations in our mind, distill them down to a short set of symbolic associations which are then re-linked with an entirely different set of associations in someone else. It is a lot to ask of an animal brain evolved to convey data about a hunting and gathering lifestyle to fit all the complexity of modernity into that medium.
Sometimes we can accompany our words with body language and pictorial imagery, but the modern civilized lifestyle demands more and more abstract and hypothetical thinking. It stretches the limits of verbal communication. It is possible for two people to have a conversation about art or theology or politics with both thinking that they had a meaningful interaction without a single idea ever being shared. Two brains expressing, but never really communicating.
It is for this reason that I like science, engineering, and programming. When we repeat experimental results, or implement a blueprint, or collaborate on software, the result is unambiguous. The unity of a shared reality confirms the tie between our minds.
As I grow older, I wonder if I am becoming more wise or senile. When I was younger, my worldview changed radically every day, but my position at any given time always seemed clear and binary. Now, I rarely discard any idea entirely, but gradually layer my worldview with more layers of complexity and nuance. Looking back, my essays are full of certainty and nonsense. Lately, I’m not sure if I make sense or have real insights at all. I think I am learning to appreciate the complexity of reality, but then I am not really sure. My only benchmark is that I’m happier than I used to be.
Turkish-American physicist Taner Edis explains why science in Muslim lands remains stuck in the past — and why the Golden Age of Mesopotamia wasn’t so golden after all.
Q:Why did the scientific revolution happen in Christian Europe and not in the Islamic world?
A: … My perception is that a number of factors came together so that scientific institutions in Europe got lucky. They were able to break free of church constraints and unleash a powerful technology that plugged into emerging capitalism at that moment in history. After that, it was too late to go back and strangle science even if somebody wanted to.
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Rich kids, we hear, have it all. Money. Connections. Top educations. Cars and clothes. For those who are part of what Warren Buffett calls “the Lucky Sperm Club,” life is supposedly one long shopping trip with an no-limits ATM card.But what if it’s not? The great thing about America is that your parents’ social status is no guarantee of success.
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Canada remains the only industrialized country that outlaws privately financed purchases of core medical services. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other politicians remain reluctant to openly propose sweeping changes even though costs for the national and provincial governments are exploding and some cancer patients are waiting months for diagnostic tests and treatment.But a Supreme Court ruling last June — it found that a Quebec provincial ban on private health insurance was unconstitutional when patients were suffering and even dying on waiting lists — appears to have become a turning point for the entire country.
“The prohibition on obtaining private health insurance is not constitutional where the public system fails to deliver reasonable services,” the court ruled.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that non-elite native Cubans don’t exactly receive the same level of treatment as wealthy foreigners, but if your friends have been taken in by ‘Sicko,’ these photos might be a rude awakening. For more, read my One Minute Case Against Socialized Healthcare
You can’t make this stuff up: enviro-wackos are now attacking human civilization for using too much solar energy.
The human dominance of this natural resource is affecting other species, reducing the amount of energy available to them by almost 10 per cent, scientists report.
Researchers said the findings showed humans were using “a remarkable share” of the earth’s plant productivity “to meet the needs and wants of one species”.
They also warned that the increased use of biofuels – such as ethanol and canola – should be viewed cautiously, given the potential for further pressure on ecosystems.
“Here we are, just one species on the earth, and we’re grabbing a quarter of the renewable resources … we’re probably being a bit greedy.”
So what exactly is the right percentage for “just one species” to “grab?”
By the way, only 29.2% of the Earth’s surface is land, and 81.98% of that is not arable. Thanks to industry, humans are capable of productively using far more of the non-arable portion than any other species, as any visitor to Las Vegas should know.
Of the six prominent UK intellectuals, only the scientists had mostly-correct answers. If you find yourself having similar trouble, Bill Bryson’s book is a good place to start.
On Nov. 28, 2002, 2-year-old Abigail Rae died by drowning in a village pond in England. Her death is currently stirring debate because the ongoing inquest revealed an explosive fact. A man passing by was afraid to guide the lost child to safety because he feared being labeled “a pervert.”
… Peachey’s fears have precedence on this side of the Atlantic. Last summer, an Illinois man lost an appeal on his conviction as a sex offender for grabbing the arm of a 14-year-old girl. She had stepped directly in front of his car, causing him to swerve in order to avoid hitting her.