Friday, October 16, 2009

The Other Side Of The Coin

I keep ranting about Science with the focus on the physical sciences. Of course there is another side to our existence not explained by the physical sciences. Branches of some fields like Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Philosophy, & History apply scientific techniques to help understand the inner aspects of our minds and culture.

Science is important because it helps reveal the physical framework that supports and constrains what is possible. Your inner world is completely created by your mind. The problem comes about when people assume that everything that seems real in their head is also real in the outside world and for others.

Your mind is constrained by its history. First there are the physical limitations which are exposed by studying physics, chemistry, biology etc. The biggest constraint that is exposed by studying biology is the legacy of natural evolution. The physical aspects of your brain are mainly determined by whatever allowed your ancestors to live long enough to produce offspring. There is also the physical aspects of what your life has done to your brain, like nutrition, drugs, & injuries.

Then comes the constraints determined by your culture, education, & personal thinking. Much of what you take as being self evident are often not self evident to others because their particular history of how they have been programed by culture, education, & personal exploration is unique. This is also where you can apply your mind to adjusting these constraints.

Our evolutionary history is important because it helps explain things like why we distrust strangers. Aspects of our culture also contribute to this distrust of strangers. The higher functions in our brain are capable of inhibiting decisions made by more primitive aspects of our brain, so our biological & cultural programming can be overcome.

My challenge to you and to myself is to understand our own inner programming and also to give others some understanding by not automatically rejecting everything that contradicts your own worldview. You do this by constantly asking yourself questions like, "why did I do that" & "why do I think that", and by talking to other people.

Use twitter, facebook, second life, & other social media to extend the reach of who you talk to.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Cure For Cancer

Do you think we should find a cure for cancer? Yes you say.

Why do we not make this a priority in society? Why do we not give scientist the resources to get the job done?

This includes bright young minds coming out of university and medical school to bring new ideas into the research labs.

Maybe you daughter or son will be the one to solve the final piece of the puzzle. Make sure your children have that opportunity. It starts in elementary school. If our children finish high school without a basic understanding of Biology they will have difficulty taking Biology courses at University and going on to medical school. If you are going to do medical research you need to understand how life works.

Natural evolution is the foundation that life is built on. You must understand evolution in order to understand how our bodies got to be the way they are and how the processes within the body work.

Evolution is the accumulation of small changes over time, and it is still happening. This is why new virus keep appearing and why flu vaccines need to be re-formulated every year.

Ok, not every kid is going to become a medical researcher, but wouldn't it be nice if they could at least make some sense out of what is happening in the world, and not be sucked in be every scam artist that comes along.

The Purpose For Science

In my last post I mentioned that the purpose for Science is to add depth to the meaning of life.

This is only one aspect of Science. Science is also the best tool we have for solving problems.

Science is also an evolutionary process. The methods and tools of science are constantly being refined so as to become more effective.

A theme in some of my earlier posts has been about how to apply the problem solving techniques of Science to other domains. In other words how do we get better at observing and analyzing things like government & economics. These things should be organized around what works and not on emotion. For example, the study of complex dynamic systems would likely lead to the conclusion that Democracy & Capitalism are the most effective techniques for organizing human affairs. Lets do the Science to figure out how to keep the positives aspects while eliminating the negative aspects of these systems.

One big problem with Science is: how do we get the general public to understand the scientific method and the results of scientific investigation? It is not possible to understand all of Science, the experts only have deep understanding of narrow aspects of their own field. The idea is not to know it all, but to have a basic understanding of how Science works. How did we get from a world where life expectancy was 25 years to one where life expectancy is 80?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What Is The Meaning Of Life

The meaning of life is something you must determine for yourself. The search for the answer to this question has led many people down the garden path. You have a mind of your own so why not use it. Do not turn control of your mind over to anyone else.

I don't like to use mystical words because they tend to lead people down the garden path, but maybe this will help give you a new perspective. God is not running the show, God is the show. This will still lead you down the garden path if you don't think about it carefully. Lets do a word substitution, to remove the mystical connotations. The Universe is the show.

What makes the universe mystical is that we do not understand it all and probably never will. Being in awe or not understanding does not give us an excuse to blame it on a magic man in the sky. To understand where we are headed requires studying the Universe. Science and our minds are the best tools we have for this investigation. The purpose for Science is to add depth to the meaning of life. The more we understand the more awestruck we are with what we find.

The Universe has direction, things are getting more complex as time goes by. Atoms formed into molecules, molecules formed into cells, cells formed into life, life became conscious. The universe is becoming smarter, why don't we emulate that with our personal lives.

The gaps in our understanding of evolution of the universe and why it has a direction is not an excuse to get mystical, but motivation for doing more Science.