ReasonINC

Reason; as the supreme authority in matters of opinion, belief, or conduct

Month: April, 2013

A less filtered mind?

“The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success” – Bruce Feirstein

These two articles look at the neural correlates of creativity and mental illness; unsurprisingly there is much to digest.

(http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/189158.php)

(http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/251568.php)

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings” Helen Keller

You should believe in nothing blindly except yourself.

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.” – George Orwell

Carl Sagan’s thoughts on Voyager 1’s Image

Carl Sagan’s thoughts on Voyager 1’s Image

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

– Carl Sagan, 1994

(http://robotics.dem.uc.pt/norberto/we.htm)

A little perspective…

A little perspective…

Carl Sagan once said, in his profound and eloquent thoughts on Voyager 1’s iconic image looking back at Earth, that “There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.” I think his point is exactly the right one to make, the kind made by a man who would not for a second consider passing up an opportunity to champion rationalism. The greatest thinkers seldom do.

Seeing this type of perspective is a good exercise for humans. It helps to thwart that tempting inner feeling that we are somehow special, somehow divine. That dangerous feeling that we will prevail. Below I include a link to an interesting wikipedia page that I think can have the same effect. When you think of the extreme dangers we are ignoring today, that threaten us on a time scale of hundreds of years or less, it is strange to think we will, in all likelihood, never have the chance to pit our collective wit against the myriad of far greater difficulties that lie ahead.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_far_future)

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” – Albert Einstein