Saturday, January 14, 2012

Reflection - 1/14/12

Long before there were shopping malls and gas stations in North America, the land was here. Seasons came and went, great forests were established and disappeared, over eons of time mountain ranges rose and eroded away. Small change occurred daily and unseen by human eyes.

Reality occurs even when it is unseen by human eyes or is available for interpretation by the human mind. Some reality to too large or small for us to comprehend ( a galactic system / a prion particle ), some change happens to fast or so slow we miss then entirely, some forms of reality involve forms of electromagnetic radiation that we can not even perceive directly. But these things are most certainly part of the greater reality.

Today at the bottom of our oceans a myriad of events unfold minute by minute – phenomenon that humans have never witnessed. The same can be said for the great galactic systems of matter and energy; even the surface of our own moon is a place we hardly know. Yet, all of these events are part of “reality as it is” – just live everyday events close at hand.

The borderland between “reality as it is” and human mental constructs that attempt to understand our world is indeed a strange terrain. Reality is composed of everything from the nature of sub atomic particles to the life cycle of galaxies…cell generation to weather patterns… human brain functions to the life of amoebas…and the indecipherables that we haven’t begun to explain in our human ventures.

Do you believe that bacteria can cause disease – or is sickness caused by malevolent spirits? Do you believe that the earth travels around the sun or are we part of a geocentric system? Do you believe that DNA carries out genetic records or do you believe that our inheritance is carried “in our blood line”? Humans, in all cultures and times, attempt to make sense of the world they experience. We try our level best based on what we see and experience and what we have been taught by our traditions. ( And how cultures has ostracized those who challenge traditional beliefs! )

History shows that incorrect ideas have been adopted and have become cemented in the thinking of people for long periods. In our western tradition, for many years, the best treatment for most medical conditions was to ”bleed” the patient, In the times of Napoleon, wounds in his army were treated with garlic juice, in traditional Navajo belief the sun was thought not to rise in the morning if the holy man did not call it forth, it was thought quite reasonable in the western world to change lead into gold through alchemy was considered reasonable.

These days there are still many who see the world, as if through their own specialized "filters" . Some interpret the reality around them through a focus on politics, or vegetarianism, or sex, harsh punitive forms of religion, through strict legal interpretations, or through superstitious false beliefs in cause and effect. (“If a black cat crosses my path it means I will have bad luck”.)

All such filters are self-limiting – we cut ourselves off by limiting our interpretation of reality. So is it possible to do otherwise? Can we become more open to “the reality as it is” around us?

The most accurate means of developing new knowledge is through systemic study of the phenomenon, forming your best conclusion, then do everything possible to test and try the conclusion. If the conclusion can not be disproven the interpretation is more probably correct. But science is not in the business to find fixed interpretations – scientific conclusions are always open to further testing...possibly many years later by a distant scientist. This is why science traditionally stresses open communication of results. When the concept of the atom is corrected and refined the scientific community resources! If new evidence supports a new conclusion there is no attempt to hold on to the displaced idea.

There is a warning in the midst of this reflection on what is real... There is so much information available to us today - it is so easy to latch on to one desirable interpretation and fail to ask the important questions. There is a lot of goofiness out there that is being sold to us as "truth" - My first questions about most any "conclusion" is to ask who developed the idea, how did they com to this conclusion, what is their evidence? is it widely accepted by others in the field? ( there are no secret "plots" to keep certain ideas from the public - such an idea is totally against the concept of good science!). Whenever we close off other interpretation we make it difficult to remain open to new information or more accurate interpretations... It is so easy to fence ourselves in with ourfirst impressions.