Before one can really begin with the rest of this site, a person must make a commitment to adopting a new way of thinking: overcoming weak areas in one's thinking by demanding emotional self-honesty and being self-reflective. In short, a person 1) needs to change one's emotional response to new ideas, rather than demanding physical and social reality to meet one's emotional needs, and 2) recognize that one's own blind spots are where one often needs to change the most, where it is the most important to do so, despite these being the most difficult area. Only those few who are willing to do so can one master the lessons contained in the rest of this site. The reward is an understanding of life, society and the universe for beyond anything before.
Thinking about science
An ideal scientist evaluates new ideas objectively in terms of the evidence. Many physical scientists do strive for this ideal. However, in the real world, no scientist can be completely ideal. Scientists are humans and thus inevitably have human concerns and emotions. One of the greatest physicists in history, Albert Einstein, colored history evaluation of new ideas with his personal philosophy and views of religion. Einstein's "God does not throw dice" objection to quantum theory is such an example.
Physical scientists tend to be numbers-oriented people rather than people-oriented. This increases the risk of evaluating new ideas based cheifly on emotions rather than facts. Physical scientists often have a blind spot regarding their own emotions. Since for physical scintists, the topic of emotions is often very uncomfortable or demd not worthy of consideration, physical scientists (and engineers) often assume that their evaluation of new ideas is based upon fact and evidence when in reality their emotional response is the chief consideration.
Even where a scientist does state facts against a new idea, they will often assert some facts while ignoring others. This is called selective
This is not to let humanists and social scientists off the hook. It is just in their case, ignoring the numbers in favor of feelings is often more blatent.
- An article explaining how selective fact acceptance colors the tug of war between new ideas and the status quo. Michael Blastland, "Go Figure: Would you believe a man with a beard or a suit?", BBC News
- An article explaining how technical expertise limits innovation. This article suggest that the best way to innovate to ignore physical reality. (The editor of this site strongly disagrees with that premise.) "Three Types of People to Fire Immediately", Business Week
- An article exploring the illusions and limits of positive thinking. "Just how powerful IS positive thinking?", CBS News
Thinking about Time
When humans think about time, they tend to think about particular points of time, such as now, soon, forever. People aren't very good at thinking about points of time between soon and forever. This makes them fail to consider time issues when proposing social solutions. Many solutions are planned to last forever, or some timeframe that feels like forever, such as 1000 or 10000 years. The idea of such long periods feels like immotality, so if a solution is designed for a very long time, then immortality is emotionally acheived, and no one has to worry about anything anymore. This is very attractive, but by ignoring intermediate-term issues, then even long-term solutions can be doomed.
Thinking about Freewill
In thermodynamics, the more freedom individual particles have, the more predictable the entire system is, generally. If many people exercise freewill, some of those choices will cancel out each other in aggregate.
Thinking about Life and Consciousness
Life is not identical to high levels of consciousness. A bacterium is typically considered to be alive, but contains neither brain nor central nervous system. Therefore when thinking about life, it is important to distinguish conciousness and high levels of intelligence from merely being alive.
Clearly humans perceive that they are conscious, and consciousness is often associated with free will. Conciousness is not an either/or attribute. Humans may be conscious, but can be in varying states of conciousness such as when an infant, or when sleeping.
Complex nervous systems may give rise to greater consciousness. If so, can this observation be used to explain what exactly consciousness is and how it arises. Do intellignt living organisms have "consciousness by necessity", in that consciousness is necessary to operate systems of higher intelligence and solve complex problems?