Thursday, August 24, 2006

Doggerel #35: "You Must Lead a Miserable Life!"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

This particular bit of doggerel is, in my experience, a surprisingly common subject change. Whether or not I'm happy has no bearing on the validity of my arguments. As I've said before, the emotional state of the arguer is irrelevant to the arguments he presents. Whether or not I'm happy with it, the Earth is still round and still revolves around the sun. Reality has a habit of being very unaccomodating towards human desires. Fortunately, learning about reality can help us work towards our desires. After all, it was science that provided me with kick [hiney] fighting games with action missiles.

Of course, I can't speak for every skeptic out there, but I find life quite satisfying: I enjoy trying to untangle mysteries and solve puzzles. Thankfully, the universe is full of them. I could look at what people claim to be cheat-sheets, but that isn't particularly satisfying, since they don't really tell me how they reached those conclusions. That's why I enjoy magic acts. They all involve some perceptual trickery or unexpected gimmicks that are often quite simple once you figure them out. I once experienced a very satisfying slap to my forehead when, after years of not being able to solve it, I figured out a cup and balls (or vegetables, rather) trick that involved an assumption so basic, I missed it.

Strangely, that doesn't seem to be enough for most people. They need some deity or other unimaginably powerful (yet, not intercessory during controlled trials) forces to inject them with happy-juice for eternity, and possibly savage the people they don't like for the same duration. I don't think I'd want to be mentally stagnant in either place.

Of course, my confidence in what science has taught us doesn't mean that I can't hope we got something wrong. For instance, I'd like it if some (non-icky) part of me would stick around after death, but I'm not about to pretend that that hope is a substitute for evidence.

That reminds me: Need to see about archiving this place in some durable form. Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

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1 comment:

xebecs said...

For instance, I'd like it if some (non-icky) part of me would stick around after death

The non-icky parts of you that will stick around after your death are your posts. Does that make you feel any better?