I have grown tired of asking questions to which I know there are no answers. Perhaps that is adulthood?

I ask more immediate questions these days: What will I do today after work? What will I do today at work? Where will I eat dinner? What kind of beer do I want to buy at the liquor store? Does anyone want to play tennis tonight?

Without the tennis, I think those are the questions Homer Simpson might ask himself each day.

I can’t recall definitively answering too many important type questions…ever. Actually, I guess there are a few:

Does God exist? Don’t know whether s/he exists. Firmly Agnostic. Its hard to prove the non-existence of something. I strongly suspect the Western anthropomorphized God is not real. I am even more certain that religions are invented by people…to ease insecurities, to gather people around common causes. The Bible was written by people. What makes one religion more true than the other? War. Whoever kills people of the other religion…those people are the only ones left to ask the question.

We cannot escape our biology: I believe in the Savanna Principle, and Evolutionary Psychology. Non-politically correct evidence will continue to pile up in the coming decade that our brain’s tendencies are a product of evolution just like our body’s. Women and men’s brains are different. There are reasons for gender stereotypes. Some subgroups are smarter than others. Some are taller. Some run faster. Many very interesting facts about beauty, war, mating, power, and the limitations of human nature will come to light.

Why are we here? To survive and reproduce. You don’t have to believe it…it simply is. If you don’t think that’s true, then you will not be long around to have the argument…the survivors win.

War is inevitable: Peace is not the norm. We go back and forth…tending towards war. Why? Those who are not good at war are not around long enough to worry about peace.

People will figure out a way: There are so many of us alive, it doesn’t even need to have anything to do with intelligence…if people have all possible ideas, then some of them will end up being correct or useful. We just need lots of people and lots of questions.

Power is its own end: Power corrupts; it is self serving. Human nature makes it extremely hard not to follow that path. The best idea is to diffuse and limit power so that not too much of it rests in any one person, since they will certainly abuse it…even if they’re smart…which isn’t always a guarantee.

The Constitution does that, and its brilliant. It limits and diffuses power…in effect, setting up a government that doesn’t have enough power to fuck anything up too badly….and then gives power to the States. The beauty of that is that it sets up a market for government and lets people vote on which rules are the best. Don’t like what’s going on in your state? Move to another one. What sucks is that the central government has taken so much power that the rules aren’t significantly different between states…so you can’t do that. Power corrupts.

Travel the world: It will change you forever and you will be better for it. Don’t read about it; don’t speculate on it; do it. It teaches you that you change someone’s life everyday and that there are so many ways to live and how dare anyone think they know what’s best.

Don’t get caught up in the hedonic treadmill: You can’t win. I don’t play games I can’t win. Human nature dictates you will do it anyway…some things you can’t avoid. Try harder.

History repeats itself: Enough said. Think it hasn’t happened before? It has. Like stereotypes, ignore history at your own peril.

You cannot derive an ought from an is: What is natural is not what is good (this is also called the naturalistic fallacy). I get tired of people trying to draw analogies from nature as a model for what should be. Guess what? Snake bites and shark attacks are natural. The bubonic plague is natural. Antibiotics are not natural. We invented them. No one ate the penicillin fungus and got better. We distilled and concentrated it. Humans…flawed as we are, decide what ought to be. I agree, “ought” is a slippery slope. As soon as you think you know what’s best, you start abusing power.

Beware of the Jedi Mind Trick: Don’t let people fool you with a) statistics, b) research, c) expertness d) The Aiken Solution, e) repetition, or f) any other poppycock that people use to try to persuade you. Stated another way: Be a Skeptic.

Reality is subjective: This has terrifically confusing side-effects, the most important of which is: two people with different opinions can be right about the same thing. That is a tough one to get through for most people.

Not to say everything comes down to opinion; some things are simply wrong. Other things aren’t though: For instance, let’s say I just got a new job. That’s great…for me. Perhaps the guy/gall I beat out was trying to feed the family…maybe not such a good thing then. The answer to the questions “Was it good thing that Elliott got the job? ” is not answerable in a traditional sense.

Many, many things on very large scales come down to this simple kind of distinction. Which is right? Same as before: Those who survive and reproduce and can write a not-so-flattering history about the other group.

Common Logical Fallacies: The study of logic, especially as it relates to human psychology is useful. Once we learn a) the tricks people use to trick us, and b) the common traps the brain falls into….the better off we’ll be. Reality catches up with you sooner or later in most instances. I could write another post on all of these.

Anything that can happen, will: This is a fun one too. People ask about genetically engineered humans, franken-foods, and self-replicating nano-robots…its all going to happen. We will do everything that becomes possible, because there is always someone willing…reality TV has proven that.

The Best of All Possible Worlds? Pangloss was wrong…and right. The world simply is. It is neither the best, nor otherwise. We decide. I have written extensively in the past about Happiness, and whether or not humanity has any use for it (although I assure you I have a use for it).

Any decision is better than no decision: There is a bit of game theory in this one. If you make no decision you will only get what other people want for you. If you make decisions, then you have a better chance of doing something that is good for you. You also stand the chance of making a wrong decision, but I think you stand less of a chance than if you leave it up to other people. Firm decisions are gold, and other people can coalesce around them.

People are neither good nor bad by nature: The brain is a mess of conflicting systems, and they don’t always agree. You can save a child from a burning building one day and rob a liquor store the next. Although people generally know what is right, they do not always do so. They more consistently act in accordance with the situation. Put a good man in a bad spot, and he’ll do what he needs to…morals be damned.

People matter: Don’t get distracted by achievements, or money, or sex, cars, houses, status, jobs, etc….people matter in the end. They witness your life and give it weight. Without them your life doesn’t exist. Without them there is no sex, job, money, status. People matter. We are a consensus of ourselves. The sole witnesses of a billion frantic lonely consciousnesses on a small rock on the edge of a normal galaxy in an unimaginably large universe. Period.

There is life on other planets: Religion? Please. We’ll be so fucking happy to find intelligent life on other planets it will change everything we do…and then we’ll go to war with them.


Ok…that’s enough. I could go on, but I won’t. Now that all that is out of the way I can get back to the important questions: What will I do today after work? What will I do today at work? Where will I eat dinner? What kind of beer do I want to buy at the liquor store? Does anyone want to play tennis tonight?

What do you know that is true?

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One Response to “The important questions”
  1. jon says:

    Brilliant blog.

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