Archive for July 23rd, 2008

Perhaps a refresher in real numbers would be useful.

Perhaps widdle this question down.  Does pi exist?

The area of a circle is pi r^2.  So, you can never really accurately figure out exactly what pi is so you really can’t figure out the area of a circle.  But….. you can fill a circle and measure the area, no?

So, again, does pi exist even though you can’t completely tell anyone how much it is or even write it down. We are forever away from really knowing pi.


There are infinitely many numbers like pi.  Perhaps these are useful fictions.

Does it matter?

It depends on your world view.

Consider it and get back to me. Or, ignore it and move on.

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In a world view and in a regional view, it would be irresponsible if we didn’t use technology and science.”

it would be?  what the heck does anyone mean by irresponsible?  what are we comparing or what is our basis of responsibility?

There’s no universal answer to that question.  To you it’s irresponsible to not use technology and science.  To others it’s irresponsible to use technology and science. And many variations in between. There’s no final arbiter of responsibility.  If there is, let me know.  I’d like to talk to that authority because I have many questions needing a final judgment.

Do I think “science” gets us closer to what is actually happening? sure.  Does that make science the way to live your life?  I don’t know.  No one can define the goal or the success metrics of life or existence so it’s hard to say what the best approach to existence is.

Is this a metaphysical argument with no bearing on the real world? naw.  the fact is, none of us know what the deal is with life, success, responsibility.  I suppose we can define it or whatever.  It’s pretty arbitrary no matter how you slice it.

Do I think a science of behavior (and every other well thought out empiricist science) is a useful approach to living?  Sure, with caveats.  If your goal is to survive and thrive in your lifetime within our societies, a knowledge of human behavior is extremely useful!  To some, I’m not sure that’s their goal. For nature, there’s no real goal so we don’t get the benefit of appealing to a universal goal ( or even a species goal!)

So, what really is the point?

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There are many writings in science, law and politics these days that amount to a plea to use the laws that exist in the natural environment to better accomplish common objectives. The argument goes that in order to extend our life on earth and boost the quality of the 28,500 days* we have, we need to play to our strengths. Right now, our strength and the strength of many industrialized nations is the strengths that comes from science and technology.

In a world view and in a regional view, it would be irresponsible if we didn’t use technology and science. That technology includes and an empirical approach to behavior that rubs the status quo proponents the wrong way. Use of what is known about the how we learn and how we behave can help prevent some of the ills and dilemmas that we’ve put ourselves in. It can also prevent others from occurring. Just as assuredly, changes are sure to cause new forms of discomfort. The individual and the society will have to work to deal individually, culturally, politically and environmentally with an empirical behavior analysis that takes a less emotional approach to behavior. Compared to the slaughter of people and cultures, this discomfort is actually a reprieve from what we can expect without change in the voodoo logic and the mumbo-jumbo of 3000 year old superstitions and traditions.

This isn’t a new idea, just a new appeal to the world inhabited by users of science and technology. Someone said in the early 70’s:

“2500 years ago it might have been said that man understood himself as well as any other part of his world. Today, he understands himself least.”

Look at what has happened since that statement…! That makes it a particularly poignant when amplified repeatedly by the disturbing events each of us has had to endure in that period. Things that could have been prevented, avoided or better managed if there had been a different view of “man”.

Due to technology society gets to see war real time; gets to see live video cam death in hospital wards, in police stations, on the campuses and via natural disasters. We get instant access and feedback in almost every media channel available to man. Thus, those that posit that a scientific approach to behavior is a threat to our way of life, look around. For those that claim a sectarian approach to behavior is not possible are reminded that the same things were said about chemistry, biology and physics as some brave explores went about figuring out how those parts of the world work. Anyone frightened by science that keeps him/her alive to protest is in a vulnerable state and is dangerous.

Without a comfort zone we almost all are scared. With a comfort zone we may be still using leaches to clean blood, sage to protect us from evil spirits or apricot pits to cure cancer. [Yes, some reading this may still be favoring one or more of these remedies, but…]

To prevent some of the things that we don’t like happening we’ll have to give up something. Nothing in life or Nature is free. Chemistry, biology and physics gave up ‘stuff.’ Now it is our turn. And, as frightening as it is, we need to find others that can help us make the adjustments over time. Others will help us learn to attend to the natural rules that have always been there but were ignored. Others can help dissolve conflicts over competing beliefs and traditions. We humans are great at adjustments and adaptations so it is clean this can work. It an adjustment how you came to read blogs on the Internet? However, if you like the state of the world, the relationships you have with the institutions, agencies and forces that inhabit your world, then you don’t need to do anything. You get to take the cultural Quaalude and pull over. Ok.

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