Science is not the only answer to everything. We need to get involved as well.

I love Science. I feel science is the greatest enterprise humanity has engaged in. I am moved to tears by reading Carl Sagan or Stephen Hawking and realizing how far humans have come by using principles of science.

Scientists are human.

However, the fact that one loves something should not prevent them from thinking about possible problems with it. Like all humans there were times when scientists did not manage to have and hold the moral high ground. Experiments on animals when they were not absolutely required and purchase of scientific integrity by big oil corporations and food industry comes to mind.

None of them were evil people. They were imperfect human beings, like all of us, that is all. Because of this, when the world gets rid of religion, we simply cannot put science in charge of everything and let it run things by itself and do whatever it wants. There would never be such problems as when religions ran everything, but, still. It is our world too, and we all should be interested in it's future. Even in a world where science is much more important than superstition, our 'work' would not be done.

We have to get rid of desire to be simply led by others. We have to participate. We have to make sure that world is everything it can possibly be. We cannot simply say - there are people working on it, that does not concern me.

The future generations and the World itself are far too important.

By losing religion we lose very little, but gain very much

While it might be brave to have faith in claims of religion, the truth is this is a sacrifice of reason humans do not need to make.

When we make this sacrifice - surrender our ability to reason to somebody else, we are losing much and not gaining anything we cannot possibly experience without religion.

leap of faith

Humans can be good without religion. Without religion humans can still know truths about the Universe - as a matter of fact religion does not help there at all. Without religion humans still love each other. Without religion we can still be curious about the World. Not only that, but religion actually robs us in that regard. If we believe literally in stories from religion or use known philosophical arguments about god to “prove” to ourselves that god was necessary to create the Universe, we are far from being curious about the Real World. We then think we have all the answers – and without any evidence. The truth is – humans have better answer to those questions. Not ultimate answers, nobody has them yet, but at least without religion there’s no delusion about having them.

So, after some introspection, it should be clear that taking religious ideas literally doesn’t get us much. There are better answers out there. Plus, there’s no law requiring that we have to take everything that religion offers. We can choose not to believe religion literally, and still cherish the stories as a metaphor.

If we lose religion, we more-or-less only lose an illusion that we know everything. And we can still keep the metaphors if we like. So, let us have a different kind of courage! Let us have the courage to face reality and experience truth and beauty without being told how to do it. We can do this!

Search Engines are not foolproof

They give you one box, you type in your question or query and press Enter. You might think that there is absolutely no way to use that incorrectly, or that something bad might happen as a result of that search. Yet, you would be wrong.

The thing about search engines is that they use algorithms that were designed to try and find results that are most relevant to your query. Algorithm has a number of factors it considers when deciding how relevant something is. That all sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, for starters, those factors are not whether something was proven true or is something based on evidence, but they are things that search engine manufacturers have decided that are likely to produce quality results. Of course, theoretically those things can lineup, so that search engine really presents you with credible information, but that is not guaranteed in any way.

Search Illustration

To put it simply, google doesn’t care what’s true. It cannot possibly care about what’s true.

Yes, you might say – of course, google doesn’t have all the facts of the world programmed into it, so it cannot answer those types of questions by itself. Google doesn’t want to answer those questions themselves, they want to point you in a right direction. That is all fine – but what this post will try to argue is that search engines are not equipped to correct any initial bias in your query – if you start from a premise you want to prove correct – google will only basically support what you already think you know. Take a look at the following example, where the only difference is singular or plural.

Different results for - Drink and Drinks

Of course, using such terms which are more or less close to each other, you won't get a huge discrepancy. Still, using singular or plural search terms can cause google to not show you the answer snippet from Harvard, but from a fitness magazine. This is not to say fitness magazine doesn’t know what they are talking about, but to show how tiny, miniscule changes in your query can result in differences.

This is what can happen even if you start honestly.

Now, to show a more sinister example:

When I googled it today, the term was on second place:

Bible sources for Scientific Questions

Clearly, this is more or less a case of gaming the system. Two religious arguments on what is clearly a scientific query. So, clearly it is possible to game the system. Either that, or the system is not perfect in the first place. Take your pick. The most likely truth is that it’s actually both. Search engines have not yet attained even the ability to consistently show more or less same results if you change singular to plural. The point is, you simply cannot trust it to reach the conclusion for you. You can use google to find more information, but it is not a fact machine. So, even if you start with NO BIAS whatsoever and ask a honest question, you are still likely to be served with nonsense.

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The World Is Getting Better–Part 1–Extreme Poverty

There are days when we all feel that the World is a pretty bad place, that nobody cares about other people and that it's only getting worse. Some people might have extreme-left or extreme-right tendencies and when days like these strike them, they are willing to blame "globalization", or immigrants which in turn does make the world a worse place. So, it is basically a paradox > thinking the world is bad can lead to making the world bad.

Begging

But is the World really, objectively bad? Is it possible that the World is objectively getting better, only people are getting more sensitive to the problems that might bother them, so thanks to the Internet which enables communication to others like themselves, they project their imaginary problems on the entire World? Of course, much more must be done, but in this post, I want to argue that compared to the past, we actually live in better times, but are somehow unaware of it.

As there are many factors which can influence view of the World – we’ll split this theme in a number of posts.

First: a DISCLAIMER: this post series will in absolutely NO WAY argue that since things are getting better, we should stop helping the poor, or curing diseases or giving animals more rights or being even more intolerant of rapists. Just because things are getting better, this does not mean that the work is done. Far from it. Actually, the only point this series tries to say is that things are indeed moving in the right direction and that forces behind these changes ("globalization", democracy, science, vaccines) are in fact improving the world and not hurting it.

So, let's begin. In this first post, let's try and tackle the biggest argument about the World being bad. This argument you can hear almost every day, probably even from your friends – people are dying of hunger and malnutrition, people are living in extreme poverty.

Apple is healing

Image: ulleo/Pixabay

Yes, people are living in extreme poverty. It is not eliminated. Yet. But the World is getting there. Seriously.

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Reading List: The Time Machine

One of the great books of all time. It is not only fun and covers a fascinating topic, but it is jam-packed with symbolism.

Spoiler alert – but I am sure you do know what it is all about – The Traveler goes forward into the future (802,701 AD) and encounters the descendants of the human species, the Morlocks and the Eloi. You have seen the movies. You know what they say, that a movie is like an iceberg - only the top is visible. It is like that with this book as well.

 

The Time Machine by H.G.Wells

Upon arriving in the future and meeting the Eloi, who live in what would seem to us as paradise at the first glance, The Traveler first thinks that he found an ideal society, but this is soon proven to be far from true. Not to spoil it any further, in case someone is not familiar with the story at all - in which case - you need to get familiar ASAP. This is one of the earliest, if not the earliest Time Travel story and it left a huge impact on the genre.

What's really good about the book is symbolism and the ultimate message - If we become too weak and only concerned about our own pleasure, we will become irrelevant as a species. It can be argued that Eloi represent the rich in today’s society.

On the other hand, if we return too far back to our most primitive impulses, and care only our most primitive desires, dire future awaits us indeed, future deprived of any higher form of existence, in other words - back to the caves we go.

The book is arguing that the undoing of the human species will not come through any external factors but through us, through our ways. The divides that we create between ourselves and taking ideas to their absolute extremes will be our undoing. And theoretically one can see it happen. Luckily, we still have time to make it better.

It is ok to care about our own lives and try to be care free and less stressful, but when we see an injustice being done, we should try and do something about it. Balance in all things, my friends. These are the musings I got from reading this wonderful book and if you read it, I am pretty sure your brain will get a kick out of it as well.

Do not sacrifice the good for the perfect

I bought this candy because of this stamp - made without animal-based gelatin. Yet I confess that I do eat meat. So, why did this matter to me?

European Vegetarian Union

Am I simply a hypocrite in this manner? Did I simply want to briefly feel good? This all is very much possible.

Let us indulge in a bit of reflection. The fact that this mattered to me at that point in time indicates that when given a choice between two same things, but one is a bit "morally better", means that I could be a bit more likely to pick the better one, given that basically nothing changes for me. When the choice is more likely to "hurt" me, I am obviously not prepared to make it, as I still do eat meat.

You might possibly notice the similar tendency in yourself to buy free-range eggs, for example. But the point is, this little incident got me thinking about the concept of sacrificing the good for the perfect - and the perfect may never come.

I do feel that my tiny gesture multiplied many thousands of times can possibly make a difference. In short, just because you do not go all the way in regard to some idea, that does not mean that going part of the way will not push things ever so slightly in the right direction. Just because we cannot single-handedly save the world, that doesn't mean we should not do anything about it.

Off to enjoy the candy.

A Reminder: Never, Ever Stop Thinking

Reminder to self and to anyone else within reach of humanity's global communication network - we are equipped with a tool that made all this possible.

Never, ever stop thinking.

Brain image by sinisamaric1 / Pixabay. Words added by Entangled Life. Point inspired by all who say that religion stops the conversation – Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet, Sam Harris.

Our branch in the vast family tree of species has been equipped with perhaps the greatest adaptation to arise in our common descent. The evolutionary pressure for our ancestors' survival in the cruel environments of the past has given rise to our intelligence.
Our intelligence has given us so much. It has ensured the survival of our species ... At least for a while.

It has enabled us to explore every corner of our world and to launch ourselves and our creations beyond the atmosphere and into space. Whatever we achieved, we owe it to our intelligence.

We should always think. Think about everything. Love, live, eternity, space, science, art, poetry, philosophy. There is so much to think about.

The best thing we can do for ourselves is to try to always keep this process running in our own minds. If we want to really be kind to ourselves, we will use this potential that we have. We need to remain vigilant enough to notice when we are being seduced by ideas that prevent us from reaching our potential. And when something is technically beyond our expertise or understanding, we should be careful enough to recognize credible sources. This is how we move forward. We owe this to ourselves and the rest of humanity.