Thursday, 5 December 2013

"but I know it to be true in my heart..."


            The recent death of the actor Paul Walker has thrown up an interesting event. The post below has been doing the rounds on facebook. Funny but also very illuminating. Whether this is genuine or not is irrelevant since the attitude being displayed is regrettably all too common.
            A friend of mine recently complained that too many of the reviews and critiques boil down to “uhhh, I didn’t like this” with no rationale for such a conclusion. I theorised that the reason may be the deterioration in scientific education. The inability to logically structure your argument and to process and prioritise relevant evidence is obviously a hindrance. An even greater fault is confusing belief or desire with reality. In a previous post I have commented on the apparent inability of many individuals to distinguish between their wants and desires and what is actually needed or available.
            Movies and other entertainments constantly tell us “You must have faith”, “You have to believe in something” and so on.  A few months back I finally got to watch the movie “Prometheus” and I found it a huge disappointment, mainly because of the stupid dialogue. Most of the characters (some of them supposedly scientists) constantly make statements that can be paraphrased as “It will be there because I believe it will” ; “They must be able to do this because I want them to”. Can you really be a billionaire industrialist in the future without any grounding in reality? Will people really commit to two-year deep space expeditions on no other justification than “I want this to be true!”
            Let us look at the statements above again. Saying “I don’t trust Google” is like saying “I don’t trust libraries”. Google (or any other search engine) will bring you a broad range of information, some of which may be false, erroneous or misleading. Plagiarism on the internet does some times mean false information propagates further than actual fact. If a score of hits tell you this is a picture of Vin Diesel and searches for Paul Walker consistently throw up pictures of the same other individual, that is an indication that something may be amiss and that you might be advised to check a more authoritative and reliable source such as IMDB or reading the cast list of your DVD.
           I recently googled “Harvey Keitel Duelists” and “Peter Cushing” and got these images. I don’t think that is them. Perhaps they are the two individuals in the other hundred pictures?

            “I know it in my heart” does not make anything true, ever. Yet too often we hear this statement used as a “proof”.

            If we are going to progress both as a civilisation and as individuals we must learn to distinguish between what we want to believe and what is true, between our desires and what is attainable.