Top.Mail.Ru
The strangest thing - The Ex-Communicator — LiveJournal
? ?
The Ex-Communicator

> Recent Entries
> Archive
> Friends
> Profile

August 31st, 2006


Previous Entry Share Flag Next Entry
10:59 am - The strangest thing
Memetherapy asks some writers 'what is the strangest thing you believe?'. I like the answers. Consciousness - yes, that is 'strange' beyond belief, and yet I believe in it. The two options of quantum collapse or the existence of many parallel worlds are both strange, and one of them (or something even stranger) must be true. The very existence of life on our planet is so very strange. The big bang is strange.

For me the strangest thing of all, because I can't understand how it can be true, and yet I firmly believe in it, is free will. That we, some tiny specks on a planet, are free, when almost all the other matter in the universe is merely reactive. Incredible.

But leaving aside those sort of philosophical 'strange things', I suppose the strangest concrete thing I believe is that aliens exist. I think it's unlikely we are the only living things in the universe, and yet how strange to think there are other lives out there.

What is the strangest thing you believe?

(26 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:altariel
Date:August 31st, 2006 10:14 am (UTC)
(Link)
I can't think of anything wise or interesting to say. But here is what Not the Nine O'Clock News had to say on the subject:

I believe that life is happy and death is sad,
I believe my mom was married to my dad,
I believe that things that aren't good tend to be bad,
I believe, yes, I believe.

I'm prepared to believe that Nixon wasn't a crook,
And I even believe Love Story's a readable book
I believe that Lucille Ball's still under thirty
And I believe the Dirty Dozen weren't really dirty

Yes, I believe Gerald Ford is clever
That Bob Hope will live for ever
And that lever is pronounced levver
And the best film ever made was Saturday Night Fevver

I believe that Colonel Sanders can fry
and that pigs and even DC-10s can fly
I'm prepared to believe that things go better with Coke
And that the Ayatollah tells a darned good knock knock joke

I believe some folk can hear what Bugs Bunny's sayin',
And that Salt Lake City's a real nice place to stay in.
I believe that JR really loves Sue Ellen
I believe that things sound better when you're yellin'

And I believe that the Devil is ready to repent
But I can't believe Ronald Reagan is President.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2006 04:18 pm (UTC)

I can't believe it's not better

(Link)
I almost wish he was President. Now that's hard to believe.
[User Picture]
From:andrewducker
Date:August 31st, 2006 10:23 am (UTC)
(Link)
Aaah, I don't believe in free will.

I _do_ believe in causation, despite the fact that there is no way of completely proving it. It's the foundation that everything I believe sits on top of.

Oh, and to pluck a random example from the air, I believe that many behavioural traits have strong genetic influences, despite the fact that the jury is still very out on this.
[User Picture]
From:archbishopm
Date:August 31st, 2006 10:33 am (UTC)
(Link)
What he say. The first two paragraphs.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2006 10:57 am (UTC)
(Link)
Causality, yes, it's impossible to prove but I do believe in it too. Free will violates strong causality of course. I think we are in one of those binds where either option - free will exists or not - is unproveable and both are very strange. I believe I have free will, though I can't prove it.
[User Picture]
From:andrewducker
Date:August 31st, 2006 11:07 am (UTC)
(Link)
I've now got to the point where I'm not actually sure what "Free Will" would be - how decisions would be made, and how they would come into being if they weren't somehow caused. I definitely used to believe in Free Will, but I think the more I thought about it the more I realised there wasn't anything actually coherent there to believe in.

I'm hoping that at some point someone can point out to me what it is I'm failing to comprehend, because it would certainly be interesting.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:andrewducker
Date:August 31st, 2006 01:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I don't think that when most people say "I have free will!" they mean "I act randomly!", because they'd be less attached/happy about it if they did :->

I'm willing to go with either pure mechanical causation or quantum uncertainty beneath it all (depending on how much of a Hidden Variable person I'm being today), but neither of those sounds much like Free Will to me, in the way people normally use it.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:ninebelow
Date:August 31st, 2006 01:43 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yes.
[User Picture]
From:rparvaaz
Date:August 31st, 2006 02:33 pm (UTC)
(Link)
LOL

Wot he said.
[User Picture]
From:andrewducker
Date:September 1st, 2006 08:26 am (UTC)
(Link)
This still seems to boil down to "I'm partially mechanical and partially random, therefore I have free will." which doesn't seem to sum up what people mean.

Consciousness, I take to mean something quite different - that's the internal model we've built up, allowing us to make somewhat accurate predictions about how the world works. Self-awareness occurring when people realise that they themselves can be modelled and understood, allowing for a feedback loop and some control to be exerted over their selves.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:September 1st, 2006 08:41 am (UTC)
(Link)
I know you hate to be told that your ideas reflect those of other people :-) However I expect you are in agreement with Danniel Dennett

'I believe that acquiring a human language (an oral or sign language) is a necessary precondition for consciousness–in the strong sense of there being a subject, an I, a 'something it is like something to be.' It would follow that non-human animals and pre-linguistic children, although they can be sensitive, alert, responsive to pain and suffering, and cognitively competent in many remarkable ways–including ways that exceed normal adult human competence–are not really conscious (in this strong sense): there is no organized subject (yet) to be the enjoyer or sufferer, no owner of the experiences as contrasted with a mere cerebral locus of effects'

I completely disagree with Dennett of course. I think consciousness is the ability to experience pain and pleasure, not the ability to organise it.
[User Picture]
From:andrewducker
Date:September 1st, 2006 08:53 am (UTC)
(Link)
I think there's a fair amount of semantic wriggle-room in your last sentence - for something to experience pain (rather than just react to stimuli in a mechanical manner) there has to be an "I" somewhere in the middle which can experience it and create a model in which "pain" has been identified.

Differentiating "experiencing" from "organising" is impossible for humans - stuff comes in and is organised before we're even aware of it (which is part of what causes the massive differences in how people experience things).

I also think that linguistics builds upon this ability, and simplifies it, but I don't think it comes first. Anyone who's ever had a reasonably intelligent pet (cat, dog,etc) will know that they create models of the world and experience it in a recognisable way, if vastly simplified.

Oh, and I don't mind being told that I have similar thoughts to other people - it's being told that "Dennett already wrote about this, you must bow down before ye olde master who hath defined this area of study." that annoys me. Sometimes unreasonably so :->
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:September 1st, 2006 08:36 am (UTC)
(Link)
I didn't reply to this sooner because it made me think.

I'd say what you describe is very plausible. Will and consciousness are bound up in some way with quantum collapse/decoherence. Our true statements about the world are really just ways of expressing underlying facts which are quite different.

Nevertheless I think your description makes the human mind more passive/random than I feel it is. I do believe that humans in some way both experience and shape the world.

Actually I think some other animals do too, though I'm not sure which ones.
From:jollyspaniard
Date:August 31st, 2006 10:23 am (UTC)

The strangest thing I believe

(Link)
Jose here with Meme Therapy, Nice post.

I can't answer this question. I've tried but I draw a complete blank. I suspect this may be a side effect of having asked it too many times.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2006 11:01 am (UTC)

Re: The strangest thing I believe

(Link)
It's a fascinating article. I know what you mean about a question becoming meaningless with repeat asking.
[User Picture]
From:kalypso_v
Date:August 31st, 2006 10:56 am (UTC)
(Link)
The essential decency of humankind?
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2006 11:15 am (UTC)
(Link)
You are like rparvaaz (next comment). I think human beings have that decency inside them, but we are also social, so if society pressures us to be harsh and competitive, then we will be.
[User Picture]
From:rparvaaz
Date:August 31st, 2006 10:59 am (UTC)
(Link)
That most people are absically good, and that it is possible to tap into that goodness and direct the course of a people towards a better tomorrow.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2006 11:15 am (UTC)
(Link)
I do so hope you are right
[User Picture]
From:rparvaaz
Date:August 31st, 2006 11:45 am (UTC)
(Link)
Me too. :)
[User Picture]
From:hafren
Date:August 31st, 2006 12:30 pm (UTC)
(Link)
If I believed it, the strangest thing would be that the world is allegedly round and spinning, yet we don't fall off or feel upside down. I never figured that one.

Or that an aeroplane which is plainly heavier than air can take off and fly. That makes no sense either, but again I don't relly believe in it; I expect it to crash to earth, every time.

Or that sounds and pictures can come down a cable to a TV screen. If you ask me, there's a little man inside it making them.

I do not get science.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 31st, 2006 01:46 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Stuff like the world spinning are very strange facts, if you try to grasp them. I think presenting the real actual strangeness of the universe to the human mind is what SF is all about.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:September 1st, 2006 08:43 am (UTC)
(Link)
I know what you mean about belief. We talked before about how we are both quite 'P' - and I experience that as kind of accomodating a lot of ideas that I never completely know whether to believe or disbelieve.

I do know that 'what do you believe although you cannot prove' site, but I haven't really read it before, and now - curses - I am reading it instead of working. It's fascinating.
[User Picture]
From:dfordoom
Date:September 1st, 2006 08:21 am (UTC)
(Link)
What is the strangest thing you believe?

I used to believe in democracy. How embarrassing! But I got over it.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:September 1st, 2006 08:46 am (UTC)
(Link)
Ah, dfordoom, your cynicism is unfailing
[User Picture]
From:dfordoom
Date:September 1st, 2006 08:53 am (UTC)
(Link)
It's all I have.

> Go to Top
LiveJournal.com