Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Uncertain Life, finale

So, Maybe Logic:
"I have learned more from Robert Anton Wilson than I have from any other source."
-George Carlin

"Belief is the death of intelligence."

Just saw the first quote for the first time in my life. It's nice to know that two of the men I admire most appreciated one another's thinking. The second quote, from Ol' Bob himself, gave me fits when I first read it several years ago. Just what the hell is that supposed to mean?
But the more I've lived and thought about the quote, the more true it seems. Holding to any belief with unfailing certainty and credulity --whether it's the belief that aliens are abducting white folks and sticking probey things up their hoo-hahs, or that Darwin was right (or wrong)-- is just dogmatic belief to the exclusion of other possibilities. Now, for the continuation and/or maximization of materialistic existence, acting as if certain things are truer than true, 100% of the time, is a good thing. For instance the belief that if I walk out into traffic and get struck by a bus that I am going to die: all my experience in the past and all evidence presented by others suggests unfailingly that this is the most likely outcome. So, in the system of Maybe Logic, I'd give that supposition a "10". On the other hand, the idea that little grey men from Venus are going to take me out of my bed in the middle of the night: I'd give it a "2". The idea, as is probably obvious, is to rate the probability/possibility of things being 'true' on a scale-- whichever scale you choose.

Uncertainty leads to keeping an open mind about all things, no matter how absurd and illogical they may at first seem. It's a comfort to me in this post-modern age, because all I see most days is dogmatic belief and rigid, unbending thinking. Not only in religious people, but in folks who put their faith in a political party or process, in science and materialism, in the belief that the government is out to get us (or out to help us). This kind of thinking irritates me to no end. I, of course, am as guilty as anyone of holding on to certainty at times. But I generally am able to catch myself and look at things from a truly skeptical point of view. It's not hard to do once you get the hang of it. A good clue is if you feel your heart rate and blood pressure climbing at the sheer stupidity of what you just read/heard. Which happens all the time on the interwebz....

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