Tag Archives: science

Objective Reality

A Hot Day in Henderson Nevada
A Hot Day in Henderson Nevada

When I think of objective reality, I think bleak. Really bleak. Bleaker than, well, consider the following.

Science pokes around to find out how stuff works. That’s really all it’s about. The reports people believe about science on social media and elsewhere are just that: reports by non-scientists about things they don’t really understand and which are usually reported incorrectly. In other words, they’re mostly BS. Smart reporters stick the word “may” into the headline, which covers their non-objective butts, but nobody ever pays attention to that. Hell, that whole “vaccines are dangerous” thing should never have been reported in the first place. Amongst scientists, doubt began to creep in almost immediately. Amongst the public, not so much, huh? Science never once “said” that vaccines were bad. There was one study. Vaccines “may” be bad, was all it says. Turns out that they aren’t. Science, I’m trying to say, dabbles in objective reality. And, as I said, it can seem bleak.

What seems (just seems) like objective reality in science is called a Theory. What reporters call a theory, scientists call a “hypothesis.” That’s a small bit of objective reality right there. But, here, look at a few scientific theories (believed to be objective reality.)

  • Universal Gravitation (Newton’s theory of Gravity to most.) It isn’t “what goes up must come down,” either.
  • Newton’s (quite the guy) laws of motion. You know, inertia, equal but opposite reaction, stuff like that. (Newton’s theories are so solid that many call them “laws.” No violators have ever surfaced to date.
  • Newton’s (holy cats!) laws (again, laws) of thermodynamics.
  • Einstein’s theories of relativity, general and special. The discovery of gravity waves recently put the final nail in the coffin of doubters. These theories are almost too weird to believe, but they work.

Using these theories, which are believed to represent objective reality (and so far they’ve all worked quite well) one can conclude that the purpose of life is to reverse a localized buildup of negentropy. Or, to waste energy. Long story, but it’s true. Also, in biological science, one learns that life is, after all, DNA. The survivor in all cases is DNA. Recently, when some physicists were asked to describe the causes of cancer, they figured out that cancer is a way that DNA survives when the cancerous tissue is otherwise damaged. Yep. DNA will survive. This information about life is also objective reality. The universe, from a scientific point of view, doesn’t care a fig about humans.

But it likes life, in the form of DNA. Humans are just elaborate structures built by DNA to replicate itself. And, as it happens, to use up extra energy stored underground.

See, bleaker than anything, huh?

Which explains why I like humor. Studying bleakness does nothing to make life more pleasant. If all that bleak information is true, then it’s more important than ever that we treat each other with respect and kindness, because this is what you get, folks. We can enjoy this cruise on Planet Earth, or we can be miserable. Seems to me that those most afraid of objective reality are the ones most into making things worse. I’m trying to make things better. Don’t know if I will, but I’m trying. Nothing big, just trying not to be a dick too often.

In conclusion, here are a few plainly obviously true fortune cookie fortunes, along with potential objective meanings:

  • Your wealth will be augmented within the month. (Maybe you’ll pick up a quarter off of the sidewalk somewhere?)
  • Your talents will soon be recognized and awarded appropriately. (Maybe you’ll hear, “You’re a no-talent loser and I’m canning your ass!”?)
  • Your imagination will point you in a new direction. (Maybe off a cliff?)

Just stuff to think about. 🙂

Scientific Delirium Madness

That title is from a song by the Byrds from the sixties. The entire line reads: “I saw the great blunder my teachers had made: scientific delirium madness.” I think that like sums up a lot of why my generation has so much trouble getting a grasp on reality. Boomers are an “idealist” generation, meaning that they tend to look inward for answers. Some famous idealists in history include Vlad Lenin and Adolph Hitler, to give you an idea of where idealism can end up if you’re not careful. Unfortunately, there really is such a thing as objective reality, no matter how hard some of my co-generationists try to deny it. By denying objective reality and depending instead on “just relaxing and paying attention” to determine what’s real and what isn’t, idealist generations like mine lose valuable information that is, quite frankly, free for the taking. In fact, generations like mine are perfectly happy simply shouting down objective evidence that conflicts with their “inner truths.”

A big bit of evidence of what I mean is with the global warming phenomenon. Short story: Al Gore didn’t make up a darned thing in his movie. I learned that stuff in science class in the sixties (I never liked that line from the Byrds.) The first scientist wrote a paper about global warming in 1854. There is absolutely no scientific controversy about global warming, yet my generation is more than willing to listen to “both sides” even when one side is obviously arguing for the Earth being flat.

A quick aside here to mention that I’m not sure that there’s much we can do about global warming, but that’s a different debate all together. The effects will, over the next half century, become pretty nasty, one way or another.

Then there are the most earnest members of my generation who “don’t believe” in evolution. Literally, and I honestly mean no offense when I say this but it is the truth, anyone who says that has no idea what they are talking about. I don’t “believe” in evolution like people “believe” in Jesus or whatever. I think that evolution is a robust, elegant and wonderfully predictive theory, right up there with universal gravitation. If you think it’s wrong, then you’ll need to present a better theory that covers the known facts better and predicts future events better than does evolution. Good luck with that.

Another quick aside: the purpose of life, since I’m not giving it to some bearded Jew in the sky, is to waste energy. That is, to reverse a localized buildup of negentropy, to use the big words for it. I’m not knocking the creator: creation implies that there must be one. I just watch how it works and don’t assign it motives.

Those are quick and easy examples of how being an idealist isolates you from reality. In politics, education, and all aspects of society I see plenty more examples every day. In terms of economic policy, consider that our parents taxed themselves at rates as high as 89 percent to fund our extravagant childhoods. How much are we willing to sacrifice for those who have come along after us? Our parents, after all, are at a minimum past paying much in the way of taxes. Because we “looked within” we never saw the huge input of energy and money and time we were receiving from those who preceded us, so now many of my generation think that things like Interstate highways, public schools, and sewer systems just grow like weeds in the back garden.

Well, once again, allow me to apologize to the “slackers” who are following us up this ladder of life. You guys will find some wonderful and creative if difficult way out of the mess we’re sinking into, and I thank you for it. Not that anyone else will, much. The generation just now rising, the millenials, will like the GIs before them take all the credit and all the glory. Sorry about that. Of course, then those millenials will decide that their kids, by God, are going to have it better, and they’ll tax themselves at high rates and raise another bunch of idealists. And so it goes.

So, to you slackers, and to the generation that follows the millenials but that precedes the next idealists as well (the last such invented rock and roll; you gotta love that) I say again, since you won’t otherwise hear it much: Thanks a lot, guys! You did great!

Steve