Dear Fellow Life Travelers,

The great author, thinker and mythologist Joseph Campbell said correctly that we deliver the most benefit to the world when we “find our bliss” and live it. I can honestly say that since 2003 I have pretty much given my life (and a significant portion of my former treasure) to what I see as both a humanitarian effort, and finding my own bliss through that which nourishes me, impassions me, and helps me grow–while helping others along their journey. Only now can I articulate this bliss as a long-time “calling to ministry,” and today I want to inform you of my effort to pursue the remaining days of my existence, including professionally—if possible, through that mission.

I’ve long joked with friends that I’ll wind up in an airport handing out flowers. My fate is definitely not that however—especially since such a role would appear to involve dogma and an inability to question authority—but it could be some reciprocal version that holds no beliefs above critical scrutiny, and teaches the primacy of mutual understanding and the golden rule.

Of course mine is a naturalistic ministry that seeks to move us beyond the failed and sometimes-dangerous promises of self-help, emotion-driven thinking, logical fallacies, new-age wackiness, pseudoscience and supposed certainty about unknowable supernatural claims—so I should be clear that there is no supernatural force “calling me,” but rather my own brain, emotions, interests, skills, and a deep recognition of human suffering. In short, I have set out on a journey to fund and sustain the mission and educational offerings of Truth-Driven Thinking, and to build a related social learning community. If you can assist me with that mission I will be eternally grateful; but that said, this communication is in the interest of sharing my personal motivations and choices with friends, family, and any others who have an interest—essentially the “what” and the “why”. My apologies that this letter is so “all about me”—a topic that doesn’t interest me much, and I will not be offended if it doesn’t interest you at all; but it seemed somehow necessary to offer up some details just in case someone wants them.

The truth is that I have a very difficult time being motivated or caring about doing the things which our culture and society tell me I am supposed to. I don’t disagree with those who contribute meaningfully to the world through traditional roles—or even pursuit of self interest. Those things matter hugely—even though I now question some of the great virtue Ludwig Von Misses and Ayn Rand might attach to self interest—but that’s for another day. The point is that try though I may, I cannot seem to be motivated by the status or rewards of being the metaphorical “sofa king ofKalamazoo”—perhaps for reasons relating to “personal baggage” and experiences that I will visit in a moment. But that does not mean I don’t have fire, passion, and dedication.

What are you going to do, Stephen?

The point here is that Truth-Driven Thinking will hopefully—under my full-time guidance—be able to initially (and sustainably) expand its mission to “improve the wellbeing of humanity through the promotion of social, emotional, and intellectual growth”—as a new, evolving, and radically different kind of organization—one I will again call a “ministry” (I ask leeway in use of the term, as I expressed here some time ago). You can think of it as a virtual (and hopefully someday a physical) “unchurch,” “knowledge church,” learning community, thinktank, or even a social media platform suited for learning—but in any case a force dedicated to the intellectually honest free exchange of ideas, and evidence-driven explorations of life’s most important questions.

For many people in today’s world, it can be difficult to find authentic, open-minded, and intelligent people with whom I can have safe, substantive, stimulating, and open conversations—where emotion is mastered such that all honest thoughts and inquiries are fair game.

It’s my dream to grow an organization that will continue the work of promoting improved estimates of reality as the primary path to improved human wellbeing. Further, it is my goal that the Truth-Driven Thinking organization will be a ministry that seeks to feed both the soul and the intellect—and hopefully illuminates alternative paths to beauty, joy, provisional knowledge, wonder, awe, and new discoveries—while shedding the bondage of dogma and certainty.

But what really motivates you to be so idealistically stupid, Steve?

Well, we all have likes, dislikes, unique personalities, genetics, life experiences, and environmental influences that make us exactly who we are today, and I have no doubt that I am “fully caused” by those things, in this case to be called to this work—or “ministry,” if you will. It might be noted that when I was a committed Christian I many times pondered becoming an ordained pastor; so it seems that a life of ministering and tending to human needs—while pondering big questions—was somehow interwoven into my DNA and experiences. In fact, when asked if I won the lottery today what I would do, a leading option would be to study comparative religion, early Christian history, and philosophy. There is so much insight and value we can gain from seeing the truth of human myths.

To be more specific, I am confident that the sudden loss of my father when I was seventeen, after my mother’s cancer and before her subsequent death within a decade—has shaped me profoundly. Most of what I thought I knew about how my life and how the world would look, was gone in an instant (or two instances). Though my logical brain knows of the need for retirement savings and even making a modest living in the present, when I look around the world I find those things very difficult to prioritize as goals in and of themselves. Though to the best of my knowledge I never felt anger over my losses—to the contrary gratitude for the time I spent with amazing people—three things have become very clear to me in the last twenty years. These things were further underscored by other profound losses I experienced as a result of death. In fact I’ll cut to the chase and say that death and darkness to some degree give meaning and perspective to life and light. What would life mean if there were no death? Would you want to live forever? For trillions of years?

Three Lessons I have Learned:

Lest I digress, here are the three lessons I learned again and again, and the ones that have made my ministry a “calling” that I just can’t reject.

1) Life is short and unpredictable, and all the retirement savings, money, material success, or job promotions you could possible amass will mean less in the end than we think—especially if we are not working in the area of our so-called bliss.

2) Human relationships are they key, and they define our very existence; without them—without sharing, love, cooperation, learning, hurt, and the myriad ways we interact—life would be utterly without meaning (yet we are not very good at these relationships sometimes—and we sadly take them for granted, or allow dogma, fears, xenophobia, and material desires to divide us and lead to hurting one another).

3) Life involves a tremendous amount of human suffering. If that’s not your experience, be grateful.

It is perhaps this latter point that most seems to illuminate the beauty and joy in my life, and curse my ability to settle into a narrow, prescribed path. Life truly is too short for us to settle—settle for needles pain and suffering for humans; settle for living anything less than fully; settle for loving anything less than wastefully in our relationships; settle for insecurity or ego to keep us from living and loving fully.

My old paradigms, my old black-and-white narratives about how the world worked and why; my arrogant old presumption about what supernatural gods had ordained me to do or not do; my old ignorant and elitist beliefs that I had material things because I had somehow made “better choices” than others around me who were suffering—have been forced from my head since the beginning of my journey to put truth ahead of ego.

This is not intended to be an expose on human suffering, but suffice to say for now that billions live daily in hunger, suffer and die in totalitarian regimes, lose families and disease to war, tsunamis, earthquakes and fires, and inflict horrors on one another that we in the West cannot even begin to imagine. This is not a guilt trip, it’s an observation. There is scarcity in the world—scarce water, natural resources, food, and even time and energy. My free-will elitism turned out to be as able to fuel my ignorance of human suffering as some forms of Karma allow others to dismiss them as fully earned and deserved.

Thus if I can help it, I am not going to waste my days doing anything but the work I am naturally “called” to do—which involves trying to mitigate human suffering in whatever small ways I can—through pursuit of truth about how the world works, and by encouraging us all to drink from cup of life deeply and not be shy about pursuing ever-elusive truth, and certainly by recognizing our own fallibilities. My hope is to exemplifying kindness and humility; promote a desirist/utilitarian outlook that seeks the greatest good for the greatest number of people—at least in terms of public policy decisions; promote continuous growth in intellectual honesty and self awareness; and promote science, reason, and logic as the best tools for estimating how the world might really work, and for fixing or improving it in terms of public policy.

For details on my argument that following truth and evidence and logic wherever they lead us are the best tools for improving things, you can visit my updated web site at www.truthdriventhinking.com.

Toward a New Definition of Success:

For now, however, I am confessing as I move toward a new success. I once considered myself successful. Today I consider myself in many conventional ways even a bit of a failure—though largely by conscious choice, since I am learning and growing tremendously in the ways that matter most to me.

The upshot of all of this is that although I very much need to earn money and make a living, and educate and support my children in order that they might contribute to the world as well, I simply do not feel I have options. I am honored and appreciative beyond words to have the support of the children, my significant other, my family, and even my former wife I think. They know I am compelled to try to make whatever living I can by doing the only thing that I can possibly do at this juncture, and that is to pursue my passionate search for estimations of truth, and paying even more careful attention to feeding souls as I continue to share my journey out of complete ignorance. I must pursue my edification and my naturalistic ministry of helping others see that there is a difference between being fallible—as we all are—and being told we’re crazy for thinking, facing reality, or abandoning nonsensical prescriptions that insults our intelligence and run contrary to all available evidence.

If despite my continued diligence my effort crashes and burns, at least I will have tried. And I will have lived. And based upon mail I still receive about my novel, and the podcast, I will have connected with humans whom I don’t even really know, but according to them have been helped in some way along their own journey. That would be good enough for me.

In Summary

So I fear I have much in common with a central character in my novel, who had returned fromVietnamto make millions on Wall Street, but found emptiness in the rewards of having mastered a financial and geopolitical game that didn’t really matter to his soul. He didn’t beg for money. I will try not to. But I will indeed rely upon “offerings”—as well as hopefully sponsorships and advertising—in order to live my mission.

Hard work has never scared me, and I will do what it takes, even if that means delivering proverbial pizzas for a living on the side. That said, my hope is that like everyone I can best give to the world by doing that which is my “bliss” and passion.

And make no mistake, I thoroughly enjoy that moment of cognitive dissonance when I find out yet again that the evidence says I am wrong yet again—and the world works differently than I thought. As withEdisonsearching for a way to make light, every time I find out I’m wrong, or that science has gotten it wrong, I celebrate the openness to new information and bask in the feeling of being one tiny step closer to a humanity better equipped to fix itself and co-exist.

Even if solely as a fellow journeyer, perhaps in some way you can join me in this effort.

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(Stephen L. Gibson is a great cocktail party guest, and founder of the truth.bloomfire.com social learning community. He is also the author of  A Secret of the Universe, a critically acclaimed, citation-rich novel about the intersections of science, reason, and faith. Steve shares his journey in search of ever-elusive truth via the popular Truth-Driven Thinking podcast program. Steve also posts random thoughts via his Perspectives blog. © 2011, Truth-Driven Strategies LLC.)

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As I worked feverishly on the upcoming relaunch of the new Truth-Driven Thinking Podcast, web site, and most importantly the upcoming learning community (July launch) centered on truth-driven living—a thought occurred to me. Some people question the viability and worthiness of truth as a goal. But can we agree on a few simple propositions? Assume for the moment that we’re talking more about questions of public policy, government, and/or broader societal decision-making; can you agree to the following? (Vote via a link at the bottom.)

  1. Knowing the truth about something makes it easier to fix, understand, or improve that thing. (Assuming for now that an earthly truth exists for all questions, no matter how complex that truth may be—and that some earthly “truths” are knowable and comprehensible to humans; e.g., the space shuttle flies because we “know” gravity and the “proven” laws of physics to be “true.”)
  2. Actions taken based upon true assumptions are more likely to be effective and bear fruit than those based on untrue assumptions.
  3. Therefore, improved estimations of what is true (a.k.a. “how the world really works”) are most useful for improving anything, including the wellbeing of human beings.

And finally, although absolute “Universal Truth” is unknowable and likely unintelligible to humans:

  • 4. The best estimates of truth (reality and “how the world really works”) are attained through the naturalistic methods of science, reason, logic, and empirical evidence;
  • 5. Therefore, those are the best tools for advancing the wellbeing of humanity.

Yes, there are all sorts of problems and details to debate about what “wellbeing of human beings” means and looks like, but that’s too much detail for now; if we can agree to this foundation, we have already made giant strides along the early part of our journey to make the world a better place.  (Vote your assent or dissent here.)

If we cannot agree, that’s okay. But it may be a conversation best had another time and place. Usually if we can’t agree to these items, the problem lies somewhere in the last two items, and in a point of philosophy—often one so boring and “out there” that we regular folks’ eyes glaze over quickly. A common one is that someone says, “No, science, reason, and logic are flawed; you are forgetting faith as a means of knowing things.”

This would also lead us down a path to a lengthy epistemological debate beyond the scope of this page. For now suffice to say that the most basic tenet of truth-driven thinking is that we must always remain open to new arguments and new evidence; but that said, “faith as evidence” is a real show-stopper, and thus will be useless to our journey Will it not? This is because of that answer gives us no need to talk or inquire further; it is an unsatisfactory answer. There would be no need for a website dedicated to truth seeking if “faith” were a satisfactory proof of anything. Whose faith? Which version? Don’t we want to know more than that? When the answer to a big question about how the world works is “god did it,” you can forget going to class, forget studying why stem cells work as they do, and stop asking why.

The claims of someone’s “faith” answer may even be absolutely true, but they simply cannot be tested, falsified (proven wrong), or even debated, any more than if I say there is a dish of lasagna orbiting a tiny planet in a distant galaxy, and I know this because of my faith as a pastafarian. This is not to make fun of faith, per say, but merely to point out why it will be of little use to our journey to fix or improve things.

So while some might see that as an unfair constraint, searching for truth becomes devoid of meaning when one’s “proof” can be “God did it.” Beyond that constraint in method, however, it is my sincere hope that whether you are religious or not, you can join us in a community that seeks truth openly and freely—wherever the inquiry takes us. Just about the only rule, then, is that no belief be held above critical scrutiny, and that all estimations of truth are provisional and temporary—open to new evidence.

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(Stephen L. Gibson is the author of  A Secret of the Universe, a critically acclaimed, citation-rich novel about the intersections of science, reason, and faith. Still an emotion-driven thinker in recovery, Steve shares his journey in search of ever-elusive truth with thousands via his Truth-Driven Thinking podcast, and his Perspectives blog. © 2011, Truth-Driven Strategies LLC.)

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From Today’s Truth-Driver Commentary on WKZO Talk Radio AM 590 (mp3 file):

When I was a kid I always had a fantasy that when you die you get to ask a giant, god-computer any questions you wanted, and you could know the answer. As an adult, that led me to think that for all questions there actually IS an answer; it’s just that usually the answers to real-world questions are so complicated that we can’t understand them.

• Do certain pesticides, or cell phones, cause cancer?

• Do free-range chickens provide more or better nutrients to our bodies?

• What is the exact degree of human impact on global warming?

• Is John Gosselin really an agoraphobic alien, here to take Kate and their eight to Vega for re-colonization? (Okay, that one is easy … yes.)

Here’s the scoop, we may never know what is true and what isn’t, but it seems that for almost all earthly questions that we can ask, there is one truth—complex though it may be. Truth (small t) exists! The reality might even be that there are 11 dimensions and competing realities, but then THAT complex truth would still be the truth of how things actually are.

But back here in the real world there are complicated, actual effects on society of allowing gay marriage; actual, real-world effects of any given tax policy; actual, real-world effects of getting health care administration costs aligned with the rest of our global competitors. There are true effects of these things, even if they are complex and unknowable. True answers exist for all questions we can ask.

Now I don’t know those answers, and you don’t know those answers. But I will assert this; the best way to approximately and provisionally estimate truth is not through emotion-driven thinking, yelling, shouting, claims that “my god is better than your god and my god wants it this way,” or even just by repeating a statement so many times that others will accept it as truth. The way to do it is with the tools of reason, science, evidence, and calm, intellectually honest dialogue; because the closer we come to approximating truth, the better the world will be. Taking action based upon true assumptions is the path to less suffering and greater satisfaction. Conversely, false or overly simple assumptions about how the world works will never help us maximize well-being, and will never help us achieve the greatest possible benefit for the greatest number of people.

So won’t you join me in my ongoing quest to set aside ego, and pursue truth, wherever it takes us?

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(Stephen L. Gibson is the author of  A Secret of the Universe, a critically acclaimed, citation-rich novel about the intersections of science, reason, and faith. Still an emotion-driven thinker in recovery, Steve shares his journey in search of ever-elusive truth with thousands via his Truth-Driven Thinking podcast, and his Perspectives blog. © 2009, Truth-Driven Strategies LLC.)

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We skeptic types love to ponder what is true in the world and what is not. Here is an experience I just had that may surprise you. It is true, and it reflects truth.

It was a beautiful and tranquil summer evening. The line of thundershowers came through with the cool front around sunset. The tops of the retreating rainbows and low clouds to the east now reflected the orange glow almost as if the sun were setting in the wrong direction. But alas the sun had done its job many times prior, and didn’t need reminders from me.

As dusk fell into darkness against the clearing, cool skies, there was a great hush and stillness. Yes, it was late on a Monday evening, so it should not have been surprising that the slight fog over the damp roads was hovering undisturbed. There were no cars. There were not even other people out in the suddenly chilled, dryer evening air that was filtering in. It was just me and my unbridled Siberian Husky, and even she wasn’t in much of a hurry to explore ahead of me. The lights in the houses advertised that like my family, many had decided to retire early in preparation for a busy Tuesday.

Sometimes on these quiet evening walks, I can’t help but think about love. I think about the love that wasn’t—mere fantasies about people, adventures, or places that existed mostly in my head, not in reality. Then my thoughts turn to the real loves that have been lost. There is genuine sadness. Oh for one more day. Oh for one more conversation.

I came upon the house where he lived so abundantly. Like most of the others there were but a couple of windows that showed any light behind them, and even there it was faint. Such a large house it is for her, but I know she’ll never leave it, any more than my mother would leave hers, or her mother before her would have left hers, or the widow across the street would leave hers. That was the place it had all happened—the joy, the struggles, the pain, the celebrations, the birthdays, the holidays and family reunions.

And on this night, as I paused and looked at the giant old farmhouse, something peculiar happened. The cool night air, as if in tribute to my thoughts, and his memory, swirled suddenly and dramatically in a post-frontal gasp of low-level churning, that moments before had seemed fully exhausted for the day, like everyone else.

I don’t for a minute believe the narrative, but it was fun to imagine some breath of life—some ancient “pneuma”—being expressed in that animated force that was causing the large gyrations among the newly leaf-laden branches of the tall old maples. It was then that the truth of the matter hit me, and left me with a thoughtful smile.

His love has transcended death. It lives on. It lives on when we toss our golf clubs in the car and head out for an afternoon of relaxation, and I think of the joy he found on the course in that final year we had him with us. It lives on when the grass is freshly cut in stripes the way he liked it. It lives on when we pour a cold Killian’s on a Friday night and enjoy a plate of nachos.

The truth was that that breeze contained a tribute to the reality that he touched and influenced my life—even if the content of the breeze was only in my head. Nonetheless it was real. He was my friend, and I miss him.

The walk didn’t end at his house, however, nor did the reflections. Sometimes we feel lonely when we dwell only on the loves we’ve lost, but I have love in abundance. Some days it isn’t in the form I’d like the most; some days it isn’t in the quantity, or at the time and place, or maybe even from the person I most need it from; but on whole, it surrounds me and I am grateful. I hope I can reflect and share all that love the way he did. It’s my desire that someday, long after I am gone, someone will see the trees sway and think of me.

And I hope they think the same things I think of my old friend: that he loved us, and shared that love wastefully, and without any expectations of repayment. We may not have eternal life, but when people are remembered that way, there is most certainly an extension of their lives, of their essences, beyond death. That is real, and it is true.

Whatever your beliefs, embrace this day and look to the breezes to remind you of love that lives on.

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(By Stephen L. Gibson, © 2009, Truth-Driven Strategies LLC; www.truthdriventhinking.com and https://truthdriven.wordpress.com)

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So exactly what possessed me to go see the animated feature film “UP” is still a bit of a mystery. There were lots of reasons not to do so: time, no sources would be cited, there was nothing to be learned about Gnosticism or early Christian history, no awe-inspiring science or psychology revelations had been advertised, and they weren’t serving beer. Nonetheless, much as I’ve discovered about mythology and metaphor in history, there was such TRUTH articulated by this cartoon myth, that I would soon be fighting actual tears. (For the record, I did NOT “cry,” but was simply “tearing-up,” which was merely correlated with the film; it would be a mistake to assign causality without more data. It could have been the hvac system.)

So what got me to go see the movie? Probably it was the great reviews; perhaps it was the thirteen year-old guest staying with our two kids, or Pixar’s record of entertaining movies. Regardless, what’s more astonishing about my attendance is that I don’t “do” fiction/fantasy in almost any form—which I know is heretical coming from a geek wannabe, an author of a novel (one with 100-plus factual endnotes I should add), and an upcoming panelist on skepticism and fiction at this year’s Dragon*Con (I’ll redeem myself shortly, I hope). But the fact is that I’m never able put down any of my several “in-progress,” non-fiction books long enough to even consider something like Harry Potter, or the latest from James Patterson.

But alas, as in recent years I’m starting to understand—in the words of Joseph Campbell—“The Power of Myth”; and this movie is a perfect example. The poignancy, humor, flow, and life-like animation of “UP” not only captured my attention, it captured my heart and articulated a great life principal for entrepreneurs and adventurer-wannabes like me. And while I’ve skied great mountains, scuba dived ocean depths below 250’ (on straight air), and soared above the clouds in cockpits, the heights of my life articulated by “UP” will easily transcend those, as well as the adventures left unaccomplished when my days are all used up.

Like so many moving stories that chronicle the entire lives of their central characters, this one shows the beauty, disappointment, wages of aging, and pain that are all a part of living. As I can assure you is correct, we post-boomers who were raised to believe we can do or be anything, at some point in life realize that it was never true; and even if it had been, it clearly no longer is.

But in that realization, we who transition that mid-life crisis/realization can find great liberation. If we are lucky, we might even discover one of the great secrets of the human universe: love. We might just find that the heights we yearned to attain on the mountains “over there,” are heights we never even noticed we had already achieved on this side of the valley. Instead, we failed to notice we had already reached the summit, we failed to deeply fill our lungs with the mountain air, we failed to drink in the aesthetic beauty, and in some cases we failed to stop and appreciate those close to us—in our climbing team—who had shared the journey with us. This is the strength and moral of “UP.”

When we skeptics talk reason, facts, and truth-driven thinking over emotion-driven thinking, it’s important to note that most of us aren’t anti-emotion, or anti-human, or anti-mythology. In fact, as great New Testament scholars like Robert M. Price or Bart D. Ehrman have argued, sometimes it is when we insist upon literalizing metaphor and stuffing it into a dogmatic orthodoxy established by force and evolution over many centuries—that we lose the truth of the metaphor. We bastardize the mythological truth while shooting for literal truth instead.

Similarly, my family has long had a joke about films or sitcom shows that cross that reality line to the extent they become unwatchable. We call them “Sponge-Bobby,” after the frustratingly stupid antics of a certain square-assed animated figure. But the cool thing about “UP,” for me, was the ease with which I could completely suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride on the floating house. I felt no need to literalize the fantasy, yet at the same time the quality of the animation, the fluid flow of the thousands of helium balloons rigged by the curmudgeonly Mr. Fredricksen, and the beauty of the story and dialogue—lent the film substantial plausibility.

So while I may be humbled beyond words to sit on the panel discussion on Fictional Writing and Skepticism at Dragon*Con, I’ve come a long way, in recent years, toward seeing the power of myth to express what reality often cannot. “UP” is exactly the type of example I could cite. Perhaps it didn’t enlighten me on science, evolutionary history, or the history of god-worship, but it did some of what those things often do not do as efficiently. It gave me insights into the meaning of life, love, and the interconnectedness of our human experiences. After all, in the end, is either knowledge or experience of any value if not shared?

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(By Stephen L. Gibson, freely circulate with citations, CC 2009, Attribution-No Derivatives; www.truthdriventhinking.com and https://truthdriven.wordpress.com)

So as a regular guy from Kalamazoo, imagine my confusion trying to understand the collection of conventional podimg1wisdom I have acquired with age, especially when these axioms are so often contradictory. I can’t keep up! How am I supposed to teach my kids all the pearls of wisdom I think I’ve learned, when I’m so confused? I mean, let me get this right:

  • You can’t communicate too much; but we waste far too much time talking and in meetings.
  • The pen is mightier than sword; but sticks and stones are the only things that can break my bones.
  • Size doesn’t matter; but critical mass is everything.
  • He who smelt it dealt it; but you can’t smell your own.
  • I can’t read, mom is on crack, I was never socialized as kid, I have medical problems and no bootstraps; but I should pull myself up by my bootstraps.
  • Coffee is dangerous; but coffee is good for you (substitute any food or substance: fat, carbs, alcohol, etc.)
  • All that matters is that you are physically fit and “in shape”; but no matter how far you can run, your weight and shape are unacceptable if your BMI is too high.
  • If I don’t use it I will lose it; but if I run too much and overuse my parts, they will wear out.
  • I should never quit; but I should evolve–try a variety of things then narrow it to the one I love.
  • God is omniscient, omnipotent, all loving and could end all human suffering today; but he chooses not to so we can have “free will” and die in tsunamis.
  • Disposable diapers are bad; but cloth diapers consume too much energy in washing.
  • Good is the enemy of great, and any job worth doing is worth doing well; but in the real world “good enough” sometimes has to be good enough.
  • The world is worse off and more dangerous today; but this is the wealthiest, healthiest, and most exciting time in human history.
  • The globe is warming; perhaps so much so that it will cool.
  • All drugs are bad so don’t do drugs; but most legal drugs are good, and caffeine and alcohol are downright awesome.
  • Do it right the first time; but don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Wait, perhaps there is a better way! Perhaps my charge should not be to teach my kids the conclusions, but rather to teach the questions. Perhaps my job is to teach methods–reason, critical thinking, statistics, scientific method, how to argue both sides of an issue, the origin of ethics, and various means of objective learning about how the world really works–rather than the simple answers.

Yes, many of the above are “either/or fallacies,” but I think I now see why I’ve been confused. I’ve been an emotion-driven thinker–a connoisseur of various “isms” and inspirational books touting ever simpler propositions and the power of “just think positively.” But the problem with conventional wisdom is that it oversimplifies complex reality. I was obsessed with what I believed were answers, because as a human being I was afraid to embrace the uncertainty and liberation that comes with asking the tough questions. It may be scary, but won’t the world be better off if we seek complex truth through reason–rather than simple solutions that ultimately give us a little myopic perspective, perhaps, but also a whole bunch of false hope and unproductive ideas?

(Stephen L. Gibson, freely circulate with citations, CC 2009, Attribution-No Derivatives; www.truthdriventhinking.com and https://truthdriven.wordpress.com)

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