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Everything posted by Typist

  1. Thanks for replies. Yes, I realize it's Ckeditor, so I meant to suggest an upgrade to newer version, or perhaps a different implementation. Ckeditor is flexible and can be installed in a variety of ways. I have my browser set to 22 point font. I can read posts fine. Text in editor appears to be 12. Just so you know, I don't have these problems on any other forum. Not trying to declare a crisis, as clearly many others are managing. But, you might be losing folks who don't bother to complain. Sorry, not trying to start an endless rant thread, just attempting to clarfiy. Hope it's helpful!
  2. Hi guys, Sorry to complain, but this section requests comments, so here they are. I can't figure out how to use the quote function in the post editor panel, which converts participation from something fun in to something just not worth it. To put this in some context, I've been working online as a tech for almost 20 years, and have coded my own forum software from scratch. Point being, if I can't figure it out, others probably can't either. Also, the default font size of editor is set very low for we of older eyes, and thus I have to manually boost the fonts in editor (often more than once) just to see what I'm typing. This too should be considered broken. You might try the latest version of this free software: http://ckeditor.com/ I have no relationship of any kind with that company other than as a happy user. Other than that, you have a nice forum with some interesting content. I may keep reading, but posting, especially replying, just too much work. Hope this is helpful, and not too much of a whine. Good luck!
  3. Cool thread, thanks. Still working my way through the posts, but this seemed the place to start. Apologies, but I'm finding the quote function here almost impossible to use, the post editor quite trying, so for now this won't be ideal. Phil For All said, "Believing so strongly in things that have the least amount of evidence to support them seems ludicrous to me." I would suggest starting with this question. What is your goal in considering this question? Are you attempting to understand faith, or express your feelings about it?
  4. Hello again, First, thanks to everyone who has participated in this thread, appreciated. Second, I hope it's ok to re-energize this thread, as I seem to suffer from an incurable addiction to this particular topic. Third, please understand I'm arguing one side of the case not because it's the only valid point of view, or even that I totally agree with every detail of it, but because it seems some counter point to a cultural group consensus might be useful, or at least somewhat interesting. To recap, we have been examining the relationship between knowledge (and the power that flows from it) and wisdom, the ability to use knowledge/power in a constructive manner. We can likely agree that human being make their livings on this Earth primarily by knowing things about our environment. We can likely agree that we've had to struggle mightly for new information for a very long time. Thus, it seems entirely reasonable that we should today have inherited a "more is better" relationship with knowledge. What I'm attempting to do here, with your help, is explore the limits of this "more is better" relationship with knowledge. Here's an example that may help us continue the exploration. For the majority of human history, the majority of humans have lived close to the edge of starvation. A great many do to this day. Thus, it seems entirely understandable if humans developed a "more is better" relationship with food, as that was a very practical relationship to have for a very long time. But we live in revolutionary times. At least in the developed world, obesity appears to now be as much or more of a challenge than hunger. Our longstanding "more is better" relationship with food is becoming rather more complicated. This is of course not to argue that we should go back to a pattern of near starvation. But it does point to the suggestion that our relationship with food now must be more sophisticated and nuanced than a simplistic "more is better" assumption that worked fine for a very long time. This is what I see happening with our relationship with knowledge. For a very long time "more is better" was a perfectly appropriate way for us to relate to knowledge. But now we have accumulated a great deal of knowledge, and further knowledge development is continuing, probably accelerating, perhaps at an exponetial rate. Surely there must be some rate of knowledge development which would be more than human society can manage, given that new knowledge tends to disrupt economies and cultures etc. If it is true that some rate of knowledge development would cause more problems than it solves, then we are faced with the challenge of giving careful thought to where we are going. Ok, that's enough for now. If you're still interested, will welcome further comments from other members.
  5. Ok guys, no problem. I'll retire and leave the floor to you. Have fun.
  6. Please don't take offense, but while you sincerely believe you are arguing for progress, you are actually arguing for continuing to do the same thing over and over again without change. The status quo. The same philosophy of knowledge we've always used, since the beginning of time. You are arguing for the past. I'm the one arguing for learning something truly new, how to be sane. Insanity of various flavors and levels thoroughly infects every human life, and every human situation. We see it on forums on a daily basis, and everywhere else too. Why shouldn't we grow some balls, and take on that challenge? It's a worthy challenge! Why settle for the same old crap over and over again?
  7. I don't disagree. So what? One bad day is all that's needed. So far... We can proceed forward with knowledge when we are mature enough to handle it responsibly. The more knowledge you want to have, the more mature we need to be.
  8. Very good question! I'd say the only we can be sure of is that staying on the present course will eventually lead to the end of all such good questions.
  9. Have you heard of religious fundamentalists? Have you heard that the government and armed forces of Pakistan and Iran have a number of them? There you go, now you're catching on. Osama bin Laden punched the U.S. in the nose, knowing it would bring the largest military force in history right down on his head. You're of course entirely 100% right that it didn't happen. You have to continually be right in every such circumstance from now on. No room for error, if you're wrong just once, game over. Teach the next generation of brain scientists. Very sensible indeed. Really, it is. For the early 20th century. We no longer have time for slow and sure. Knowledge isn't just developing, it's accelerating.
  10. You have 10 seconds to withdraw that comment or I will launch a full scale nuclear strike upon your home base. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6.... See guys, it's happening already, right here on this little forum. Soon we'll be calling each other names, and then the mod will nuke us all. What's the logic of making characterizations of each other's remarks? There is none. But we, including me, are human. Yep, me too, I've been banned a number of times. Given that evidence, do you want me to have a nuke? Imagine that all of us had a digital nuke that could blow up this entire forum. Very few of us would consider using it. But sooner or later, somebody would. Some poster, maybe even a quite intelligent one, would lose their cool, and push the button. I wouldn't, and didn't propose that. I would take their funding and give it to the brain guys. A number of people in the Kennedy cabinet argued for an attack on the Cuban missile silos. Change a few chairs in that meeting, and you would not be here.
  11. This is an important subject, and you guys are making good points. Let's not let the thread dissolve in to personal stuff, ok? We attempt to change the nature of human beings all the time via law, drugs, religion, public dialogue etc. Legal drugs are a massive technical attempt to alter psychology. Billions have been spent developing these drugs. All with the support of the public and scientific community. Please research how many nukes Pakistan and India have, and what the result of their use would be. That's a very realistic possibility, as Pakistan is usually careening along on the edge of chaos. This is an entirely reasonable and understandable thing to feel, but it depends on people using reason. If people always use reason, why did we have the Cuban Missile Crisis?
  12. I agree. Scientists thrive on big ambitious challenges, and I've offered them one, changing the nature of human beings. The first problem we face is that instead of welcoming the challenge, every available argument will be offered as to why we shouldn't welcome the challenge. The heart of the problem is philosophical and political, not scientific. My thesis requires only one bad day. Just one. I agree we are making progress of a sort. Progress isn't enough. In order to prevent that one bad day we need a permanent and perfect record of avoiding the one bad day. Or, we need to be in a position where the one bad day can't bring down everything, as has been the case for a very long time..... Up until the 1950s.
  13. Redirect all research that isn't immediately pressing in to research of the human mind. Some current research is pressing, global warming comes to mind. Discovering the Higgs and going to Mars etc can wait. They'll both still be there when we're ready. My thesis is that if we don't do first things first, we'll never be ready, as we'll be dead or scrounging for bugs in the forest.
  14. I'm not proposing that we not move forward. I'm proposing we move forward in a particular direction, identify the source of the problem and address it. If we insist that we must remain unchanged, the source of the problem is our "more is better" philosophy of knowledge. If we insist that our philosophy of knowledge must remain unchanged, then we are the source of the problem. We could approach it from either direction. My proposal is that we could have either, but not both. If we remain the same, and receive ever more power, sooner or later we'll make a fatal mistake with that power. Remember, it only takes one bad day. Thousands and thousands of days to come, and just one bad one will do the job. It's surely possible the cure would be worse than the disease. A serious concern for sure. On the other hand, I would ask us to observe that we are full of confidence when it comes to exploring the very fundamental qualities of nature, or migrating our entire civilization off the planet etc. Why do we usually assume changing ourselves for the better is impossible? I apologize for harping on this, but this is not the past. It's 2012, not 1912. Even in 1912 we demonstrated we were capable of erasing an entire generation of European young men. The times they are a-changing.... [insert harmonica solo here]
  15. Hi again, Yes, not broken, mortal and frail, agreed. I would compare us to teenagers. Most teenagers get through all the mistakes involved with being young, and go on to bigger and better things. But a few don't make it. Even though the odds are in favor of making it, failure still happens. The problem for humanity is that the cost of the occasional failure is enhanced by technology, just as everything else is enhanced. We can now fail on a much larger scale. And history is not going to stop. Einstein didn't intend to create the bomb, but we got it anyway. That process is still unfolding. The bomb isn't the end of the challenge, it's the beginning. If we think we are sensible and will stop before creating even worse weapons, we should ask, why did we create thousands of nukes? That happened over just my lifetime, not long ago and far away. I'm not giving up hope. I see critics of this thesis as giving up hope. Like Hawking, they have given up hope on our ability to address the source of the problem, us. You guys realize you are debating Stephen Hawking too, not just some random forum blowhard like me, right?
  16. Hi guys, thanks again for playing along. For the sake of brevity, I'll compress my reply instead of a point by point response. Perhaps this is a quote to work with... The developments of early times didn't signal the end of civilization because the advances of those times simply didn't have the ability to do that. We could be as insane as we wanted, and then clean up the mess afterwards. Your optimistic theory assumes there will always be a big untouched reserve component of civilization available to clean up the mess. While it seems unlikely every last human would be killed, it's not hard to imagine civilization being knocked back to the point where the focus was reduced to mere survival, as it is already for approximately a billion people. Consider the poor of today. They have no time for science, as they need to focus on the next meal. That could be the future for centuries to come. Let's hear from an eminent scientist, Stephen Hawking... http://www.dailymail...en-Hawking.html I saw him interviewed on TV, and he said that while the chance of a catastrophe in any one year is quite low, when you start adding up the years the odds rise to near certainty. I agree with him. Hawking defines the job as surviving for the next two centuries, and then migrating off the planet. Presumably, once we're dispersed throughout the heavens we won't be able to exterminate ourselves totally. This is where I disagree. We are the problem. So why don't we fix the problem? While Hawking claims to be optimistic, he seems to completely dismiss the idea that we have the ability to change ourselves. He seems content to treat symptoms, instead of the source of the problem. What do you think of these choices? 1) We find a way to fix ourselves, or... 2) We find a way to limit our power, or... 3) We make peace with rolling the dice, and eventually losing.
  17. Thanks for your reply Moontanman, These are all excellent questions, and I assure you I don't have all the excellent answers. What I'm arguing for is a serious and thoughtful culture wide conversation, one that faces the reality squarely. There are places we can start. The fundamental problem is that we are half nuts half of the time. Thus, we can't be trusted with unlimited power. So, as example, one place to start might be to stop spending billions on projects like the Higgs with no clearly defined benefit, and reinvest the money in better understanding our minds. We are the problem, the weak link. If that problem can be resolved, then we are free to proceed with the rest of the projects. Yes, it sounds very ambitious, but then so is the discovery of the Higgs and a thousand other things we're working on. I'm sorry that I don't have a better answer to your question. The best I have is the proposal that our "more is better" relationship with knowledge is outdated. It was a great idea for a very long time, so the group consensus is very understandable. But, thanks to "more is better" things are changing ever more rapidly and we need to adapt, and be quick about it. Large state actors are individuals. Some of them think they are very clever, and can outwit the other guy, and pull off a savvy scheme. All the people involved on both sides in the Cuban Missile Crisis were very bright, and they came real close to blowing up the whole show. Imagine that Nixon had won that razor thin 1960 election. Would we still be here to have this conversation? There was a strong sentiment even in the Kennedy cabinet that the U.S. should attack the missiles in Cuba. My point is that we can play Russian roulette successfully for 5 chambers, but sooner or later the loaded chamber comes up. Your theory can and will work many times, but it only needs to fail once, and it's game over. No more science for you. They have been lulled to sleep by fantasy progress. The number of nukes is substantially down, and that's good, but there's still plenty left to do the job. Pakistan and India could have a huge impact, all on their own, with no help from anybody. The point here is not pointless gloom and doom, but just to face the equation squarely. More is better in the current context equals the end of science sooner or later. If we love science, we should roll up our sleeves and fix that.
  18. Thanks for your reply. I don't understand it yet. Are you proposing that MAD will prevent future wars? If this, I would point out that this theory depends on sanity being consistently maintained from now on. Is a species that builds and maintains thousands of nuclear weapons capable of consistent sanity? Where is the evidence of consistent sanity in human history? Or are you proposing that we will mutually destroy each other? Sadly, this seems more plausible, but I don't take it as a given. My proposal is that the world is fundamentally changing, and if we are willing to fundamentally change as well, we've got a shot.
  19. A quick summary.. 1) There's a well documented pattern of 5,000 years of wars fought with ever more powerful weapons. 2) There is no credible theory that can demonstrate that this pattern has permanently ended. 3) If the pattern of wars fought with ever more powerful weapons has not permanently ended, it's only a matter of time until the accomplishments of science are swept aside, at the hand of the tools that science has given us. In order to defeat this thesis you are going to have to demonstrate why the cycle of sanity/insanity which has existed since the beginning of recorded human history is now over.
  20. Such efforts have had some success, it's true. Are you proposing that such success can be maintained in all cases forever?
  21. Ok, let's talk middle grounds then, I'm agreeable. How do you propose we prevent, say, the North Koreans from getting the most powerful weapon on Earth? You know, not that could actually happen or anything, but just as an example.
  22. Using the logic of the group consensus.... I propose we research how to erase entire continents from the face of the earth, based upon the principle that..... IN ABSOLUTELY NO CIRCUMSTANCE SHOULD WE LIMIT SCIENCE IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER.
  23. Apologies, I have not read the whole thread, so if this has already been covered, please ignore. UFOs and such can be explained if we are willing to accept one theory, which is... At some point in human history time travel will be possible. It presumably doesn't matter if it's 100 years from now, or 10,000 years from now. Who would be more interested in us than future humans, or their descendants? This could possibly explain why the reports are usually of humanoid type creatures. So don't forget, when the space ship lands on your front yard, those are your kids. Be nice! This theory is possible because human beings have already invented wild speculation travel.
  24. Ok, sorry for my impatience. Let's try again. American Civil War WW I WW II Cuban Missile Crisis A hundred years of warfare (and near warfare) See the pattern? Each major war (and near miss) is significantly more destructive than the last, thanks to developments in knowledge and technology. I'm just asking, what do we plan to do about this? If this historical pattern continues, it won't matter what the benefits of science are, because we won't be here to enjoy them. For all of human history, more knowledge was better. So it's understandable that folks take this as a given. But is it still true? Or are we reaching a new stage, where we have to be more discriminating, and use some game plan that is more sophisticated than "more is better"?
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