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Belief in Myths


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In a world of specialists, each person only knows a narrow range of the truth. Beyond that narrow range of full understanding, we depend on others to give us broad statements, so we have an approximation of the truth. But if these people live in myths, they will spread mythology.

 

The best example of modern myths are political parties. If one really wishes to know the truth, they would remain independant and learn the truth in both sides. These are not a fairy tale type mythology, but a mythology that forms, when we try to reason with only half of the truth.

 

For example, the truth in Iraq is that there are many problems, but there are also examples of things having got better. Anyone seeking the truth, would have to assume there is some of both data. The liberal media, tries to instituationize the mytholgy of the land of doom, by selectively using just the data that supports this mythology. There are many people, who love this doom and gloom, and are willing to ignor data, to live this myth.

 

It is easy to see how centaurs and Hercules are fairly tales. But when you go into your own time, people can't seem to see the myths they believe. Many say reason is the most important thing, while partially suspending it. Their reason is not totally suspended. It is selective, so they can ignor part of the data, and using the data they like, come up with reasons. The opposition can sees the opponent's mythology, but not their own. To them, their mytholgical world can also be supported with reason, as long as they reduce the data, to help support their reasons.

 

The value of mytholgy is, it touches an irrational side of us. People who can not see through their myth, will tend to become more fanatical. The myth has successfully pushed an unconscious button. The drive and the excitement is the real goal of the myth. It would be hard for an environmental fantatic to be fully rational and fanatical as the same time. Once you become fully rational, one loses the mytholgy's magic energy.

 

Modern mythology is different than ancient mythology. The main difference is modern mythology is rational, but uses a partial data set. You take the data that you like and reason with just this data. The conclusions will logically follow the data and the premises, but the incomplete data set will make the conclusions rational mythology. The missing data is the blackhole where mythology gets its drive and energy.

 

The centaur of ancient mytholgy was entirely missing all the real data and was therefore very compelling to ancients due to full unconsciousness. In modern times, our myths use a partial data set that we reason with. As long as you hate the other side, you can ignor data that would neutralize the blackhole this powers the mythology. A full data set is the enemy of both mythologies. This would fill in the blackhole and thereby neutralize fanaticism. It is the fanatisicm that gives people their best jollies.

 

Science is better, when it comes to mythology since full data is important. If one leaves out half the data, scientists will hold your feet to the fire. Bu there are subtle areas that create science mythology. For example, at frontiers of science we have data but there is no guarentee this is all the data there is. So we do the best we can creating a myth for our time, until new data appears and the myth needs to be replaced.

 

The other subtle place where science myths form are at the interfaces between major branches of knowledge. This is due to specialization. One can see clearly in front of you but things get fuzzier away from center. What is fuzzy for one is clarity to another, such that when extrapolation occur, one can enters the realm of partial data. One can be using their best power of reason, with what they know, but what they know may not include all the data needed to support that reason.

 

Empirical data and statistics is sort of data sponge with holes. It has what appears to be a solid substrate of data with holes of uncertainty. One can then try to reason using solid and fuzzy holes at the same time. The result can also be temporary science mythology. For example, a new medicine can create the mythology of being very helpful due to the data. Later it is taken off the shelf, when the blackhole of data gets filled in with data. It is hard to reason with spongy data, but many areas of science still try.

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I think the human brain wants answers, and some people want the truth.

 

But take the experience of watching/reading the news. A lot of people trust it, up to the point that the story is something with which they are familiar — then they notice that the story is incomplete, has wrong elements to it, etc. So they know the news is not the actual truth. Yet many trust the rest of it, if they don't have the knowledge to contradict it.

 

IMO, people have been conditioned by 'authority' over centuries to accept half truths as facts. War time propaganda is a case in point. The 'news' is a case in point. The news appears like it holds some special status. Neatly dressed and articulate men and women presenters give the illusion of credibility and a 'complete' source of 'necessary' information.

 

Possibly. The human brain could simply be addicted to 'answers', if it can't always get the truth. incomplete or incorrect 'Answers' fill the void, or, provide a starting point to get to the real truth.

 

It is easy to see how centaurs and Hercules are fairly tales. But when you go into your own time, people can't seem to see the myths they believe. Many say reason is the most important thing, while partially suspending it. Their reason is not totally suspended. It is selective, so they can ignor part of the data, and using the data they like, come up with reasons. The opposition can sees the opponent's mythology, but not their own. To them, their mytholgical world can also be supported with reason, as long as they reduce the data, to help support their reasons.

 

For example, a new medicine can create the mythology of being very helpful due to the data. Later it is taken off the shelf, when the blackhole of data gets filled in with data. It is hard to reason with spongy data, but many areas of science still try.

 

 

With blind spots, this is the only way humans can operate practically. We will always be blind to a degree. It seems to be the necessary dichotomy of the mind. IMO, a good reasoning example might be – Is the glass half full, or, half empty? Well nether, or both. The liquid in the glass is exactly at the half way point. Reason needs to be trained to see that a blind spot (black hole) will likely be present in all real life situations, in order to minimise myth (assumption). Theory is the only place we will see mathematical perfection, and the full elimination of blind spots. Any hands-on engineer can tell you this. Perfect cad plans for a building are one thing, the real assembled building is quite another.

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Science, especially engineering has to generate practical results, so one has to do their best to make sure everything works out. If it doesn't, i.e., mythology of wishful thinking, you need to go the drawing board and try again.

 

But non-practical knowledge, that is more faith driven, like politics, can screw up and still doesn't have to change anything. The myth factor is one of the most important output products, which is how one get votes. That is why campaign promises are often broken. It is also why mud slinging is also very important. These are needed for the myth factor.

 

If you look at evolution, the data is discontinuous. This means either the data glass is half full, or half empty. So it comes down to science myth and philosophy being pitched as solid engineering science. If the engineer was asked to build the bridge with half the CAD plans, he would be honest enough to say, a lot of work still needs to be done. If the architect had the same half of plans, he could add decorative things to cover this up. It will work on paper, but may not stand the engineering tests. Evolutionary theory has engineering type problems, but the myth keeps it alive. This myth is very important, so it needs to remain, for now.

 

Let me put it into perspective, say the evolutionary myth was broken, as a hypothetical example. This would leave a big hole in the heart of science, that would cause a chain reaction, into all areas that used this myth. It would actually make a bigger hole than the discontinuous data. The push would be on to replace this myth with something new. But it would still face the problem of discontinous data, plus a bigger unconscious hole. What would happen is a dozen models would appear in the void, with the best choice based on which myth is able to motivate and inspire the most. We could end up using sci-fi, as long as it is rational, and gives good jollies.

 

If we look at the universe, bigger gives much better jollies. I also like the idea of a giant-normous universe. That myth sells better than if someone suggested a much smaller universe, due to a half dozen things that may be able to generate redshifts. With universe myths, the size does matter. Many have added extra dimensions to make the universe bigger still. This has no proof, but a super-normous universe gives better jollies. Maybe being too rational makes it harder to have fun with modern mythologies.

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When I was 4 years old, I knew that myths were total bunk-a$$ s**t. What good are myths when you don't know any value to them? Why lie? THIS is what drives kids from God, being fed tripe instead of fruit, you know, like the fruit you find in motivational and self-help books, and all of that other stuff you read in college. Marilyn Manson couldn't gather the masses pretending to be better than anything if his life depended on it.

 

Yes, I am the poster child for how not to rear kids. 2 points for Foodchain. :) It's always someone else's fault. The mythological value system is broken. You can see it on the stupid creationist websites, the picture of the autistic 10 year old rebel from hell. "Why would a kid turn out like this?" Duhhhh. (Surely, it's the parents' fault. Surely, they were really stupid for not knowing how to explain away lies and myths and rigamarole, oh my.)

 

(Sigh of relief.)

 

It's good to get that kind of release out every now and then, remind myself of why it's all so ridiculously stupid until you get within the most recent 100 years or so. We couldn't leave out father Einstein now could we?

 

Well, I guess that's my mythology rant for today. :)

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Another way to look at mythology, is not to look at it literally, but figuratively and/or symbolically. For example, the fable of the tortoise and the hare. Obviously, these were not magic animals who could talk, nor did they compete in a race put together by the odds makers in Vegas. But it teaches a lesson, comparing stick-to-itness, to someone who gets all pumped up and plows into something and then loses interest. The hare gets way out in front, gets confortable/bored and then starts to slack. The tortoise, although slow catches up. The lesson is similar in meaning to the bright star burns brightly, for all to see, but soon fades. The weaker star is not so impressive, but in the end it is the one that still remains.

 

The reason mythology and fables were affective, they taught life lessons without getting too personal. They got the point across without directly confronting the ego. In other words, if you said to the bright star, you will burn out if you don't slow down, the person may take that common sense advice, as an insult. If you say the hare got ahead and started to slack, it is nothing personal. This doesn't impact the human ego the same way but leads one to water, or to the understanding, one needs to stick to it.

 

One classic example, is the fantasy world or mytholgy in Gulliver's travels. It is totally fictional with many lands of make believe. But what the author was doing was creating a satire about the people of his day. All the little Lilliputians were the people, who thought they were so powerful and important. The author could not confront the status quo of the day, directly. He had to create a make believe mythological place, that got the message across. Everyone was able to think about his message, without having to worry about the backlash from the insecure egos, going into denial. Religious mythology is not as subtle, but often confronts the ego headon.

 

Harry Potter is very popular, yet where are the rationalist, there. They need to be consistent and debunk this, so children don't learn fantasy. The reason we do not try to debunk these myths, it has a postive impact on many children, inspite of being a modern system of mythology. It teaches lesson of good and evil, with the good of love and friendship, winning in the end. The darkside does good near the beginning. It is like the hare that starts out so quickly, only to be overcome in the end.

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  • 4 weeks later...

it would pay to be more precise. the thesaurus shows up a wealth of differentiations. personally i have reacted over the years to the many meanings hidden inside our use of 'ritual', a word somewhat connected to 'myth'; and with plenty of different notions near-lying.

much of the above speaks more about beliefs than about myths.

we like to use impresicion, it removes responsibility.

jon

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I think myths are very much alive, even in forums like this, that purport to be frequented by rational, well adjusted people. There is no such thing as a rational human being.

We are all, to some extent, under the spell of mystic and "unknown" things. We actually want these things. If you don't believe me, have a look at how many believe in horoscopes for starters. We tend to invent things when we don't or can't see or work something out...

Some people who think they are quite normal are actually complete morons...IMO

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I wonder if we don't all operate on myths?

Some of our own making some shared by our group 'memberships' some shared by our society.

A scientific hypothesis or a political belief system could be myths?

 

Myths are just ways we try to make meaning out of an incredibly complex universe

Was it Arthur Clarke who said "The world is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we can imagine."

and Shakespeare has Hamlet say "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

 

The types of individual myths and the purpose of mythology

Broadly speaking myths and mythologies seek to rationalize and explain the universe and all that is in it.

Thus, they have a similar function to science, theology, religion and history in modern societies.

Systems of myths have provided a cosmological and historical framework for societies that have lacked the more sophisticated knowledge provided by modern science and historical investigation.

 

Creation myths provide an explanation of the origin of the universe in all its complexity.

They are an important part of most mythological systems.

Creation myths often invoke primal gods and animals, titanic struggles between opposing forces or the death and/or dismemberment of these gods or animals as the means whereby the universe and its components were created.

http://www.pantheon.org/articles/m/mythology.html
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