Knowledge Vs. Differences of Opinion

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Galileo-truthdiscover

We all have our own opinions based on a combination of what we were taught by authority figures (also known as indoctrination when we were children), what we have experienced so far in our lives, and what we have learned about our world from a variety of other information sources. For example, it is my opinion that to assume we know all there is to know on a given subject, no matter our level of expertise, we are short-changing ourselves to further possibilities of more knowledge and understanding.

In my journey, I am constantly learning more about my world, the world around me, the people and creatures in it, and how we all fit together. I never want to stop learning simply because I believe life would become boring and stale. I feel sorry for those who have learned a given thing but then stopped there assuming that’s all they will ever need. “Why pursue more?” They seem to have locked themselves into a stagnant acceptance, unwilling to see any possibility past it. I think that is incredibly naive, not to mention arrogant.

Interestingly, some cultures teach that humans are not the highest form of intelligence on Earth. This is explained by the typical human need to adapt our environment to us rather than being adaptable to it. Meaning we are much more likely to not survive any kind of potential extinction-type event. I find this idea that adaptability equals intelligence intriguing.

The usual argument that humans are the only intelligent life is “humans have the capacity to reason”. Hmm, while certainly making life interesting and varied for humans, I’m not entirely sure that is a good argument. The ability to reason is as much handicap as gift. While reasoning, we prepare for tomorrow, hope to find happiness, find the answers to our greatest questions, discover something no one else has considered, advance technology one more step – great! But in the meantime, we often, and easily, miss out on the everyday experiences around us that enrich our lives, miss out on our child’s childhood, miss out on everyday miracles, miss the beauty in nature – miss out on the moment. So I would say reasoning is a double-edged sword, at once good and bad in a general sense. Does that really make us better?

The dumbest argument I’ve ever heard is “humans have language.” I literally laughed in the face of that one. Really? As if no other species on this planet has language? Just because they don’t speak yours doesn’t mean they don’t have their own. Just take one good, long look at any animal or insect community, and you will see they have a language of their own. Animal and insect communication goes far beyond anything as simple as instinct.

Einstein-ImaginationOur human history is full of “well now we know everything”… right up until someone comes along to prove another theorem, which is almost always vehemently opposed, sometimes for centuries, because it challenges the commonly accepted norm. Until proven satisfactorily, at best it’s treated like a difference of opinion, at worst as a form of psychosis. So then eventually it’s, “okay, now we know everything”… until another commonly accepted theory or belief is proven incorrect. But, “oh wait, NOW we know everything”…  But really, why stop there? So this ridiculous cycle of arrogance continues.

We used to believe the world was flat. Then we accepted the world was round but believed everything in the universe revolved around an unmoving Earth. Galileo Galilei, aided by the studies of Nicolaus Copernicus and Johannes Kepler over the century previous, was instrumental to bringing attention to astronomical evidence that the Earth was not geocentric (the center of the universe). Galileo was accused of heresy and rejection of the teachings of The Church, held under to house arrest for two decades. A compromise of sorts was eventually reached between the Catholic Church and the growing scientific community, so that we now accept and understand the Earth revolves around the Sun, though neither remain unmoving in the universe.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis discovered a correlation between hand-washing and healthy patient recovery. Specifically, after the death of a friend from a failed cesarean section (surgical removal of the newborn), Dr. Semmelweis recognized some similarity in symptoms to a type of “child-bed fever” that should not have been present in her case. Upon some independent investigation, he realised doctors commonly moved directly from attending dead mothers’ bodies in the morgue to attending new mothers in labor in the birthing room, concluding this could easily be reason for infection transference. A simple solution, Dr. Semmelweis’ asserted that hand-washing between patients could prevent unnecessary illness and death. He was met with scorn by the medical community at large, eventually completely destroying his reputation and career.

Galileo and Semmelweis both committed the same crime: they dared to have and speak out a difference of opinion from the commonly accepted norm.

Marley-FreeMind

Of course my opinions can be just as easily proven wrong as anyone else’s, so I’m happy to learn more. I’ve come across a variety of views of what seem to be “commonly accepted” knowledge that I feel are limit themselves from possibilities. I will share just a couple with you.

“There’s no such thing as memories being passed between people who have had organ transplants.”

There are literally thousands of examples of people with corneal transplants who have dreams or visions of a person they have never met only to find out the person they are envisioning was a loved one of the donor. Or how about the big one: heart transplant. Many heart transplant patients have reported feeling fundamentally different, as though they are no longer alone, or suddenly have strong feelings for a person they’ve never met, or sudden and powerful drives and desires for their life they’ve never experienced or even considered prior to their transplant. So if you wish to believe contrary to all the studies done and thousands of anecdotes, then that’s your opinion.

 

“The idea of mathematics being “the universal language” is a bunch of horseshit.”

While I think this comment may have had something to do with that person’s inadequate skills with math despite his formal education, I’m willing to debate the point. Granted, math does not have a verbal component and so the definition of “language” can be debated; however, equations, regardless of language spoken or written by the user, are the same. Point in fact, mathematicians from all over the world come together and communicate using nothing but the pure mathematics they love even if they don’t speak the same tongue.

How about mathematics found in nature? The Fibonacci sequence may have been discovered accidentally counting a sequence of reproductive pairs, nevertheless, it can be found everywhere you look – flower petals, tree branches, leaves and cones. It can be found in art as our visual sense of what we find appealing or beautiful. Even the nautilus shell maintains the “golden ratio” of balance, regardless of age. Just because something can be described by a series of characters created by man, yet globally understood, does not take anything from the fact that nature beat us to it. So, if you want to ignore the many equations found in nature that all point to the same answer, then that’s your opinion.

How can we explain any of this? Is it all some kind of bizarre coincidence? Personally, I don’t believe in coincidence. I don’t believe in fate either. I believe in energy. We all are energy, we all influence it, we all are influenced by it. There are no coincidences but those things we choose to ignore. I believe that what is most ignored is our own influence on our world. Even without this belief or understanding, I would still pursue more knowledge for the sake of creative inspiration, more understanding, and hopefully greater wisdom. Honestly, I don’t understand a desire (or need) to stand still or blindly follow the herd and ignore potential evidence of anything different from the commonly accepted “norm.” Where’s the fun in that? I’m no zombie!

Gandhi-LiveLearn

 

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2 thoughts on “Knowledge Vs. Differences of Opinion

    The Girl From Jupiter said:
    February 28, 2015 at 3:15 AM

    This was an interesting post. At times, the topic seemed to branch off in multiple directions, but you certainly brought up some thought-provoking ideas. I, too, am a lifelong learner — a fellow “work-in-progress” in so many ways. I have my own ideas and opinions, naturally, but generally seek sound, scientific answers or philosophical enlightenment to guide my choices or broaden my thinking.

    Adaptibility. That word leaps out from your post. Isn’t it fascinating, how we humans have evolved and adapted throughout time? I agree with you in part – that many people, instead of finding ways to adapt to their environment, try to change the environment to suit their own needs. However, here is where we disagree, for I see the human ability to realize what must be changed in the environment in order to reach one’s maximum potential is itself a great form of adaptibilty. I can languish under the heat of the desert sun and adapt by becoming less productive. Or…I can change the environment by building a shelter of whatever materials are available. Then I will be cooled from the sun’s harsh rays and become a more productive being. Any changes that a person makes, either to his or her self, OR to the environment that holds them back, is a sign of human intelligence, progress, and the ability to survive (even in the wake of disaster).

    But mind you, this is all philospophy, and philosophy is built on intellectual opinion.

    As for reasoning, well, I fail to see reasoning as a handicap. No wait, that is not accurate. Perhaps reasoning can be a handicap within particular cultures, or for soldiers, or slaves, who are more productive when blindly obedient. Perhaps reasoning is inappropriate within certain types of job settings, particularly when a supervisor’s management style is one of high-control with his/her staff members. However, in the grand scheme of things, the strength of a democratic-style government relies on the ability of the people to reason — to question authority and keep authority in check. The nature of human progress relies on the people who have the strength of mind and creativity to be able to question why things are as they are, and to propose solutions for a better way of doing things.

    I applaud you for recognizing that all people, regardless of our levels of so-called expertise in any given subject, should strive to always keep their minds open to new ideas, and to consider that as the apprentice learns from the expert, the expert can learn, even from the apprentice. Arrogance and narrow-thinking has no place in the progression of humankind.

    I would love to address the rest of your post, but this comment has grown so lengthy! My apologies. I love intellectual discourse, and sometimes I get carried away. I am no expert in any one subject, but a fellow traveler in the quest of life, with a constant thirst for knowledge and many unanswered questions.

    Liked by 2 people

      knightwitch responded:
      February 28, 2015 at 1:11 PM

      Thanks for taking the time to read the post and provide such a lengthy response. I understand – sometimes I get a bit carried away in expressing my opinions as well. Intellectual discourse is often a fun way to enlighten ourselves of other views, and sometimes opposing views. Life with others would be boring if we all thought the same way about everything. Lengthy discussions about whatever random thoughts come about in front of a fire, under the stars, while working the grounds together, etc… are some of my favorite human interaction memories. I appreciate your response. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

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