Older and Wiser
(Copyright 2012 - 2013, by David Schindele)
Over the years I have definitely learned that as one gets older, one gets wiser. Although this often stated remark has some obvious truth built-in to it, I only mention this because it has taken me many years and a lot of learning on my part to come to a true understanding of how profound this really is. It sometimes makes me wonder what took me so long to come to this understanding. Especially when I relate it to the skepticism I have had during much of my life. I'm talking about the situations where I debunked ideas or statements which were not in agreement with my interpretation of the natural and physical world, and its associated laws; those laws and truths which were put together by human intelligence and built into a database of knowledge through the ages. When professing my skepticism, I took much pride in being able to expose the flaws of others and deride the intelligence of those who obviously did not have the knowledge or a correct understanding of the natural and physical world.
I have spent my entire life enthralled with nature and the sciences. I was always interested in the latest technological advances, the latest astronomical discoveries, the latest theories in physics and the laws of nature that are continually being revealed and revised. I educated myself in these areas and received a degree in the physical sciences. I experimented with various technologies in building devices and models. I supported myself in life with technical jobs in aerospace and computer programming. I became very centered on what was real and what was possible in terms of what is currently known, and I understood that using the "scientific method" of investigation was paramount to revealing the "truth" about anything. To me, the unknown was not relevant, especially if it could not be proven, deciphered, or observed and rationally explained in regard to current laws and to our database of knowledge.
I now take solace in the fact that I have not been alone in the paradigm I found myself in, for I now understand that ignoring that which is not relevant and then exhibiting skepticism is a natural human trait. It is exhibited by the vast majority of people including leading scientists and researchers. Their goal is to gain knowledge and truth by using an inherently logical process that produces the results and knowledge they are looking for, and their primary tool for doing that is through the use of the "scientific method". It is a way of coming to a new truth through a selective construct that builds on previous truths from knowledge gained. In that process, if something is not logical, observable, or provable and fit within today’s database of knowledge, it must then be fiction, a dream, or a hoax. This makes it exceedingly easy to be skeptical of anything that will not fit into today’s puzzle of reality. It makes it easy to say, “Not possible”, or "Show me" (seeing is believing), or "Prove it", or any number of comments that may sometimes be tainted in a negative tone.
It is not my purpose here to degrade the great thinkers, accomplished scientists and the researchers who have greatly contributed to all the truths and the knowledge that exists in the world today, but I am disappointed with the paradigm that I now realize occupied much of my life and which continues to reside with others. Yes, the pursuit of knowledge is truly divine, but could it be possible that the blinders of skepticism may actually hinder progress in finding truth?
My realization of this has occurred to me over the last few years when thinking back on the technical progress that humankind as made over the last few hundred years or so, and especially in the last few decades. As in ages past, everyone lives in their own particular moment of time with little idea of what the future might bring. That has not changed and will not change, but the past has had skeptics as well who professed that the world was flat and that it was the center of the universe. There is really no need to explain how much the human race has progressed except to say that we have seen an exponential increase in technological progress since the time our parents were born. Our technology has now put us into space and on the Moon, we have looked at photons from the outer reaches of the universe, and scientists have now concluded that Dark Matter and Dark Energy (which we know mostly nothing about) are the major components of the universe. Our technology is growing and will continue to grow, but we do not currently know what new laws of nature and of physics we will come up with beyond this particular moment in time.
Imagine if you can what would go through the mind of a person living in the Stone Age, or an early Roman, or someone from a couple hundred years ago if they suddenly came upon the image of a projected hologram of a Rock Star playing an electric guitar. They would be stunned by a ghostly image of someone with ten fingers and a pair of eyes who was obviously humanoid but not looking like anything from the world they knew. How would they process what they saw, especially if the hologram was suddenly turned off before they dared investigate what they were looking at? How would they and any others with them describe what they saw to others? And what would others who did not see it think when told about it? If they used their current database of knowledge and current laws of nature and physics to explain what they observed, what would they come up with? What would those skeptics say about it?
Yes, I’m attempting to make a point here. You can apply any number of technological advances that have taken place, and then contemplate what the response would be from persons just a few generations back. The point here is that in this world, there can always be “truth” even though proof may not be currently possible within our current knowledge base. There have been generations of skeptics since the time that humans have been able to think logically and rationally. But, skeptics do live in a certain paradigm that prevents them from considering that there may be unknowing possibilities with answers that may lead them to the truth. Somewhere in the future, they may likely be proved wrong at some point. Those who profess the status of being a skeptic do not serve themselves or others with their heady pride and sometimes arrogant certainty with their denial of something that may actually constitute truth. Those who hesitate and ponder the fact that current truth and knowledge may not be serving them adequately in their reasoning would be benefited by keeping an open mind while believing all things are possible, and then pursuing more knowledge. It is with that kind of an attitude that I now feel most comfortable with when I come upon something mysterious and unexplainable that reasonable, respectable, and reputable people have professed to have some experience or knowledge of. It then becomes a challenge to investigate, research, and obtain additional knowledge in order to attach some sense, reality, and meaning to it.
But now, let's continue with this a bit further. When looking at human history, how does it compare with the history of the universe? Actually, measured in tens of thousands of years, human history doesn't compare at all because it is infinitesimal and exceedingly recent. Astrobiologists tell us that there are billions of planets in the universe that should be capable of sustaining life of some sort. When it is considered that there are infinitely more stars in the universe than all the grains of sand on the beaches and deserts of Earth, the mathematics here does not allow us to be unique. And in light of that, we then wonder about the history of supposed life on other planets. Many scientists agree with the premise that there must be a great many life forms much more advanced than us. If that is the case, how advanced would the technology of some intelligent life form be that originated a few hundred million years ago, or say only a few million years ago, or even much less? What kind of technical paradigm would they be living in compared to us? Would it still be true that "nothing" could exceed the speed of photons or of electro-magnetic waveforms in their paradigm? How might they connect together space, time, gravity, and other universal forces in their paradigm? Would their paradigm define other dimensions? Would it be possible that they might be aware of a technology unknown to us that provides them with huge amounts of available energy? Would they have mastered a technology involving anti-mater, anti-gravity, or dark energy? Would it be possible that they might have a technology that gives them the ability to travel great distances in an instant? Would they have unlocked what we might consider paranormal or psychic technology and use it for communications and object control? Could they have already visited planet earth? Now, you may be thinking that I'm really going overboard with such ideas or questions here. But, am I really?
The real question here is not whether a skeptic would want to contemplate any of the above. They wouldn't. It is whether there are any scientists or researchers out there who might be open minded enough, brave enough, and dedicated enough to contemplate and recognize that they may be living in a paradigm that prevents them from investigating and pursuing knowledge that is outside of their current puzzle of reality and outside their comfort zone. When they do recognize the possibility of that and pursue the knowledge of what is mysterious and unknown, the doors will really have been opened up to the advancement of truth and knowledge. There are plenty of examples today where observations and circumstances have given us clues to something truly mysterious and unexplainable; examples where there is a problem in connecting it with the truth and knowledge currently available. Those who take those clues and find knowledge from them become heroes. Those who write off something that is mysterious and unexplainable, or casually label it with a nebulous conclusion, or resort to debunking and ridicule are simply exhibiting their skeptical nature.
For me, I now refuse to accept the label and the paradigm I was in. But how about you, are you a Skeptic?