Thursday, April 01, 2004

Reality Smack

Eject!Eject!Eject! has this essay on getting a dose of reality instead of arguing over intellectual things. (Thanks Rottweiler for the link.)

Having been the recipient of more than a few reality smacks myself, I heartily concur. I've changed my mind about a lot of things I was convinced of in high school and college, mostly because I tried them and discovered that they weren't true. In fact, more often than not my common sense, my parents' advice and the counsel of my religion turned out to be much better predictors of how reality worked than the theories and philosophies of the university or the popular culture. That's why I stick so firmly to these things. Some may believe I am brainwashed or just blindly parroting what others have said, but they don't know where I've been and what has smacked me over the head. And I never do anything blindly. If anything I suffer from overstimulation in that regard; my "eyes" are always propped so far open that I long to be able to shut them.

I think everyone has a paradigm of how reality works (what Mr. Whittle calls a "map" in the article), and it is useful to them only insofar as it reflects reality. Reality, however, stubbornly refuses to correspond to changes we make in our paradigms. The laws of physics didn't change when we switched over from the Newtonian paradigm to the Einsteinian paradigm. Reality is what it is. It doesn't follow our rules just because we think it should.

Nevertheless, some "maps" are better than others.