Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Post

could out-consume Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
...it is impossible for us to think of any thing, which we have not antecedently felt, either by our external or internal senses.
- - - David Hume
This blog will be about the questions that in our hearts we most want to know how to ask.  Various answers may suggest themselves from time to time, come into fashion, become dogma, grow old and stiff, then fade away. But it is not the answers that move us.  It is the questions themselves, and questions that we do not even know how to ask today.

Our best hope of finding the questions that are worth a lifetime to ask or answer is to adopt a mental lens.  We humans can only understand new things in terms of things we already understand, and we can only seek the best new questions through questions we have already asked. In this blog, we honor this necessity, and we will begin by asking a very old question:

Who's there?

Our lens, then, is the search for intelligences beyond the human, and beyond Earth.  A well-selected lens promises to help us see through our common biases and expectations that blind us, takes us out of our comfort zone, and leaves us exposed.  Some of that exposure is to ridicule, but we are going to ignore that.  Far more challenging is the exposure to the sharp limitations of our cognitive toolkit - to utter bafflement, confusion, and even fear.   One of the common themes of this blog will be the close-in boundaries of our conceptual repertoire, and that to find even the tiniest kernel of truth we must accept a life of doubt, uncertainty and frequent, deep confusion.

Some will find this thrilling, others will prefer to disown the sky.

There is a great deal of confusion we can clear up, much new knowledge we can hope to acquire, and best of all, I hope for much better questions.  It won't be quick or easy.  Even the most tentative answers to "who's there?" will take generations to acquire, and controversies will rage.

Some of the topics I plan to cover in the new months:

  • Why science?  Are there other paths to true knowledge other than science?
  • Why we have to be wrong about UFOs, and what we might learn from studying them
  • The Fermi paradox and some of the best answers.
  • Would we know an ET if we saw one?
  • How to be a good skeptic, and why.
  • Is SETI silly?
  • Could the universe be a simulation?
  • Can reality be hacked?
  • Do psychic phenomena exist, and if so, what are they? Beyond bent spoons.
  • Is consciousness a difficult problem?
  • Is the Singularity really near?
  • Is some of the noise part of the signal?