left biblioblography: Opening The Doors of Misperception

Monday, April 23, 2007

Opening The Doors of Misperception

(Crossposted at Gods4suckers.net)

(Due apologies to Aldous Huxley and William Blake)

triangle

"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through' narrow chinks of his cavern." - Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

In some ongoing debates, I've noticed a distinct tendency on everyone's part to codify specific issues that seem to defy logic, i.e., quantum physics, thermodynamics, etc.

So this is directed at everyone - and hopefully, it'll set a few bulbs off, or refresh a memory or two.

When viewing specific topics (see examples given), our anthropic filters seem to befuddle us to no end. I have heard more than one mention that the 2nd law of thermodynamics doesn't seem to apply on a broader scale than our limited perceptions, for instance.

I say that no law is immutable, nor is it beyond breaking. This doesn't render the law violate: in a universe of flux, stasis is stagnation.

Here, I'll break it down to layman's (layperson's? Gah, I loathe political correctness!) terms.

Here in California (at least in my neck of the woods), the legal speed limit on the highways is 65 mph. If, however, you were to take a drive down I-880, you'll see innumerable instances of that law being broken. The law is still in effect. It's a matter of enforcement (though a black-and-white on the shoulder, writing a ticket, will indeed force other drivers to slow way down).

To take the simile further, if for instance, I don't own a car and/or have a CDL, the law is still in effect, but it doesn't apply to me in any way, shape, or form. I am, to abuse a phrase, above that particular law (or below, or outside of it, if anyone chooses to be overly pedantic about the bloody thing).

That being said, the other misperception we all labor under is one of straight lines.

Perfect example: in the ongoing debate of evolution vs. creationism, the latter inevitably takes the position that being human is the pinnacle of life, when in fact, evolution demonstrates that is simply not the case.

Another perfect example (one we are all prone to), is the straight line. Bear with me here.

Ever heard the phrase, 'Think outside the box'? I'm not overly fond of buzzwords or catchphrases, but cogitate for a minute. You never hear it as 'Think outside the sphere', do you? Why is that?

Because we are creatures of straight lines and angles. We have a system of counting by 10s (our digits: let's not get started on binary, octal or hexadecimal!), our limbs are lines, with angles at the joints. So just from this observation, we think linear. Sometimes, grudgingly, cyclically as well ('All nice things are round, like the universe and a baby's butt', as Chesterton phrased it so nicely).

So, springing from the basis of that observation, we tend to view things as a linear progression (point A to point B).

Then we hit the snags in modal thinking. When we observe something (say, like the 2nd law of thermodynamics), we posit an A-to-B sequence. When in actuality, the 2nd law sometimes doesn't go all the way to B, but stops halfway, and just sits there. In some cases, it'll actually go backwards. On the rare occasion, it'll skip B entirely, and go to point C (here, I will gladly take examples from the resident kibitzers - I don't doubt it happens, but an example can be found, I'm sure). At this juncture, many of us will scratch our heads, and say "What in the world...?"

Evolution's another problem, especially dealing with creationists (who are even MORE prone to this blinkered approach). I (almost) never tire of explaining to them that evolution isn't a linear progression: I compare it to a pool of observable phenomenon (yes, I know, a tree is a better example, and I'm striving to avoid the B-word).

In both circumstances, evolution and the 2nd law (sometimes) don't obey a set number of sequences. More to the point, while there is some predictability in either data set, there will be (and are) exceptions to the rule(s).

In the case of evolution, atavisms, and in the case of thermodynamics, gravitational interactions, for two examples.

So, to nutshell:

  1. Let's think non-linear (H.P Lovecraft's 'non-Euclidean' space-time continuums springs to mind), and
  2. Until the High Court of Quantum Correctness tosses out the laws of thermodynamics, I intend to abide by them.

"Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis" - “The exception confirms the rule in the cases not excepted.”

Stumble Upon Toolbar

7 comments:

remy said...

Something in a similar vein occurred to me whilst reading the recent missives on NGB.

She, of the catholic persuasion was(is) unable to extricate herself from a seemingly rigid box.

It reminded me of the uproar when they first introduced Daylight Saving Time. There was outrage that anyone could tinker with Time.

Krystalline Apostate said...

remy:
It reminded me of the uproar when they first introduced Daylight Saving Time. There was outrage that anyone could tinker with Time.
You remember that? How old are you?!?!?
Wasn't that instituted in 1917?

remy said...

Sorry, very tired. Way too busy. Ought not to blog. Not clear. Read about said events. Only 55. Cheers.

beepbeepitsme said...

RE: the linear thing

It is the concept of infinity seems to bother theists a great deal. (It also bothers physicists as well, but for entirely different reasons.)

Theists seem to imagine infinity as having a starting point which progresses from the starting point in one direction and which never finishes.

I have never viewed the concept of infinity in such a way. Something which is infinite is unlimited in all known and all possible directions. It has no starting point and no end. It has no perceivable or imagined limits of breadth, scope, or linear delineation.

To imagine a starting point, is to fail to grasp the concept of infinity.

Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM - well, the linear concept bugs folks, but mostly because we all have problems grasping it.
Something which is infinite is unlimited in all known and all possible directions. It has no starting point and no end. It has no perceivable or imagined limits of breadth, scope, or linear delineation.
It's almost...circular.
Oh dear.

Zac Hunter said...

While we are on the subject of rigid and fallacious reasoning, you know what really gets me pissed? When people try to paint evolution as teleological. I just can't repeat loudly and angrily enough how moronic and misguided that sentiment is. Oh well.

I also cannot stand when so-called postmodern lit peeps start poppin off about math and physics like it has anything to do with hermeneutics. Ever hear of the Sokal scandal people? Barthes, Derrida and Kristeva can suck me. Worse still, they just make legitimate continental thinkers look bad.

How is the tract comin' along KA? I hope that at least scrubs the moss off one or two young minds before they get romanced by a bunch of bullshit.

Can you tell I had a rough night? Argh!

-Zac

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey Zac - yeah, sounds like it.
I also cannot stand when so-called postmodern lit peeps start poppin off about math and physics like it has anything to do with hermeneutics.
Since I'm anything but a postmodern lit peep (whatever the hell that is), I'll assume that's directed at the general blogosphere.
The tract is...done, isn't it?