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January 12, 2005


Over at Jinderella's blog a GNXP reader has suggested we do something like The Edge question (that is, what do you believe that you can't prove). Jin already posted one of my responses, but let me address my supposition from another angle....

  1. Humans are a very stupid species on the cosmic "absolute" scale, even those on the right edge of the bell curve. There are innumerable truths right before our noses that we can not conceive of or discern because of cognitive limitations shaped by our evolutionary history.

  2. Nevertheless, by the means of various mental aids (deductive logic, reproducible experiments, skepticism, etc.) we can glean the faint outlines of many of these truths in an indirect fashion. That is, data and analysis are not totally subjective, we are not totally trapped in our verbal/mental boxes.

I invite GNXP posters to offer their opinions in the space below as updates, while readers can react in the comment box.

I end by leaving you with a link to Robert Triver's response. If you have read that link, go browse Greg Cochran's comments about doctors.

jinn: Oh, why do I always have to go first? Well, I have thought about it-- I believe there is a biological basis for all behavior, and it is the genomic code married with its interactions with the phenome and the environment. And I believe we can understand and map the mechanisms completely. Eventually.

David Boxenhorn: A long time ago I realized that I had a fundamental belief that wasn't going to go away even if reason told me that the evidence points in the other direction: Life has meaning. My choice was thus: (1) Embrace my true belief and run with it where it would take me, (2) Deny my true belief and be depressed, (3) Neither embrace it nor deny it, and live a life of timid anxiety. I chose #1, and it has taken me quite far from my birthplace. Not long ago I coined the word 'logoism' to describe this belief, after a long search in which I turned up nothing, surprising me because I wanted nothing more than an antonym to nihilism. The lack of this term indicates to me that not enough people are thinking about it. What are the implications of meaning? God? Or could it be something else? More here.

Posted by razib at 08:40 AM