November 6, 2012

                                                            Notes on a Glib List>

(Unfortunately, this link takes you to the current page, but if you go into the Archive you can find the list, "10 Things People Believe Without Proof", in the entry for Nov 4)

My reply, which they haven't let me post yet at Listverse (said they'd send me an email with a password, but haven't yet.) Aliens strike me as remarkably plausible, not necessarily walking among us, but there's a lot of room in the universe for extraterrestrial life. (As for whether they're walking among us, I recall reading once that the one 'hard fact' we had was that they weren't; but that's as difficult to prove as any negative--how would we know for sure?) Cryptids--I don't know, we're discovering new species all the time, many of them passing strange, with very solid empirical evidence--do they count? I don't believe in Astrology, but then I wouldn't--I'm a Taurus on the cusp of Gemini. Ghosts? Psychic mediums? Never seen any persuasive evidence. (Apparently the traces ghosthunters find in spooky mansions that turn up in photographs are traces of their own activity.) I'm pretty sure if you don't believe in Karma something bad's liable to happen to you. Intuition doesn't strike me as even controversial unless you spook up its definition the way this piece does. To some extent it's the subconscious sorting through evidence too rapidly for verbal reasoning to process. It has a few other acceptable meanings, none of which is hard to verify in action. Fate's a commonplace belief of scientists these days, but it's called determinism and opposed to free will. A man named Harris wrote a book expounding the idea recently--that what people do is absolutely determined by the conditions of their lives and the actions of the universe around them. It isn't a scientific idea because it's embraced by science, and so far as there's evidence, it leans both ways. It makes more sense, if you intend to do anything, to hold out some realistic hope that you're not going through motions that are totally determined by genetics and environment--the modern dress of fate--but allow for the wiggle room of some effective input from within yourself. There are so many nuances to religious belief--whether in a God gods, God in nature or the agnostic faith of the Buddha--that it's ludicrous to sum it up as belief in a Holy book whose words are regarded as true and sacrosanct. That level of Fundamentalism is relatively commmon in Christianity and Islam, less so in Judaism, much less so in poly- or pan-theistic faiths.