Thursday, May 18, 2023

Man's Search for Meaning; aka "These are indeed the crucial years, maybe the last crucial years."

Wilco "You Never Know

Come on, children, you’re acting like children
Every generation thinks it’s the end of the world” 

A follow-up to yesterday

I totally get it: We want to believe our lives have meaning

If not born into a religious tradition where god(s) provide that purpose, we look elsewhere. It can be some philosophy, some dogma, some story, some community, some cause. (This is why "religions" is plural in Losing My Religions.) We'll create / believe arguments that our actions are important and impactful, that we live in the most important time ever, that only our group actually knows the truth, that the future depends on us. 

It is worth recognizing that this is part of human nature. It is also worth remembering that the human mind is fragile and weak

It isn't just below-average people who believe that Jesus talks to them, Bill Gates is trying to chip them, and that the election was stolen. The smarter we are, the more likely we are to believe fake news and conspiracy theories. And the smarter we are, the less likely we are to recognize our limitations.

IMO: The more certain we are about something, the more passionate we are, the more we should doubt and question ourselves.

PS: The title is a reference to a famous book but also social commentary. My experience is that it tends to be primarily men who spend their time searching for / inventing "meaning," and men are more likely to go down rabbit holes. Women tend to be more practical, on average. (This isn't to make a blanket statement, of course, any more than noting that men are, on average, taller than women means that every woman is short.)

PPS: Since I wrote the above but before I published, I came across this amusing and scary Joel Stein podcast about conspiracy theories being a religion. (Note: I'm not calling AI or especially climate change a conspiracy theory.) All of Joel Stein's "Story of the Week" podcasts are good!

Then I got the latest newsletter from Bill McKibbon re: global warming. It concludes: 

"These are indeed the crucial years, maybe the last crucial years."  

Nice knowing ya.

If you find this blog interesting, please share it. Thanks!

No comments: