Here-now is the space-time to speak out.
It’s hard to get my mind around: space-time. The hyphen shows a single concept, but our minds treat space and time as distinct and essentially unrelated elements. Not so. Let me explain, before I get back to President Trump. And why we need to do speak out, here-now!
Our minds do not intuitively grasp science. Spacetime and the strange world of quantum mechanics are two examples. Our minds were not ‘designed’ (by natural selection) to understand the world or the laws of physics, but to increase our chance of survival.
The last statement implies a designer, but natural selection is blind. Our natural or naive thinking cannot grasp how this happens; for some it is uncomfortable to think that this is our origin, as opposed to a divine origin. But what we think does not change reality, or does it?
Trump appears to believe that his beliefs matter more than facts. Actually, we all suffer form this bias in some areas of belief. Trump is an extreme, and one who can persuade others that he is right, even when he lies.
Science and the scientific method have given us this amazing quality and quantity of life compared to our ancestors. We now have science (i.e., knowledge) on the various flaws in our thinking, the cognitive biases, that result from our evolutionary history.
And this may help explain why the leader of the free world is a fascist. Trump is no Hitler. Though his use of anti-moslem sentiment has similarities with Hitler’s ‘final solution’. Solution to the ‘Jewish problem’; Hitler carrying on the old tradition of blaming the Jews for society’s ills.
Clearly to most modern people, the idea that Jews were the cause rather than the victims of communal problems is absurd. But it is human design to blame others for our problems. Within limits that can help survival. It can also lead to extinction. In Hitler’s case, his policy of extermination had negative effects on the economy and his war efforts. If not, perhaps the alternate history of Germany first developing the atomic bomb and winning the war by bombing the US.
Trump articulated some very real concerns about how the fruits of society are divided. But he has yet to propose specific solutions for this urgent problem. Blaming immigrants or welfare recipients is easy, but wrong. Not only factually, but also for impact. Trump’s arbitrary order to stop legal visitors from 7 countries has done considerable harm for no obvious benefit. And more likely inciting more terrorist harm.
This is why we have to speak out. Not just against Trump, but for a positive vision of what can be. We are entering a similar era to the industrial revolution. Steam power was the first alternative to muscle power. Now we enter the era when machines can replace thought; and the control of that motor power. The potential is clear, as are the dystopian fears of the machine.
And this brings me to my point about the value of Trump. That his odious acts can lead to a demand for change that goes beyond the personality of whoever happens to be elected. We need better global governance to deal with global problems, like climate change, poverty, and the spread of infectious and lifestyle diseases. That Trump can be the Trumpet call to change; perhaps the last Trumpet that announces the Messiah, but at least taking us to a new promised land.
When we a tyrant governs, they are limited only by what people will accept. When we see our neighbour can be ‘disposed of’ by the tyrant, do we accept this because it does not affect us? And perhaps we believe the false claim of the tyrant that it is for the good of the country.
Trump distracts us from the real issue. Not war, but economic development and the deployment of technologies that opens the possibility that nobody will need to work. We will be free to create, to develop new toys and tools, to go to space.
And to love each other, as Jesus instructed us to. For if we do not care for each other, then when an artificial intelligence considers our role in the world, surely we will be found as wanting as if Jesus himself were to judge us on how well we loved our neighbours, the poor and the down-trodden.
Human family, please let it not be so. Let us love each other, recognising that we are all just of one small family that has grown to unimaginable size. And that there is a better way. Speak out for it!
Mental models: are you aware of yours?
Most of us have a reasonable understanding of our world, but we all have distortions in our models. In general, the more accurate the model in representing reality, the more useful it is. But the success of a model is not directly related to its truth. For example, optimistic bias is cost-effective. At least up to a point, rose-tinted glasses can make the world look better and help things turn out better.
For example, I can happily live my life without any consequence for thinking that the earth is flat and was created 6000 years ago. Beliefs do not reduce my chance of survival are not a problem, are they? If these patently false beliefs are also linked to other beliefs that help survival, such as “God is looking out just for you!”, then one can actually see a positive survival value for false beliefs. Strange, but true. At least, that’s what’s in my mental model.
Trump’s mental model seems to have an extreme version of a bug that we all have: we not only reject data that goes against core beliefs, but that evidence makes us believe in that false belief even more (‘backfire effect’). He really seemed to believe that he had the largest inauguration.
He believes that he knows how to ‘fix’ the US. And can continue to believe this without any specific solutions, because his core belief is that he is the solution. That he will get the right people together and he will be able to find the right solution. Well, so far, this does not seem to be going so well. But I am pretty sure that Trump thinks he is doing great, just does not understand why people are not appreciating what he is doing. That’s just who he is; and as I try to point out – we are all like this a bit. Trump is just an extreme.
It is scary to think of what is the next ‘not-so-smart’ policy that he will implement.
If Free Will does not exist, why do believe so strongly in it?
Knowledge that leads to a different choice matters. Being told that there is no such thing as Free Will makes people behave worse. What a wonderful insight into human behaviour and that we do hold ourselves accountable to our self-image. And always happy to give ourselves a ‘pass’ for bad behaviour; any excuse will do!
Do we have Free Will? It feels so, but there is compelling evidence against it. We feel free to make choices, but we are constrained by our genes and environment. And the stories that we have been told about the world that we continue to believe, with or without evidence. And yet, you still need to make a choice to speak out for your brothers and sisters.
We have good evidence that, despite surface differences, we all belong to the same human family. And that it is only our ego that thinks there is any separation between us the rest of the universe. Our ego is a creation of our mind, our sense of self, or who we are. And that is indeed distinct and separate. But am not my ego. its consciousness is naturally limited and only plays a small part in the overall operation of our being.