The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mad as a Hatter, he is

I figured out that I was mad as a hatter a long time ago. When I was just a child, a small child. I just did not see things the way others did. I still don't. I don't mean a little differently either. I mean by quite a bit. I softened that a bit by assuming no one actually saw things as everyone else did. I think I was right about that. We all see things just a tad differently. But, harboring some paranoid tendencies, I became distrustful of anyone who agreed with me more than half the time.

I learned later on that this is the definition of skeptical.

I'd like to get back to my opening sentence... and that phrase "mad as a hatter." Sometimes I really dislike language. Meanings being dependent upon context, I mean. Let's parse the offending phrase, shall we? I don't mean parse it like your English teacher did, I mean parse it in the definition of words. The keyword, as I see it, is "mad." And that word can mean angry or crazy. My early understanding of words was limited. This word meant "angry" to me. Crazy was something I picked up on later. I didn't have the Internet back in my youth, and I couldn't trust my older brother or sister to be truthful, so I was stuck puzzling things out on my own. I was confused by the phrase until I first saw "Alice in Wonderland." Since the Hatter was clearly crazy. I had no idea what a "hatter" actually was, though. When I learned what one was, I wondered why they were the "standard" for craziness. I still do. I am apparently not entirely alone on this:

Enough digression...

In any case, I view the world around me differently than most. I question gravity, sanity, Newton's Laws on most everything, faith, charity, experts, expertise, skill, logic, and emotion. I get no answers I find acceptable.

Let's take gravity, for example. Isaac Newton defined gravity as a force... one that attracts all objects to all other objects. Gravity is the force which pulls an object of lesser mass toward an object of greater mass. Really? How many mountains have you found yourself physically pulled toward? I know, I know, the mass of the planet masks the lesser mass of the mountain so we don't feel it. But it should still be there, shouldn't it? And why should hair stick up instead of always lying flat against our heads? After all, hair strands are much lower in mass than our heads and the planet below our feet.

It's clear to me that gravity is not well defined. I am sure if I had a degree in physics, I would have a much better grasp of gravity and, therefore, see it in the same way as others. Of course, that could simply be a bit of brainwashing, couldn't it? I mean, make accepting the common understanding the basis for your passing a course and you will accept it... or claim you do anyway.

In the end, isn't that what socialization is all about? Agreeing to accept the norms of society and act as if they were the Truth? We struggle against this socialization as we grow up. As children we drive our parents a bit nuts by asking "Why?" about most everything. Eventually, parents stop answering and just say things like "It just is" or "You'll learn about that in school" or "trust me."

Oh yeah, "trust me." If I had a nickel for every time I heard that one... I would have one big bag of nickels, let me tell you.

Where was I? I suppose it doesn't matter. I'm just rambling anyway.


Steven said...

during my 4 times through physics II in college, I actually started to understand some stuff. magnetism and gravity are almost identical, and as far as I know we don't really understand how either works. we do, however, have provable formulas and constants that anybody can learn. how many people are brainwashed to believe the universe is 6,000 years old? and believe it? i've been accused of being "brainwashed" by science, but the difference is that you don't have to accept it as "it just is," you have the option to learn physics, learn about radiation and carbon dating, learn the mathematics regarding astronomy, etc. and for any of them, you have the choice (given the cognitive capacity) to learn all of the fundamental theorems behind them until you're down to the bare axioms and proofs. you can check to see how they were derived or calculated to see if you believe them.

obviously, something i've thought about a lot.

Bagman and Butler said...

Gravity is a good one. I've always wondered if the moon's gravity is enough to create tides, wouldn't I be better off weighing myself when the moon was directly overhead? I always dig into a bowl of ice cream, justifying to my wife that my weight gain is not my fault -- it's the moon's gravity.

Douglas said...

Steven, Obviously, you have thought about this quite a bit.

B&B, My bet is that the justification isn't believed.