Sunday, 29 March 2020

A Purposeless Existence?

At the following link in the comments underneath a lady called violagirl says:
After my husband died of a 13 year illness I spent a lot of time reading, meditating, doing yoga, hiking, etc and here's what I learned; life is purposeless and meaningless. When we die it is over unless there was something huge we did. My husband was a brilliant NASA engineer, but his work is not "his", it belongs to NASA. We live then we die and it does not matter one little bit what we do in that time. It would be nice to think we would at least aspire to be moral and ethical, but greed and stuff are what is lauded and that is another reason humans and their lives do not matter.
I feel for her and I understand why she and so many others feel this way. Her sentiment is due to the underlying message that our culture is giving us -- namely that we are biological machines with no set purpose apart from living this one life. The Universe just is, there's no meaning behind it, there's no reason for it. We live our very brief lives, and that's it.

But I think she is very wrong. I feel that our lives and the Universe are ultimately mysterious, and we are all on this adventure. That perhaps part of the mystery will be revealed when we die. I feel that life is exciting and even though it may appear to be dreary and monotonous, that this is illusory. We get a brief glimpse of how things truly are during moments like mystical experiences.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Peoples indifference to the coronavirus

It almost feels like I'm in a dream and that I'll wake up at some point then tell everyone on Facebook that I had this bizarre dream -- a worldwide pandemic, people confined to their homes, empty streets, supermarket shelves empty. Then my next-door neighbour starts to cough (which he has) . . the dreaded cough, signalling he's one of the infected... But then I wake up! Or, perhaps I'll wake up after completing this blog post...

It's extraordinary that we've found ourselves in such a mess. This needn't have happened.  Back on the 24th January on Facebook, I said:

"if it's possible that millions might die, it is surely sensible to completely terminate all international flying".

Unfortunately, the vast majority of other people simply didn't share my assessment of the danger.  For example, here's a screenshot of another Facebook post regarding the virus one week later on the 31st of January.

I've rubbed out the names and photographs of the 3 comments made by 3 different people, but they are all good Facebook friends of mine who usually tend to be levelheaded and whose opinions I value. Just in case the comments can't be read, they are as follows:

Person 1:
Whatever happened to "Keep calm and carry on?"
Person 2
This virus is no worse then the flu. It’s much ado about nothing.
Person 3
Incredible amount of sensationalism. The question I'm asking is who benefits from all the hoo-ha? You might want to read this Ian.
My Response:
I make no claims about how much this virus will spread and how many will die. I have absolutely no idea. The one worrying thing is the claim that people can pass it on when displaying no symptoms themselves.
Following from my comment back then, we now know that many people who get the virus -- perhaps as many as 50% -- do not have any symptoms, yet they can still pass the virus on! This is the key to the spread of this virus. What is also extremely important is that each infected person infects on average 2.5 others. Contrast this with seasonal flu where each person infects on average only 1.3 others. Hence, the claim that many people make -- at least until very recently -- that this virus is no more worrying than seasonal flu, is simply preposterous. I elaborate on why it's preposterous here.

All this information was known back in January.  So why on earth was allowing people to gallivant around the planet more important than taking the appropriate measures back then to snuff out any possible danger?  Of course, we didn't know it would end as bad as this, but it was always on the cards.

Even now people are being highly irresponsible.  Last weekend, when it was sunny, many people were visiting seaside resorts.  Many young people justify such behaviour by saying that they'll be unlikely to die.  This misses the point.  Even if they suffer no symptoms whatsoever, they will infect others.  These people will be indirectly responsible for killing many others. They need to dwell on this, they need to grok this.

Yes, it's difficult not socially interacting, especially when we might have to forfeit this pleasure for possibly many months.  I suffer from social anxiety and will not be as anywhere near as bothered by it as others, but even I miss the occasional visit to the pub etc.  But, unless we try to limit our interactions, then the number of infected will continue on its exponential growth rate and the NHS and other countries' health services will be overwhelmed.  If this happens millions could die.  We need to do the right thing and to isolate.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Who's to say what's extraordinary?

Somebody who had spent her whole life in a tropical climate with no contact with the rest of the world would regard the notion that water could turn solid as being contrary to everything she had ever discovered about water. Water simply doesn't, and couldn't, do that sort of thing.

Our science is only applicable to a given domain. With the very fast, or the very small, different laws are required. And I suggest our contemporary physics only applies to non-conscious reality. We need new laws to understand consciousness and how it relates to (fits in with) the rest of reality. Once we have those new laws, once we know how consciousness fits in with the rest of physical reality, then we can say whether psi is to be expected, or a "life after death" etc. But, until that moment, we're simply not in a position to declare psi or an afterlife are extraordinary claims.

Often it's extremely hard to decide what is the rational thing to believe.

It's extraordinarily difficult for most of us to decide what the truth is on many contentious issues. Will we witness catastrophic clima...

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