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Allan Macdougall

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Which is the more powerful in solving the world's biggest problems - Doubt or Certainty?

When confronted with seemingly insurmountable problems, what would be the advantages and disadvantages of each approach?

When doubt or certainty are allied to belief systems and/or conventional wisdom, do they become and more - or less - powerful in their ability to solve such problems?

Is it better to try to view the overall picture of a problem in order to solve it and then work towards the relevant detail, or to be more focused on close-up detail first and then to work outwards to try and find the bigger context?

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    Dec 18 2012: I think you need to focus on detail but frame that detail appropriately. I don't think we can stay in any one state permanently. We should shift from the big picture to whatever detail is necessary to rearrange that picture in the desired way. So we should take a look at the big picture identify the problems and then focus on those details that relate to that issue.
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      Dec 19 2012: Hi Henry. Difficult to quantify I know, but how big do you think the picture 'frame' should be in order to still retain viability in a society that seems to be addicted primarily to certainty and detail? - and would that frame equate to general context?

      I ask this because the people who do see the bigger picture are often dismissed as being 'unrealistic', though in notable examples, Einstein dared to doubt Newton and Darwin dared to doubt creationism. Both of their theories seemed unrealistic at the time yet now are mainstream. Their courage and doubt moved thinking forward significantly in spite of the confrontations coming at them from the certainties and beliefs of that time.
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        Dec 20 2012: I agree with Henry, that we can focus on detail and "frame" the detail appropriately.

        You use the example of climate change Allan.

        We can be aware of the big picture, if we choose to do so.
        We can "frame" our own concern as individuals by being aware of our own actions in our own small environment...small "frame".
        We can be aware and active on a local, regional, national or international level, depending on our abilities and circumstances....bigger frame.
        The "frame" can equate to the smaller AND bigger picture....can it not?

        You mention Einstein, Newton and Darwin, who with their persistance and certainty in themselves and their ideas, contributed in a big way to our knowledge and evolution...did they not?

        I personally, have been recycling, reusing, restoring, renovating, and living a simple, conservative lifestyle my whole life, because that is what I was taught as a wee little lass, and I enjoy it. I enjoy participating in the care of our earth which sustains us. I have been told that I am living in a fantasy land.....not facing reality...giving up a certain lifestyle that people around me may have been embracing....etc. I was "certain" that I cared about what I care about, and did not change my perception, action or reaction because of what others said......very tiny frame:>)
  • Dec 18 2012: Problem solving is more art than science, and different problems require different paths.

    With some problems, a timely solution requires that we first spot the heart of the problem, sometimes an apparently insignificant detail. Other problems first require a broad strategy, then fill in the details.

    Certainty and doubt are part of a spectrum. Either consciously or unconsciously, we assign everything we know a probability of being true.

    Certainty must always be suspect. We often know what we do not know, and take this into consideration. When we are certain of something that it is not true, that will (almost) certainly lead to big trouble.

    Leaders can rally followers with statements of certainty because certainty greatly simplifies the issues. This is a method of seduction. It relieves the follower of the anxiety of doubt. This is not always a bad thing. "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" was said with such certainty that it inspired and mobilized a nation. When action is necessary we must act regardless of doubts.

    For military leaders, one of the first lessons is that there is a time for caution and a time for boldness, and you had better know when each is appropriate. Certainty and doubt are similar. Both can be very powerful. Like everything that is powerful, they must be dealt with very carefully.
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      Dec 19 2012: Barry, you've hit on something very important - the anxiety attached to doubt.

      Do you think that's what keeps us following the comfort and simplicity of beliefs and certainties, even though they have inherent dangers in the wider world?

      What is it that could potentially change here, to reduce such anxiety? Is that anxiety present simply because it is easier to follow someone else, rather than be autonomous?

      This is great food for thought - that the world's biggest problems are either too slow or impossible to resolve due to the anxiety of doubt.

      If this is true, what is it that keeps us anxious?
  • Dec 16 2012: Whenever I encounter a problem, what I do is to manifest the key branches to the solution first, before working in-depth on each individual branch, analyzing the branch the the minutest of detail. After doing so, more often than not the picture becomes clearer and the answer gradually appears in the mind. In any case, it is better to approach a problem with doubt because doubt translates to questions, and questions beget answers, for which will form the puzzle-pieces to the solution.
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      Dec 17 2012: "...doubt translates to questions, and questions beget answers..."

      Great point!

      I'm interested in your problem solving technique - that a clear picture appears by going to key branches first followed by the minutest detail. Do you find that the context of the whole problem gets lost in the detail, or do the 'branches' contain sufficient context to give you the whole picture?
      • Dec 17 2012: Well I cant give you an exact answer to such a question. The only way to prevent zoning out is to constantly keep track of where your heading to. In some cases, the answer is concealed in the question itself. That means to say, if you dissect the question to its roots, the answer will naturally manifest itself. It hinges on the fact that the answer already lies deep in your mind, and the extraction works in the form of probing the question serves to clear the air. The answer is already in our possession simply because the answer can either be retrieved from experience, or sourced by methods we know of.

        However, there are certain cases in which the answer, no matter how analytic you are, will not surface. This answers are mainly predictions of the future, and postulates of uncertainties, for instance, death. That means to say, no matter how many facts you accumulate, you would not be able to amass hundred percent certainty to the answer you seek for.

        Thus, getting lost in detail is irrelevant to the seeking of an answer. Getting lost simply means that you are not focused, and I am pretty sure that is that.
  • Dec 21 2012: I would argue that certainty contributes to the world's problems; therefore, doubt, by default, is more beneficial in solving them. I once heard a great definition of education I'll have to paraphrase: "Education is when a strident surety is replaced by a hesitant and thoughtful doubt." The fundamentalists of the world have no doubt that they are right, and that all non-believers are going to hell. I think that approach would make more problems than it would solve.
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    Dec 20 2012: I believe balance is the most powerful my friend Allan:>)

    For best results, we need to view the overall picture, work toward relevant detail, focus on close-up detail and the bigger context. I find certainty in the process is the most powerful....certainty with the belief that we CAN find a solution, and questioning ourselves in seeking all possible information, which leads to solution. If we have too much certainty, it may prevent us from totally exploring, and if we have questioning that leads to doubt, it may prevent exploration.......BALANCE:>)
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      Dec 20 2012: Colleen - great to hear from you as always!

      "If we have too much certainty, it may prevent us from totally exploring, and if we have questioning that leads to doubt, it may prevent exploration..."

      This statement is true, and the need for balance I think is without question. But I do wonder about the order in which we balance doubt and certainty in the face of the most urgent and biggest problems we face. It seems to me that certainty alone plods along laboriously wearing lead boots - and by the time we've gathered enough empirical information to solve it within the confines of certainty, then the disaster will already have happened.

      Doubt opens up new vistas, clarifies context and speeds up the process of making things certain and believable. Doubt is not a negative action - it is entirely positive, especially where ugent action is needed, and where arriving at realistic certainties is its prescribed goal.

      You've probably gathered by now that the urgent problem in question concerns climate change. The empirical evidence (the certainty) that it is actually happening has been established years ago by climate scientists.

      What do you think the barriers now are preventing speedy action, given that we now know what will happen?
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        Dec 20 2012: Hi Allan,
        For me, there doesn't have to be a planned "order in which we balance doubt and certainty". In my perception and life experience, I face what needs to be faced WHEN it needs to be faced:>)

        I do not experience certainty as "laboriously wearing lead boots....". I travel the life experience with certainty in my heart....as I said...certainty of the process. That doesn't mean that I always have the process in some kind of "order". It simply means that I am open to all possibilities.

        You say..."...by the time we've gathered enough empirical information to solve it within the confines of certainty, then the disaster will already have happened."

        Well......do you believe that with our thoughts and feelings we create our own reality? If we carry your statement above, in our heart and mind, how successful do you think/feel our experience will be?

        I believe QUESTIONING with an open mind and heart opens up new vistas, I do not believe doubt opens new vistas. I believe doubt simply shuts the door to more exploration. I do not perceive it as negative or positive....it is what it is. What happens when we start doubting ourselves? For me, it simply limits the process. You believe that doubt takes us to certainty? I don't get that.....and don't agree.

        Doubt, by definition, means fear...lack of confidence...distrust...consider unlikely...uncertainty...interferes with decision-making...hesitation...not to believe or accept...."
        How does that move us to certainty?

        I agree that climate change and the effects are clearly evidenced.

        I believe the "barriers" are people in our world who do not accept the evidence. They have doubt, distrust, they consider it unlikely, and I believe the actions we need to take to create change may interfere with certain lifestyles, so they choose NOT to see, hear or experience the evidence! Like you say, we have had evidence for a long time. Those who choose not to see it, simply don't want to change their lifestyle?
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          Dec 20 2012: It's not often I disagree with you Colleen, but here I have to question some of the things you have said, though I agree with much of your rationale behind it.

          I think we are fooling ourselves that we know it all, The intellectual tools we use to get that knowledge seems one-sided - both psychologically and behaviourally. Certainty is a cul-de-sac of knowledge, never to be questioned. You've said as much in your comment - but I feel that it is DOUBT, along with the questioning that it engenders, that opens the door of wider knowledge - and to the appropriateness of its context within a wider world.

          Doubt really is not synonymous with fear or doom as you seem to think. It is actually an enabler of questions. I know that by looking at your commenting style on TED, that you might just agree with that. You don't come across as fearful, but you do come across as a good questioner - and here's the crux - you question things because you must have had doubt somewhere along the line.

          I should have clarified in my question that having doubt about the world if we are doubtful about ourselves is potentially dangerous, limiting and doom-ridden. However, doubting conventional wisdom from a standpoint of confidence, is different - and is the doubt I wanted to discuss.

          Re your last paragraph - People get very disturbed and angry when their certainties about themselves and their world are questioned. Given that some so-called 'certainties' originate from beliefs, they therefore need to be questioned from a place of neutrality (and by the way, would such neutrality originate from certainty or doubt...?). I wonder if getting stuck in a particular belief is down to a need to avoid such a disturbance, or whether it's rooted in the fear of having that essential doubt?

          Are we pushed into beliefs, or are we pulled into them?
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        Dec 20 2012: Allan,
        I'm not "fooling" myself that I "know it all".

        The definition I gave, was found in the dictionary. If you do not believe it to include fear....so be it.
        "Doubt, by definition, means fear...lack of confidence...distrust...consider unlikely...uncertainty...interferes with decision-making...hesitation...not to believe or accept...."

        No, I didn't say..."I feel that it is DOUBT, along with the questioning that it engenders, that opens the door of wider knowledge..."

        I said that for me, questioning is good, and with "the belief that we CAN find a solution... questioning ourselves in seeking all possible information... leads to solution. If we have too much certainty, it may prevent us from totally exploring, and if we have questioning that leads to doubt, it may prevent exploration....."

        I said..."I believe QUESTIONING with an open mind and heart opens up new vistas, I do not believe doubt opens new vistas. I believe doubt simply shuts the door to more exploration. I do not perceive it as negative or positive....it is what it is. What happens when we start doubting ourselves? For me, it simply limits the process."

        If you believe that doubt takes us to certainty, I respect your perception, and I do not agree.

        I question, because I like to learn and grow. I don't think/feel my questioning ever (or very rarely) has ANYTHING to do with doubt. As I said in previous comments, I like to open the mind and heart to exploration, and I am "certain" that the process of question and exploration brings me knowledge and learning.

        I believe that if one is doubtful about ourselves, it projects into the world, and what projects "out" also projects "in" our "self".....yes?

        I agree that folks sometimes get angry or disturbed when certainties about themselves and their world are questioned. Have you noticed that I've said a couple times, the only thing I am certain about is the "process" of questioning and exploration. Neutrality originates from certainty...IMHO:>)
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          Dec 21 2012: Colleen, that comment was not pointed at you personally - or indeed anyone who is willing and able to question effectively, as you do. Maybe we're disagreeing on semantics - what appears to me as something that has its origins in doubt, you see as originating in questions and exploration (equally valid and absolutely necessary).

          I'm suggesting that there is probably a stage before we question something, and that we have to doubt before we question, even only for a millisecond of cognition - easily overlooked. As an example, someone first has to doubt their formerly UNquestioned faith in a religion before actually questioning it, as a prelude to moving towards a more secular way of life.

          I can't accept that neutrality originates from certainty. For me, certainty stops things dead in their tracks and is therefore more related to a stagnation of ideas, and masquerades as unquestionable 'truth'. Furthermore, certainties become even less questionable when they move into 'beliefs' - and that's precisely the point at which we really should be doubting/questioning them.
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        Dec 21 2012: Dear Allan,
        I did not take your comment personally. You wrote..."I think we are fooling ourselves that we know it all". I assumed you meant we humans? I wanted to clarify that I am NOT feeling that I "know it all". In fact, in the whole scheme of things, I know very little.

        Perhaps it is semantics.... that may be it:>) You believe something has origins in doubt, and I see origins in questions/exploration. I still think/feel that doubt, as defined, gets in the way of exploration/questioning. I agree with the dictionary that doubt has an element of fear.

        Ok....you say... "someone first has to doubt their formerly UNquestioned faith in a religion before actually questioning it, as a prelude to moving towards a more secular way of life.".
        I agree.
        What if, a person is regularly questioning the belief? Does there need to be doubt to move? Or could a person say.....that belief worked for me at a certain time in my life because I wholeheartedly believed in the dogma. With questioning, I discovered something different and I will move on. With this scenario, there is no "doubt" of the belief, nor any "doubt" in the person him/herself.

        That's how I function...good, bad or neutral as it may be:>) My exploration is of the life adventure....of that I am certain:>) Many thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions, and beliefs move through that exploration all the time. I personally do not doubt that process in myself. You don't have to accept the process....it is a choice:>)

        You had a couple questions I did not have room for in my last comment...
        "I wonder if getting stuck in a... belief is... a need to avoid... disturbance, or whether it's rooted in the fear of having... essential doubt?"

        I believe getting stuck in a certain belief is sometimes based on a need, fear and doubt.

        "Are we pushed into beliefs, or are we pulled into them? "
        Can be both or either can it not? We can also make a choice based on relevant information, which does not require either pushing or pulling:>)
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          Dec 21 2012: Thanks for your stimulating thoughts Colleen.

          I have to leave for Christmas earlier than expected, so won't have the time to discuss further - as much as I'd really like to!

          Hope you have a great Christmas! ;-)

          Allan
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        Dec 22 2012: Safe journey Allan:>)
  • Dec 18 2012: What seems a certainty here is that we humans don't have wisdom to apply to solving the world's biggest problems.
    We caused them or allowed them.
    In the past, we used both certainty and doubt, and made the wrong decisions virtually all the time, throughout history.

    We even went so far as to exclaim (and astoundingly believe) a masquerading wisdom that goes like this:
    "those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it"
    All we have done is to repeat the past, the past of destruction, pollution, war and so on,
    BECAUSE we remember the past!
    One cannot repeat what one cannot remember, unless one is brainwashed (to repeat).

    So, with all this talk of solutions, we didn't stop when we could see the damage that would be done;
    We didn't stop when we knew the best path to take, and took the more attractive, cheaper, shorter path.
    One determined by money, be it profit or cheap.

    We have proven we don't have any of, or thee wisdom, simply because we have consistently failed to heed it, have dismissed it or have chosen to believe what those who know nothing at all about solving problems, tell us what needs to be done or promise that they can and will do it. Who are these people? Politicians.

    As long as we continue to "repeat having politicians" we continue to listen to and trust those who not only do not intend on solving problems, but never have, one reason being, they don't know how.

    Trusting them, trusting politics, is filled with nothing but equal amounts of certainty and doubt , and neither work.

    Only by admitting the real truth of the causes will help humans find and know the solutions, but will they do them, humanely?

    Some today, think it sane, sensible, rational and intelligent, to begin the discussions of just who should be exterminated as they focus on the numbers of humans on earth, as the falsely labeled cause. They still can't get it right.

    There is no wisdom there.
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      Dec 18 2012: I think the main problem is that the powers that be are to scared to admit that they messed up
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      Dec 18 2012: "those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it"
      All we have done is to repeat the past, the past of destruction, pollution, war and so on,
      BECAUSE we remember the past!
      One cannot repeat what one cannot remember, unless one is brainwashed (to repeat).

      This is because we are in a reality of circle logic and reasoning but we can break that circle and end the arguments. I have wondered for a very long time when is it that we ran out of original thoughts. Most thoughts are evolved from other past thoughts and or combined with a combination of multiple thoughts which give the illusion of a new idea. Even me writing this is not an original thought ....
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      Dec 19 2012: Random and Casey:

      "All we have done is to repeat the past, the past of destruction, pollution, war and so on,
      BECAUSE we remember the past!"

      Does that depend on 'which past' we are repeating? I take your point about the repetition of past in terms of destruction in Westernised societies, but there is also the repetition of the past going on in 'less advanced' societies where ancestral traditions are constructive, and keep those societies thriving and sustainable. I'm thinking of tribal societies say in the Amazonas, Papua New Guinea, Native American etc...

      Is the difference simply a repetition of something sustainable (Traditional societies), as opposed to repeating something unsustainable (Westernised societies)?

      I agree with your assessment of politics and politicians, but not so sure about your statement:

      "Trusting them, trusting politics, is filled with nothing but equal amounts of certainty and doubt , and neither work."

      I think that's because political allegiance is teetering on the edge of being a belief system, which is probably as dangerous as any unsustainable form of 'certainty'. Belief systems and certainties can take us, like lemmings, dangerously close to the edge of the cliff (fiscal or otherwise), until someone or something is able, or has the courage, to doubt the wisdom of that fate.

      Doubt makes us stop and think. It dismantles certainty and belief into contituent parts, so it is then possible to reassemble something more sustainable from them.
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        Dec 19 2012: "Does that depend on 'which past' we are repeating?"

        Chaos theory suggest that we are living all past simultaneously.

        The idea that we create our own reality suggest that all futures are predicted by our past.
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    Dec 17 2012: Close-up details are not incompatible to an overall picture, and there is nothing more certain to be in doubt while solving 'seemingly insurmountable problems'... so what is the problem here? :o)

    Certainty only grows on fields which have already been 'plowed' successfully, and doubt has never been a good advisor to finally take any action. So for 'solving the world's biggest problems' I would rather go with prudence and courage to get things done and to learn from all the mistakes which will happen on those ways ...
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      Dec 17 2012: I agree that close up detail is compatible with the overall picture, but what about the order? Should the overall picture come first, followed by the detail - or the other way round? And would that order change depending on the magnitude of the problem?

      If certainty grows on fields that have been plowed successfully, what happens when the climate changes? Do you think that someone who had doubted climate stability in the first place, could have averted a dubious certainty, if only someone had listened?
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        Dec 18 2012: If one was alone to 'solve the world's biggest problems' the order how to approach it is pretty obvious to me, regardless of their magnitude: The 'big picture' goes before 'detail', as one needs to see first what is going on to be able to decide in detail how to fix it.

        Luckily we are more than 'one' to solve our problems, so we can work on the 'big picture' and on the 'details' pretty much simultaneously.

        Regarding climate change we don't even need to have 100% certainty to take preventive actions, as this problem has enough magnitude and time pressing urgency, that we do not have the luxury to be wrong about it.

        If we reduce our CO2 emissions dramatically and at high cost, yet the climate still changes negatively, we at least have reduced our dependency on fossil fuels, which has to be done sooner or later anyway, as they are limited.

        If we reduce our CO2 emissions dramatically and at high cost and save the balance of the climate we have today, we would have succeeded twice in saving our climate and in reducing our dependency on fossil fuels to be ready for a fossil fuel free and greener future.

        The fact that some lobbyists are still denying the climate change to be caused by us is actually a good example on wasting time on details instead of giving way to see the bigger and better picture and to finally take all detailed actions to get there as soon as possible.

        And are 'we' going to make it? Unfortunately, I don't think so ...
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          Dec 19 2012: "Luckily we are more than 'one' to solve our problems, so we can work on the 'big picture' and on the 'details' pretty much simultaneously"

          What you are saying taps in nicely to another related issue - that of 'crowd wisdom'. Is the big picture more readily accessed by a crowd thinking together, or by an individual who has the charisma to influence many?

          Does crowd wisdom only have the propensity to follow rather than to lead, no matter what subject happens to be, and whether sustainable in the bigger picture - or otherwise?

          You make some good points about CO2 emissions and climate change.

          You end on a pessimistic note. However, if you had complete 'carte blanche' and the power to change human nature, how would you do it? (huge question - sorry!)
  • Dec 16 2012: When a belief system is applied to a problem, then disaster awaits.
    Certainty will always cause problems, Doubt almost never.
    The only approach to any problem, insurmountable or not, is to assume you don't know the answer apriori, look for evidence (without bias), and here is the kicker, believe the evidence, create a solution based on evidence.
    The problem is that most of our institutions are heavily invested an approach and will defend to the death, the status quo.
    For example, youth offenders do not learn any lesson by incarceration. This has been proven by research and backed up by the experiences of youth workers. Yet we continue to incarcerate youth with the belief that sooner or later they will get the message. (I live in Canada and this is directed to the ridiculous Harper government)
    I am sure you can find examples of this in every dicipline from climate change, environmental protection, homeland security, etc.
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      Dec 19 2012: Hi Gordon - agree with everything you say including your point about youth offenders. Having worked with youth offenders myself, I know what you're talking about!

      Appreciate your thoughts.
  • Dec 16 2012: One should know that 'insurmountable problems' are seemingly insurmountable problems.
    It is good to have a proper perspective on issues by applying wisdom and sourcing for knowledge. It is important to ask the right questions.
    It is important to have it in mind that there is a wisdom for every situation. It depends on wisdom, because being sure, or being certain, would not help very much if you are on the wrong path.
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      Dec 17 2012: I agree that being so sure about something is unhelpful at best, dangerous at worst, if you are on the wrong path.

      What examples would you give that illustrate this?
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    Dec 15 2012: Solving problems is perhaps the art of developing solutions given birth by doubts and driven by cautious certainity towards finding a solution.
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      Dec 17 2012: When arriving at that cautious certainty, would you regard it then as almost 'written in stone', or should the possibility of doubt still remain with it - thereby leaving it open to refute?

      I find it interesting how we are almost strangled by our own certainties, to the point where doubters are often ignored or ridiculed. That being the case, is it actually humanly possible to retain 'cautious certainty', or is it in our psyche to cling on to our pet certainties, which we hold as irrefutable? (And isn't that the point where certainty gives way to belief?)
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        Dec 17 2012: Nothing is "certain" if anything is certainit is "change". But the cautious certainity I mention is within the realms of over intention, in this case- The intention to finding a solution is certain. This is without doubt absolutely and unwavering. This is the position which brings out the courage, perseverance and dittermination that is needed to solve problems.

        Having said that, to your point, certainity cannot be blind to reason. Hence reason cannot be without asking the questions and doubting the solution.Therefore one needs to develop "cautious certainty". Can it be refuted? Yes it sure can. But being cautiously certain provideds the humility to take all things into consideration.
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    Dec 19 2012: I began worrying about political and world affairs in the mid 80s after my worldview crashed and I noticed so much that I hadn't noticed before. At that point, I began to educate myself so that I could create a new worldview based on evidence rather than superstition.

    I found that the more educated I became, the more I could see world and US affairs in a broader context. As I studied original documents (rather than history books that are filled with lies), I could trace the problems in the USA back and at the same time, see how the US is spreading a kind of insanity around the world. As I studied quantum physics and comparative religions - along with religious history from the earliest possible documents - and I studied math and literature and non-mainstream ideas about reality, my understanding changed enormously. As I TESTED my assumptions and discarded those that could not be explained rationally, (logically) and those that were not supported with evidence, I found my own explanation for all that happens in my reality.

    So I would suggest that rather than look at the big picture or the small one, we should look at ourselves. Our educational systems have been designed by the great industrialists who made it clear that they did not want to produce educated people (a threat to their superior wealth-based positions in the culture), but who wanted to create workers.

    In the USA, the Dept. of Ed's mission statement is to prepare students for global competititon. (To serve the military industrial complex) Toward this end, there is much that is NOT taught in schools and much that is just plain provable lies.

    This leaves people with a distorted view of reality, never able to see the first cause of the disruption that occurred in our history. If people were to see that, they could fix the problem at its core. But for as long as the agenda in education remains as it is, we imperil & enslave ourselves because of our ignorance.
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      Dec 19 2012: Ah - now this is something that's troubling me. Is a worldview based on evidence, rationality and logic, one that is heading primarily towards only certainty?

      I'm by no means an advocate of superstition, but I do recognise the power of intuition - which some would say, comes from a similar place.

      I entirely see the importance of evidenced information, but do you think it needs the all-important context to establish its viability and sustainability in a wider world? In order to overcome the bigger world problems, should the context should be set first in order for the evidenced detail to work within it - and would that be more an intuitive approach, rather than one based on rationality?

      "I would suggest that rather than look at the big picture or the small one, we should look at ourselves" - Great point!

      I absolutely agree with your insights on the education system and the distorted views of reality it's engendered.

      You seem to have had a good, rounded education from studying quantum physics, math, literature and religion. You say that has been instrumental in finding your own reality, which I think is entirely admirable.

      From the standpoint of that reality how would you tackle, say, the issue of climate change? Is it enough to just rationalise our way out of that one - and would that start with education? Is there enough time for that, given that it may take several generations for a more enlightened worldview to establish itself?

      Sorry - so many questions!
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        Gail . 50+

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        Dec 19 2012: Let me begin by saying that I do not discount intuition. I have been a psychic with an impressive track record and following. I rely on the intuitive to send me in a direction. But then I go in that direction to look for evidence.

        As to climate change, I think that it is well beyond time to EDUCATE. It's a matter of simple math and uncomplicated logic.

        There are now more than 7 billion people on the earth, and that number is growing exponentially.
        There is now global warming that is taking away arable lands and drying up aquifers. (In the US, the great Colorado River will no longer reach the sea by the end of this decade). There will not be enough food/water to support such a large population.

        Our fiscal paradigm fosters global warming and other resource destroying behaviors. As you study economics, you will see that it was established to create disparity of wealth, with "natural law" (death by poverty) taking care of the poor who cannot take care of themselves. (It's a really sick system).

        As you study the social ills around the world, you will see how almost all of them are tied to our fiscal paradigm. Look at education, crime, drugs, unemployment, pollution, and other ills to see that our global fiscal paradigm exacerbates all of the problems.

        There are far too many who do not want the only cure - do not want to see truth. Take the man in Africa who recently posted about the need for fertility clinics in Africa because lack of nutrition, medical care, & health care was causing infertility. I suggested that Africa has a huge population of children orphaned by AIDS with no adult supervision. It didn't make sense to bring children into a world without enough resources to support them. I was told that adoption is not culturally acceptable.

        By 2030, 28% of global population will be hungry/thirsty - even in the US & UK. But people don't dare look at the numbers or the solution.

        Infestations take care of themselves. We ARE an infestation.
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          Dec 21 2012: "As to climate change, I think that it is well beyond time to EDUCATE. It's a matter of simple math and uncomplicated logic..."

          I'm tempted to say that logic and math are also rooted in certainty, but on the other hand, I think you're probably right - simple math and logic might be the quick fix answer we need, as long as logic can also accommodate intuitive beginnings in a remedial process.

          "Infestations take care of themselves. We ARE an infestation."

          I happen to agree with this statement that we are an infestation, but not sure what you mean by "taking care of themselves". Do you mean in the ecological sense that when a species reaches critical mass, environmental factors kick in to regulate numbers? - a bit like a plague of locusts, when food sources run out?

          I look forward to reading your reply, but i have to leave earlier than expected for Christmas so probably can't respond - apologies in advance!

          Have a great Christmas!

          Allan
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        Dec 22 2012: When I say that infestations take care of themselves, I mean that global warming will reduce our numbers (in a most horrible way), but it is more than likely that a plague and/or war will join it. That will bring our numbers down. We do have a war-based economy, after all.

        If the USA alone were to declare peace, it would bring down the global economy almost immediately. Then natural law (death by poverty) will have its effects, and those who have never learned how to be part of a community or survive off the land will have their come-uppence. (as will the politicians and banksters who put us in this position).

        In the USA (and I can only speak for the US due to lack of knowledge), crops rotted in the field because farmers couldn't afford to buy the gas to get the crops to market and America's bread basket is very remote due to its size.
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    Dec 18 2012: Our money fake, if we all just agree to realize that then moneys and easy problem to fix
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    Dec 16 2012: what about doubt when you don't have hard information, certainty when you do? maybe all the questions whether we need to go left or right are not very good questions. sometimes left, sometimes right. the good question is how do we know about the case at hand.
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      Dec 17 2012: It's interesting how a certainties were once powerfully held within a belief, and how difficult it was (and is) to change that belief.

      The world was once flat, until someone came a long to doubt it. We were once the centre of the universe too, until that also was doubted. This was quite possibly the 'hard information' of the time.

      What are your thoughts about today's certainties and beliefs? Should we be doubting them?