TED Conversations

Raymond Blais

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Why are we not putting all of our efforts into discovering our universe and our place in it?

Most of us have what we need, so why are we so absorbed with things that lose value quickly and in our mortality which can best be understood with discoveries that have yet to be made.

  • Aug 7 2013: First we have to find intelligent life on earth....then let's worry about it elsewhere...
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      Aug 7 2013: I think we need to be braver. Not to be afraid of the unknown.
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      Aug 8 2013: This reminds me of Mahatma Gandhi's reply to the question "What do you think of Western civilization?" He said, "That would be a good idea."
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    Aug 19 2013: We need t start thinking like children more and make the earth happy.
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      Aug 19 2013: Raymond,
      I feel like the earth is naturally "happy". The earth adjusts, adapts and continues to sustain us in spite of our poor stewardship at times.

      Perhaps it would be helpful to be more like children with curiosity, respect, unconditional love and recognition of the gifts the earth gives us? It feels to me, like most of the discovering we need to do is in ourselves.
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    Aug 11 2013: Too few people are aware what makes them happy and even fewer have the courage to take the necessary actions to walk that path.

    On a macro-level, our societal system (mainly financial) isn't geared towards maximizing knowledge: if you don't have research funds, you cannot proceed your research. Today funds for fundamental research are scarce as they do not offer the perspective of a short term monetary benefit.

    Finally, I have a different view on your statement that 'most of us have what we need'. From my perspective, many people still experience a lot of lack in their lives: whether it's money and 'stuff', time, friendship, love, security or self-acceptance.

    I believe that is exactly what stands in the way of discovering the universe and and who we are in that equation. So first we need to look to solve that experience of 'lack', before we can move forward.
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      Aug 11 2013: Bruno,
      I agree that it takes awareness and courage to walk a certain path in the life experience. I also agree that our societal systems are not geared toward maximizing knowledge, and I agree that many people lack basic needs, all of which stands in the way of discovering the universe and who we are in that equation.

      The cycle keeps humanity in a cycle of dependence on certain people and societal systems, which oppress and control, which causes people to be less aware and courageous with less knowledge, lacking basic needs, so they become more dependent on societal systems, which continue to oppress and control, causing lack of basic needs, awareness and courage, which could help move people out of the cycle.

      I believe awareness is the first step toward change, so it helps to be aware of the cycles, which may keep us from exploring our universe and our place in it. When we are told what our place is, those who are telling us believe they have the power to control. It is when we have the courage to step out of that control, that we can fully explore and discover.....in my humble perception and experience.
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        Aug 13 2013: isnt it funny how obtaining and passing on knowledge is one thing we do so much better than other animals, yet we could do better.

        i guess some scientific knowledge clashes with religious beliefs.

        also science doesnt seem to be a big voter issue unless it involves xonflict with religion or financial returns for business.
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          Aug 14 2013: We are very good at passing on information Obey. Perhaps now we need to learn how to apply all that information to life:>)
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      Aug 12 2013: Exploring the universe is not to make people happy but to make them aware. Each person would have to decide for themselves if this is the road to their happiness.
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    Aug 10 2013: Because we don't actually know ourselves and we aren't actually here. We're on autopilot more often than not and “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” ― William Shakespeare, The Tempest.
    • Aug 11 2013: Agree with Daniel here, many of us live too consumed with our daily lives and perceptions of reality. Sometimes its hard to step back and really see what's important. (Unless you chance on going to space and see how small our fickle issues are)

      This cartoon pretty much sums it up - http://zenpencils.com/comic/33-edgar-mitchell-a-global-consciousness/

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        Aug 11 2013: Nice cartoon, cool website. Since I'm not likely to "chance on going to space and see how small our fickle issues are" I remind myself in other ways how myopic our perception of reality is. Like everyone knows Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon, and I didn't know Edgar Mitchell was even an astronaut and landed on the moon, but I take pleasure in telling everyone I know that Eugene Cernan was the last man on the moon, because nobody ever thinks about him.

        “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.
        For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”
        ― William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
  • Aug 9 2013: I read this question and expected something entirely different.

    Well, do most of us have what we need? I don't believe that we do, no, but that's not the issue here.

    Is discovering the universe and our place in it the most meaningful thing possible? The only meaningful thing? So meaningful and compelling that we should all think about it all the time? I'd say that would detract so much from life that making any such discovery would lose some of its joy.

    You're asking about values, framing your question in such a manner as to instantly dismiss a large array of human experience. What is value, anyway? Surely, if something is to have value in the first place, it won't lose its value quickly! Well, if I am to take you at face value, you disagree and believe that things that absorb people have ever dwindling value. Am I to understand things have no inherent value, holding instead only transient, insignificant, momentary interest and the only thing with any value is discovering the universe and our place in it? But is this value not imparted by humans as well, is it not the same curiosity and the same kind of pleasure that motivates us to so many other things? Is it not as transient and momentary?

    And there we have it. Knowledge building for its own sake, inherent value... to be enjoyed transiently by easily distracted humans.

    Tough thing, value.

    Sometimes we need to clarify "what" before asking "why", if only to realise that answers are mulitfold and our premises might be flawed, or might imply the answer itself.

    Once we've established what might be valuable, then we might attempt to link it with human motivation. But you jump directly to ought, forgetting that human motivation might only partially overlap, if at all, with what we think might be valuable.
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      Aug 10 2013: Much too analytical for me. If everyone in the world was focused on one great quest, something that no one person can possess then we might start working together and stop hurting each other.
      • Aug 11 2013: Well, no. Human beings are naturally competitive and no amount of learning to cooperate from a young age or otherwise will completely extinguish that instinct. One single goal would leave no niches for people to pursue, which will lead to more competition...

        But not in the violent sense. You want less violence within communities? Stop poverty. Give people jobs. Educate and instill empathy. Thinking tools help, too.

        You want less war between countries? Yeah, that's a whole different can of worms.
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          Aug 11 2013: I agree Raymond, that we can learn, grow and evolve as individuals, while contributing to the whole...focused on one great quest as you say:>)
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          Aug 12 2013: Competitiveness is just as essential to discovery the universe as to anything else.
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        Aug 11 2013: Aite N,
        I see no reason to "extinguish" competitiveness, because as you say, it is a natural instinct. We can, however, learn to use competition for our own learning AS WELL AS a benefit to the whole.

        Competition does not mean violence, and violence does not contribute to the benefit of either individuals, or the whole.

        Making an effort toward reducing poverty and providing jobs for everyone is a good idea. However, those efforts do not necessarily end or reduce violence. There certainly are lots of people who live in poverty and are without gainful employment who are NOT violent. Just as there are many people who are living in luxury and gainfully employed who are violent. It is not true that poverty and joblessness causes violence.

        "Thinking tools" and empathy always help with any situation.....I agree:>)
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    Aug 6 2013: Let me rephrase the question... here is a spoon, how long will it take to empty the ocean...
    the size of the task is about the same and the tools we have are too.

    So, moral, ethical and all those other human values are really just simple speculation until we empty the ocean.
  • Aug 19 2013: Why are we not putting all of our efforts into discovering our universe
    Its over there
    and our place in it?
    we are in the corner, a little to the left

    Job done, next
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    Aug 18 2013: Could be a conflict of interest to some people.
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      Aug 18 2013: It could really well, be, especially if someone was to copyright the discovery.
      Everyone else would not be allowed to discover for themselves and they would have to worship the copyright, meaning we could end up wit a second God (not that we don't have enough Gods).
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      Aug 18 2013: ANYTHING can be a conflict of interest to some people, depending on what one's personal beliefs and interests are.
  • Aug 18 2013: I do believe that steps are being taken to undertake this matter but like everything else in life it's taking time and to gather the numbers interested in such a forum an continue the chain of getting people interested....time is a major factor. But as I mentioned it is being done.
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    Aug 18 2013: In order to achieve something like that , all of the world countries must gathers together and that kind of difficult because any country work for her self interest and we don't discover our earth and we don't save it , so we must learn how to work together with no Grudge .
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      Aug 18 2013: Ali,
      Perhaps that is part of TED's mission...to gather us together?
  • Aug 18 2013: We don't make it our priority. We keep ourselves busy with daily things that are not even necessary, such as watching TV, spending time on Internet or going out with friends.
    There must be a definite purpose to challenge our minds to see why it is important to discover self being. Really, why do we have to think into ourselves and look for answers for questions we don't understand. If we cut off from a normal daily life and everything that fills it, we will have a chance to think about it.
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      Aug 18 2013: Asan,
      We are here, now on this earth, and we participate in the activities you mention. I believe it is HOW we participate in life that is important and provides the opportunity to discover. We can go through the motions without thinking "into ourselves", and/or, we can live the life experience with awareness, curiosity and effort to discover more about ourselves and our place in the universe....in my humble perception.
  • Aug 18 2013: Behind abstract pursuits there has to be belief. Belief in their realisation. Belief in their worth. Belief in our worth. Belief has to be sustained somehow, and some days, that's just really hard. Magnify this the world over, and you'll find yourself asking much more modest questions..

    What you propose also requires a stable world. I doubt that will happen anytime soon.
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      Aug 18 2013: Aite,
      Do we wait for a "stable world" before we try to discover more about our universe and our place in it? Or can we live a life that is mindfully aware as individuals, which might contribute to a world that becomes more stable?
      • Aug 18 2013: No. We needn't wait. To try, that is. We can try and learn from the outcome, whatever it is.

        I don't see there's a direct connection between being mindful and reaching world stability. It's just not that simple. It is however a step in the right direction..

        My point is that completely committing to this kind of endeavour not only needs a lot of resources, but also a social climate that is different in many significant respects, perhaps most importantly in our view of human beings. It's also important that motivation exists, genuinely. Genuinely wanting something, for the right reasons, especially when its rewards are not immediate, or even foreseeable, is the product of a world where people have overcome the narrowness of everyday experience, where the economy is not completely divorced from reality, where our desires have changed substantially, and where we don't trick or force people into fighting over resources. A world where peace sustains itself.

        Or.. the only other way to ensure people work like this is manipulating them with ideology, which, to my mind, perverts the whole thing.I don't want that. I should hope no one else does, either.

        I must apologise for the lack of coherence.
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          Aug 18 2013: Oh Aite I agree...we needn't wait! Yes, we need motivation and genuinely wanting something for the right reasons. I believe we have begun:>)
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    Aug 17 2013: This a perfect idea and as the Raymond there should be many people thinking same way. this idea better than killing each other. People should know that there thousand planet and waiting for owners and many of them bigger than earth.
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    Aug 16 2013: i think today most of the people believe meanfull philosophy of life is to get wealth so that causes by lackiing of our wisdom
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      Aug 16 2013: Chasing wealth is a manifestation from wanting more and better. What our society values has made it so.
  • Aug 14 2013: We need to focus on the big picture of Life, Scientists are caught up studying the infinite details.
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      Aug 15 2013: Science investigates everything we don't know. That is being human. That is life.
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    Aug 12 2013: i suggest the optimal result may be a balance between looking at the big questions and the little ones.

    suggest its not ideal to spend all your time contemplating the meaning of life or day to day matters. but a mix of both.
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      Aug 12 2013: I think its best to just digest what has already been discovered then comply and end the lies and see what else might be uncovered.
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        Aug 12 2013: good point, we probably arent using what we know already very effectively to improve life , reduce suffering etc.
  • Aug 11 2013: Throughout the history, there have been many prophets, religious leaders, scientists and even novelists who tried to "understand" the universe as they saw it. Of course, they have become better and btter with the accumulation of past knowledge and better instrumentaion and experiments, but the universe is so vast and not completely observable or be comprehensible by an infinitessimal tiny "component"; i. e. the intelligence of any human being. For example, can an ant become knowledgeable of how the mother earth, it lives on, look like?
    More importantly, not every person is MADE WITH THE ABILITY OF THINKING OF ANYTHING BEYOND THE NEED AND COMFORT FOR HIMSELF. For many religious people, they have already "learned" or believed that the universe is consisted of a "present world" and an "after-life world"; hopefully the paradise or heaven, which is all they want or feel worthwhile to learn. I don't believe that you or I can change their mind regardless what is the reason of any persuasion.
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      Aug 11 2013: Hi Bart,
      I think an ant has a certain amount of knowledge (or maybe it's instinct/intuition) about the earth it lives on. Otherwise, how can an ant find a tiny crumb of food left on a picnic table? They DO instinctively find little crumbs of food and carry the food back to their nest. So, there seems to be a certain amount of knowledge or instinct involved in that process, and they seem somewhat familiar with their surroundings.

      I agree with you that some folks believe they have already learned all there is to learn (religion is a good example), and don't want to explore any more. Interesting concept you present....perhaps it is "all they want or feel worthwhile to learn"......feel worthwhile to learn.....are you suggesting that some people may get to the point where they say, I've learned enough....I am not worth learning any more? Very interesting and quite possible.....good point!
      • Aug 11 2013: Hi. Colleen.
        Thank you for your comment. My comment about the ant is applied to the concept of the view of the whole earth, not the part of the earth it lives in. Analogously, I hope that what Raymond said about the "universe" is the entire thing, at least a gross picture of it, otherwise we have already understood the earth , which is a part of the universe, quite well indeed.
        The second point you asked is quite legitimate. Let me reiterate that when I said "many religious people" certainly meant as part of the religious people. Many scientists are also religious, some of them are even experts in astronomy/physics. However,there are also some people, even in TED Discussions, they frequently raised questions about the modern theory on the universe, some even suggested teaching of the "Intelligent Design", or Creation Theory in schools. Of course, for many religious fanatics, they are thinking about the unverse is exactly as I described,.
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          Aug 11 2013: I think I got your point with the ant Bart:>)

          There are some people who only explore their own little part of the world, and there are some folks who like to explore as far as they can go, physically and emotionally.....yes?
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          Aug 18 2013: I think it funny that people think that all believes in God are so closed minded. I do think that some can't except that fact that we can not fully understand our Universe without taking the time to think. An yes most religious individual are stuck in the doctrine unable to embrace change.
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      Aug 11 2013: i agree our human brains maystruggle to comphend the quantum and cosmic scale of the universe and all its complexity.

      still i suggest we keep trying.
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        Aug 11 2013: I agree Obey....because exploring our universe and our place in it seems SOOOOO enjoyable:>)

        Nice to "see" your smiling face Obey, and I recall how and why it was created.....love it:>)
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          Aug 13 2013: hi colleen. nice to see you too.

          ill stick with r&d, not art.
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      Aug 12 2013: It comes down to; do you want to believe in a fixed universe where everything important is known or do you want to believe in a vast changing universe that we have only begun to explore.
      • Aug 12 2013: I certainly believe the latter case. Also, I didn't mean that we should quit exploring the evidence of the ever expanding reality of the "universe". (or "multiverse"?) I am only saying that considering our conception of the ever expanding dimension of the unverse, we are currently lagging far behind the pace of distance and speed of our advances (such as we have manmade spacecraft landiing only as far as Mars) in science and technology.
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    Aug 9 2013: We need to focus on the big picture of Life, Scientists are caught up studying the infinite details.
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      Aug 11 2013: What do you mean by 'the picture of Life', Christopher? All life is one. I've been listening to 'The Future of Life' by the preeminent Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson and it really has me thinking that there are no details. In every part of the world there is a reflection of the whole.
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    Aug 8 2013: Hi Raymond,
    Some of us are making an effort to discover our universe and our place in it, and I believe that is one of the main reasons for being human.....exploration and discovery of our "self", others, our world, and how it is all interconnected. My personal goal, is to explore the human life experience, learn, grow and evolve while contributing to the whole.

    One thing that I discovered years ago, is that many people do not have everything they need. Many people in our world do not have the very basics like water, food, shelter and safety. I think it is difficult for people to explore their/our world when every moment of the day is spent trying to survive.

    There are many of us who have what we need and much, much more, and those who do not have enough. I believe that part of our discovery as individuals and as a whole, may include learning how to balance and share resources.
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      Aug 8 2013: The fear of not having enough and wanting more than is needed is a cancer that must be overcome.
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        Aug 8 2013: I tend to think/feel that first understanding the fear, how it manifests itself, why it is a fear, etc., is more beneficial than trying to "overcome". Kind of like working from the foundation up.....you know?

        To overcome, or overpower something seems to deal with the obvious superficial aspects of something without addressing the underlying cause.....what do you think?
    • Aug 9 2013: I am not sure that anyone has much much more than they need. If they have, as you say, much much more than they need it seems an indication that they do not have what they need and are looking for what they need in the wrong place. People may have much much more than they need in a certain area but that indicates, to me, that they do not have what they need in another.
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        Aug 11 2013: I have more than I need Shawn, and it seems that many people in western cultures have more than they need. Have you traveled very much? Are you aware of many people in our world who do not have even the basics like water, food, shelter and safety?

        I agree that having more than we need could be an indication that we are looking for what we need in the wrong places.....good point!
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    Aug 7 2013: havent we already discovered a lot about the universe and our place in it over the last few hundred years.

    i suggest we can make apretty good go at understanding what we are, what drives us, and why. and whether there are better ways to live.

    evolution, biology and psychology provides a reasonable explanation for our greedy tendencies.

    we evolved in a competitive world. we are social animals with heirarchies. being resource rich makes us more attractive mates. etc. most of our evolutionary past we strggled to eat enough and not be eaten.

    that doesnt mean being greedy is the most satifying or beneficial way to live. we can use our intellect to figure out how to reduce suffering and improve the human condition.

    we should recognise our animal instincts and drivers, but not be slaves to them.

    i would add that the material universe and people in it are all we reasonably know to exist and it seems reasonable to focus on making a good life while we live.
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      Aug 7 2013: From what I have seen it is quit obvious that the more we learn the more we realize we don't know and with every discovery from the very small to the very large and distant the more I feel engaged and part of an adventure that is forever and has no end results. That stimulates me more than money, power or fame.
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        Aug 12 2013: i agree the more we learn the more complex the universeappears and there is a growing wave front of things we realise we dont know.

        but still we know so much more the 300 years ago.

        we know life evolved. that there are billions of galaxies, not just one. dna. vaccines. electronics, flight etc.

        the cup isfuller than before, bur bigger than we knew
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      Aug 8 2013: Re: "evolution, biology and psychology provides a reasonable explanation for our greedy tendencies. we evolved in a competitive world. we are social animals with heirarchies. being resource rich makes us more attractive mates. etc. most of our evolutionary past we strggled to eat enough and not be eaten."

      In other words, possession and control of resources (a.k.a. "greed") makes us more "fit for survival", more likely to pass on our genes and more likely to ensure survival of our descendants. OK. That's understandable. How does morality makes us more fit for survival? Isn't caring for sick and poor make society sicker and poorer? Why should we have mercy for evildoers and grace for the losers? How do evolution and psychology explain that?

      Intellect can make our lives better only if we know what "better life" means. And that knowledge does not seem to come from intellect or science, does it?
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        Aug 8 2013: Evolution does not work as fast as our intelligence would like it to. A just and humane society is not right around the corner but is closer than before. Just because life is a struggle should not stop us from searching for answers to everything and anything even when those answer just pose new questions.
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        Aug 10 2013: Hi I think we are some mix of instinct and reason. We have great intellect but also the instinctual drives.

        I agree we should try to promote reason.

        I suggest what a good life means is up to us to work out. Science helps us understand ourselves and the universe so it is perhaps part of the mix. Its also a mix of the mind- brain capabilities we have. We have the mental capability of empathy and we can think about what reduces suffering and improves the human condition.

        Its up to us work out what a good life is. I think we have a pretty good handle on it, but ois t is a challenge.
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          Aug 10 2013: Hi, Obey,

          You are very optimistic. I am fairly pessimistic about the ability of intellect to solve our problems. One may understand the problem, the source of it, but lack the will power to solve it. E.g. a smoker who has a lung cancer may not be able to quit the deadly habit despite the knowledge and understanding. Or, a person may have a great idea but lack the enthusiasm, energy, communication, and leadership skills to persuade and organize other people to realize it. On the other hand, a person who is "not the sharpest tool in the shed" may be very successful. The "Forrest Gump" movie is a great illustration.

          "Good life" is an elusive concept. What seems good at a first glance turns not so good when we try it. E.g. having plenty of food (like a free all-you-can-eat lunch buffet every day) may seem to be "good" (better than lacking food) but one can get very sick if he over-eats regularly. Children - another example. I'm still trying to figure out if they bring happiness or misery.

          At my age, I have a lot less confidence in my intellect than 30 years ago and I, for sure, do not "have a good handle" on what a good life is. I don't think, I have less intellect than 30 years ago, but I am not confident that it can bring me "good life".
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        Aug 13 2013: hi ag, i guess im optimistic that as a species we knowvenough to have a good go at developung a moral framework to reduce sufferingvand improvevthe human condition.

        im not so optimistic about our ability to agree on moral frameworks or implement improvementscwhen a lot of these issues are complex with pros and cons.

        i sometimes despair some still look to bronzec, iron age and medieval morailty emedded in scriptures not enlightment values etc, modern human rightsetc.
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          Aug 13 2013: I know, you are an atheist which means you are against faith and "beliefs without evidence". Yet, you believe that "as a species we know enough to have a good go at developing a moral framework to reduce suffering and improve the human condition." But that's a faith statement. There is no evidence for that. Moral frameworks don't seem to be developed based on knowledge. Besides, stealing and killing your competition could make good survival skills, from evolutionary standpoint. Intellect can successfully argue both ways. Some criminals are dumb, but some are very smart. Nerve gas and nuclear weapons have been created by very smart people. Intellect seems to have little to do with morality. Being smart is not enough to have good life or make other's life better.
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        Aug 13 2013: Good points ag.

        Actually I admit my position is an opinion, but I try base on evidence and reason.

        So I'm willing to update my view in the face of a compelling argument and evidence.

        Which is still quite different from a theist belief in divine command, especially where they assume their god is all knowing and all good. By definition then whatsoever their god concept is supposed to have done or said is good.

        Its not open to analysis or debate in the same way. God drowning the world was good. Heeternal suffering in hell is good. Kililling homosexuals is good. Regulated slavery is good.

        Whereas I have arguments to support my opinion that owning people is not reducing suffering. Killing homosexuals is not improving the human condition.

        Heck eating other animals is questionable from my perspective.

        I admit these views are not based on evidence as rigorous as scientific theories, but suggest it is better than assuming any particular religious dogma is flawless without examination.

        I would point out that while natural selection is competitive and a driving force shaping us I don't propose a dog eat dog society, because my assessment is there are better ways to reduce suffering.

        One of my tests is to put myself in the shoes of others to try and determine the impacts of positions. Wanton killing is not going to support a peaceful productive life in my opinion, based on reason, whereas when Yahweh performs or orders killing theists position is not based on reason, just divine command, and baseless faith.
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    Aug 5 2013: Some of us are busy solving problems created by those who have all they need.
    • Aug 6 2013: Linda, same opinion with you;-) Now, we are in the troubles because we could live in the better world. It might sound strange but in some aspect, it is completely true. We should not waste of time for useless things, focusing on your inner side.
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      Aug 6 2013: In my opinion all that one needs is food, water, shelter and freedom, everything else fails in comparison to what we could discover and experience on the quest that I propose here. Such a quest could unite the world in an adventure that could entertain and enlighten us all.
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        Aug 7 2013: OK Let's take water.
        Phoenix diverted the water the tribe used to use and left 14,000 people to get water from one well. I happened to be at the senate hearing committee when this issue was brought forward to the senate from the tribe. They have been fighting to have water for YEARS. I might be able to get the senate transcripts if you're interested. Sometime around Easter, 2010
        Whose freedom? Whose water? When you clarify that, you find out how bad the problems are that are left behind as people seek to meet their 'need.'
        I could go on about food... Shelter...
        But my focus is health and those are the problems I am trying to address.Guess what, everybody dies. Is life on your list of needs? Why do some people die so young and not others? When you look into that, you REALLY find evidence of some people's 'need' usurping other people's 'need.' Leave cosmology to the cosmologists. Sit on you padded butt and contemplate the universe. Some of us are busy and our effort makes a difference.
  • Aug 19 2013: “The earth laughs in flowers.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
    The truth is I envision God laughing a lot like the Buddha or Dalai Lama

    "Look close and you will see love everywhere"- Keith W Henline
    If you don't see it either get closer or further away it will come into focus.
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      Aug 19 2013: That is SO true Keith....the earth laughs in flowers......yes indeed:>)

      That quote is etched on a stone in my garden.......I LOVE it.....and......I love to see the earth laughing in flowers:>)
  • Aug 19 2013: Why are we not putting all of our efforts into discovering our universe and our place in it?
    Because space has no celebrities.

    Most of us have what we need.
    Really - the majority my friend - simply dont. Poverty and all.
  • Aug 19 2013: I think we;ve progressed too-far out there already - evidenced-by our empty television-watching; we've forgotten our important social connections, and our own worth. We feel like there is nothing important we can do; so we seek nothing more than scratching our basic itches. Apparently this is our place in the universe until we get all our bases covered again.
    Tempting as omniscience & omnipotence is, mabye we're better-off learning lessons as we all make our collective mistakes.
    I think Stan Tenen said something about the need to have integrity - being morally transparent? I would think that to be more important than discovering our universe.
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    Aug 18 2013: Because there are more pressing matters. It is as simple as that!
    Just think of Maslow's hierarchy of needs!
  • Aug 17 2013: So far everything we have discovered, we have destroyed. The human race is next, we cannot break the law of Karma. The human race have been given dominion over the earth but we have proven beyond any doubt that was a mistake!
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      Aug 19 2013: : I disagree. I don't see that kind of destruction, some for sure, but we haven't gone over the cliff yet and if we start thinking differently we can change.
      • Aug 19 2013: I am not only praying you are right, my whole life has prepared me for one thing, changing the course of history. I and many others are doing our best to figure out and carry out that change. Before we can or will change there has to be a wake up call. That is where we are right now, waking up. A new generation with eyes wide open, no illusions.
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      Aug 19 2013: Keith and Raymond,
      I agree that we are "thinking differently" and "waking up". To have the ability to do this, suggests that we may not have "destroyed" everything?

      My glass is usually MORE than half full....call me Pollyanna if you wish:>)
      Where attention/focus goes, energy flows:>)
      • Aug 19 2013: Thank you Colleen, I believe we all have our place on the rope, you, me, Raymond and everyone else who wants to helps us pull the human race back from that cliff. No doubt we have not gone over it but most of us see it coming and have a ring side seat. It is our job (the elders) to buy enough time for our kids to set sail in another direction and give them as many tools as possible to build a new reality for themselves. Like it or not a good many will continue off that cliff it is inevitable, many have jumped and many more will. It is our job to put up signs and warnings that there is another way.
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          Aug 19 2013: Keith,
          I have no illusions about pulling the human race back from anything. I know I can only do the best I can in my little corner of the world.

          Have you read some of the comments made by young people here on TED? I think/feel THEY can help US sail in another direction.

          Reminds me...
          "The winds of Grace are blowing all the time. It is up to us to raise our sails"

          Every single person in our world has the opportunity to raise their/our sails and discover whatever we choose. I believe that is what the human life adventure is about. Some will use the opportunity, and some will not.....it is a choice. Hopefully, some of us learn to sail with awareness:>)
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    Aug 17 2013: @Paul Lillebo

    For some reason I am not allowed to reply to Paul Lillebo directly, so I'll do it here. Your whole "one angelic party and one party of the devil" is itself an attempt to "delude others." Notice that I never said that, yet you were quick to insert those words into my mouth. There are good people in every party (and far more than just two parties, despite what the RNC and the DNC would like you to believe). There are also criminals in every party. That much is true, and I would not ever deny that.

    With this said, the two major parties in this country represent a dichotomy in modern politics: inclusion versus exclusion. One party wishes to include as many people as possible in our political process. The other party wishes to "conserve" that status quo, and prevent any new inclusions in our system. One party embraces science, and attempts to adapt to its lessons, while the other party goes out of its way to deny science, and certainly will not ever try to adapt to it.

    You can try to pave over my observations by saying that I have a short memory, or that I am inexperienced, but you cannot pave over the careful branding of each party. Democrats practice the politics of inclusion, and base their activity on science, something the TED crowd can appreciate. Republicans, on the other hand, practice the politics of exclusion, and are willing to spend millions of dollars in order block and deny science.

    Sure, G.W. TALKED about a mission to Mars (notice that he did not make it actually happen), and yes, Obama cancelled that plan. Obama also had a MASSIVE financial crisis to deal with, and politically speaking the time was NOT right for a high dollar mission to deep space. Call it pragmatism. Thanks to G.W. we spent SO MUCH of our national treasure on fighting wars that it just was not feasible, or possible, to undertake a Mars mission. I commend Obama for having the bravery to cancel a program that many in his party supported.
  • Aug 17 2013: The problem is that we have an economy based around jobs rather than production. We seem to believe that we need to keep everybody employed and busy so we produce inferior products that need replacing.

    We need an economic model based on production not employment – the truth is that we don’t need humans to make things anymore. Stop focusing on job – jobs are obsolete - and we all have time to contemplate higher objectives.
  • Aug 17 2013: Raymond,
    this is something my husband and I often ask ourselves. You are so right, we have everything we need.
    With materialism at an all-time high, it seems like the development of essential values (respect, communication, empathy to name a few) and 'the bigger picture' itself are being placed on the back burner... These obsessions with short-term money-making schemes, everybody's 15 minutes of fame and extreme extroversion is distracting us form what it's really all about. The media is powerful, too powerful.

    Yesterday, my kids and I took a little walk. We live in a rural, woodsy area, and take walks often, searching for treasures left by nature and asking questions about...well about everything. My daughter, who just turned 7, asked me, "Mama, is the earth happy?" I had to think long and hard about that one. I asked her what she thought. She said, "The trees are full of green leaves, the water is full of fish... and when the cars drive on the road, I think it tickles the earth." Then, she shut her eyes and listened, and said: "The wind is happy too. I'm happy. "
    What happens to us, between childhood and adulthood, that we forget how simple our place in the universe can be?