First... I've been reading a lot lately about things relating to the Left and Right... to Liberal and Conservative.... Democrat and Republican...
I'd been considering for awhile that my view of the differences between the Democratic party and Republican party was colored by my rather recent introduction into politics, and that I was weighing my view of each party and what it stood for by the beliefs and actions of the candidates put forth by each party.
lately I've been starting to realize that that was not quite correct. so I've been starting to try to get a better grasp on what each stands for and why. I've been reconsidering things.
I think this somewhat came to a head about 2 days ago when I stopped by Barnes & Noble and picked up the latest issues of 2600, SKEPTIC and The Philosophers Magazine. There was an article in The Philosophers Magazine (Issue 30) entitled "The Hobbesian state of America". It went into how the philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke affected the American ideology and how this in turn affected foreign and domestic policies, perceptions, relations etc. This article really sort of pushed me over the edge to the point where I feel that I need to do some serious studying on the roots and historical foundations of these groups or ideologies, rather than basing too much of my understanding on contemporary empiricism. :(
Second... I was reading the latest SKEPTIC (Vol.11 #3) and came across an article entitled "Flashbulb Memories - How psychological research shows that our most powerful memories may be untrustworthy" which went back over a number of experiments going all the way back to 1899. this got me thinking that if there was such repeated scientific evidence from all these studies done about the fallability of human memory, from as short a time as 24 hours, up to 3 years later... and that with many of the subjects and essentially all of the subjects from 2 and 3 years later, the false memories had actually completely supplanted the original memories... and even when subjects were shown video and/or their own written descriptions of the events at the time they actually happened, they retained the new false memories! these false memories had essentially become reality to them and they were unwilling and/or unable to revert back to the real memories of the real events. these memories were simply gone. vanished, erased, replaced by fabrications of their minds.
can anyone see where I'm going with this? these are people who had directly witnessed events in their lives... things which had taken place directly to them... and they had fabricated false memories that had completely replaced their real memories, and in other cases the memories were completely fabricated... of events that never happened. and remember, this almost irreversible loss and replacement of memories happened within 2 to 3 years.
now imagine that you have memories of events which are written down, not by anyone who directly witnessed the events... and which are not written down for decades... events which follow similar patterns to those in the article... would or should this cast doubt on the authenticity of those accounts? especially given obvious inconsistencies and discrepancies between the different accounts? given our newfound understanding of the fallability of human memory etc?
'Flashbulb memory' theory fades in light of new findings
9/11/01 - Reactions of Psyhological Scientists - FLASHBULB MEMORY RESEARCH
Third... now this third one isn't such a serious thought... I was just thinking about how it was such an odd coincidence that the things written in the bible all just happened to be exactly what the people of the time saw around them. contemporary fiction as it were. the animals of creation were the animals around them because they didn't know of any other animals before those... it wasn't a divine vision from god of the actual creation... it was a story derived from what they knew. Gods only begotten son just happened to be sent to earth... and that just happened to be right in northern Israel... not in the Americas, or Asia etc... nope... out of the entire universe (see my earlier post on the Hubble Ultra Deep Field), the one and only son of God just happened to end up right there in their back yard (of course, this also goes for other religions too... but that just bolsters my point).
now, I'm sure you can turn this around and say "of course it's that way... the bible was written after the fact because he was born there... you're switching it around!", but then we have the issues of him conveniently fulfilling prophecy, the old testament etc... and I've heard arguments about how he must be the messiah and whatnot because how else could he have fulfilled so many prophecies? again, it couldn't possibly be an issue of the facts being bent to fit the prophecy could it? especially in light the factors I explained above in point #2?
(not to mention a lot of the modern scholarly work into the origins and authorship of the bible, and the historicity of the events depicted etc. political pressures, personal agendas etc.)
this is the kind of stuff I'm usually always thinking about. taking a holistic view of things and comparing, contrasting etc... finding connections and new ways to look at things using information from a different source, on a different topic. for instance, the Hobbesian state of America article grabbed my eye because of the discussions I was having with Markavillie... so I read a little further and decided I had to buy the issue.
I'm constantly trying to read information on many many different topics so that I can stay as well informed as possible, and have a larger, deeper pool of knowledge to draw my associations and holistic view from.
for instance, read this entry on Cold Reading and maybe even do a little further research... and notice how much of a difference it can make on how you perceive the world from then on (assuming you didn't already know this specifically).
hopefully this gives you a little idea about how my mind works... and maybe some interesting things for you to think about for yourselves.
remember, if you see something you can't explain, and it makes you think of a ghost, that is how you generally would explain it... the human mind fits things to what it knows... it by nature attempts to categorize, explain, figure out... it doesn't like unknowns, so it fills in the blanks. and what it fills those blanks in with can seem just as real, or as experiments have shown, even more real than other events.
but it doesn't make them true.
this is all about getting to that truth and trying to learn to avoid the cognitive pitfalls along the way.