Uncertainty

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I once saw a documentary in which a herd of elephants is hit by a sandstorm. One baby elephant gets separated from the herd and in its hurry to find the others starts running in a random direction. From the helicopter filming from above we can see that the little elephant is heading off in precisely the opposite direction to the herd. You want to shout, ‘Stop! The other way, turn around!’.

I sometimes feel I might be like that baby elephant. I read books written by race realists (aka horrid racist bigots) and am convinced that they are right and their opponents, the nice people who believe that everybody is exactly in all ways, are wrong. I feel in my bones that my position is right, but then I would, wouldn’t I? And I’m sure the kumbaya-singers also feel in their idiotic bones that they are right. And what if I am right in a narrow sense but wrong in a big sense, like an expert on Christianity who tells us how transubstantiation works and what the Trinity means, but is unaware that God doesn’t exist. Such a person is, and I may be, living from false premises.

There is clearly a ‘Founder Effect’ in my thinking. The Founder Effect in genetics is where a small group breaks away from a bigger group and because a founder member happened to have, say, blue eyes, then an unusually large number of the descendants of the group will also have blue eyes. In regard to my beliefs, my parents, Richard Dawkins and John Derbyshire have all had a large Founder Effect on my thinking. In this way I have fortunately – so at least it appears to me now – avoided the influence of charlatans like Deepak Chopra and political ideologues like Noam Chomsky who are blinded by hatred of the West.

Is there any way of knowing whether or not I am on the right track? Most people would say ‘Look at the evidence’ but which evidence? The evidence that suggests race realists like Richard Lynn, Arthur Jenson, J.P. Rushton and Helmuth Nyborg are right or the alleged evidence that their opponents adhere to? I suppose you could have a headcount of experts and then come down on the majority side but since when has majority opinion been a good touchstone for what is true? Just ask Galileo. Politically correct, state sponsored ideologies with their rewards and punishments can skew a modern scientist’s view just as surely as the Counter-Reformation and communism could skew those of European and Soviet scientists.

It’s mainly when I come across something impenetrable but which nonetheless gives the impression of being pregnant with meaning that I really start to wonder if I am just a bit thick and thus probably wrong on most things. I get this feeling when I read T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, the first part of which, Burnt Norton, you can listen to here. The ideas in the poem are very strange:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.

So it begins and it continues in a similar vein for the next 52 minutes. Whether T.S. Eliot’s poetry is good or just pretentious twaddle I find it impossible to say. Unlike football, I need other people to tell me what constitutes good poetry. It could be that what appears double-Dutch to me, albeit nicely couched double-Dutch, could actually be deep and meaningful. You see despite not understanding Four Quartets, it fascinates me in a way that poetry that I do understand doesn’t. I have the impression that at any time the meaning behind the strange ideas could come to me and make me ‘Aha! Now I see!’

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