Archive for February 2008
It could be that the mechanism for generating mass is actually not the Higgs (but something else) and that would actually please a lot of scientists. Because what scientists really want to do is see something that they don’t understand. They don’t really want theorists to predict something and then they go and find it. Really what they want is to be confused. It’s kind of a profession of always finding something that you can’t explain or you don’t understand. It’s like being an explorer: You want to go somewhere that you’ve never seen before and that shakes and excites you.
That’s an attitude that seems woefully lacking in the popularly cited Evolutionary Biologists and Climatologists lately. They seem to fear and dread results that differ from the theory.
Wired has an article about the Stanford prison experiment and Abu Ghraib. This jumped out at me.
To be a hero you have to take action on behalf of someone else or some principle and you have to be deviant in your society, because the group is always saying don’t do it; don’t step out of line. If you’re an accountant at Arthur Andersen, everyone who is doing the defrauding is telling you, “Hey, be one of the team.”
Heroes have to always, at the heroic decisive moment, break from the crowd and do something different. But a heroic act involves a risk. If you’re a whistle-blower you’re going to get fired, you’re not going to get promoted, you’re going to get ostracized. And you have to say it doesn’t matter.
Most heroes are more effective when they’re social heroes rather than isolated heroes. A single person or even two can get dismissed by the system. But once you have three people, then it’s the start of an opposition.
So what I’m trying to promote is not only the importance of each individual thinking “I’m a hero” and waiting for the right situation to come along in which I will act on behalf of some people or some principle, but also, “I’m going to learn the skills to influence other people to join me in that heroic action.”
I’ve written about this before. Cultivate this mentality.
Today, we lost a great American.
Update: Of course, there are some people who have chosen to place themselves outside the realm of civil discourse. When they do so, the only way to deal with them is in an uncivilized manner, as Mr. Buckley demonstrated above.
“I prefer these small and morally ambiguous wars to the big morally black-and-white wars,” he said to me later. “It would be nice if we had more support back home like we did during World War II. But look at how many people were killed in World War II. If a bunch of unpopular small wars prevent another popular big war, I’ll take ’em.”
Read the whole thing. And if you have the means, it’s good karma to hit his Tipjar.
I’m switching hosting services, so there may be a hickup.