Technology, Philosophy, & Sometimes Both

Thoughts on the World by Jack Umano

We Know Nothing (or at least can’t prove anything)

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What do we really know?

As a confessed Myers-Briggs prototypical INTJ, I admit that I believe my own views on everything.  But I’ve pondered, “what do we really know”?  What can we prove?

So many people think they know the right answer on political debates, religious debates…world issues.  Where do people get these unshakable opinions?  We get them from the TV, the radio, the pastor, the politician, the relatives and friends.  Are these sources trustworthy?  As John Mayer sang,

when you trust your television, what you get is what you got

when they own the information, they can bend it all they want.

Radio programs bill themselves as “provocative”.  They are advertising to you that they are just trying  to provoke responses.  It’s how they make money.  They intentionally present the most inflammatory opinions to make you outraged.  But some people believe and adopt those opinions.  The pastor should be the most trustworthy informant.  But who is without agenda?  The pastor is just a human who has learned his opinions from those who’ve taught him – just like you.

Twenty or thirty generations ago (not really that long), an intelligent person might have “known” that the king was divinely given his power and  that the world was flat.  He didn’t learn any of this from experience.  He was told this and accepted it.  Today, I watch the movie: The Truman Show in which Mr. Truman finds out that the reality he has known has been an artificial world.  It is mused that Mr. Truman didn’t realize it for so long because, “We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented.”  There is a similar idea in the movie The Matrix, also.

So what do we really know?  I believe that the world is round, but I can’t prove it.  I simply have been told it.  I believe the politician that I support sincerely wants to make the world better.  But, I’ve never met him.  I don’t think he has some hidden agenda.  But, his opposition would tell me he’s incredibly misguided or even evil.  I can tell you that I believe I was born of a woman I’ve called “mom” for as long as I remember.  But I can’t prove it.  I’m reminded of the Replicants in the movie Blade Runner.  The latest version of these robots didn’t know that their memories were implanted.

Certainly, we all have to dismiss the idea that we are in “The Matrix” or are Replicants with memory implants, just for our own sanity.  But, what can we prove?  Do you accept the “reality that you have been presented” regarding your religion -even though half the population around the world would say you are believing a silly story?  Do you believe that your political opponents are all seriously misguided -when they would say the same about you?

I guess, in the end, we all simply do our best to make sense of the chaos of information.  I value your opinion.  But think twice before you say you’re sure you are right.

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Written by Jack Umano

February 19, 2011 at 5:42 am

Posted in Philosophy

One Response

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  1. More recently, the movie “Inception” has the same flavor as some of the movies you mentioned.

    Joe Martin

    February 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm


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