I don’t get bogged down in arguments of semantics. I don’t care whether you call God Yahweh or Allah any more than I care whether you write the circumference of a circle as 2*pi*radius or tau*radius. The math is the same. It is the reality that counts, not what we name it or how we model it. I am not confused by words.
I have observed that most people take sloppy shortcuts with their thinking. They stumble through a foggy world of fuzzy concepts only dimly aware of their surroundings. This happens to me too when I am very tired or when I allow myself to get lazy because I believe myself to be in familiar mental territory and can rely on memory. The effect is so insidious that it happens automatically without my awareness. The only difference between myself and others is one of degree.
I have especially noticed that this effect is much more pervasive among adults than children. It seems that as we age, we encounter fewer and fewer truly novel circumstances as our knowledge increases. Our thinking gets lazier and our focus deteriorates. I used to be able to run across uneven surfaces (such as piles of boulders) at top speed fully aware of the position and momentum of every part of my body. I was fully confident in my capabilities. I either knew I could make the jump or else I knew I couldn’t make the jump; there was very little uncertainty in those days. It mystified me why adults worried so much about me injuring myself. They told me to be careful, but I thought I was being careful! I’m old now. I may have better held on to more of my childhood than most, but the pull of death is irresistible. Children do not know very much, but adults can “know” a great many things that are not true.
I have also noticed that people cannot always pass a Turing test, and adults fail more often than children. A Turing test is the name given to any test designed to discern between computers and conscious beings. Computers act in accordance with their programming without even being aware. Humans can think creatively and choose between options. However, many people are quick to respond with what seem like memorized phrases that don’t quite fit what I said. I sometimes inadvertently use some phrase or word that activates a (usually negative) response from others, but if they had actually heard and understood the grammar of the sentences I used, they would realize their response was unwarranted. Engaging in conversation with these people is indistinguishable from talking with our current AI programs.
In contrast, my perceptions tend to be crisp and clear. I see the “big picture” of how things fit together. Instead of simply memorizing a route based on landmarks, I imagine them in a continuous space that alerts me to where there might be potential shortcuts. I was even better as a child. When reading a storybook describing a sailboat, I knew immediately without having to think about it that blowing on your boat’s sails to make it move will never work if you are standing in the boat at the same time. I had a “sense of things.”
When given information, I usually remember the meaning better than I remember the way it is delivered. I had a hard time doing proofs in math class because I was supposed to justify every step I took, such as citing the commutative property of multiplication to show that A times B is equal to B times A. The problem is that when I hear (or see) A times B or B times A, I don’t think of the language. I think of a “multiplication event” with A and B the participants in no particular order. It is only because English (and all other human language) is linear that we must write (or speak) out this multiplication event as either A times B or B times A. Language is a representation, not the reality.
I’ve always loved to learn and I find interest in a great many subjects. While most people focus on one area of expertise, I try to know a little bit about everything. This is how I am able to see patterns that others miss. I am able to use analogies that relate one field of study to another. I’ve especially always been fascinated by the different schools of thought there are on every subject. I might not know every detail about the mainstream model as the experts do, but I generally know the basic arguments of the alternative models, while most mainstream experts do not. By focusing on the primary relationships between the facts and the conclusions, I am better able than most to cut straight to what is important and see patterns faster even when I might hold less total knowledge of a given subject.
I am often able to cut through the confusion to get to the core essence of an issue and understand what is really happening. I always knew without being told that centrifugal force is actually inertia in disguise, that objects accelerate as they fall, and that lighter objects fall slower only because of air resistance. It has always been obvious to me from watching feathers fall that it is only the air in the way that prevents them from slamming into the ground like pebbles. When it comes to economics and governance, I can clearly see that capitalism is not theft in any reasonable definition of the term, while communism literally is theft. No one had to teach me that. In math, it never bothered me that matrix multiplication broke the rules of commutation because I didn’t think of it as real multiplication. It never bothered me that the angles of triangles in non-Euclidean spaces could add up to over 180 degrees because I didn’t think of them as real triangles.
I also know myself very well. Unlike others, I always knew why I did a particular action a particular way and could give a reason when asked. I even knew my weaknesses. While I know I’ve never been especially good at multitasking, from observing others and from reading science magazine articles of psychology tests I see that most people cannot multitask. The only difference between myself and others is that I know my shortcomings. Others mindlessly plow ahead and make stupid mistakes without even knowing it. I catch my mistakes. Most people are so unaware they don’t even know their own thinking.
Sometimes people act aware and sometimes people act like robots. Has anyone else noticed this same phenomenon?
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.