— André Gide
— Yuval Noah Harari from book “21 Lessons for the 21st century”
In a world deluged with irrelevant information, clarity is power. In theory, anybody can join the debate about the future of humanity, but it is so hard to maintain clear vision. We might not even notice the debate going on, or what the key questions are. Most of us can’t afford the luxury of investigating, because we have more pressing things to do: we have to go to work, take care of the kids, or look after elderly parents. Unfortunately, history does not give discounts. If the future of humanity is decided in your absence, because you are too busy feeding and clothing your kids, you and they will not be exempt from the consequences. This is unfair; but who said history was fair?”
— Paul Simon (link)
We don’t have the capacity to understand the great mysteries of life and God or no God or infinity, we just can’t get it. It’s beyond us, but that’s fine. We’re not meant to get that. But the pursuit is so interesting. That, I think, it’s life sustaining and I think when you lose the interest in that pursuit you’re finished.”
— Charles Darwin
— From the book “Why We Sleep”
Imagine the birth of your first child.
At the hospital, the doctor enters the room and says, “Congratulations, it’s a healthy baby boy. We’ve completed all of the preliminary tests and everything looks good.” She smiles reassuringly and starts walking toward the door.
However, before exiting the room she turns around and says, “There is just one thing. From this moment forth, and for the rest of your child’s entire life, he will repeatedly and routinely lapse into a state of apparent coma. It might even resemble death at times. And while his body lies still his mind will often be filled with stunning, bizarre hallucinations. This state will consume one-third of his life and I have absolutely no idea why he’ll do it, or what it is for. Good luck!”
Astonishing, but until very recently, this was reality: doctors and scientists could not give you a consistent or complete answer as to why we sleep.
Consider that we have known the functions of the three other basic drives in life—to eat, to drink, and to reproduce—for many tens if not hundreds of years now. Yet the fourth main biological drive, common across the entire animal kingdom—the drive to sleep—has continued to elude science for millennia.”
…this is a good place to point out that for me personally, there are no facts, just working hypotheses. To me, life is very much a choice between open-mindedness and certainty, and I have been stung by certainty so many times that I now prefer always to err on the side of open-mindedness. I always cling to at least a tiny bit of doubt about everything. This is not to say I think everything is false. It is to say I admit I will never be intelligent enough to have a complete picture of anything, my view will always be a bit off because I’m not perfect. Indeed, because I am not perfect, certainty is a trap.”