It’s all about what you don’t know

In an era of Big Data, the prevailing myth is that what is known has become vast, while what is unknown lies on an ever-narrowing margin.

We live in a known world in which a few pockets of the unknown remain, but it’s just a matter of time before science succeeds in wrapping up its investigations. Every question will have been answered and for any individual, the only constraints on knowledge will be determined by the capacities of their own mind.

Thank Google, among others, for fabricating this fantasy image of the world.

As a measure of how little we know, try to remember precisely what you were thinking, precisely an hour ago.

No one can do that. No one’s memory operates with that precision and there are no means to record the stream of thought other than through memory.

So think about that: there are over 7 billion people on the planet most of whom currently attach a certain amount of importance to what is going on inside their own minds and yet all of whom know amazingly little about their own recent and distant experiences. Sure, we can piece together small fragments — enough to construct a narrative about who we are and what we have done — but the bulk of our experiences, once past, are gone for good. They have merged into the limitless void of the unknown and the unknowable.

We imagine that as we proceed through life, we are engaged in a process of perpetual aggregation, yet what we carry with us is utterly dwarfed by what we leave behind and is lost forever.

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One thought on “It’s all about what you don’t know

  1. john somebody

    I keep being told that I can’t know something I don’t have direct experience of. Such as when zionists who want to discourage people from thinking about things which will lead to anti-zionist conclusions, tell me that I should shut up because I’ve never even been to Israel. The quick reply is, “I’ve never been to the moon, but I know it’s not made of cheese”.

    You may dispute whether any of us can really know such a thing. But there has to come a point, where reality which is sustained by the presence of truth, can be experienced directly. And until then, we can live in a sustainable reality without such awareness, but where we can experience evidence to the same effect. The fact that evidence can be conflated with something similar, cannot detract from any fact. This is why we can function in a world where there is a consistent up, and another one down.

    The fact that our perceptions of truth, e.g. torturing sentient creatures is bad, is not diminished by the fact that we were not aware of such truth, at some time previously. The fact that we are learning of better ways to do things, is evidence and may become proof, that we can unite with the most sustainable reality, where we don’t become threats to others, so we don’t give others cause to defend themselves, and thereby, threaten us.

    TRUTH: That which sustains our experiences of reality for longer than any parasite, (e.g. unbridled imagination), can.

    The only real alternative, to a lack of progress, has to be
    progress, no matter what anyone thinks or feels at the time. Evolution
    happens, and we’re always getting there.

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