Cognitive Thrift 9 – Major Figures
Scott Douglas Jacobsen & Rick Rosner
May 14, 2017
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Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Our discussion went from scientific process in general to discussions about spiritism and the afterlife in addition to specifics about ghosts, the devil, angels, and so on, and then it went into historical aspects to do with early indications of science, if not outright science but with an anthropomorphism and a teleological view, then it went into major figures in this.
Take, for instance, Isaac Newton and most of his work being on alchemy. You did not mention his heavy work on Church Fathers, which was probably a religious duty from his own perspective in addition to the very deep religious feelings of Einstein who, I guess, developed his views from Spinoza, I believe, then you went into American politics as well with the cynical exploitation of people, but also looking at some of the more mild, general social benefits that over a society can do very great good.
For instance, the self-sacrifice that can be encouraged by belief systems that require faith. This then leads to a personal perspective. What is your own stance on this in terms of religious feelings and science, and so on, rather than observing the historical record, American, other historical figures, and so on?
Rick Rosner: Well, with me, I have a pretty healthy dose of OCD. Every day, you can catch me acting superstitiously many times without easily believing that the stupid superstitions have any validity. Even though I don’t believe in them, I still try to step in a room with my right foot, and certain numbers make me nervous, and it’s all ridiculous, but I still find it easier to yield to the superstitions than to actively resist them and feel uneasy – which is a characteristic of OCD.
At the same time, nobody is free of unsubstantiated suspicions or beliefs about the world. You don’t get people taking forward steps in figuring out the world without those people exploring unsubstantiated beliefs. When you hear – you could probably dig up hundreds of quotes from mathematicians and scientists talking about how they pursue the most beautiful lines of enquiry. The godliest lines, the things that – Einstein often said that God had to do things certain ways because they were too beautiful to not be done that way.
Spiritualism or science can’t be separated by certain kinds of mystical feelings. Now, you can – a lot of scientists would call themselves hardcore realists and say that they don’t believe in anything, but natural processes, but often as they explore the world they must at least partially rely on suppositions about the world that could be considered non-scientific and somewhat mystical, hoping that this would lead to further hard science.
We don’t know everything, and when trying to know more we are going to go out on a limb. Some of which are a little mystical. In talks we’ve had earlier, we’ve talked about some of the reasons why math, the beauty of mathematical regularity is reflected in the greater world.
Somebody talked about the super-weird effectiveness of math in describing the world. How that is just a crazy – why should math and number and equations of motion and all that describe the world? Why should the world have to at all conform to mathematics that a lot of mathematicians and other people consider beautiful? It seems for a lot of math people that seems mystical and wonderful. It can reflect a faith in the beauty of creation.
Even if you’re so hardcore that you don’t believe in a creator, at the fringes of what people know is belief, and belief often can’t be entirely rational.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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