Thursday, May 05, 2005

Isn’t culture great?

As I recently mentioned, I’m reading a book about free will. While reading, I got to thinking about books in general, and then language and culture. Do you realize that for almost ANY topic you can think of there is a book about it? Think of how rare that is for most of human history! If you want to know something you can probably find the answer! That works generally, and probably for most specific questions.

Regarding free will, Dennett has read tons of books and papers on it, thought about it a lot, wrote it out, lectured about it, responded to suggestions from the lectures, had editors and then produced a book. I just have to read it! Of course, sometimes the reading is hard enough, and the book obviously comes along with his perspective… but what a time saver.

What’s more, now one can almost use Google and the Web exclusively for nearly all information. Now, numerous people have done lots of work, so I just type in a couple words and tons of info pops up. This has created the problem of much useless junk, but… not so much that the utility is negated.

Oh, memetic transmission of complex ideas and phenomena, what would I do without you? (Might be happier, but I wouldn’t have been able to write that sentence. Heck, I would probably be using the same stone tool for a million years. Brilliant ancestors we have, eh?)

ps: It is saddening to realize that despite the availability of vast amounts of knowledge (i.e., facts) there are still many that choose to hide within their castles of ignorance and bias. Examining history, they used to burn people. Then they burned books. Now they attempt to stifle discussion. Not good, but things seem to be getting better.


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