Frame of Reference

I continue to hold that nearly all human beings are rational actors within their own frames of reference, and that to understand why we do what we do, want what we want, and believe what we believe requires that we be willing to look at how someone’s frame of reference differs from our own.

I continue to be increasingly vexed by the sheer number of humans whose frame of reference is objectively defective, and who seem to lack the analytical tools needed to recognize the defects.

Yes, I understand that that’s going to sound presumptuous and arrogant to some. Who do I think I am, claiming that my frame of reference is superior to Mike Huckabee’s, or Ken Ham’s, or Jack Woolfson’s, or Roy Moore’s, or Darryl Issa’s, or the next eleven people to post to Facebook outraged over something that isn’t true or couldn’t happen?

Well, who do I have to be?

Someone who believes that there is one objective, knowable reality.

Someone who sees science as a powerful tool for getting closer to the truth of that objective, knowable reality. Yes, it’s messy and often there’s a lot of ‘wasted’ motion, but over time error gets squeezed out.

Someone who understands that at times error needs to be squeezed out of me.

Someone who can accept “We don’t know yet” as a valid answer but not a stopping point.

Someone convinced that the more we know, the better choices we can make, and the more likely we are to succeed in our endeavors.

Someone who’s glad that his children were born into a time and a place where killers such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, cholera, scarlet fever, and smallpox are all but banished as threats–when instead of being fatally ambushed by a blizzard we get to complain afterward that it was ‘disappointing’–when there is (in principle) light and heat and food enough for all–when we can communicate with a friend across the globe or a spacecraft across the Solar System–when we can walk around with 10,000 books in our pocket…I could go on but shouldn’t need to. When technology works, it’s because science got it right.

It’s not a perfect or a perfectable world. This isn’t the STAR TREK future, where all human want and care have been erased by good intentions and limitless energy. But I truly wonder how many antivaxxers, and creationists, and climate deniers would rather be living in 1815, or 1315, or 1015 instead of the 2015 which the pursuit of a materialist reality through science has made possible.

Opinion is not expertise.

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