So I was thinking this morning, as I was reading a book called The Golden Ratio, Really big heads.all about the, um, golden ratio, and it occurred to me to wonder… what would I think about things if I had not been taught what to think all my life, but I still, somehow, had all my wits about me? If I lived to be 50 or whatever, how much would I be able to figure out about how the world works, like the guys back in 3500 B.C. who were just starting to notice that there were patterns to what the moon and the sun and the seasons were doing. How long would it take me to notice pairs of things? How high would I be able to count? Would I settle for the status quo and count 1, 2, 3, ‘many?’ Would I try to make some marks on something to help me remember things?

The real questions are:

  1. What’s really ‘out there’ (epistemology) and what have I just been taught that may or may not be true (pedantry)?
  2. How does someone get to look at the world with such fresh eyes that they can invent ‘The Calculus’ or the Theory of Relativity?

I mean, I never watched a single episode of X-files, but I believe ‘the truth is out there.’ I also agree with the great Martin Gardner (of Scientific American’s Mathematical Games fame) when he says in his book Did Adam and Eve have Navels?, ‘I believe there are truths as far beyond our grasp as calculus is beyond the grasp of a cat.’

Happy Birthday, America!

In the words of the website I borrowed this from, read The Declaration of Independence again for the first time:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.