The previous post on Joshua Foer’s attempt to convince us of the usefulness of a memory system failed. It’s incredibly clever that you can memorise decks of cards or places of Pi. But to what end?
His book neither proved nor disproved any value attainable through the acquiring of a larger conscious memory. I say ‘conscious’, meaning the mnemonist has some control over it, i.e. instant recall translated into purposeful action.
The only conclusion Josh’s book arrives at is that some people really enjoy memorising not only the collective knowledge of mankind but also useless information of little consequence. That it is worthy to develop your memory in and of itself is another question.
He still forgets his car, keys, and the myriad of things we slap ourselves on our heads for and say oh shit! Seven, plus or minus two is the span of our memories. And knowledge multiplies with each new technology. External memory is the future, whether we like it or not.
The truth is more that humans are rarely conscious and often hold contradictory opinions, which they assert as personal truth.
Scientific truth is seen as the light, which reason and intellect must acknowledge. But science, reason and intellect have often bowed to religion, dogma and temporal power.
And God? Whose memory is omniscient and instant throughout the creation of space, time, and all universal actions? God is responsible for the human inability to remember!
Why would a loving, caring God block us from gaining knowledge? Even if it is contradictory to knowing the Godhead itself?
I’m no theologian (just a questioning human) and revealed scriptures and texts throw up more questions of faith, which in turn become obstacles to any kind of unified theory of what on earth this whole life is about.
Because that is our problem here. Geocentric and anthropocentric viewpoints consume our lives. Materialist and consumer driven societies enforce the belief that we are living the right kind of life, showering us with more and more information.
Information is knowledge, knowledge is power, is the credo. What a load of bollocks! Power, as every tyrant and dictator knows, is power to manipulate, co-erce, and stop people who don’t follow the rules. However arbitrary or unscientific those rules may be.
We humans like to think that learning is rule based. That sickness and health are rule based. That the heavens and stars are rule based. And scientific observation leads us to the truth that this is actually so.
However the rules are arbitrary until accepted as rules by all humankind. And what are the chances of that? Given our Western centric knowledge system?
Slowly the geo-political wheel is turning as it always has. Do we learn from it? What is our memory of it? Our memories are culturally stimulated and therefore as dogmatic as the prevailing power elites will have it.
Yet there will always be free thinkers and mystics and poets and artists who don’t accept only temporal power. Which returns us to the theological questions.
The war between religion and science isn’t over yet. And some creationists on the planet would love to silence any idea that life and human error isn’t all a 10,000 year meta-meme of salvation.
For that meta-meme we supposedly end up in heaven with these same blindfolded thinkers for eternity. These words 450 years ago would have got me burned at a stake. Like they did Giordano Bruno. Or like they silenced Galileo.
We now accept the idea that the earth and moon move around each other and the sun. Comets are no longer portents of evil doings or plagues or dearths.
here is some knowledge of how we got here from a scientific viewpoint. The story isn’t finished and probably never will be:
A history of the warfare between Science and religion
CHAPTER I. FROM CREATION TO EVOLUTION.
1. The Visible Universe.
* Ancient and medieval views regarding the manner of creation
2. Theological Teachings Regarding the Animals and Man.
* Ancient and medieval representations of the creation of man
3. Theological and Scientific Theories of an Evolution in Animated Nature.
* Development of these ideas from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries
* Contributions to the theory of evolution at the close of the eighteenth century
* Development of the theory up to the middle of the nineteenth century
4. The Final Effort of Theology.
* Attacks on Darwin and his theories in England
* Formation of sacro-scientific organizations to combat the theory of evolution
CHAPTER II. GEOGRAPHY
1. The Form of the Earth.
2. The Delineation of the Earth.
3. The Inhabitants of the Earth.
4. The Size of the Earth.
5. The Character of the Earth’s Surface.
CHAPTER III. ASTRONOMY.
1. The Old Sacred Theory of the Universe.
2. The Heliocentric Theory.
3. The War upon Galileo.
4. Victory of the Church over Galileo
5. Results of the Victory over Galileo.
6. The Retreat of the Church after its Victory over Galileo.
CHAPTER IV. FROM “SIGNS AND WONDERS” TO LAW IN THE HEAVENS.
1. The Theological View.
2. Theological Efforts to Crush the Scientific View.
3. The Invasion of Scepticism.
4. Theological Efforts at Compromise. — The Final Victory of Science.
CHAPTER V. FROM GENESIS TO GEOLOGY.
1. Growth of Theological Explanations.
2. Efforts to Suppress the Scientific View.
3. The First Great Effort of Compromise, based on the Flood of Noah.
4. Final Efforts at Compromise — The Victory of Science Complete.
CHAPTER VI. THE ANTIQUITY OF MAN, EGYPTOLOGY, AND ASSYRIOLOGY.
1. The Sacred Chronology.
2. The New Chronology.
CHAPTER VII. THE ANTIQUITY OF MAN AND PREHISTORIC ARCHAEOLOGY.
1. The Thunder-stones.
2. The Flint Weapons and Implements.
CHAPTER VIII. THE “FALL OF MAN” AND ANTHROPOLOGY.
CHAPTER IX. THE “FALL OF MAN” AND ETHNOLOGY.
CHAPTER X. THE “FALL OF MAN” AND HISTORY.
CHAPTER XI. FROM “THE PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR” TO METEOROLOGY.
1. Growth of a Theological Theory.
2. Diabolical Agency in Storms.
3. The Agency of Witches.
4. Franklin’s Lightning-Rod.
CHAPTER XII. FROM MAGIC TO CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS.
1. The Supremacy of Magic.
2. The Triumph of Chemistry and Physics.
CHAPTER XIII. FROM MIRACLES TO MEDICINE.
1. THE EARLY AND SACRED THEORIES OF DISEASE.
2. GROWTH OF LEGENDS OF HEALING. — THE LIFE OF XAVIER AS A TYPICAL EXAMPLE.
3. THE MEDIAEVAL MIRACLES OF HEALING CHECK MEDICAL SCIENCE.
4. THE ATTRIBUTION OF DISEASE TO SATANIC INFLUENCE. — “PASTORAL MEDICINE” CHECKS SCIENTIFIC EFFORT.
5. THEOLOGICAL OPPOSITION TO ANATOMICAL STUDIES.
6. NEW BEGINNINGS OF MEDICAL SCIENCE.
7. THEOLOGICAL DISCOURAGEMENT OF MEDICINE.
8. FETICH CURES UNDER PROTESTANTISM. — THE ROYAL TOUCH.
9. THE SCIENTIFIC STRUGGLE FOR ANATOMY.
10. THEOLOGICAL OPPOSITION TO INOCULATION, VACCINATION, AND THE USE OF ANÆSTHETICS.
11. FINAL BREAKING AWAY OF THE THEOLOGICAL THEORY IN MEDICINE.
CHAPTER XIV. FROM FETICH TO HYGIENE.
1. THE THEOLOGICAL VIEW OF EPIDEMICS AND SANITATION.
2. GRADUAL DECAY OF THEOLOGICAL VIEWS REGARDING SANITATION.
3. THE TRIUMPH OF SANITARY SCIENCE.
4. THE RELATION OF SANITARY SCIENCE TO RELIGION.
CHAPTER XV. FROM “DEMONIACAL POSSESSION” TO INSANITY.
1. THEOLOGICAL IDEAS OF LUNACY AND ITS TREATMENT.
2. BEGINNINGS OF A HEALTHFUL SCEPTICISM.
3. THE FINAL STRUGGLE AND VICTORY OF SCIENCE. — PINEL AND TUKE.
CHAPTER XVI. FROM DIABOLISM TO HYSTERIA.
1. THE EPIDEMICS OF “POSSESSION.”
2. BEGINNINGS OF HELPFUL SCEPTICISM.
3. THEOLOGICAL “RESTATEMENTS.” — FINAL TRIUMPH OF THE SCIENTIFIC VIEW AND METHODS.
CHAPTER XVII. FROM BABEL TO COMPARATIVE PHILOLOGY.
1. THE SACRED THEORY IN ITS FIRST FORM.
* Difference of the history of Comparative Philology from that of other sciences as regards the attitude of theologians
* Curiosity of early man regarding the origin, the primitive form, and the diversity of language
* The Hebrew answer to these questions
* The legend of the Tower of Babel
* The real reason for the building of towers by the Chaldeans and the causes of their ruin
* Other legends of a confusion of tongues
* Influence upon Christendom of the Hebrew legends
* Lucretius’s theory of the origin of language
* The teachings of the Church fathers on this subject
* The controversy as to the divine origin of the Hebrew vowel points
* Attitude of the reformers toward this question
* Of Catholic scholars. — Marini
* Capellus and his adversaries
* The treatise of Danzius
2. THE SACRED THEORY OF LANGUAGE IN ITS SECOND FORM.
3. BREAKING DOWN OF THE THEOLOGICAL VIEW.
* Reason for the Church’s ready acceptance of the conclusions of comparative philology
* Beginnings of a scientific theory of language
* The collections of Catharine the Great, of Hervas, and of Adelung
* Chaotic period in philology between Leibnitz and the beginning of the study of Sanskrit
* Illustration from the successive editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica
4. TRIUMPH OF THE NEW SCIENCE.
* Effect of the discovery of Sanskrit on the old theory
* Attempts to discredit the new learning
* General acceptance of the new theory
* Destruction of the belief that all created things were first named by Adam
* Of the belief in the divine origin of letters
* Attempts in England to support the old theory of language
* Progress of philological science in France
* In Germany
* In Great Britain
* Recent absurd attempts to prove Hebrew the primitive tongue
* Gradual disappearance of the old theories regarding the origin of speech and writing
* Full acceptance of the new theories by all Christian scholars
* The result to religion, and to the Bible
CHAPTER XVIII. FROM THE DEAD SEA LEGENDS TO COMPARATIVE MYTHOLOGY.
1. THE GROWTH OF EXPLANATORY TRANSFORMATION MYTHS.
* Growth of myths to account for remarkable appearances in Nature — mountains. rocks, curiously marked stones, fossils, products of volcanicaction
* Myths of the transformation of living beings into natural objects
* Development of the science of Comparative Mythology
2. MEDIÆVAL GROWTH OF THE DEAD SEA LEGENDS.
* Description of the Dead Sea
* Impression made by its peculiar features on the early dwellers in Palestine
* Reasons for selecting the Dead Sea myths for study
* Naturalness of the growth of legend regarding the salt region of Usdum
* Universal belief in these legends
* Concurrent testimony of early and mediaeval writers, Jewish and Christian, respecting the existence of Lot’s wife as a “pillar of salt,” and of the other wonders of the Dead Sea
* Discrepancies in the various accounts and theological explanations of them
* Theological arguments respecting the statue of Lot’s wife
* Growth of the legend in the sixteenth century
3. POST-REFORMATION CULMINATION OF THE DEAD SEA LEGENDS. — BEGINNINGS OF A HEALTHFUL SCEPTICISM.
4. THEOLOGICAL EFFORTS AT COMPROMISE. — TRIUMPH OF THE SCIENTIFIC VIEW.
2. RETREAT OF THE CHURCH, PROTESTANT AND CATHOLIC.
CHAPTER XX. FROM THE DIVINE ORACLES TO THE HIGHER CRITICISM.
1. THE OLDER INTERPRETATION.
2. BEGINNINGS OF SCIENTIFIC INTERPRETATION.
3. THE CONTINUED GROWTH OF SCIENTIFIC INTERPRETATION.
4. THE CLOSING STRUGGLE.
5. VICTORY OF THE SCIENTIFIC AND LITERARY METHODS.
6. RECONSTRUCTIVE FORCE OF SCIENTIFIC CRITICISM.