Welcome to Reality

We would do well to understand reality by using the best tools at our disposal. Our policy will be more effective, more fair, and more reliable. If we know how things work we will be better prepared to deal with them if and when we decide to.

These tools involve a logical, careful analysis of measurable evidence. If you can't measure it, then the process will provide preliminary possibilities only. That's fine so long as we realize that it's speculative, and that relying on it must wait until sound, measurable evidence is extracted.

For example, you see what looks like a flying carpet. You could speculate that it's magic, conjured up by the local Shaman. There's nothing wrong with that except it must be regarded as speculation. The lack of evidence, or saying "how do you explain that?" must not be considered convincing to a critical thinker. Plus, knowing that we've never, in the history of humanity, confirmed any type of supernatural action makes that prospect even more doubtful.

Analyzing like this is key to being a critical thinker.

Good vs bad evidence

Let's say someone tells you "this shoe can cure herniated discs and I've got the evidence to prove it."

You're naturally a bit skeptical--your critical thinking at work.

 If they talk about examples of people who have tried it and it worked, you would be right to ask if that was part of a well conducted trial.

Mind you, it's possible that they're right and it does work, but absent sound, objective, evidence it's suspect. The more surprising the results, the better the evidence needs to be to support it. That would include testing that tries to prove the hypothesis wrong and reduces bias.

We are our own worst enemies when it comes to bias. Good scientists know this and will try to conduct tests using protocols that eliminate researcher bias. They will first try to do an experiment that indeed shows the shoes work in a setting that can't easily be biased. Then they will try to find out how the shoes work. But in cases like this it's almost certain that there is no effect. Energy bracelets are a great example of this. "Scientific Skeptics" are those who apply the tools of science to ferret out charlatans or just bad science.

Placebo effects in medicine, where people feel an effect even though there's no active ingredients, a great examples of why we need to control for bias.

Morality

Where does right and wrong come in? Thankfully, we humans tend to be moral. Where does that come from? It's really easy to answer that: us. It always has.

It's in the answer to this simple question:  "how would I like to be treated if I were in a particular situation?" Variations of this golden rule have been found in essentially every culture that has left written records. We make laws that we think are fair to codify this basic moral precept.

We do well to base morality on principals that respect the rights of others lest we become one of the oppressed groups.

 
  • Why Care?

    Maybe it's the general trait that most of us want to see our "family" excel. Even many criminals will act in moral ways with those they consider "their" people.

  • How To Act?

The first step is become informed using the best tools for uncovering reliable knowledge. If we find that an asteroid is heading our way and will wipe out earth, you could simply not believe it, but then you won't want to contribute to a solution.
  • Can I Matter?

Absolutely. We all matter by combining our strengths. Look at moving a heavy piece of furniture. We may not be able to move at all individually but get 3 or 4 friends to help and it becomes easy work. Every big project in history has required the coordination and effort of many individuals.
It's possibly that the biggest dangers facing humanity will require the concerted effort of vast swaths of population. Lets say we need to fend off looming space rock that threatens the planet. To build enough kinetic force to change it's path may require employing millions of people in a many occupations. Those who are not directly related to the project are just as important, much like the factory workers during wartime were an integral part of the world's effort to defeat Nazi aggression.