This is an essay I wrote during my junior year in high school back in the year 2000. It’s fun to look back on my early days!
The Meaning of Life
What you are about to read is probably not what you are used to reading. This little essay of mine is written more like a speech than anything else, so keep that in mind while you read it. Basically, this essay is just many of my meandering thoughts about everything to do with life. I try to make all my arguments as understandable and logical as I can, so…enjoy!
The Meaning of Life
I will begin this little essay of mine with the most important question of them all. What is the meaning of life? Before I go into the details, I must first admit that I do not believe in anything supernatural. That includes religion: ghosts, ghouls, heaven, hell, angels, God, Satan, etc. The reason being? They are not logical, and this whole essay of mine is based on logic. Don’t worry, I’ll explain religion in one of the next parts of this essay. This being the case, what could the meaning of life possibly be? Allow me to take you through the logic =)
First off, there is no afterlife, so the meaning of life is certainly not to be good and go to heaven. Nor is it, of course, to be bad and go to hell. With no afterlife, death becomes a really serious business, and is the main factor we must deal with concerning the meaning of life. Once you die, you are dead. And you won’t be back. Once you are dead you don’t care about anything. Once you are dead, nothing matters. It doesn’t matter if you commit murder, it doesn’t matter if you win the lottery, it doesn’t matter if your brother dies, it doesn’t matter if you are the President of the United States. We are all going to die sometime, so what does it matter? Whether you do good things or bad things in life is irrelevant because once you die it no longer matters. If I’m dead the past doesn’t matter, the future won’t matter, the fact that I’m dead doesn’t even matter; I’m dead! I think I’ve stressed that point enough =) The logical conclusion we can draw from this is that there is no meaning of life! That is pretty depressing isn’t it? No one wants to believe that, not even me. But you have to believe it. The logic is flawless, is it not?
Lucky enough for us, the above logic is flawed. We haven’t seen the whole thing through yet. We have the conclusion that if we all eventually die then there must be no meaning of life. That conclusion is flawless. However, if we don’t die… Yes, immortality. In a word, the meaning of life is “immortality.” Just think about it. If we die there is no meaning of life, you can’t logically argue against that. If we don’t die then suddenly life takes on new meaning (no pun intended). If you don’t die suddenly everything matters. It now matters if you commit a crime because you will have to live with it for the rest of your life (forever). Now I care about the future because I am going to be in the future. I care about the past because it is my past. Everything we do matters because we are alive to see it.
But immortality is fiction, just a dream…isn’t it? Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer to that one. But that doesn’t matter. The meaning of life it to advance our species enough so that we become immortal. Evolution is merely the path to immortality. Extinction is failure, immortality is success. Will I, personally, be immortal? Odds are a million to one against it. But my life still has a meaning. I’m helping to advance our race so that one day we might reach the goal of immortality. We might not, but at least we are giving it our best shot.
So, let us continue our logic even further. What happens when we reach immortality? When we reach our goal then what becomes the meaning of life? We are all immortal, why should we care about anything? I can’t claim to know the answer to this, but I would imagine the goal once we become immortal would be to make a utopian society. Everyone is happy throughout eternity. And that is where the meaning of life ends. When everyone is happy that’s where the story ends. What more could you possibly want?
A lot of questions can revolve around time. Most obviously, what is time? Well, I have no idea to tell you the truth. Time is all relative. To a person, a year is a long time, not really long, but long enough. 100 years is really long. To a planet 100 years isn’t even noticeable. A million years is more like it. To an insect whose entire life span is one day a 100 years isn’t even imaginable. So what does this all mean? It means that time is what you make of it. You want to think longterm? Fine. You want to think about the past? Fine. Future? Equally as fine.
Now to the question I know everyone has been waiting for. Time travel. Possible or impossible? As far as I can tell, it is impossible. The basic reason for my assumption is that no matter how hard I think I simply can’t make time travel work. The basic problem is that it isn’t logical. The past has already happened, so how can you go back and change it? The future hasn’t happened yet, so how can you go forward and change it? How could I possibly go ten years into the future without the next nine years happening first? What happens today creates tomorrow. So how can I simply skip a day? Time is like one of those mathematical patterns without a formula. Like 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc. The next number is the sum of the two before it. You can’t figure out the 100th term of the sequence if you don’t first know the 98th and 99th. You can’t plug 100 into a formula and out pops the hundreth term, you actually have to figure it out in sequence. The same goes for time. If there is no tomorrow it logically follows that there is no day after tomorrow. And then there is the classic go-back-in-time-and-kill-your-mother paradox. So, until someone can explain to me how time travel would work given these limitations I’m sticking to my conclusion that time travel is impossible.
But wait! Hasn’t Einstein already proven that time travel is possible? As you approach the speed of light time slows down, once you go faster than light time moves backwards. You think I contradicted myself don’t you? Well, I didn’t =) Einstein wasn’t talking about time travel the way you normally think about it. He is saying you can change the relative rate that time passes, for you and you alone. If I go in a spaceship at almost the speed of light and two seconds pass for me, two years have still passed for the rest of the universe. It’s no big deal. I haven’t gone “into the future!” HA, no way Jose. Why? Because it just seems that way. To everyone else the two years still passed. In other words, you have in no way gone into the future and seen what will happen before it happened.
Let us look at my diagrams. Point A shows when you go really fast. Time slows down for you but even so the same amount of normal time has passed. Point B would show you speeding up time for yourself. But you can see from points C and D that no matter what the normal time and the time traveler’s time always line up exactly. In other words, everyone is always at the same point in time, even if time may be going faster or slower for one person. Nowhere does Einstein say you can live through one interval of time while everyone else lives through two (point E). Nowhere does Einstein say you can go backwards while everyone else goes forwards (point F) because going faster than the speed of light happens to be impossible. And, most important of all, you can never “stay back” while everyone else goes forward. You can’t live in the past while everyone else lives in the present (point G). Likewise, you can’t live in the future while everyone else is in the past (point H). If you go almost as fast as the speed of light you can get to the future with less time than everyone else, but everyone else is still there in the future with you at the same time (point A once again). I know this sounds weird, but it’s the best way that I can explain it. Absolute time is the same for everyone. Everyone is always on the same place on the timeline. Relative time can change however. It may seem like more or less time to you, but the absolute time that passes remains the same.
Now, I don’t know the slightest bit about quantum physics and the mathematics of time travel. I wouldn’t know quantum physics if it slapped me in the face. I realize that this puts me at a great loss. I realize I could be interpreting Einstein completely wrong. Everything I said could be way off the mark. But remember, I’m in high school, which basically means I don’t know sh*t. All I have to go on is logic, and that is all I’m arguing with. And for me, logic works fine because you can’t argue against logic =)
Now to the next big question everyone has been wondering. Can you predict the future? In a word, yes. Yes, but only in theory, it’ll never happen in practice. The basic reasoning is simple; you can predict the future if you know everything. If you knew the location, energy, speed, direction, etc. of every single piece of matter in the universe you could predict the future. Simple as that. Makes sense doesn’t it? I mean, if you know where every damn piece of matter is you can predict where it will go, what piece of matter it will hit and bounce off of, and where it will end up etc. since you know everything about every other piece of matter also. There is no such thing as randomness. Everything happens because of stuff. Why did the quarter land on heads? Because of the way you flipped it and the air molecules it hit on the way down. You could easily predict what side the quarter would land on if you knew everything about the conditions of the flip. Where are the air particles? How many are there? What energy do they have? How fast and in what direction are they moving? Etc. And of course using the same process you could go “back in time.” Not literally of course, but you could write a much better history book =) However, there is a limit to this prediction. You can’t predict farther back than the big bang, and you can’t predict farther forward than the next big bang. Why not? Because if what I understand about the big bang is true, all the matter in the universe came from one place, one point in space. If all you have to go by is one damn thing there is no way you can predict anything. What caused all the matter to be in one place? Who knows. You have one little matter ball and you have no clue how it came to be. Once it explodes you suddenly know how much matter and with what velocity it is moving etc. that you can being your predictions. With that said, I think it’s fairly obvious why this would never work in practice. You ever going to know everything? Hardly hehe. However, small versions of predicting the future might well be possible. Isaac Asimov did a fine job in his Foundation series explaining how you might predict the future. If you can simply things enough you can work with them better. However, it is no longer as accurate. Things will always go wrong eventually. And the farther into the future you predict the less accurate that prediction becomes. But who knows? We might, in the future, be able to predict the future in controlled experiments. Like flipping a coin in a controlled container or something.
People always talk about how distance is directly related to time. Forgive me, but I don’t see the connection. But who cares I haven’t studied that in school or anything so you shouldn’t expect me to see the connection. However, like time, distance is relative. What is one inch anyhow? An inch is just something we humans have defined. What’s big for us is small for a planet. What is small for us is big for a fly. And when do you decide where distance stops? How small is the smallest bit of distance? Couldn’t you always go half that distance and get even smaller? There is the famous half-way paradox. I am four feet from the wall. To walk to the wall I first must walk halfway. There’s no arguing that hehe I’m pretty sure everyone understands that. Now I’m two feet from the wall. I first have to walk half that. Now I’m one foot from the wall. Another half foot and now I’m a half foot from the wall. Gee. This could go on forever could it not? At what point do you cease to go halfway and make the jump to going the full way? Once I get within one micrometer of the wall I first have to go half a micrometer don’t it? And by the way, to get to the first halfway point I would first have to go half of that…. This just blows my mind. Logically it seems impossible. Of course, realistically it is not because I’m sure we have all walked to a wall haven’t we hehe? So how do we explain it? Well, I can’t explain the logic part, but I can explain the realism part. Basically, as you get closer to the wall the distances you go become infinitely small. Therefor, it takes an infinite number of them to reach the wall. Simple limits right? We all learned that in trig. A fraction, 1 over infinity, will never becomes one unless it’s multiplied by infinity right? So you go an infinite amount of infinitely small distances and you finally reach the wall. Still, doesn’t make sense logically. The very definition of infinity implies no end. But it must end otherwise you never get to the wall… So does this mean that there really is a smallest unit of distance? Could be. I can’t think of any other way to explain it. Once you reach that smallest unit of distance you can’t get smaller so you can’t go halfway anymore so you actually reach the wall. I don’t like that explanation but I can’t think of a better one. Having a smallest unit of distance just doesn’t seem right does it? Oh well, maybe we’ll never know =P
This, THIS, is a big topic. What is the universe? Is it just a big open space filled with matter? If so, does it end? Or does it go on forever? I’ll be up front about this one; I can’t answer that question. In fact, I can’t answer most questions about the universe. I can only point out the paradoxes. If the universe goes on forever…well…it can’t go on forever because everything has to have an end, right? But if it ends…well…does it end in a brick wall? What is beyond that brick wall? Does the brick wall go on forever and therefor there is nothing beyond? Or is there another universe beyond that brick wall? Now we are back where we started. There can’t just be nothing past the brick wall, there’s got to be something, but that implies the universe goes on forever! AHHHHH! Talk about going in circles. Me, I’m leaning towards the universe going on forever. Maybe not our universe, but the universe universe. I mean, mathematicians have already calculated the exact dimensions of our universe. Cool huh? But, as I said, you can’t just end in a brick wall, there has to be something beyond. Even if there is “nothing” beyond the brick wall that still means the “nothing” goes on forever, and “nothing” is still “something,” if nothing other than a lot of space. So, basically, my reasoning is that the universe goes on forever.
Allright, back to the original question: what is the universe? Well, I think I can actually answer this question, though I must admit this is not my doing, I read this in an article somewhere =) The universe both goes on forever and doesn’t go on forever. Huh? Basically, the universe is one big loop. I can’t explain it in our terms, I can only make analogies. Pretend you live in a two dimensional universe. Flatland or something hehe. Your universe is actually 3D, but you only live in the 2D part of it. Think of it as a balloon. You live on the outside, on the flat, 2D surface. It goes on forever because you go left and left and left and you eventually walk around the whole balloon and end up where you started. It is ending because if you were a 3D creature, if mind you, you would be able to visualize the balloon and realize what is going on. You can see where the balloon ends and what its dimensions are if you are a 3D creature. Same goes for our universe. Instead of being a 2D creature living in a 3D universe, we are 3D creatures living in a 4D universe. Because we are lowly 3D creatures we can’t comprehend our 4D universe. Why do you think I can’t answer the question about the universe going on forever or not? Because I can’t visualize the universe in more dimensions than I live in. To us creatures that live in only 3 of the 4 dimensions of the universe we think the universe goes on forever. That 4D giant standing above us understands our universe perfectly because he can see the whole thing. In fact, scientists have already proven that the universe (our universe) must either be 4 or 12 dimensions (something like that) in order for the laws of physics to work. Don’t ask me to explain any more than I already have, I’m not qualified for that hehe. But, now that we know that we can better answer our question of does the universe go on forever or not? I say a definite yes now. Our universe goes on forever because of what I just said. Then we have the other universes out there with more dimensions than ours. Who knows? Maybe there are an infinite number of universes with an infinite number of dimensions? The problem is I don’t think a 3D person can enter a 5D universe or anything like that, so we probably will never know.
On to the next question. Aliens. Fact or fiction? Fact! Well, of course, we can’t consider it fact until we actually see an alien, but I’m pretty sure about this one. Billions of stars in billions of galaxies with billions of planets circling them. In billions of universes maybe hehe? Check that. Trillions of stars in trillions of galaxies with trillions of planets circling them in trillions of universes. And you are trying to tell me that Earth is the one and only planet with life? HELL NO! Think how unlikely it is that Earth is the only one! Anyways, I think the odds speak for themselves. We are not alone. The truth is out there =P
Next question: will aliens be humanoids? Not a chance! I’m sure we would all like them to be humanoids, we all wish they would be humanoids. It would make first contact much easier. Makes shows like Star Trek easier to film. But, seriously, what are the chances of aliens evolving as humanoids? C’mon! There are unlimited possibilities for life forms. Heck, the aliens might live in a place where the laws of physics don’t apply. One of the weird-dimensioned universes. An alien might eat lava and excrete nuclear waste for all we know. None of us have ever seen an alien. How do we know they will look like humans? Maybe they will be clouds, maybe they will be liquids, maybe they will be invisible, maybe they will be living energy without a body. The point is the only living things we know are the ones on our planet. We only know about one planet amongst trillions. You think that is enough info to be able to predict what aliens are like? You got to be kidding me. However, I think I do know enough to tell you that they won’t be anything like us, or anything like any living thing on Earth. In fact, they probably won’t be any of the above examples either. They will most likely be like something no one has ever imagined. In fact, they will probably be so different that they wouldn’t even be considered alive by our definition. As far as we know, living things need to consume energy, excrete waste, grow, respond to the environment, and reproduce. Maybe the first alien we meet won’t do any of those things. Heck, maybe the first “alien” we meet will be God. He certainly doesn’t follow any set definition. Everything on Earth (as far as I know) has DNA (or RNA). Why should aliens have DNA? Maybe they come from a planet that doesn’t contain deoxyribonucleic acids. Hmmmm. Maybe their “DNA” will be made out of gold? Anyways, the entire point of the paragraph is “who knows?” Look, I’m not a “believer,” but the possibilities are so great when talking about aliens that you simply have to believe. An alien is as likely to resemble God as he is to resemble humans. So I simply have to “believe” when it comes to aliens. Maybe it’s supposed to be impossible for something to live without consuming energy. But I’ll tell you this, if I saw an alien that didn’t consume energy I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised. That is how different an alien will be from us.
I hate to break it to you, but you will probably never see an alien. In fact, the human race will probably never see an alien as far as I’m concerned. If all that talk about travelling faster than light speed is impossible just happens to be true, well, what can I say? We will never be able to get very far off Earth, so therefor we will never see an alien. Simple as that, end argument. However, if things like wormholes or “warp drive” ever come to pass, well, then it’s entirely plausible we might see an alien. Still, it is unlikely because there are trillions of planets and the vast majority of them are probably uninhabited. However, I’m going to end my discussion here because I don’t know the first thing about wormholes so I can’t begin to argue it logically.
To put it plainly, I don’t believe in anything supernatural. Everything has an explanation, and moreover, everything has a logical explanation. Religion, sixth senses, telepathy, lock ness monsters, everything. But, I suppose I should get started explaining my reasoning =)
Let us start with religion. I assure you I know religion is a very touchy subject and no matter what I say I’m bound to piss someone off. So I’ll be brief =) Religion has got to be just about the most unlogical thing ever invented. Yes, I did say invented. Why? People are running around blindly believing things without any reason to believe them. There is no reason to believe in God…so I don’t. I would imagine that sounds really silly to a believer. “If you have faith you don’t need proof.” But religion sounds equally silly to a Vulcan. Anyhow, back to the logic. I believe that religion was invented because people wanted answers. Why does the sun rise and set everyday? Well…gee…I don’t know, that’s a good question. Must be God. That was a few thousand years ago. They we realized the sun was a star that the Earth circled around and we no longer needed God to explain it etc. What is death? Well, maybe God is watching over us and takes us to heaven if we are good and sends us to hell if we are bad. What is the meaning of life? To go to heaven. Questions that people could not answer went straight to God. What better answer than an omnipotent being who controls everything? God is the answer to any question we don’t know better about. But that is a bad way to do things in my opinion. If you don’t know the answer, admit it. How many times have I admitted that I didn’t know the answer in this very essay of mine? Too many times to count. And I’m not even claiming that I’m correct. Everything here is just my opinion. What came before God? What created God? Well, people just conveniently ignore that question. “God is, was, and forever shall be” and all that crap. Do any of you realize that as we progress in the sciences we answer more questions that we previously relied on God for the answers? God didn’t create man, man evolved. Ooops, there goes the very basis of God hehe. But some people still refuse to believe in evolution because they are stubborn (no offense intended). I mean, what more do you want? The entire Bible is false! God didn’t “let there be light!” The sun formed of a sh*tload of burning hydrogen and all that. The Great Flood never happened! Noah never built an arc. You could never flood the entire world, let alone fit every animal in the world onto a single boat. The world isn’t flat, the world is round! Languages didn’t come from that one tower. God didn’t get pissed. People speaking Latin just moved to new places and evolved new langues. I mean, there is a lot more history than just seven days. And, the most important thing of all, God did not write the Bible, man did!
Allright, a few more questions for you. If I told you I was God you wouldn’t believe me would you? Why not? You have just as much evidence that I am God than you do that some being in the sky is God. In fact, you have more evidence! I am physically here. You can see me! What more evidence do you want? Seeing is believing, right? Well, I don’t believe you have ever seen God have you? Heck, I’ll send you a photo of myself. That is hard proof right there. If your son told you that he saw an angel you would probably think he had a dream. Or if he is a teenager you would think he was high at the time (just kidding hehe). Seriously though, throughout history even the holy office has refused to believe people. You claim you are a benandante? Prove it. Well, you can’t. Why do you find it so easy to believe in God and then find it so hard to believe the person next to you has had God’s blessings? Why can you believe in God and not believe that your son saw an angel? I may not know everything, but at least I can live with that. Does the universe go on forever or does it end? I don’t know, but whatever it is God is taking care of it. NO! Whatever it is, it is. I may not know what it is, but the answer is out there, waiting to be found. I don’t automatically assume it’s God’s doings.
Allright already, enough with religion. Whatever I say can’t force you to change your opinion on God, so let’s move on instead of wasting time hehe. Sixth Senses. Well, unfortunately science can only catalogue five senses. And that is enough for me. But it’s not enough for you is it? Well then, I’ll give you more hehe. It is called statistics and probability. Remember the last time you just had that feeling someone was behind you? You just knew someone was there. You whip around real fast and viola! A thief was just about to rob you but you caught him in the act. Must be a sixth sense right? Now remember the last time you had that feeling. You just knew someone was there. You whip around real fast and viola! Nobody is there! What a relief right? Think about how many times you look over your shoulder for no apparent reason. Humans are paranoid. Self preservation remember? You look over your shoulder about a thousand times a day. You had better be right at least once! It’s no big deal. No sixth sense about it. Just plain old probability. You look over you shoulder a thousand times a day and you are guaranteed to be right at least sometimes! This same principal works for all other amazing events in life. Your wife will end up having the same birthday as you! Oh my god! There are so many “amazing” things that could happen you are bound to find one of them. You wife’s father had the same name as your father! She grew up in the same city. She is the same ethnicity. She scored the same on an IQ test. She has the same favorite color as you. C’mon, if at least one of these isn’t true only then does it becomes amazing hehe. What if someone predicts the future without failure? He predicts when you will die, when you will meet the girl of your dreams, when you will get a raise, everything. Does that mean he is mister-I-can-predict-the-future? Of course not. With 6 billion people in this world you would assume that at least one of them gets a few lucky guesses every now and then! And his guesses are no more right than anyone else’s. His prediction has the same chance of coming true as mine does. He just got lucky. A Jedi might not believe in luck, but I do. The probability of predicting what side a quarter will land on twenty times in a row is ½ raised to the 20th power. 0.0000009. That still means that right now almost six thousand people in the world can do that. It’s no big deal. It’s all probability.
What about the abominable snowman? Or the lock ness monster? I’m sorry to say, but with today’s technology and explorative techniques we would have found them if they existed. Can we say sonar? Anything big enough to be the lock ness monster would be found easily. Bigfoot? Doubtful. Maybe you just saw a bear standing on his hind legs. Maybe you were drunk at the time hehe. And if you think about it it doesn’t really make sense to have only one live specimen of a species. Without any others of its kind it will die real quick. However, I do admit that there are islands out there where no human has ever been. There is a ton of space in the deepest parts of the ocean that we have never been too. It’s entirely possible that there are a million species we have not discovered yet. It’s entirely possible that there are huge fish two miles under water or there are weird animals on undiscovered islands in the Pacific. What I don’t think is that those huge fish or weird animals are dinosaurs (ala lock ness monster) or man-eating monsters (ala Bigfoot). Man-eating monsters are just an expression for human’s natural paranoia. As for lock ness monsters, 65 million years is a long time to stay alive undiscovered. But I’m not ruling out any possibilities mind you. The most likely thing is that we will find a new species of butterfly or something, but nothing so dramatic as bigfoot.
How bout telepathy/telekinesis? That’s an interesting subject to hit on. Basically, I think there is a logical explanation for this (as well as everything else hehe). You ever seen anyone who can levitate? Really!? Heh, so have I. Say hello to David Copperfield. But of course, there are strings attached (literally). It is called an illusion. Magic tricks. David Copperfield doesn’t really fly around…but it sure looks pretty damn real =) Basically, I don’t know anyone who has ever seen a convincing demonstration of telekinesis. And if you think about it it doesn’t even make sense. If I were to move an object with my mind, that means that something, some form of energy, must get from my brain to that object. No two ways about it. And if that is the case, it is detectable and measurable. Unfortunately for you believers out there, I don’t think science has ever been able to detect the slightest trace of “brain waves.” And even if we did, what would they be? How many ways can you move an object? You could move it with your hand. You could blow on it. Gravity? Other than that I can’t think of many ways. You pretty much have to touch it. No “invisible force” that we know of can do any such thing. Magnets? Well, what if the object is wood and not magnetic? Anyways, as far as I know I can’t blow wind out of my brain and as far as I know my brain isn’t magnetic and as far as I know my brain doesn’t control gravity. So, now where does that leave us? Telekinesis does not exist. But how about telepathy? That seems a lot more plausible to me. Hell, we do it all the time artificially. Radio waves come to mind. You can broadcast radio waves a zillion miles, and they are invisible, so why wouldn’t the brain be able to do something like that? Well, I don’t believe in telepathy either. Let me once again refer you to the fact that science has detected radio waves, but science ain’t detected no brain waves. And even if the brain could send out brain waves, why can’t everyone do that? Genetic mutation or some sh*t? Hardly. First of all, mutations are usually not beneficial. Second of all, you realize how improbable it would be to have a random mutation result in telepathy? A quadrillion to one. A quadrillion people have never even lived. So, basically telepathy is out of the picture.
Here is how far I will go with telepathy. People who know each other for a long time really begin to know each other. A mother probably knows her son so well that she could practically predict his actions. Same with brothers and life-long friends. When you know someone that well you can communicate entire thoughts with a simple glance. I might glance at my brother and he would know I meant that we should go see The Haunting. But that is not telepathy! We know each other so well we think the same way, we act the same way, we practically are the same person. Heck, I know my brother as well as he knows himself. I better be able to anticipate his actions/thoughts! What about communicating over long distances? Your son is in Ohio and you just “know” that he got into an accident or something? Please feel free to re-read my little paragraph on probability and statistics.
Intuition? That is very real. But it’s not supernatural or anything. I think the murderer is John! And I happen to be right. Intuition right? Of course. But it’s not supernatural. Intuition is simply your brain taking every last piece of info it has and coming to a conclusion. From the way John is dressed to the way he talks to the way his wife is dressed and talks. Your brain takes every tiny detail and uses them to come to a conclusion that is just slightly better than a random guess. If you handed me a quantum physics equation and asked me to solve it I would probably just guess two or something. Completely random. Completely without intuition. But if you put five people in front of me that I had never seen before and asked me which one was a murderer my chance of guessing correct would be slightly better than 1 in 5. Why? Because of intuition. Maybe the guy on the left breathes deeper than the rest. Maybe the guy in the middle is wearing a hat. Maybe this maybe that. Everything I see is taken into consideration by my brain when I make my guess. Of course, intuition doesn’t guarantee a correct guess, it just gives you something to do instead of just drawing straws. It replaces random guessing with random thinking =)
School (High School)
Be warned: I hate school from the bottom of my heart, so my arguments may become heated at times =P But never fear, they are still always completely logical. I can’t think of anything more worthless than school. Why? It all boils down to the subjects that we take in school, correct? That’s what school is… Math, Science, History, English, Foreign Language.
Math. Math, I must admit, is the lesser of all evils. A lot of careers require math. Engineering, being a mathematician, technology, computer programming, designing houses, flying to the moon, etc. However, a lot of careers don’t require math. Musician? Dentist? Doctor? Priest? Used car salesman? Auto mechanic? The list goes on. Of course, you need math to get by in life, but only to about the fourth grade level. You have two apples, eat one, you have one left. Anything more complicated = calculator. So, unless you are doing some high-tech or theoretical studies, just use a calculator =)
Science. By science I mean everything such as chemistry, physics, biology, etc. Science is much more limited than math. The very names of the classes suggest a very narrow career selection. Chemists need to take Chemistry. Physicists need to take Physics. Biologists need to take Biology. If you aren’t going to be a Chemist, Physicist, or Biologist you don’t need to take any of the aforementioned classes. Math is more broad in that someone who takes Algebra doesn’t necessarily need to be an Algabrist to make the class useful. However, back to science. I’m going to be a doctor. Do I need to take Physics? No… I’m going to be a computer programmer, do I need to take Biology? Basically, if you aren’t going to be a scientist you are going to find that the science classes you took in high school are just wasting space in your brain.
History. Now we are having some fun. History is, dare I say it, completely, utterly, totally, without a doubt, the most useless class. I dare you to name just one career, other than being an historian, that requires history. I’m waiting for your answer… Times up and you haven’t given me an answer! You don’t need history to get a career in the sciences. And even if you did, all the history you would need would come from the science classes, not the history class. Anything, anything at all does not require history, simple as that. Is knowing that Alger Hiss was convicted of perjury in 1948 going to help you when that job interview comes ‘round? Odds are a million to one it won’t! Another thing about history: why bother to memorize anything when it’s all written down in books and CD-ROMS and is easy to look up when you need it? Oh yeah, and don’t give me any bs about the past creates the present and paves the way for the future and sh*t like that. Don’t give me bs about you can’t understand the present unless you understand the past. Or, you need to know the past because that is what built the present. For example: You need to know the origin of the English language because you speak English every day. Why!? I don’t know the history of my language and I seem to be writing this paper just fine thanks. I can talk to my friends and they all understand what I’m saying. Why do I need to know any history?! Another example: you should know about the constitution and all that because it is the history of our legal system. Why?! I have the right to remain silent, anything I say can and will be used against me in a court of law. I have a right to a lawyer, if I cannot afford a lawyer the state will appoint me one. I have a right to a phonecall. Etc etc blah blah blah. First of all, the police officer who arrests me will read me my rights when he does, and second of all, who cares about the history of your rights? My rights exist, however they came to be. Third example: You need to know history so you don’t make the same mistake twice. HA! That general made a mistake back in the 1600s because he didn’t realize the enemy had archers on the hill. Don’t make that mistake again! Well, pardon my frankness, but I don’t think a hill will matter much when you have a heat-seeking missile homing in on your ass. Be sure to fortify Washington D.C. with stone walls and an eight foot mote just in case our enemies decide to drop an hydrogen bomb on the Capital. Face the facts: People don’t make the same mistakes twice, and history doesn’t repeat itself, for the simple reason that it can’t! The next time you see a group of knights in shining armor marching on the White House you just let me know. I’m sure the secret service would have a blast with a few uzis and grenades. The only reason you should learn history is to find out why things happened. Maybe you are Curious George? Unfortunately, why really doesn’t mean anything. The past doesn’t affect the future, the present affects the future. The past doesn’t do anything, it has come and gone.
English. This is the one other class that can rival history in its worthlessness. Don’t get me wrong, English is important, unfortunately, what is not important is the stuff you learn in English class. Let me talk about what is important first. Grammar comes to mind. Writing techniques. Vocabulary. SATs come to mind. I can’t think of a single job that doesn’t require writing. Even if you work at McDonald’s you probably have to write some sort of resume. In most other jobs you will probably have to write progress reports for your superiors. And I would imagine that bad grammar in those reports would not get your boss on his good side. Having said all that about the usefullness of English what do I have against English class? Well, unfortunately, they don’t teach us that stuff in English class. They teach us the “writing conventions.” “Voice!” Pardon me, but what the F*CK is voice!? You don’t grade people on voice! No one cares about voice! In fact, a progress report should probably be about as voiceLESS as possible! Your boss doesn’t want you to waste time on voice, he wants you to get to the point! And even if voice is important (maybe you are writing a novel?) no one is grading you on voice. You either got it or you don’t. If your audience likes your voice your book sells. Otherwise, too bad, you weren’t cut out to be a writer. And the most important thing about voice is that no one can be “into,” no one can be “passionate” about what they are writing in school. You couldn’t care less about what you are writing in school. School makes you write about the dumbest sh*t, I swear. What if I’m supposed to write an essay about the symbolism in Gulliver’s Travels, yet I hated the novel and I don’t believe in symbolism? How can I have a voice in a paper about something I couldn’t care less about? Seriously, the only thing going through a student’s mind when writing a paper is, “How fast can I finish this? Can I cheat and get this done faster? If so, call me a cheater!” Anyways, enough with the voice and stuff hehe. I’ll rant about that sort of stuff in more detail later. Another problem with English class is that all we do is read novels and study them. Pardon me, sir, I’ve read (and studied) Dracula so please take that into consideration when you decide who will be the next CEO of the company. How is this going to help me in life? Considering what we read is FICTION, I can’t think of any reason they will help us get by in life. Non-fiction is even worse, because that is, by definition, history (see above paragraph). How is The Snows of Kilimanjaro ever going to help me in life? Personally, I wasn’t planning to be a professional find-the-symbolism-in-random-novels person.
Lastly comes Foreign Language. Since I’m taking Spanish I’ll start with that. Do you know any reason to know Spanish? I can think of two: maybe I’ll be a translator when I grow up, and maybe I’ll live in Spain when I grow up. Unfortunately for choice number two, everyone in Spain already speaks English… And I’m not planning to move to Panama… And the same goes for all the other languages. The only remotely useful language would be Latin, because it can help you figure out what words mean and stuff on the SATs. Basically, you only need to know your native language.
Now, I’m the first to admit that if no one went to school everyone would be stupid and no one would get a job and the world would fall apart. However, I’m also the first to admit that the school system is seriously screwed up. It’s screwed up because of the reasons above, and it’s screwed up because of “dumbing down.” Schools are so easy nowadays you have to be stupid to get straight A’s. You have to TRY to get a B. That is how hard it is to do poorly in school. And that screws everything up because how will an employer (college) know the difference between a smart straight A person and a dumb straight A person? They can’t. And you know who is to blame for all this? The parents. The parents can’t stand to see little Johnny flunk math so they cry to the school that the class is too hard or it’s racially discriminitory or whatever. They say some sh*t and get the schools to lower their standards. Let me give you an example. You have to take some test in Nevada in order to graduate from high school. You get five tries. People were failing it five times in a row. So what happens? The parents complain that since their child spent the four years in high school that they should graduate regardless. So what happens? You now have an infinite number of tries to pass the graduation exam. What the F*CK is the point of that? With an infinite number of tries you are bound to pass eventually!
I have been ranting so long it’s time to move on. I’m sure most of you know that saying what is wrong with a system doesn’t accomplish anything. You have to offer solutions to do that. Well, it’s time for me to offer my solutions. Make everything an elective. You only take those classes that you want to take. In my mind, this fixes everything. You want to be an historian? Take history. You don’t want to be an historian? Don’t take history. Think about how it is now. I go to a private school where about 50% of the students are going to be doctors when they grow up. In that same school about 0% of the students want to be historians. In that same school, History is a required class while Human Anatomy (a good class for doctors) is not. I have three words to respond to that: WHAT THE F*CK! I see no logic in what is going on here. You want to know something? I hate history. I will continue to hate history whether or not I am forced to take it. Forcing me to take history is not forcing me to learn it. That is another thing that schools need to learn. You only learn what you want to learn. And learning what you want to learn is very easy. History test coming up? CRAM! Forget it all the next day. That’s all history is to me. So guess what? I’m wasting an hour a day in history class. No ifs ands or buts about it. That is simply my life going down the drain.
And, contrary to popular belief, making classes electives will not cause mass chaos and/or mass quantities of high-school dropouts. It is human nature that we hate what we are forced to do. No matter what. This is one rule with few exceptions. Why do you think commercials always say, “Call for free info! You are under no obligation whatsoever!” I was forced to read Dracula this summer for English. I loved the book. In fact, it is my honest opinion that Dracula is the best book ever written. I read Dracula 24/7 for a week straight (it is a long book) and it was so good I couldn’t put it down. But you know what? I HATED EVERY SINGLE F*CKING MINUTE OF IT! You know why? Because I wasn’t reading it by choice, I wasn’t reading it by my leisure. I had to read it, no matter what. I guarantee I would have found time to read it some time in my life if I wasn’t forced to read it. Now I absolutely despise that book. I hate English class (and the English teacher) because of it. And OVER THE SUMMER! I thought summer was my time off from school? I guess not, school just has to make my life even more miserable. Let me bring my point to an even higher level. Sex. Arguably the greatest thing in life, right? Can anything come close to the great feeling of an orgasm? Can we say, “rape?” Suddenly sex doesn’t look that good when you are forced to do it. Even if it were your own spouse, I guarantee you would hate having sex if you knew that you couldn’t say “stop” for whatever reason. Just think about that for a second. The greatest thing in life ruined simply because you had no say in the matter. That is all it takes to ruin something. And people wonder why kids hate school?! The only exception to the rule about hating what you are forced to do would be if you are forced to win a million dollars. Nobody would say no to that hehe =P
Now, let me take this to the logical next step. People love to do things they haven’t tried before. This is also another rule with few exceptions. People don’t like sex if they are forced to do it, but, by God, they sure love having sex when they want to! Trust me when I say that people would go to school on their own free will if they had a say in the matter. I might actually take a history class if it looks interesting and I’m under no obligation. I can take computer science and actually enjoy it because I won’t be worrying about English next period (if I decided not to take English). In other words, I won’t take stuff I’m not interested in, but I will still take stuff that I am interested in. I don’t lose anything! I wasn’t learning anything in History anyways, remember? And another thing. If a kid is dumb he is dumb. He will be dumb when he walks into school, he will still be dumb when he walks out. Forcing him to take this class or that class hasn’t changed anything. All this sh*t about “expanding your horizons” or becoming a “well-rounded” person is complete bs. By the time I’m in high school I already know what I like and dislike. Forcing me to take four more years of history isn’t going to make me like it (or hate it) any more than I already do. Let us decide our own destiny for crying out loud! Making all classes electives even solves the problem of dumbing down. We don’t have to worry about that anymore because suddenly the students want to learn! If the class is too easy the students themselves will beg for it to be harder and more interesting.
Here is another interesting thing, I call it the “teacher paradox.” It is very simple, yet I have been unable to answer it. Teachers were once students. They suffered through school just like us. And yet they are hell bent on making school as miserable as possible for us students. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. If I were a teacher I would be dead set on making school as enjoyable and as useful as I possibly could because I would remember how bad school was for me and I would want to make the world a better place for all the new kids coming through school. What happened with the teachers? Did they forget what school was like? Unlikely. Denial? Possibly. I can’t really think of any good answer. Was school not that bad back then? Maybe teachers are just inherently dumb? I honestly can’t explain this paradox, but, unfortunately, it sure as hell exists.
The last point I want to make about school is intelligence vs memory. What is more important? I won’t even try to answer this question. Each has its good and bad points. Each compliments the other. A person with a photographic memory will probably get through school easily. But that doesn’t mean he’s smart. A smart person will probably get through school just as easily, but that doesn’t mean he has a good memory. Personally, I consider myself to be pretty smart, and most other people would probably consider me smart too, but I have just about the worst memory in the world. Heck, I don’t even know the phone number of my best friend. I have to look it up every time I want to call him. And you know what? No matter how smart I am I will never be good at history. History requires about an IQ of ½ to be good at…as long as you got that photographic memory. Same goes for languages. However, what about things like Chemistry or Math? Sure, I could memorize every damn formula and equation. However, even the best memory in the world won’t beat someone who actually understands the equation (mathematical or chemical). A person with a good memory won’t do well in “what if” situations. What if I took this element and dropped it in a solution with this other element? What if I didn’t have that reaction memorized? Then I’m screwed. What if I understood how that reaction worked? Then I could figure out the answer. If p implies q, then blah blah blah. You can’t memorize every logical possibility. You have to understand it in order to figure it out. If I understand why electrons move around as they do I might be able to answer a question such as “what would happen if we shined light on it?” If I simply memorized that S orbital electrons are likely to be found in a spherical region that won’t do me any good when it comes to that question. What if I memorize that i is the square root of a negative one. What if I memorize that i squared is –1. What if someone asks me what i cubed is? Uhhhhhhh….crap I didn’t memorize that one. However, if I understand WHY i squared is a –1 then I can tell you the answer to “What is i cubed?” What if someone asked me to name an important event that happened in 1745. I couldn’t tell you. What if I am four times as smart as Einstein? I still can’t tell you. The bottom line is I either have it memorized or I don’t. There is no way in hell I can figure it out using my four-times-as-smart-as-Einstein brain.
What we have here is a breakdown between past and future. Memory is for the past, intelligence is for the future. The past has already happened, there is nothing left to think about. Did we drop the bomb on Hiroshima for this reason or for that reason? Well, obviously there was a reason, and all we have to do is find it, not think about it. We find it by sifting through all the facts about the past that we have memorized. Now, once upon a time, Bill Gates had a vision of the future (and he still does) and his vision made him the richest man in the world. He had no facts to go on (and no time machine). Gates managed to think through his problem and figure out how to market DOS etc. That was all thinking, and it made him a billionaire.
My favorite subject =) What do you think I’ve been talking about this whole time hehe? What is logic? Logic is, in essence, common sense. Nothing more, nothing less. If you argue something with logic you argue something with a reason. If you argue without logic you argue “just because” or by “instinct.” Despite what I just said above, intuition is no reason to argue something. Time travel is possible! Why? It just seems right. It’s my intuition. Sorry pal, that is no argument. Logic always wins against intuition. If I intuit that the third person from the left is the murderer that is not very reliable. But if the cop comes up and says that the left person already confessed to murder it’s logical to pick the person on the left no matter what my intuition says, right? In fact, logic always wins. What can beat logic? Better logic. 99% of people in the world believe the world is flat, so it must be flat! That is certainly logic. Makes sense doesn’t it? How can a few billion people all be wrong? Well, I am actually going to sail around the world and if I can that means the world can’t be flat, no matter what everyone thinks. That is better logic. I’m going to go up in a space shuttle and see for my own eyes that the world is round. That is better better logic.
There is one thing that can beat logic: fact. Logic dictates that it’s impossible for a person to run 70 miles an hour. But if I actually see someone run 70 mph, if I actually clock them at 70 mph, no matter how illogical or impossible that may seem, it is obviously the truth. And that is the fundamental fault in logic. Logic can’t prove anything. Logic can’t prove sh*t. I can logic my ass off but I still can’t prove anything with it. Seeing is believing, and unfortunately logic is not seeing. Another thing: you can’t prove a negative. I see someone run 70 mph I just proved it’s possible. I can never prove that it is impossible to run 70 mph. I mean, what am I supposed to say? I never saw anyone run 70 mph. But remember, absence of proof is not proof of absence. I told you that time travel is impossible, but I didn’t prove it. And I can never prove it’s impossible.
Last thing I want to say. Everything has an answer. Everything has an answer. Whether I know that answer or not, whether I will ever know that answer or not, that is all irrelevant. Maybe I have the answer but my answer is wrong. That is irrelevant. There is an answer. Is time travel possible?
- time travel is possible.
- time travel is impossible.
Either a) or b) is true. One of them is true. One of them is false. No matter what. The answer will never change. No matter how much we argue about it the one true choice will remain true and the one false choice will remain false. No matter how much logic we use. No matter how much “fact” we use. The answer will never change. Even if no one ever time travels till the end of time, it still may have been possible, just never done. The truth is out there.
Note from the Author
Why did I write this essay anyways? Was it to “change the world?” Was it to “knock some sense into everyone?” HA! No way =P I wasn’t trying to do either of those things. I’m not claiming to know everything either. In fact, I’m not claiming that this essay is the truth. This essay is nothing but an opinion, my opinion, and no one else’s. You know what? At one point I realized that I had great (hopefully) ideas up in that head of mine and they weren’t really doing anything worthwhile up there. What good is a good idea if no one knows about it? But if it’s on paper the whole world can read it =) So I did it. I wrote it down. Truthfully, this is about 1% of everything up there in that head of mine, but I’m tired of writing it all down. Maybe later =P Anyways, the entire point of this essay was to give you something to think about. Just get you thinking, because I don’t believe there is enough thinking done in this world. Think about this essay of mine. Think about what you learned. Think about what is wrong with the reasoning of this essay. Think about what is right about it. Think about everything this essay didn’t think about for you =P