Quora – If you could only pick one to believe in, would you pick climate change or evolution, and why?

If you could only pick one to believe in, would you pick climate change or evolution, and why?

This question does not work on several different levels.

1/ I don’t believe anything. I have multiple working hypotheses, conjectures and heuristics that work sufficiently well in my life that I rely upon them in practice, and everything is potentially up for review if the evidence sets suggesting such review is required are sufficiently strong.

2/ Evolution is fundamental to any real understanding about biology. If one does not understand how differential survival rates of variants in different contexts leads to divergence of character sets in populations, then none of biology makes sense except as the creation of some non-empty set of gods (which is one of the many levels of reasons that the idea of gods survives in our time).

3/ Climate change is real. The evidence for it is overwhelming for anyone with the willingness and interest and skill sets to look. And most people in the world still seem to be under the influence of sets of beliefs that (at many different levels) instruct and influence them to obey some form of external authority rather than to trust their own internal sense of what seems likely to be so, and to be most important.

And that latter point, of the idea of trusting authority, is extremely complex. There are real situations where it makes sense to trust those who have greater knowledge than ourselves, provided that we can be confident that their intentions towards us are at worst benign, and at best beneficial. And it is certainly the case that there are many levels of complexity present in us as individuals and in the societies of which we are part, that requires sets of boundaries to maintain their existence. And those boundaries can be complex in ways that very few people are familiar with, with deep levels and classes of complexity.

And it does seem clear to me that many of the levels of systems present in our societies have been captured by what are essentially cheating strategies on the cooperative that is human society; and are exploiting many of us at various levels that are becoming exceptionally risky for everyone, and need to be countered by effective strategies. And that is a very complex set of “territories”, as we need to remove the “cheating strategies” while leaving what were the “infected agents” in the game, if we are to achieve any sort of long term stability.

So the idea of picking something to believe in seems to be most of the problem present in our society today.

Society is so complex, that most people want to simplify it down to something that they can work with. Some set of simple truths.

Doing something like that is essential in a sense, and one needs to do it in the full knowledge of what one is doing, not in any sort of delusional “belief” that the world is actually that way.

We all need to accept the fact that however complex and useful our understandings of reality are, they are like children’s toys compared to the real thing.

We all need to use that fact to gain a little bit of humility and respect for all the complexity we find ourselves in, the people around us, the ecosystems, the social systems, the technologies, the cultures, the stories.

We all need to become adult, to accept the responsibilities of adulthood, which include the absolute necessity of making the best decisions we can with what we know to be limited information and limited tool sets.

There is risk in that.

That risk is an unavoidable part of life, and no set of expanded intelligence, artificial or otherwise, can possibly avoid it.

We must all be able to accept multiple complex realities simultaneously.

Complex histories.

Complex stories from our cultures.

Complex physical realities.

Complex biological realities.

Complex “feelings” deeply encoded by the deep time of history at many different levels of genetics and culture.

Complex social and legal and ethical systems.

Complex mathematical and logical systems allowing for infinite variation on themes of models in use.

Many different classes of fundamental uncertainty at every level of complexity.

That is what life seems to be.

That is a minimum set of things that adults must accept, if they are to act responsibly in ways that promote their own long term interests, and the shared interests of everyone else.

It cannot be about the beliefs that children must all start life with.

It must be about the much deeper questions that all adults must accept as the necessary burdens of life. The requirement to make real decisions on less than perfect information, at every level.

Mistakes will happen, they must, there is no other logical option.

Beliefs must be for children.

Adults are required to accept responsibility for action in the face of uncertainty, and for cleaning up the messes that must inevitably happen from time to time.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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