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How Much Do We Know?



The conclusion forced upon me in the course of a life devoted to natural science is that the universe as it is assumed to be in physical science is only an idealized world, while the real universe is the spiritual universe in which spiritual values count for everything.

                                                                                                                      –    J.B.S. Haldane


I seem to have a (natural) interest in Ideas & Beliefs.  I’m interested in how ideas MOVE in a culture. I’m interested in Who believes What Ideas are TRUE.  I’m interested in our Resistance to believing (some particular) idea is true.

For example – WHY is there such strong and widespread resistance in our culture against believing that Crop Circles are (mainly) extraterrestrial in origin and are intended for us as a form of communication ?… that they are ‘messages’.   Or – why do most Americans NOT believe that BigFoot-type creatures EXIST and live here with us on this world ?


One reason – for clinging (tenaciously) to our ‘current’ paradigm – is that we are basically ‘HardWired’ to do so.


From the age of One (or a bit less … at that point when we believed that were “Seeing the World”) … we have been forced to ‘make sense’ of our experiences.  So … what happens when we see something which we never seen before?


Suppose a young child knows Cat (and Dog … and a few other creatures) … and then one day, for the first time  – he sees a Squirrel. How will he make sense of it?

He might get get quite excited, point to the squirrel and say – “Funny Kitty!”


Our first attempt to account for (any) anomalie – will ALWAYS be to try to make sense of it USING our Current BeliefStructure.


For our Entire Life – we rely on our Belief Structure / our Personal Paradigm – to make sense of our Experience.  And we amend it ONLY GRUDGINGLY.


And a DRASTIC Overhaul?  Well … people would rather DIE !  In fact we DO die. That is – the main way some Major paradigm shift occurs  – is that the people who held the Old Paradigm simply get old and die … and they are REPLACED by the oncoming generation –  by people who grew up with the new paradigm!


It wasn’t so long ago – the everyone believed that the World is FLAT.  (I mean – it’s OBVIOUSLY FLAT! How could anyone think Otherwise? Suppose, for example – it were ROUND … people on the other side of the world would FALL OFF,  wouldn’t they? Of COURSE they would! The world is most Certainly FLAT! ANYONE can SEE that it’s flat!)


Those WHO SAILED were probably the first Group of people to believe – that the earth is a ball.  One could OBSERVE a ship gradually disappear behind the curve of the earth (even the hydrosphere).  Only the top of the mast will remain visible … after the rest of the ship is hidden behind the curve of the sea.

Also (during a lunar eclipse) when one may OBSERVE the shadow of the earth as it moves across the face of the moon.  The shadow is ROUND … like the shadow of a BALL !


I just now consulted Wikipedia (about Christopher Columbus) –


He formulated a plan to seek a western sea passage to the East Indies, hoping to profit from the lucrative spice trade.

After years of lobbying, the Catholic Monarchs of Spain agreed to sponsor a journey west, in the name of the Crown of Castile. Columbus left Spain in August 1492 with three ships, and after a stopover in the Canary Islands made landfall in the Americas on 12 October (now celebrated as Columbus Day).”


Only to one who believed that the earth is ROUND – would it make sense   to (from Europe) journey WESTWARD … in order to arrive in The EAST !


ALWAYS will our paradigm determine – not only our Values … but also – ‘what seems like a reasonable option … what seems to be Possible’.      Mmm?



Besides the Habitual reason (for looking to our BeliefStructure to make sense of anything)  there is ALSO a Psychological reason … a “philosophical” reason.

It’s because of an Illusion … a Very Important illusion.


During our Waking State, whenever I “look around” … it seems to me – that what I am seeing is (actually) – THE WORLD.

Now, in a Practical Sense – this is True.  But in a Strict Sense – it is NOT TRUE.


Strictly speaking, what I see (whenever) I look around me – is NOT the World.  It is MY DREAM of the World. In an OF – my Own Consciousness. In Real Time.


Our consciousness produces this “dream” for us (as though it were no trouble at all) … we look at this dream … and we “recognize” it – AS the World.

THIS is the MEANS by which the World ‘becomes visible’ to us.  (and all the Animals too. EVERYBODY. We ALL ‘see the world’ by the Same Method.)

And (even though it’s NOT HAPPENING) – I seem to see things “out there”   where the things ARE.

THIS is what makes the dream so (completely) convincing.


When Elizabeth Peabody (1804 – 1894) was walking one day in the woods … she happened to walk Smack into a tree.  And when she was asked – ‘didn’t she SEE it?’ She said, “Yes, I saw it; but I didn’t Realize it.”


So – what HAPPENED was – she was ‘seeing’ everything the Same Way she always did … but she (temporarily) forgot – that she HAD a BODY !  She did (not really) forget that the Tree was Real … she forgot that SHE was Real.

(I can only WISH – that I had access to the nature & substance of the reverie that she was in at that moment !)


Anyway … the Great Illusion (that we “See the World” … DIRECTLY.   And this happens All Day, Every Day) – REINFORCES the (secondary) Illusion – that we are ‘In Direct Contact with Reality’ … that ‘What We See’ is EQUIVALENT to ‘What Is’!

And would not this (simple) Illusion account for a good deal of our tendency to believe – that “I’m Right” (always)?



Now (over the past few decades) I have conducted an (informal) survey/enquiry – into “Why do we make mistakes?”

And here is what I have found –

Many of our Mistakes were in the direction of the Evidence! … but, it turns out that the World is more complex than we had reckoned it was.


In other words – the World (as we THOUGHT we knew it) was actually a grossly Simplified Caricature of the World as it really is.



William Irwin Thompson says –


We are like flies crawling across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: we cannot see what angels and gods lie underneath the threshold of our perceptions.  We do not live in reality; we live in our paradigms, our habituated perceptions, our illusions; the illusions we share through culture we call reality; but the true historical reality of our condition is invisible to us.


Everyone knows the image (and the metaphor) of the Iceberg … that the part that is above the surface of the water – amounts to only about 10% of the Whole.

Well … here’s what I suspect :   It’s my guess that our Idea of Reality amounts to about 1% of What’s Real … Maybe 1/10th of 1%.   Maybe a HUNDREDTH. Maybe even Much Less !

And if that’s the case, we should probably rethink our (arrogant) belief – that we “know” Reality.

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