For judgment, perspective is everything. I wrote this on April 21, 2016 in response to a poster on BJOL whose perspective is, to put it mildly, a bit demanding.


It’s impossible to generate perfect results from imperfect data – and imperfect life forms. I think of it as the 1-10-30 rule, but there are more scientific (no pun intended) ways to state the issue with the scientific method. In a nutshell: we can’t see, we can’t hear, we can’t taste, we can’t smell, and when we aren’t sure, a percentage of us will make stuff up.

I’ve been told that, if our vision was good enough, we could see through everything. Atoms are only about 1/200th solid mass, the rest an electrical field where the electrons graze like tiny sheep at atomic speeds. Going the other direction, we are so far away from wherever the other side of the universe is that we won’t ‘see’ anything that far away for billions of years, the time it takes the light to travel our way. The Hubble telescope allows us vision we previously couldn’t imagine – and reminds us just how blind we really are. We can’t see small enough to see the world we live in, or far enough to make even a reasonable guess at our origin.

So… how can science figure out anything? Why don’t we just let the clergy make stuff up and be done with it? If science is all just made up, then there is no difference. But, of course, there is. Science starts with zero and accumulates facts. We are, on a universal scale, so close to zero still that the meter would not be moved enough for our limited perceptional abilities to notice it – which gives some weight to Mike’s stance. Looked at on a human scale, though, the idea that we haven’t learned anything is ridiculous. The Earth is over four billion years old. We didn’t start talking (well, we didn’t learn how to listen) until less than a hundred thousand years ago, a few relative seconds from the end of the Earth’s ‘year’ and we were still living mostly like apes less than ten thousand years ago. We’ve made some progress in human terms, a massive amount of progress. In universal terms, though, we are barely off the ground.

That may or may not be applicable – I never know what specific part of humanity Mike is disappointed in this week – but the general rule seems to be ‘everything sucks because nothing is perfect.’ I think I’m safe. Mike, if we all looked at baseball like you look at things, we would think every baseball player ever was a worthless, no-account loser and baseball is impossible to play. Babe Ruth? The worthless scumbag made an out over half the time! And don’t get me started on Roberto Clemente – that schmo made so many outs that he should have been playing in the Special Olympics.

It’s all in the wrists (all in the perspective); if we are compared to the universe we are too puny to measure. If we are compared to each other we are competitive. If we are compared to what came before us, we are moving forward. If we are compared to Pauly Shore, we are slightly less funny but infinitely better smelling. It’s all in how you look at it.

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