Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why I am interested in truth, myths and human nature

As my first post, I wanted to talk about why I am interested in this topic.

Due to various aspects of my early life (most of which I won't bore you with), I have a strong interest in finding out the truth of things. I grew up in a very urban area of Los Angeles, and then, even though our family was not at all rich, I ended up attending Beverly Hills High School. So, at an early age, I was exposed to a wide range of human situations. Going to Beverly and knowing rich and famous people, cured me of any great ambition to be either. For example, in the 1970's, I had a friend who worked at Xerox PARC, who gave me a demonstration of the first PC mouse and Windows, prior to either Gates or Jobs having seen it. But, I never gave a thought to using this to my personal financial advantage, as they did.

Instead, I spent my time thinking about "the way things are", putting my attention into philosophy and metaphysics. At some point, I realized that any personal bias or viewpoint of my own would prevent me from finding any real truth, but merely what was appealing to me. So, I became vigilant against having any personal viewpoint while investigating how things are.
I think this has given me an ability to discern which philosophical and metaphysical arguments and systems truly reflected the actual world, and which did not.

I am far from the first person to do this, and I found that I did not have to "reinvent the wheel". The results of my investigations were that some philosophical systems accurately described the situation.

However, I also discovered that human beings consistently avoided doing what was clearly in their best interest, even when they were aware of it. They also commonly resist rational arguments, in favor of irrational emotional viewpoints. I kept coming across situations where even the most intelligent human beings refused to act like "people", i.e. rational intellectual beings.

Finally, I came across an explanation that quite neatly and elegantly described all the seemingly contradictory human behavior, called Environmental Psychology . Briefly, EP says that natural selection has produced human instincts that were the best survival characteristics during the past several million years, which were often quite different from the last 10,000 years of cities and civilization. So, we instinctively react and behave in ways that might have been best 100,000 years ago, but are not suited to modern life.

This led me to explore how EP affects human society, and other factors that cause human beings to act in irrational and counterproductive ways. I began to accumulate a surprising number of factors that lead to unsatisfactory outcomes in modern life. However, those same factors lead to humans failing to find accurate information that can help them. So, it would not surprise me if no one finds this information of interest, but I felt that I ought to share it with everyone, just in case it is of value to some. I hope to put it all together in a coherent book, but meanwhile, my 22 years on the Internet led me to first start this blog, so I can also have the benefit of your comments and thoughts.

I am pretty sure that everyone will find something amazing or even unbelievable in this blog, because a surprising number of everyone's accepted viewpoints are actually myths. But more important will be the general principles that might allow people to better understand how and why things are going wrong.

Again, if all that seems too negative, it is because I have found that the positive truths are not hard to find, but the truths of why things sometimes go wrong are more obscure.

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The Truth Is Not Out There by Kenneth Stuart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.