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Posts Tagged ‘The Meaning Of It All’

No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated.  Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literary or artistic expression.  Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious, or philosophical doctrines.  Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race.
  —  Dr. Richard P. Feynman
From his book: “The Meaning Of It All
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Now, that there are unscientific things is not my grief.  That’s a nice word.  I mean, that is not what I am worrying about, that there are unscientific things.  That something is unscientific is not bad; there is nothing the matter with it.  It is just unscientific.  And scientific is limited, of course, to those things that we can tell about by trial and error.
  —  Richard P. Feynman
From his book:  “The Meaning of It All
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There have been a lot of jokes made about ideas of uncertainty.  I would like to remind you that you can be pretty sure of things even though you are uncertain, that you don’t have to be so in-the-middle, in fact not at all in-the-middle.  People say to me, “Well, how can you teach your children what is right and wrong if you don’t know?”  Because I’m pretty sure of what’s right and wrong.  I’m not absolutely sure; some experiences may change my mind.  But I know what I would expect to teach them.  But, of course, a child won’t learn what you teach him.
  —  Richard P. Feynman
From his book:  “The Meaning of It All
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Suppose two politicians are running for president, and one goes through the farm section and is asked, “What are you going to do about the farm question?” And he knows right away — bang, bang, bang.  Now he goes to the next campaigner who comes through.  “What are you going to do about the farm problem?”  “Well, I don’t know.  I used to be a general, and I don’t know anything about farming.  But it seems to me it must be a very difficult problem, because for twelve, fifteen, twenty years people have been struggling with it, and people say that they know how to solve the farm problem.   And it must be a hard problem.  So the way that I intend to solve the farm problem is to gather around me a lot of people who know something about it, to look at all the experience that we have had with this problem before, to take a certain amount of time at it, and then to come to some conclusion in a reasonable way about it.  Now, I can’t tell you ahead of time what conclusion, but I can give you some of the principles I’ll try to use — not to make things difficult for individual farmers, if there are any special problems we will have to have some way to take care of them,” etc., etc., etc.
Now such a man would never get anywhere in this country, I think.  It’s never been tried, anyway.  This is in the attitude of mind of the populace, that they have to have an answer and that a man who gives an answer is better than a man who gives no answer, when the real fact of the matter is, in most cases, it is the other way around.  And the result of this of course is that the politician promises can never be kept.  It is a mechanical fact; it is impossible.  The result of that is that nobody believes campaign promises.  And the result of that is a general disparaging of politics, a general lack of respect for the people who are trying to solve problems, and so forth.  It’s all generated from the very beginning (maybe — this is a simple analysis).  It’s all generated, maybe, by the fact that the attitude of the populace is to try to find the answer instead of trying to find a man who has a way of getting at the answer.
   —    Richard P. Feynman
From his book:  “The Meaning Of It All
[Actually, I think we’ve already elected this politician to be President (once so far, anyway) — well, except for the part about him being a “general” and all.   —   KMAB]
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I feel a responsibility to proclaim the value of this freedom and to teach that doubt is not to be feared, but that it is to be welcomed as the possibility of a new potential for human beings.  If you know that your are not sure, you have a chance to improve the situation.  I want to demand this freedom for future generations.
   —  Richard P. Feynman
From his book: ” The Meaning Of It All
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I have completely run out of organized ideas, but I have a large number of uncomfortable feelings about the world which I haven’t been able to put into some obvious, logical, and sensible form.
   —  Richard P. Feynman
From his book: “The Meaning Of It All
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Book Review:
Today I finished “The Meaning Of It All – Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist“, by Richard P. Feynman (1998©).  The book is a transcript of three lectures Dr. Feynman gave in 1963 at the University of Washington in Seattle.  The lectures are themselves titled: “The Uncertainty of Science“, “The Uncertainty of Values“, and “This Unscientific Age“.  The lectures provide insight into the Dr. Feynman’s (a Nobel laureate in physics) views on the nature and limits of science, religion and politics.
Feynman is one of the men who worked on “The Manhattan Project” which developed the atomic bombs dropped on Japan which ended the war (WWII) in the Pacific.  Feynman’s name is mentioned frequently whenever someone talks about the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century.  It appears from this book, that he has a terrific way with words to go along with his intellect.  The speeches were fairly informal (even amusing – not quite funny), but still offered much to ponder about – particularly about science and religion.
I particularly like his openly stated views on the limits of science in explaining things – basically, science only applies when you can think of a problem and a method of testing the problem for possible solutions.  Science can’t be applied to faith and therefore not to religion.   He accepts that others can find comfort in faith.  As a believer in God, it is refreshing to not be looked down on by someone who is a scientist.  Having said this, it is, I think, important to state that lots of scientists are also religious.
Anyway, the book is fairly short (about 200 pages) and is a very fast read – although as I said, it is full of things you will find yourself thinking about later (or during) after you’ve finished the book.  I know I will.  And, yes, you’ll be seeing some quotes in the coming days.
Movie Review:
Last night, I re-watched “Percy Jackson & the Olympians“.  I’ve read the book series and saw the movie with my son quite some time back.  He saw it at the theater.  I’ve only seen it on DVD.  Anyway, I watched it again to see what I thought.  I had very mixed reactions.  I was less impressed by the acting and more impressed by the special effects.  The story in the movie was less in sync with the book (as I remember it).  All in all, I’d say it was not as good as “Transformers” and about the same as “I Am Number Four“.  Basically, okay, but not great.  Entertaining, but not “I’ll really look forward to watching that again next year.”
Other bits and bobs:
James hung around for a BBQ this evening (Sunday).  I wanted to go out, but he wanted to eat in so I went and got us a couple of pork steaks.  Hil had a beef steak and Sarah had a couple of dogs.  It was real nice just hanging out with him and chatting.
I was chatting with Hil afterwards and we’re going to miss them when they are all gone and we’re on our own.  That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to it, but time does fly and your kids are all up and grown.
Sarah has started junior college and seems to be enjoying it.  She’ll probably be there for three years with all the cutbacks in classes.  Time passes…
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