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  #1  
Old 01-14-2010, 01:07 PM
thaelmax thaelmax is offline
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What if, say, all that we have known is actually wrong?

That's my short little question. What if everything that we (or you) have learned or found, even studied is wrong? What would that kind of thing be like?
By saying wrong, i meant that all that stuffs human have come across are actually differ from what the human perceived as fact.
And this is not a field-specific thing, I meant EVERYTHING.

Would this even matter? I know lots of people who couldn't care less about this, but I'm just being curious. Will being entirely, utterly, systematically wrong matter anything?

On the side note: What is wrong, what is right?

Please forgive my ignorant.
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  #2  
Old 01-14-2010, 01:13 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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It'll boost the economy, since everyone will have to be given their money back and consumer spending will skyrocket.

Also - the OP is the best I have ever seen.

Though I could be wrong.
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  #3  
Old 01-14-2010, 01:14 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Welcome to the boards, thaelmax. I'm moving your question to the Great Debates section of the site instead of General Questions, which is for questions with factual answers.

But if everything we knew turned out to be wrong? I'd be a little embarrassed. If atomic theory was wrong I would be hesitant to touch anything and if gravity was wrong I'd be a bit nervous about going outside.
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Old 01-14-2010, 01:28 PM
thaelmax thaelmax is offline
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Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
But if everything we knew turned out to be wrong? I'd be a little embarrassed. If atomic theory was wrong I would be hesitant to touch anything and if gravity was wrong I'd be a bit nervous about going outside.
Well, I think I should put in another word to be more specific.
What if everything we know is theoretically wrong? If what we perceived are just illusions, and suddenly someone pointed that out. All those astronomy, planet, solar system, and all those yadda yadda stuffs.

For example: at my young age of five, I thought that when people talked about the expiration date of a bottle of Coke, they were talking about the expiration date of the bottle, not the Coke. It was hilarious when I found out the truth...
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Old 01-14-2010, 01:29 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Ok. I think the question is, how would someone be able to just point all of that out? And would you be able to trust their version of things?
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  #6  
Old 01-14-2010, 01:31 PM
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So you're asking what if, someday someone wakes up our bodies and unplugs them all from the Matrix?

Billions of people flopping around on the ground because their muscles have never been used...that's what'd happen.

Last edited by pan1; 01-14-2010 at 01:32 PM..
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  #7  
Old 01-14-2010, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by thaelmax View Post
What if everything we know is theoretically wrong? If what we perceived are just illusions, and suddenly someone pointed that out. All those astronomy, planet, solar system, and all those yadda yadda stuffs.
I'm not sure about you but I don't assume that there is not some higher or lower level to what I perceive daily. Simply recording the details of repeatable phenomena and predicting what will happen does not preclude that possibility.

There really is no difference between something that for all demonstrable purposes acts like an electron and something that really is an electron.
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Old 01-14-2010, 01:59 PM
74westy 74westy is offline
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Originally Posted by thaelmax View Post
What if everything that we (or you) have learned or found, even studied is wrong?
Many of the things I've learned, found and studied are logically inconsistent so they can't all be wrong.

That is, unless logic is wrong.
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  #9  
Old 01-14-2010, 02:08 PM
Keweenaw Keweenaw is offline
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Originally Posted by thaelmax View Post
Well, I think I should put in another word to be more specific.
What if everything we know is theoretically wrong? If what we perceived are just illusions, and suddenly someone pointed that out. All those astronomy, planet, solar system, and all those yadda yadda stuffs.

For example: at my young age of five, I thought that when people talked about the expiration date of a bottle of Coke, they were talking about the expiration date of the bottle, not the Coke. It was hilarious when I found out the truth...
Plato examined this in the Republic with the Allegory of the Cave. He seems to believe that people would eventually acclimate to the new truths of their observations and experiences through reason.

Now if reason itself is simply an illusion, or the foundations of cause and effect, that way lies madness for all.
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Old 01-14-2010, 02:12 PM
Mosier Mosier is offline
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Originally Posted by thaelmax View Post
Well, I think I should put in another word to be more specific.
What if everything we know is theoretically wrong? If what we perceived are just illusions, and suddenly someone pointed that out. All those astronomy, planet, solar system, and all those yadda yadda stuffs.

For example: at my young age of five, I thought that when people talked about the expiration date of a bottle of Coke, they were talking about the expiration date of the bottle, not the Coke. It was hilarious when I found out the truth...
There are a minority of people who believe the universe and everything in it (including us) is a computer simulation, and not "real" in the way we assume it to be. For the most part, these people live their lives normally and go about their business just like everyone else.

It's hard for me to understand exactly what you're asking, but does that answer your question?
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  #11  
Old 01-14-2010, 02:32 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Originally Posted by thaelmax View Post

For example: at my young age of five, I thought that when people talked about the expiration date of a bottle of Coke, they were talking about the expiration date of the bottle, not the Coke. It was hilarious when I found out the truth...
Did you learn this truth while on your way to throw the bottle off the edge of the world?
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  #12  
Old 01-14-2010, 02:36 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is online now
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Everything You Know Is Wrong!
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  #13  
Old 01-14-2010, 02:53 PM
Darth_Hamsandwich Darth_Hamsandwich is offline
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Everything I know is wrong? Yikes! Although, it could make for an interesting weekend.

'If anything is possible, then it is possible for the statement "anything is possible" to be false.'

I hurt my brain reading that one.
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  #14  
Old 01-14-2010, 02:56 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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Yeah, what the bleep do we know?
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  #15  
Old 01-14-2010, 03:00 PM
Superfluous Parentheses Superfluous Parentheses is offline
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Most of the things most people think they know about the fundamentals of reality are wrong. It just doesn't matter at all in everyday life.
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  #16  
Old 01-14-2010, 03:07 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Originally Posted by thaelmax View Post
That's my short little question. What if everything that we (or you) have learned or found, even studied is wrong? What would that kind of thing be like?
Our understanding of everything is almost certainly incorrect, in the same way that Newton's Laws are simply a good simulation of physics at very slow speeds. We're simply narrowing in on the actually correct formulas for everything, possibly to never arrive at a final point.

I suspect that that's not really what you're looking for though. Yes, it's possible that all of reality is, for example, the dream of a giant pink elephant who is soon to awake. Unless there's something we can do about that, though, all that matters is what is actually relevant to us. It might be that the laws of physics are simply the momentary whims of space hobgoblins, but until they decide to change those laws, the parameters of those laws are still the ones we have to live by, day-to-day.
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  #17  
Old 01-14-2010, 03:13 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is online now
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Originally Posted by Darth_Hamsandwich View Post
Everything I know is wrong? Yikes! Although, it could make for an interesting weekend.

'If anything is possible, then it is possible for the statement "anything is possible" to be false.'

I hurt my brain reading that one.
Fortunately, my head was built with paradox-absorbing shocks!
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  #18  
Old 01-14-2010, 03:27 PM
Darth_Hamsandwich Darth_Hamsandwich is offline
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Fortunately, my head was built with paradox-absorbing shocks!
Some of my favorites:

Don't go near the water 'til you have learned how to swim.

Can a man drown in the fountain of eternal life?

Your mission is not to accept the mission. Do you accept?

Answer truthfully (yes or no) to the following question: Will the next word you say be 'no'?

This sentence is false.
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  #19  
Old 01-14-2010, 03:27 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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If literally everything we know is revealed to be wrong, we would not be able to function at all in whatever the 'real' world is - we would at best be like newborn infants (or whatever is their equivalent in whatever the real world is) - because none of our experiences, thoughts, memories, reactions, senses, etc would be any use at all.
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  #20  
Old 01-14-2010, 03:38 PM
i am a scientist i am a scientist is offline
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I'd feel better about sucking at pub trivia
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  #21  
Old 01-14-2010, 03:56 PM
BigT BigT is offline
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You'd have to demonstrate why "being wrong" would matter. If we're wrong, but everything works as if we were right, what's the problem?
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  #22  
Old 01-14-2010, 04:08 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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Imagine if we one day learned that what we thought was solid matter was composed of "atoms" that were themselves mostly composed of empty space! The horrors!!!
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  #23  
Old 01-14-2010, 04:23 PM
thaelmax thaelmax is offline
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Originally Posted by Mosier View Post
There are a minority of people who believe the universe and everything in it (including us) is a computer simulation, and not "real" in the way we assume it to be. For the most part, these people live their lives normally and go about their business just like everyone else.

It's hard for me to understand exactly what you're asking, but does that answer your question?
You've got what I meant, and your answer brought me to thinking of the way we assume things. Our mind seems to have assumption set to default, maybe that's the way we grasp onto life. We usually assume that what we see is what it is, things are like the way we perceive it.

When I go rampage in my mind, I once went across the thinking that we're not living, interacting with stuffs, we're just "floating above life". That idea was kind of weird.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
I suspect that that's not really what you're looking for though. Yes, it's possible that all of reality is, for example, the dream of a giant pink elephant who is soon to awake. Unless there's something we can do about that, though, all that matters is what is actually relevant to us. It might be that the laws of physics are simply the momentary whims of space hobgoblins, but until they decide to change those laws, the parameters of those laws are still the ones we have to live by, day-to-day.
So that would be like saying if we're all wrong in a systematically way, then "no biggie, we're alrite", right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth_Hamsandwich View Post
Everything I know is wrong? Yikes! Although, it could make for an interesting weekend.

'If anything is possible, then it is possible for the statement "anything is possible" to be false.'

I hurt my brain reading that one.
By the way, I love paradoxical sentences like that .

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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
If literally everything we know is revealed to be wrong, we would not be able to function at all in whatever the 'real' world is - we would at best be like newborn infants (or whatever is their equivalent in whatever the real world is) - because none of our experiences, thoughts, memories, reactions, senses, etc would be any use at all.
I don't think that would be necessarily true, because human has something called habit, that what you do everyday got imprinted onto your mind, and you would just continue to do it unless there is some intensive effort to change it, they would probably stay that way. It's like when someone discovered time is not real, people would just move on .

Last edited by thaelmax; 01-14-2010 at 04:27 PM..
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  #24  
Old 01-14-2010, 05:11 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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Occam's razor: it's easier to believe the guy saying everything is wrong, is wrong, instead of everything being wrong, so the evidence would have to be pretty compelling.

Besides, I could buy that Relativity and Quantum Mechanics might eventually be supplanted by a different model of the universe that explains some things R and QM can't. The effect on day-to-day existence will be negligible, though, unless that new theory leads to the construction of futuristicky mega-reactors that supply infinite energy, or something.
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  #25  
Old 01-14-2010, 05:20 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Originally Posted by thaelmax View Post
When I go rampage in my mind, I once went across the thinking that we're not living, interacting with stuffs, we're just "floating above life".
In the wonders that I find in the playground in my mind
In a world that used to be, close your eyes and follow me
Where the children laugh and the children play
And we'll sing a song all day


- Clint Holmes

I would actually prefer an alternate reality in which that song had never been released.
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  #26  
Old 01-14-2010, 07:58 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Hello seeker! Now don't feel alone here in the New Age because there's a seeker born every minute.
Just a quick plug for the greatest album ever.
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  #27  
Old 01-15-2010, 07:21 AM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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The closest cases I can think of that might be analogous are people removed from cults or cult-like situations; children kept locked up and mis-educated by abusive or crazy parents, peons in re-education camps in places like North Korea, children of fanatics of various stripes (racist, religious, political, etc.).

Not the same thing, of course, but still, a broad amount of their "knowledge" of the way things work (socially at least) will turn out to be utterly wrong.

Maybe there are autobiographies or first-person accounts by such people that you would find enlightening?
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  #28  
Old 01-15-2010, 08:59 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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People adapt to whatever reality they are presented with.
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  #29  
Old 01-15-2010, 12:47 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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People adapt to whatever reality they are presented with.
I dunno - some people seem to resist adaptation. Flat-earthers, anyone?
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  #30  
Old 01-15-2010, 01:50 PM
Orr, G. Orr, G. is offline
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That's my short little question. What if everything that we (or you) have learned or found, even studied is wrong? What would that kind of thing be like?
The same thing happened to meeee!

Or, so I thought. It turns out that I was just mistaken.
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  #31  
Old 01-15-2010, 02:36 PM
erislover erislover is offline
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We can't be wrong about everything, because there would be no way to determine it, were it so. Being wrong assumes some fact of the matter which is correct against which to judge the correctness or incorrectness of other things.
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  #32  
Old 01-16-2010, 10:25 PM
thaelmax thaelmax is offline
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Thanks for your responses, I think I got what I wondered now. But if you may care, would you mind telling me about the significance of, erm, righteousness? Because it have been quite confusing to me. When i was in school, they all taught me to always try to get right; but later in life, i saw that there are lots of things are not to be done rightly.

So, what's the significance of that, in terms of non-scientific purposes?

Last edited by thaelmax; 01-16-2010 at 10:26 PM..
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  #33  
Old 01-17-2010, 01:12 AM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Really, to be honest and cooperative, our species would've died out millenia ago if "I ate this last week and it did not kill me. I can probably eat it today and, again, it will not kill me," had not been generally accurate. To claim a rule that everything we, as a species, is wrong dooms us within a few days of its implementation. It is truly nonsensical.
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  #34  
Old 01-18-2010, 05:06 AM
Defero Defero is offline
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Yes, it is a nonsensical premise. It is possible to cogently consider: what if everything is "incomplete / energy with the illusion of form" or "holographic / simulated by the matrix"? But "wrong"? Don't think so.
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  #35  
Old 01-18-2010, 12:15 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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Originally Posted by thaelmax View Post
Thanks for your responses, I think I got what I wondered now. But if you may care, would you mind telling me about the significance of, erm, righteousness? Because it have been quite confusing to me. When i was in school, they all taught me to always try to get right; but later in life, i saw that there are lots of things are not to be done rightly.

So, what's the significance of that, in terms of non-scientific purposes?
I don't understand you here.

If by "righteousness" you instead meant "correctness", correctness is generally useful because it is often the case that you can make better decisions with more correct, and more detailed, information. That is, we can make much better computers if we know something about the electical conductivity of metals. On the other hand, though, just because there is a better way to do things doesn't mean all other ways are unacceptable; there are lots of cases where technically inferior outcomes are still perfectly acceptable. For example, if I am under the mistaken impression that bananas taste better than strawberries, then I'd probably stick to the bananas, which would deprive me of the joy of strawberrys but is still by no means fatal - bananas are pretty good too.

Of course, there are limits here - having the wrong idea about the effects of pavement on a rapidly falling body could lead a person to a decidedly suboptimal choice of hobbies. There's kind of a continuum of badness here, and differing people may disagree on how to rank the consequences of various courses of action.

By the way, when you said, "lots of things are not to be done rightly", what were you talking about? That it's better to use inches than planck lengths when measuring the boards for your birdhouse, or that when your appendix bursts it's a great plan to avoid medical attention in favor of prayer?
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  #36  
Old 01-18-2010, 04:45 PM
thaelmax thaelmax is offline
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Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
By the way, when you said, "lots of things are not to be done rightly", what were you talking about? That it's better to use inches than planck lengths when measuring the boards for your birdhouse, or that when your appendix bursts it's a great plan to avoid medical attention in favor of prayer?
Actually, I was talking with the mindset of a non-American, a developing country's resident who has just entered the society after graduating for about four or five months. As in my country, there are a whole load of things that just go against whatever education gave to the students. I couldn't come up with any at the moment unfortunately.

Though apparently, it's much different than that of America.

My uncertainty was resolved.
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:52 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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Actually, I was talking with the mindset of a non-American, a developing country's resident who has just entered the society after graduating for about four or five months. As in my country, there are a whole load of things that just go against whatever education gave to the students. I couldn't come up with any at the moment unfortunately.

Though apparently, it's much different than that of America.

My uncertainty was resolved.
So we're talking about stuff like, "Shoes should always be taken off before entering the house," or "you should drive on the left side of the road"? Cases like that, a person will find themselves forced to either learn the new world order* quickly, or face the consequences. (Dum dum dum.)



* new world order: "In your county it should be done that way, but 'round these here parts we do it this way."
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  #38  
Old 01-18-2010, 05:09 PM
BrotherCadfael BrotherCadfael is offline
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From Sleeper:

Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called "wheat germ, organic honey and tiger's milk."
Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.
Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge?
Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.
Dr. Melik: Incredible.
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  #39  
Old 01-22-2010, 03:39 AM
Tibby or Not Tibby Tibby or Not Tibby is offline
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If all we’ve assumed was right is wrong, then all we've assumed was wrong is right. No, now that we assume that is right, it must be wrong. No…wait…
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  #40  
Old 01-22-2010, 04:17 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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If this happens tomorrow, your post would be wrong, so everything else will be right. But that can't be, so everything must be wrong except your post. But that can't be, since everything, including your post, must be wrong.

::SPARKS FLY OUT OF EARS. BRAIN MELTS::
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  #41  
Old 01-22-2010, 04:34 AM
tagos tagos is offline
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I dunno - some people seem to resist adaptation. Flat-earthers, anyone?
There are no flat-earthers. The Flat Earth Society isn't serious.

Quote:
We of the Flat Earth Society are willing to do what it takes to make our message known. We may have started small, but we're branching out and earning the trust and following of lots of people. Although the steps we've taken may seem a little drastic to the outside observer, we feel that, in the end, the net gain will justify the means. Here are a few of our victories. . .

-----In the small town of Grass Roots, MO, one of our members has successfully infiltrated the public education system. By being hired on as a teacher in the district, she was able to gain a foothold that has allowed us to "replace" nearly every lower grade teacher in the entire town with loyal Flat Earthers. The students are now undergoing deprogramming measures and are expected to be released when they reach their mid-thirties.
Over a period of several months, over half of the workers in the Wisconsin state prison system were "relocated", their positions filled by our associates. The list of replacements includes 7 guards, 957 cafeteria workers, 3716 Pepsi machine repairmen and 14 members of the clergy. With our operatives strategically emplaced, the convicts and felons are being given a healthy dose of "pro-Flat Earth" propaganda.
Success story: Upon escaping during a bloody shootout that left 19 prison workers and 27 prisoners dead, a reformed felon known only as "Rasp" went directly to a payphone and contacted our HQ. He is currently working in place of "retired" health-care worker Mr. Sonnovin at the Green Acres nursing home in Charlamange, WI.

-----After spending over sixteen million dollars and using over 48 thousand yards of industrial strength strapping tape, we of the Flat Earth Society were able to construct an enormously powerful neurotransmitter that can implant suggestions directly into the brains of the nearby non-Flat Earthers. Having set it up just outside of the Russian Antarctic exploration post (Vostok), we are awaiting word that all three scientists and 174 penguins have been shown the light.
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  #42  
Old 01-22-2010, 04:51 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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Well I know that's a lie because Charlamange is speled wrong.
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  #43  
Old 01-22-2010, 05:59 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Originally Posted by thaelmax View Post
I don't think that would be necessarily true, because human has something called habit, that what you do everyday got imprinted onto your mind, and you would just continue to do it unless there is some intensive effort to change it, they would probably stay that way. It's like when someone discovered time is not real, people would just move on .
The point is: if everything we know is wrong, how come it works?

(Also, if time wasn't real, how could people 'move on'?)

Last edited by Mangetout; 01-22-2010 at 06:03 AM..
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  #44  
Old 01-22-2010, 11:53 AM
devilsknew devilsknew is offline
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Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
The closest cases I can think of that might be analogous are people removed from cults or cult-like situations; children kept locked up and mis-educated by abusive or crazy parents, peons in re-education camps in places like North Korea, children of fanatics of various stripes (racist, religious, political, etc.).

Not the same thing, of course, but still, a broad amount of their "knowledge" of the way things work (socially at least) will turn out to be utterly wrong.
Of course, that presupposes that the indoctrination of these "cults" or groups is somehow less correct or "wrong" compared to the "standard" cultural indoctrination of the society or societies in opposition. Cultural indoctrination is kind of like an accent, everybody's accent is funny except for yours... or "What accent? You're the one with the accent."

Last edited by devilsknew; 01-22-2010 at 11:55 AM..
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