The world makes sense to me - In General....

I know I will likely be lambasted and burned at the stake for this but what is life if you cannot insite a little riot every now and then… So here we go…
(but before I do let me fist appologize if this post wonders a bit. I’ll do my best to make it cohesive and to the point. Onwards…)

The world makes sense to me when I contemplate it in generalities. I’ve been a accused, on these boards, a time or ten for making very wide and sweeping generalizations on several occasions. Be that as it may, I find that in dealing with complete strangers on wide ranging topics I find I must fall back on my personal base of knowledge from which I can extrapolate or interpolate my stance on the given subject.

Now, this is not because I find it difficult to deal in specifics or facts vis-a-vis a given individual event. Not at all. In fact I much prefer it when possible. But for me, generalizing becomes useful when dealing with a large number of interpretations on a subject or an interpretation that, in my experience, runs contrary to previously accumulated knowledge. In other words, like most people, I test a given interpretation against my personal gathered experiences and thus make subjective judgements based on the merits of a given individual claims. More precisely, I weigh the validity of any given claim based on its likelyhood given some fairly basic common assumptions. These may include personal experience with a similar situation, second hand knowledge of similar situation, anecdotal discussions by professionals and lay people of similar situation in published or spoken form.(It’s worth mentioning here that I never attempt to postulate a universally applicable rule in these cases. I merely make personal judgements which seem reasonably accurate under the circumstance.)

This is by no means a fool proof method but it works for me on many levels and in a great majority of cases where I choose/need to make a personal call. To put it in simpler terms, I arrive at my results by intuition and gut feel. The evidence to support my final, all be it generalized, opinion is often within the body of the claim I evaluate but I myself sometimes have trouble identifying the precise clues that lead me to a decision. In fact it’s usually the sum of the clues rather than a single one that lead me to my resultant opinion on the subject.

Some may claim that the weakest link in my methodology is the fact that my experiences may differ dramatically with those of the next individual. Perhaps so. But in very broad and general terms, I don’t believe that our experiences differ in as many ways as some claim. In fact, if they did, I doubt that we as individuals would be able to communicate amongst eachother with as much success as we currently do.

It is an often quoted and much overused idea that we are all unique individuals. From a strictly cultural point of view, our perceptions and experiences are far more global and common than many of us would care to admit. In fact, there are some seemingly far fetched theories that human experience is a globally shared attribute. Not everyone needs to go through the same experience to have a sense of it to some degree. (I know, pretty wacky, huh? - I wish I could remember the book and author who proposed this idea a few years back.) On the other hand, perhaps it’s a normal reaction to assert one’s own individuality and indominable spirit in the face of an increasingly invasive ouside world. But I’m inclined to think that as the world shrinks and availability of information grows, experiences become increasingly shared and common rather than unique and personal. It is my speculation that they were not that varied in the fist place.

Humans operate on very basic and primal needs. These are food, shelter, pro-creation and gathering/exchange of information to fascilitate the first three. Despite our evolution and industrialization, these four remain our guiding principals. Given these common needs, is it really that inconcievable that many generalizations hold true despite our ever increasing desire to assert individual uniqueness? (Please understand that I am in no way trying to discourage people from thinking freely and independantly. It is a valuable trait practiced by far too few IMHO).
So there it is. The world according to QuickSilver. Love it, hate it, or simply be indifferent to it. Though I am curious how many others have thoughts along the same lines.

<flame retardant suit on>

I don’t give much thought to food, shelter or sex, because I have enough of each. If those are the focus of your days, you need longer days. Those are the animal parts of life, not the human parts.

Good God, QuickSilver. Hope you didn’t strain your fingers writing that novel… :wink:

To the OP, I think on the contrary. Two separate people can go through the same experience, and have two totally different views of it, or because of it. I think we’re actually MORE different than we think

This is a good point. When everyone can read the same idea or buy the same pants online in a matter of seconds, many people feel the need to seperate themselves from that.

But this is where I disagree. I believe every person has a unique experiance to a situation. An extreme example would walking past an aborton clinic - one might be disgusted, another might think, “it’s a woman’s choice!”, another might cry, another might get angry, and yet another would not even notice. There is too broad a range of human emotions to determine objectively which one is “true” or “fact” in a given situation. Presuming to know how one thinks, or what they will feel, is possible but still questionable.

IMHO, scientists do studies, mathematicians create surveys, psychologists do expiriments and everyone tries to generalize because we want people to fit into neat little envelopes. Speaking from personal experiance, it’s easier to say, “because I feel angry right now, and because my wife and our children do, and because scientific data shows that many people do as well, ALL people in this situation will feel angry,” than to actually consider the emotions others might feel in that situation. But it’s much more interesting to think of the possibilities than to accept what seems to be the rule.

IMHO, that’s where science falls short. The envelopes just aren’t big enough for everyone.

If you don’t like to read, just skip the long ones.
Like I just did.

just watching how a pigeon landed after floating on air for a bit made me think i understood the world for a few moments today. but when i got home i realized i was wrong, it’s all just a big mess to me again. :::sigh:::

I’m glad you didn’t leave afterall. Good on ya luv!

Well, that’s kind of my point. Abortion, gun-control, child labour, HMO’s and Medicare, OJ Simpson - All those issues are subject to personal opinion. People stand on one side or the other and sometimes somewhere in between. But whatever emotion one experiences on the subject it’s fairly certain that a whole bunch of people (numbering in the thousands and maybe millions) have or are experiencing it in the same way. In other words, when pressed for a final opinion they will state their position on the issue and the number of positions will be quite small with respect to the number of participants.

I don’t think we should be placing all fault for these kinds of studies at the feet of all these statisticians. I hate surveys as much as the next guy but consider this: People have been gathering in groups and social circles much earlier than there were scientists and studies of this type. People naturally gather according to theological beliefs, profession, political agendas, race, gender, age… you name it. So when we discuss a particular topic like politics, it is fairly easy for us to predict that the politician who caters to big business will likely gather more conservative votes than his opponent who runs on a more socialist platform, thereby attracting more senior votes. I am oversimplifying of course but these assumptions can be made and are fairly accurate a majority of the time in our daily life.

As for your last point, I do agree. Surveys often lead the participant when they offer options A), B), C) and D) and ignore the possibilities of E) thru M). This forces the participant to choose the most fitting answer and move on to the next question. I do agree that it makes for much cruder results, but when dealing with a very large numbers of people, it is perhaps more manageable. I’m not saying it’s right - it’s simply the best option available. To illustrate, let’s say a person running for the senate wanted to asses the needs/wants of his consituants. Would he sit down with each individual person and discuss at length their view on all sociological issues that concern them, or would he simply select a few issues he thought were important and have his staff devise surveys to determine the general view on the topic? I think we’d all agree that if he took the first approach, the senate hopefull would die of old age before he was able to compile any meaningful information on which to base his platform.

So I ask you, is it that unreasonable to assume that any emotion or belief that you hold true on any given subject is very likely shared among thousands, if not millions of other people? And since it’s true that people naturally gravitate around common agendas and beliefs, is it still wrong to generalize?

Ozone wrote:

Not just my fingers but a large part of my brain as well… :slight_smile:

If we were talking about two people I would tend to agree with you completely. But I’m talking about 2 thousand people, or 2 million people, or even previous generations of people who have battled with some similar experiences in their time. I don’t believe it’s plausable that all those people would each have a uniquely singular experience influenced by the same event. To be sure, for each, the experience would be their own - but not common to themselves alone.

Oh, Ok, I get it. We’re all just a bunch of drones… Oh wait!! No, we’re all part of “The Borg”!!

God QuickSilver, now you’re depressing the shit out of me. Now I’m starting to see what you’re talking about.

Quit that!! You’re not supposed to open people’s eyes like that. Let us float through the bliss of ignorance, the way God intended… :wink:

Good point though. I do see what you’re saying. As a “whole”, people are not all that different. That’s probably why history tends to repeat itself, but if we’re so much alike, why do we fight so much??? Shouldn’t our views and opinions match more often than they do??

So, now we get down to the question of nature vs. nurture. Are we all the same (basically), because of society, or because of DNA??

Oh shit, I think I just strained my brain too… :confused:

You are?! Maybe you can explain it to me… I seem to have confused myself in the process. :smiley:

Well, perhaps there are just enough of us to gather in meaningful numbers around an issue and just enough sides to a given issue to make things really contentious. I think the fact that we can agree on somethings to the degree that we do is already a fair accomplishment. The fact that we also differ is very important. Like most things in nature, it’s a fine balancing act.

I think both though I dare not propose the weights of one over the other. I would not know where to begin in order to make an intelligent call.

Again, both of those things, IMHO. Chiefly because if our DNA was significantly different, our societal structure would reflect it. For an illustration, look at the animal kingdom. Some species seem to accept strays from another herd into their midst, other species do not accept or kill an orphaned infant of their own kind from within their own herd. One is not necessarily better or more evolved than the other. It’s simply a matter of nature for that given species.

I submit that humans, though more complex than most animals, behave in a similar manner. Given a common event, there are relatively few varied responses that will be exhibited by a large contingent of people. It’s possible that people will express a greater variety of reasons for arriving at similar conclusions, but, that does not change the fact that they ultimately arrive at effectively the same small set of conclusions.