Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Empathy for the Oddballs

"What is now proved was once only imagined." - William Blake

"Without Contraries there is no progression." - William Blake

"There are always two parties; the establishment and the movement." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible."― Arthur C. Clarke

I have those four quotes memorized. I consider them Law. Not law in the sense of words on paper (although they should be) but laws of human nature.

There is always the Establishment, and it doesn't want to change because of the perverseness and folly of the people who control it. They don't want to share their power ("Power intoxicates and immunity corrupts"). Is it not true that ultimately the Establishment does no good whatsoever, since they want to gather all power to themselves and exploit everyone?

Then there is the Movement, which seeks to change the Establishment. Sometimes this can be for good and sometimes for bad. Still, it's why Blake wrote what he did - unless there is some rebellion, things will not change.

The reason I am for political and economic freedom, and small government, is that they allow rapid change. Joseph Schumpeter called this "creative destruction." It scares some people.

Sometimes - perhaps almost all the time - those who want to change things - even for the better - end up ostracized and even killed. Think of the myth of Prometheus, who gave humanity fire (among other things) and ended up chained to a rock with a eagle eating his liver.

Another saying I've memorized is that "the only difference between a genius and a crackpot is that the genius happens to be right." That, along with, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." (It reminds me of one of Arthur C. Clarke's many quotes: "New ideas pass through three periods: 1) It can't be done. 2) It probably can be done, but it's not worth doing. 3) I knew it was a good idea all along!")

Because of these things, I am quite sympathetic to oddballs. They are the ones who, when right, advance society. They can be wrong, and damage things, but since there is no perfection you have to take the good with the bad.

Let's consider the late Stan Gooch, who gave up a lucrative career because of his obsession that modern people were part Neanderthal and had picked up most of their good traits from them. He was considered a crackpot and died poor in a trailer park.

Yet it has recently been proved, through genetic analysis, that non-African populations have, on the average, 2.5% Neanderthal DNA, and in the case of the outliers, closer to 5%. So Gooch was right.

Now as to what characteristics we picked up from Neanderthals, that remains to be seen. But some claim without that Neanderthal DNA, we wouldn't be what we are, that we'd still be stuck unchanging, still stuck 50,000 years ago.

But unless people keep open minds about these thing, there will be no advancement. To again quote Clarke: "If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible, he is almost certainly right; but if he says that it is impossible, he is very probably wrong."

I've always been more sympathetic to the oddballs. "Normal" people pretty much bore me.

If I could set up my ideal society the public (i.e. Establishment) schools wouldn't exist, and the private (i.e. Movement) ones would seek out the creative, visionary oddballs and put them with their own kind. After all, society wants to ostracize them anyway.

This would be a good way to make these people happier and to make society just a little bit better.

"Alll that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana

"...there are two types of people in this society: first, those who are obedient to the order, and do what it says. Second, those who are not obedient, and who do not depend on it." - Brett Stevens

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