May 24, 2019

Is Anything Real?

“Science is a consistent tradition of discoveries, each of which shows, in its own way, that reality is radically different from the way we perceive it. Physics is the most sophisticated conspiracy theory. At one time, for example, we thought the Earth was flat, because that’s what it looks like. We were similarly convinced by appearance that our planet is at the center of the cosmos and that the stars orbit around it. Or that highly complex organs such as wings and eyes did not develop randomly.

The great insights of science repeatedly contradict our common sense. Moreover, the more we know, the more acute the nonsensicalness becomes. According to modern science, solid matter is actually empty, a particle can leap from one point to another without passing through what’s in between, there are influences that come from the future to the present, and so on and so forth.

Three new propositions – deriving from the study of cognition, from theoretical physics and from the philosophy of science – stretch to the limit our perceptual horizon. One maintains that reality is necessarily different from the way we perceive it; the second, that the laws of nature themselves are only an invention; and according to the third, reality, the laws of nature and we, too, do not even exist. It’s advisable to hold on tight while reading – except that there seems to be nothing to hold onto.”

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JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"The results were surprising. The center-right coalition, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, remained in power against the opposition Labor party, which had led in every poll for years."

"Anger seldom works against Trump; he owns the currency and can always issue more of it. In addressing the rogue President directly, or speaking about him in the third person, Pelosi usually adopts a tone that is more sorrowful than angry..."

"I am Mizrahi, as are the majority of Jews in Israel today. We are of Middle Eastern and North African descent. Only about 30% of Israeli Jews are Ashkenazi, or the descendants of European Jews."

"Kids are exposed to plenty of controversial social issues on a daily basis. And if parents don’t want their kids to watch “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” they can turn off the TV."

"Are public-school teachers really underpaid? It’s a claim often made during teacher pay disputes, but the same data and statistical methods that produce the “teacher salary gap” lead to some ridiculous conclusions..."

"Tech companies are getting into the business of making cities. We need to stop Silicon Valley social engineering before things get even worse."

"Having a Library or Cafe Down the Block Could Change Your Life: Living close to public amenities—from parks to grocery stores—increases trust, decreases loneliness, and restores faith in local government."

"“What name . . . shall we give to the darkness of hell...?” The question of how we can name a place such as this is at the center of scholar Scott G. Bruce’s new anthology The Penguin Book of Hell."

"She had all six of her kids — ages 5, 4, 2 (twins) and 10 months (also twins!) in her 10-seater van. To get the kids a quick snack, Curry parked in front of the Cobbler’s Café."

"Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said they grew up typically eating dinner at a kitchen table, but a little less than half said they do so now when eating at home."

"If you tied a rope tight around the Earth’s equator and then added a single yard of slack, would the extra material make any noticeable difference to someone standing on the ground?"

"While American Jewish women face attacks on our freedom and rising anti-Semitism, abortion opponents are appropriating Jewish history in order to push an agenda that hurts women."