Ignorance Is Bliss

An English poet, Thomas Grey, ended his 1742 poem, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, with what has become a well-known aphorism: “where ignorance is bliss, / ‘Tis folly to be wise.” The part that’s quoted most often is, “Ignorance is bliss.” Considering ignorance bliss has a long history. One of the central stories of both Judaism and Christianity is Eve’s being tempted by Satan to eat the fruit of knowledge and then persuading Adam to do the same.

The theme has been important to me for a long time. The title of my 1974 Ph.D. dissertation . . . → Read More: Ignorance Is Bliss

2018 Ready or Not

Last year, 2017, ended not with a bang, but a whimper. While how the current year, 2018, will end is still unknown, the world in general and the U.S. in particular, are not on a good trajectory. While some countries are doing reasonably well, most are not. Even in the States, the microcosm of individuals and places doing well, doesn’t change the macrocosm. I am not worried about the planet as a whole. Earth has survived mass extinctions in the past, and life has continued. The life forms, however, changed. It is as though the planet was saying, “Well that . . . → Read More: 2018 Ready or Not

Time Flies

I knew that it had been a while since my last posting, but I had no idea how long it had been. John Lennon is usually given credit for saying that “life is what happens while you are making other plans,” which is included in the lyrics for Beautiful Boy, written for his son, Sean. Since my last blog, we’ve had two major holidays (Christmas and New Year’s), and more than a month has slipped away while I was busy making other plans. And shoveling snow. It is, after all, winter in Michigan….

We have had some winter weather . . . → Read More: Time Flies

What Did You Get for Christmas?

On a cold and frosty late-December morning, when I lived in a previous neighborhood, I was out walking my dog. It was so long ago that in the years between then and now, not only has that dog died of old age, but my next two dogs have also died of old age. Even so, on that late-December morning I said something that still haunts me. A boy who lived in a nearby house, ran up to me holding up a new pair of gloves, saying excitedly, “See what I got! New gloves!” My reply: “They are really neat. Did . . . → Read More: What Did You Get for Christmas?

The Reality of Beliefs

According to a top Saudi cleric, driving damages women’s ovaries. Does the fact (reality) that some people believe that make it true, if only for them? What—exactly—is the relationship between reality and what we believe? You may know people who believe that their beliefs accurately reflect reality. If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you know that one of my recurrent themes is the need for an evidence procedure that allows individuals to base their beliefs on reality to the degree that it’s possible.

It was, for example, perfectly logical for our ancient ancestors to believe that . . . → Read More: The Reality of Beliefs