Thursday, 20 January 2011

Breaking Free

Most of what I put down in this blog is influenced by what happens to me in my life.

Life is what you want it to be. I figured that out a long time ago. Those who celebrate mediocrity and yearn for normality unwittingly make their lives mundane and commonplace. Those who want to have an exciting life, those who want it filled with surprises, those who want it filled with excitement will make it so if they are willing pursue it.

Over the years I have some to realize that yearning for excitement is something that is deeply ingrained into my character. After falling head over heels in love with mathematics, I began to realize that I was positively feeding off the intense feelings of excitement that follows a moment of discovery. I began to realize that even the most mundane everyday objects come alive once you start using mathematics. There are many who feel that science is boring, methodical, and mechanical. But these are people who have not experienced science fully. Those who think of science as a rigid framework of arcane rules could not be more wrong. Science is methodical and logical but that does not make it boring in any way. Those who are bored are those who are unaware of the delightful surprises, of the unexpected twists and turns and of the outrageously unbelievable conclusions that logic can lead us to. Science and mathematics is a dynamic, ever changing entity; it's almost a living thing. Those beautiful things in nature and those commonplace things that we take for granted have their beauty multiplied a hundredfold when you look at them through the eyes of a scientist.

I could keep at this forever, but I believe I have said enough to get my message across. For me science and mathematics gives me all the excitement I need.

With my interest in math came the downfall of my gullibility. I had entered a wonderful new world. A world where logic, evidence and healthy skepticism reign supreme. I learnt about why people are so gullible, why people believe in supernatural phenomena. I became aware of the cognitive biases that lie at the heart of supernatural phenomena. Slowly, like someone being lifted out of the depths of mental depression I came into the light. I entered a world where things were clearer. The world was no longer a dark and mysterious place to me. Instead it was a testament to the elegance and successfulness of science in explaining the world around us.

I came to realize why the world was progressing so slowly. In my opinion there is no greater hindrance to the advancement of human civilization than tradition, dogma and authority. By authority, I do not mean the laws that are in place for the peaceful functioning of a nation. I am referring to belief in authority; when authority is given precedence over evidence. Authority is a social evil when people believe things based on the authority of the source of information rather than evidence.

The world is an ever changing place. The only way humanity can make the next giant leap is by changing. If the cavemen had refused to give up their stone tools and use iron and bronze because the usage of stones was their 'tradition' would the world be where it is today? Scientific progress was held back for decades when the dogmatic refused to accept the heliocentric theory of the solar system. There is clear evidence that change is the vehicle for human progress. Progress occurs when change is embraced with open arms.. If the people of the world so adamantly cling to the past like leeches on human skin how can progress take place? When times change, so must we. A lot of the traditions that people follow are obsolete remnants of a past civilization that existed hundreds of years ago. Why do people think that all the concepts of life that were cherished so many generations ago are still appropriate for today's age?

Of course, I do not deny that there are many old concepts that are still applicable. There are and these concepts should continue to flourish.

But when concepts that are clearly relics of a bygone era stand in the way of progress, I am offended. Such dogmatic practices are like a ten ton anchor chained to the limbs of a drowning man. They anchor humanity to an unchanging level of progress. They create an Iron Curtain which humanity has to struggle through.

But the future is bright. Humanity is breaking free of the debilitating chains of dogma, slowly but surely. The Iron Curtain is thinner than ever before and is on its way to disappearing completely.

But occasionally when I see how much science is progressing with its newfound freedom, I feel cheated. I feel cheated when I realize how much more science could have progressed if these chains had disappeared earlier, if the Iron Curtain had been drawn open to remove the necessity of struggling through it.

If we had broken free.


Kian Seng said...

This post is amazing.

If this was converted into a speech, it would be fantastic. I can already imagine myself articulating that speech.

Simply amazing. =D

Ashwin Narayan said...

Thank you.
I didn't expect praise from you.
Most people switch off when I start talking about the beauty of Mathematics.

Evee said...

Ashwin, you should submit this as a personal statement for university applications. :D