Thoughts on Judaism

Friday, April 08, 2005

Real reality has Real Effect

100 years ago, infections, asthma, flu epidemics, encephalitis, polio, smallpox and any number of other "itis"es took young lives with ugly regularity. The average life expectancy, factoring out the rampant infant and maternal mortality, was late 50s to early 60s. In a USA dominated by homeopathic treatment, the reality is recorded history for all to see. Nowadays, using evidence based medicine, 60 year olds are not even old, most infections are easily treated, asthma is treatable and survivable, infant and maternal mortality are rare, polio even rarer, and smallpox exists only in test tubes. The same is true of the Far East then and now. Their acupuncture, Ayurveda, reiki etc. pale in performance against real medicine. Can we imagine a world where these things were actually effective?

This got me to thinking. How would our world be if our favorite superstitions had actual effect? If people could speak to the dead, we could solve every mystery murder, find missing children, and win wars with ease. If people could read the minds of others and view remotely, there would be no need for police officers, lawyers and juries. Our militaries and law enforcement agencies would have found these talents invaluable. Osama, Zarqawi, and Zawahri would be safely in jail or dead. We would have had no need of the tipsters who turned in Saddam and his sons.

This is an amazing seed for thought. All of the psychics, astrologers, prophets (like Nostradamus), and magic peddlers of all generations could not tell us that Uranus and Neptune even existed. Today, these huge bodies and even those circling other stars can be discerned with incredible accuracy. While astrologers were plotting the future based on the positions of the moon, sun and planets that they knew about, today, we know they had no conception of how far away these bodies really were. That is because we know the exact position of the moon to the millimeter. We know where the sun and each planet will be tonight and tomorrow and in 700 years (relative to us, anyway). They could not predict or solve any problem of the world before it happened. Civil War, World War, Holocaust continued unabated, even though these people supposedly existed. People died in earthquakes, tsunamis, sudden natural disasters, premeditated murders. If there were people who knew the future and know it now, why did this happen and why does it continue to happen today?

This is the difference between real reality and imagined reality. Real reality does not require credulity. It does not require leaps of logic. It simply works, overcomes boundaries, and imposes itself on the world, regardless of the world's attitude toward it. The next time some magic peddler comes to sell you nonsense, instead of considering packaged anecdotes, consider what the world might be like if what they were selling really had any effect. Me'hin ata shomaya lav.


  • Way too rational for today's Orthodox world. You sound like a Rishon.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:22 AM  

  • They say that 1 in 3 people are insane. Therefore, look to your right and left. If they seem OK, then you are in trouble. But what if everyone around you has a different view of reality than you do. That cannot be good! :)

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 7:39 AM  

  • LOL!

    By Blogger Becky, at 11:59 AM  

  • Looking at asthma exercise info online today while my son coughs I came across this post. Does anyone know a good asthma exercise site to help?


    By Blogger jon, at 9:46 AM  

  • Nice blog I have one myself great idea lite

    By Blogger Nosey, at 5:50 AM  

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