Feeling like an island in the middle of a sea of stupidity

Day in and day out life seems to be becoming mundane with no intellectual stimulation unless you actually go LOOKING for it. 

I had a nice surprise the other day when I discovered a new friend of mine was capable of having a philosophical debate. Yes! I am not alone! I can finally have someone in my life who doesn't want to talk small talk! I hate small talk. It's repetitive and mind numbingly useless. So I get all excited and think that I can FINALLY discuss all the things I've been wanting to discuss (religion, politics, evolution, the normal taboo stuff) with someone who is capable of intellectual conversation. 

Boy was I wrong. While discussing our similar philosophy background she mentioned that she fail 2nd year philosophy because she refused to write a paper on evolution. She then went on to discuss the fact that evolution is a 'no-no' subject. She believes what she believes and that is that, no discussion, don't even bring it up. Feeling like my hopes had just been dropped on their head I just mentioned how philosophy taught me that my beliefs may be wrong and that it was a difficult lesson to learn. We went on to talk about it in a different direction. Now I knew I could only discuss the things that SHE was comfortable with and she would not be willing to listen to any reason, regardless of her background in philosophy and what she had learnt through it... just like everyone else.

AAAAND I'm back at square one. Does any else feel terribly alone in this way? Like they have no one to discuss the things that interest them? It's not only these things but any of the things in general that interest me, ie science, astronomy, etc. 

I noticed a few of you mentioned that philosophy shouldn't be studied anymore or had similar views on it. I tend to find that those who study philosophy have at least a vague knowledge of the difference between debate and arguments, I enjoy debating but often my 'playing the devils advocate' sense of discussion tends to infuriate people as they can't understand how I am able to entertain a thought without having to believe in it. People who have studied philosophy tend to see it as a debate and not an argument which is what I'm looking for so desperately! I want a real life intellectual debate! Any discussion that doesn't involve 'so have you seen so and so's new boyfriend?'

I'd like to see that I'm not alone with this whole feeling of being alone. Hehehe

Views: 563

Tags: debate, evolution, friends, philosophy

Comment by MikeLong on December 10, 2013 at 8:52pm


"I won't bet that AI will soon deal with the ambiguity in human language."

Lol. What's "soon? We'll both be dead "soon". That aside, I might take that bet. The necessary computing power was not available until recently. For the last forty years I've maintained, despite optimism to the contrary, that a computer understanding natural English was at least 10 years away. My new smart phone has changed my mind. It's now LESS than 10 years away. Much of my email and ALL of my txts are spoken into my phone. Google is doing a FAR better job at understanding my intentions than SIRI did a year ago. My voice messages are sent to Google to interpret (so the necessary computing power is STILL not available in a hand-held version). The mistakes it makes are also telling. After Google's mainframe interprets my voice and sends me back the text I can click on a wrong word and it will invariably give me the right word - even when they don't sound anything alike (weird). This tells me it's not going word-by-word - it's parsing the text before returning it. And it spells correctly despite ambiguity.

Comment by MikeLong on December 10, 2013 at 8:53pm

@Teri G

"the very least can be educational."


Comment by Tom Sarbeck on December 11, 2013 at 1:55am

Mike, if you read the Wikipedia AI article you saw mention of the researchers' many hopes and their many disappointments. They responded by scaling down their hopes and producing versions of AI with limited abilities.

Before you bet anything of value on a computers' ability to understand natural language, define the word understanding to your advantage.

Why? There's a large gap between finding matches in tables of data and understanding spoken words.

For instance, I use Dragon dictation software. I speak into the mic and it produces waveforms for the sounds I make. The software compares these waveforms with the waveforms in its tables.

When it finds matches it puts the corresponding character strings onscreen.

When it finds no matches it puts something else onscreen, perhaps the character string "Say that again."

There is understanding in the process only if you limit the word's definition to what the computer does.

Comment by David Smith on December 11, 2013 at 8:42am

I think a lot of people feel like this, you'l find a like minded person to talk to, though if you live somewhere that you cant really openly express you views it could take a while.

Comment by IkeArrumba on December 28, 2013 at 12:55pm

Yes, we can probably all identify with your issue. I have only one or two friends that I can have open discussions on such topics, which is why these online communities are so great.

I have thought about why this is so and I believe it comes down to a person's ego and the need to be right. I think self-esteem plays a role in this as well. The lower a person's self-esteem the more they have a need to control what happens in their life. Loss of this control leads to discomfort. I'm guessing that these kinds of people are those who can't take criticism of any kind because they take it as negative value judgements against them.

I did a google search on "why do people need to be right" and found a few articles that were interesting. On this page here, people were commenting on an article and I found this comment by Dr. Robert O'Hara to be eye-opening for me:

Most of us do have a "need to be right," but not to an irrational degree. While there is no exact name for this disorder (I guess I'll call it the NTBR disorder for the sake of space), people who suffer from NTBR tend to display the following symptoms:

* they feel an urgent need (almost to the point in which it is panic-driven) to "be right" all the time – NTBR sufferers often claim to be tortured by the world around them because no one else can see the "truth" as they see it, so we see a small degree of persecution complex in there as well;

* NTBR sufferers usually lack empathy for others during an argument to the extent that they will even end a friendship or a close family relationship in order to "be right," so therefore, we see elements of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) in there

* NTBR sufferers sufferers typically set up absolute and finite parameters of "right and wrong" and/or "correct and incorrect" in even the most esoteric of arguments. Put simply, they go in to an argument or debate with an "I'm absolutely right and the other person is absolutely wrong" mindset, and are incapable of seeing the argument from the perspective of someone who disagrees with them. THeir entire sense of self-worth is predicated on being right, hence, we see some elements of depression and/or hypomania in their behavior;

* NTBR sufferers will almost always resort to personal insults upon the individual with whom they are debating. They are not open to the possibility that the debate may be unwinnable, or that their arguments are unproveable, In their minds, an argument with another can never result in both "oh well, I guess we agree to disagree.";

* I also have noticed that one of the main forums in which sufferers of NTBR are attracted to is the debate over whether god exists. While those sufferers will engage in an argument about virtually anything (so long as they perceive they can win it)the debate over god's existence is the perfect forum for them. After all, no one can actually prove or disprove the existence of god with any certainty. It's a never ending argument that cannot be won or lost, so it's like almost like a playground for NTBR sufferers to try to disprove each other's opinions.

To see real life symptoms of people who clearly suffer from NTBR, see http://www.persecution.org/ or http://groups.yahoo.com/group/atheistempire/?tab=s

As one can clearly see in those sites, NTBR is a very real disorder, although it has only been casually recognized by psychologists. I suspect it results from a childhood of verbal and/or physical abuse which a child often was made to feel "less then" or inferior for their opinions.

Comment by James Cox on December 28, 2013 at 4:20pm

I like to consider that problem as more like 'disunderstanding', and, 'fake knowledge'.

As I read and explore, it become rather clear that many people fall back into their 'comfortable certainties', where their perceptions and 'understandings' about the universe/world around them appears knowable and self validating.

Of course such a 'settling' might define their surrounding world/universe as very-very small, tenths to thousandths of a light second in diameter maybe while wearing nice glasses that filter out most of the available spectrum. Their world is not very nuanced, their language skills might be very confined, their perceptions of diversity limited to dogies and horsees.

I expect that many of us here, might have a substantial vision of the world around us and the culture that could define us, if we let it.

I think about 1982 I began stepping across the 'event horizon' of our culture, and started to look back at it as if I had a perspective 'outside' it. As this matured, I found a growing disenchantment with our/my 'culture' and started to consider it as mostly made up seductions and addictions. These I started to consider as things to excape, understand, manipulate, and deform.

While I am still a practical if not pragmatic person, I at times fight the boundaries imposed by a web of gate keepers, and trolls.      

Comment by Michael on December 28, 2013 at 8:39pm

I can't imagine why anyone would say that philosophy shouldn't be studied anymore. All of the major sciences came from the world of philosophy. The study of philosophy is an excellent way to apply reason, learn debate, argumentation, logic, etc. Epistemology and ethics are particularly interesting areas of philosophy. I simply cannot imagine a person saying that.

Comment by James Cox on December 28, 2013 at 10:07pm

I find this funny also. Some the most interesting people, that have been the worst users of people I have know, also exclaimed once I mentioned my education, 'oh another philosophy major, where did that get you?' I always thought, but held back 'well I still work for trolls, that do not consider 'people' as ends in themselves, but only numbers  to send small checks to with hardly a thank you!' 

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on December 29, 2013 at 2:55am

I don't know who first said what I heard a few years ago. Wherever philosophers start their pursuit of knowledge, they end it when they get close to where they are.

Sic semper objectivity.


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