After the Fact
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After the Fact • Posted: May 08, 2008 05:26:57Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

There is much to contemplate after the fact. A couple of pages previous I puzzled over the fallibility of communication, noting with some despair that what is received almost universally does not match what is sent. But there is a kind of external objective measure of communication that is more or less independent of sender intent. And that is consequence. From a physics point of view, the consequence of a communication is what has in fact been communicated. And from a moral point of view, the consequence of a communication is the responsibility of the sender. The difficulty is that only after the fact do we realize what those consequences are going to be.

The tragedy of simple-think conservatives like George W. Bush, Dick Chaney, and many many others is that they steadfastly believe adhering to out of context principles, platitudes, like "what's good for me is good for you," "profit is good," "that's what the Bible says," "God is Great," etc., etc. will protect them from responsibility for consequence. But physics is infallible. Communications as do actions have consequence. To ignore consequence is to live in a bubble of fantasy.

On the other hand, there are those among us who very well understand that communication is consequence. They are the con-artists and manipulators, politicians and salespeople who will say anything and do almost anything including falsifying facts and distorting logic to effect a consequence that they believe is personally good for themselves, or in some cases for a subset of others. Hillary Clinton is a very visible example.

The external reality is that physics is entirely non-judgmental. Intent, selfish or otherwise, is irrelevant. Physics ticks away unerringly, absorbing and processing every single event for consequence regardless of prayer, wish, or intent.

Taoists and American Indians perhaps suggest a useful accommodation. To deeply understand nature, "the flowing stream", and conform to it in harmony, respect, and inaction would ostensibly solve the problem of responsibility. Within their view, nature itself assumes responsibility for all consequence. Similarly, many Christians through faith place responsibility for consequence "in the hand of God." But humans are plagued with both curiosity and creative free will, or at least the illusion of a curious and creative free will.

Most of us do understand that physics expresses no favoritism. That's why, as a species, we are so fascinated by winners, those who somehow manage to negotiate and/or exploit physics for gain. We see success and we all want some. Hence, on a daily basis, most of us exercise our curiosity and willful creativity in efforts to intellectually master physics for gain. We are all part of nature, so that would seem to be a perfectly natural thing to do. But there is a problem. We lack clear foresight. It is the problem of consequence that continually trips us up. And it likely will for a very long time to come. Only after the fact are consequences clear to us.

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008
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