I believe many of us were raised with a perceived ceiling. How often while you were growing up did you hear something like:
“You can’t do that.”
“Because that’s just the way it is.”
I heard it a lot.
Most of us were educated in public schools. While revolutionary at their inception, they were conceived to produce a literate, functional, docile populous to be the labor component of a budding industrialized society.
Yet the impossible is achieved every day. Elon Musk dreamt then built re-usable rockets that land upright by themselves. Steve Jobs held up a piece of glass and said “This will be the next phone we build.” Half his engineering team quit. And those are just the sexy examples. Scientists, engineers, and nerds are expanding the bounds of possible right now.
I posit that we have outgrown the original conception of public education. I support public education, strongly. I also think it is overdue for a radical overhaul.
Against that backdrop, it is up to each of us to break past the tin tile ceiling that has been hung above us. What is above the ceiling?
The light of first-hand experimental knowledge. And the responsibility of scientific, critical thinking. Yet subjectivity remains.
The pure light of knowledge is ensconced in the humility of uncertainty. If taken to extremes, you are left with “I think therefore I am.”, as Descartes so elegantly put it. The humility of uncertainty may be interpreted as either “anything is possible” or “nothing is real”. Duality.
Therefore, one must choose at which strata to believe. What point between 19th century working class pragmatism, or religious tradition, and intellectual purism will best serve you? What of the people who choose a strata closer or further from the light?
Galileo, Newton, Poincare, Magellan, Tesla, Feinman, Musk, all challenged – and moved – the edges of what is possible. The early adopters of their theories, and of course they themselves, were too close to the light for those comfortable with the status quo.
Yet there were those who embraced Halley’s theory (yes, that Halley) of the hollow earth, Einstein’s static universe, or Aristotle’s spontaneous generation. These are not obscure names of crackpots.
Venturing toward the light as an embracer of possibility is socially risky. Yet any position on the spectrum comes with a substantial risk of later learning that you are wrong. Reach for the stars or cling to the flat earth, it’s up to you. Though some things are more readily proven than others.
My plea is for you to withhold judgement of those at a different chosen strata. Engage in curiosity-driven, scientifically minded, critical thinking as you share perceptions, rationale, and conclusions. You don’t even have to arrive at agreement – just engage in an actual conversation rather than blindly regurgitating talking points at one another.
What do you think?