“It will be more glorious to fight against ignorance than to die on the field of battle. The discovery of a new scientific truth will be more important than the squabbles of diplomats.”
Success relies on faith
“The notion that we should always and everywhere apportion belief to evidence in such a way that we affirm only that for which we have sufficient evidence ignores the fact that belief for beings like us subserves action. If one acted only on those beliefs for which one had sufficient evidence one would not act as one must to live well.
“When a young person believes that he or she can do such-and-such, it is almost always on the basis of insufficient evidence. And yet such belief beyond the evidence is a sine qua non of success. There are two necessary conditions of success in life: one must believe that what one proposes to do is worth doing, and one must believe that one is capable of doing it. In both cases one believes and acts on evidence that could hardly be called sufficient.”
- William Vallicella
On reading, and originality
“For our under-readers, the world is filled with their own brilliance because they do not realise that every single sentence they write has been explored, extended, tested and applied by other scholars in the past. Intriguingly, these are always the confident students, arriving at the viva voce brimming with pride in their achievements. They are the hardest ones to assess (and help) through an oral exam because they do not know enough to know how little they know.”
— How not to write a PhD thesis by Tara Brabazon, January 2010
Important ideas should be accessible to the average person. Write simply and meaningfully.
“What I tell my law clerks is that we write these so that they are accessible to regular people… there are simple ways to put important things in language that’s accessible… The editing we do is for clarity and simplicity without losing meaning, and without adding things. You don’t see a lot of double entendres, you don’t see word play and cuteness. We’re not there to win a literary award. We’re there to write opinions that some busy person or somebody at their kitchen table can read and say, ‘I don’t agree with a word he said, but I understand what he said.’”
― Clarence Thomas, on making ideas accessible to everyone
Similar concept at work with TED.com and CreativeCommons.org! :)
I think it’s interesting how he wrote about making spaces accessible to handicapped people, and compared that with making ideas accessible to the average person - through simple, clear, meaningful writing. And he’s right. Many people are shut out of important legal, political, social discussions because of the unwarranted use of jargon in these discussions. Education does not end after school. Writers of opinion articles in popular publications have the responsibility of aiding widespread education by making their ideas accessible.
It’s very challenging to distill complex ideas in simple writing:
“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.”
― John Maeda
Top 5 Ways to a Better Life According to Dave Grohl
(An interpretation of his Keynote speech at SXSW last week in Austin,TX)
1. No one is you and that is your biggest power.
“It’s YOUR VOICE. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Stretch it and scream until it’s f**king gone because everyone is blessed with at least that, and who knows how long it will last …”
“Who’s to say what’s a good voice, and what’s not a good voice? The Voice? Imagine Bob Dylan sitting there singing ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ in front of Christina Aguilera.”
2. Don’t be afraid of not fitting in.
“I can truly say out loud that ‘Gangnam Style’ is one of my favorite f**king songs of the past decade. Is it any better or worse than the latest Atoms for Peace album? Hmmm… paging Pitchfork! Come in, come in, Pitchfork! We need you to help us determine the value of a song! Who f**king cares.” Don’t be someone who designs their lives to impress others.
3. Give a damn about yourself.
It’s about taking care of yourself so you can be a better human being. A 2.0 version of you is way more equipped to help others in need. Take up yoga if you’re stressed. Ask for a big raise. Walk away from a relationship that is abusive or draining. Or just take a nap, for Christ’s sake.
4. Be humble.
No one wants to go to lunch with a supermodel who says things like, “My cheekbones, if you’ve noticed, have a similar incline to an escalator.” One thing I’ve noticed is that if you are good at something, people will acknowledge it. Appreciate the hell out of those people. Should you be blessed enough to have the fortitude to work so hard at something that people celebrate you, your first reaction should be gratitude. And know that there’s a ton of people out there from all races and socioeconomic backgrounds who can still teach you something. I don’t care if you’re Bill Clinton or Jay-Z – always be learning; always be improving.
5. Spark a revolution.
Always have the highest bar for yourself. Wake up everyday and no matter how crappy you feel, want to change something for the better. Do something that makes someone happy. Create something that inspires someone. Be someone’s light when they are hopeless.
“Don’t hang out with people who don’t love you. Don’t try to impress people who aren’t worth it. Don’t try to win people over who aren’t worth it. Focus on yourself, and focus on the people who are really awesome and who love you. Don’t hang out with people who make you feel like shit. Don’t spend your energy on them.”
“We are going to continue not only exploring Mars, but exploring the solar system and exploring the universe, because our curiosity has no limit.”
“In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed”? Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.”
Carl Sagan, in his book, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
Sagan died in 1996. If he were still alive today I bet he’d be pleased to learn that the Roman Catholic Church, often the primary enemy of progressive scientists, now officially endorses the theory of evolution and the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. Still a long way to go on many other fronts, but hey, credit where credit is due. Congratulations RCC on your latent conciliation with the earth and outer space scientists.