Sunday, October 01, 2006

Does two plus two equal four, for sure?

Doubt everything at least once, even the proposition that two times two equals four.
- Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, scientist and philosopher (1742-1799)

Are you serious, Georg? [pronounced Gay - org] Doubt that two times two equals four?

Yes, he was serious.

If we don't doubt everything at least once, it means nothing to us. To have meaning for us, something must have crossed our consciousness in a way that causes us to think about it at more than simply a surface level.

When we don't question things, even things that seem obvious (but could be well-reasoned lies) we must take someone else's word for them. We know how often we have taken the words of politicians for things, especially before elections, then been disappointed, if not absolutely betrayed by them later.

The same can happen with anyone. Our boss could tell us to do something that doesn't make any sense and that costs the company unnecessary time and money, only because that's the way it has always been done. When we stop to question the boss, we may get nowhere. But later the boss might question it himself, then the procedure will change.

We need to confirm for ourselves that what we "know" and what we believe are true. We all know people who have been duped and who have duped themselves into believing things that bear no resemblance to the truth.

There is no point in arguing with someone unless we have worked our way through the subject of the argument ourselves. All the way through.

There are many things about life that we must extrapolate from a minimum of available facts. Let's not do it this way when we can figure it out for ourselves.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to get everyone to think it through.
Learn more at

No comments: