Friday, August 22, 2008

"On Being Certain"

Certainty has always been a mirage. Ancient Indians prayed that they be delivered from untruth to Truth, darkness to Light and from mortality to Immortality. They did not seek deliverance from uncertainty to Certainty. They had the Wisdom to seek only what was possible.

It is exciting to be introduced to the book written by Robert A.Burton, a neurologist entitled 'On Being Certain : Believing you are Right even when you're not'.

It is counter-intuitive that 'certainty' is just another 'feeling' like anger, pride etc.It is incorrect to posit a choice between reason and sense of purpose. One without the other is barren and irrelevant. "Cynical zeitgeist of valuing science over compassion" is good word-play, but misleading. Science is not a compassionless monster.To claim that the belief regarding soul outlasting body is counter to the evidence is dense and imprecise.What evidence do we look for in a matter of faith that cannot be disproved either? If "studies have shown that sham arthroscopic surgery can allow some patients to walk comfortably again", either they were not real patients or the studies lack credibility.Fitzgerald is right in saying that the test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. The caveat that these ideas must both be yet to be disproved remains conveniently unsaid."Our knowledge of the world around us is limited by fundamental conflicts in how our minds work" is a partial understanding of man's modest endowment vis-a-vis mystery of the universe. "The need to tolerate the unpleasantness of uncertainty" is a meek acceptance of reality. The book is thought-provoking.