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July 19th, 2018
Theorists fall in love with their theories.
Academics fall in love with their ideas.
Artists fall in love with their creations.
(Good) Scientists abandon what doesn’t work. They are engaged with a very honest version of reality. One that gives feedback honestly and unapologetically. Theorists on the other hand, like academics and artists, can easily fail to have a metric by which to measure the usefulness or accuracy of their ideas. Their sustenance does not necessarily depend on accuracy or tracking a metric. They are storytellers, living in their own story. The good scientist has to constantly edit their story, their version of reality in order to keep interacting with reality in a meaningful way.
The good Scientist holds that nothing is sacred, not because of some despicable hate or evil. But because of a far more nuanced reason. One that requires another question:
What does ‘sacred’ mean?
We all have an emotional definition for the word. But have we consulted the origins lately?
Sacred is late Middle English, the past participle of the archaic sacre or ‘consecrate’, form the Old French sacrer, from nearly the same spelling in Latin, sacrare with an ‘a’, from sacr, s-a-c-r, meaning ‘holy.’
Well. Where does this rabbit hole lead? What does holy mean? We all have an idea, but have we consulted the dictionary lately?
‘Holy’ comes from the phonetically obvious whole, spelled with a ‘w’ in front. We all have an idea of what that means, but it goes just a little bit deeper. Whole is related to ‘hail’ as in ‘all hail the king’. And ‘hail’ simply means ‘healthy’.
Now, etymology followed in this roundabout rabbit-hole sort of way is not meant to function like a mathematical proof. Words are constantly shifting in their meanings and to try and pin them down to non-negotiable certainties is a fool’s errand. But the associations here are quite ripe.
If we go back to the good scientist and ask, what is such a person seeking? The answer is quite humble. The good scientist merely seeks an accurate understanding of what’s going on. The good scientist is trying to see the WHOLE picture (Spelled with a double-U). And apparently, this is a healthy endeavor. One might even make the claim that, etymologically, it’s the only legitimately sacred endeavor.
The alternative is to make the mistake of thinking we have the whole picture when in fact we don’t. Why is this an important thing to realize?
For the same reason we’d like a bridge to be sound and whole before we drive our car over it.
Suddenly a vegetable smoothie can become a sacred thing, merely for the reason that it helps us be a little healthier than we would otherwise be.
But the only way to discover what is sacred to ourselves personally is to be like the good scientist and DO experiments, compare outcomes and see what leads to a better, healthier life.
This episode references Episode 77: The Proper Way to Fail, Episode 53: There is No Try, and Episode: 94: Bad Narrative. If you’d like to fully understand those references, please check out any of those episodes next.