Bare Bones Biology 029, Halloween Woo-Woo

It’s Halloween – woo woo. Or it was when I wrote this. A big dark cloud of supernatural fear pressed down upon the town and we locked our doors against the monsters floating about in the gloom. Most of them are under 3 feet high and fairly harmless, but I have had visitations – well, that’s another story, but it’s why I lock my door — not because of the supernatural, monster-laden gloom. Actually, I’m not afraid of the supernatural, because I think it’s mostly about us. We don’t want to know that we don’t know everything.

Bitsy too. I haven’t discussed it with her, but she seems to believe she can control our car with her little doggy mind. If she stares and stares at the door latch, and focuses the energy of her mind, then it will open and we can go for a ride. The thing is – she’s right at a statistically significant level, but her control over the car is not supernatural, or at least not superhuman – only supercanine.

I guess what we humans believe to be supernatural is only superhuman. As though everything we don’t understand is supernatural, and the so-called supernatural is anything that we can’t measure or we don’t know how it works. That doesn’t mean it’s not real. It also doesn’t mean it is real, just because we believe it. The true fact is the human brain is so tiny, in relation to all of reality, that there would be no chance in all of infinity for us to understand everything that is natural, or how it works.

We don’t know what we don’t understand. Even more interesting, we don’t know what we DO understand, except for just those few things that we can evaluate with statistics, and of course I’m not talking about fake statistics, but the real, honest deal.

It turns out we know quite a few things. Of course we don’t know the real reality of them – we know our names for them, and if we can measure them we know that they really exist, at least in the form that we can measure. We know what clouds are made of. We know that water is made of oxygen and hydrogen. We know that nothing happens without energy. We define energy as anything that makes something happen. Or: “Energy is the ability to do work.”

Well, OK, that’s a circular argument, but most arguments that are at the edges of our understanding are circular, because we don’t know what is behind them. We have to start somewhere, and then we figure out how to measure it and how to use it, and by that time we know that energy is real, even if we don’t quite understand what it is, and we begin to understand that there are different kinds of energy that do different kinds of work.

Some of the kinds of energy that do the everyday kinds of work, like photon light energy and electron electrical energy, those we have learned enough to make things that do work when and where we want it done. In fact, we have done such a big job of technology that we have put ourselves in danger from ourselves – from atom bombs and the like – and then we blame the energy for the problem and we go looking for different kinds of energies that will save us from ourselves.

It’s a beautiful dream, but my question is if we can’t save ourselves from our own human technologies that we can control, how are we going to save ourselves from superhuman energies (and other phenomena) that we do not understand and can not control?

Woo hoooo, close the shutters, I wish I hadn’t thought myself into this corner on Halloween.

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