Best way to get revelation.

As I grew up, my impression was always that this reflected the general attitude of the Church towards science:

Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind, has been given by direct revelation from God, though but few acknowledge it. It has been given with a view to prepare the way for the ultimate triumph of truth, and the redemption of the earth from the power of sin and Satan. We should take advantage of all these great discoveries, the accumulated wisdom of ages, and give to our children the benefit of every branch of useful knowledge, to prepare them to step forward and efficiently do their part in the great work. [Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, pg. 369, 31Aug 1862].

I'm not sure if I ever heard this particular quote, but I often heard the sentiment.

If scientific discovery is revelation, it is interesting then to note that since Joseph Smith's time the overwhelming majority of revelation has come through scientists rather than prophets, since very little actual revelations have happened since that time but an enormous amount of scientific discovery has.

The irony is, about 60% of scientists are atheist or agnostic. But not all scientists are created equal. Most scientific breakthroughs come from the relatively few great scientists at the top of their feild. The National Academy of Sciences (Nas) represents the cream of the crop. About ten percent of their members have earned a nobel prize and there are few greater honors a scientist can receive than to be elected to the Academy. So these are the people who, according the views expressed in the quote above, are most in tune to with inspiration, more than anyone else they recieve 'direct revelation from God'. So the irony is increased when considering that, among members of the NAS only 7% actually believe in God. A few more are agnostic, about 20% and the rest disbelieve entirely. Does that mean according to Lds standards that believing in God is actually a hindrance to revelation? At the very least, not believing in God doesn't stop one from revelation and even revieving more than Church leadership itself.


Why are women more easily grossed out?

I think a fair generalization to make is that women tend to be grossed out easier than men. (one exception to this is Marissa. Sometimes she makes jokes that gross even me out and I think I have a pretty high gross tolerance.) There is a reason why 'guy' movies tend to include gross stuff and chick flicks rarely do. Like anything related to humans, there are many who deviate from this, but it doesn't it is not generally accurate.

I was trying to think of why this might be so and while I have no idea if my idea is true or not, I think it seems plausible.

Historically, duties that were normally filled by men, such as hunter or warrior, involve a lot of gross stuff and a person who is easily grossed out would be at a disadvantage and and less likely to reproduce, either because they would be more likely to die or lower status as a failure would allow for less mating opportunities.

On the other hand, responsibilities that usually fell on women, such as cooking and child rearing, benefit from a sensitivity to grossness. Typically things are gross because they are bad for us and can make us sick, Repulsion is our bodies evolved method of making sure we steer clear of things like poo poo (poop) and throw-up without having to understand germ theory or even causality. To be sure, culture can influence what in particular is seen as gross, but the underlying mechanism is biological and certain things are more or less universally gross (feces, rotten meat, incest etc.). Probably the most important area to avoid grossness is anything related to our food and second, keeping gross stuff from anywhere near children, since they get sick more easily and their disgust system has not yet been developed and learned. Considering this, it would be no wonder women tend to be more sensitive to gross things. It is a big advantage in two crucial areas.


Sleep positions

One thing I envy about 4 legged-animals (aside from how walking on four legs instead of two seems overall much more comfortable. No back strain. Walking upright evolved fairly recently and our backs still haven't totally adapted.) is the variety of positions they can comfortably sleep in. I can pretty much sleep comfortably on my side or to a lesser degree on my back. But my cat and dog on the other hand! They sleep on their backs and stomachs and every variation of laying on one's side and curled up in a ball and stretched out long and in a weird u-shape, with their heads up or down or to the side, with their legs under them or beside them and every possible variation of these positions. The one I most envy is being curled up in a ball. Or in other terms, the cat croissant. It seems very comfortable.

Favorite thing, self sufficiency and interdependence.

One of my favorite things is when a simple comment or question totally changes my perspective, because it challenges or questions something I hadn't even considered could be challenged or questioned. Like when I hold a belief that strikes me as so obviously correct that I never even considered the opposing view because it hadn't occurred to me there even WAS an opposing view. Just realizing that there is something else to consider is a paradigm shift.

For example, because of the culture and religion I was raised in, (plus my having read several Ayn Rand and Henry David Thoreau books as a teenager), I believed self-sufficiency to be of great value in and of itself. I saw being entirely self-sufficient an ultimate goal.
I think I was 21 when I was made a comment about living in the woods, growing my own food, having a windmill and how it would be cool being entirely self-sufficient, when I friend responded with something like 'What's so great about being self-sufficient?'

That comment was a revelation to me. Up until that point self-sufficiency had seemed like such an obvious good, on par with the golden rule or not crapping in someone's mouth while they sleep, that I had honestly never considered: A) why was it a value in and of itself? and B) that there was an opposing side to the issue.

It isn't that my mind was suddenly changed by that comment, I think it took a few years of gradual progression in my thought process, but I can definitely look back to that moment as the seed to my believing their is greater value in community and interdependence than self-sufficiency.
If someone takes satisfaction from doing everything by themselves, that is fine, I have no problem with it. But I don't believe it need be something people in genreal need to work towards. How impoverished would we be if all we had was ourselves or even just our families? All my ideas and values and thoughts are ultimately the product of my interactions with other people. And of course all my possessions, even the things I have made myself. And far from being a bad thing, I think this is great and beautiful. If I only had myself to rely on it would be an incredible disadvantage. We are all hopelessly intertwined and dependent upon one another and by and large I think we are better because of it. (not to mention all of us being entirely dependent upon God or Nature for our very being and survival).

(The first part of this post is what I intended to write about. Although it ended up being a set-up into me talking about inter-dependence, the last paragraph is just an expanded footnote of the example I used for the point I initially set out to make)



I wonder if Einstein is really the super genius we have made him out to be, or just a regular genius who came around at the right time, with an interest in the right subject. Because surely if he had died young, his theories would have been figured out eventually and it probably wouldn't have been much later. His work built directly on his predecessors and might even be seen as the logical next step to the existing theories. By no means was he operating in a vacuum. So I guess the question would be, would one individual have discovered all the stuff Einstein did, or would it have been a bunch people, like quantum mechanics?

Writing versus art.

One thing I realized lately that has allowed me to feel more content with my decision to pursue a career in art is that even though I would rather be a successful writer than a successful artist, I would much rather be an 'unsuccessful' artist than an 'unsuccessful' writer. And by unsuccessful I mean, not able to make a career from only writing or only art making, so having to supplement it through teaching. Basically, I would rather teach ceramics at a college or University than teach something like writing or english.
Since I will most likely not be a successful writer or successful artist, I figure I should base my plans on what I would rather be unsuccessful at.

In a sense, I am planning my life based on assumed 'failure'. (Which seems kind of funny that art is my safe plan, when art is normally people's idealistic dream and something like graphic design or business would be the safe plan.) But through pursuing art educationally, I don't feel as if I am closing any doors on writing. I will continue writing, working on my book (which I recently re-started and I feel much more confident about it) and trying my half-hearted best to find somewhere willing to publish something I write. And if that never pans out, which it probably won't, then I will still get to be an art professor, which seems like a dream job.

Plus, for whatever reason, I do not enjoy studying writing. Not at all. I very much look forward to the next two years studying ceramics at Saic, but imaging if instead it were in a writing program fills me with the opposite of excitement.

And even if I did somehow become a professional writer, I think I would still like to be an art professor. That may just be my romantic notion of how it will be and after I actually teaching for awhile I could feel differently, but for now I think that is true.

Also, if anyone reading is a publisher or editor of some sort, will you publish my writing please?

More blogging

One thing that keeps me from blogging much: I tend to feel a need to address every possible angle I can think of whenever I write about something. Usually this leads to posts that may be too long, but more importantly it often leads to no posts at all. Lately I often don't have the time or motivation to write a post that addresses everything I can think of about a subject, so I instead just post something brief on facebook. But I want to blog more, so I plan to make more of the short, not-thorough posts like I have done recently, with a few long, thorough posts in between.

Institutions as a step to freedom or bondage.

I think the reason I generally prefer Eastern religion to Western religion is summarized in this quote "The role of a guru is to wean you from them, so that you can develop confidence in your own true nature." ~ Pema Chodrin
The sentiment of that quote seems typical of Eastern religion and something I can't imagine hearing from the Pope or the Prophet or a Mullah. Don't get me wrong, I have my qualms with Eastern religion too, but Western religion generally seems more spritually limiting for the individual. Like the ultimate goal of this life is for the the individual to be inexorably tied to the institution, rather than the institution being a mere stepping stone on a path that would, ideally, be transcended.

Interestingly, the infamous and controversial 1984 talk by Elder Poelman originally made several points similar the quote mentioned above, for example, "Institutional discipline is replaced by self discipline. Supervision is replaced by righteous initiative and a sense of divine accountability." while the edits required by the institution basically made the exact opposite point. That same line was changed to "We will exercise self discipline and righteous initiative guided by Church leaders and a sense of divine accountability." (here is a link to all the changes )


I noticed there was a recall of a drug called 'Risperdal'. The recall is because of a strange odor. What makes this interesting is that Risperdal is a drug used to treat schizophrenia. This seems like the worst type of drug to be recalled, for any reason but especially because of something like a funny odor. Imagine all those poor schizophrenics, many of them already reluctant to take their medicine, for a variety of reasons, sometimes because of worry that the government or God or aliens are out to get them and now they discover their medicine has a funny odor and the government is recalling it. I would imagine this sends their delusions into overdrive and reinforces their fears that some malevolent force is trying to destroy them.

Speaking of schizophrenic delusions. One night I a guy in my neighborhood seemed super panicked and informed me heaven was about to be destroyed and he was the only person who could stop it.

Schizophrenia seems to me like the most difficult and cruel disease. For that guy, things wouldn't be any worse if heaven actually was about to be destroyed and he was the only one who could stop it. Whatever terrible scenario the mind could imagine, that a person's delusions make them think is actually happening, isn't made any better for that person because it is merely a delusion. If anything, it is made worse because they aren't able to have the support of a community to share their burden and worry.


Why scenic views are beautiful.

Whenever the wind blows while Margaret (the dog) is sitting on the roof outside our window (which she does often), she puts her nose in the air, closes her eyes and sniffs deeply, looking very satisfied. Smelling the wind is apparently gratifying for her.

Watching this made me realize that if your primary sense is smell, than the wind must be a huge helper. It would be like the smell equivalent of looking in a telescope, letting you smell things which are far away. Utilizing the wind to smell things at a distance would have a clear evolutionary advantages, like to find hidden prey downwind. That is probably why smelling the wind is so enjoyable to her because beings evolve to find evolutionary advantageous behavior pleasurable.

I tried to think of a better human equivalent than a telescope, since those are obviously too recent an invention for humans to have evolved a desire for, and it struck me, viewing things from high in the air! Everyone I know finds the view from tall buildings or mountainsides beautiful. Houses which are on hills or on mountainsides, or offices on a hugh floor tend to be much more expensive because the panoramic view is pleasurable to look at. And no wonder: their are clear evolutionary advantages of being able to see for miles around you: Spotting approaching predators or enemies, scoping out prey.

So no wonder we find nice views beautiful. I wonder if dogs feel a similar sense of awe and wonder at a particularly strong and fragrant wind.