Author Topic: What We Can and Cannot Control  (Read 402 times)

Curt

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What We Can and Cannot Control
« on: January 13, 2019, 07:26:19 AM »
Here is a few really good paragraphs I just read from a book about how luck and genetics figures into things. A lot of things are not in our control in life. So don't stress about things you can do nothing about and realize how lucky you are compared to others.

What We Can and Cannot Control
written by Michael Shermer

"There is, of course, the luck of being born at all. The ratio of the number of people who could have been born to those who actually were born is incalculably large—trillions to one. Then there is the luck of being born in a country with a stable political system, a sound economy, and a solid infrastructure, rather than, say, in lower caste India, war-torn Syria, or anarchic Somalia. If you were unlucky enough to be born in one of those countries, you can hardly be blamed for a life outcome of poverty and destitution, and if you managed to get out of such a horrific environment there’s a good chance that in addition to being intelligent, creative, and a high-risk taker, you probably had some help along the way.

There is the luck of having loving and nurturing parents who raised you in a safe neighborhood and healthy environment, provided you with a high quality K–12 education, and who instilled in you the values of personal responsibility. If your family was also financially successful that’s an added bonus because one of the best predictors of someone’s earning power is that of their parents. If you were unlucky enough to be raised in an impoverished home by a single parent in an unsafe neighborhood with subpar schools, you can hardly be blamed for not waltzing your way into Harvard followed by a six-figure corporate salary with country-club privileges. If you did manage to pull yourself up by your bootstraps into such a privileged world out of such an impoverished environment, there’s a good chance that in addition to being intelligent, creative, and a high-risk taker, you had help along the way.

Then there’s the luck of attending a college where you happened upon good or inspiring professors or mentors who guided you to your calling, along with a strong peer cohort to challenge and support you, followed by finding a high-paying job or a fulfilling career. If you were unlucky enough to have never been mentored by nurturing educators, did not befriend smart and ambitious peers in your age range in school, could not land a high-paying job out of school, and never found your calling in life that could be converted into a lucrative career, the fault is not entirely in your stars; it is, in fact, more prudently found in your background, including and especially the constraining prior conditions, both biological and environmental.

Let’s not overlook the luck of being born at a time in history when your particular aptitudes and passions fit that of the zeitgeist. Would Google’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin be among the richest and most successful people in the world were they born in 1873 instead of 1973? Both are brilliant and hard working, so they would probably have been successful in any century, but at the equivalent of $35 billion each? It seems unlikely. If you had the misfortune to have the talents and interests in a subject for which your society has next to no interest, you can hardly be blamed for that. That’s contingency."

What We Can and Cannot Control
written by Michael Shermer

Thoughts?

xSilverPhinx

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Re: What We Can and Cannot Control
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2019, 03:31:41 PM »
It's like my mother always said, "just think of how lucky you are not to have been born a woman in the Middle East or waring African nations". My country has loads of problems, but we're pretty much like most of the Western world in many aspects.

As for being born now, now is definitely an interesting time to live in! Just makes me think of how much our ancestors suffered during the dark ages, where child mortality was high and basically all you could do was go through life hoping that a simple throat infection wouldn't kill you.

Anyway, these and other thoughts aside, that's why I wonder just how wise those who think they make their own destiny are. Life is like sailing the seas, you can direct your ship in a certain direction but nature can have its own ideas and send wind to help...or high waves to destroy you. 
Give no mercy to your fear.



Curt

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Re: What We Can and Cannot Control
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2019, 04:29:21 PM »
I like your "Life is like sailing the seas, you can direct your ship in a certain direction but nature can have its own ideas and send wind to help...or high waves to destroy you."  Very sound philosophy. 


I heard someone say once that if you are born in this time and place in history you have won the lottery.  Very true if you think about it compared to living in the dark ages or other time periods where you were lucky to survive childhood

No one

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Re: What We Can and Cannot Control
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2019, 06:30:25 PM »
There is very little that is controllable in life. Even most of the decisions people make, are somewhat guided by outside sources.

Curt

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Re: What We Can and Cannot Control
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2019, 04:11:07 PM »
Agree that a lot of life is in many ways is uncontrollable and dependent on outside factors.  But I think you have control of things within your circumstances to a certain degree.  For example you may not have any control over the circumstances you were born into.  But you do have choices how you respond to it.  If you decide to accept your circumstances or try your best to improve it.

Ecurb Noselrub

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Re: What We Can and Cannot Control
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2019, 03:53:43 PM »
Agree that a lot of life is in many ways is uncontrollable and dependent on outside factors.  But I think you have control of things within your circumstances to a certain degree.  For example you may not have any control over the circumstances you were born into.  But you do have choices how you respond to it.  If you decide to accept your circumstances or try your best to improve it.

You can exercise such control, but the choices you make are going to be determined by things that have happened before that were out of your control.  An infant has no power to influence it's environment.  As we grow older we gain more experience, and that experience controls the choices we make.  As you can see, I think we live in a largely deterministic universe and that true free will is either non-existent or almost so.

xSilverPhinx

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Re: What We Can and Cannot Control
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2019, 11:16:43 PM »
Agree that a lot of life is in many ways is uncontrollable and dependent on outside factors.  But I think you have control of things within your circumstances to a certain degree.  For example you may not have any control over the circumstances you were born into.  But you do have choices how you respond to it.  If you decide to accept your circumstances or try your best to improve it.

You can exercise such control, but the choices you make are going to be determined by things that have happened before that were out of your control.  An infant has no power to influence it's environment.  As we grow older we gain more experience, and that experience controls the choices we make.  As you can see, I think we live in a largely deterministic universe and that true free will is either non-existent or almost so.

I agree about the free will. It would seem we have partial free will at most.

For instance, some people say that consciousness is just our brains taking ownership of decisions already made. When those decisions 'surface' into our minds it may seem like we're making a conscious decision but it's not the case.

If true that would have all sorts of implications. Like, to what extent can we control our behaviours? And just how responsible are we for things we don't actually have much control over?
Give no mercy to your fear.



Bad Penny II

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Re: What We Can and Cannot Control
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2019, 11:35:16 AM »
Agree that a lot of life is in many ways is uncontrollable and dependent on outside factors.  But I think you have control of things within your circumstances to a certain degree.  For example you may not have any control over the circumstances you were born into.  But you do have choices how you respond to it.  If you decide to accept your circumstances or try your best to improve it.

You can exercise such control, but the choices you make are going to be determined by things that have happened before that were out of your control.  An infant has no power to influence it's environment.  As we grow older we gain more experience, and that experience controls the choices we make.  As you can see, I think we live in a largely deterministic universe and that true free will is either non-existent or almost so.

 :chairhide: That guy under the chair can make choices, he has some free will.
He has been studied by higher beings and identified as a certain type of organism at this time. They define him using a series of very big numbers & symbols & a Pollock like pic.  This describes every aspect of his being. I'll call him Bob 3.
Bob 3 can make the decisions a Bob 3 wants to make, he just didn't really choose to be a Bob 3.
Certainty disturbs me


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Re: What We Can and Cannot Control
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2019, 02:48:56 PM »
Give no mercy to your fear.



Curt

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Re: What We Can and Cannot Control
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2019, 06:07:42 AM »
Good point!