Thursday, August 5, 2010

How Great We Are

When things are going really good for me I sometimes forget what an ignorant poser I really am.

I'm a technician, I fix things. I try to figure out what went wrong with someone else's design. Since I work in research, the circuits I fix are not always accurately documented. My imagination works overtime to comprehend basic ideas behind sophisticated electronic conglomerations. My job is to deduce problems within systems and correct them. I don't get paid what I'm worth.

I get this warm, fuzzy feeling every time I figure out how to fix something I could have never designed in the first place. The more I get things right, the better I feel, but it is all illusion. I might fix something by luck, or by replacing anything remotely related. I rely a lot on experience.

As much as I know, there is so much more I do not know. If I were an engineer, I would only know different things (and I would not know much of what I now know.) Given the amount of knowledge there is today, you would be safe to assume everyone you meet an ignoramus on everything.

As great as America is, how much are we getting wrong without realizing it? Nature has a way of helping us see our insignificance, but if she doesn't kill us all the remaining few will shrug it off and cast their votes for American Idol. Collectively, we are dumb-shit know-it-alls.

No one can know everything, but politicians pretend they do. They aren't very good at faking logical deductions, but they know a lot of big words and hire people who know how to write re-election speeches. Who better to represent a fool than a bigger one?

Any expert who thinks he fully understands his subject is due a rude awakening. You might know a lot more than the next guy, but there is something you have overlooked, guaranteed. Google hubris.

If none of us really understands what he is doing, how can we avoid disaster? The answer is, we can't.

This may explain the existence of the insurance industry...

We can minimize our disasters by doing nothing, but where is the fun in that? The facts are that little Junior has to visit Grandma and that will take gasoline, diapers and a large bottle of Dad's favorite alcohol. People do stuff they have to do and then accidents happen. Unavoidable.

As a society, we have to ask the difficult question,“What happens when things go wrong?” We ask, but we can't know the answer because the possibilities are endless. Mr. Murphy handles wrongness.

If we stop thinking we're infallible, maybe we'll stop doing things that nearly kill us – like drilling a hole in the bottom of the sea further down than we can swim.