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The Blinds Parable

Posted by horsservice on October 20, 2009

The Blinds Parable.

I, too, have a parable to share. Hope that you find it good:

In Ancient Greece, there once was a community of blind people.

They were living happily and equally, for they couldn’t see the race of their fellows blinds, nor their ugliness, nor their wealth. Their world hadn’t borders, for they couldn’t see them, and they owned the world between them.

But one day, a blind acquired a hunger for power, and proclaimed himself dictator, supreme ruler of all men and things. His pride knew no limits, and in a law, he declared that all their togas were red, as it should be.

None of them were.

As the blinds travelled, talking proudly of their marvellously red togas, they were mocked by  foreigners, who could perfectly see that it wasn’t the case.

Some blinds began to mutter, to rebel, to inspire doubt in the minds of the community, suggesting that their togas, possibly, may be not red as it should be. The little afraid voices grew, encouraged by the laughs of the other Greeks, and became a resentful growl. Factions were assembling, schism was near.

To calm down the disorder, the dictator edicted that all their togas were blue, as it should be.

None of them were.

To the increasing laughters of the watchers, the blind community divided into several factions, blue, green, yellow, white, as it should be, each group combating each other, sometimes with word, and sometimes with sword. It didn’t improved the situation that, in fact, none of their togas were blue, nor green, nor yellow, nor white. Riots rose, towns burned, murders were committed, until one day, the community disappeared, in a last burst of hatred.

A deaf reading this story said that blinds shouldn’t have judged colours, but stayed convinced that only the deaf can judge music, as it should be.

It’s very fashionable these days, in France but also, I think, in America, to attack experts, scientists, economists, the elites, to oppose them “normal people” that are supposed to know better than a lifetime of research and study,  ’cause you see, the real normal people live in the real world.

In French, it’s called the “Mère Michu effect”, from a French traditional song.

Not to say that these normal people shouldn’t have an opinion, shouldn’t form their own ideas, not to say that they are true from times to times, but it’s rather by luck than by insight.

Just have a thought for the palaeontologists confronted with “Intelligent Design”ers, the physicists confronted with wifi and electronic waves opponents, the Vietnam veterans confronted with Neighbourhood  Defence Comities.

Experts can be wrong.

A sharpshooter can miss his target.

A violinist can miss a note.

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12 Responses to “The Blinds Parable”

  1. kay~ms said

    Hi Hors, great post… one point I got from this story is that self appointed “experts” can be wrong (the dictator, TBG).

    Your story kind of reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend many years ago… she was a sun worshipper (always working on her tan) and I said one day that the sun is bad for us…. she jumped all over me in a very arrogant way, flatly disagreeing. she had nothing to base her opinion on except that it was what she believed ( as it should be). I, on the other hand, was basing my assertion on information that I had gathered from the experts. So, (of course) I was right. But I have also realized since then that she is right too. Even though she was really that ignorant about MANY things, she was right in this instance. And so was I.

    To show another example of how ignorant she could be… her and her husband had adopted a baby boy. This boy was extremely intelligent and she was always showing him off. She taught him their phone number before he was 2… and he would always recite it when ever she asked him to ( along with many other things). At 3 he was remembering all of the waitress’ names at the places we would eat at. He would recognize the streets and landmarks when we were in the car. One day when he was reciting his phone number, I asked my friend if he knew what a phone number was. Again, she jumped all over me for asking such a stupid question… “of course he knows what a phone number is”… so I asked her if she had explained it to him or did she think he was just born with this information… anyway.. I proceeded to explain to him what a phone number was and showed him how to use a telephone.

    I am not one of those people who believes based on (it’s as it should be). Although when I said to TBG that we did not evolve from apes… my friend saying “the sun is not bad for you” did come to my mind. And I did / do sometimes wonder if I am being as ignorant as she was in this instance. But, I don’t feel that is the case. I am combining science with philosophy (religion). I AM using common sense. Just like my friend did when she said that the sun is not bad for us. Scientists tend to think only from the scientific perspective, they don’t look at the whole picture. They don’t take into account the soul, because it cannot be scientifically explained. But the soul is the center of everything really. So they are ignoring an awful lot.

    It is so true that experts are wrong all the time. I will never forget when I learned that the “experts”, at one time, believed that a dog wagging it’s tail was just a reflex action… it had nothing to do with emotion. I’m sure that all of the every day people disagreed with them… and now, look who was right.

    Yeah, I’ll just wait until more solid (real) proof comes along before I am willing to accept that man evolved from apes, when it is not disputed anymore by credible scientists… thank you very much.

    Like

  2. kayms said

    I have a comment awaiting moderation.

    Like

  3. dorian said

    good post, hors. more food for thought!

    i agree with you wholeheartedly, kay, the soul is the center of our being.

    Like

  4. The fact that man evolved from apes is NOT disputed by any credible scientists, Kay. Scientists may disagree over the HOW and WHY, but not IF. That’s something you seem to not be getting even though it has been shown to you.

    I agree wholeheartedly that science is not the whole picture though. Science can only work with what we can observe and measure, and there is much more to human experience than that.

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  5. dorian said

    science’s weights and measures are all very necessary in our lives it’s a way we can predict and prevent and fix – two of the many many examples is the study of weather, helps get people out of harm’s way and of course in medicine – prevention, diagnosis and treatment. it’s our responsibility as an intelligent species to learn and discover…morality gets in the way of progress but then without (reasonable) morality there probably will be many notty dr.frankensteins. actually, ego is more to blame in wrongdoings. ego coupled with ignorance. dr. frankenstein was ego and the peasants with the pitchforks, ignorance. frankenstein’s monster was innocent.

    here he is with his blind hermit friend.

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  6. Hi Kay, I don’t exactly agree with you, as usual^^

    But no time to discuss it now, I will be back tomorrow fully, and I plan to read all that I have missed… That is going to be an awful lot of work. Sorry dorian, I would have liked to give this to your review (it really lacks a good english shape…)

    On the evolution business, I have prepared answers to some of your previous posts Kay, but I hesitate in giving them. I fear that I will be faced to a wall, so… Anyway, I have some article coming up about recently discovered evolution ways.

    Science shouldn’t be used to understand soul. Science is just explaining how does things work, like human evoluted from previous apes (not the current apes we are having), the gravitation, the electricity. Real science is no politics, no polemics. These stuff are for the soul. It’s no good to mix both, as it’s no good to mix religion, business and State (even if links exists).

    And if you want reality, every scientist knows that Science isn’t the truth: it’s just closer and closer modelisations of the truth. But only a scientist (and sometimes, he might even be wrong) can make the difference between reasonable and unacceptable error on the truth.

    Experts are sometimes wrong, it’s true. It is necessary to question what an expert says. But an expert knows what he is talking about, usually. And experts are mainly correct, whereas “everyday people” are often wrong. But you never hear of normal people being wrong.
    I also have an article in preparation about “common science” and how it is inapplicable in science, even in maths. When I get a bit of time, I will do it, but a lot of things to do and no internet at home^^

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  7. obama the antichrist said

    o my goodness dorain i love young frankenstein. one of my all time fav movies!!!!

    Like

  8. dorian said

    mine too, OTA. i love every bit of it. best medicine.

    Like

  9. 1minionsopinion said

    The thing about science is that it’s kind of self correcting, just by the nature of peers and duplicating experiments and time and experience and learning new things that make old theories flawed. New theories are always being challenged. I don’t think any scientist wants to say they’ve got the answer, because in a week or a year some new info will come along that refutes everything they thought they had figured out.

    I’d rather check with experts, and double check with other experts, than take it on the word of a neighbour. People can believe some bizarre things and encourage them to be beleived by others. That’s what I took from the parable. You need to be able to question the leader, not follow blindly.

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  10. dorian said

    i’m looking forward to your “common science” post, hors.
    i don’t see how anything can be called science if when applied to mathematics, 1 + 1 ≠ 2. that “science” must be coming from a bizarro world.

    Like

  11. princessxxx said

    i’m glad i read this,
    it reminds me that ‘project runway’ is on in 15 minutes.

    Like

  12. Hors Service said

    Ooops… I made a mistake, not “common science”, “common sense”… Well, I’m now back at home, so I have internet, so I’m reading the stuff I missed and writing some, it shouldn’t take too much time.

    @Kay

    Well, I have more doubts than you about your “combining science with philosophy (religion)”.
    First, I believe that philosophy is not absolutely derivating from religion, although some pretty wise things are in the religions.
    And you didn’t seemed to me very keen to separate science from religion and vice versa (Jesuits make very good science but they separate it from religion, both are not incompatible), or to have a mesured and moderated view of things, but well, I guess that there must be some…
    Nevertheless, I reconigze your willness, and I hope you won’t rely to much on it to assert your views.

    But I do perfectly agree with the “confronting opinions” things. Things that seems common sense for us are not for others, which makes us reevaluate this certitudes, that are sometimes baseless. Or sometimes the opinion of others is baseless. But the good point is that it makes us think, and have a relative view on things.
    So we avoid crispation, hate, untolerance.
    I think that opposition learn people to be carefull about their own beliefs, which is a very good thing.

    See you

    Like

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