my name is phillip

This is my little corner of the internet

I like books, music, cooking, Gardening, mountaineering, and building embedded systems

The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist

The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist

Author: Richard Feynman
Rating: 7/10
Last Read: Jan 2017

Quick Summary: I love Richard Feynman, so I was especially glad to discover one of his books on my bookshelf that I hadn't read before!  The Meaning of It All is a collection of three lectures musing on some of the more philosophical aspects of science.  Feynman examines religion, politics, science, and the unscientific trends of the modern age.  I must say - while I enjoyed reading the thoughts of this great man, I don't know that this provided a novel view on any of these ideas to me. 

My Highlights

Is Science of any value? I think a power to do something is of value. Whether the result is a good thing or a bad thing depends on how it is used, but the power is a value. --pg 6

Once in Hawaii I was taken to see a Buddhist temple. In the temple a man said, "I am going to tell you something that you will never forget." And then he said, "To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven. The same key opens the gates of hell." And so it is with science. --pg 6

Why do we grapple with problems? We are only in the beginning. We have plenty of time to solve the problems. THe only way that we will make a mistake is that in the impetuous youth of humanity we will decide we know the answer. This is it. No one else can think of anything else. And we will jam. We will confine man to the limited imagination of today's human beings. We are not so smart. We are dumb. We are ignorant. We must maintain an open channel. --pg 57

The first one has to do with whether a man knows what he is talking about, whether what he says has some basis or not. And my trick that I use is very easy. If you ask him intelligent questiosn -- that is, penetrating, interested, honest, frank, direct questions on the subject, and no trick questions -- then he quickly gets stuck. It is like a child asking naive questions. If you ask naive but relevant questions, then almost immediately the person doesn't know the answer, if he is an honest man. It is important to appreciate that. -- pg 65

I would like to remind you that you can be pretty sure of things even though you are uncertain, that you don't have to be so in-the-middle, in fact not at all in-the-middle. People say to me, "Well, how can you teach your children what is right and wrong if you don't know?" Because I'm pretty sure of what's right and wrong. I'm not absolutely sure; some experiences may change my mind. But I know what I would expect to teach them. But, of course, a child won't learn what you teach him. --pg 67

What I'm asking for in many directions is abject honesty. I think that we should have a more abject honesty in political matters. And I think we'll be freer that way. I woudl like to point out that people are not honest. Scientists are not honest at all, either. It's useless. Nobody's honest. Scientists are not honest. And people usually believe that they are. That makes it worse. By honest I don't mean that you only tell what's true. But you make clear the entire situation. You make clear all the information that is required for somebody else who is intelligent to make up their mind. --pg 106

Lightnin' Hopkins: Live at the Bird Lounge

Lightnin' Hopkins: Live at the Bird Lounge

Believe It

Believe It