Sunday, March 20, 2005

Our ancestors were the smartest...

I have discussed about religions and scientific mindset. There I have talked about Christian Europeans questioning their religion and the knowledge on which it was based. The people who ventured into this prohibited land of infinite knowledge, not infrequently, were the men of the same religion. A really fascinating aspect of western civilization.

If we observe the development of Indian philosophy, an unwritten code was that the Vedas, Upanishats can not be questioned. There could be only interpretations of these early works. Birth and Nirvana of the knowledge was complete in those works. In Shankara’s own words, these early scripts contain everything that a person has to know and they can’t be questioned. Ofcourse, there were people who didn’t accept the Vedas. But these Nastiks were not part of Astik schools of thought. Interaction between these two groups was just an interaction between two different religions with both staunchly believing what their ancestors had told them.

Europeans didn’t think so. There were so many religious men, who fervently believed in the Christian god but not the words in the Books about him or his deeds. To their inquisitive mind the knowledge of the books looked inadequate and flawed. They went to the nature with their observations and experimentations and heralded a new era of secular scientific knowledge.

What was wrong with Indians? Physical threat by the uncompromising society held them back? Europe was merciless in this regard. Or Indians of the middle ages were really dumb in comparison with their ancestors?

It was no wonder that Europeans developed theory of Evolution. For the people who thought they were mentally more evolved than their ancestors it was natural to come up something like evolution. But Indians were devolved people, in their opinion, from human beings to animals. They continued to think so.

Update 21-Mar-2005:

A coincidence. I came across this book on Human devolution via this blog. There are so many people even among Europeans who still think our ancestors were the smartest. Ofcourse the smartest among these people have come up with Intelligent Design concept to uphold the greatness of their biblical ancestors.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Why does fate exist?

If something goes wrong or if something does not turn out as expected, a typical Indian tendency is to ascribe those situations to ‘fate’. While ‘destiny’ is sometimes used as a counterpart to ‘fate’; in Kannada only one word describes the cause for the good and bad things, ‘vidhi’, which could be translated as ‘fate’.

People generally overlook numerous instances of things going right or otherwise but base their opinions on few incidents. However, these are the situations that matter them a lot. Though destiny does not matter much since the superstitions it develops do not necessarily harm the person or the society. But fate can have negative impact on person’s psyche, confidence and motivation. The superstitions that the person develops to get over the bad luck can be detrimental to him or the society. A question of interest would be ‘why does fate strike a person?’

A surest answer would be person expects something in a situation with too many ‘random experiments’. Let’s consider a situation.

Everyday, you take an auto to your office. Let us say you catch an auto at 10:30 in the morning. Here, the incidence we are expecting is auto’s availability at 10:30. Since autos do not have any obligation to arrive in front your gate at 10:30, its availability is a random experiment. I will call this as an ‘external random variable’. Now we have to determine the probability of the availability of the auto. It is possible that out of 10 days you have caught the auto on 7 days. A probability of 0.7. Since majority of the times you have found an auto, a common misconception of its availability will develop in your mind. Now let us consider that ‘emergency situation’. You have to find an auto at sharp 10:30 so that you can reach somewhere in time.

A common person, even with a misconception of 0.7 probability as 100% availability, wouldn’t have fallen for a concept like ‘fate’ if atleast 70% of his ‘emergency situations’ have occurred as expected. A rarity. What is wrong? Simple. He has overlooked one more random variable, emergency situation itself. I will call this as an ‘internal random variable’. A probability 0.7 has to be divided between normal situation and emergency situation. Let’s consider you have emergency situation once in five days. A probability of 0.2. So, what is the chance of you catching an auto in an emergency situation? I will call it as probability of destiny(Pdestiny) and is equal to 0.7 * 0.2 = 0.14. In other words, you have only 14% chances of catching an auto in an emergency situation. This is the case in most of the human expectations. Fate will always triumph.

The only way to get rid of this spell of fate is to make sure you have as few ‘external random variables’, that you can’t control, as possible in your life. Also increase the probability of your ‘internal random variables’. An easy example would be trying to do something. One or two attempts will result in very low probability. So number of attempts must be many. Of course, you can always accept the fact that your probability of success is very limited.

corruption, intelligence and hardwork

The question why people are corrupt is something can't be easily answered. The gene for corruption is yet to be identified. But as we understand human nature it is accepted that corruption is a natural trait and being non-corrupt might suggest a defective gene. A fine analogy could be smoking. Though the individual benefits of smoking and corruption can not be correlated, their overall effect on the society is generally negative.
As this article suggests, non-smokers possess a defective gene which prohibits them from smoking or controls the habit of smokers. This could be true for non-corrupt people. I have drawn a chart that tries to classify corrupts and non-corrupts based on their intelligence and attitude towards work. This attitude is generally a function of motivation, drive and passion.

Where, NC -> Not Corrupt
LC -> Less Corrupt
C -> Corrupt
NO -> No Opportunity for being corrupt