My friend sent me a link to an incredibly interesting Reading List.
Almost every book on there is one I want to eventually read. If Sam Harris thinks I should read it, that's good enough for me.
So, tonight I was [big surprise] at the Bookstore and I had a look at one of the books, it's called On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not.
Written by Robert A. Burton.
I leafed through it and even at a peripheral level, found it intriguing. One day I'll buy it and read it in detail. It's full of experimental exercises meant to illustrate how we "know" what we think we know.
At one point, the author asks us to recall where we were at three significant moments in history. Where were you, and what were you doing:
1) When President Kennedy was assassinated.
2) When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded.
3) When the events of 9/11 transpired.
I am explaining it badly here, but, basically, Burton goes on to point out how the account[s] of what ought to be very definite and unchanging stories can tend to change with the passing of time. A morphing takes place… sometimes to the point that a person will be essentially saying that the events of September 11th [for instance] took place at night, because their [years hence] explanation of what they themselves were doing at the time the event actually took place is completely out of sync with the events themselves.
I am explaining it poorly.
The exercise made me think of where I was when the events mentioned, happened.
For #1, I was peaceful floating in a sea of amniotic fluid. Twelve days later I was born.
The other two events were fraught with misinformation.
For #2, on Jan.28th, 1986 I was sleeping. My mother ran into the room and was shouting me into a state of startled panic! "One of those missiles exploded" she hollered. I ran to the TV in the living room, thinking that the end of the world was nigh. A MISSILE? I thought that a worldwide atomic war had been initiated. It was terrifying. I then watched and re-watched the tragic reality of the events on TV for the rest of the afternoon.
For #3, I was at work in a warehouse, all alone. I had not heard the radio, or any outside information all morning. At about noon, one of our delivery drivers came to my building to pick up the morning's orders which I had prepared. As the roll-up door was raised, he said, "Did you hear what happened? Two planes have flown into the World Exchange Plaza."
See -- in the city I live in, there is a big building downtown called The World Exchange Plaza, and so I looked out the door in that direction, looking for smoke! My apartment is downtown -- I was horrified! I could see no smoke at all in the distance, so I asked this guy what the hell he was talking about…. and he said it again, but the right way this time -- Ohhhhhhh! Big difference. The World TRADE CENTER in New York! Now I get it.
Anyway, the book at the store made me rethink these moments in my life -- and I assure you, my own stories are the unvarnished, unembellished truth.
Especially for #1. I was like TOTALLY in the womb! Absolutely certain of it!