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Posts Tagged ‘truth’

Healing, perhaps

I guess it’s more than perhaps, it’s more like “apparently.”

Five years, seven months, three days, one hour, and forty-nine minutes ago, the first man I truly adored was killed.  He’d come into my lonely, desperate, incomplete life, and he filled all the empty spaces that bothered me.

Then suddenly he was gone.

Being the type of person I am, I of course pulled myself up by the bootstraps and went on with life.  *sigh*  I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really know how to grieve.  I don’t know how to lose.  I don’t know how to be hurt.  I just have no idea how to do any of that.  My default reaction is to take a deep breath, consider all the good things that still exist in my life, and move the hell on.

End of story.

After all, no matter what happens in my life, no matter how awful things seem, at least I’m still breathing, right?  At least I still have my health, and my sanity (or as much of it as I ever had!), and my ability to support myself, and my loving and wonderful family and friends.  So why should I dwell on what I’ve lost?  Why should I live in the past?  Why should I cling to something or someone that’s gone?

Unfortunately, my analytic mental processes don’t actually control everything that goes on inside.  So of course, recovering from The Loss Of My Entire Life was not (shall we say) a quick or easy process.  In fact, it’s still not finished.  Not even close.

But a few weeks ago I turned a corner, and tonight I turned another one.  (Does that mean I’m headed back the way I came?  *shudder*)

I spent 28 years wishing for someone who would make me feel wanted, and loved, and worthy, and wonderful.   I didn’t have him for very long, but he was instrumental in building me up to the (apparently) confident person I am today.

I’ve spent the past 5 years knowing that I’ll never find another person like him, and I’ve been not only grieving his loss, but the loss of that love and the loss of the way the love made me feel and the hope that I’d ever feel that loved again.

Oooh, there it is.  There’s the first epiphany.  I finally came to see that what I miss most about Mike Lucas is the way I felt when we were together.  Maya Angelou said it best, you know.  I will always remember the way he made me feel.  And I know I’m not the only one – anytime he walked into a room, the whole place would light up.  Everybody knew him, everybody loved him, everybody wanted to be around him.  He was just that kind of person.  Can you blame me for wanting to feel that again?

So a few weeks ago I realized that, and I realized that – wait for it – there might be someone, somewhere out there, who someday might make me feel that good again.  Who might make me feel that wanted again.  Who might make me feel like I belong again.

It could happen.  I believe it could.

So voila, there’s some hope.  And for me, hope is like air, in that I cannot live without it.  (I almost didn’t, in fact, but that’s another story.)  I now have hope that the thirteen months and thirteen days I spent with my First Mate don’t have to be the sum total of my belonging.

Huge.

Tonight I came to another confusion, as we like to say in my family.  You see, this Saturday would have been Mike’s 44th birthday, and we were talking about how to celebrate it.  I’m thinking a family dinner and maybe a toast…  Mom suggested releasing paper lanterns with messages written on them, which I really like.

But that got me thinking about how to remember him.  And how I can keep him in my life, even though he isn’t exactly in my life any more.  I acted the ass so thoroughly when I lost him (grief makes us do stupid things) that none of his friends or family talk to me any more.  His murderer is also his widow, so she gets to keep his name till she dies, she even got a frikkin’ television show.  Yeah, what do I get?  I get to feel like I’m nothing and nobody.  Which I am not, not by a long shot!  But it does feel that way.

Tonight I realized that I can, and should, find a constructive way to remember Mike.  Maybe find a cause to help in his name, maybe create something, maybe make a new tradition.  I don’t know what, I’m still working that out.  But I realized tonight that I’ve been looking for a place to put him in my life.  And because I haven’t had a place for him, he’s been floating all over and getting in the way, so to speak.

I think I’m finally getting started with this “moving on” and “healing” stuff that people have been talking about.  Sure has taken a while…  But I guess I’m a pretty tough nut to crack on some things.

Five years, seven months, three days, two hours, and twenty-one minutes.  And counting.

Depression

K, so if admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery, then I shall do so.

I’m dealing with some depression right now.  I’m at a crossroads in my life, and I’m feeling ready for a change.  But the change is taking so long in coming, it’s getting frustrating.  I was just saying last night, I’ve gone through the part where I let go of my plans and embrace the new paradigm.  So I’ve turned the mental corner and I’m ready for the new thing now.  But it isn’t coming!  So I’m still stuck here in my old life, the one that won’t work and isn’t working and that I’ve already given up.  But I can’t go on to my new life yet.

So I’m feeling really out of sorts and it’s really messing with my head.  I guess the only thing to do is soldier through and deal with it, huh?  At least I have friends who I can turn to and get it off my chest, which I really need to employ more often because it’s a much better coping mechanism than my usual ones.

Know what?  I think I’ll go clean the affirmations off my mirror and write a new one.  Something along the lines of, “You will succeed if you apply yourself.”  With the IF really big.

And then tonight I’m going to go see my wonderful family and celebrate my nephew’s birthday and bask in the love and appreciation and togetherness and understanding and BELONGING that makes me so happy to have been born into this bunch of people.

Take that, depression.

Refinement

There’s a bit of religious imagery that has stuck with me since childhood.  In I Corinthians 3 Paul talks about all of our works being tried by fire, and the unworthy things are burned away and the worthy things are refined.  He says if we build with lasting materials our works will survive the fire and we’ll be rewarded, but if we build with “straw and wood” it will be burned away and we’ll be left with no reward.

I’m not religious any more, and I don’t believe that this will ever literally happen.  But I can tell you for sure that it happens to me all the time right now.  Troubles come along, and they set my life on fire.  And let me tell you, having your life set on fire is not fun!  It burns, it hurts, and it’s really scary to see everything you’ve built start to melt down around you.  But I’ve found that when I face my fears, and come to terms with reality, and accept what is really happening, I can use the situation to become a better person.  But it’s not automatic, in fact it takes quite a bit of effort.

First, you have to ask yourself how you got into this situation.  Think of what you could have done differently.  Imagine a similar situation happening again, and see yourself doing it differently next time.  Recognize the flaw, the mistake, the error, the blindness, whatever it was in yourself that either caused or allowed the bad thing to happen.  If nothing you did contributed to or exacerbated the problem, then think of what you can learn from what you’re going through.

The important part is to look.  Look at what you’ve done.  Look at who you are.  See yourself, see the great parts and the icky ones both.  See the things you love about yourself.  (If you can’t see them, ask a loved one to tell you one thing that they like about you.  Then remind yourself of that wonderful characteristic EVERY DAY.  Tell your mirror three times a day how awesome you are because of ________.  Repeat till you believe it.  Then repeat some more.)  See the things you don’t like about yourself, and then figure out what you can do about them.  (If you can’t figure out what to do about it, ask a loved one for advice.  If you don’t have any loved ones that you can trust with either of these tasks, that’s what professional counselors are for.)  Look at yourself honestly, seeing both good and bad.  Know thyself, as it has been wisely said for millenia.

When the trouble-dragon comes around and starts burning your whole world down, it’s natural to fight it.  It’s natural to want to stay wherever we are, and to look at the destruction as a bad thing.  But pay attention.  The things in your life that are worth saving – genuine relationships, healthy behaviors, a positive attitude, a strong moral code – will survive the fire.  They may be melted a little, they may need to be polished and get a little TLC after all that stress.  But they’ll survive.  And the things that aren’t worth saving – fair-weather friends, unhealthy habits, negative attitudes, loose personal ethics – will be fueling the fire, and they’ll be consumed by it.  After the fire dies down, you’ll find yourself with more room to breathe and to rebuild.

So I’m not afraid of the fire.  I don’t particularly enjoy going through it, I’ll tell ya that much!  But I know that whatever it takes away, even if it’s something I desperately wanted and depended on, I can survive on what’s left from it.  And I know that whatever is broken down in the fire can be rebuilt afterward.

Bad news

Let me be brief: I’m not opening a store any time soon.

Yup, after spending the last year writing a business plan, doing market research, and building interest, I’m going to have to set aside the plans to open The Bead and Bean (and Broads and Bullets and Brews and I forget what the other thing was), at least for now.

Apparently I should have taken a few steps earlier that I waited to take till I had my stuff together better.  One of those things was sitting down with somebody from the bank and talking turkey.  ‘Cause it turns out, the turkey is me.

The short version is that after a brief presentation of my business plan to a panel of four mentors, they’re very impressed with the work I’ve done and the passion I have for my dreams and ideas, but – here’s the kicker – money talks.  And I’d have to have an awful lot of it to get a lease.  In my case, around $50,000.

Once the hysterical laughter subsided and I picked myself back up off the floor, I realized they weren’t kidding and there’s no way I can do this.  I mean, really?  Fifty grand?  Ain’t gonna happen unless I win the lottery, and you can’t win if you don’t play.  So I’m out.

Now, the good news is that by waiting, I’ll be able to open the store at a better time, when the economy is stronger and I’m in a better position to make it all work.  I mean, there really isn’t any advantage to opening a store now.  Let’s be realistic.  Consumer spending is starting to come back up, but it’s still pretty darned low.  And the commercial real estate market isn’t like the residential market; all those empty buildings are not causing lessors to lower their rates.  So there wouldn’t be an upside to opening now anyways.

Still, it’s pretty disappointing for me to have to do a 180 on this, especially since I could have spent the past year improving and refining my presentation for market.  But you know, I’m still teaching, and I’m still offering classes and parties, and I’m still selling online.  And I’m not giving up, not by far.  Just going to focus on those aspects of the biz for now, and leave the store for later.

So it’s bad news.  But it’s better than opening the store in ignorance and failing miserably!

Why yes, I do say “Happy Holidays”

Sure, I celebrate Christmas.  But I’m aware that quite a few people around me don’t.  In fact, It’s happened more than once that I’ve inquired about people’s Christmas plans, or how their Christmas went, then felt a bit chagrined when they reminded me that they were Jewish or pagan, and celebrated something else.

Understand, I have never once had someone think I was rude for doing that.  I mean, when you look at the demographics, it is a pretty safe assumption that most of the people you’re gonna run into in Kitsap County do celebrate Christmas.  So some people think I’m silly for catering to everyone and saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

What they don’t get is that it’s more for me than for anyone else.  I won’t have to feel embarrassment for forgetting which religion that particular friend or acquaintance lives.

What I don’t get about the whole mess is why they think it’s okay to be rude to people who are just being friendly.  I mean, really?  When did it become okay, when a person greeted you with good tidings of cheer, to throw it back in their face because they didn’t shine a proverbial spotlight on your personal beliefs?  What the hell, people?  That person was being nice!  Show a little bit of freaking grace and smile!  Wish them a Merry Christmas back, but don’t go around like the greeting police trying to make them all say what you want them to!

I knew we were losing our sights of common manners and decency when it became socially acceptable to ignore the people right in front of you (cashier in the middle of a transaction, friend trying to converse with you, significant other when you’re on a date) in favor of cell phone conversations, Facebook, and Words With Friends.  And this is reinforcing that marked lack of expectation.

As we get closer together through artificial means like Twitter and Skype, we simultaneously are becoming more and more distant from each other in real life.  I know it’s nothing new; this was a concern with TV, with wireless phones, probably with radio, maybe even with newspapers.  I don’t know how many connectivity inventions have prompted this concern, but I know it’s been around for a long time.  In fact, that’s why the Amish don’t have phones in their homes.  Not because phones are evil, but because having them in the home would prove a disruption to a good family life.  So they have a central phone for the whole village, and you go to the phone if you want to use it.  That’s right, you stop what you’re doing, and go do one thing at a time.

I guess my point is that we’re becoming a rude society.  Not just a society where people are rude, but one where rudeness is accepted, even expected.  A society where there’s no reason to be polite.

And that, more than any other social ill I can think of, frightens me.  If we don’t have even the most basic of concern for each other that we can even look each other in the eye, how can we ever form communities?  How can we ever have good relationships?  How can we ever trust each other to uphold the social fabric?

Maybe I can’t trust my neighbor to give two shits about watching my property for potential burglars while I’m out of town.  Maybe I can’t trust my kids’ teachers not to molest them.  Maybe I can’t trust my clergy member to teach me truth.  Maybe I can’t trust my elected representatives to make decisions with the public’s interest in mind.

Oh wait…  We can’t.

Does anybody else see the big picture connection of rudeness and disrespect?  Religious right-wingers would have you believe that the only way we can save society from complete breakdown is to get on our knees and beg “God” to take over.  (Not that the massive financial gain affects their reasoning…)  Because their knowledge of good and evil comes out of a book (and because they think they have a monopoly on moral knowledge), they refuse to see that morality – knowledge of right and wrong and behavior according to an accepted code – can exist without their special book.

I’ve really gone down a rabbit track here, I know.  This whole post took a much deeper twist than I intended it to.  But can you still see my basic point?  When somebody says something nice to you (defined by them meaning it in a nice way and also by it following an acceptable social format), it is inexcusably rude for you to tell them to be exclusionary and selective.

So get off my back.  I say “Happy Holidays,” and I’m not stopping any time soon.

What?  No, she did NOT just write that!  Christmas is about family!  It’s about giving.  It’s about love.  It’s about others.  It’s about the little baby Jesus asleep on the hay, for Christ’s sake!!  (I don’t think that came out quite right…)

Christmas in my life has been a day where my family gets together, eats great food, exchanges presents, and spends time together.  It’s wonderful!  I love Christmas, and when I was away from my family it was really hard to not be able to share this time.

The fact that we all live very close together now, and we spend a lot of time together, doesn’t make the family time aspect of Christmas less wonderful.  The fact that we get together every week and cook for each other doesn’t make the eating-great-food aspect of Christmas any less special.  But the fact is, the only thing that we do at Christmas that is specifically and uniquely a Christmas tradition is – what?  We give each other presents.

Now, I don’t feel the presents are important because I’m materialistic.  Giving (and getting) presents is NOT about stuff.  It’s about knowing the person you’re giving the stuff to.  It’s about saying, “I know you, leeettle seeester.  I know you’re wonderfully goofy, and you have an incredible carefree way of approaching the world.  So when I saw this little trinket, I thought of you.  And I bought it for you. I know who you are and I love who you are.  So Merry Christmas.”  You can say those words all day (and I think you should say them, too) but there’s an additional impact that comes when you reinforce the words by giving the person an item that illustrates what you’re saying.  It’s a symbolic gesture, I know, but it really does carry meaning.

So that’s my reasoning.  That’s why present on Christmas are so important to me.  Because it’s not just about stuff, it’s about special stuff, and the process you go through to get it for them.  It’s that contemplation of who the person is, and what sort of thing they would like.  Then you look around and see how you can translate that person’s life into an object.  It’s fun, it’s challenging, and it’s intensely personal.

Do I ever get duds?  Oh, sure.  There are times I can’t figure the person out, times I can’t find something in my price range that they’d like.  I feel a tiny bit of failure when I have to give a gift card, but fortunately it’s tempered by the fact that I know they’ll enjoy picking out something for themself.  Hey, extra spending money is always a bonus in this family!  😀

So yeah, the presents are important.  But only because they’re a visible, tangible, giveable form of love.

Oh, and as for the baby Jesus thing?  That would certainly be a vital part of it: a central, integral part of it, in fact.  If I were Christian.

Class Warfare

I just read an article quoting (yet another) wealthy Republican politician on tax policy.  As usual, he claimed that raising taxes on high earners ‘class warfare,’ and cited his own proposed policy of flat taxation, meaning that everyone would pay the same percentage rate.  He made the claim that it’s fair because there are no loopholes and “Everybody gets treated the same.”

So apparently all the tax credits and tax deductions that make our tax code so complex should be removed.  Okay, let’s run with this for a minute.  Families with low incomes and multiple children will no longer get tax credits.  Homeowners would no longer be able to deduct mortgage interest payments.  Students would no longer get tax credits on their student loan interest.  That’s pretty much telling the middle class to bend over, as far as I’m concerned.

Now, I guess I’m too lazy (and too fed up with political doublespeak) to read a bunch of this gentleman’s talking points and suss out what he would answer to my objections.  But I think most folks who buy into this bilge would respond that rich folks wouldn’t be able to reduce their income either.  So everybody would pay 9% (according to this particular plan) of their income in taxes, across the board, right?  Eminently fair, right?  Puts everybody on the same playing field, right?

After all, none of us really pay the 15% or 28% or 33% that the IRS tax tables start with, do we?  We all use every tax break we can get our hands on to reduce that bottom line.

Except that most of the wealthy who avoid taxes don’t do so the same way low- or middle-income people do.  Low income earners pay less in taxes mostly because they’re in lower tax brackets, a nod to the fact that they barely make enough money to survive in the first place.  Middle income earners can reduce their tax bills somewhat because of certain types of spending they do, on homes or student loans or medical bills – and because those are deemed necessary but burdensome costs, the tax code (again) is set to give them a break where they need it most.

High income earners, on the other hand, aren’t eligible for many of the tax breaks available to their poorer counterparts.  When they reduce their income to avoid taxes, it’s usually done by offsetting business or investment losses.  That’s right, they make bad decisions that lose them money (money they don’t actually need to survive) and they get rewarded for it with tax breaks.

Saying that all the “loopholes” are equal completely ignores the reasons for each of those “loopholes.”  They do not exist for the same reasons and they do not have the same effects.

Tax breaks for lower-income families result in more spending.  Why?  Because these are people who already have to spend every penny they get to survive, and each of those pennies has a half dozen places it could go.  So pretty much any tax refunds they get are spent right away.

Tax breaks for middle-income families result in more spending and a bit more saving, because these folks usually have most of their needs met, but they still have a lot of wants.  Not to mention, they are able to plan for the future, so they are more likely to put tax refunds toward things like retirement and their kids’ college tuition.  So again, this money either goes right back into the economy or is saved to be spent later on specific, planned things.

Tax breaks for upper-income families, however, don’t generally take the form of annual refunds.  They take the form of lower taxes paid, and they don’t help anybody but the rich themselves.  They don’t boost the economy, they don’t offset government assistance that would otherwise be needed.  The only moral reason to keep them is the argument that the government should get anybody’s money.  And even the Tea Party isn’t ready to say that yet.

So all this talk about class warfare is actually the pot calling the kettle black.  The rich and powerful (who make the rules) are scared that the rest of us (who let them) will require them to pay their fair share.  Take one for the team.  Get a little skin in the game.  However you want to put it, the same idea remains.  Contribute something of value that will help this country survive.

Face it, trickle-down economics does not work.  That theory assumes that people at all socioeconomic levels spend the same way, which is patently false.  We need to discard the idea that the rich will save us all, accept the uncomfortable idea that those of us who are able to do more are going to have to do more, and get on with it already.

‘Cause things are getting ugly and the American public is getting real tired of this.

Cited article can be found at http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/cain-nearly-quit-campaign-florida-straw-poll-says-115734617.html

Another reason I love science

So last post I wrote about how great it is when you’re wrong.  Specifically, how great it is when you realize you’re wrong, and you figure out how to fix it so you’re right again.

After I wrote that, I got to thinking about why else I love science, which is the scientific community.  That’s right, all those nerds with pocket protectors and coke-bottle glasses with tape on them.  They’re my buds!

If you recall, it all starts with a question in your mind, which you answer with a hypothesis.  You then use that hypothesis to predict what will happen next, and if you’re right then it lends credence to your hypothesis.

This is where experimentation comes in.  So what does it take to create a good scientific experiment?  First, it has to be observable.  In other words, is has to be available to the senses of anybody who is interested.  For example, if I say that I can communicate telepathically with aliens and perform dozens of experiments in which I write down the contents of the telepathic conversations I have, my research will not be taken seriously.  (Note that this actually doesn’t prove I didn’t talk to aliens, it just means that I have no evidence.  Which is why the burden of proof is on the positive side of things.  You don’t have to prove I didn’t talk to them, you can just say, “That’s nice,” and get the hell out of Dodge.)

Second, it has to be repeatable.  I have to be able to perform the same experiment over and over again, and get the same results each time I perform it.  This ensures that the answer you got was not the result of an aberration.  In other words, repetition shows that you got a real result, not a fluke.

Third, it has to be controllable – you have to be able to change things about the experiment to figure out what’s really going on.  For example, you can hypothesize that the protective outer coating of a seed also makes it harder for the seed to sprout.  So you might plant a bunch of seeds that you’ve nicked to see if they sprout faster than intact ones.  In this experiment, you can plant some seeds that you nicked on the bottom, some that you nicked on the top, some that you nicked on the side or end, and some (a ‘control group’) that you didn’t nick at all.  This way, you get to observe how the different actions change the outcome, and you therefore learn even more.

(Keep in mind that this does not in any way discount the value of observational studies, where the hypothesis cannot be actively tested but can only be supported or disproved by observation.  In fact, there are many branches of science where observation is the only way to experiment.  Theories found by observation are no less true or trustworthy than those found by intentional and active experiments.  Even though some people like to think they are.  Ahem, climate change deniers…)

So what’s so incredibly cool about scientific experimentation?  Well, since the knowledge you get is gained from repeatable and observable and controllable actions, it’s accessible to everyone.  EVERYONE.

Yep, universal knowledge is real!  If I say XYZ is true, and this is how I found out about it, the skeptic in another city or state or on the other side of the world can perform the same experiment and see if I’m off my rocker.  And if it doesn’t work, than s/he can say, “This doesn’t work, I tried it.”  Then I can come back and ask if s/he controlled for ABC factor, or used UV protective glass, and why those would have affected the results.  So then my friendly little skeptic can try it again taking those factors into consideration, and suddenly ts/he says, “Holy crap, it does work!”

See?  It’s not that I was wrong, it’s that the methodology used was wrong.  But since all the details of my experiment can be compared to all the details of his/her experiment, we can compare notes and figure out why we got different results.  And then we find – THE TRUTH.

Hot damn, that’s fun!

Remember, if other ppl can’t verify your work, then you might as well not even do it.  Because science is at heart a peer-reviewed undertaking.  Medical and scientific journals?  That’s my pocket-protecting heroes’ way of saying, “Prove me wrong.”  If nobody can, then it really is right!  If somebody does…  Well I guess that’s the point we go back and figure out what went wrong, huh?

And as I wrote in my last post, that’s a good thing in and of itself.

Why I love science

Philosophy is divided into three categories: metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.  I will briefly (and very imprecisely) define these as what is real, how we learn about it, and whether it’s good or bad.

Epistemology is basically the means by which you find and explore truth; the means you employ to find out about the world around you.  Personally I am an empiricist, which means different things to different people (Of course philosophy isn’t confusing, what makes you say that?) but to me it indicates an emphasis on observable reality as a means to find truth.  In other words, we learn what is in the world by observing it and interacting with it  So I’m more likely to believe what you tell me now if you’ve told me things in the past that turned out to be true.

I also put a lot of stock in science as a way to understand the world.  After all, one of the basic components of the scientific method is observation.  In fact, that’s how it all starts.  You observe a phenomenon and describe what you observe.  Then, you formulate a hypothesis to explain it – an idea that you *think* is the cause.  Third, you predict what else will happen if your hypothesis is correct, and last you perform experiments to test your hypothesis.  (Some people mistakenly equate a hypothesis with a theory; in fact, a theory is a hypothesis that has been tested many times and passed said tests.  Theories are much more certain than simple guesses.)

This method of learning about reality can be applied in an incredible variety of ways.  You can use it in your garden to figure out what flowers grow best; in your dating life to find out what potential romantic interests want; at work to get a promotion; and on your children to see what gets them to heed their curfew.

Of course, it isn’t always the best method of deciding on your next action.  You will probably want to consult a garden book, your wingman, an article about climbing the corporate ladder, a parenting class, or even just Dear Abby, first.  After all, why not try to learn from others’ mistakes and successes first?  At least then you might learn fewer things the hard way…

But sooner or later you say, “I wonder what would happen if,” and you can’t find the answer anywhere.  So you decide to figure it out for yourself.  You decide to try telling jokes as a way to break the ice with the ladies.  Girls enjoy a good laugh, right?  Make ’em chuckle and maybe they’ll accept a second date.

So you memorize a few jokes and head down to your favorite watering hole.  Sure enough, it works!  You leave that night with a pretty girl’s phone number and a date for next Friday.  Success!  The date goes great Friday – for a little while.  Halfway through the salad, the laughter becomes forced and she’s looking around the room instead of at you.  What went wrong?

This is one of my favorite parts of science.  That’s right!  My favorite thing about science is that it leaves room for you to be wrong.  Because you’re supposed to be wrong sometimes!

And that’s where the real learning comes in.  You excuse yourself from the table for a moment, go to the restroom and reflect a little.  Does she not like the jokes?  Did I offend her?  There’s no politics, no religion, no cursing.  (Okay, the one about the duck was a little blue, but that’s the one she laughed hardest at!)  Maybe she’s getting tired of the joking, maybe she wants to talk about something real.  Hmm, she has mentioned the decor of the restaurant three times.  And I think she’s some kind of art major.  Oh, I’ve been telling jokes all night, and monopolizing the conversation!  No wonder she looks bored!

So then the light goes on, and you revise your idea of telling jokes.  When you get back to the table, you ask her if she saw the sculpture by the entrance.  Her eyes light up and suddenly she’s interested again.  Success!

What have you done?  You have ERRED!!  Your knowledge that jokes are good and get you attention was incomplete, and you had to admit to yourself that your knowledge was not sufficient to explain the situation.  But good for you, you were able to adjust a proven belief (girls like funny guys) in the light of new evidence (just telling jokes is not enough to keep her interest) and change your understanding of reality to conform to what you observe.

Thus we see the beauty of science – when done correctly it is self-correcting.  Any time the evidence contradicts our understanding of the world, we must re-examine our understanding to take the evidence into account.  Our beliefs must conform to the world, not the other way around.

And that is one of the greatest strengths of science.  As long as you look at the world clearly, you will be able to find truth.  It may be difficult, it may be time-consuming, it may be frustrating.  But as it has been said, the truth is out there.