[Before you read this, please understand it is my opinion this was an awesome speech. Had I lauded and praised it I’d be typing all night. I have one needling criticism that was nagging at me and that’s what I focused on. Don’t git yer panties in a bunch. I originally posted this to Adam Savage & Jamie Hynemann’s website Tested but after I did so, felt like preserving it here as well. At any rate, what follows is what I originally posted. I’ll try not to edit too much to preserve the original. Just like monks when they painstakingly copied the gospels from decaying originals and then from decaying copies of those originals. Of course, all I had to do below was copypaste. The times they are a changin’.]
Love this speech. I’ve listened to it a couple times now. Very thought provoking both for those who agree w/the sentiments and those who do not.
For the past few years (and perhaps the rest of my life), I have been testing a working theory that belief is broken, and that anything currently called a belief by any human being can better be described as an opinion that may or may not be reinforced by empirical evidence. For some people (not all), calling something a belief raises the perception of said opinion as higher than even a fact, due to some unnamed unnatural and unproved force to be determined by the listener (provided the listener shares said beliefs). Having this theory in mind while listening to the latter part of Mr. Savage’s speech is an entertaining mental exercise that I leave to the reader to consider.
[Okay so much for not ’embellishing’ and just copypasting. Adam Savage gave a speech in Washington DC this past weekend to somewhere between 20K and 40K (or so) people. That day ppl were saying it was 20K but the number seems to be going up as I type this. Funny how what we believe to be an actual number of participants changes after the event occurs. Towards the end of his speech, Adam Savage lists some things that he called beliefs: things that were true to him but he acknowledges may not be true to other people. Elsewhere in his same speech he quotes from Neil Tyson who once said “facts are true whether or not you believe in them.” If you listen to the speech in the video above in its entirety you will know precisely what I mean. At the time I wrote this originally I was resisting the urge to take dissect every one of his ‘beliefs’ and calling out what they actually were, but i do use one example below: the hammer belief.]
Why call something a belief, when there are better ways to describe what one’s “beliefs” actually are? Are we not playing into the hands of people who believe without evidence, when we continue to use the same concept they do, as if it has not become absurd to utilize belief at all?
Like trying to make a hammer out of wet noodles. Even if you are successful, there’s better ways to hammer. As one example, Mr. Savage says “I believe inside every tool there is a hammer.” He chooses to believe this, but is it not a fact? Can it not be empirically proven? Wet noodles are not a good hammer. Dry noodles are too brittle, but noodles aren’t tools. They are food. A roll of duct tape is a hammer. I’ve tried it myself. Arguably the first tool man used was a rock, as a hammer. Bones can be hammers. As can screwdrivers, pliers, crowbars, etc. Even a chainsaw that’s out of juice can still be a cumbersome but functional hammer. I doubt there is a tool that cannot double as a hammer. I would like to see someone test that theory scientifically. What tool is there that can’t also be a hammer? If one is found, would Mr. Savage STILL steadfastly “believe” this, given new evidence that proves it wrong? If you can prove a statement is true, why believe it? You KNOW it’s true. If you can’t prove a statement to be true, why believe it? You can call it a hunch or a feeling or an idea. Why call it a belief if you can’t prove it? Why must we go there at all?
Belief may not have started out this way, but it has become the philosophical equivalent of a hammer. If you can’t prove an idea to be fact, call it a belief and you may still be able to hammer it home in the minds of some people. Reality be damned.
So it is my opinion, and not a belief, that belief is broken, and should either be fixed or discarded like any broken tool. I welcome anyone to empirically prove my opinion wrong. Thanks for reading.