WHAT’S IN THIS BLOG?

I am an astronomer by trade, a philosopher by accident, a risk-taker by inclination, a writer by ambition and a very lucky man withal. The half century 1960-2010 saw mankind escape from the Earth to explore for the first time the Universe as it really is, not hidden behind a veil of turbulent and cloudy atmosphere.

The vessel which led this voyage of discovery was The Hubble Space Telescope of whose crew I was a key member for 35 years. It’s still up there sending back images which are easy to admire but sometimes profoundly difficult to decipher. T’was ever thus. The first arrivals on a new continent usually see what they are prepared to see, and are often blind to the truth, which may take generations to emerge. When Columbus reached that further shore he saw himself in Asia — because Asia was what he set out to find. When Pissarro reached South America all his greedy eyes could see was gold.

The Hubble Space Telelscope in orbit.For 30 odd years I was a lucky member of its crew.
This illustration shows the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope in its high orbit 600 kilometres above Earth. For 30 odd years I was a lucky member of its crew. Our voyage was, and still is, every bit as exciting as the adventures of Marco Polo and Ferdinand Magellan. Courtesy ESA/NASA

So it has been with mankind’s early exploration of Space. We have discovered only what we set out to find, often missed what is probably staring us in the face. Or so I believe.

At the beginning of our voyage, in fact long before we set sail, I decided to keep a day by day journal of events so that one day, if we succeeded, I could share our adventure with all those not fortunate enough to be aboard. But we were to go so much farther, and to see so much more than I had imagined, that it is only now that I have managed to put together an account presentable enough to share. And that is what this blog, or whatever you like to call it, is mainly about. I have never blogged before so it might be a bit clumsy.

The voyage itself, with all its planning, mishaps and revelations is covered in a quartet of novels called collectively “Written in the Stars“. I have chosen the novel format for very good reasons, explained elsewhere on this site.

Adventure is one thing, Understanding quite another. The new Cosmos set us puzzles we had barely grappled with before. For instance how can one wisely choose between two distinct hypotheses which both appear to fit “the facts”: for instance that we have reached Asia; for instance that we have not. Or for instance that the Universe is expanding; for instance that it is not.

In the end this search for Understanding turned out to be the wildest adventure of the lot, with the greatest reward at the end — I discovered how we animals think, in other words I stumbled upon the secrets of Common Sense. And mighty surprising and powerful they turn out to be. Because they are universal, and quite distinct from Space Exploration itself, I have put them together in a separate book “Thinking For Ourselves” which I hope anyone can read with profit, whether they are interested in Astronomy or not. The book is described elsewhere on this site.

We’ve all heard about Fake News but what about Fake Thinking? That is much much worse because it can undermine everything we believe, say and do. And that, so I claim, is what we have been suffering from for the past several thousand years. I don’t believe it was a sinister plot, it was just that scholars, priests and philosophers completely under-rated Common Sense and tried to replace it with more “logical’ schemes which turned out to have been hopelessly misbegotten. Alas, as Josh Billings put it: “It ain’ t what a man don’t know as makes him a fool; it’s what he do know as just ain’t so.” And their misconceptions went on to confuse us all, not least because they appropriated Education. By comparison Common Sense Thinking has been evolving for something like a billion years: it had to become good, extremely good indeed, otherwise we animals who depended on it wouldn’t have survived. It’s time to resurrect Common Sense Thinking from its stifling overburden of scholarship and priestliness. When we do the prospects look dazzling.

How come we got to the Moon if we were thinking so daft? That’s a very interesting question, with an even more interesting answer — which appears in the final chapter of Thinking for Ourselves entitled “Consequences: the Meteoric Ascent of Mankind”.

IF I am justified in claiming that at last I know just how Common Sense Thinking works, and I agree it does sound far fetched, then I ought now to be able to see through the surface of things and perceive truths that were not apparent before. And yes I can, or so I believe. That is why I am so excited and come across new insights almost every month. So within this blog I have included a number of what I call “Shockers” as an inducement to get others to tackle ‘Thinking For Ourselves‘, and so become wiser thinkers themselves, or else tell me where I have gone wrong.

Here, briefly, are summaries of some of those Shockers, with their Post ‘Titles’ and dates of publication:

1 Civilisation was the consequence of Moon-power. [‘Civilisation & Moonpower’; 2/11/20]

2 Once upon a time Recyclable Petroleum existed on Earth. If we could re-synthesize it, and why not, it would solve almost all our environmental problems, including global warming. [‘Recyclable Oil’; 29/11/20]

3 Economics cannot ever become a science. For instance Economists’ faith in Free Trade is the poison which is shrivelling the lives of those of us living in the West.[ ‘The Folly of Free Trade’; 23/10/20]

4 The Odds are at least a hundred to one against Big Bang Cosmology being right. [‘Big Bang Cosmology is Wrong’; 20/2/21]

5 The Wright brothers were frauds; they never made the first powered flight at Kittyhawk in 1903. They simply couldn’t have done. The Odds are a 100, 000 to 1 against. [‘Wright Brothers, Frauds?’;17/10/20]

6 A British education is largely wasteful of time and money because it takes no account of Common Sense Thinking. It is delusional and designed more for the benefit of teachers than students. “Many are schooled but few are educated”: Sir Thomas More 1517; Not much change then.[‘The Decline of Great Britain I’; 16/12/21]

7 Clock Time has little or nothing to do with Human Time, the measure by which we actually live our lives. It was a complete accident that both were given the same name when Clock Time was invented in the 17th century. They are related but only logarithmically. Some of the consequences are disastrous. For instance we spend half of our entire Human lives in schooling. It’s for raising big babies, not adults.[‘Clock Time is not Human’;17/10/20

8 Over the past century America has been Britain’s bitterest adversary. Britain won the Second World War but America won the Peace by picking Britain’s pockets when she was lying exhausted on the battlefield. How else do you think America suddenly became so damned rich and Britain so damned poor? [America — Britain’s Adversary’;31/10/20]

9 Statistics is largely bunk. Most of it is based on the implicit assumption that the real world is CLOSED, that is to say that it is like a card game in which all the possible situations can be imagined and calculated. Of course it is not.[‘Statistics: Exposed at last’; 28/10/20]

10 Human life is driven by Thermodynamics — which strongly favours cold surroundings over warm. A human has to get by with a useful power supply, averaged over 24 hours, of only 1 Watt in tropical Africa; 3 Watts in Northern Europe; 11 Watts in Greenland. That is why nearly all migration is away from the Equator.[‘Human Thermodynamics’;16/10/20]

11 Thinking and Arguing are much the same thing because serious thinking is really an argument with oneself. If only we could learn to think better we might be able to argue with one another in more measured, better tempered and more productive ways.[‘ArguingDispassionately’;29/10/20]

12 When it comes to serious thinking Certainty is unattainable. A provisional conclusion, but with high Odds in its favour, is the best anyone can hope for. This has many implications.[‘Arguing Dispassionately’ 29/10/20]

13 Britain is being swamped by immigration. The present rate is equivalent to 3 British mothers out of 4 having an extra child. Our politicians and media elite are far too innumerate to understand that.[‘Population & Immigration,The Numbers’; 27/1/21]

14 T14

14 The British Empire was good for almost everyone in it. Yes that will come as a surprise to many who would like us to believe otherwise.[‘Lying about History’; 7/5/21]

I am conscious that I am making some pretty outrageous claims here. All I can say is that you don’t have to be a great mind to make a great discovery; you just have to be in the right place at the right time — and that was my luck. I hope this blog will encourage readers to look into these matters for themselves, and if I am wrong put me right. Send us a Comment.


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