The indigenous people of the prairies of North America originally fed on big game and buffalo. They hunted on foot before the horse was introduced to America by the Spanish in the 1500s [1, 2]. They took advantage of a characteristic of the buffalo: Buffaloes are herd animals. They follow the lead animal. Once the lead animal starts running, they all run after it. The Indians, “First Nations”, had special places where the prairie suddenly breaks off over a cliff. There they built fence-like obstacles that ran like a funnel from the prairie towards the cliff. Then they panicked the buffalo and drove them towards the obstacles. They all rushed after the lead animal. It ran, couldn’t stop in time and fell over the cliff, and they all fell after it to their doom. Down below, the hunters were waiting and could cut up the meat of the buffalo that had fallen to its death, and the hunt was over. When the Indians had horses, they applied the same principle, without fences, but with horses. In Montana there is a natural park called “Buffalo Jump” where many archaeological remains of this hunting technique have been found.
What was usually very convenient for the buffalo – relying on the experience of the leaders and the signals of the guards – was now their undoing.
Thoughts on Easter, the risk-benefit ratio of Covid-19 vaccination and key sources of information
No matter how you feel about Easter, whether you actively celebrate it as a Christian, with nostalgic memories of hunting for Easter eggs as a child, or whether you are a modern, science-oriented person who thinks Easter beliefs are superstitions: It is a holiday and should be celebrated. The arrival of spring was already celebrated in pre-Christian times. Christianity has given these ancient feasts a new face with the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. What was ever truly alive – that is, standing in the fullness of God – does not die. At best, it is transformed. Or rather, it is resurrected into new life. That is Easter, and that is what is to be celebrated.
We have received a small Easter present, I think, in that the German Bundestag has rejected compulsory vaccination by a large majority. You can find out here how the parliamentary groups voted: the majority of SPD and Greens voted in favour of compulsory vaccination, most representatives of CDU, AfD, FDP and Die Linke voted against it. I suggest you write to your MPs, either thanking them, or admonishing and reminding them again. You can filter the results to see the MPs who represent your constituency and how they voted, and then write an email. Maybe our MWGFD action helped; because we sent our exit strategy to all MPs. You can download it there and send it again to the MPs who voted for compulsory vaccination, perhaps with a few more personal words.
We looked at the function of theories and possible (conspiracy) theories for understanding the Corona crisis in the last blog. I said there that an important function of theories and theoretical models is prediction. In concrete terms, this means thinking about what else would have to happen or should follow if a theory were true.
This is how scientific theories are tested: So-called “predictions” are derived, i.e. consequences from the theory, which are then tested empirically or experimentally. Over 350 experimental predictions have been derived from quantum theory, they have been tested experimentally and in no case has the experimental test disproved the theory. Therefore, this theory is considered one of the best confirmed theories in science.
How does such prediction and testing work? An example from the Corona vaccination strategy: If it is true that the mRNA vaccines cause blood clots, as vaccination critics say, then one would have to find signs of this in the blood diagnostics, namely d-dimers. These are cleavage products of fibrin, a protein product that is formed during blood clotting. According to my personal unsystematic questioning of various doctors, this is the case: after Covid-19 vaccinations, such d-dimers are found more frequently, especially when people report problems.
“There is nothing more practical than a theory“, Einstein is supposed to have said. Whether real or well invented, this saying is good. This time, I want to shed light on the function of theories in normal science, but also in the Corona crisis, where – stay the hell away from me – people shout “conspiracy theory!”.
So, what is the “useful” thing about a theory? Theories in the broadest sense guide our perception. They express what we expect based on our prior knowledge. The everyday theory that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west is such a bundled experience. The bundling of previous experiences into an expectation according to which we act is useful, or, to speak with Einstein, practical. For it saves us from having to develop everything all over again. Perception without theory hardly works, or at least only in specially purified states of consciousness. Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, spoke of the fact that we have to leave out all our pre-conceptions (i.e. “theories”) if we want to perceive reality as it is . This is a noble call, which is also made again and again by the spiritual meditation traditions: to let go of mental conditioning in order to perceive what is completely in the moment. If you meditate a lot, you can do that from time to time. But it would be too exhausting to do it all the time. We are also historical beings and bundle our experience – individual and cultural – into inner models of the world. In science, such models are called “theories”.
Thoughts and new data on vaccination, lockdowns and other oddities in the Covid-19 debate
The highest good is health, they say. I am not sure if that is true. More precisely, whether this sentence is true probably depends on how we define health. Common definitions assume the absence of disease. More recent thinking tends to suggest that one can live well even with illness, provided one can do what is important. Perhaps, above all, a certain freedom is necessary for this? Namely, freedom from fear – which usually prevents us from doing what we would like to do. Freedom from material worries – which also restrict you a lot. Freedom from worries about the future – which are not exactly helpful either. So maybe freedom is at least as important as health, or more precisely, an important aspect of health? How would we characterize a person who is physically healthy in a cell awaiting the execution of his death sentence, even though he may have been innocently convicted? Healthy? Suffering? That, too, may not be so easy to determine.
With this little thought experiment, I am pointing out that the much-used practice of setting values against each other is not helpful. You cannot set health against freedom and vice versa. The “either-or” style of thinking, as I have often pointed out, almost always leads astray when it comes to complex questions. For the “either-or” that we know from the two-valued, Aristotelian logic which computers use, only helps in solving very firmly defined questions that can be described within a framework of propositional logic. The deep questions of life are usually more complex and require a style of thinking that is inclusive, or dialectical, or perhaps complementary. . In other words, a style of thinking that is capable of thinking about and is somehow including the opposite and thus finding either something new or a synthesis.