Thank you Charles Babbage, wherever you are.
. I can’t go any farther along without crediting one of the great thinkers of all time with giving me the name for my web site: Charles Babbage . The exact quote that started me thinking about all this is, "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament!], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." There are a couple of possible answers to Charles Babbage’s quandary that come to mind. The gentlemen in question were trying to make a joke at his expense, possibly for the added purpose of denigrating his invention, or they were trying to express their disbelief over a machine that could do sums. There are other possibilities, but these seem the most likely to me. The first is an example of snobbery, the second is a badly framed attempt to ask “Will the same answer come out if you change the numbers you put in?” meaning, “Is this for real?” I’d like to think that the Lords or Peers meant the latter, and were just too astounded to frame the question properly.
Anyway, this phrase, “Confusion of ideas” resonated within me, and I started to think of all the ways that human beings eschew logical thinking, or have half-truths and untruths thrust upon them. From there I started pondering the motivations for such actions, and I often found that the motives belonged to people other than the ones that were failing to exercise critical analysis on the world around them. There were systems, forces, and organizations that were being handsomely rewarded for promoting and fostering ignorance, or a deliberately skewed perspective of reality. I further discovered that most of these systems were built on a foundation of self-doubt and low self-esteem, in other words, the confusion of the victim. Like any good con game, much depends on the victim’s confidence in, and acceptance of , another’s authority, failure to check the facts, and unwillingness to accept that they have been conned. You might not agree with what I have to say, that is not your right, it is your prerogative, since rights must be granted or at least acknowledged by an external authority. I only hope that your disagreement is never caused by an unwillingness to admit culpability or gullibility. All of us are human, I think.
Once again, I have written a post that was not the one I sat down to write. I find that I am not ready to write that one. Soon, I promise.