This is a very old story that make more sense in our modern world. It was designed in antiquity to present a number of lessons. In this story we will likely find ourselves and most certainly we will find others we knew. But it is primarily a mirror to reflect upon.
“There were once six blind men who stood by the road-side every day, and begged from the people who passed. They had often heard of elephants, but they had never seen one; for, being blind, how could they?
It so happened one morning that an elephant was driven down the road where they stood. When they were told that the great beast was before them, they asked the driver to let him stop so that they might see him.
Of course they could not see him with their eyes; but they thought that by touching him they could learn just what kind of animal he was.
The first one happened to put his hand on the elephant’s side. “Well, well!” he said, “now I know all about this beast. He is exactly like a wall.”
The second felt only of the elephant’s tusk. “My brother,” he said, “you are mistaken. He is not at all like a wall. He is round and smooth and sharp. He is more like a spear than anything else.”
The third happened to take hold of the elephant’s trunk. “Both of you are wrong,” he said. “Anybody who knows anything can see that this elephant is like a snake.”
The fourth reached out his arms, and grasped one of the elephant’s legs. “Oh, how blind you are!” he said. “It is very plain to me that he is round and tall like a tree.”
The fifth was a very tall man, and he chanced to take hold of the elephant’s ear. “The blindest man ought to know that this beast is not like any of the things that you name,” he said. “He is exactly like a huge fan.”
The sixth was very blind indeed, and it was some time before he could find the elephant at all. At last he seized the animal’s tail. “O foolish fellows!” he cried. “You surely have lost your senses. This elephant is not like a wall, or a spear, or a snake, or a tree; neither is he like a fan. But any man with a par-ti-cle of sense can see that he is exactly like a rope.”
Then the elephant moved on, and the six blind men sat by the roadside all day, and quarreled about him. Each believed that he knew just how the animal looked; and each called the others hard names because they did not agree with him. People who have eyes sometimes act as foolishly.
This is an ancient parable found as early as 500 BCE in the Buddhist text Udana 6.4, but it is likely to be far older, perhaps to 4000 BCE. This discribes a number of cognitive bias that develop from a limited aperture and short focus lens to any subject.
In science and in technology we of course have specialists with degrees in thier specialty. The specialties can become so daunting and so arcane there may be a good chance that once someone ventures very far down the road of deeply specialized knowledge, it is very hard to walk the path back. This means that the road they are on, is the fundamental direction they will go, even if, unforchantly, that road lead to a dead end.
This is a story of the Elephant in the room that few can see in our current epoch. This is the results of professional silos that have just about made it impossible for one of more academic disciplines to trade discoveries and theories. In fact there is a fiefdom mentality in most of the top universities driven by research grants, prestige, tenure, publication rights and just palin ego.
Now these issues impact just about every part of science but when it comes to the operation of the human brain and what is called consciousness. There is a clear breakdown among the researcher that look at the electrical, cellular, chemical, psychological and other aspects of brain and most would rather share each other’s toothbrushes than to share insights, theory or the spotlight.
The reality is the human brain and the way it functions has always been important but in this epoch it will play a vital role for many reasons. One is we have already surpassed the limits of our bandwidth with the amount of data and information we are exposed to on a daily basis and it will only get far, far worse as the noise to signal ratios increase to double in the next 5 years. The other vital reason is many very smart folks are suggesting we start to merge with the computer and implant to our brain in a misguided attempt to create higher bandwidth and “instant” memory.
I will explore a Member-Only exclusive article on some of the most amazing new insights on how human memory and consciousness really works and it will shock just about everyone, including experts in the field. This is cutting edge new research that will help change the way we see technology and ourselves. If you are a member, thank you. To become a member, please click on the link below and join us.
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