I finished watching Nova's program on the meteor strike in Russia, and it always frustrates me when the science type shows start playing the what if card a little too much. Well what if it could have been a billion times worse and here is how it could have been worse if this and this and this had happened instead of what did happen.
Those what if games are frustratingly dumb. Anything could be worse than what did happen or anyting could be better than what did happen. We could play the what if game all day long and realize it is useless to play because it doesn't get us anywhere. But the program piled on with an Apollo 9 astronaut commenting about the world needing to know about all those earth killer and city killer asteroids potentially floating in space by likening our inability to see everything that might be out there with him uttering the statement, "Right now, to be honest with you, we are driving around the solar system without any insurance." Is that a bad thing? It is not like the meteor has good insurance coverage either.
I get wanting to know the potential future. Many of us would love to be clairvoyant and avoid all the nasty negative pitfalls in our daily lives, but our inability to see every potential threat leads humanity to having blind trust that life will go on day after day and get better. This is also known as having faith that the worst is not likely to happen, and that isn't always a bad thing. Faith seemed to work well for a few religions for a couple millennium.
Faith allows us to believe that the sun will rise tomorrow and that tomorrow will be better than today. Faith allows us to hope for a better future for ourselves and everyone around us. Faith allows us to believe that we won't be shot dead tomorrow by a married vegan gay couple from Texas who are toting assault rifles and are peeved about climate change.
Don't take me wrong... I get the need for science to answer questions and give us information to make lives better and improve the world and our lives. The answer to life, the universe and everything may or may not be 42
, and I get we need to build that supercomputer world to figure out what the real question is. Asking questions is part of the path to finding answers, and answers are part of asking questions. I don't doubt that we need answers or questions or knowledge... but is there a point where information becomes pointless?
I'm not saying don't ask stupid questions. Heck, I might be doing that right now. But do questions also need a little bit of insight into knowing when asking those questions becomes pointless or the answer irrelevant?
If the entire world knew tomorrow that an Earth killer asteroid was headed our way in 1, 5 or 50 years.... what would be the result? I doubt we have the technology to put a dent in stopping it like in the movie Armageddon
, so how should we live out the last few years? Should we live those years like there is no tomorrow? Or should we live them like we would if we were oblivious of the information that it would all be gone soon? Should we live how we would want to live regardless of that information?
Why not live whatever way we would have chosen with that knowledge right now? After all, what if the sun goes supernova tomorrow? Or what if an EMP pulse hits the planet killing every single unprotected piece of electrical equipment in the world? Or what if North Korea decides to nuke South Korea and Japan which then leads to the United States nuking North Korea which leads to this and this and this? We can play the what if game all day long. Do we really need all those what if's when one will suffice?
Why not stop that game and play the what is game instead and decide to live in reality instead of an alternative universe that doesn't exist. Live with the knowledge that tomorrow might be great or terrible. Live with the knowledge that constantly worrying about the what if's won't help us. Asking questions and finding answers can, but worrying about every what if out there is like an Apollo 9 astronaut worrying if a meteor has uninsured motorist coverage. Pointless because either way there isn't a Milky Way Police Department that will issue a citation for whoever was at fault.