Friday, January 11, 2008

Stimulating Thought

Twenty years ago, I was working as a test engineer in the defense industry to help support my father and the educational research business we started together to teach kids how to use observation and logic to inductively discover the basic relationships that govern their world, primarily in mathematical terms. This was my small way of helping make the world a better place, based on the premise that if people got in the habit of thinking for themselves and relying on empirical evidence to test their assumptions, they would be more likely to take effective action to improve their lives and those of others. In my day job I was routinely testing assumptions, and had the most success disproving the most basic and unchallenged ones, much to the consternation of my supervisors whose reputations and paychecks depended on my proving their assumptions. It took several more years for me to grasp the immense magnitude of my society’s investment in false appearances and the blind faith that maintained them, as well as the limits of my own endurance in fighting it. Like any business, our educational research company depended for its survival on economic demand and the ability to supply it; operating on a shoestring with minimal demand, it was forced to fold, which tragically my father didn’t live to see.

I struggled through much of the 1990s, economically and emotionally, trying to find my own direction after depending much too heavily on my father’s wisdom and guidance. My native skepticism served me well as a test engineer for a much more benign employer, and helped me see through the deceptions of organized religion and political dogma as I pursued a logically and factually consistent understanding of the world. Astronomy, an interest I’d held since the age of eight, served as a conduit for pursuing scientific inquiry, philosophical exploration, and even some social development. With the help of some very forgiving women, I forged a gut level appreciation of the complex interaction we all manage between our intellects, perceptions, and values, as well as how easy it is to confuse them with each other.

Writing was a passion in high school, which included fiction, poetry, and essays like this one. Rather than indulge it, I took a more “responsible” path, applying the skill of writing at work and in my father’s business. In this decade I applied it more strongly in a career as a technical writer, a natural melding with my engineering background, but I was still serving the needs and specifications of others rather the inner drive to create independent content. Since getting married a few years ago, I’ve spent some free time developing my own voice, both in fiction and non-fiction (this blog is a recent incarnation of the latter). Now with something valuable to say, I stand committed to making that voice heard by as many people as possible; and perhaps, in the process, stimulating some critical and constructive thought.

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