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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

...a rebuttal to "Ancient Aliens" suggestion that rapid technological advancements started with alien intervention

In legend, credit for the invention of the Samurai sword is somewhat given to spirits.  Even today some people will give credit for a moment of inspiration to a god or prayer.  The show "Ancient Aliens" attempts to give credit for human progress to alien visitors.   I get somewhat offended by that message in general which I hear as: "Your human mind is too weak and feeble to invent these great new technologies.  Of course the humans of ancient civilizations would not have been intelligent enough to do this on their own."  Frankly, the first part of that message pisses me off.  When I hear that message from religious sources, it pisses me off even more.   I want to send this message to the world: "YOUR MIND IS FREAKING AWESOME.  YOUR MIND IS AN INCREDIBLY POWERFUL TOOL.   YOUR MIND IS OPTIMIZED AND READY TO CREATE AMAZING ADVANCEMENTS AND NEW CREATIONS!"

To state my point bluntly to "Ancient Aliens" and those who would believe this way: you don't need no stinkin' aliens, or gods, to explain the advancements of mankind along the way.  We're freaking awesome dudes and dudettes; we have the brain power to do whatever we are motivated to do.

Inspiration is not even particularly remarkable.   We all have moments of inspiration.  We all think: "...dang, if only I had some little dilly-dally that was shaped to fit that thingy there I want..."  and we get a little visual or some impression in our minds of what might solve our little problem.   It happens all the time and yet most of the time we don't give those seeds of an idea a second thought because we are so busy executing our normal routines of meeting daily needs.  Now, we put our-self in the Japanese blacksmith's shoes ... instead of blacksmiths, imagine the task is whatever you are best at ... even if what you are best at is skateboarding.  The point is that the innovation which often happens is in a person's field of expertise; they are already good at it.  If you aren't good at anything, go learn how to do something, anything well --- others do all the time, its not hard if you work at doing anything in particular ... "YOU CAN DO THAT" ... you can learn how to do something well; this is within your human capability.

Next, we want to imagine that we are going through the same process that the blacksmith went through.  What if we lock ourselves in a room and brainstorm for 7 days straight with an equally intelligent partner?  If we did nothing but eat, sleep, and drink "skateboarding", would we not come up with some freaking awesome new ideas to try?   If our game happened to be blacksmith-ing, and we are already well known and respected blacksmiths, would we not have the ability to come up with some ideas on how to make the steel better?   If anyone doesn't understand this, they need to think about their passion.  What would they most love to do?  What would they think is a blessed vacation to be locked away from the rest of the world for a week doing?   Actually, for the blacksmith, it was more like he spent a week "thinking" about what he was going to do for the next month.  This is what we call a brainstorming session and it is not that remarkable.  The only thing remarkable about the invention of the samurai sword is that their society was advanced enough for a tradesman to save up enough resources to dedicate 7 days to "thinking".   Actually, let's be even more realistic, he spent that time with his dedicated assistant, so that's actually 14 days invested in "thinking".   There are countless examples of awesome ideas coming out of such brainstorming sessions.  It is not remarkable and any human is just as capable of such feats if:

1.  You dedicate the time and effort to learn a trade.
2.  You become good enough at your trade and produce enough value such that you have the resources to dedicate 14 days "thinking" with an equally dedicated partner.

Now getting back to the story of the samurai sword.  After the 7 days of "prayer", the blacksmith and his assistant then spent the next 31 days trying the ideas they came up with.  Since he was with his assistant, that represents an investment of 62 days.   How many people can afford to take off "work" for 2 and 1/2 months (counting brainstorm time)  to work on some new invention?   There's nothing remarkable about the invention, what is remarkable is that his society and his part in the society had enabled him to invest so much time and effort into a new invention.  In our modern world this happens all the time.  People work on the trades they work on.  They build up a "shop" around them; they make the tools of their trade a part of their daily life and they are passionate about the work they do.  Our modern inventors frequently get to a point where they have the resources to invest in ideas, and then they make beautiful new things that we all enjoy.

And finally, getting back to my overall reason for picking a fight with "Ancient Aliens", my goal is to make everyone aware of this message that we see all around us:  "You can't do this, you're not smart enough to invent the samurai sword, no humans are capable of such amazing invention; you need a god or an alien for that."   That message is HORSE-SHIT.   Please!!! Stop believing that message, conveying that message, or worse, letting that message get to you and make you believe that you are not capable of amazing creations!  We are all human, we all have incredible minds, there is no excuse for mediocrity.  Be passionate my friends!