Continuing the discussion of reason and education in America:
It is fairly obvious to me that there is a biological basis for belief. But what does one do about it?
I can't tell you what to do about it. I can tell you what I did about it.
Shamanism (A Yaqui Way of Knowledge), living alone in the woods for several years. Working day and night to integrate my personality. Thinking about advanced electronics while visiting other worlds.
Copious study of Aleister Crowley.
Having an intense sense of the extatic while focusing intently on subjects only amenable to rationality.
Crowley liked to have sex while calling out moves in a chess game - now there is a strange way to have sex. A strange way to play chess.
I was talking day before yesterday (Tuesday) to a gentleman I had met for the first time. He pointed out to me without prompting that I was right brain / left brain integrated. I think that is the key.
Gurdjieff says that the prerequisite is a rigorous education in rationality followed by a re-connection to dance, music etc. The initial education must be in logical subjects with only enough music, dance, etc. to keep that section of the brain minimally active.
So there is sort of an outline there. Unfortunately we have given up the rigor for the feel good stuff. So what you get out of that is the lefty half-men we see about us today. The shame is that if the rationality is not done early enough it is very hard to do later.
I might add that efforts at classical music are very important to get started before age 13. They seem critical to the development of mathematical reasoning. Einstein played the violin. I do not think that was a mistake. Condi Rice is an accomplished classical pianists. I think that is a good sign.
The best rock musicians (in general) have been clasically trained. The best mathematicians have a musical avocation.
My boys tell me that "Star Wars" was a great help to their moral understanding.
Our modern day military men (American, Brits, Ozzies) seem to me to be pretty well integrated. They can do the physical stuff at the same time they make rational calculations. Our enemies seem to be less well put together, depending on exhuberance and emotion to make up for lack of technical ability. Ghost Dancers if you will.
So how is that for thinking aloud?
The very best among us still get the required education (gifted programs). It is the average student that is being short changed by the "self esteem" crowd.
Self esteem is built by suceeding in the face of difficulty not by the practice of watering down the course material so that almost all difficulty is gone.
Of course in America the rot runs deep. The only reason we do so well is that it is much worse every where else.
Bush's NCLB is an attempt to bring rigor back to the schools.
The more I look into Bush's programs the more I see true genius at work. He is an order of politician we haven't seen since Jefferson. I think he has the Jeffersonian spirtit if lacking in Jefferson's articulateness.
As part of training my children I did a lot of punning. i.e. mixing subjects and forcing a kind of cross thinking. My father did that with me.
In my family we call it "stupid Dad jokes".
The English language is particularly rich in that area.
It forces a way of thinking of two (or more) disparate subjects at once.
Zen koans are very good here. The Sufis seem to do something similar (thanks Joe of Winds of Change for your weeklys on the subject). Of course in huge parts of the Muslim world the Sufis are considered heretics.
A lot of it is the breaking of orthodoxies.
The Jewish emphasis on book learning seems to accomplish what is required. A lot could be learned from that culture. Part of that is the questioning of every thing. And the requirement to be able to make persuasive arguments on any side of a given subject. One must be able to argue not just for God but also the Devil. And the arguments must be equally well done.
The current Moslem trend is to demand orthodoxy which stunts thinking.
Unquestioning belief stunts the mind. It also stunts the moral sense.
Einstein had a bit to say about all this:
Although Einstein did not observe Jewish rituals, he strongly identified with Jewish tradition: "The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, an almost fanatical love of justice, and the desire for personal independence—these are features of the Jewish tradition which make me thank my lucky stars that I belong to it." Einstein's strong support for Jewish welfare emerged when he faced anti-Semitism in Germany. Throughout his life, the man whose work the Nazis and German scientists dismissed as "Jewish physics" worked tirelessly against anti-Semitism.