May 1st 2016 service

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tim
Posts: 84
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:13 pm

May 1st 2016 service

Post by tim »

We had a great service today! We began by noting that our service happened to fall on May Day, an ancient pre-Christian Spring festival which, in the old old days, actually came on spring because of the calendar used at that time 3000+ years ago. May 1st is also International Workers Day, which is what much of the rest of world outside of the USA and Canada have as their Labor Day. The historical reasons for this (Haymarket Massacre and the socialist-communist movements of the late 19th Century) were brought up. In fact, in the USA May 1st is "Americanization Day" and "Loyalty Day" and "Law Day!" And in the next few days: May 4, International Star Wars Day (think about it!) and May 5 National Space Day, about which more here:

http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/nati ... ay-in-may/

Our main theme for the May 2016 service of "Being Wrong" focused on the well-known saying "To err is human," which is NOT from the Bible and NOT even from Shakespeare but from 18th Century British poet Alexander Pope. This is widely taken as a reproach, of course. Certainly, it is never confused with ideas of what uniquely characterizes the human species such as walking upright, speech, opposable thumbs and so forth. In fact, Christian theologians have linked this human "defect" to "Original Sin" and something eradicable only by getting a "new body in Christ." (Yes, we're waiting to see that one!) But there is no reason to suppose that humans make mistakes - even if they are bigger ones - any more than non-human animals. We just care about them more, especially because we see that, often, they are avoidable! More significantly, we do - or should do! - a better job of learning from them so we don't repeat them.

Thanks to careful study we now know a lot about many errors of perception - the always fascinating subject of optical illusions - of seeing what isn't there and not seeing what is - even though, as it is said "seeing is believing." Also, science is quintessentially a system of trial and error. Despite all the breakthroughs and accomplishments of science, the fact is that one of the big remaining problems is how to share information about failed experiments, false starts and investigational dead-ends. As Thomas Edison is said to have remarked: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that don't work!"

We also viewed this video about mistakes that led to quite unhappy and in some cases disastrous results:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNGF49pSuxo

WHAT DO YOU THINK??
Kit
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2015 3:05 pm

Re: May 1st 2016 service

Post by Kit »

After the service, I was discussing optical illusions with some other members and referenced a documentary I'd seen which makes a convincing case that the sinking of the Titanic was caused by an optical illusion. The documentary is called "Titanic's Final Mystery" and is currently on Netflix. I highly recommend it as a fascinating historical investigation of the conditions surrounding the sinking and the science behind mirages. This article illustrates the phenomenon:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-n ... 09/?no-ist
tim
Posts: 84
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:13 pm

Re: May 1st 2016 service

Post by tim »

That is FASCINATING! It hadn't occurred to me when I was preparing Sunday's material but those are exactly the conditions in those latitudes and with Gulf/Labrador currents where superior mirages happen. I heard of another case where the coast of Iceland was seen right ahead of a ship but the captain knew they were still hundreds of miles away so was not fooled.
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