Just in case you find an eccentric person at Speakers’ Corner, remember this:
‘Eccentrics seem out of step with conventional standards. Maybe they dress differently, have an unusual habit, or are hyperfocused on a specific topic. Others may think they are mentally deficient, but they are not. In ‘Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness,’ American-born and British-educated pyschiatrist David Weeks writes how eccentrics are often physically healthier and significantly happier than “normal” people. He says they typically exhibit five similar characteristics: they are nonconformist, creative, intensely curious, idealistic and unconcerned with how they contrast with conventional culture. Yet, their presence can be unsettling to some.’
Maureen Zappala, author, and president of the National Speakers Association, Ohio.
1. Mr B turned up with a chest cold that would have killed a thousand elephants. Gamely, heroically, inspirationally, he began his meeting. The subject of climate change quickly came up and Mr B converted it to a talk about emotional beliefs. Do you have an emotional belief, dear reader? An emotional belief is a belief that has become so ingrained in you, and so important to you, that nothing will change your mind.
The danger, of course, is that if your belief isn’t true, you will have no way of knowing that.
Think of a strong belief you have, that you know to be right. For example, do you believe in something that uninformed people mistakenly think is silly? Do you have a belief that some people are inferior? Do you believe that you’re not worthy? Or loveable? Or that you’re ugly? Or stupid? Or wonderful?
Then with that belief in mind, ask yourself these seven questions:
Q1. What would change your mind? Precisely what evidence would you need to have your mind changed?
Q2. When someone challenges your belief do you immediately try to prove the person wrong?
Q3. Do you easily become irritated when your belief is challenged?
Q4. Do you avoid a person’s awkward question and answer a different one?
Q5. Do you tend to embrace evidence that supports your point of view, and reject evidence that contradicts it?
Q6. Do you ‘just know’ that it’s true?
If nothing would change your mind, it’s an emotional belief.
If you are intent on proving the other person wrong, that’s an emotional belief.
If you quickly become irritated with a conflicting point of view, it’s an emotional belief.
If you tend to evade properly answering questions about your belief, it’s an emotional belief.
If you succumb to confirmation bias, it’s an emotional belief.
If you know ‘just know’ that it’s true, it’s an emotional belief.
So, do you have an emotional belief? If so, is it making you look silly? Is it disabling you?
Will you let it continue to disable you?
In what way do you benefit from holding that belief?
What other disabling emotional beliefs do you have?
2. Giving that lecture was all the ill Mr B could manage, and he and the trillion little virus critters within him sat down. A series of speakers followed. First was Uncle Pete, who began talking about climate change. From his chair, Peter the Younger had a lot to say in response.
The really interesting bit was about one of the mysteries of quantum mechanics. Radium has a half-life of about 1,600 years. That means in 1,600 years half the atoms in a ‘block’ of radium will have decayed. In another 1,600 years another half will have decayed. And so on. The interesting thing is: even though all the atoms are the same, and all are unstable, we cannot predict which ones will decay and which ones won’t. Why would one atom decay almost immediately and another take thousands of years to decay, while both are (seemingly) exactly the same?
No one knows. How interesting!
3. Elsewhere, Helmut kept his audience informed and entertained about matters of science, while across the way Steve Maxwell did the same with his expansive knowledge of history.
On the Ladder of Knowledge, still vacated by the sickly Mr B, Mirko kindly explained how gravity creates hydrogen gas (even though it doesn’t). Then Mark the Grinner spoke about the disadvantages of black and white thinking and the Dunning-Kruger effect. Then we heard from Peter the Younger, who passionately defended his point of view on climate change. Lastly, we heard from someone from the audience, Ahren. Ahren kept the crowd until it was long after 5pm and time to pack up. Ahren explained what it means to be a perrenial. (It has something to do with our search for the Universal Truth.)
Each and every one of the speakers did an excellent job.
If all the current regular speakers were to retire tomorrow (or fall off the perch), Speakers’ Corner would continue without missing a beat. We have a plethora of entertaining speakers ready to fill the gaps.
4. Other topics discussed:
– Native Title compensation. Are there inconsistencies we need to sort out?
– Tim Brunero’s special meeting has been postponed to September 29.
– Uncle Pete explained why he became an atheist. Going to a Catholic school is a good place in which to become an atheist, apparently.
5. Here is another chapter from Mr B’s blog about resilience. He wants to know what you are thinking, and feeling. Intrusive bugger.
6. A few weeks ago, one of Mr B’s anonymous grasshoppers left a note on his car, expressing interest in him and promising to come back the following week. It is this scribe’s unpleasant duty to inform you that his adoring fan has not yet been back to see him, and poor Mr B has been pining. At the end of every meeting he has waited, and waited, until long after night has fallen and the bats are weeing on him.
7. In this week’s Unusual Critter Series we present to you one member of the virus attacking poor Mr B. The photo was taking with an electron microscope. This individual also tried to hack our Facebook site.