Reimagined and Revamped. Fighting the spread of nonsense often feels like a Sisyphean task. However, the joy is in making the information available, not the hope of conversion.

Correct Thanking

I'm not sure my writing has improved since I started blogging. I hope so. I hope today that I can write eloquent enough and with the same zest and enthusiasm that I actually feel for the subject. Today I am writing about how amazing people are.

Some people are perhaps more simple than I am and only require a single target for what they are thankful for. Its so much easier to point your gratefulness at one thing than to spread it around effectively. Today I hope to spread it around effectively, even though none, save one, of these things have happened to me.

Some people may get into an airplane crash and survive...and thank god.
If I survived a plane crash, I would thank aeronautical engineers, mechanical engineers, members of the national transportation safety board, who have literally worked decades to make air safety as incredible as it is. But it isn't just these folks is it? They have people who are directly helping them, with leadership, with amenities like food and health, they have people writing software and building computer hardware to help them do their job better and more effectively. They have installed programs to produce better quality parts, test subcomponents and get a great understanding of failure modes and create maintenance schedules. There is another layer, people who educated these people, people who raised the engineers and leaders and food service people. Then there is even a further layer, people who opened up the fields they work in, the Wright Brothers, Newton, Moore. The reason those people survived that plane crash is because thousands of people have put in millions of man hours to make planes as good and safe as they are now.

Some people survive a car accident.... and thank god
If I got into a car accident and survived I would thank the engineers and safety experts that designed the car. I'd thank the quality control experts that check that all the part going into the car meet the correct specifications. I would thank the vendors to the car manufacturers for making sure that their parts meet specs before they ship them. I would thank the safety experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for testing that cars and challenging car companies to creating better and safer cars. I would thank various political administrations for creating these safety bodies and enforce their recommendations. But then I would also thank the software engineers that developed the FEA software that allows engineers to create thousands of hours of simulations to get the right design for parts that meet stringent safety standards while trimming costs and weight. But there are more people to thank. For example the scientists the derived the laws by which the simulations could be done and the calculations and rules by which the engineers follow. There are the parents and educators that brought these engineers, scientists, safety experts, technical support and health and liveliness to the people who make cars safer and more robust every year. The reason those people survive a car crash is because thousands of people have put in millions of man hours to make planes as good and safe as they are now.

Some people have medical issues, potentially life threatening ones, incapacitating ones....and thank god they survive.

If I required surgery and lived though it without major impairment (or even with major impairment) I would first thank the EMTs who were trained and got me to the hospital. I would thank the incredible surgeons who fixed me in my time of great peril. I would thank the hospital staff and donors for making a facility that allows this incredible work to go on, work that has had tremendous effects on our lifespan. I would thank the medical pioneers who and the people who agreed to be test subject to advance medicine to a point where we can stop and start a heart, and replace it. We can fix problems in the brain due to millenia of trial and error. I would thank the medical institutions that teach new doctors to not only learn the tried and true methods but teaches them to be creative and improve on them and notice when something is wrong. I would thank Doctors who propose hypothesis that are not well accepted and then back up their claims with so much evidence that concensus must change. I would thank the parents and educators of these doctors and technician and administrators. I would thank the politicians who require oversight of healthcare workers. The reason those people survive dramatic surgery and disease is because thousands of people have put in millions of man hours to make surgery as good and safe as they are now.

People thank God for all sorts of things. They thank God for not being in an earthquake or typhoon that thousands of other people died in or are suffering from. They thank god for their children, for their opportunities and even their suffering. But its all people who are involved on both ends of all of these instances. Our love for each other, our desire to help each other our quest for understanding of the things around us, our awe and respect for powerful forces. Its all people.

I even find myself using the term "Thank God". Clearly for me its just a useful phrase that is meant to thank all the things I have mentioned. So I want to propose a new term, something that encompasses the unbelievable contributions man has made to allow us to be as capable, as magnificent, and as awe inspiring we are.

It has to be short. It has to roll off the tongue. It has to imply the contributions to the amazing event that billions of people for thousands of years have contributed to. So here we go, tell me if you like it.

Thank Us.

Try to make it a habit.

Update: one reader sent me this similar piece from Daniel Dennet.

8 comments:

On 5/30/08, 12:14 PM , Anonymous said...

"Thank Us", it's catchy, I like it!

 
On 6/1/08, 9:13 AM , Skeptico said...

(Cough, cough..)

That should be "I hope today that I can write eloquently enough."

Sorry - couldn't resist.

 
On 6/17/08, 1:56 AM , Anonymous said...

>>I even find myself using the term "Thank God". Clearly for me its just a useful phrase that is meant to thank all the things I have mentioned. So I want to propose a new term, something that encompasses the unbelievable contributions man has made to allow us to be as capable, as magnificent, and as awe inspiring we are.

It has to be short. It has to roll off the tongue. It has to imply the contributions to the amazing event that billions of people for thousands of years have contributed to.<<

How about 'Thank God" ? After all isn't god just a name for all those things that you mentioned? Isn't God just a name to call all the nature and science that allows itself to be studied by Engineers, doctors, etc., Nature itself, compansion, a good dose of individualizm and another good dose of humanity. Isn't God just a name to call 'what is'? and what is right as well as the natural phenomenon of knowing what is right and wrong when we are born?

I don't see a conflict in what you wrote Tech. Now if you where tlaking about religion...well then...

Gnat

 
On 6/17/08, 9:23 PM , Techskeptic said...

"After all isn't god just a name for all those things that you mentioned? "

Perhaps, but it assigns credit to an amorphous entity and an entity which many people actaully think is a real being somewhere.

I'd rather be specific and give credit where it is due: People.

We are awesome.

 
On 6/23/08, 2:35 AM , S E E Quine said...

` Thank us! Good point! Or Thank Goodness, as James Randi puts it.
` Reminds me of a cartoon I saw once. An old lady survived a tornado and said "Praise the lord!"... and as for her family; "They're with Jesus now. Praise the lord!"

 
On 6/25/08, 5:47 PM , Kel said...

Maybe it's all to do with their victim mentality. Too much time reading the old testament, and coming to the rationalisation "while God is capable of terrible destruction and despite me being a sinner, God in his infinite wisdom has granted me mercy". It's a pretty messed-up ideology when an act of immense destruction is met with gratitude.

 
On 6/29/08, 11:10 PM , S E E Quine said...

` Then again, to avoid depression it does pay to 'count your blessings' in such a situation.

 
On 3/22/09, 4:21 PM , Clare said...

Don't forget to thank Ralph Nader and his campaign for car safety back in the 60's. :D