“Everyone here is mad. I’m mad. You’re mad. It’s only by chance n’ careful planning if you’re not.” ~ The Cheshire Cat
What does it mean to be mad? Madness is a synonym for insanity, which is the opposite of sanity, which means to be sane. The dictionary defines “sane” as “being free from mental derangement” and “having sound judgment.” But what does that mean?
Typically, when we think of an insane person, we think of someone foaming at the mouth, talking to the voices in their head, imagining that the walls are covered with insects, but there are other types of insane.
No one can know everything, therefore no one can know the whole truth. So all of our individual realities are limited by our perceptions. Thus, our realities are subjective and relative, based more on consensus and mutual agreement than objectivity.
Even the scientific method is subjective, since it’s based on observations that are fallible. If reality is consensual, then the scientific method just says that whichever subjective observation gets the most votes wins the “What is real?” poll. It’s like the guess the candies game. You can increase your odds through various methods, such as measuring the size of the candies and calculating their volumes and the volume of the jar they’re contained in. Maybe your guess is even the closest, or even exactly the right amount, but only the person who initially counted the candies knows for sure. Science seeks to analyze our universe, yet we are part of the universe, and the very act of measuring it changes everything. So science isn’t all that different from philosophy or religion. They’re all just people taking their best guess based on the information they have. As long as it works for what the person is trying to achieve, then it is effectively correct.
To know what actually exists, we’d have to remove ourselves from reality and view it as a closed, isolated system, which is next to impossible. Even if we could do that, I have a hunch that the result will simply serve to prove the same conclusions that a few observant people have been trying to tell us for thousands of years.
So if reality is subjective, then no one knows the whole truth. So how do we know who is of sound mind and who is deranged?
A reasonable person would have to conclude that, if no one knows the whole truth, then we’re all just a bit missed misinformed. We all shape reality to reflect our beliefs instead of shaping our beliefs to reflect reality. None of us sees reality for what it truly is, which means we’re all just a bit delusional. We’re all just a little bit mad.
And if we’re just God in a void playing fingerpuppets, then some would characterize that as having already gone mad, just like how Tom Hank’s character in Castaway created Wilson to avoid going mad; but in a different light, talking to a volleyball is madness too, since it’s not a real person and can’t talk back.
So madness is all a matter of perspective, really.
“The world ain’t what is it seems … You keep that in mind. The moment you think you got it figured, you’re wrong.” ~ Mr. Rate, Shooter
It’s ironic that those who have a better understanding of what’s going on tend to be labeled by the masses as “crazy, insane nuts.” You hear all the time about so-called “conspiracy nuts” that say the government has done all these things to its own people. Are they crazy? Or do they just know something that you don’t because they have more information than you do? If they’re grounding their arguments on logic and evidence and you choose to ignore them, doesn’t that make you the crazy one for denying some part of reality?
Not every conspiracy theory is true, of course, which is why it’s just a theory; and new information could come along to change or even debunk that theory at anytime. But not every conspiracy theory is false either. To make a blanket statement like “all conspiracy theorists are nuts” is to assume that you know everything there is to know about the government and the people who work for it and what their minds are like, and that based on both your extensive knowledge and mind-reading abilities, you have come to the conclusion that no, the government cannot and never would do something or anything like that.
But the reality is, at least the last time I checked, that government is comprised of people (and possibly aliens) and that humans are fallible and prone to such things as rape and murder and abuse of any and all power. So what is conspiracy except two or more people coming together to do such things? What is government conspiracy except those conspirators being in the government? So the pejorative use of the term is in fact pretty stupid.
Speaking of stupid, religious nuts are common, right? I’m sure we’ve all seen the guy on the street holding up a cardboard sign that says “The End is Near.”
Is he crazy? Only if the end is not near, because that would be a denial of reality. But the end of what? And what exactly is “near”? Two months? Two years? Two hundred years? Two hundred years is very near if viewed from the perspective of human history, but no one would be alarmed or take notice of a guy who said, “The End is 200 Years Away.”
So is this guy crazy? Perhaps. It may simply be that he is looking around at the world and misapplying the teachings of his holy book in regards to it. But it could just as easily be that he knows something that the rest of us don’t. Who are we to say that God didn’t send him a message in his sleep to tell him to go do that? Are we so arrogant that we think we know what God can and can’t do? If God can talk to people and create prophets to carry his message, why couldn’t he make new ones in our own time? Especially if we didn’t get it the first several times around.
I’ve always wanted to sit down and talk with one of those people and find out just what’s going through their heads. They could tell me what they know and believe and I could share with them what I know and believe, and hopefully as least one of us will get something out of the experience.
“When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is probably wrong.” ~ Clarke’s First Law
Another common cliche is the mad scientist who stumbles upon a new truth but is then rejected by his colleagues.
Most of the time, this truth is perverted and abused for uses that are harmful, destructive, and immoral, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, genuine breakthroughs are ignored by those of small mind, unwilling or unable to expand their thinking; or by those whose paychecks are on the line, researching something contrary to what that one person discovered.
But either way, all these “mad” scientists did was discover something true about the way the universe works. Whether it’s good or bad depends upon the character of the person that uses it. The knife that kills can be used to save your life.
Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws of prediction lead us to believe that reality is a lot stranger than we think it is presently. They emphasize expansion of consciousness and a journey further down the rabbit hole into Wonderland where things get “curiouser and curiouser.”
In a way, we are all arrogant for assuming that we know anything at all about what’s really going on. Religious minds are arrogant to say that God needs anything from us. Scientific minds are arrogant to say that they know that God doesn’t exist. And so on.
We are all mad. We are all arrogant. We are all delusional. Some more than others, but that too is part of the illusion and we cannot say for certain that we know which ones those are. Pride goes before the fall, and all fall short in the eyes of the Lord.