An Awesome Example of Confounding Variables!

Photo: Sometimes my sick sense of humor takes over and I can't resist sharing things like this...


Talk about deep doo-doo! So much of life, philosophy, and critical thinking resonates in this ironically captioned image. Take the atheist-theist debate, for example. Is God, though silent and invisible, lurking beneath the yellow noise of the cosmos? Do we need to step out in faith to find that signal in the noise? And if we do step out in faith, thinking that we’ll find God, might we also just end up with a turd between our toes?

Before drawing a conclusion and acting, can we ever really be quite sure that we’ve taken proper account of the central variables at work? And what seems marginal now might take on greater significance later. And what we surmise is “out there” may in fact just be in our heads. And what we have not taken into account at all may appear to us suddenly, and so come to the fore (or between our toes).

To be or not to be; to think or not to think; to act or not to act. These are the questions.

The literary critic Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) calls such Shakespearean dilemmas the product of the “sublunary nature” of human beings (life as lived not in heaven or in the ideal, nor in the sunlight of full explanation, but “beneath the moon”).

Physicist Richard Feynman also nicely sums up (below) the confounding variables that accompany our existence; our situation as creatures made up of atoms in a cosmos of atoms. Where you think you are may not be where you actually are, but does it follow from this that you should then be particularly obsessive about where you take your next step?


Image source: Dr. Marty Becker’s Facebook page.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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