You Ain’t Special. Just An Idea.

Paul MyersI’m NOT special? But my mom and dad… But my kindergarten teacher… Seriously?

Seriously. Here is the idea, voiced by Paul Zachary “PZ” Myers: To really understand human’s place in the Universe, employ Mediocrity Principle.

The mediocrity principle “has been taken to suggest that there is nothing very unusual about the evolution of the Solar System, the Earth, humans, or any one nation. (From Wikipedia, Mediocrity Principle).

Being fundamental to science, Mediocrity Principle is also one of the most difficult and controversial and, Professor Myers says, opposition to it is the basis of religion, creationism, chauvinism, and generally a great many perverse social practices.

To have the definition of the principle of mediocrity  read to you in a beautifully modulated voice while staring at a “cosmic” picture, featured in the Wiki article, see the 2 min. long video with a few comments:

The application of the Mediocrity Principle to YOU and YOURS, in essence, would be as follows:

  • Ain't I special?

    Ain’t I special?

    You’re NOT special.

  • The universe does NOT revolve around you.
  • You do NOT occupy any privileged position on this planet.
  • Your country is NOT the crown of God’s creation.
  • Your very existence is NOT predestined by unrelenting fate, and the tuna sandwich you ate for lunch does NOT have the purpose to give you terrible indigestion.
  • The majority of the events happening in the world are a consequence of natural, universal laws that apply to everyone and everything without any partiality to you personally.
  • You are NOT phenomena of cosmic scale. In fact – whether you like it or not – you are an accident. In accordance to biological genetic inheritance rules, your parents were to conceive an anatomically human child. They succeeded. The child is born – you are this child. Your gender, height when fully grown, color of your eyes, shape of your nose – the combination of features that makes you YOU – are the result of random genetic shuffle, the outcome of a big race of spermatozoa to the finishing line – glorious fertilization. (For a refresher, see the simplified animation of Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance on Learners TV.)

Myers3Upset? Relax. It’s not just YOU.

Even the stars are formed as a result of random collisions of giant molecular clouds – the working of the principle of mediocrity as well.  Science is looking for general laws that can be applied to the entire Universe, of which we are but the small part in a giant picture.  Then, it focuses its gaze at deviations and exceptions as they appear in the detail of a Big Picture. This strategy, if successful, results in a more in-depth knowledge.

Myers2The principle of mediocrity says that our existence is NOT the result of someone’s design. The Universe is neither benevolent nor malevolent. Yet while it is true, all things are subject to the rules, and the main purpose of science is to understand what they are.

Paul Myers is an outspoken atheist. Some, even atheists, call him “arrogant atheist”. Myers says he bears no obligation to play nice when it comes to criticizing religion, although he denies hating gods,“I don’t hate gods — they don’t exist. I really despise the buffoons who lie about gods to fleece their flocks, though.”

Asteroid 153298 Paulmyers is named after him.

Journal Nature listed his blog as the top-ranking blog by a scientist. It’s very intellectually… aerobic, in my view, but I’m no scientist. He had written a book, titled The Happy Atheist (Pantheon, 2013).

“I’m an atheist swimming in a sea of superstition, surrounded by well-meaning, good people with whom I share a culture and similar concerns, and there’s only one thing I can do. I have to laugh.” —PZ Myers


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