How can we acquire an unmediated experience of the world, when the being that experiences is, in itself, mediated and constructed?
Zen teaches that the means to this end is to reduce desire, and seek Nirvana, the "blowing out" of certain portions of the self. I've already put up a fun little broken koan about this, linked at the top of the blog (if you haven't read that, go on).
The scientific method aims to refine terms and conceptions, self-correcting through review and comparison with basic information, to build discourses that run parallel to reality. Effectively, this means rebuilding your thinking to match the reality around you. It also means acquiring a huge load of language and expertise for each topic you want to "get".
A few times, I've mentioned the need for better 'folk science' - the need to spread basic rules of judgment that need no special language, but contain a basic, rule-of-thumb reflection of reality. I believe that it's more useful to spread good guidelines than it is to attack misperceptions.
So here's my challenge to you...
The "One Simple Rule" Challenge
Think for a minute about fields of knowledge where you've got some real grip on things. It doesn't matter what field it is. It can be shelf-stocking in stores, the nature of ecosystems, the way that cartoons are made, the hard science of genetics.
Think of one thing that everyone tends to get wrong - a basic fact that is represented dead wrong in discussions, media, and the like. Again, this can be anything. Now, instead of only discussing what's wrong with that perception, try to come up with a one simple rule that expresses the real thing as well as the error.
This can be about wrong word use: "Evolution means this; it doesn't mean that." It can be about procedure "Real soldiers do this; they don't do that".
Post your rule somewhere. In the comments here, on your blog, journal, on facebook, wherever. Give me a link to it if it's outside the comments (again, here, or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Share your corrections in basic thinking. Show us something you know.
I bloody well dare you.