There is one matter I should fess up to before my blog project here goes any further.

In the eBook I have put together, I have framed the worldview material I want to get around to discussing as a project to find the person with the best mind on the planet (which I cleverly christened as The BMOP Challenge).

I'm not really concerned with justifying the substance of the project, but I would like to make the tone of the challenge clear -- which I can best do by telling you about the little Green Man and the test I took.

I was just getting into bed one night when I suddenly found myself elsewhere, specifically in a room with a bunch of chairs and tables and a bunch of people and one little Green Man standing in front of us with his hands clasped in front of him

The tables were arranged in two banks of three each with five people at each table, all of them looking as dumbfounded as I was and making a murmur of startled, shocked animal sounds.

Then I heard a voice in my head speaking in English and sounding very much like the voice I talk to myself with, which I assumed was the way that the Little Green Man was speaking to all of us.  The voice said, "You will not be harmed.  You are here to take a test.  It will last about an hour, and then you will be returned to where you came from. You will hear the questions in your head, and all you have to do is think the answers."

Then the test started, and as near as I could tell it did last about an hour.

When the test was over, the little Green Man said, "just a moment, please," and after a very short pause, he said, "Yes that is all," and everyone in the room disappeared but me and the little Green Man.

"I will, however, take just a moment extra with you," he said in my head.

Then, without giving me a chance to say (or rather think) anything, he went on.

"The good news," he said, "is that we have determined that there actually is intelligent life on your planet."

"Well," I thought, "go ahead and give me the other part."

"The bad news," he said, "is that you're the best they've got."

Then, in an instant, I was back in my bed again.

It took me just a moment to absorb what he said, and of course, I started laughing because I thoroughly agreed with what he was really telling me.

The essential message was very simple:  Having the best mind on this planet is absolutely nothing to brag about.

Now, before I am chastised for telling such a story, I wish to say that I know the whole tale is probably just the product of an overactive imagination.  But I stick by the bottom line:  No one will ever convince me that having the best mind on this planet is anything to advertise. 

And if it turns out that way in the BMOP Challenge, I never will.

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Comment by Joseph Hilton on July 21, 2014 at 1:16pm

What I am really looking for, Laura, is someone with an answer to the question of what's going on here and why we find ourselves right in the middle of it that satisfies me more than my own answer does.

This post was just my idea of a whimsical way of asking what else might be out there that I haven't thought of.

Perhaps, though, I should also say that in my youth I was truly modest, I think. 

But then I started to deal with university administrators and such in large numbers, and over the many decades I have been around, it is true that I have lost much of my youthful modesty -- although I should also mention that the advent of television in my teenage years with its steady stream of news about and interviews with politicians is much to blame, too.

Comment by Joseph Hilton on March 4, 2014 at 2:36pm

What single measure are you thinking of, to say which mind is better than another?

Trial by combat -- or perhaps better, trial by demonstration.

I would say that any BMOP contender ought to be able to answer one of the substantial questions of the human adventure -- and do a better job than the competition.  But it certainly doesn't have to be the same question.  The "judges" could reach a decision on the basis of the quality of the questions and answers together.

People make such judgments all the time as, for example, when they decide whether a little green man is more entertaining than a holy goat.

What I am really trying to find out, though, is whether there are any answers "out there" better than the one I can give to this question: 

(1) Is there any set of facts in our modern knowledge base that (2) strongly supports a picture of the universe and of the human adventure -- a picture in which (3) our species has a serious, meaningful role to play in the scheme of things and which (4) predicts a future for our species that at the very least would make life irresistibly interesting?

Comment by Michael Penn on March 4, 2014 at 8:14am

It never hurts to have  little help form the holy goat.

Comment by Luara on March 4, 2014 at 7:19am

What single measure are you thinking of, to say which mind is better than another?



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