lonely astronaut Bruce McCandless II, NASA

Evidence is our connection with reality. Without evidence our ideas are just prejudices floating around in a non-existent ether, a bit like Sandra Bullock in Gravity.

Evidence is on the outside and has to be accessed. You have to go and get it. You can’t intuit it and it’s not just going to drop down from the sky and hit you on the head. And there’s no room for choosing what evidence you’re going to accept and what you’re going to reject. It’s all or nothing, and it really has to be all because everything rests on evidence.

Only when you get down to the deepest most deep levels of depth is there no more evidence – but I don’t have any evidence to support that idea, so it’s just a hunch.

The question I can never answer is: why should I care? I care about myself and my family and my friends and the people I know but why should I care about someone I’ve never met who lives thousands of miles away?

Look, I’m very sorry your house got washed away in the flood and you’ve lost your wife and kids, but that’s not my bloody fault, is it?

The only answer that I can think of is that it’s in our interests to expand our circle of compassion, though even if it wasn’t in our interests, it’s something we might find happening as we become more connected and we’re able to learn about and communicate with people all over the place. It’s also something that might not happen, thanks to online filter bubbles that let us only see what we want to see. We have to want to know what’s going on in the world to care about it, and we have to care about it to want to know what’s going on.

Suppose you had two very different neighbouring countries. In one people are concerned for the well-being of all their fellow human beings, even those not yet born, their children’s children. And in the other you have a society where people are still tribal, looking after their own, charity begins at home types. Which of those two countries would fare better?

Well, maybe the uncaring country would invade the caring one, which is not the answer I was looking for, but how about we say instead of two neighbouring countries we have two very different planets in parallel universes?

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