Here in the midwest USA temperatures have plummeted. The media is playing it to the hilt for profit, but indeed many people without home or heat will die today. Why does this happen? Well, apparently, it is due to the “Polar Vortex”. I learned this yesterday when I heard people explaining to each other the word for the phenomena.
I will let you read about the polar vortex phenomena on wiki if you are interested, but that is not the point of this post. Instead, I was amazed at how much comfort people took in learning the term “polar vortex” when they had no idea what it meant. They asked no more of the person explaining but were happy to know the phrase — to have a handle on the ugliness. Just knowing the term, having confidence that someone understands it better than them and that it is supposed makes sense of an odd event, they were relieved. It was odd watching people throwing around their new empty term with second-hand confidence (or even 3rd, 4th …. hand confidence).
As I have written before, I hear people do this same self-deception with quantum mechanic terms, astrophysics terms, “evolution” and much more. What struck me today is that many people seem to use “God” in the same way: a word to explain the mysterious gives them false comfort of a violent universe without any more depth than just the word or phrase.
My intended home message for this post is not the abuse of the “God of the Gaps” phenomena, but that even nonbelievers do the same more often then they imagine. Just because you know the word “polar vortex” or “entanglement”, try not to jump to the conclusion that you really understand anything at all.