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What Makes You Feel Small?

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posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 02:36 AM
Hi ATS, I would like your help!

Throughout the years a myriad of awe inspiring pieces of media have been posted and discussed here on ATS.
I for one know that ATS has greatly shaped my own scientific bent towards life, as well as my thirst for knowledge.
One of the overriding topics on ATS consistently seems to concern space: our exploration of space, the enormity and mysteries of space, and what other inhabitants may exist out there. Clearly the universe is a topic which mystifies us and generates a significant amount of postulation.

Well, this year I finally get to step out into the wide world of research psychology, conducting my own research. And I will be investigating the psychological mechanisms that we humans utilize in order to comprehend not just the enormity and mysteries of space, but also our own individual insignificance in the face of this enormity.
For example: Some people may wonder why we bother to do anything, considering that our lives and indeed entire world is quite insignificant. Why should I get out off bed and go to work? What am I really achieving, the economy is a joke anyway. The world will continue to spin whether I'm present or not.

I'm sure most people have probably thought this at one point or another in time. But most likely you didn't give up on life. At most we take a sick day and are right back at it the next day. And thank god we do, otherwise society would collapse! But have you ever considered what the mechanisms behind this perseverance are? Is it merely that we forget about the insignificance? Or do we actively fight against it, bolstering our own self-esteem or belief in the significance of our world, so that we cease to view our struggle as insignificant?

This is what I seek to find out.

To do this, however, I need appropriate stimuli, which will evoke the mentioned feeling of insignificance. To do this I have turned to that ever prevalent thread: space and the sheer enormity of the universe! (Hence why I'm posting in this forum. For any Mods please move this if it is in an inappropriate forum!)

Currently, I have a video that attempts to achieve this cosmic induction. This video is just a run of the mill video floating around the web, which many of you will likely have seen before. It can be viewed here:

What I want to ask you ATS, is do you think it moves you enough? Does it get you questioning how small your world/ life is? And if not, can you think of any better video/ material (although a short video is preferred) that may achieve this? (Note: I'm restricted to using videos on space alone to produce the considerations of individual insignificance).

I come to ATS, as I know in the past this has always been the place to go to for mind blowing materials that make you question your world. So hopefully we can find something that will really achieve something!

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 02:44 AM
a reply to: RedEyes619

Here is a quote on how large the universe is .

“The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy offers this definition of
the word "Infinite".
Infinite: Bigger than the biggest thing ever and then some.
Much bigger than that in fact, really amazingly immense, a
totally stunning size, "wow, that's big", time. Infinity is just so
big that by comparison, bigness itself looks really titchy.
Gigantic multiplied by colossal multiplied by staggeringly
huge is the sort of concept we're trying to get across here.”
― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

That makes us pretty small , still part of the universe though .

No videos needed .
edit on 9-4-2015 by hutch622 because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 02:55 AM
This makes me feel small.

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 02:58 AM
a reply to: hutch622

That's a good quote!

I do intend on running a second study with reading material/ a reflection question and I had intended on using H. P. Lovecraft's ideology of Cosmicism (see below). But yours is also a quality quote. Perhaps I'll mutilate multiple quotes and stitch them together to make a monster of a quote.

Cosmicism: "The human race will disappear. Other races will appear and disappear in turn. The sky will become icy and void, pierced by the feeble light of half-dead stars. Which will also disappear. Everything will disappear. And what human beings do is just as free of sense as the free motion of elementary particles. Good, evil, morality, feelings? Pure 'Victorian fictions'. Only egotism exists."
- H.P. Lovecraft

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 03:08 AM
a reply to: occrest

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. You just can't fail to be taken aback by space. (Which is why I think we need to know more about it's impact on us! For example, does it lead us fear it's immensity and to create religions that explain its mystery?.... Does it create a fear of death? The possibilities are enormous).

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 03:20 AM
A clear night far from "civilization" ..up on mountaintop looking up at the stars.. makes you realise just how tiny you are in the grand scheme of things.... along with how pointless 99% of the # humans worry and squable about really is ....

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 03:33 AM
Here is a picture of a small spot in the sky, it is by the Sextans Constellation. There are over 200,000 galaxies in this picture. The really bright spots are closer stars.

Larger Sized Picture

Or another favorite of mine is this Site. Which the following video goes through.

edit on 4/9/2015 by Azdraik because: Added large link.

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 03:45 AM
a reply to: Expat888

A clear night far from "civilization"

In them circumstances how small you are really does not matter . You just enjoy . Why . Because .

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 03:57 AM
a reply to: Azdraik

I did consider that website! I think I discounted it because of the comic-y theme though

The picture is simply awe inspiring.

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 04:27 AM

originally posted by: hutch622
a reply to: Expat888

A clear night far from "civilization"

In them circumstances how small you are really does not matter . You just enjoy . Why . Because .

Exactly .. always enjoy my time out in the boonies.. its the trips in to "civilization" that I hate ..

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 04:28 AM
a reply to: RedEyes619

More philosophical than psychological?

Insignificance in size and lifespan doesn't affect everyone's motivation - I think this assumption may lead you down the wrong path. Many do not even stop to consider the insignificance of our existence.

It could also be a motivator. People who are insignificant - but motivated to do something big to create an imprint on history.

If someone is depressed and not getting on with life I'd assume this has more to do with mental health and the impacts of society rather than insignificance of the human being/existence.

You could perhaps research how many depressed people feel insignificant due to the their tiny blip of existence but I would suggest it takes a psychopath to not do anything because of insignificance of existence.

Insignificant in relation to the universe/life cycles does not mean we won't get a buzz out of doing stuff in life.

If I were you I'd pick another dissertation subject. Soz but I can't see how insignificance of existence relates to enough people's motivation to make it a factor to investigate.

I wish you luck though if you do pursue.

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 04:54 AM
It certainly makes my willy feel small. Just to think of all the gigantic, enormous willies that exist out there in the universe. Best not to think about that, though.

edit on 9-4-2015 by wildespace because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 05:09 AM
I'm not wired like that.

I never think of the future nor the past. Unless a conversation calls on it.

I never think of my mortality, I can't even think of a time I seriously considered what happens after death.

I get up and what happens, happens, but the possibilities of space for mankind do drive my imagination. I love the show universe.

I don't know if I gave you any help with your research, but hope it goes well for you.

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 05:16 AM
a reply to: and14263

Thankfully there is a fair amount of research in existential psychology which suggests that this is a viable research path.

Predominantly I'm drawing on Terror Management Theory and mortality salience. With these paradigms, reminding people of their own mortality/ having them consider their death has significant impacts on their behaviour. The threat of considering ones own mortality produces a threat to the individuals self-worth. to combat this individuals seek to bolster self-esteem and view themselves as valuable member of a meaningful reality. There are many ways we can do this (and many other effects mortality salience has on individuals). Namely:

1. The first thing we do is invest ourselves in our society/ culture. triggering mortality salience and then allowing people to endorse their country results in a far greater than normal response (i.e. Everyone greatly supports their country and states that its better than other countries). Why? Because this helps us feel that we are apart of something meaningful - which protects against the mortality salience.

2. People also greatly affiliate with and endorse (authoritarian) religions. Why? (a) because religions offer immortality in the form of an afterlife - therefore dissolving the fear of death, and (b) religions, especially authoritarian ones, provide strict and clear structure to how people should live their lives - which also helps to give meaningfulness and structure back to our lives after a mortality threat.

2.a. Atheists/ other non-religious folk will also show this desire to engage with structures that give their life meaning. But being on-religious they'll often turn to things like political parties, or the society/ culture inn general (like in point #1). By engaging in these societal structures their lives are again given meaning and structure. This also offers a symbolic form of immortality, such that the person may think "I may die, but Rome will live forever!" etc. By strongly affiliating with the culture you can achieve a symbolic immortality by believing that your individual death is not so important and that your ethics/ essence will live on with the culture.

2.c. reinforcing the desire to affiliate with your culture/ religion etc. after mortality threat: numerous studies show that after a mortality salience threat participants will lash out significantly more and significantly more harshly against out group members - with the explanation being that the out group members (with different cultures) threaten the individuals culture, and if you're trying to find meaning in your culture you don't want someone pointing out alternatives/ telling you it's wrong.

3. Priming death inspires Progressive Hope in people. Where Progressive hope is the belief that the world is continuously developing and getting better (as opposed to civilizations establishing dominance and then destroying themselves ad infinitum). Mortality ties into this for the same reason as #2: we all want to view ourselves as apart of something good and meaningful, as this inspires us and gives our lives purpose. So we don't ant to think of our culture as cyclical (i.e. rising, destroying itself, falling, rising, destroying itself etc.)

There is a multitude of other examples and other nuances of how mortality salience effects individuals, but I think I've already rambled on too much and I haven't even got to the point/ justified why cosmic insignificance salience is important yet!

Why is cosmic insignificance important/ going to effect people? Because by its logic everything I have just said about death and how we react to it - all of the complex behaviours we develop to avoid thinking about our death - all of that... Is nothing. Completely insignificant, we will all die. Billions of other humans have over eons, and the universe doesn't even blink an eye. It's is all completely insignificant. Every little thing we do, every war, every love. On a cosmic scale it is absolutely meaningless. We could nuke the Earth and the fear/ pain/ anger/ of every human would account for zilch. The earth will keep turning, the universe will go on. On the individual level it may be terrible, but not cosmically.

This is the crux of what I want to study: What will people do when confronted with this cosmic insignificance.

(Note: I think they will react very similarly to when mortality is threatened.)

But, anyway. I'm cool with my theoretical background, just looking for videos that make you guys feel small/ question space.

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 05:33 AM

originally posted by: and14263
a reply to: RedEyes619
Insignificance in size and lifespan doesn't affect everyone's motivation - I think this assumption may lead you down the wrong path. Many do not even stop to consider the insignificance of our existence.

Speak for yourself. Do you think its lack of creative thought that keeps people going, under the reality of such insignificance? Or maybe its just the selfish thought of being able to have more than so many others? Or maybe its just plain ignorance of what the vastness of the universe signifies?

Personally, I think its all of the above, just depends on the person.

Its not the actual insignificance I feel with the knowledge of just how large the universe is that kills my motivation to do my daily 8 hours in a ignorance of bliss that kills my motivation. But rather, the feeling that the majority of my species is just a bunch of parasites that don't seem to get it, or feel the need to do anything about it, just so long as they get there daily dose of the feeble minded buzz of materialism.

Maybe that makes no sense, but the road society seems to be on in the face of the larger scheme of what is, just makes me miserable & exhausted!

I'm personally, going back out bush again, where I can spend my nights just staring up at that amazing sky and pondering what else might be up there that has more significance than my own meaningless existence. I gave this petty superficial society a second shot and it just wore me down to the point that.................... Well, let's just say that I don't understand where all these insignificant entities are coming from.

There you go, that's my honest opinion about what our insignificance within such a vast universe means to me, well trying to participate in this superficial little society of ours.

Can't help but feel that maybe I'm at least part different species to the rest, because no one else seems to get it.

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 05:38 AM
Thanks for this thought provoking thread. I too, have recently followed the science and pictures from Hubble and NASA. It makes my stomach do funny flip flops like on a roller coaster. But I can't say I felt small. We get to see it with EYES and technology. I feel more a part of it all. I am 64 and have looked back on why I did this or did that. The only answer that comes to me, it was the right thing to do at the time. Maybe the whole universe is like that.

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 05:41 AM
Hi, just flagging this to read later,

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 05:42 AM
a reply to: RedEyes619

I can't argue with that!

Do you believe we as humans subscribe to these groups through terror management? I personally believe they are pushed onto us by society as systems of control. I buy into them not through fear, existential gripes or terror management but because as humans we need a driving force. Before the interruption of modern consumerism the force/system was love, family and community... now this has been destroyed we buy into the systems put there to control us.

But what you say has indeed opened an area of study I haven't read much about but thanks to your posts I will indeed read more!!

On thing which made me feel insignificant is the graphic of a universe inside the cover of Hawkin's 'Brief History of Time'. The idea that he was a tiny pea explaining the hugest thing in the universe blew my mind.... I actually went dizzy the first time I looked at that picture, no lie.

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 08:05 AM
a reply to: and14263

I started off getting into the area to understand what makes religions so popular. For this I'd recommend looking up Just World Belief. Honestly I think this (plus terror management theory) satisfactorily explains the existence of religions. But different people will draw different conclusions!

For good terror management theory I'd look for work by Pyszczynski or Rutjens. Pyszczynski is pretty much the father of TMT but Rutjens has a few really good articles. Plus it's all pretty easy/ interesting reading!
edit on 9-4-2015 by RedEyes619 because: Seperated text into two paragraphs.

posted on Apr, 9 2015 @ 08:06 AM
a reply to: RedEyes619

ahah I was coming in here ready to post that sun video that you posted but you already done it. That is what makes me small as well.
edit on 9-4-2015 by Shepard64 because: (no reason given)

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