Monday, July 21, 2014

The Israel Experiment

It is entirely fair to now admit Israel to be a failed social engineering experiment.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Do You See What I See?

Using religion as an example, I used to wonder hard about how people can read the same book and come up with different conclusions--thousands of different conclusions, in fact. But after reading comments people leave below on-line articles and blog posts I have realized the phenomenon is more-or-less universal. It's hard to find a string of comments where all of them take into account the actual content of the article. Some are so wrong they even completely miss the wording of the headline.

I'm not sure what to make of this specifically, but it's clear evidence of human incompetency and blind bias that keeps misery alive.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cause As Justification

I don't understand the reasoning behind the “it's just business” defense. How can some bad condition be justified by simply stating its cause?
We could also use this faulty mindset for “it's just religion” or “it's just the law.” When the existence of a problem is realized, we have a responsibility to step up and make it better, not try and justify it by simply stating the cause of the problem.

False "Too Much" Exemptions

It is correctly said that too much of anything can be bad for you, but many mistakenly think age or an agonizing life are exceptions to that adage.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Childhood Path of Corruption

From Raw Story:

A study published in the July issue of Cognitive Science determined that children who are not exposed to religious stories are better able to tell that characters in “fantastical stories” are fictional — whereas children raised in a religious environment even “approach unfamiliar, fantastical stories flexibly.”

...

This conclusion contradicts previous studies in which children were said to be “born believers,” i.e. that they possessed “a natural credulity toward extraordinary beings with superhuman powers. Indeed, secular children responded to religious stories in much the same way as they responded to fantastical stories — they judged the protagonist to be pretend.”

This early start toward the acceptance of fantasy as factual is not to be ignored in our pursuit of discovering how to improve our future.

Still Sleeping

Has the popular "Wake Up, America!" ever had an effect on anyone, ever?

Alien Babysitter

I often think that if a superior alien race were to visit us, their first move would be to assign us a babysitter.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Waiting for Hate

It seems that some people are drawn in by a positive message but only get locked in when it also includes something they can agree to hate.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Conspiracies of the Gaps

"This research consistently finds that conservatism is positively associated with heightened epistemic concerns for order, structure, closure, certainty, consistency, simplicity, and familiarity, as well as existential concerns such as perceptions of danger, sensitivity to threat, and death anxiety."

So, it's possible, I think, that conspiracy theories can also come from this mindset because it's a justification of positions that otherwise have no basis.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

How Not to Be Gay

Those who are most vehemently anti-gay like to claim homosexuality is a choice but also declare it to be one unavailable to them, the only example I can think of where some supposedly optional "behavior" is excluded from a limited group of people based on their misunderstanding of it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Failure of Founderism

There is a tendency within political, cultural and religious structures to give uncritical weight to whatever person or group of people are seen as founders of the body in question. This can reach a level that deserves the term founderism, a doctrine that decrees the declarations of founders are to always be followed. Even if circumstances would otherwise dictate a new path, a founderist still insists on following whatever instructions or statements can be ascribed to a founder(s).

This is a disastrous notion because no one at any point in time should be given control over those who follow. No one can predict the future, let alone be wise enough to make statements that would be relevant for all time. It is no secret that change is the only permanent aspect of the human condition, and to refuse to be adaptable is a notion that should allow us to easily spot the flaw in founderism.

But many of us prefer the perceived stability that comes from a never-changing set of rules, and love it even more so if those rules can be said to come from a source that is seen as perfect. Any perceived and predicted stability is a mirage, as changes will always accumulate to a point where old rules don't function. But founderism ignores this reality in favor of the dangerous notion that if the rules seem to no longer work, we are the ones not doing something right in applying them because the rules can't be faulty in a founderist's mind.

The most obvious examples of the harm founderism brings have to do with things like fundamentalist religions and political adherence to documents like the Bible and U.S. Constitution. Trying to make these outdated ideas work only creates a series of collapses, the opposite of the stability founderist's desire. We should always remember that we are responsible for ourselves and that responsibility is a moving target that requires we use the best information and tools at our disposal, things that are fortunately in a state of constant improvement. To insist what we learn as we move forward should be ignored for the thoughts of people from any point in the past is faulty on its face.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hate Thyself

We are members of species that creates political, social and religious movements that successfully teach people to hate themselves and act on that idea.

No Freedom For You

It is a common ideal that a maximum amount of freedom be available to all--until someone tries to access it.

Lie Harder

It is difficult to imagine an overall improvement in our condition now that we have come to accept as valid the tactic of continuing to lie when caught doing so.

Profound Backfire

It is embarrassing when people attempt  to create a profound thought without the necessary ingredients.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

New Liabilities For Corporate Owners

I've had thoughts along this line myself--the purpose behind the very idea of corporations was to separate individuals from the activities of the corporate entity so that individual liabilities would be eliminated. Now that the courts have pushed people and corporations together, it'll be hard for individuals to maintain distance from liabilities.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Why Are High Schools Publicly Funded?

It seems rather arbitrary that publicly financed education should end after grade 12. If we think about all years of education as an extension of the "grade" system, why do we not end public financing at grade 14? Grade 16? Grade 9?

We are not using objective standards on which to support of public education. The cutoff after 12th grade is arbitrary. But it is the case that a bachelor's degree is the current minimum required for the best chance to make a decent living. With this being the case, not paying for it is cruel; the education we do pay for is, therefore, incomplete and a heartless tease.

If we want to have a society where as many people as possible have the greatest chances possible, we should do the right thing and extend public education to 16 years, the minimum level our current society requires.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Scary Patriots

There are probably not many people called terrorists that could also not be accurately labeled patriots.

Choosing the Worst

A great deal of attention should be paid to the fact that people who so vehemently want to impose a religious belief system on everyone chooses the worst version of it.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Witty Written Word

I have just been re-introduced to the level of wit that I think we've lost when it comes to the written word after just finishing the first chapter of An Irreverent and Thoroughly Incomplete Social History of Almost Everything by Frank Muir. This book is a collection of quotes about some major categories of humanity's endeavors, including music, art, education and theater, but also includes commentary on the context of each quote, which is also very helpful.

The first chapter is on music, and although many of the quotes are simply observational tidbits that allow a glimpse of insight, many are harsh criticisms of either music in general, a piece of music in particular, or a musical style. Muir has picked scores of quotes that also showcase the cleverness with which insults and criticisms could be shared, a trait that I think has faded. Even the quotes that reveal a writer's ability to be completely out of touch show an attempt at sagacity. Here are a few:


[Isaac] Newton, hearing Handel play upon the harpsichord, could find nothing worthy to remark but the elasticity of his fingers. - Joseph Warton, 1797

She was a town-and-country soprano of the kind often used for augmenting grief at a funeral. - George Ade (1866-1944)

All singers have this fault: if asked to sing among friends they are never so inclined; if unasked, they never leave off. - Horace (65-8 BCE)

There are a few moments during her recital where one can relax and feel confident that she will make her goal, which is the end of the song. - Paul Hume, 1950

Duke of Sussex said that the execution of the Russian band was perfect, which I denied, as their hanging was omitted. - Joseph Jekyll, 1837

Classical music is the kind that we keep hoping will turn into a tune. - Kin Hubbard (1868-1930)

Going to the Opera, like getting drunk, is a sin that carries its own punishment with it, and that a very severe one. - Hannah More (1745-1833)

FLUTE, n. A variously perforated hollow stick intended for the punishment of sin, the minister of retribution being commonly a young man with straw-colored eyes and lean hair. Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

Perhaps it was because Nero played the fiddle, they burned Rome. - Oliver Herford (1863-1935)

Some new neighbors, that came a month or two ago, brought with them an accumulation of all the things to be guarded against in a London neighborhood, viz., a pianoforte, a lap-dog, and a parrot. - Jane Welsh Carlyle (1801-1866)

Wagner has beautiful moments but awful quarter hours. - Gioacchino Antonio Rossini (1792-1868)