Thursday, July 31, 2014

Categorical Denial

Our need to give simple and vague labels to large groups of individual actions and events relieves a potential mental burden by reducing the need for critical thinking in hiding away details that always differentiate one set of circumstances from another. Ironically, this desire for consistency results in inconsistent reactions and attitudes because no two actions are identical. It is nonsense to pretend they are in order to give us mindless permission to apply the same reactions to a designated category of actions. When it comes to human behavior, there are simply too many variables in play to assert one event is equivalent to another. Our reactions to any event should be appropriate its uniqueness.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Our Obsessive Need For a Changeless Cause

One of humanity's obsessive but under-noticed pursuits is the search for a stable and unchanging framework on which to hang everything we discover and experience. These efforts range from the creation of mythologies, adages, creeds, axioms and religions, to the scientific pursuit of a Theory of Everything. It also plays out in what I've called founderism, which contains within it the desire for something foundational to not only be forever fixed, but that it has been accurately discovered. This need to discover and revere a reliable and enduring primary "truth" that can't be challenged is, like any obsession, an unintended cause of dreadful behavior. Rivals in this quest can treat each other like vermin. Foes congeal into antagonizing groups that can sometimes reach the point of full-scale war.

If it exists, our descendants may one day come across an undeniably perfect description of the universe and how it works that can be used as the basis to discover a verifiable answer to any question imagined. If it happens, what conclusion it ends up producing about the path we took to get there will put a stain on the victory.

Religion Justifies All

Anyone looking to justify any action (or inaction) can always find one in religion, which means it will likely never die.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hypothesis as Proof

Many of us make the major mistake of confusing a hypothesis with a conclusion that doesn't need to be verified. For example, it is often stated that abstinence-only sex "education" for teens is valid because if teens don't have sex there can be no pregnancies, abortions or problems with STDs. As statistics show, the areas that don't provide full and accurate sexual education to teens are the ones with the highest levels of teen pregnancies and abortions. The unrecognized cause of the discrepancy is the idea behind the abstinence-only movement is a hypothesis, not a verified conclusion.

The way it should be approached is to state the idea as a hypothesis: "If we expose teens to abstinence-only ideas, there will be fewer teen pregnancies, abortions and issues with STDs." That is a statement that can be tested and verified. Instead, proponents state this as an already-proved claim which allows them to ignore the actual results.

Here are additional examples:

People will kill at the same rate with or without guns
Captialism works because of the invisible hand
It's better for everyone to be selfish
Marijuana use leads to abusing other drugs
Welfare leads to people not wanting to work
Taxing the rich leads to calamity and hurts poor people
Taxing the poor makes them work harder

Vitamin supplements are just as good as vitamins in food
Spare the rod, spoil the child

Monday, July 28, 2014


If a group was formed with the specific goal of bringing on a dystopian future, it would hard to find a difference in whatever plans they adopt and the Tea Party/Libertarian agenda.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Freezing 1789

For those who claim that only Christians in the U.S. have religious freedom because Christianity was the religion used by the country's founders when the Bill of Rights was adopted, they should also agree that only the arms available to the founders should be relevant too.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Illusionary Rights

Rights must remain as protections for all, unable to be rescinded or forfeited for any treason. Otherwise, they are an illusion.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Clan Kids

For me, articles like these ("Why So Many People Care So Much About Others' Sex Lives") highlight a social bias that children have always been seen as the sole responsibility of their biological parents in every human society, past and present.

I'm only tapping in to a general memory of history and sociology books I've read over my lifetime, but I know many of them outlined societies where children were seen as everyone's responsibility. I think it would be an insane proposal to them that biological parents be the only ones responsible for their children. They did pay attention to family relationships, of course, but these connections were used to identify membership in a large and complicated clan structure, not to isolate a "nuclear" family from everyone else in the larger group. Given that social structure, their attitudes about sex would have to be different than the conclusions in this article. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Israel Experiment

It is entirely fair to now admit Israel to be a failed social engineering experiment. Turning the population that was living there prior to the country's creation into inmates of a closed and disjointed reservation-zoo system cannot be claimed a success.

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)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Dogma, Patriotism Not Ideal

There is no substantial difference between patriotism and dogma. Improvements achieved through the revealing power of dissent is a denied option for each, meaning the denial of evidence for adaptation and change brought forth by new circumstances and better information will result in an eventual collapse. We can do better than to let past decisions based on old information and utterly different circumstances rule our present--or our future.

The Dream

I would love to find a social movement that only attracts assholes accidentally.

SCOTUS: Cheerleaders For Irrationality

The U.S. Supreme Court is supposed to be a chaperone of sorts, one that stops overly emotional and destruction actions by those acting out irrationally (and illegally). Today, however, the court makes up their cheerleading squad.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Credos Do Not Justify Failure

Most people seem to become one-trick ponies in whatever roles they play—bosses, teachers, therapists, parents, preachers, etc.rarely, if ever, even considering doing something different from what they've done in the past. We all seem to drift toward the eventual development and adoption of a set of inflexible guidelines for ourselves, often described with words like beliefs, rules or credo. But all people and experiences each of us encounter are always unique, requiring successful interactions with the world and with each other to be based on a drastically more flexible approach. We are not helping ourselves when we offer praise to someone who claims that they "at least stood up for what they believed in" when they have failed. That nonsense needs to stop.

Yes, Government Dependence is Necessary

It is a strange twist of thought that some people deride a "dependence on government" as an evil. Of course we depend on government; we would have no civilization without one. To think that a society (or an individual) can exist without depending on what a government provides, one must continually work to keep their thoughts outside of reality. The continued existence of the human race would be short and even more brutal if everyone were to try and live free from the large-scale cooperation and services we all require, ones that can only be produced by a government. Those who continue to yell that a maximum amount of separation between humans is ideal for the sake of the vague idea of free should be seen as a selfish child throwing a temper tantrum when told they need to share their toys--objects they had no part in creating.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Satire: Corporations Collecting Tithes

Okay, everyone else seems to be doing a satire piece on the Hobby Lobby case, so I guess I'll do one too...


July 2, 2014 (Oklahoma City) - Employees of the Hobby Lobby retain chain will soon have 10 percent of their paychecks withheld for the payment of tithes, a spokesperson for the family that owns the chain said today.

Announcing that the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby birth control case is "God's clear sign" that they should step up enforcement of more Biblical mandates, it was declared that the obligatory collection of tithes will play a roll in "divine wrath" from being inflicted on the company or any of its employees now that God's message as been delivered.

"God would not have allowed this ruling to occur if He was against the enforcement of Biblical edicts by corporations," said Malachi Green, a member of the family that owns the craft store chain. "It makes no sense to assume that God only wants us to enforce one of his ancient edits on our employees. This move will also prevent any future divine wrath against anyone getting an income from us."

The tithe collection will begin Aug. 3, 2014 and will be calculated on before-tax wages. "Nowhere in the Bible does it say that taxes should be exempt from the 10 percent tithe requirement," Green said.

The money will be distributed to "real" Christian churches determined by Green family members who will take applications from any church that can prove they "see women as second-class citizens, think Jesus is white and wrote the Constitution, have preached the truth that President Obama is a Muslim who needs to be impeached, regularly insult people living in poverty, have endorsed at least two conspiracy theories," and declare that "God wouldn't have allowed us to invent guns if we weren't supposed to use them in His name." Bonus points will be given for those who promote Fox News as the channel "Jesus uses to speak to America."

"This plan will ensure that our employees get right with God and their money doesn't end up going to 'pretend' Christians," Green declared.

When asked what their next God-directed move might be, Green gave a clue that it might involve women and virginity. "Read Deuteronomy 22," Green hinted.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Corporate Birth Motives Revealing

It's an overlooked point that corporations with the most adamant supporters for personhood overwhelmingly emerge from their birth into the human race as assholes.