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“Fahrenheit 451″ by Ray Bradbury

Posted on October 21, 2008 (And written in March 28, 2007?

The novel “Fahrenheit 451” is set in the USA, around the year 2450 as the “citizens” have given up on reading books, and reverted for instant audio-visual communication media, or at best, very abridged versions of the original work.

The firefighters’ job has changed into burning books, and people in their residences are doing their best to holding on to their private libraries. The trend is to substitute the “how to do things” for the “why things are done”.

And the historical processes, which led to the current lifestyle in the most advanced country, are relegated to seeking continuous fun and never caring for the consequences of these attitudes that are demanding only safety, comfort and peace of mind, and forgetting the responsibilities toward the neighbors or the under-developed countries.

 In order to bring his main idea into focus, the author Ray Bradbury loads his novel with quotations from famous writers.

The firefighter Captain Beatty has reached a desperate state and wanted to end his life. Thus, he pushed so hard the firefighter Guy Montag to react to his harassment and of burning his apartment, along with the few books that Guy stole while burning private libraries, which Guy had to burn with Beatty’s fire torch.

Before this event, Beatty is talking to Montag about a fictitious dream he had, and the dialogue between him, the Devil, and the righteous Montag.

Most of the dialogue are extracts from famous writers such as: “Sweet food of sweetly uttered knowledge,” in contrast to “Words are like leaves; much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found

And  the following quotations: “A little learning is a dangerous thing; the shallow draughts of the Pierian spring intoxicate the brain, and drinking deeply and largely sober us again;”

Or “Knowledge is more than equivalent to force;” or “He is no wise man who will quit a certainty for an uncertainty;” or “Truth will come to light, murder will not be hid long;” or “The Devil can cite scripture for his purpose

Or “The dignity of truth is lost with much protesting;” or “A dwarf on a giant’s shoulders sees the farthest of the two” to be retorted by “The folly of mistaking a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself as an oracle, is inborn in us;” or “The terrible tyranny of the majority; the solid unmoving cattle of the majority who is the most dangerous enemy to truth and freedom.”

Latimer said to Nicholas Ridley, as they were being burnt alive at Oxford for heresy in 1555,  “Master Ridley, we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”

Ray Bradbury had this outlandish notion, fifty years ago, that the visual memories of what we had read are stored intact, and a technique will be developed to retrieve the contents of books.

Consequently, the intellectuals who fled from the cities to the countryside, wandering like hobos along the old railroad track that is no longer used, have each of them specialized in memorizing a book or sections of books when the current Dark Age is over.

This new version has a coda by the author that focus on the new realities in book publishing, where the publishers are taking liberty to self-censuring sections and paragraphs that are deemed hurtful to the powerful minorities so that they might sell better and avoid group harassments.

For example, the supporters of dwarf, orangutan, dolphin, nuclear non-proliferation, environmentalist, Neo-Luddite, Unitarian, Irish, Italian, octogenarian, Buddhist, Women’s Lib, and so forth want to impose and interfere with aesthetics.

Consequently, books that focus mainly on a single gender or race or a nationality or use detailed descriptions on the diversity in culture and life style are vigorously classified as non-publishable.

Most of books are revisited and abridged for high school readers that render the style of all the books alike. For example, Twain read like Poe who read like Shakespeare who read like Dostoevsky.

Digressions which are the sunshine, the life, and the soul of reading are scraped in these abridged versions. Consequently, if we take-out philosophy away from Dante and Milton works, then what stays are dry bones.”

It is no wonder why every organized minority has as a priority to own its publishing business.

It is no wonder that I feel the US novels are all the same in style and composition and are no longer exciting if we are seeking variety, innovation, and contradiction.

Note: You may read current accounts on this topic in https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/who-is-controlling-the-present-controlled-the-past-is-set-to-control-the-future/

How do you experience this modern notion of Happiness? Part 2

Posted on September 23, 2012

In a previous post I explained the variations on the concept of happiness and posited the following questions:

Can the ideas of happiness have any sense if not described in the proper context? 

For example:

1. How an individual with a life expectancy of no more than 30 years can conceive of happiness?

2. How an individual living in the harshest conditions to survive may experience happiness?

3. How the European under absolute monarchies and with a life expectancy not surpassing 40 years could comprehend the idea of happiness?

4. How all those cow-boys of the Far West experienced the meaning of happiness?

5. Was happiness in China the same before, during and after the Chinese revolution?

6. Was happiness experienced in the same quality before, during and after the British dominion of India?

7. Has happiness the same meaning and value before and after the “Industrial Age“?

8. Has happiness the same meaning and value during this instant communication and traveling facilities?

9. Don’t you think, as life expectancy reaches 80 years, that happiness requires extensive planning and preparation as we hit retirement age?

What can you do without talent after 60? 

How can you be happy if your eyesight goes and your hearing capacity dwindle?

Put yourself in the shoes of mankind in a period where longevity meant to live a few years beyond 30?

You are an adolescent and yet you watch people dying right and left, people barely older than you are…

How would you comprehend Happiness to be? Even if this idea crossed your mind, you are already dead, before you express your “thought processes” or figuring out what Happiness feels, means, and “what for” should happiness exist in the first place…?

It is Normal that ancient philosophers could not conceive of happiness without the notion of eternity and immortality strictly linked to a happy life.

In the 19th century, mankind everywhere, barely lived to be 40 years. Even a toothache was liable for killing you out of infection, or the cruel treatment for removing a tooth…

People died from what we consider now as common diseases, and they are so many, and any one of those diseases inevitably killed, with all the bleeding treatment, and keeping the patient in stuffy closed rooms (Fresh air was considered a factor for killing the patient, and even washing with water was considered a very bad idea, liable for you to catch cold and die…)

Do you think in these harsh living conditions and poor medical understanding and treatment that you’ll be in the mood of discussing “what is happiness”?

Think of the millions of Chinese working their rice paddies. Working 360 days a year, and waking up before sun rise, knee-deep in pestilent water and blood-sucking leeches. And eating a cup of rice for breakfast and rice for dinner, and for their sweet tooth, a bite of sugary rice pudding… Do you believe these rice growers have any idea of the kinds of Happiness discussed at length by so many philosophers?

Is the satisfaction of being recognized as a hard-working and responsible member of a community a good enough ground to claim happiness?

What about the million of mothers in India, carrying babies on their back and cutting stones with stones  in order to construct a highway? They won’t even receive a pair of shoes or even sandals to walk the highway…Can these people claim to have experienced Happiness?

What about the million working 16-hour days in sweat shop factories, doing clothes, sport shoes, assembling electronic devices for multinational companies, confined in closed rooms and dormitories, barely seeing natural lights, and committing suicide by the dozens…Do you believe those people are pondering upon the attributes of Happiness?

Millions of mothers having to get rid of “Female infants” in order to satisfy government planning and idiosyncratic traditions.

What of those cow-boys during the Far West “conquest”, slaughtering bison by the thousands in order to reduce the Indians to famine, scalping Indians for a handful of dollar-coins, and transferring cows and horses to cater for need of the belligerent Northern and Confederate armies…

Eating beans for breakfast and beans for dinner, and occasionally shooting a rabbit…And wearing the same tight and uncomfortable non-stretchable jeans, and wearing long awkward boots for months on… Do you think a quick hot bath once a month, now and then, can change the outlook of those cow-boys of what is happiness?

Like desiring to eventually own a ranch and working harder until they drop dead…Why do you think cow-boys badly seek gun duel? In every miserable town they stop at? They want to ending it all, this wretched life: They are scared to die of famine, devoured by wolves, mauled by bears, bitten by snakes…

They sit at the poker table drinking whiskey, and get bored, and it is as good a time for a good fight, and “Step outside. I’ll beat the crap out of you…” or “Step outside. Watch my piss-jet out distancing yours…”

What about all these people fleeing war ravaged lands, civil wars, preemptive wars, ethnic cleansing wars, expansionist wars…and seeking refuge in any country, supposedly enjoying a modicum of security…And dying on their long hopeless journeys, inside closed containers, burned by the scorching sun, frozen crossing high mountain chains…And being quickly repatriated after they had spent all their family savings for the glimpse of “heaven”…

What attribute of Happiness these people fleeing atrocities have in mind, besides a hot meal and a cozy bed…?

What of all these European of Noble classes before the 20th century, eating meat for breakfast and for dinner, raw meat, roasted meat… and occasionally some fish…

Mind you that potatoes was Not grown in Europe before the 19th century, and rice was as rare as spices…Even today, it is sausage, potatoes and cabbage soup…

The only pleasure was drinking beer, wine, and any local alcoholic beverage, and “Life is good…when drunk”

And you tell me of women getting pregnant every year, 7 out of 10 babies still-born, and the remaining children not living to be 5-year old, and having to contend with a couple kids reaching adulthood…

And the man coming home after a long harassing work in the fields: “Woman, I am totally exhausted and cannot satisfy you tonight…” And the wife going: “Don’t worry honey. Lay down and I’ll do the job. As I usually do for the maintenance and survival of our species…”

The term Happiness was manipulated and expanded upon, through successive philosophers, trying to interpret a term that didn’t exist in the first place in their languages, exhaustively pondering on attributes and codifying Happiness into “professional books” against all odds, and rubbed at the nose of the little people

You have to give it to the ancient philosophers: They created the term “Happiness” that never existed in any popular language, and they soared above the gravity of miseries, injustice, brute force and subjugation, and grabbed on this flimsy grace, dreaming of justice and fair treatment to all, to the elite classes…

Happiness is a luxury idea.

And luxury is what people long to have access to…

What the ancient philosophers were talking about…?

Posted on September 21, 2012

In 1794, the young and radical French revolutionary Saint-Just proclaimed at the Convention: “Happiness is a new idea in Europe“.  

Saint-Just was a learned man and must have read the documents and discussions of the leaders of the American Revolution and the concept that happiness is a natural right for every citizen

Was this idea of happiness similar to the one understood in Europe?

After the French Revolution, there were ideas thrown around that all citizens were entitled to , like to eat properly, enjoy health, free time for leisure, appropriate retirement conditions…

What substituted to happiness in Europe before the French Revolution?

Before the revolution, the little people were invisible and were of no concern to the nobility in these absolute monarchies, except when famine hits and the power feels the heat…

The ancient philosophers and the succeeding thinkers viewed happiness as “a way of living”, guided by virtue and reason, in relative indifference to material possession and worldly successes.

It was out of the question that idiots can be considered to be happy…

It was not conceivable to claim happiness if you believed that it could have an end: Happiness was a concept directly linked to a faith in eternity and immortality.

Happiness was irreducibly an elitist acquisition, reserved for those who had the mental and material means to become wise and leisurely contemplate nature and the living people…

What could be the meaning and value of Happiness in modern time?

The “utilitarian” vision of happiness (Jeremy Bentham) proclaimed that happiness is in essence the absence of pains and aches, and the satisfaction of individual preferences can come in any order…The goal of  the activities of individuals is the greater happiness possible within the greater number of mankind “the common good”.

This “democratization” of happiness, at the reach of the little people, was denuded of its sacred meanings, detached of its religious connotations, Not opposite to ephemeral and artificial pleasures…

Like what kinds of modern pleasures?

Smoking marijuana, taking cocaine, morphine, hallucinogenic products, Prozac…watching action movies, scary movies, science fiction movies…all kinds of musics, concerts, all kinds of variety of food, visiting remote regions, seeing new cultures and civilization…wearing variety of clothes…engaging in a variety of physical activities and sports…

The German philosopher Kant tried to demonstrate that happiness bears No Moral meaning.

For example, there are so many objective desires that people aspire to, such as wealth, glory, power…Can we agree that these “values” are at best controversial and not evident to the little people? So many exploiters and tyrants have been swimming in happiness

How happiness was characterized before the French revolution?

1. Epicure (341-270 BC) taught in his Garden to oppose the rigor of stoicism, and to converge toward a moral of moderation “Let’s not jump into any kinds of pleasure…There is no agreeable living without a hefty dose of prudence, honesty and justice…”

2. Seneca (4 BC-65) The individual should be capable of combining reason and character in order to find pleasure from his physical faculties “I am after happiness of man and not of his stomach…”

3. Leibniz (1646-1716): “Evil exists. Considering Creation as a whole, God did his best…The grain suffer in the soil before bearing fruits…Our suffering lead the way to the good, to the greater perfection…”

4. Spinoza (1632-1677): “The essence of mankind is the desire to be happy, to live good, and to act good…The only access to happiness is to know what determine our passions in the natural order of the universe…”

And what are the visions of happiness after 1789?

5. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). All the pleasures are Not of equal values. It is better to be an unhappy Socrates rather than a happy imbecile. Individual happiness is not complete if the common good is forgotten and neglected…

6. Nietzsche (1844-1900): “Who cannot learn to take a break to forget the past, to enjoy the moment, will never appreciate happiness, and will never learn how render others happy…There is a level of insomnia, of rumination, and of historical meaning that ruin the living person and annihilate his happiness…”

7. Georges Bataille (1897-1962): “If happiness is a reaction to the call of desire, and if desire is a caprice incarnate…then happiness is the sole moral value…”

8. Michel Foucault (1926-1962): “Abstinence that leads to individual sovereignty is happiness without desire and without trouble…”

Many modern critiques and thinkers made it a business (publishing books of how to be happy…) to fall back into the archaic version of “learning to be happy…”

Kind of  “if we know how to enjoy life in the cheapest way possible…” happiness can be in the reach of everyone…(except those dying of famine and of common diseases…?)

All that talks of ancient and modern ideas of happiness have no sense if not described and explained within the proper context of the period and culture.

For example:

1. How an individual with a life expectancy of no more than 30 years can conceive of happiness?

2. How an individual living in the harshest conditions to survive may experience happiness?

3. How the European under absolute monarchies and with a life expectancy not surpassing 40 years could comprehend the idea of happiness?

4. How all those cow-boys of the Far West experienced the meaning of happiness?

5. Was happiness the same before, during and after the Chinese revolution?

6. Was happiness experienced in the same quality before, during and after the British dominion of India?

7. Has happiness the same meaning and value before and after the “Industrial Age“?

8. Has happiness the same meaning and value during this instant communication and traveling facilities?

9. Don’t you think as life expectancy reaches 80 years that happiness requires extensive planing and preparation as we hit retirement age?

What can you do without talent after 60?  How can you be happy if your eyesight goes and your hearing capacity dwindle?

The next article intends to describe the feasibility of experiencing “happiness” within the proper context

Note: Post inspired from a study by Ruwen Ogien in the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur #2490

Just How Much Fallacy is “Your To Quoque”?

Posted by danielwalldammit Nov. 7, 2020

We all learned that two wrongs don’t make a right when we were kids, didn’t we? (Like 2 negative identities pronouncement don’t make a sustainable positive identity)

And we learned that ‘you too’ arguments are a fallacy back in Freshman logic class. Right?

Maybe not everybody side with this logic, but this is a lesson a lot of us probably have in common.

Most educated people ought to know that there is something wrong with answering a criticism by saying “you do it too!” or some variation thereof. Hell, most decent people ought to know better than that regardless of their education.

Why do we do it? Since almost everybody does it on at least some occasions.

To be fair, some people do it more than others. They will do it every chance they get. Others try not to, most of the time anyway.

The penchant for answering a serious concern with a quick ‘you-too’ gambit varies from one person to another, but I don’t know that anyone avoids it entirely.

This tactic also comes and goes with the times. It’s been particularly common for the last 4 years, so much so that folks even coined a new term for it; ‘whataboutism.’

The “Your side does it too” gambit has made a regular appearance in public debate for a long time, but it’s been particularly common for the space of about one presidential administration (or an administration plus the campaign before it). So, the internet collectively coined a new term to describe it.

Why is this kind of argument so common? One reason is that it is Not always a fallacy. Another is that for some people, it really is a way of life.

Variable Relevance: The (ir-)relevance of ‘you too’ games varies in a couple of interesting ways.

If someone corrects my behavior and I respond with “you do it too?” am I really engaging in a fallacy?

Variable Conclusions: If I mean by that you-too response that I am not really wrong, because you do it too, then yes. Hell yes!

If that’s what I mean, then I am absolutely engaging in the tu quoque fallacy. If, on the other hand, I mean; “Okay, I need to correct my behavior, but so should you, because you do in fact do this too,” then my response is not entirely unreasonable. I’m not denying my wrong-doing in this instance. I am just asking you to correct your own behavior right along with me.

Alternatively, I could employ a ‘you-too’ argument by refusing to accept a rule that I have good reason to believe others are not going to follow themselves.

Let’s imagine we are playing a game of soccer and you tell me I should stop touching the ball with my hands. I could then say you do it too as a means of insisting either that you stop yourself or that we are just going to continue playing an odd game of soccer in which both of us are allowed to touch the ball with our hands. In this case, I am refusing to play by unfair rules, or unfair application of those rules.

It seems that there are at least some conclusions which could be reasonably drawn from a premise beginning with an assertion that is essentially saying “you do it too.”

Plus Alternatives: There is another context in which “you too” starts to become more relevant than it would otherwise be. In this case, the tu-quoque fallacy has some company, because the False Alternatives fallacy comes in here right along with it. This is the context of constrained choices.

If I tell you that apples bother my teeth, so I don’t like eating them, it would normally be quite foolish to respond by telling me that cookies have too much sugar. Whether or not cookies have too much sugar, apples still bother my teeth (always feels like I am biting into styrofoam). That does not change if cookies are bad for me. So, the cookie-themed response seems quite irrelevant.

…unless I want a snack, and I have exactly 2 options!

If my universe of possible choices includes an apple and a cookie, then problems with one might very well be a reasonable answer to my expressed concerns about the other. It’s not so much a logical inference as it is a conversational implicature.

A possible respondent hears me complaining about the apple, realizes I have offered it as a reason for choosing the cookie instead, and responds by reminding me of a good reason to avoid the cookie

Of course apples and cookies don’t make these arguments themselves, so if this is a concern about false alternatives, how does it relate to the tu-quoque fallacy?

Well, it comes into play when the apples and cookies do make these arguments themselves, or at least when we divide ourselves up into an obviously apple camp and a clearly cookie camp.

Or maybe when we try to pick a President.

If I say that Donald Trump has been self-dealing throughout his Presidency as a means of saying he is a terrible President, it wouldn’t normally help matters to say that Hillary does it too (using the Uranium One story about her charity foundation for example).

Neither would it help to raise the prospect of similar corruption on the part of the Biden family.

These become relevant during elections precisely because the obvious alternative choice is understood, and so the range of viable possibilities is narrowed sufficiently to make these normally irrelevant arguments matter after all.

And here, 3rd party-proponents will have an obvious complaint of their own.

What if there are better choices?

What if you can point to a candidate that doesn’t have a history of self-dealing (or, more to the point, a history of having the charge of self-dealing leveled at them by political opponents)?

That’s a reasonable concern and one that speaks directly to the very kind of problem that logicians are trying to call our attention to when speaking about ‘false alternatives’ and ‘tu-quoque’ fallacies.

Part of the concern here lies in just how viable the third parties really are and what you are trying to accomplish with your vote, both of which speak to the question of just how constrained the alternatives here really are.

If a 3rd party might really win, then it would be quite illogical to respond to a criticism of one major party candidate as though it were an obvious endorsement of another.

Conversely, you may know that the 3rd party is going to lose but choose to vote for them anyway as a means of signaling to the major parties that they should take you own political values more seriously.

If enough others vote the same way, this could become leverage in the next election.

If a 3rd party candidate is, however, not a serious contender for winning an election, and the election is just too important to risk on a symbolic statement, then we may be back in the realm of 2 real choices and dirt on one viable candidate really will have to be weighed against dirt on the other.

In such cases, “your guy does it too” and “the alternative is worse” start to become relevant again.

Where your choices are constrained, criticisms of one choice can provide a meaningful response to criticisms of another, but this is still problematic. Such arguments don’t erase problems, and they don’t disprove initial claims.

If you tell me, for example, that Hunter Biden was using his father’s position as Vice President under the Obama administration to make money, reminding you that the Trump family profits from his role as President (e.g. through fees paid by the Secret Service to Trump properties during his visits, use of political leverage to get Ivanka’s patents in China, or simply the profits made when foreign diplomats choose to stay at Trump properties while negotiating with him) will not prove the claims about Hunter Biden are untrue.

If I want to do that, then I have to provide an argument directly debunking the claims about Hunter Biden activities. What do I get out of calling attention to similar shenanigans about Trump? I get an argument about the significance one relative to the other. I get an argument about how each balances against the other when we assume both criticisms are of roughly equal merit.

That may not be the best argument I could produce on the topic, but it would not be fallacious. It’s in this context that ‘you too’ (or at least ‘your guy too’) arguments start to make a little more sense.

One fascinating thing about this is the way that the relevance of such arguments comes and goes.

I understood claims about Uranium One, debunked as they are, as a concern in the 2016 election. It was fascinating to me, however, seeing Trump fans continue bringing this up in response to criticism of his actions well into the Trump administration.

I found myself saying; “well let’s impeach her too” then, by which I hoped to suggest that this was no longer a relevant means of answering concerns about Trump’s own actions.

As the 2020 election heated up, concerns about Biden became a more viable means of offsetting those about Trump (at least to those who care nothing about proportion or credibility of the sources). In terms of addressing the choice at hand, it was useful for the Trump camp to have a claim about political corruption in play precisely because they knew many such claims could be held against Donald.

What the merits of each claim really are is of course a debatable question, but having comparable accusations on the table makes possible a kind of argument about how one wishes to weigh one relative to the other.

When we were all expected to weigh Donald Trump’s character against that of another person, complaints about that other person could pass a certain test of minimal relevance to complaints about him. So, the relevance comparison to other people to criticisms of Donald Trump came and went over the course of his Presidential administration.

When he was operating on his own, and the only viable question was about his own competence and integrity, they should have gone away.

Of course they didn’t.

Constraining Personalities: This brings us to one last point; some people thrive on the sort of constrained choices I am describing here. When they face an open range of possibilities, they work very hard to create the illusion of constrained choices anyway.

Yes, I have Donald Trump in mind here.

I am also writing about his many fans.

There is a reason the Trump camp was such a source of whataboutism claims throughout his Presidency. This is both a feature of the base to which he consciously pitched his politics and to personality of Donald Trump himself.

Audience: There are people who live in a world of artificially constrained choices, and you can see it their responses to a broad range if issues.

Did you say Fox news got something wrong? Well then you must be watching too much MSNBC. If there is a problem with capitalism, well then why don’t you just go try China? Don’t like Christianity? You must be an atheist!

Is the American healthcare system broken? Well then, let me tell you the horror stories coming out of Canada! Concerned about police brutality? You must support riots in the streets! Don’t like coke? Shut up and drink your Beer!

And so on…

Perhaps all of us fall into this way of thinking from time to time, but some people really do seem to think in such terms on a regular basis.

They live in a world of social Manichaeism, a world in which 2 rival forces contend with one another for control of the world and of our loyalties.

Anything said against one can clearly be understood as support for the other, because all questions of value must be measured according to the standard of which force one wishes to align oneself with.

Other options are always illusory. You are with the lord of light or you are with the lord of darkness, and if you don’t declare your loyalties openly, then that is a good reason to suspect you are on the wrong side of this conflict.

In effect, such people keep making use of the false-alternatives fallacy because they actually do live in a world in which their choices are always constrained. Their assumptions about the world around them and the choices available to all of us consistently reduce all choices to a binary opposition.

Always!

Brief Technicality: I should add that the Not all binary opposition are equal. What typically happens here is that people looking at contrary relationships often construe them as contradictory relationships? What is the difference?

In a Contradictory relationship between two claims, they two have opposite truth values. If one is true, the other is false. If one is false, the other is true.

In a contrary relationship between two claims, on the other hand, one of them must be false, but it is at least possible that both will be false. (Two negative positions don’t make a positive stand)

In the case of either a contrary relationship or a contradictory relationship, you could infer the falsehood of one claim from the truth of the other, but you could only infer the truth of one claim from the falsehood of the other in the case of a contradictory relationship, not in the case of a contrary relationship.

Case in point: If I know that John is voting for Biden, I can conclude he is clearly not voting for Trump (unless he wants his ballot to be thrown out). If, on the other hand, I know he is not voting for Biden, I could not normally conclude that he is voting for Trump. He might be voting for a third party after all (and whether or not that is a good idea brings up all the points made above).

So, political loyalties are not usually well modeled on the basis of a contradictory relationship. Such loyalties are contrary at best even if specific choices made on the basis of those loyalties (e.g. voting) might be framed in terms of contradictory relationships.

Another example?

If you like capitalism, it’s probably safe to assume you are not in favor of communism, but could we really infer from a criticism of capitalism that you were a communist? No. You could be in favor of some alternative political economy.

Old fashioned trade guilds, perhaps coupled with mercantilism, subsistence economics (as practiced in many indigenous communities), or good old Georgism (which may or may not be a form of socialism, depending on who you ask), all come to mind. (So, does rejecting the terms ‘capitalism’ or ‘communism’ outright as being to vague and sweeping.).

Inferring support for one of these highly loaded terms from opposition to the other is hardly reasonable, and yet, people do it all the time.

People who should know better.

But people often treat contrary relationships as though they were contradictory, thus enabling a faulty implicature, the inference of a specific loyalty from criticism of an alternative commonly understood to be its opposite. This empowers both false alternatives and tu-quoque arguments. For some people this approach to decision making is just too gratifying to resist.

We sometimes encounter simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, and hence make choices between contradictory values, but much of our thinking takes place in a world with a broader range of possibilities.

Those locked into the mindset of Social Manichaeism are constantly pushing us to think in narrower terms to begin with. If all of us are prone to miss the possibilities from time to time, then some people seem to take this as a point of principle.

Personality: Enter a living train-wreck such as Donald Trump! He thrives on constrained choices precisely because his own actions and his own statements cannot stand up to scrutiny on their own merits.

Whatever the man may have been like when he was younger, he has long since accumulated a range of of bad deals, unpaid debts, and obvious lies in a personal history of chronically abusive behavior. His own credibility would never stand up to scrutiny, not from anyone making an honest effort.

So, how does he manage?

He always brings with him a broad range of bluffs and diversions, and one of the most important is a constant penchant for attacking someone in virtually any context, and for doing it in the most humiliating way possible.

Every claim he might make, every question one might ask, is then subsumed under the effect of this personal attack. For those under attack, this means trying to balance the need to defend yourself against the effort to address any objective issues that may be on the table.

For bystanders, it is a question of balancing concerns over Trump’s behavior against those he raises about others. In the ensuing hostilities, Trump can raise and drop any issues he wishes, make false claims, and set them aside at his leisure.

If he is caught flat footed, the solution is as simple as insulting the person who pointed it out or any source they may rely upon. The end-result is a choice between him or someone else, and any doubts about that other person whatsoever will be enough for Donald. He has spent his lifetime exploiting the benefit of the doubt. It is a benefit does not share with others.

The logic of the whataboutism gambit suits Trump’s style perfectly.

Is Trump University credible? What about Hillary?!

Did Donald tell a lie? Ask Obama if you can keep your insurance?!

Is he mistreating immigrants? What are the Dems doing to protect us?! (…and after 2016, ask Obama, because he did it first?)

Is the Trump family self-dealing through their position in government? Where is Hunter?!

You get the idea.

This is a man in deep need of enemies. The closest he will ever get to redemption lies in the hope that those around him will think him better than the alternative.

Small wonder that he preferred to keep Hillary on the table as a kind of shadow President, a mythic character he could use as a whipping woman even in the 2020 election. At the peak of his Presidency, when she should have been off the table entirely, she was still the answer to concerns about Trump, replaced only when Biden stepped in to become Trump’s new foil, and only partially so at that.

Trump has always needed a constrained choice to make a case for himself, because he is of no value on his own.

To know the worth of Donald Trump, one has always to ask what about someone else.

A man like that is made for the sort of strife we have seen this week, and throughout his Presidency. He is at his peak when the whole world has to think in terms of the constrained choices he seeks to bring about in all times and all places.

For most of us these moments come and go. For the likes of Donald Trump, such moments are the only ones that count.

Is Donald Trump the only person like this? Not by a long shot, but he is my exhibit ‘A’, and as he is still in a position to do us all harm, he seems to be a relevant example.

It was the dramatic nature of our recent elections that got me thinking about the way that certain arguments seem more compelling at some times than other.

I could just as easily have written an epitaph for nuance.

Perhaps that would have been more to the point.

Let us hope that subtlety finds room to breathe in all our minds sometime soon! It is one thing to say ‘no’ with conviction when that is what is called for, and it is quite another to live in a world that is polemics all the way down.

In the end, the point here is that there seem to be some folks who really thrive on the ability to reduce the world to a pair of choices under the assumption that to affirm one is to deny the other.

Elections may be a special time to such folks, a moment in which certain patterns of thought seem a little less flawed and a moment in which the rest of the world may just be happy to join in that same pattern of thinking.

We probably all engage in similar patterns of thought in many other contexts, sports rivalries and all manner of brand loyalties come to mind.

For my own part, I hope soon to set some of this aside and think about other things. I can’t quite say that i am ready yet.

I can’t quite say that the rest of America is either.

Nutcases of religious jokers

Posted on January 11, 2012

Even the most confirmed nutcases among clerics would never claim that stories in religious books were generated from eye-witness people…

So why all clerics refuse to admit that all these stories are fiction?

What’s wrong with fiction stories anyway? Just admit these stories are fiction

Fiction stories are the norm and the most appreciated form for readers and writers…

Why clerics of religions and sects insist that these horror stories were inspired by a God?

Stories of sacrificial ceremonies of virgins, kids, animals…sprinkling blood and semen around tents of potential enemies…

And killers nutcase emulating the stories by the letters, through the ages?

Religious stories were fiction stories based on common daily customs and traditions among tribes, clans and communities. They were believable because they were describing life-styles, common to the period.

They were told from generations to generations by appointed storytellers, in “broken-telephone” communication fashion, edited and transformed to match the customs and tradition of a newer period…

It was the custom of appointing a higher-power as the cause or genesis of whatever happens in life and to community events…

This higher-power was tailor-made by each tribe and community to represent its interests and securing its continuity and survival…

Many civilizations transformed the verbal transmission of the myths into writing, and these civilizations were considered to have acceded to truth and the light…

Why? Very few people could read at these ancient periods, many less  to write, and the clerics had the monopoly of this magical power.

Even today, the written material conserves a magical power of high credibility: You hear people say “It is written in black on white…Here, you read for yourself…”

Any book relegating pages of reference “source materials”, even if never read by the author, extends the illusion of credibility to any manuscript.

For example, Even Prophet Muhammad labelled the tribes in the Arabian Peninsula who didn’t yet read from a written Book, such as Christian or Jewish sects, as having not reached the truth and the light, and thus were called ignorantJahel”.

The Babylonian, Egyptian, and Phoenician civilizations did that, though what is found is in stone tablets and not many of them remain.

It happened that a group of Jews who settled Alexandria (Egypt) in 200 BC decided to gather, codify, and re-arrange the Hebrew fiction stories into easier to handle written materials.

Mind you that all these fiction stories and myths were common to the civilization in the Near-East region, and not much editing was required for the content sources.

The higher power was selected to be called Jehovah (the warrior God idol of the Jews in the City of Jerusalem during the Canaanite civilization, these bedouin tribes hired as mercenaries), and many prophets were added to the string of the biographical history.

Since then, hundred of sects split, sorting out and re-editing the fiction stories they preferred, as representative of their culture, the accredited stories, the apocryphal (hidden truth), the heretic, the devilish…burning the books that do not suit the sect…

Why governments have to keep subsidizing clerics and their institutions?

Are current fiction stories not good enough or versatile enough?

Why Presidential contenders have to use religious beliefs as the main dividing line in the campaign?

Why children in schools have to memorize these fiction stories and be graded accordingly?

Are current fiction stories for kids not good enough?

Can we stop these charades?

Can we live in peace?

What? Teach all religions in schools to generate Informed citizenship? Or to prove their discrimination among social classes?

Posted on February 23, 2016 and written in 2006

Dan Dennett argues that human consciousness and “free will” are the result of physical processes.

His latest book is “Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking,” Full bio

Philosopher Dan Dennett calls for religions — all religion — to be taught in schools, so we can understand its nature as a natural phenomenon. Then he takes on The Purpose-Driven Life, disputing its claim that, to be moral, one must deny evolution

You must be wondering, “What on earth? Have they put up the wrong slide?” No, no. Look at this magnificent beast, and ask the question: Who designed it?

Dan Dennett. Let’s teach religion — all religion — in schools . Posted July 2006

This is TED; this is Technology, Entertainment, Design, and there’s a dairy cow. It’s a quite wonderfully designed animal.

Religions have become domesticated, and human beings have been redesigning their religions for thousands of years. (Not sure how religious sects have been domesticated: they are the ultimate rebels for any change in society, and they act extremely well to preserve their privileges)

And I was thinking, how do I introduce this? And I thought maybe that old doggerel by Joyce Kilmer, you know: “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.” And you might say, “Well, God designed the cow.”

But, of course, God got a lot of help. This is the ancestor of cattle. This is the aurochs. And it was designed by natural selection, the process of natural selection, over many millions of years.

And then it became domesticated, thousands of years ago. And human beings became its stewards, and, without even knowing what they were doing, they gradually redesigned it and redesigned it and redesigned it.

And then more recently, they really began to do reverse engineering on this beast and figure out just what the parts were, how they worked and how they might be optimized — how they might be made better.

Now, why am I talking about cows?

Because I want to say that much the same thing is true of religions.

Religions are natural phenomena — they’re just as natural as cows. They have evolved over millennia. They have a biological base, just like the aurochs.

Religions have become domesticated, and human beings have been redesigning their religions for thousands of years. 

This is TED, and I want to talk about design.

Because what I’ve been doing for the last four years, some of you saw me at TED when I was talking about religion — and in the last four years, I’ve been working just about non-stop on this topic. And you might say it’s about the reverse engineering of religions.

Now that very idea, I think, strikes terror in many people, or anger, or anxiety of one sort or another. And that is the spell that I want to break.  (Extremists in any religious sect have redesigned their religions backward, away from social coexistence)

I want to say, no, religions are an important natural phenomenon. We should study them with the same intensity that we study all the other important natural phenomena, like global warming, as we heard so eloquently last night from Al Gore.

Today’s religions are brilliantly designed: They are immensely powerful social institutions and many of their features can be traced back to earlier features that we can really make sense of by reverse engineering.

And, as with the cow, there’s a mixture of evolutionary design — designed by natural selection itself — and intelligent design — more or less intelligent design — and redesigned by human beings who are trying to redesign their religions.

You don’t do book talks at TED, but I’m going to have just one slide about my book, because there is one message in it which I think this group really needs to hear. And I would be very interested to get your responses to this.

It’s the one policy proposal that I make in the book, at this time, when I claim not to know enough about religion to know what other policy proposals to make. And it’s one that echoes remarks that you’ve heard already today.

Here’s my proposalEducate people on world religions for all of our children — in primary school, in high school, in public schools, in private schools and in home schooling.

So what I’m proposing is, just as we require reading, writing, arithmetic, American history, so we should have a curriculum on facts about all the religions of the world — about their history, about their creeds, about their texts, their music, their symbolisms, their prohibitions, their requirements. (The context, historical and political facts)

And this should be presented factually, straightforwardly, with no particular spin, to all of the children in the country. And as long as you teach them that, you can teach them anything else you like. (Keep the children away from these “religious facts” and various spins: let them master some writing and calculus skills)

That is maximal tolerance for religious freedom.

As long as you inform your children about other religions, then you may — and as early as you like and whatever you like — teach them whatever creed you want them to learn. But also let them know about other religions. (So that religion does Not become a political tool to established institutions? Religion is the ultimate in political upbringing)

Why do I say that? Because democracy depends on an informed citizenship.

Informed consent is the very bedrock of our understanding of democracy. Misinformed consent is not worth it. It’s like a coin flip; it doesn’t count, really.

Democracy depends on informed consent. This is the way we treat people as responsible adults. Now, children below the age of consent are a special case (Really?)

Parents are stewards of their children. They don’t own them. You can’t own your children. You have a responsibility to the world, to the state, to them, to take care of them right. 

You may teach them whatever creed you think is most important, but I say you have a responsibility to let them be informed about all the other creeds in the world, too. (So drop “educating” religion to children until they can form their mind. Actually, studies have proven that children who were Not educated of any kind of religion developed to be broad minded and tolerant)

The reason I’ve taken this time is I’ve been fascinated to hear some of the reactions to this. One reviewer for a Roman Catholic newspaper called it “totalitarian.” It strikes me as practically libertarian. Is it totalitarian to require reading, writing and arithmetic? I don’t think so.

All I’m saying is — and facts, facts only; no values, just facts — about all the world’s religions. (Including making sense of irrational myths?)

Another reviewer called it “hilarious.” Well, I’m really bothered by the fact that anybody would think that was hilarious. It seems to me to be such a plausible, natural extension of the democratic principles we already have that I’m shocked to think anybody would find that just ridiculous.

I know many religions are so anxious about preserving the purity of their faith among their children that they are intent on keeping their children ignorant of other faiths. I don’t think that’s defensible. But I’d really be pleased to get your answers on that — any reactions to that — later.

Back to the cow. This picture, which I pulled off the web — the fellow on the left is really an important part of this picture. That’s the steward. Cows couldn’t live without human stewards — they’re domesticated. They’re a sort of ectosymbiont. They depend on us for their survival. (So does people)

And Pastor Rick was just talking about sheep. I’m going to talk about sheep, too. There’s a lot of serendipitous convergence here. How clever it was of sheep to acquire shepherds!  

Think of what this got them. They could outsource all their problems: protection from predators, food-finding …  health maintenance.

The only cost in most flocks — not even this — a loss of free mating. What a deal! (A big deal for the chimpanzees and the bonobo kinds)

“How clever of sheep!” you might say. Except, of course, it wasn’t the sheep’s cleverness. 

We all know sheep are not exactly rocket scientists — they’re not very smart. It wasn’t the cleverness of the sheep at all. They were clueless. But it was a very clever move. Whose clever move was it? It was the clever move of natural selection itself. (What? the cows realized that they are better off to be controlled by humans?)

Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA with Jim Watson, once joked about what he called Orgel’s Second Rule.

Leslie Orgel is a molecular biologist, brilliant guy, and Orgel’s Second Rule is: 

Evolution is cleverer than you are

That is not Intelligent Design — not from Francis Crick.  Evolution is cleverer than you are. If you understand Orgel’s Second Rule, then you understand why the Intelligent Design movement is basically a hoax.

The designs discovered by the process of natural selection are brilliant, unbelievably brilliant. (A big qualification from someone whose understanding of evolution is related to religion)

Again and again biologists are fascinated with the brilliance of what’s discovered. But the process itself is without purpose, without foresight, without design.

When I was here four years ago, I told the story about an ant climbing a blade of grass. And why the ant was doing it was because its brain had been infected with a lancet fluke that was needed to get into the belly of a sheep or a cow in order to reproduce. So it was sort of a spooky story.

And I think some people may have misunderstood. Lancet flukes aren’t smart. I submit that the intelligence of a lancet fluke is down there, somewhere between petunia and carrot. They’re not really bright. They don’t have to be. The lesson we learn from this is: you don’t have to have a mind to be a beneficiary.

The design is there in nature, but it’s not in anybody’s head. It doesn’t have to be. That’s the way evolution works. Question: Was domestication good for sheep? It was great for their genetic fitness. (Looking slender when sheared?)

And here I want to remind you of a wonderful point that Paul MacCready made at TED three years ago. Here’s what he said: “Ten thousand years ago, at the dawn of agriculture, human population, plus livestock and pets, was approximately a tenth of one percent of the terrestrial vertebrate landmass.”

That was just 10,000 years ago. Yesterday, in biological terms. What is it today? Does anybody remember what he told us? 98 percent. That is what we have done on this planet.

I talked to Paul afterwards — I wanted to check to find out how he’d calculated this, and get the sources and so forth — and he also gave me a paper that he had written on this. And there was a passage in it which he did not present here and I think it is so good, I’m going to read it to you:

“Over billions of years on a unique sphere, chance has painted a thin covering of life: complex, improbable, wonderful and fragile. Suddenly, we humans — a recently arrived species no longer subject to the checks and balances inherent in nature — have grown in population, technology and intelligence to a position of terrible power. We now wield the paintbrush.”

We heard about the atmosphere as a thin layer of varnish. Life itself is just a thin coat of paint on this planet. And we’re the ones that hold the paintbrush. And how can we do that?

The key to our domination of the planet is culture (the culture of greed and exploitation?)

And the key to culture is religion. Suppose Martian scientists came to Earth. They would be puzzled by many things. Anybody know what this is? I’ll tell you what it is. This is a million people gathering on the banks of the Ganges in 2001, perhaps the largest single gathering of human beings ever, as seen from satellite photograph. Here’s a big crowd. Here’s another crowd in Mecca. Martians would be amazed by this. (Maybe their amazement is why this crowd is Not bigger? With all that ignorance that religions spread in population)

They’d want to know how it originated, what it was for and how it perpetuates itself.

Actually, I’m going to pass over this. The ant isn’t alone. There’s all sorts of wonderful cases of species which — in that case — A parasite gets into a mouse and needs to get into the belly of a cat. 

And it turns the mouse into Mighty Mouse, makes it fearless, so it runs out in the open, where it’ll be eaten by a cat. True story.

In other words, we have these hijackers — you’ve seen this slide before, from four years ago — a parasite that infects the brain and induces even suicidal behavior, on behalf of a cause other than one’s own genetic fitness.

Does that ever happen to us? Yes, it does — quite wonderfully.

The Arabic word “Islam” means “submission.” It means “surrender of self-interest to the will of Allah.” But I’m not just talking about Islam. I’m talking also about Christianity. 

This is a parchment music page that I found in a Paris bookstall 50 years ago. And on it, it says, in Latin: “Semen est verbum Dei. Sator autem Christus.” The word of God is the seed and the sower of the seed is Christ. Same idea. Well, not quite. But in fact, Christians, too … glory in the fact that they have surrendered to God.

I’ll give you a few quotes. “The heart of worship is surrender. Surrendered people obey God’s words, even if it doesn’t make sense.” Those words are by Rick Warren. Those are from “The Purpose Driven Life.” (And who really heard a God pronounce a word to note it down?

And I want to turn now, briefly, to talk about that book, which I’ve read. You’ve all got a copy, and you’ve just heard the man. And what I want to do now is say a bit about this book from the design standpoint, because I think it’s actually a brilliant book.

First of all, the goal is to bring purpose to the lives of millions, and he has succeeded. Is it a good goal? In itself, I’m sure we all agree, it is a wonderful goal. He’s absolutely right. (Purpose of surrendering to nonsense?)

There are lots of people out there who don’t have purpose in their life, and bringing purpose to their life is a wonderful goal. I give him an A+ on this.

Is the goal achieved? Yes. Thirty million copies of this book. (If these books were Not distributed for free, you think people would be roaming without any purpose? And how many actually read a chapter of this book?) Al Gore, eat your heart out.  

This is a fantastic achievement. And the means — how does he do it?

It’s a brilliant redesign of traditional religious themes — updating them, quietly dropping obsolete features, putting new interpretations on other features. This is the evolution of religion that’s been going on for thousands of years, and he’s just the latest brilliant practitioner of it.

I don’t have to tell you this; you just heard the man (which man, again?) 

Excellent insights into human psychology, wise advice on every page. Moreover, he invites us to look under the hood. (Turned out to be a large void?) I really appreciated that. For instance, he has an appendix where he explains his choice of translations of different Bible verses.

The book is clear, vivid, accessible, beautifully formatted. Just enough repetition. That’s really important. 

Every time you read it or say it, you make another copy in your brain. (That is crowding an already empty brain. Even these stories of killing everybody after ransacking a town?)

And now we come to my problem. Because I’m absolutely sincere in my appreciation of all that I said about this book. But I wish it were better. I have some problems with the book.  (Good. At least there is a few problems. Brilliant requires a few problems too)

And it would just be insincere of me not to address those problems. I wish he could do this with a revision, a Mark 2 version of his book. “The truth will set you free.” That’s what it says in the Bible, and it’s something that I want to live by, too.

My problem is, some of the bits in it I don’t think are true.

Now some of this is a difference of opinion. And that’s not my main complaint, that’s worth mentioning. 

Here’s a passage  “If there was no God we would all be accidents, the result of astronomical random chance in the Universe. You could stop reading this book because life would have no purpose or meaning or significance. There would be no right or wrong and no hope beyond your brief years on Earth.”

I just do not believe that. By the way, I find — Homer Groening film presented a beautiful alternative to that very claim. 

Yes, there is meaning and a reason for right or wrong. We don’t need a belief in God to be good or to have meaning in us. But that, as I said, is just a difference of opinion. That’s not what I’m really worried about. (Excellent. Agreed with you. Close that damned book and learn to do science and experiment)

How about this: “God designed this planet’s environment just so we could live in it.” (Thus, if humans are destroying this environment, we should start listening to Al Gore instead)

I’m afraid that a lot of people take that sentiment to mean that we don’t have to do the sorts of things that Al Gore is trying so hard to get us to do. I am not happy with that sentiment at all.

And then I find this:

“All the evidence available in the biological sciences supports the core proposition that the cosmos is a specially designed whole with life and mankind as its fundamental goal and purpose, a whole in which all facets of reality have their meaning and explanation in this central fact.” 

Well, that’s Michael Denton. He’s a creationist. And here, I think, “Wait a minute.” I read this again. I read it three or four times and I think, “Is he really endorsing Intelligent Design? Is he endorsing creationism here?” And you can’t tell. So I’m sort of thinking, “Well, I don’t know, I don’t know if I want to get upset with this yet.” (You can repeat “I don’t know” ad nauseum and it will not make a dent)

But then I read on, and I read this: “First, Noah had never seen rain, because prior to the Flood, God irrigated the earth from the ground up.” I wish that sentence weren’t in there, because I think it is false. (Now starting to get funny)

And I think that thinking this way about the history of the planet, after we’ve just been hearing about the history of the planet over millions of years, discourages people from scientific understanding. Now, Rick Warren uses scientific terms and scientific factoids and information in a very interesting way. (How about you repeat: “I don’t know”?)

Here’s one: “God deliberately shaped and formed you to serve him in a way that makes your ministry unique. He carefully mixed the DNA cocktail that created you.” I think that’s false. Now, maybe we want to treat it as metaphorical.

Here’s another one: “For instance, your brain can store 100 trillion facts. Your mind can handle 15,000 decisions a second.” Well, it would be interesting to find the interpretation where I would accept that. There might be some way of treating that as true. 

“Anthropologists have noted that worship is a universal urge, hardwired by God into the very fiber of our being — an inbuilt need to connect with God.” Well, the sense of which I agree with him, except I think it has an evolutionary explanation.

And what I find deeply troubling in this book is that he seems to be arguing that if you want to be moral, if you want to have meaning in your life, you have to be an Intelligent Designer, you have to deny the theory of evolution by natural selection. And I think, on the contrary, that it is very important to solving the world’s problems that we take evolutionary biology seriously.

Whose truth are we going to listen to? Well, this is from “The Purpose Driven Life”: “The Bible must become the authoritative standard for my life: the compass I rely on for direction, the counsel I listen to for making wise decisions, and the benchmark I use for evaluating everything.” 

Well maybe, OK, but what’s going to follow from this?

And here’s one that does concern me. Remember I quoted him before with this line: “Surrendered people obey God’s word, even if it doesn’t make sense.” And that’s a problem.

“Don’t ever argue with the Devil. He’s better at arguing than you are, having had thousands of years to practice.” Now, Rick Warren didn’t invent this clever move. It’s an old move. It’s a very clever adaptation of religions. It’s a wild card for disarming any reasonable criticism.

“You don’t like my interpretation? You’ve got a reasonable objection to it? Don’t listen, don’t listen! That’s the Devil speaking.” This discourages the sort of reasoning citizenship it seems to me that we want to have.

I’ve got one more problem, then I’m through. And I’d really like to get a response if Rick is able to do it. 

“In the Great Commission, Jesus said, ‘Go to all people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I’ve told you.’” 

The Bible says Jesus is the only one who can save the world. We’ve seen many wonderful maps of the world in the last day or so. Here’s one, not as beautiful as the others; it simply shows the religions of the world. Here’s one that shows the sort of current breakdown of the different religions.

Do we really want to commit ourselves to engulfing all the other religions, when their holy books are telling them, “Don’t listen to the other side, that’s just Satan talking!”? 

It seems to me that that’s a very problematic ship to get on for the future. I found this sign as I was driving to Maine recently, in front of a church: “Good without God becomes zero.” Sort of cute.

A very clever little meme. I don’t believe it and I think this idea, popular as it is — not in this guise, but in general — is itself one of the main problems that we face.

If you are like me, you know many wonderful, committed, engaged atheists, agnostics, who are being very good without God. 

And you also know many religious people who hide behind their sanctity instead of doing good works. So, I wish we could drop this meme. I wish this meme would go extinct.

Note: This talk didn’t have to take a convoluted argument like educating kids on all religion, just to tell us the kind of insane meme religions recklessly drop on sane people.

Let’s experiment

Posted on November 26, 2010

Whether we admit it or not, every person has constructed a mental model of how he views the universe and life.  

For example, was the universe created, is it infinite, is it timeless… 

And what is life, the purpose of life, what happens after death, is there a soul, what happens to the soul, is the soul individual or a collective soul…?

Since antiquity, philosophers have been discussing and reasoning on the following matter:  

“Do mankind enjoys an innate general spirit (regardless of ethnicity, culture, gender…) that expresses how he views the construct of the universe, or it is an individual learning process relevant to the manner the various sensory organs observe nature and people and organize the information”?

The hypothesis is

Do people with sensory handicaps (blind, deaf…) extend the same kind of subjective understanding of the universe and life as “normal” people do, across all ethnic cultures with oral and written myths and traditions?

First, we need baseline stories on “What do I know about the universe and life?” from “normal” people with “normally” functioning sensory organs (vision, audition…). 

The baseline stories should be captured from varieties of ethnic cultural entities in the five continents, privileging the oral cultures with No recognized written documents, and minority cultures with written cultures but Not read or disseminated universally. 

The baseline stories must discriminate between genders (between group factors) and the ethnic stories within each gender groups.

The baseline stories must discriminate among the stage of maturity of the storyteller (young, adult, middle age, and older people). 

The baseline stories must discriminate among the literacy levels of the subjects (such as they read and write in one language, read only, and only orally literate subjects).  Thus, the team of experimenters must be trained to adequately record answers and stories in uniform fashion.

The next phase of the experiment is gathering stories of sensory handicapped people in the above ethnic and gender groups (blind, deaf…)

We may extend this experiment by artificially handicapping a normal subject by preventing him to see or to hear while resuming his “normal” live for a period.  Do you think that his mental model of the universe might be altered significantly?

Another extension may be involving normal sensory subjects but with different mental capabilities and limitations (over developed or under developed brain powers).  

This experiment would answer the question: “Are reading and listening to stories generate different types of observational data due to further brain processing mechanisms?”

The most essential preparation for the experiment is the designing of an exhaustive questionnaire with exhaustive options to educate the subjects on the varieties of viewpoints and myths. 

For that purpose, the questionnaire will be tested on many preliminary samples of ethnic cultures in order to catch and collect the varieties of relevant options, sort of exhaustive compendium on the different myths and mental models. 

I would recommend that the design requires every question to be answered. This means that those logical procedures of demanding the subject to skip several questions, as in filling tax forms, be eliminated:  We should not fall in the bias of enforcing our rational logic on oral culture ethnic groups and the illiterates.

It is advisable that follow-up oral stories accompany answering the questionnaire. Then, another follow-up written story be attached to the oral story. 

The written story would condense the individual story into a comprehensive and coherent story after the preceding two educational sessions. 

The teams of trained experimenters would have to fill the initial questionnaire with the new information generated by the oral and written stories; missing information can be filled by default, using the original questionnaire for each subject. 

Thus, data analysis can be conducted on the two questionnaires: the before learning process and the after learning process of the mental models.

I find it interesting that, after the written story, the subject would give his opinion on the current theories of astrophysicists on the universe in order to check the cohesion and compatibility of the subjects in their perception of the universe. 

For example: what they think of the theory that this universe is the product of a collision between two universes; that a universe revolves around each black hole; that what we see is a simulated universe of a matrix universe; that the sky is a wall on which the image of the stars and galaxies are projected onto it (a universe as hologram); that the universe keeps changing every time we observe it… 

Do you think that you might change your view if a theory (coming from an astrophysicist) impresses you?

The spontaneous suggestion is “why not ask a subject to tell his story before answering a questionnaire? At least we can have an original version, unbiased by constructed questionnaires.”  

This suggestion is pertinent if it is feasible to nudge a subject to start telling a story without a prompt sheet containing the necessary lines of thoughts to guide the subject in the endeavor: The prompt sheet must be devoid of any biased suggestions.  

In any case, I believe that devising such a prompt sheet is necessary, even if not applied in the experiment, in order to get the questionnaire developed and cleaned of idiosyncratic allusions and local imageries.

The experiment is complex and will need to be subdivided in meaningful stages of shorter experiments.

It is time intensive and for a long duration.

It requires training of large teams of researchers and experimenters.  Preliminary experiments would show the best ways of experimenting piece meal this vast project.

Note 1:  I tend to include materials we read and stories we heard as sensory inputs since they are processed by the brain, at various levels, as sensory observations.

Note 2: Many scholars present the view that what we actually sense are in fact “processed observations”, and not the raw sensed data, since all sensing observations are data processed by the brain at different levels of manipulations.

Good enough: We are dealing with what mankind is observing: That is what is available to forming a coherent structure of the universe and the environment we live into. 

The follow-up lesson is:  Other reasoning species must be viewing the universe differently since their senses have different capacities and limitations, and their brain structures are different from mankind.

Note 3:  The essential question that the previous experiment might offer an answer to is:  “If an individual is handicapped in one or more sensory organs then, by reading or listening to stories, can his brain re-establish what normal people comprehend of the universe?”

Note 4: I conjecture that all the facts, observations, experiments., philosophy… will Not tell us anything “sustainable” of what is life and the universe. What this experiment could boils down to is to “know”:

How the majority, in any ethnic group, likes to conceive the nature of Life and the Universe?

This is fundamental to to evaluate the evolution of human “Emotional Intelligence

I love to write: I love to read how My Style transforms all these ideas

I rarely quote a sentence: frequently, I change the idea that inspired me, in meaning and in style.

I am reading a book by Sacha Guitry and I enjoyed his humour, anecdotes and quotes.

Here is a list of his sentences and humoristic ideas that inspired me to change and transform:

On veut enterrer l’enfant anormal et on devient un adult, trop normal. Personne n’est satisfait de sa vie

Qu’est-ce que ca te coute, si tu a du talent a faire la cour aux femmes? Elles sont trop susceptible et assoiffées d’egard, et sont enchantees.

Soyez franc si ca te chante, mais ne doublez pas le débit.

L’homme malin, et qui veut paraître insolent, dit a une femme trop jolie, et qui le sait trop bien: “Demoiselle, tu me plais”

Il n’y aurait plus de problèmes de guerre entre les genres si les femmes oublient “l’Égalité” et se concentrent sur leur superiorite’

On est tous inconsolables, homme et femmes saines et “honnêtes”, d’avoir décliné les opportunités d’entreprendre de commettre les fautes, les plus graves.

La femme change, et bien trop vite que les hommes. A vous d’interpreter cette idiome: A vous d’essayer de changer pour rectifier votre point de vue.

La meilleure façon de conserver un mariage est de payer, et a chaque fois qu’on fait l’amour, sans rabais et en cash. Le plus riche du couple paie le plus souvent. Un bonus généreux fait long feu, quand ca vient de la femme. C’est la definition meme de “Courtiser“. L’argent reste dans la famille, mais le Zest de faire l’amour n’a pas de prix.

Seulement les gens qui gagne leur vie convenablement (homme Et femme), on droit a un marriage plutot satisfaisant. Tous les autres cas sont du type esclavagiste, pure et simple. Et les excuses sont celles d’esclaves. No taxation without representation

Tout événement qui marque l’esprit commence par une comédie et se termine par un drame. Et vice versa. Plutôt chercher un événement qui commence dans un drame. Iza zamatna, zabat.

“Tu as rencontré la femme de ta vie ou l’idée d’Amour ce matin? Peut-être elle n’ est pas Ta femme que tu as rencontré: Elle cherche un mari qui gagne sa vie convenablement”

Dans les deux cas, on fait faillite: 1) On ne peut pas rendre son epouse heureuse a Notre idee 2) On ne peut pas rendre l’épouse malheureuse a Notre façon.

Est-ce quand on dit a une femme “Je t’aime”, ca veut dire que les autres femmes doivent prendre le deuil?

Entre hommes, on ne se complimente que sur ses maîtresses? Les hommes ont un sens inne’ pour les jeux risque’ ou’ la banque gagne toujours.

Comment apprendre a être positive dans les divorces? Ce serait chouette que les amants se marient: ils sont toujours aveugles et je prend délice de cette vengeance.

On quitte ou on reste: un processus a répétition…selon l’âge et les talents acquisent.

Entre couple, tromper la maitresse ou le dandy, peut donner l’impression de redevenir fidèle.

Les actrices sont généralement meilleures que les acteurs: Elles poursuivent leur job primaire de Courtisanes

Generalement, on est cruel quand on aime: la cruauté se transfère aux maîtresses et dandy.

Mentir entre les couples doit être la norme et il faut l’apprendre comme un acteur/actrice professionnel: mentir donne l’impression salubre qu’on se rembourse, un catalyst irresistible.

Une jolie et élégante femme sait et sent toujours qu’on la regarde: le plus souvent de dos.

L’imagination trompeur: celui/celle qui est absent a un charme irrésistible.

On épouse de jolie femmes (quand on est jeune ou vieux) et on se rend compte qu’on a fait le bon choix lorsqu’un autre nous en délivre.

La coutume que la femme doit traîner après le mari est nocif a l’homme: A chaque fois, la femme se demande si ce dot la convient.

La vie a deux, se surveiller soi-même et surveiller l’autre, pour retenir la dignité et la complaisance, est une occupation trop demandante. J’aime ce qui me fait sentir confortable et qui correspond aux exigences corporelles de la vie. Ces remarques ne s’appliquent souvent pas a plus de deux personnes: le chaos detruit les regles

Être “fait”pour vivre ensemble n’entraîne pas nécessairement qu’on puisse vivre ensemble: Comprenez “ensemble” dans toutes ses formes sociales.

Il parait que les couples doivent se “rencontrer” plus souvent: Manière de tester le potentiel de leur charme.

Une vaste différence entre “on s’ennuie” et “avoir des ennuies”. Cette différence s’applique entre célibat et mariage. Vaste difference en consequences: On peut altérer une situation “d’ennuie”.

Une autre vaste différence entre penser et agir a ce qui nous donnerait du plaisir; en relation humaine, bien entendu.

Des mots spirituels sont jolis, occasionnellement. Le sens de l ‘humour est perpetuel et qui allonge la jouvence.

Dommage. Si les gens que tu connaissent n’avaient pas un secret espoir/plaisir de te voir malheureux.

J’ai la prétention de ne pas plaire a tout le monde: ceux qui croient me connaître.

Urgent. Confirmer la nouvelle règle: tu n’est pas libre de n’avoir pas une opinion sur le dérangement de ce monde.

La femme maligne, elles le sont souvent, marie un homme “ordinaire” à son second marriage, ou le troisième.., selon l’age: elle rechigne de se faire tromper.

Il n’y a pas de bordels d’hommes: ils ne sont jamais doués pour ce job a succession, et ca coûterait trop chère pour survivre.

Le mariage est institué’ pour faciliter le bon fonctionnement des institutions des Etats: la liberte’ et l’independance sont mattes a un grand echelle.

Les femmes s’habillent selon la convoitise des yeux des hommes

La vie a octroyé à la femme “saine sexuellement”, le droit de se marier a succession. Les hommes sains et indépendant doivent être soulager.

Quand je m’éveille, je garde les yeux fermés et je me débrouille à rassembler les miettes de la vie: les exercices de respiration, les roulements des yeux, les échappements des gaz…

Je m’amuse beaucoup lorsque je m’ennui: Je choisis les sujets moi-meme et ca ne traine pas. C’est plus chouette de penser quand on s’étire au lit.

Mon prenom Adonis est deja fait: comment établir mon nom?

Les gens que je ne connais pas ne me detestent pas: Je laisse cette prérogative aux parents et cousins

Selon la loi commune, je suis toujours un fils: n’ayant pas essayé d’avoir d’enfants. Et pourtant, il n’y a plus personne pour me gâter.

Chaque jour je fais tomber le rideau. Et par magie, le rideau se releve. Je crois désormais aux miracles.

Tant que je crois ne pas être une cible, je suis satisfait d’être un point de mire.

La poule ou l’oeuf? Cocu ou avoir été trompé? Et vice versa. Il n’y a pas de cocus ou caucuses: c’est se sentir trop solitaire, stupid.

Note: Sacha divorced 4 times. Why I didn’t get married? I never could earn a convenient living? I lacked training in communicating conveniently in order to sustain daily interrogation? I was Not the type for women to fall in love with on her first wedding? Honest with my limitations, all the way?

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT LEADERSHIP QUOTES OF ALL TIME – WITH PERSONAL AFFIRMATIONS

Dan Rockwell.

Alan Alda:

“Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you.” Alan Alda

  1. I will enter conversations open to learning and willing to adapt (if it suit my behavior?).
  2. The way I see things is ONE way of seeing them (A single way, with option to retract in the other direction?).
  3. I’m willing to change my perspective (Not matching the Silent Majority “common sense”?).
  4. My need to be right makes me stupid (As long as you are doing the right thing?).

Daniel Kahneman:

“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it” Daniel Kahneman (For how long to think about it to make it Not that important?)

  1. I will overcome the distraction of urgencies by reconnecting with the big picture (Beyond the Big Bang?).
  2. I will maintain curiosity with calmness when stress increases. (Curiosity is the key to feel alive, calmly or angrily)
  3. I will rest, enjoy family and friends, and take time for self-development, even during a pandemic (Because of Covid-19).
  4. I won’t belittle the important concerns of others. And I won’t try to solve everyone’s concerns. (As if we ever cared to resolving other people concerns)

Peter Drucker:

“It is more productive to convert an opportunity into results than to solve a problem – which only restores the equilibrium of yesterday.” Peter Drucker (An opportunity that does Not require solving anything?)

  1. I see a negativity bias in myself that requires adjusting (How much effort to recognize the various kinds of biases?).
  2. I will view situations and interactions through the lens of opportunity. (How about the lens of experimental minded designs?)
  3. I will maintain a positive attitude. (Not in the face of injustices and unfair practices and elite laws)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

“When we take people merely as they are, we make them worse; when we treat them as if they were what they should be, we improve them as far as they can be improved.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Review the practices of all those missionaries who ruined ethnic civilizations and culture)

  1. I will view people through the lens of who they might become. (But Not try to intervene)
  2. I will maintain optimism while working to develop myself and others. (As if we can achieve anything when depressed)
  3. I will acknowledge the limitations of myself and others. (Just focus on your limitations and spare us judging others)

Warren Bennis:

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.” Warren Bennis (Too convoluted to make sense of this quote)

  1. I will spend time in self-reflection today. (And tomorrow?)
  2. I have the capacity for self-deception. I will seek feedback. (Feedback from whom?)
  3. I will bring my best self in service to others. (what if the others consider your “best self” as one of your limitations?)

What quote might you add to the list of most important leadership quotes of all time? (Forget about this horrendous leadership mind-fix. Learn to confront injustices)


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

March 2021
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