Category Archives: belief

Faith and Facts

May 23, 2009

“I don’t believe in God because I don’t believe in Mother Goose.” [Clarence Darrow]

“I am a deeply religious nonbeliever. This is a somewhat new kind of religion. I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism. The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.” [Albert Einstein]

My main thesis is narrower and, I think, more defensible: understanding reality, in the sense of being able to use what we know to predict what we don’t, is best achieved using the tools of science, and is never achieved using the methods of faith.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible

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Mr. Einstein’s statement, in the quote attributed to him, in which I see much merit, demonstrates a developed version of the temporal kind of religion you have been reading about in these pages. As stated on previous pages, my views on religion are that if faith is required to believe something, that does not constitute knowledge. If you can show how you know it, and make it obvious to others and irrefutable in itself, by its own nature, it must be true and, therefore is knowledge. As you also saw in the preceding pages, people use all kinds of trickery to convince a naïve audience otherwise.

If something is known to be demonstrably true, it is not called faith. It is factual and faith is unnecessary. The only facts that can be found in religion are in regard to where some scriptural quote can be found. The quotes themselves, unless somehow already granted scientific support as a result of having had that process applied to them, so that they become understood as true for known and repeatable reasons, are anecdotal in their evidentiary nature. Without scientific support, they are not facts; they are, at best, guesses, fables, unsupported opinions, mythical or legendary, most times misinformation of undocumented origin. To call them ‘scientific’ is an attempt to scam.

That condition leads directly to the fractured condition of religion in our own times, that the nature of belief without credible verisimilitude loses in both directions; that is, that anyone can say whatever they wish others to believe and find support, and those same others will choose from the mess of it what to believe without requiring any vindicating support. Faith is never in what can be shown to be true; it is always in what one supposes or wishes could be true, and that is why it is called faith and not fact.

Knowledge is about facts, items that can be demonstrated to be true however one has gone about attaining to their awareness. Even the proponents of faith will demand that of their opponents in any argument. “Prove it.” Knowledge may be about what a scripture says, in the form that claims and can show the scripture actually does say it, but is not about the unverifiable information contained in that script or any other. Facts do not require faith to uphold them because they can be known and shown.

Before science, written records were humankind’s attempt to achieve veracity and uniformity of knowledge. As far back as art on cave walls gets dated, agreements were recorded about how the various important or interesting events took place, and put on display for all to see.

Later, discussions that would take place about those events could be settled by a viewing of the drawings and, later after the innovation of writing, the recorded words that described them. Not all recountings would agree, however, when groups of doubters gathered to produce their own accounts. In the drawings, small details most likely were varied from one accounting to another. In later writings, jots and tittles may have held different meanings to later interpreters. It still seemed necessary to devise some way to present a uniform view that all could understand alike. The scientific method has demonstrated itself capable to produce information that maintains cohesive verisimilitude for all who have adopted it and learned to understand how and why it works. That to which it cannot lend its support does not demonstrate a weakness in science, but does present the weakness inherent to unverifiable stories about reality and nature. To understand why requires a good understanding of how to apply abeyance in the principle of defeasibility.

To me as a toddler, my grandmother told stories about the fairies living in the lawn, whose table settings could be seen in the morning dew, and that I would destroy were I not careful while running across them. My faith in Gran’Ma’s admonitions faded over the years as my possession of factual knowledge increased while her stories went unreinforced, until now I can understand that as the nature of all faith: unreinforced Faith fades as knowledge about reality increases. Faith requires reinforcement and the avoidance of factual knowledge for its survival; for that exact reason you will find admonitions against erudition throughout biblical scriptures, even from their very beginnings in Genesis, attempts to enforce misinformation and derogate knowledge. Even possession of scriptures were forbidden in early Xianity, lest questioners emerge to cast doubt on priestly words that had served to reinforce faith.

So, why would anybody wish to proclaim faith to be a source of knowledge? To understand that, all one needs is an awareness of the political aspects of ecclesiastical religion: Knowledge is bad stuff, according to all kinds of biblical edicts, but centralist religion must hold its own in the face of advancing technology and the growing exposure and ease of access to information. When a growing skepticism, fueled in part by recent fiascoes created by attempts to tie political success to religious backing, inspires increasing numbers of people to become interested in discovering why such a controversy exists as has been initiated by the religious right, claims to knowledge must be raised by those who back faith in order to save face and avoid out-of-hand rejection.

Meanwhile, pronouncements against the value of knowledge must remain hidden or that effort will fail. The scientific nature of knowledge must be watered down to a point that anti-knowledge stances can appear to possess legitimate claims to it. Religion can then call its baseless presentations “science”. Misinformation, disinformation and stories must now be presented and accepted as knowledge by the very same people whose religious establishment once forbade and punished the common person for access to the scriptures, and presented tasting the fruit of knowledge as a sin so vile that Adam and Eve got tossed out of the Garden because of it.

There is another aspect of this that takes the discussion of it to a greater depth, that arrives when one realizes knowledge as in a relationship with understanding. Religion attempts to gloss this over with shiny pronouncements about such as “knowledge of God” and “the religious understanding of reality” while attempting to offer nothing substantial for support. Such hallowed words ring as hollow. The appeal is only to those already convinced and willing to accept edicts at the level of urban legends and grant their wholehearted preverified [decided before an investigation, if any, was begun; any search looked for support rather than objective evidence] support with no qualms or compunctions against errors being introduced into their lives.

Despite its criticism of the scientific method, and its avoidance of its application in their own behalf, religions hasten to proclaim vindicated ownership of whatever part of their edicts for which they feel science has found justification. They forget that, according to the law of averages, 50% of what they guess to be true ought to be, and the role science serves ought to be to discover which portion of their claims that applies to. What ought to be disheartening to them is to acknowledge that such edicts become no longer religious as a result of that, but then are demonstrably scientific, faith and gullible belief no longer required. Anything of religion not so demonstrable that still gets proclaimed scientific by their spokespeople, is not.

The scientific method must be shown as the reason and source for such edicts, and repeatedly so for all the future so that it can be demonstrated time and again, wherever and by whomever is so equipped by instruments and knowledge so that accuracy can and will be maintained. Anybody can claim something to be scientific, and when people fail to demand factuality they can and (it is plain through history) will get away with it. Errors multiply faster than they can be corrected. Religions result from that and gain ubiquity from it. Where no corrections dare be offered, the mass of humanity suffers regressive poverty, especially when such errors gain political backing and popularity.

The errors religion serves to perpetuate as superstition, along with the compulsiveness inherent to those with perverse views of nature, serves to thwart the development of common understanding. Understanding develops through applied knowledge; it could be regarded as “body knowledge”. The skill developed through rigorous practice shows as understanding, wherein the body seems to have its own mind and the thought processes of the left cerebral hemisphere become obstructions more-so than guides.

The nature of the interactions between the right and left brain hemispheres becomes perverted into “understanding” by the application of religious misinformation so that even such atheists as Sam Harris willingly support those practices of religion that proclaim spiritual development, that have at other times been shown to lead to insanity.

That which unbalances the homeostatic functions that maintain our bodies and minds at their best must be regarded as wrong and dangerous to ourselves and those who will be affected by our misdeeds. The false understanding to result from rigorous practicing of inducing chemicals, starvation or isolation becomes as much a second nature to such practitioners as it does for those practicing to develop a skill-set. The difference between the two can still be found in science’s requirement for verification, when one who has become capable to perform an unusual task gets compared to one who has become somewhat incapacitated as a result of interfering with the natural requirements of his body to function.

Understanding that has been developed to interfere with natural CC, then, can be rightly seen as misunderstanding and adjudged to be harmful. Misunderstanding is worse than ignorance because it leads to botched and costly actions. A community of that sort will lead into the expensive unbalancing problems so rampant in today’s America. Understanding that has been developed to enhance balanced, healthy vigor in application to a skill must be adjudged to be a benefit to its possessor, but also to his or her community. Why should anyone prefer the former over the latter, were a choice actually ever given before enforced indoctrination?

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Love

Love

Love only becomes meaningful by demonstration.

If you have to brag about loving people, you’re not demonstrating it.

If you have to brag about God’s love for people, God’s not demonstrating it.

My words. I will not ask you to believe them. Most of us are astute enough to recognize when love is absent. We are most of us astute enough to recognize when we are confronted by hatred. Whether religious or atheist, we are poorly served by displays of hatred, and edified by displays of love directed toward us. Whether Christian or atheist, we read the signs and attempt to understand the intentions of those who approach us. If we are mistaught or inexperienced, we may misunderstand and read them wrong. We read as hatred attempts to foist onto us opinions unaccompanied by evidence. No matter what we believe, we are alike in that. Also, we commonly understand attempts to preach to us without first asking our permission to be hatred. Common to us also is our way of understanding displays of love. Showing respect is accepted as love. The ability to disagree without devolving into enmity is a loving trait.

If we could develop a meter to measure love and hate, we would label the midpoint between love and hate as apathy. That is the most of what God demonstrates in our lives, as in the kind of God the deists believe in. The impression that God does not exist, as the atheists would have it, arrives from the total lack of valid evidence in support of it. That someone wrote a book 2-or 3000 years ago is meaningless without any new developments in addition. Rather than frivolous, the demand for evidence follows precedents set by law, science, and any investigatory practice. To proclaim faith as its own evidence is the same as saying faith has no evidence. Results of praying linger close to statistical expectations as if there is no God. There can be only one legitimate reason for the total lack of evidence to support the existence of a god named God.

Rights

 

 

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Rights

Rights are just one of many similar things that bother the heads of atheists. They don’t really exist but we make them exist by agreeing to honor them. That’s why I tend to speak and write about such examples of quasi-reality in terms of persistence more than existence. This is very important to a full understanding of atheism and I shall have to pay strict attention to my wording from now on. Quasi-real “things” don’t exist in reality; they persist only for as long as some people find ways and reasons to support them. When their time runs out, most will leave on their own.

Use government for an example

Government, at various levels, and by agreements pounded out at the very beginning and since the beginning of the U.S.A., was granted the role of defender of our rights. Government also persists in that state of phantom reality, and so must be accepted by its intended constituents to gain its authority; or else, authority must be asserted by force as in the olden days. The quasi-real contrivances of mankind are so subject to manipulation people can hardly be blamed for qualms about trusting them. As time passes and manipulation progresses, watchful eyes lose their vigilance to age. As new generations come and go, tradition sets in and watchfulness becomes about the developing traditions. From early on, religion asserts itself and makes its presence known and rights become lost to the guise of public protection. Other influences work to promote special interests, greed, power struggles, all aiming to acquire undue advantage for some dishonest person or group.

Whether atheist or Christian, saint, sinner or “none of the above”, our rights are designated as equal. That means no person can claim rights denied to others nor deny to others any lawful rights others enjoy. It means no person can enforce a claim of elevated status due to religion or wealth. It means no person can be legally subjected to persecution for their religious beliefs or their perceived absence. At least, it once did.

We must learn to practice equality. It is not knowledge we possess at birth. We leave it to chance and hard experience, make innocent actions illegal by following a monotheist religion’s prescription or “just in case”. The poor results show throughout our American society, in crime, murder, imprisonment rates, stress rates and more. The precepts sound simple but we seem unable to get past our prejudices to make them work. That,“I will defend your right to practice your beliefs and you will defend mine”, “Your rights begin and end with you and mine begin and end with me,” plus “We will go beyond our differences to defend our families and territories against invaders.”

Another Example

The preachers and priests who contrived organized monotheism released upon the Earth an inevitable development in the evolution of religion. Monotheism, if you have forgotten (or never been informed) was built on the premise that only one god created, and rules, over the heavens and Earth.

Perhaps by accident, those who chose to describe the nature of this god as “immaterial”, albeit in rather dated language, chose the most appropriate term available. This 14th century word also, according to Merriam-Webster, applies to ghosts, spirits and other incorporeal specters, all of which require belief and acceptance in order to persist. Words not in use until relatively recent centuries will find their origins in apologia, where doctrines develop separately from the main guidebook formed by the scriptures regarded as sacred. Except for those scriptures, all else can be different between any two establishments.

Visit a Local Church

You can sense it upon entering the building. Some exude happiness. Some give such a sense of sorrow you need to cringe. Some, plain and simple in pastel colors, give no hint of what to expect. And then, never to be forgotten, there’s the church where you pushed the door open and jumped back, amazed to hear echoes of the minister’s last sermon ringing through the rafters. Though they all addressed their god by the same name, no two versions of the-god-named-God will be identical. Calling on them by the same name doesn’t make it right. That would have the same effect as naming multiple fraternal sisters all “Sarah” and making them figure out, each time you pray, whose name you don’t know this time.

What Does Any of This Have to do With Rights?

If this is at all true, preachers and priests have nothing to answer to beyond the members of their own congregations. They would be kept too busy tutoring their flocks about all the gods and demons, plus learning about new ones “discovered” locally and in nearby towns and cities. New gods get absorbed into the culture as do those from nearby.

Rights” and “freedom” are non-words in monotheism. “They represent blasphemy. They were planted in your mind by agents from Satan. They put you in danger of Hell fire. If we had been able to use our guillotine on Jefferson and his damnable cronies, you would not know to be lusting after such iniquitous pipe-dreams now.” “As you have already admitted in this blasphemous piece, individual rights do not exist. All rights are held by the church.”

I am sorry, but I have already asserted in this rather astute work of mine, that churches can only exist by the agreement of individuals. You will have to accept before that I will argue with you. Otherwise, you don’t understand it. Individuals have objective existence. Until individuals agree about it and provide an edifice or place, churches don’t.

 

Why Science Works

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Why Does Science Work?

Why Does Religion Fail?

This graphic, thanks to uncountable people from whose tutelage it grew, has turned into one of my favorite creations. It answers both questions in one whack, but only for those who understand it. Understanding arrives after a bit of easy study, which involves choosing a starting point at the top and following a finger down, stopping at any intersections to read and make a choice. All the trails lead to different destinations, some dependent on choices made along the way.

Natural Science does not practice science in the same manner as Religious Science, as the graphic depicts. Natural Science requires demonstration and verification. Religion asks, “How can I prove this?” Natural Science asks, “How can I test this idea?” and “How can I verify my findings?”

Scientific objectivity requires one of the many questions related to “What if…?” that were known as ‘the Five W’s Plus H’ where I went to school nigh ¾ of a century ago. Even here, the processes are different. Natural Science takes an active approach to gain its version of WHO/WHAT/WHERE/WHY/WHEN and HOW. Who all were involved? What was your premise? Why did you want to know that/think it is true? Where and when were the research and testing done? What did you learn? How do you verify that?

Religion chooses a passive or historical approach. Good. Much useful information can be gained from history, but would be better served without the bias religion dishes out with it. Research, much the same as for Natural Science, involves searching through literature for pertinent information. Maybe.

If religion cannot find its answers in the scriptures, it settles for apologia, whether within its creed or freshly written. It cannot look to the natural for answers because its claims are in the supernatural, a guarded place so well hidden away no one can find even a verifiable hint to show to others. It expects natural science to shy away from that and claims that science has no right to interfere in religious matters. Natural scientists should insist that religions should have no right to interfere in subjects that are the province of objective nature and put a stop to all the caterwauling.

All that may be well and good, were natural science given the same privilege to indoctrinate as enjoyed by religion, through notable parents schooled in its methods since birth, neighborhoods with clinics close at hand where children and adults could freely and privately browse books of science and seek advice from specially trained librarians. Such places could hold meetings where information of interest to secular people could be exchanged, speakers from afar or from the neighborhood could give lessons about science, its practices, new discoveries and theories, and anything else of secular interest. Such nonreligious clergy may eventually be known as secular priests, provided they could show their qualifications and manner of expertise in some fashion similar to commercial religions’ methods. Religion, of course, could not keep its tax-free status without those secular units also sharing that vital privilege.

In direct competition on a fair playing field, even without religion’s bluster, facility with metaphor, and threats of retaliation, natural science would no longer suffer a handicap. Its ability to demonstrate with hands-on statements that ordinary citizens could try, could make its basic truths apparent to one and all. An ability to pass the plate at meetings would offer secular congregants means to support their speakers’ efforts to inform a truth-starved society on all the subjects wherein good, trustworthy information has been so absent they stay unaware of it in the bleak conditions that prevail now.

As pointed out in an earlier post, it is the way that abeyance gets applied to untrustworthy information that puts science ahead when assessing information. The principle of defeasibility does not exist to religious concerns, wherein if you get accused of a sin/crime/evil thoughts, you are guilty however well you can establish innocence. You are guilty because you were suspected. The state will demand its tithe no matter how well you can prove your mother needs immediate medical care. You cannot claim your inheritance even though you are living in an overturned dumpster and need an operation that will enable you to return to your job. Be glad you are living under what is left of a secular system of law, where justice still often prevails, evidence is still required for trials, and the onus is on the accuser to establish your guilt by providing good evidence. That is what a secular scientific approach with an intent to serve justice means to you.

True, natural science takes far longer than religion to reach a conclusion. Religions can decide something fateful in as few as just a couple of minutes. Objective science can often take years. Objective science sometimes has an irritating tendency to change its mind, and to admit it may have been wrong. Religious science is never wrong. It is also seldom correct. The one making a claim in any American court is required to show evidence enough to go to trial where that evidence will be tested. Those opposing the claim, and those assessing the claim, remain duty-bound to doubt the claim for so long as their doubt is reasonable. Agnostics, take note. Wise atheists have reasonable doubt. All atheists are not wise; all religious people are not stupid, intolerant, and/or insensitive.

Natural science, a secular institution, works that same way, following the same principles as law, the opposite of religious practice. It speaks to why the person steeped in religion finds science to be so inscrutable, and why they believe it is science’s duty to prove a god’s nonexistence. It is always the duty of a claimant to remove all reasonable doubt regarding a claim—of guilt, of a presence at any commission of a crime, of existence of their favorite god. The claimant’s objective is to remove doubt that a claim is true. It seems silly to think the doubter has anything to prove. The claimant’s message is doubt’s subject. Without evidence, the message is meaningless and wisdom dictates a skeptical response and abeyance. It should end there until good evidence comes from the claimant, a demand the accosted doubter must make before discussing any further dependent issues.

So, now that you know what a secular process requires, you may be able to understand why faith and belief in any information unsupported by evidence can be attributed to religion, for faith in what was said is the hallmark nature of religion. Think of all the ideas you take for granted are true. To itemize them would be to describe your temporal religion. It doesn’t need to be about gods, as some recognized religions exist in a godless form. That would be a good exercise that could provoke many insights. Most of us are unaware, beyond what we learned in school, of from where most of our information came. TV ads, magazines, billboards, passers-by, friends and more, plaster our brains with so much information we cannot verify but a small portion. Our brains filter out good information we may have not understood while we dealt with other things, and so let misunderstood bad information go into the data-bank. From that point on, we head for trouble as related good information gets refused and bad information that matches up with the previously accepted bad stuff builds to influence future thinking.

A large portion of that may not have much impact on your life, as it may be about things you seldom deal with or in which you have little interest. All of it is entirely natural and nothing to feel ashamed about. We all need to question our own selves before we get judgmental against others, and work to keep our own houses in order before we get buried in the gathering detritus. This could explain the noteworthy lean toward conservatism observed in older people.

An example of temporal religion can be observed in groups of atheists and agnostics, specifically in their tendency to argue over various points of contention. We all have temporal religion in our lives (Temporal: of or relating to earthly life; lay or secular rather than clerical or sacred). Some of us won’t admit to unsupported beliefs and still spend hours arguing about politics and philosophies. Here’s an idea: Discover what objective factual evidence supports your pet ‘theories’ and present that while challenging your opponents to present theirs. Learn that what people have in common is more abundant and far more important than all our differences.

(“.”)

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

Outcomes

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Outcomes

It’s not necessary to know a lot of science to be a good atheist, but it helps you to hold your ground when confronted by the inevitable Christianists lusting to Christianize you. To deal best with them at their own level, however, it might be best to be completely ignorant.

Unlike honest, hardworking Christians, alongside whom you can work for years without getting into each other’s private affairs, they will spend endless hours pulling all kinds of tricks while learning how to Christianize you. Their aim to “win you over” is to WIN whatever it takes. Need to lie? Don’t hesitate, we gotcha covered. Is browbeating required? Of course. Whatever it takes. Never relent. The bastard will give in or give up. Make the bitch run. We don’t want that kind around here! Good riddance!

If you’re alive and breathing, you have probably been subjected to that kind of mistreatment at least once, most likely from someone wishing for you to adopt their denomination. While changing your sects may not be as intense to consider as taking up a whole religion, if you felt happy with your old sect there would be some stress involved.

We can take lessons from Christianist practices; our aim for avoidance of confrontations is our intended outcome, versus the Christianist’s intention to engage you until you give in, or else run for the foothills. That is not a good choice; they have cousins living there who will be alerted to your impending arrival. Unless you feel threatened, it might be best to just stay put and provide a good example of how they should behave. Passing advice without knowing your situation could be dangerous. Act disinterested while you size your culprits up. Arguing will get you nowhere and exasperate you by demonstrating the immense flexibility built into the Christian version of reality.

Orthodoxy

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Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy is taking the word of an ancient line of thought without question. To swallow anything that’s old whole without a very careful check is guaranteed to lead to pain. It matters little whether it’s food or information, if it’s older than yourself, be sure to chew it thoroughly. Whether it’s for your stomach or brain, it’s going inside you to become a part of whom you are.

If we have to live with it the rest of our lives, we should be wary about what we allow to gain entry inside ourselves. We humans are notoriously willing to stuff ourselves with anything with an appealing aroma and deal with the consequences later. Brain or gut, we feed ourselves crap, some of which can be addictive, and aim the force of law onto others whose addictions differ from our own.

Mind or body, it makes little difference; addictions are addictions, harmful harms, and it all poses a societal toll the tax collectors either pass on to the rest of us, or delegate to eventual collection at the John Doe body dump. Thanks to memes, introduced by Richard Dawkins, we now understand how orthodoxy can become addictive.

Memes can be said to exist because, by inducing humans to perform actions attributed to them, they generate timelines that can be described and drawn as records of mimetic activity. The record would be of the observed human involvement only, from the inciting impulse until cessation. Because it would be subjective, any other information would originate internally from the people involved. (It is just as true for the god named God, that a timeline can be drawn of actions inspired by that meme. That is about belief. There still is no evidence that any god exists on its own.)

“.”)

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

Oppression

Oppression

The lot of a not quite smart animal just bright enough to pick the least hazardous path toward the future, oppression builds as societies age and politicians wrestle to gain power and control. America has apparently reached an age where the importance of watchfulness is important. Of paramount importance, of course, is to know what to look for and why.

The typical atheist’s regard for religion is despisement. I believe that results from misapprehension of the ties between religion, politics, and the never-ending struggle for power and control. The misapprehension is not just an American failing, it is worldwide. It originates in the mind games the rich and powerful play against all the layers of humanity they consider to be “beneath” them. They may have been born with that status already in place but they still shit the same as you, and need to wipe the same way, too. Their status rises from our acceptance, their own, plus whatever blood may have been shed or deals have been made to buy it. That is true across the board, for the wealthy, religions, and politicians, with few exceptions.

A more correct view of religion would show it, politicians, the greedy rich, and every form of priest, unburdening our pockets of everything of value we may once have hidden there. Never take me at just my word. Listen to, and analyze, their every word. Don’t choose gullibility. Practice healthy skepticism. Ask questions and Google for answers. What would it look like for him to be lying?– telling the truth?– the opposite of the truth? What do I have for verification? How did I learn to trust that source?

We oppress ourselves as much by believing false information as by every other means. Not every politician, rich or religious person, banker, priest, preacher or rabbi harbors dishonest aims. Most may, in fact, be known to uphold the highest of scruples. Observe to learn: what do your leaders harp on? Do they express worry about their followers backsliding or jumping ship? If your initial indoctrination was much the same as theirs, it will be harder for you to spot the holes in their logic. Of what do they accuse people? An old saying warns us, “for every finger pointed in accusation, four point at the accuser.” It is hard to think one’s own side might be wrong in any way, but nobody is perfect. Check: which side is pointing fingers? Do they have facts on their side?— or do they depend on rabble-rousers to stir emotions in their crowds while offering little of substance.