Tag Archives: predators and prey

Politics

The closest thing to religion that we have going for us is politics. That may be because the church once ran the whole thing. Between the Jews, Catholics, and Protestants, they had a couple thousand years or more to set things up that way. Opinions are in the forefront; facts have no bearing on anything. People vote against their own best interests because they have been trained that way. Right-wing politics and the church are in collusion to influence how people choose from the time of their birth on. The church works to influence how people think so they will not lose their grip on humanity. I am not talking about the Catholic Church, I am talking about the whole of Christianity in the West, and Islam in the East. Church by any other name is still a church.

Humanity is just now waking up to facts. The fact that there are facts is still new to us, even after a couple hundred years of our being able to recognize them. In some aspects of our thinking, we still don’t recognize them and don’t grant them any importance. We have been trained to shun them, to deny reality, to insist without recognition that our imaginations rule. Politicians collude with religion to limit education wherever possible. In the deep south of the United States, the effect is the strongest. Wherever poverty rules, the effect is the strongest. In those areas, religion is the main source of any kind of knowledge. Knowledge that is about fairy tales and imaginary beings endangers those who have been trained to attach them to reality. What ever trouble finds them will be blamed on something else, never the root cause. The politicians and the religions will keep their clean hands with no one the wiser.

Humanity seems trapped in this scenario, as tightly as a vice could hold it. Religions will die and evolve, just as do people, only to be replaced by different-seeming varieties. They are, after all, created by people, as the saying goes, in our own image. That must be why, even in our fear of them, we so admire them for their despicableness. Even the most adaptable of humans, after all, must answer to nature in all ways. Does that mean that we, in our desire to maintain religion as a feature of our existence, must call nature God and train scientists to become priests?

What most influences your vote? Do you trust the god named God to look after its own interests while you take care of your own? Or, did you cast another vote against yourself without really knowing why? You have until the next election to think about this and decide if you have really made the best choices.

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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.

Nature

Nature

Nature

I will acknowledge a fondness for the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

(“But, that is about something that’s not real.”)

I won’t argue against that. What role the Flying Spaghetti Monster can play for everybody is as a stand in for testing other beliefs. If whatever can be said about the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not also true about the belief being tested, that belief could be true.

It doesn’t work all that well because people lie to defend their own beliefs. What I do accept as true, however, is nature occupying the position of final authority.

(“But, nature is not a god.”)

That’s true, and I never claimed that. It’s also true that some people consider nature as the Supreme Being.

(“Isn’t that the same as what you just now said?”)

It could be so, if there were an entity involved. There’s none.

(“There is always God.”)

No one has ever brought forth evidence to support any kind of such claims

(“Who made the trees, the beautiful flowers, the grass? That’s evidence for God.”)

It works better as an argument for nature. Anyway, which god are you talking about?

(“I am sure you know the god who gave Moses the Ten Commandments is the only god.”)

So, you are talking about the god named God? No, I didn’t know that about her.

(“God is a ‘him’, I’ll have you know.”)

Back when gods were many and each tribe and village had their own, the female form was prominent. Are you proposing your god underwent a sex change?

(“Don’t be ridiculous.”)

It was your idea. There are statues all over the world for evidence.

(“Those aren’t gods.”)

Maybe not to you, but their history is still known by some natives.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

Memetics

Memetics

Sometimes scientists seem obliged to ask silly and deceitful-sounding questions. We must keep in mind that real scientists have spent the better part of a decade or longer going to school to learn to ask those irritating questions, and argue for and against what seem like idiotic viewpoints, however much they may remind us of certain seven year old children. Those questions are part of a ritual that belongs to a necessary ongoing process as a series of events they must perform whenever new subject matter has been presented to their midst. Once they have determined for themselves if it is important enough to bother, then rid themselves of all the ghosts that might rise up from hidden closets to bite them, and beaten the bushes free of all the goblins they suspect to be hidden there, they can then get on to more important matters. Memetics, being somewhat new, is still undergoing that process.

For science to develop memes about memes, they must undergo a process that, because it may be seen as self-referencing, could become particularly hazardous. They could screw it up with one brief statement that would take a hundred years to get undone. Look at what happened to hedonism just because Epicurus, more than 2000 years ago, lacked the concepts found in modern medicine and biology, and so failed to assemble a complete and cogent picture. This could be one of the most important topics to undergo scientific scrutiny since the inception of evolution, and has stirred up its share of quiet, almost surreptitious controversy. It could increase our understanding of how our minds work. A growing number of books and papers have been published but, still, very few members of the public-at-large have ever heard anything about memes or memetics.

Of those who have, a large percentage feel threatened and defensive. I recall reading a page on the Internet that a person purporting to be a Buddhist had written, describing Buddhism as being ‘not a meme’ because Buddhists do not proselytize and coerce others into joining their ranks or go to wars against members of other religions. I appreciated his statements, and have enjoyed the pleasant company I have shared with Buddhists in my lifetime. Still, Buddhism is a imemeplex (as Susan Blackmore named packets of memes, or meme-complexes) that, because it does not so deeply incite emotions, is simply less viral than other religious beliefs. Proselytization or not, people still accredit information about it, and adopt it if it fits their needs along with memes already hosted.

In spite of Susan Blackmore’s effort to discredit the idea of contagious memes, being viral is not necessarily a bad trait. It is, in fact, a one-word description of memes that have become effective at the act of replication, which is what memes do. Memes become contagious, or they die out. They have no choice in the matter. Memes become viral because they attract humans to ‘catch’ them, and so, good or bad, they must appeal to human nature to succeed, or learn to ride in a passive way on the backs of other memes. Our heads get full of them, both symbiotic and parasitic, because most are contagious to someone.

In their efforts to justify and limit memetics to the notion of acquiring them only by obvious acts of imitation, previous writers appear to have gone out of their ways to nullify the value of innovation in the generation of memes. Surely we cannot disagree they are passed on by imitation, but where do they come from? The argument so far has allowed mutated mistakes or trial and error to be responsible for the creation of all new memes, and saying the large brains we possess were developed because we needed them only for the complicated processes involved in doing imitations. Most of us are not good imitators.

Most of evolution has advanced not in a smooth flow like imitation/mutation would exhibit, these people are quick to alert us, but in wide plateaus with unexpected changes. Why should the evolution of memetics be different from the rest of existence? I will acknowledge we build upon all that has gone before, and use the tools we already possess for the purpose of making new kinds of tools, but have none of these people ever set down in a quiet place to do the pondering required for an act of innovation? Does living in an ivory loft so insulate one from the vagaries most of us face in life that they do not know how much easier simple imitation is, than to come up with an original solution to a difficulty one is facing?-to ask the question, “How do I deal with this?” and contrive a unique answer derived from what we already know? Protected people may never have experienced that process and realized the joy that accompanies its success. My diplomas are written in the lines formed on my tired bare hands, exactly the way of most common folks with whom I’ve worked. Few of us would trade lives with any of those who devalue ours, when their pronouncements seem to so strongly indicate their humdrum lack of real experiences. C’mon, people, liven up!

Blackmore pointed out that making tools by trial and error is not an easy undertaking, and that people could be taught the various required tasks. So, who was the first teacher?-an innovator? Someone had to figure them all out at the beginning, even if one step at a time: Would not the first person to cogitate relationships and realize the possibilities of designing and forming a stone tool be the one using the most brain power? It would seem apparent at first blush, but the argument will be that he or she merely imitated stones found in nature that worked to perform a task. Okay, then: Who had the brain power?-the first one to observe how to make a certain stone perform a task, even if by accident?-or those who first learned the tasks required to make copies?-or those to whom they taught their innovative new skills? How about those doing advanced work that required tools in the first place? This may seem like nit-picking, but I have a point to make that involves the evolution of events and processes, and I want you to be able to come back here and pick out the steps involved in the origination of memes and see that they are a natural occurrence and a necessary step that evolution must take as a “blind” force working toward its apparent goal.

If humanity can accept memes as a product of nature, that would have no effect on reality beyond our understanding of it and how humanity would then treat it. Seeing a god as an invisible component of reality might prompt development of a science-based religion that could put a whole new face on humanity’s destructive mistreatment of our home planet, our fellow creatures, and each other.

Opinions

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Opinions

As the old wisdom decrees, opinions are like assholes; everybody has one, and they need to keep it to themselves. What old wisdom overlooks is the relief of letting it go and the satisfaction from dumping on somebody who was asking for it, after too long of holding your breath.

Opinions serve two important purposes, both as teaching tools for anyone wise enough (and brave enough) to learn to use them. They most commonly find roles as defensive tools, whether against someone we have offended, a teacher struggling to clarify a misunderstood point, a proselytizing predator howling at your heels, or anyone asserting something with which we disagree.

Even predators can learn by applying the second purpose toward the achievement of their own betterment. While the stings and burns of battle still rage and the heat of it still warms your brain, now is a good time to reflect on the process just undertaken, while still fresh in memory. Predator and intended prey will consider their answers for the same list of questions, plus some of their own:

  • Might I owe my opponent(s) an apology? Nobody will gain true knowledge from name calling, accusations, nor any other form of personal comments.

  • Did I engage in that to proselytize? —to exchange information? —to ask (a) question(s)?

  • Did I intend to learn something? —or tell something about which nobody asked?

We get poorly educated about rules for effective argument or thinking. Most of us have no idea why such topics should be hers as though we have the greatest expertise in that topic. Some may be, but why argue if you can’t convince, and will not learn.

Objective Morality

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Objective Morality

What I have been reading about under that label does not deserve its credits. Objectivity requires a measurable condition be present for testing. That which cannot, in some verifiable way, be compared against a discernible standard cannot be deemed objective. The problem with finding that standard for morality results from poorly defined and misunderstood terminology.

First, we must define what we mean by “morality” with words available to common understanding from a good dictionary. What we find there boils down to three more words: motivation and concern as relevant to behavior.

The religious appear to have the easier pass with “Do as God instructs” but, since no god named God has ever been shown to be present, people are forced to acquiesce to the thousands of stand-ins purporting to speak for it, a circumstance that leaves believers with mixed messages to puzzle through and no definite standard to guide them and no way to verify. Even the important instruction, to rely on faith, the basis on which the whole setup depends in order to avoid accreditation as a scam, cannot be verified beyond the unsourced written script. No wonder statistics show them to be many times less moral than atheists.

That, along with the history and real-time observations of their behavior, leaves no other choice but to conclude that the morality religionists pose as objective (observable, measurable), if it exists at all, is subjective (of internal origin, imaginary, prejudiced), originated in some unknown ancient person’s head. That it gives undue attention to that which offends a god rather than that which causes actual harm, loss or injury, implies they are more about worshiping the god than about morality.

Since the Jesus character effectively nullifies honoring parents in the New Testament, that one can’t count. Yes, the remaining Nine Commandments tell you not to kill, but you still have to eat and they don’t tell you what. It will offend your neighbor if you covet his wife, or his ass, but you can kiss both if lust does not get into your heart. The heart is not the body part to look at for a demonstration of lust. Since, in most places, that part is required to remain hidden in mixed company, how can that be considered objective? If the reason for morality is only to hide “dirty” impulses and cover the the dirt crust on your body, the religious interest adds only maintaining appearances to their moral edicts. The only current source of validated, verifiable instruction aimed at good behavior will be found in a secular book of ethics.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.