Tag Archives: reason

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

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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.

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.

No Master

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No Master

Faith in oneself—self-confidence—provides the resources that sustain personal stability. It enlivens the master within so the self confident person can act rather than vacillate when a need arises. Whether the original impetus arose from unusual bravery or was forced by circumstances, self-confidence arises from the experience of successful ventures and grows with their increasing numbers.

Consider self-confidence as an imperfect tool for preventing stress. It is imperfect because it must be developed at personal risk due to its customizable nature, but it enables talented people to learn how to breeze through complicated tasks with relative ease.

How do we get to be ‘talented people?’ We try things out. Every trade or profession you tackle will contribute something of value to your experience, so don’t sweat for lost time. Look for your areas of greatest interest. Some work will seem too unlovely to endure while some seems to call your name. Maybe you already have a sense of what you would like to spend the rest of your life doing. I still recall a vivid memory of the time I, a skinny preteen, informed my dad, “I am going to be a writer when I grow up.”

A frail lad, somewhat sickly, emotionally thin skinned, I completely accepted Dad’s immediate response, “No one will ever read the kind of shit you will write. You will starve to death.” His mental image of me doing what it takes to become a man able to walk in his footsteps amounted to a lifetime of physical labor. I know that from hearing it over and over, in every way he thought to say it, for the first 20+ years of my life. From then on, I drove my puny body to live up to Dad’s expectations. I regret none of it beyond dropping my own aspirations. I gained strength and health. People described me as “wiry”.

Though I mastered none, I gained skills in several unrelated trades and ended up informally apprenticed to the West family until I retired, a position I still reflect upon with increasing appreciation.

My point? All my life, I never shed the urge to write. I continue to meet people with dreams of something they might have gotten good at if they had not given it up for a more practical pursuit. I say them, find a way to get it —or something related to it— back. Make an avocation or hobby of it. Read all you can find about it. Bore people talking about it. Look for periodicals, or online groups, to get and keep yourself updated. The worst that can happen could also be the best: your dream gets boring to you and you lose interest. Think of all the stress and aggravation that would eliminate.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.


Credibility

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Credibility

Human beings may be social animals, but we must undergo a lot of training before we master the required skills. The rapidly fluxing change of expectations running through the passing flow of generations, plus the increasing intimacy of antagonistic cultures crowding together as our world grows smaller, makes us strangers to each other as our horizons widen until our focus becomes fixed on distant points.

Although essential to the social process, credibility suffers and trust wanes as the pool of people with whom we can feel truly intimate grows ever more shallow. Maybe most people will never notice this effect and will want to argue about it. Maybe they just haven’t lived long enough.

While fast approaching the ninth decade of my life, I’ve been privileged to notice and think about a lot of things. As an old man I won’t expect these words to glean much serious consideration, but, there are still people of high integrity who will read and understand, so I will go on.

Whether or not people agree with you, maintaining credibility demonstrates high integrity:

  • Your existence demonstrates verisimilitude—

    • Your reputation is impeccable. You pay your bills. People trust you. You don’t play games with their accounts when people owe you money, nor sell off their accounts to increase profits or lessen losses at others’ expense. You always give fair measure.

    • You can be called upon to show the truth. Evidence is your friend. Absence of evidence is reason enough for doubt and disbelief under the law and in life.

    • You feel no need to pressure people about their beliefs:

      • No need for defensive explanations. Apologia acts as a stand-in for reality for when something doesn’t make sense. You don’t hold still for apologetic reasoning; when something seems off, you look for the truth and evidence.

      • No need for name calling. You don’t see why well-behaved people are called heathens, infidels, heretics, pariahs, blasphemer, reprobate, profane, nor all the other put-down names used for those who believe differently. You see such tactics as intentionally divisive.

      • No need for personal attacks. You that name-calling and physical abuse are not the only forms of personal attacks, and that this column amounts to only a partial list.

      • No need for gas-lighting, an especially egregious form of common attack wherein one person attempts to gain control of another’s thinking by reducing self-confidence.

      • No need for Gish-Galloping. That motor-mouthing to stomp on an opponent’s response is unfair during debates seems irrelevant to practitioners of it does not mean they are as smart as they think. While it stays true that some people enjoy being fooled, and others will root for their favorite no matter what, people are getting wise. Such tactics are used to hide something. They may gain few new converts.

      • No need for back stabbing. The spectacle continues with attempts to poison people’s opinions against someone else. People of high integrity feel no need to tell anything but the truth about others; they suffer no spurring to sully reputations for their own advancement or any reason except to tell the truth.

      • No need for conflation. Where one word has multiple definitions, it is easy to slip from one meaning to another for the sake of winning an argument, by treating all the meanings as one and confounding an opponent. A person of high integrity regards cheating as a malicious form of personal attack to avoid.

      • No need for one-upsmanship. People of high integrity will see interpersonal discussions as a potential information resource. They will not see them as competitions, but as a chance to gain and impart ideas and knowledge.

      • No need for weekly belief-reinforcement. People of high integrity, those who value their personal trustworthiness, know that unsupported beliefs diminish over time and lose their importance. Reality supports reality, while fairy tales get abandoned in childhood if given no support.

      • No need for stress induced by a need to continue justifying indoctrinated errors against all of their challengers. As a person of high integrity, you want to know the truth and nothing less will do. You already know the only path to truth runs through evidence to keep you straight; that without real evidence you have only your emotions to guide you; following your emotions will lead to belief in anything that appeals to you, and that is not apt to be truthful.

So, Smartass, where do I find evidence, and how do I tell the real from the fake​?

To watch evidence at work, find a criminal court in session and spend a few hours (or days) watching the process. Anything relevant to science depends on evidence to gain approval and development funds. Reports in the magazines aimed at popularizing science seldom delve very deeply into the actual processes, but may provide “learn more” links or footnotes, as will science-related websites, that will lead you as far as you care to go into most topics.

In fewer words, evidence should be evident on the page; you shouldn’t need to search for it, but, since you are reading this online, Google, Bing, Yahoo, and a host of others are waiting with dangling tongues for you to click on them. Just choose a word of interest, click to highlight it, hold down [ctrl] while pressing [c] to copy it, get your browser running and paste it into the search bar. Click on the blinking cursor, hold down [shift] while pressing [ins] and then press [enter] after lifting your finger off the [ins] key. Don’t hold me responsible for whomever labeled the keys on your computer.

So, that leaves “How do I tell the real from the fake?

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.