Free Markets, Free People


Quick hits for Saturday morning

National Journal asks Do Women Make Better Senators Than Men? Given those doing the asking, I’m pretty sure that the question really means “better at responding to emotion-driven appeals from the left”. And the answer is yes.

***

The DOJ urges city officials in Sanford, Florida to “seek justice for Trayvon Martin”. Which means, as I said earlier in the week, assuming that he’s innocent and Zimmerman is guilty, regardless of facts, evidence, or law. As expected, the DOJ is doing their part to accomplish the goals of white segregationists.

***

The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes that an intern caused a local TV station to use joke Asian names such as “Captain Sum Ting Wong” in an official news broadcast. You would think that with youth unemployment so high, they could get less ignorant interns. But I’m sure that, for the NTSB, political correctness trumps competency, so I’m not surprised.

***

Microsoft’s Surface tablet is not exactly exceeding expectations. As in a 1.8% tablet market share for first quarter of 2013. The price of the low-end RT version was recently cut in response. The article says “Why did Microsoft’s Surface fail so spectacularly? One reason might have been the unusual Windows 8 operating system.” I’d agree, because the hardware isn’t bad. I’ve used Windows 8 on and off for over a year now, and I still dislike its blocky, garish, appearance. That, and the generally untuitive interaction, could be fixed, but it would take design talent that Microsoft doesn’t have.

This is probably one of the triggers for Microsoft’s announced reorganization. By the way, if you pay attention to the Microsoft ecosystem and you don’t know who Kevin Turner is, you should. The ex-Walmart exec is COO and would love to be Steve Ballmer’s successor as CEO.

I joked to someone this week that, with the emphasis now on devices and away from software, Microsoft should change their name to Macrostuff.

*** 

Yessir, that Obama sure does know how to make the rest of the world like us again: “…the US is again being seen as an over-weaning superpower that brushes aside smaller nations.”

Speaking of Obama’s superhuman capabilities, you know Obamacare is in real trouble when the White House is holding special briefings for the likes of Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein. No doubt we will see the resulting talking points in our comment section by sometime next week.

***

Countdown T-minus 2 days until you can have Twinkies again. And until one of my favorite naughty jokes becomes viable again.

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113 Responses to Quick hits for Saturday morning

  • For microsoft, the intent was to force feed the interface on the desktop so that the phone and tablets would be more familiar and people would be open to them.  The force feeding part didn’t go down well and I think the phones and tablets are victims of the backlash.

    Businesses have gone into a ‘take consumers for granted’ mode lately.   And its not working out for anyone but the phone companies and the established phone OS’s.

    • There were hoping one user interface for all would help “me-too” sales of other parts of the Microsoft product line.
      I must say that the computer market is so fragmented now that I don’t think anybody will ever dominate again.

    • Install Classic Shell and W8 will boot into the classic Xp/W7 interface.

  • In one of the last podcasts, Dale asked if there will be a Mochtar Al-Madison or Hamid el-Jefferson…maybe this kid will be it:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/06/ali-ahmed-egypt-excoriates-muslim-brotherhood-video_n_3555093.html

  • The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes that an intern caused a local TV station to use joke Asian names such as “Captain Sum Ting Wong” in an official news broadcast. You would think that with youth unemployment so high, they could get less ignorant interns. But I’m sure that, for the NTSB, political correctness trumps competency, so I’m not surprised>>>> Except how stupid is the TV station crew to not notice? This isn’t like getting the Weather Guy to read an on-air happy birthday wish to Chip Chipperson from his Uncle Paul (Opie and Anthony listeners will get this) – this isn’t an inside joke. Nobody on the news side noticed “Sum Ting Wong” immediately????

    • Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Beng Ding Ow

      • Were these seriously the names?   If so I hope the airline punishes them monetarily by suing the crap out of them.



         

        • OMG, those were the names.

          The other obvious names aside, it takes more than one moron to let Ho Lee Fuk get up there on screen.

      • I have to admit that was actually pretty funny. But better for 6 weeks from now on  a comedy special.
        I watched the video knowing it to be “bad” but still laughed.

  • The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes that an intern caused a local TV station to use joke Asian names such as “Captain Sum Ting Wong” in an official news broadcast. You would think that with youth unemployment so high, they could get less ignorant interns. But I’m sure that, for the NTSB, political correctness trumps competency, so I’m not surprised.

    Good thing he didn’t call him something like Sillasaurus or BigusDickus.

  • Personally, I just not up for all the required dancing that goes with Windows 8

  • Except the right tends to be guided more by emotion than reason – look at talk radio, it’s all emotion-based, and much of this blog (consider the name calling and bravado in the comments against those who think differently) is pure emotion.   The blogosphere in general, right or left, runs by emotion.  Still, in general I think the stereotype, while perhaps overstated, that the right is more emotion and the left more reason, is true.

    • Says the fool who prattled on about spirituality over materialism on the other thread. Spirituality is entirely about what you feel, i.e. emotion over reason.

      Every single person I’ve ever known who prattled about generic spirituality in such a fashion was a not-too-bright failure of a person trying to make themselves feel superior to the obviously smarter and more successful people around them. “Oh, look, I’m spiritual! Aren’t I special?”

      • Spiritual (usually) = superstitious/mystic.

        • Actually, “spiritual” these days means “I like the idea of a God, but I don’t like the idea of having to follow any rules or give up something I want to do, so I’ll just say I’m spiritual and sound like I’m deep”

          • I don’t refer to these sort of people as ‘spiritual’, I refer to them as Nancy Pelosi voters.

      • Excellent points.  I forgot all about his childish mutterings about quantum magic.  At first, I thought it was just a roundabout way to justify collectivism through some supernatural interconnections fantasy.  But the more he wrote about his spiritual ideas, the more I realized that he is just simple-minded, gullible, and not serious.

        • He’s the sort of guy who thinks he’s told you how to bring about world peace by telling you “become famous in some way, and then tell everyone to be nice to one another!”.

    • Well, the emotion I read in you most is fear.
      Here…let’s try again, in the world of reason….
      Which of your moonbat punk-miesters did you glean that [the allegation that the GOP was blocking Obama appointments at an "unprecedented level"] from, Erp.  Citations, please.

      While you are at it, cite to your “historical fact” you alluded to on markets becoming gangsta operations without gubmint.
      Oh, and your model for when that has happened.  AND your refutation of my models where markets function without regulation.
      Don’t be scared.
       

    • This is entertaining coming as it does from the king of fact free thinking and irrational rationalism.

      Yes, in your universe ‘bravado’ would have the definition – “refuting my weak, unsubstantiated and poorly reasoned arguments and destroying them with facts and real world examples”.

      As for the name calling, you’re pretty much the only one I reserve that for.   I call you idiot not as a form of insult, but because it’s a demonstrated fact, and it’s only polite to give credit and titles where due.

    • …consider the name calling and bravado in the comments against those who think differently…

      No on shows more unjustified name calling or more false bravado than you do.  Hands down.
      It’s why Ott Scerb works so well.

      The blogosphere in general, right or left, runs by emotion.  Still, in general I think the stereotype, while perhaps overstated, that the right is more emotion and the left more reason, is true.

      Arguments based upon the Fallacy of the Collective are not arguments of reason.
      You are the last person in the world to judge whether arguments are rational.  All of you comments and posts are but one long string of logical fallacies.  Argument from authority, appeal to popularity, appeal to tradition, special pleading, stolen concept fallacy, ….
      One could write a textbook on critical thinking using you as the example for most every fallacy.
      The second statement is pure propaganda, since you show an apparent blindness in spotting stupidity or malfeasance from Democrats, socialists, etc..  I say “apparent” because I think it is feigned, though I will admit the likelihood that a good portion is due to your inability to think rationally, your lack of intelligence, and your laziness.
      There is plenty of emotion filling political discussions in the media and on the Internet.  You’re tossing around directional indicators like they mean something, two centuries past the French Revolution, so I’ll just refer to the political parties, instead of the stupid “left/right” ambiguous nonsense.  (The fact that you put libertarians in with the “right” is one prime example of the uselessness of your model.)  Republicans and Democrats are mostly driven by emotion.  Even when I happen to agree with Democrats on a given issue, like opposing war, they often disappoint by using the wrong arguments to get to the correct conclusion.  And, they blank out and drop their protest signs when the people directing the war are Democrats
      Outside a handful like Ron Paul, Republicans parrot individualist arguments when it suits them, then go back to being statists when that suits them.  That they parrot the arguments, instead of properly integrating principles of liberty from the ground up, means they abandon those principles when it becomes difficult politically, which is when they matter the most.
      For the most part, the only consistent reason I see comes from libertarians, and I am very selective about which of those people I read and take seriously.  There are a number of self-described libertarians who don’t really get it.

    • Yeah, you use reason alright: 292 to 6 in flags at the IRS, now we know about a Tea Party Coordinator, and you keep telling us there is no scandal.
      It like if the NYP gave 292 parking tickets to black people, and made them pay up, but gave out 6 warnings to white people. Your and reasoning and “logic” would say there is no bias, and you would be wrong.

  • The legacy of this case will be that the media never gets it right, and worse, that a group of lawyers, with the aid of a public relations team, who had a financial stake in the outcome of pending and anticipated civil litigation, were allowed to commandeer control of Florida’s criminal justice system, in pursuit of a divisive, personal agenda.
    Their transformation of a tragic but spontaneous shooting into the crime of the century, and their relentless demonization of the person they deemed responsible, not for a tragic killing, but for “cold-blooded murder,” has called into question the political motives and ethics of the officials serving in the Executive branch of Florida’s government, ruined the career of other public officials, turned the lives of the Zimmerman family, who are as innocent as their grieving clients, into a nightmare, and along the way, set back any chance of a rational discussion of the very cause they were promoting, probably for years. . . .
    http://www.talkleft.com/story/2013/7/14/145748/759/Colo_News/The-Legacy-of-the-George-Zimmerman-Trial
    Yeeeeup. If I had a corrupt, race-baiting national leader, he’d look like Pres. Snoop-Dog.

  • Progressive Leftists hate Asians for the simple reason they are the opposite of their ideal voter. Asians tend to be smart, articulate, honest, hard working, well educated and unlikely to be whining for social programs.

  • So, Billy, you’re not spiritual?  Ok those spiritual prattlers .. The Dalai Lama, Gandhi, MLK, etc. should just accept radical materialism?  I think not. Without being open to the spiritual side of life your existence is colder, emptier, more angry and less happy.  You need to open your heart as well as your mind. Buddha, Jesus, etc.  compare their teachings and influence to materialists like Rand and Marx (who are more alike than different)

    • Wonderful.  Now he is a guru.  Too-rooo.  The Maha Erpy.
      And he cannot see the self-parody…
      A-flucking-mazing.

    • Ho Lee Chit!  Did Ghandi post here….AGAIN?
      Evil Billy must have deleted the post…. AGAIN.

      Or, does THIS line perhaps refer to the MooseErb of Maine heself?
      “Every single person I’ve ever known who prattled about generic spirituality in such a fashion was a not-too-bright failure of a person trying to make themselves feel superior to the obviously smarter and more successful people around them.”

      Do I misunderstand when I fail to perceive the MoosErb of Maine is on the same spiritual plane as Budda or Jesus or are you just one rung down sitting next to the Dali Lama these days.
      Prattle on about spirituality would you, because lord knows I WANT to be instructed by someone who has just enough higher brain function to control his farts.

    • “So, Billy, you’re not spiritual?”

      Sure I am, but unlike you, I have the self-awareness to recognize that it’s a result of my own intuition and highly personal. So I don’t try to prattle about it to others as a substitute for rational thought and argument, or as a way to sound smugly superior.

      • Sorry, Billy, but you’re not making any sense.  Talking about spiritual issues is like talking politics.  People share opinions, disagree, and learn by understanding different perspectives.   Many people say their political views are highly personal and the result of their own intuition.   That’s cool – but it would not give them a reason to smugly insult you for “prattling on” about politics.   You were trying for a cheap insult and as such it wasn’t very logical.  Best to avoid the desire for a cheap insult.

        • Then if your mighty spirituality is something personal, why are you here, prattling on to us about it and trying to score cheap intellectual points by dissing Billy for choosing not to engage you in your pretense that you wish to discuss anything.   If it’s personal, why bring it up at all, since, being personal, we may have some ourselves, but wish to, quelle surprise, keep it personal rather than discuss it on the internet.

          You’re not here to discuss, you’re here to tell us we’re wrong about practically everything and lecture us.   You’re here to marvel at how marvelous you are.

    • Ok those spiritual prattlers .. The Dalai Lama, Gandhi, MLK, etc. should just accept radical materialism?

      Why do you include Lhamo Dondrub in that group?  I know you like to quote his “quantum” gobbeldeygook, but how has he made transformative political or cultural changes?
      The revolutionary changes Gandhi and MLK accomplished were inspired by Henry David Thoreau, an anti-government, anti-establishment individualist.  Yes, these men were religious, but civil disobedience itself is a tactic.  Considering the bloody war in post-British India, which created the Muslim splinter nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh, I don’t think it is useful to claim religion as the motivation for peaceful change.  Religion has caused a plethora of wars and atrocities, not to mention centuries of tyranny.  Witness the barbaric treatment of women, apostates, homosexuals, and others in Muslim countries even in the 21st century.
      And why refer to the basic idea that reality, the entirety of the universe, is made up of matter and energy as “radical materialism”?  It’s just materialism.  No “radical” needed.  If you can provide evidence of supernatural forces, things, or entities, then do so.  Otherwise, any rational person must regard belief in that which cannot be seen or demonstrated to be the radical point of view.

      Without being open to the spiritual side of life your existence is colder, emptier, more angry and less happy.

      You sound like the anti-Semites spreading the Blood Libel.  Except we atheists are worse than the Jews.  We’re secretly Satan worshipers (never mind the paradox of a non-believer believing in the supernatural devil).  We’re malevolent and homicidal.
      Why, just look at those cold, empty, angry, unhappy people like Carl Sagan, Mark Twain, Penn Jillette, Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Dave Barry, George Carlin, Jodie Foster, Ricky Gervais, Katharine Hepburn, James Randi, Linus Torvalds, Frank Zappa, Albert Einstein, ….

      Buddha, Jesus, etc.  compare their teachings and influence to materialists like Rand and Marx (who are more alike than different)

      In your “etc.” must be Muhammad.  The followers of Jesus and Muhammad have started countless wars, murdered, tortured, terrorized, and enslaved.  Only through the secular reform of the Enlightenment did the majority Christian cultures shed the worst.  Under theocratic domination, pre-Enlightenment Europe was cast in the Dark Ages, during which little technological or cultural improvements were made.  The same has happened in Muslim countries, whose greatest technological achievements were taken from other cultures, and which have been bogged down in 8th century barbarism.

      It’s strange how you throw Marx under the bus, after all the defense and praise you’ve given to his ideas over the years.  His ability to predict the future, to account for human nature, was a total failure.  Ayn Rand, on the other hand, wrote fiction far more accurately predicting the future than the likes of Orwell, Huxley, or Bradbury, as far as politics and the media goes.  As far as the actual impact on history, Marx’s influence is one written in the blood of tens of millions, of billions of slaves, of terror and depravity.  How many people have been killed by Objectivists?

      Your attempt to equate atheists is preposterous.  Atheism isn’t a monolithic belief system.  It is simply the lack of belief in supernatural things.  Attempting to tie all of us together, to condemn the peaceful for the actions of Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot is even worse than the Islamaphobia you constantly decry.

      • I’m not talking supernatural forces – rather, nature is probably more complex than what we can perceive.   We perceive only a smidgen of reality, it would be foolish to think that “matter and energy” (which are really the same – and all break down into quantum probabilities and subatomic particles that aren’t really particles but really ripples in fields) as we perceive them is an accurate view of nature.  We are probably like the ant – an ant in the White House during a crisis has no clue about the greater story unfolding around him.  We are also limited in how we can perceive the wider reality; it would be arrogant to think otherwise!
        Of course, Elliot, I’ve always known you are not exactly the most honest person, but to try to claim I’ve been defending and praising Marx’s ideas is laughable.  I’ve been just as effusive with both criticism and praise with Marx as with Rand – I see them as peas in a pod.  I also think Rand’s fiction has been proven dead wrong (Huxley on the other hand may be closer), and her philosophy is laughable (hence she is not considered a top philosopher).  Atheism is fine if it really is a lack of belief, but quite often it turns into a faith itself.  If one believes that there may be things outside our perceptive capacity that drive reality which we can’t understand, but will choose not to believe that there are without material proof, that’s cool.  If they feel a need to expound a radical materialism and ridicule those with spiritual beliefs, then they have taken a leap of faith themselves.  After all, unless you can answer the question “why is there something rather than nothing,” you’ve got a quandry.
        Objectivists haven’t killed people because it’s such a ridiculous philosophy that it will never draw many adherents – its so easily torn apart.  But I’ve seen Objectivists defend people like Augusto Pinochet and support violence against various movements that if they ever were to gain power they’d abuse it just like any other ideological group.  They just don’t have a very persuasive ideology – it’s built on faith!
        I’m not a believer in organized religion, but your history is off.  Galileo was a devout Catholic until his death, despite his disagreement with the Church.  Newton was convinced his equations proved God existed.  Also, don’t forget how Islamic rationalist philosophy helped spur on western progress.  It’s far more complex than you realize.  I teach a course for first year honors students that essentially is an intellectual history of western thought, going from Augustine and the dark ages, then working through Aquinas, Petrarch, Dante, Machiavelli, Luther, Galileo, Newton, Pascal, Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Marx, Nietzsche and ending with a look at the Holocaust and Fromm’s “Escape from Freedom.”
        Guess what – enlightenment thought gave us world wars, nationalism, communism, the holocaust, fascism, and a colonialism that destroyed vast cultures.  There has never been a more violent and bloody civilization than the West – but it’s also been a progressive and changing culture.

        • It was the reactionary perversion of the Enlightenment that brought the 20th Century horrors, you moron.  YOUR Collective.
          “The West” is not a violent and bloody civilization.  In fact, the opposite.   And NOOOOoooobody “destroyed vast cultures”.
          Where do you get this shit?
          But it IS funny to think of you wasting all that time typing that nonsense.

          • From the West:  Two world wars, the holocaust, Communism, the French revolution, Napoleon’s conquests of Europe, bloody colonialism, nuclear weapons.  The destruction of native cultures in the Americas.  The West has more blood on its hands than any other culture in history, it isn’t even close (nor is that statement controversial – if you deny it, you’re denying obvious reality).   That’s not to say the West is evil — there is much good in the liberating values of the enlightenment.  But to achieve those ideals putting your hands over your ears and going ‘nananananana’ when someone points out the clear dark side of the enlightenment — perversions perhaps, but ones that flowed from the nature of enlightenment thought — is to deny reality.  And really, looking at how your point of view is becoming increasingly obsolete, I would suggest you open your mind a bit and consider different opinions.  It may seem scary at first, but that’s how you grow.

          • Ya know, I have yet to see anyone here claim that the ‘enlightenment’ was all parfait and champagne parties with no down side.  Well, except you, implying we’re not aware that there were any bad parts of our progress to modern western society.   Then again, most of us have a factual grasp of history rather than some progressive version where good things happen as an accidental result of the numerous deliberate bad things our civilization sets out to do.

            I would suggest you open your mind and purge yourself of the guilt you’re obviously carrying around for the actions of your ancestors in making sure your sorry ass got this far so you could play the guilty western intellectual martyr.

          • Psst, looker, read Rag’s comment above.  He seems to be insinuating just that!

          • Ah yes, the guilt I’m supposed to feel because the Spanish destroyed the murderously thriving Aztecs and the ‘peaceful’ Inca.   So if I’m responsible for THAT, then that makes the Cherokee responsible for the murderous depredations of the Apache on pretty much every one who wasn’t Apache, right?  That also makes them responsible for the Aztecs dragging people to the top of their pyramids and cutting out their hearts. No?
            Western wars – yes, we’re the only ones who’ve had wars, or bloody revolutions, or conquests or colonialism, or advanced weapons – hey!  you forgot slavery!  We were the only ones who ever had slavery too.

            You have this western intellectual (hypocritical) fuzzy bunny problem.  You want to eat meat without killing cute fuzzy animals, and you enjoy being fed and clothed while criticizing those who fed and clothed you for not living up to your cheesy standards.   People spent their lives improving your culture so you could lay around on your intellectually fat ass and tell them they sucked and were evil murderers and that you, though you have not contributed anything to society or it’s advancement except for tax dollars, are superior.


            I have no guilt for what my ancestors did or didn’t do, their glory isn’t mine, and their sins aren’t mine.
             

          • Yah, no, Erp.
            Japan is not “the West”.
            Technology made mass killing possible, but people in Africa have killed millions with machetes, one at a time, in recent decades.
            IF people in history had the capacity to kill that Hitler did, they would have HUGELY exceeded his body-count.
            The French Revolution was REACTIONARY, not an act on the continuum of the Enlightenment.  It was ANTI-ENLIGHTENMENT, and EXPRESSLY so.  Just like your Collectivism.  It HATES rational thought, and seeks its destruction, along with the liberty of the individual and their very right to exist outside being a cell of the state.
            You are SUCH a moron.

          • The West has more blood on its hands than any other culture in history, it isn’t even close….

            Mao, Pol Pot, the Pyongyang Kims, Suharto, and Tojo slaughtered an excruciatingly large number of people, within half a century.  That doesn’t count the religious wars in the Indian subcontinent, Burma/Mayanmar, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Russo-Japanese War, historic wars (in modern China, Korean peninsula and Japan), the Mongols, Huns, Persians, Babylonians, Middle East conflicts, etc..  I’d wager that Cambodia was likely the greatest mass murder per capita per annum in modern times.
            If you want to put the Soviets in “the West”, then remember that during the Cold War, the Soviets and Warsaw Pact nations were the “Eastern Bloc”.  The Soviets oppressed the Orthodox Church, one of the most significant ties, historically, to western civilization.  The Eastern Bloc nations suppressed “decadent” Western culture.  Stalin was born in Asia.
            So, taking the USSR out of the accounting, saying, “…it isn’t even close…” is false.  I’d have to pore over tables to add up numbers–bearing in mind the great uncertainty in many figures–before I’d come to a conclusion about which have been the deadliest.
            The death toll in the Americas is controversial as many people claim unrealistic estimations of the pre-Columbian population.  Also, death by disease was, with a few exceptions (like the small pox blankets), unintentional.  That is not to downplay the slaughter of indigenous people by more technologically advanced settlers and conquistadors–only an attempt to be accurate.
            R. J. Rummel has done extensive research putting together his “Power Kills” website on democide.  His sampling of pre-20th century democide suggests slightly more deaths from Chinese, Mongolians, Indians, etc..

            …when someone points out the clear dark side of the enlightenment…

            The Enlightenment was, in many respects, a reaction to the dark side of European culture.  Secularism and an emphasis on reason was directly in opposition to the evils of theocracy.  Individualism, anti-colonialism, and classic liberalism were the political refutation of monarchies, dictatorships, and colonial powers.  As the name suggests, The Enlightenment was a contradiction to that which was dark.
            Of course, all of Western civilization did not transform overnight at the onset of The Age of Enlightenment.  And, nowhere was the transformation complete, not even in the most enlightened societies.  Jefferson and others still owned slaves.  While disavowing the British claim on the Americas, the US government took land from the American Indians, various Pacific and Caribbean islands.  Even into the latter half of the 20th Century, the US still had political alliances which protected colonialism.

            …ones that flowed from the nature of enlightenment thought…

            Explain how collectivist ideologies, like Marxism and fascism, flowed from the reason and individualism characteristic of The Enlightenment.  You claim that Marx was an Enlightenment thinker, that he was “about freedom”, and other such rot, but the cold, hard fact is that the things he predicted did not happen, at all, and he demonstrated a blinding ignorance of human nature.  In short, he was a wishful thinker, but those who put his faulty ideas into practice ended up engaging in atrocities and being oppressive, the very opposite of his predictions.  You like to bash Rand for being a “failed philosopher”, but her ideas didn’t spur atrocities at all, and she still had a far more accurate handle on human nature (even if I disagree with a number of her conclusions).

            And really, looking at how your point of view is becoming increasingly obsolete, I would suggest you open your mind a bit and consider different opinions.  It may seem scary at first, but that’s how you grow.

            Learn to love the lash.  Be happy with the NSA snooping on everything, with the TSA groping you, with militarized police engaging in violent raids over non-violent crimes.  Stop questioning authority.  Stop endorsing individualism.  Go with the herd.  Obey.
            As Billy Beck would put it: this the The Endarkenment.

          • The French Revolution was REACTIONARY, not an act on the continuum of the Enlightenment.  It was ANTI-ENLIGHTENMENT, and EXPRESSLY so.  Just like your Collectivism.  It HATES rational thought, and seeks its destruction, along with the liberty of the individual and their very right to exist outside being a cell of the state.

            The French Revolution brought down the aristocracy.  In order for the revolutionaries to be reactionary, the aristocracy would be enlightened.
            I’ve seen Beck credit the Law & Order actor Michael Moriarty with the idea that the French Revolution was the real beginning of the Cold War, or the fight between individualism and collectivism, in a post aristocratic world.  This also means that the Cold War did not end with the fall of the Berlin wall.  Besides Putin expanding Russian military power and China’s military expansion, the fight has come to our shores, with the Clinton/Obama/Pelosi bunch transforming the government to being more expansive and intrusive, more collectivist in nature.
            The only silver lining might be that they will cause a collapse soon enough that individualists might be able to pick up the pieces and fix the problem before The Endarkenment snuffs out all chance.
            Zhou Enlai
            Zhou Enlai
            Zhou Enlai

          • That was weird.  I kept trying to paste “Zhou Enlai” but it did not appear in the window, but then showed up after I submitted the comment.
            I was going to cite him on the French Revolution, but I’ve come across a number of comments claiming that it was an error in translation.

        • I’m not talking supernatural forces….

          Spirits are supernatural.  If you are excluding everything supernatural, then you are left with materialism.  Attempting to wave your hands and find a “middle ground” between matter/energy and the supernatural, dubbing this “spiritual” is not only quite ignorant, but likely an attempt to mask the true intent, to suggest supernatural things but simultaneously deny that they are supernatural.  It’s the sort of thing a propagandist like you does in politics, to endorse a socialist policy but to deny that term.
          It’s a weak argument and I don’t really care to indulge any discussions of “spirituality”.  I’ll discuss reality.

          …nature is probably more complex than what we can perceive.   We perceive only a smidgen of reality, it would be foolish to think that “matter and energy” (which are really the same – and all break down into quantum probabilities and subatomic particles that aren’t really particles but really ripples in fields) as we perceive them is an accurate view of nature.

          It’s adorable how you repeat scientific phrases like some Star Trek TNG script.  Next you’ll tell us about “reversing the polarity”.  To say particles aren’t particles is ignorant.  Rather, one should say that the behavior of particles is not what one would expect intuitively, that there are attributes which defy our “common sense” ideas, derived from only being able to perceive matter above quadrillions of atoms at a time, unassisted by instruments.  (There are 7.8 x 1019 atoms in a grain of sand.)
          Dark matter, dark energy, these are indirectly perceived things which scientists readily admit they don’t understand.  To say, “I don’t know,” is to be scientific.  To say, “It must be magic!” or “spirits” or something supernatural is to give up on intellectual curiosity and to turn to superstition.
          Any good physicist will explain that there is much of nature we don’t understand yet, and may never fully or correctly understand.  Even so, there is a sizable amount of knowledge about the laws of nature, how things work in between the subatomic mysteries and the mysteries of singularity conditions (the “big bang”, black holes).
          For everyday life, anything that the vast majority of human beings will ever encounter, the mysteries have no practical relevance.  You’ll never be near a black hole, you were born billions of years after the “big bang”, and the odds of any unexpected change of particles due to quantum probability making any substantive difference to you is so minuscule that you’re more likely to hit the lottery ten times in a row.
          In short: you don’t get to listen to physicists discuss mysteries, which you don’t really understand beyond their simplistic metaphors, and then inject your fantasies into the blanks.

          Galileo was a devout Catholic until his death, despite his disagreement with the Church.  Newton was convinced his equations proved God existed.

          These men lived in a time in which atheism, apostasy, or heresy were punishable crimes.  They were never given the freedom of choice, never exposed to minds like Carl Sagan or Albert Einstein.

          Also, don’t forget how Islamic rationalist philosophy helped spur on western progress.

          Muslims sacked the libraries in Egypt, Asia Minor, etc. which contained Western philosophy (mostly Greek).  They preserved this knowledge for centuries, at which point the West was reacquainted with its own heritage.  I’ve explained this to you before.

          …enlightenment thought gave us world wars, nationalism, communism, the holocaust, fascism, and a colonialism that destroyed vast cultures.

          The Enlightenment Era began more than 250 years after the onset of the European Colonial Era.  If anything, The Enlightenment put a wrench in the colonial machine, spurring counter-colonial revolutions and movements–most notably, the American Revolution.  In general, when more technologically advanced civilizations come into contact with more primitive peoples, the result is usually ugly.  That has been the history of humankind, not just Europe.  Look at the Mongols, Huns, Persians, and countless conquests within Asia and Oceania.  Look at the Aztecs, Mayans, and other cultures in the Americas which conquered and slaughtered their neighbors, in pre-Columbian times or during the discovery by Europeans (who witnessed the atrocities).
          Collectivist political ideologies like communism and fascism are anti-Enlightenment.  In practice, the authoritarian regimes rely on propaganda and terror, which involve a denial of reason.  They are like theocracies.  Instead of faith in deities, subjects are expected to have faith in the wisdom, goodness, and infallibility of the government, to believe in the mythical “will of the people” (which is really just the will of those in power who claim to act in the name of “the people”).  Whether it is god, fatherland, motherland, or party, the reason and free will of the individual is disregarded.

          There has never been a more violent and bloody civilization than the West – but it’s also been a progressive and changing culture.

          The West is not monolithic.  Asia, being the most populous continent, has had violence and death by war or by government oppression on a greater scale.  Places like Cambodia, North Korea, Pakistan, East Timor have had a rate of mass murder per capita which rival or exceed the Nazis and Soviets.  Also, keep in mind that the USSR was mostly in Asia, so including them in The West is a stretch.

        • …but to try to claim I’ve been defending and praising Marx’s ideas is laughable.

          Most recently you’ve lauded Marx as being “about freedom”.  Do you have a short-term memory problem?  See a neurologist.

          I also think Rand’s fiction has been proven dead wrong…

          TARP.  MSNBC.

          Atheism is fine if it really is a lack of belief, but quite often it turns into a faith itself.

          Hitchens, et al. dispense with this false claim.  Also, the idea that atheists are devil worshipers, and all sorts of other horrible things, have all been thoroughly debunked.
          To say there is no god is no more a matter of faith than to say there are no gremlins, no fairies, no Russel’s teapot.  We laugh at grownups who seriously believe in the latter, but we’re supposed to treat beliefs in gods with respect?  Most of the people I know are religious.  I respect them, but not their beliefs.  I don’t make an a$$hole of myself, getting in their face and mocking them.

          If they feel a need to expound a radical materialism and ridicule those with spiritual beliefs, then they have taken a leap of faith themselves.  After all, unless you can answer the question “why is there something rather than nothing,” you’ve got a quandry [sic].”

          A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence Krauss.  I got the audio book for that for free for trying a website and have gone through about half.  I don’t claim to understand it all, but it does demonstrate that science does have possible explanations.  Besides, you’re positing a “burden of proof” fallacy, demanding that the atheist prove the non-existence of something.
          Again, materialism is just materialism.  It isn’t “radical” any more than a light switch in the up position is “radically on”.  Ridiculing others is a matter of manners, and is not an indication of faith or lack of faith, either way.

          Objectivists haven’t killed people because it’s such a ridiculous philosophy….

          I’m not an Objectivist, but I’m sure that most of what you claim to be ridiculous actually isn’t.  Some may be.
          Marxism has caused the mass murder of tens of millions and it is a ridiculous philosophy.  Yet, you laud social democrats and other such “soft Marxists” and Fabian socialists.  You don’t call it ridiculous and you expound much of the fundamentals with your babbling about power differentials and whatnot.
          So, I’ve demonstrated that your claim that Marx and Rand are very alike is preposterous.

  • I, I, I, me, me, me… every single missive from the Erb on high is riddled with I, I, I. No wonder he sits alone worshipping the holy spirit of JC (José Cuervo, not that dead Jewish zionist), pondering why the millenialist generation just isn’t into getting down and funky with aged wise white dudes. Although it is telling that his relationship with a few random libertarians on the internet (despite frequent protestations he will never come back) will last longer than marriage to a woman. As far as therapy goes I suppose this is cheaper than paying some other over-educated psychologist or under-educated woman of certain special talents.” If one believes that there may be things outside our perceptive capacity that drive reality which we can’t understand, but will choose not to believe that there are without material proof, that’s cool.”And in a single sentence contradicts any claim he has to rationality and understanding of science.

    • Excellent analysis of his various psychopathies. Narcissism being at the top of the list, though combined with low cognitive capabilities and limited emotional affect, he is completely unable to see how much of a narcissist he is. 

      He might understand on an unconscious level. That would explain his retreat from reality into a tiny college in a tiny town. And, since his narcissist side cannot accept that such is the totality of his life, he has to come out and relentlessly pester people on the Internet for, as you called it, therapy. He gets to spew pretentious bullsh!+, declare victory, and retire to his retreat from reality telling himself that he has yet again proven how smart he is.

      It’s actually rather pathetic, but given how much he irritates other people, and has admitted that he takes pleasure (“I’m having fun”) in doing so, I lack the ability to feel any sympathy for him. As looker mentioned above, he’s the only person on the Internet (or in real life, for that matter) that I will gratuitously insult. Treating him with any shred of respect just feeds his narcissism, and encourages him to irritate us more and work harder to subvert every comment thread into being about him instead of about the topic at hand. 

      • Ah, yes, the insults, name calling.  I’m sure I could do a nice psychological analysis on why you feel compelled to engage in playground behavior rather than simply discuss.  Though, it’s funny how you would think a small rural town is a retreat from reality.  I’m living a dream life, I could not be happier with my work or location (seriously, have you been to this region of Maine?  It’s paradise!)  Or how a few comments – without any animosity or anger – is “relentlessy pester’.  Really?  I’ve done maybe ten comments the last two months!   And that’s “relentlessly pester”?   That alone shows you’re simply flailing.   No, you’re wearing your frustration on your sleeve, Billy.  You shout out insults because that’s all you have.  And I’m sure your momma taught you that if someone has to call names, that proves they’ve lost the battle.  So you can call names, but it says more about you than it says about me.   It’s too bad you have to hide behind that bravado rather than actually engage in honest, friendly discussion.   But that’s why I think it’s emotion driving you here, not reason.

        • Whatever you say, Scotty. But until you can explain why you come to a forum where you are universally despised, and irritate the crap out of the people here, we have to assume that it’s for emotional reasons. It certainly isn’t because you expect to convince anyone here of anything. So all your prattle about reason falls short – you are the one succumbing to an emotional need to come here and talk down to people.

          You can’t stay away. We’ve said it for years. You say you are going to stay away, but you never do for long. You can’t. For all your blather about living a dream life, you are missing something in your life, something that you crave, and something that you can only get by talking down to other people. You get some of that here, due to our liberal policies on not banning trolls, so you keep. Coming. Back.

          Every time you come here, it proves that you have a sick psychological craving to irritate other people. As with most people who have such issues, you are unable to see it in yourself. But the evidence is crystal clear, and all of us see it.

          • I think you guys should be able to take a contrary view.  I think your blog would be stronger if you’d be able to discuss positions in the comments section rather than having a “good vs. evil” dichotomy where those who think differently are personally attacked in an often over the top and ridiculous manner.  I can’t take your insults seriously for that reason – I just shake my head and chuckle.  But I do think an engagement on the issues and ideas would be more beneficial for all of us.  I choose to respond to positions I disagree with because I want my biases challenged, I want to learn – and I would like to think others feel the same.   I find it very ironic that you accuse me of talking down and “missing” something in life when you are the one insulting and calling names.   Pot, kettle, black.  I’m not claiming any superiority (if you think I am, you’re reading that into my words) and certainly not talking down – after all, I’m the one being insulted.   And given how rarely I post, it again seems over the top for you to think I “crave” it.   You can’t impact me with insults, they roll off me because I know who I am and that you’re insults are completely off the mark.  But you can get to me with a strong reasoned argument, with evidence showing where I am wrong, and a challenge to my biases and positions based not on emotion and acrimony, but reason and logic.   Your choice – impotent name calling, or potent argumentation.

          • I vote for more impotent name calling and breaking into your house and stealing your TV as a means of redressing injustices.

          • And of course, Scott, in your blathering, you fail to address anything I’ve said about your pathological, emotion-driven need to come here, Because you can’t. It’s so self-evident that you have no response.

            So you pull out your “more in sorrow than in anger” routine. We’ve heard it all before. You use it because you have no meaningful response. You talk about “engagement on issues” when it’s been proven more times than I can count that you are pathologically unable to do that. You handwave away anything you don’t like, distort and lie and then pretend you didn’t when you get caught, and condescend to us by smugly suggest that we ought to take classes from you, a nobody.

            Multiple people here have noted that you are the only one we see on the Internet for whom we have such contempt. Now, it could be that all of us have something wrong and just don’t see your genius and good will. But Occam’s Razor says that the problem is with you. The fact that you are pathologically unable to see it doesn’t change that. The fact that your fellow nobodies at your tiny college don’t think that way (or at least don’t let you know it if they do) doesn’t change it either.

          • And, if you were not simply republishing LIES from the moonbattery, you would have some…SOME…credibility.
            But you have demonstrated you ARE a liar, in your own “right”, along with being a rather stupid coward who lobs crap-bombs and scurries away when challenged.  Or performs your patented limp-wristed hand-wave.  You are not strong enough to engage others here.  And we alllLLLLLLlllll see it.

    • Shorter version – “mahloo mahloo Jumbo mahloo mahliki quantum physics great guiding spirit of unnamedness stuff I don’t understand but boy am I smart mahloo mahloo sib”

      sigh.
      Cause none of us understand there are things we just don’t, and possibly can’t, understand, no matter what level our intellectual or spiritual gas tank gauges float at, and we need MooseMambo to come point that out.
      And we needed to let him arrive as judge and jury to hold us responsible for everything that has happened in the last odd 1000 years whether we participated in any of it or not.
      No doubt he basks in fame by association thinking he’s accomplished something significant by buying books and reading them or being descended from someone who once did something useful.



       

      • Oh, I’m sure you have the capacity to understand anything I’m talking about, I’ve never insinuated anything else.  But you’re choosing to call names rather than actually respond or engage.  That’s your choice, you can’t blame me for that.

        • You misapprehend my meaning – there are things in the universe we don’t and perhaps can’t possibly understand (though I have faith that someone somewhere sometime can or will).  That’s not a mystery.  Rather,  a miracle we understand, correctly, what we do understand.  In the geological time scale we’re not even up the trees yet to come down out of them and walk up-right.   We’ve learned and retained a lot in the 7000 years of sort of recorded history.

          the point is I’d bet EVERYONE here understands there are things we don’t understand in the universe, and we don’t have to get all spiritual about it.  I’d also bet that no one is looking for you to guide them along the path to enlightenment.

          • I’m not sure what you mean by “all spiritual about it.”   Spirituality is a concept that can be discussed, just as politics, religion, human rights, and science can be discussed.  I think it’s a bit strange that people think it’s really bad or strange to talk about spirituality – I think that’s part of the problem of our culture.  We’re too materialist, and we limit our understanding in that way.  That’s my opinion, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with talking about it (though, to be sure, I didn’t bring it up in this conversation, so I’m responding to others who brought it up!)

          • I think it’s a bit strange that people think it’s really bad or strange to talk about spirituality – I think that’s part of the problem of our culture.

            Who said it was “bad or strange” to discuss spirituality?  This country is chock full of religious people and plenty of them will gladly discuss their spirituality with you, by which most mean their Christian beliefs.  Go to California and you won’t be able to meet a dozen people without someone going on about some New Age type spirituality.
            Discussion is not bad or weird.  My problem with your descriptions of “spirituality” is your denial that spirituality, by definition, involves something supernatural.  At the very least, a spirit is a supernatural concept.  If you don’t intend to refer to anything supernatural, then I suggest using a different word which doesn’t have as its root a supernatural thing.

            We’re too materialist, and we limit our understanding in that way.

            As Pierre-Simon Laplace purportedly told Napoleon, about the absence of god in his calculations, “…je n’ai pas eu besoin de cette hypothèse.”  My understanding of the universe, people, ethics, and anything else in which I am interested works just the same without anything supernatural. The only things I can perceive are matter and energy.  If you think I can do something to stop limiting my understanding, then tell me what, give me an example of someone who has used this to gain more understanding, and offer your explanation of how that worked.
            There are tens of thousands of deities, religions, cults, spiritual belief systems, etc..  It is impossible for even a majority to be simultaneously correct.  So, tell me which you think are true.  Otherwise, there’s no direction, no purpose to instructing people to stop being “too materialist”.

          • “all spiritual about it”

            Our lack of knowledge of the universe, and the recognition thereof, has nothing to do with spirituality.   Spirituality has/needs no evidence and provides no conclusive proof.   I don’t recall saying it’s bad.  These ideas that it’s strange, or bad to discuss it are all yours.  I merely choose not to discuss it, with YOU, here, now.
            That’s a conversation I reserve for friends, over some booze (good or bad) and cigars (good or bad) after some serious singing around a campfire when we’ve mellowed down to solving the various problems of the world between 11:00 pm and 2:00 am on a Friday or Saturday night.

  • So much for progressive racial justice.  The justice side delivered not guilty so all they’re left with is racism.  What an open sewer of hate the progs have sunk to.

  • Billy, you’re funny.  Throwing out words like “pathological” etc., like a kid on a playground trying to get another kid mad.  You don’t really think that’s effective for adults, especially not adults over 50 who have been around awhile.   I mean, don’t you feel a bit silly writing stuff like that?  And then to try to rationalize that by saying people here all call me that (hint: a small group of like minded people here who pile on someone who doesn’t toe the party line) is really silly.  I have considerable success and real world respect (and lots of praise for my own blog – even the spiritual reflections); it doesn’t bother me for an iota that you feel a need to try call names.   It says more about you – more than you realize – when you engage in that kind of behavior.  Step back and look at it objectively.  You are showing that you are angry, frustrated, trying as hard as you can to lash out, yet you are impotent when you do that.  That style of name calling and insulting cannot work, it is wholly ineffective and silly, especially among adults talking politics!   To outside observers (not just the few commentators who are on your side here), you come off as shrill and angry.
    Hint: if I frustrate you, ignore me.  I wouldn’t even be writing on this thread any more if you had done that.  Or you can do what does have power and has influence on observers – show with reason and evidence why I’m wrong.   But if my posts make you start looking like you’re a playground bully calling names and engaging in bravado, you’re hurting yourself by trying to hurt me.  I can’t carry a grudge – I have nothing against any of you.   I just would like to get you to question some of your assumptions and engage in real discussion rather than treating this like some kind of WWF grudge match.

    • You sure do take that “impotent name calling” rather seriously, based on how much effort you make to respond to it.

      Now, come back and tell me how you don’t take it seriously. And prove my point by your very action. Come on, dance for me.

      • Oh, don’t say that,  Billy.  Because he probably dances like Elaine Benes, and NOBODY wants to see that.

      • I’m trying to reach out to you Billy, turn a disagreement into a conversation.  I think you’ve got a really warped view of me, and it would be nice to correct it.  That’s why I’m not responding with tit for tat or insulting you.  I have nothing against you.

        • No, you’re not. You’re just trying to sound aggrieved, as if it’s everyone’s fault but yours that you are universally despised around here.

          Back around 2006-2007, I spent about two years patiently trying to engage with you, and for my trouble got the most dishonest, cheap shot, obtuse, fact-free, condescending, and nonsensical “debate” I’ve ever seen anywhere. Since I used to discuss creationism and free trade on Free Republic years ago, that says a lot.

          I’d write more about that, but Elliot has already said it better, a bit further down:

          You don’t follow your own advice.  Over and over, you ignore the content of an article and post a comment attacking straw man arguments.  You key off a few words and get on your soapbox, repeating Democrat talking points, often arguing against a position directly contradicted by the author.

          For years I have witnessed people attempt to engage with you in good faith discussion.  You play Lucy with the football.  That most people don’t want to be your Charlie Brown perpetually isn’t an indication of their unwillingness to “listen…to each other and engag[e] different opinions.”  It’s simply a realization that you’re not to be taken seriously because of your dishonest debate tactics.  You’re completely disingenuous.

    • “That style of name calling and insulting cannot work, it is wholly ineffective and silly, especially among adults talking politics!”
      This implies there is a style of internet name calling that is effective and not silly?
       

      • I think in the usenet days in the 90s name calling was effective because it elicited a response.  People weren’t use to that kind of communication, and emotion was more easily engaged.  Now I think the blogosphere has become so full of people calling those who disagree a lot of names that most people are immune.  On line discussions are divorced from reality, people argue with imaginary images of others (usually imagining the other as some caricature, based on extropolation from particular words or comments).  That can be fun, but ultimately I think we’d all be better off listening to each other and engaging different opinions.  I’m over 50, name calling seems a bit silly to me.  But part of me really would like to reach out to people who have a false image of me, and who think differently than I do.  I guess that’s my ENFP personality ;-)

        • I think in the usenet days in the 90s name calling was effective….

          How random and uselessly subjective.  All of the participants in political or current events discussion on Usenet, from its inception to today, would make only a small fraction of a percent of the people discussing comparable matters on social media, comment sections, weblogs, etc. these days.  Many people discussing politics and current events weren’t even old enough or had no access to Usenet two decades ago.

          People weren’t use to that kind of communication….

          You’re making this about you and your extremely narrow experience.  If that is the case, you lived a sheltered life and you attended secondary schools far tamer than anything I ever saw.  Do you think ad hominem attacks only happened after Al Gore invented the Internet?  Scurrilous attacks have been a mainstay of US politics since their inception, to give one example.

          On line discussions are divorced from reality, people argue with imaginary images of others (usually imagining the other as some caricature, based on extropolation [sic] from particular words or comments).

          Just grab an example from history: the anti-war movement during the Vietnam war.  Watch some real life interviews of protesters and people critical of the protesters.  Look at the raw footage, not the sound bites on TV news.  Pick some other historical event, like the fight against segregation, the Scopes monkey trial, etc..  Straw man arguments are endemic to strong divides in political opinions.  The idiom “straw man” dates back to the 16th century, but the actual use likely predates recorded history.

          …I think we’d all be better off listening to each other and engaging different opinions.

          You don’t follow your own advice.  Over and over, you ignore the content of an article and post a comment attacking straw man arguments.  You key off a few words and get on your soapbox, repeating Democrat talking points, often arguing against a position directly contradicted by the author.
          For years I have witnessed people attempt to engage with you in good faith discussion.  You play Lucy with the football.  That most people don’t want to be your Charlie Brown perpetually isn’t an indication of their unwillingness to “listen…to each other and engag[e] different opinions.”  It’s simply a realization that you’re not to be taken seriously because of your dishonest debate tactics.  You’re completely disingenuous.

          “But part of me really would like to reach out to people who have a false image of me, and who think differently than I do.

          No, you want people to stop judging you based upon your actions and your actual political positions.  You want them to believe your propaganda, to take your disguise as fact.  When people remember what you wrote previously, you complain that such things are “old bits”.

        • ‘reaching out” as you practice it consists of telling people their ideas and principles are old, outdated, outmoded, and bankrupt, effectively, “suck it up, nyah nyah nyah, your side is losing, your side has lost”.
          You are, as a rule, arrogant and condescending when you ‘reach out’.

          You are as predictable as the moon in it’s courses.  This is your ‘I’m being reasonable and just want to talk and you’re all being meanies” phase.

           

  • OK, so many responses, I’ll try to avoid anything personal (about me or any of you) and simply deal with substantive points.
    Working backwards:  Looker, fair enough (this is a bit of a personal comment).  I do think the ideas here aren’t going to work in the 21st Century, but calling them that without making a clear, cogent argument is just provocation.  I apologize.
    Elliot (again, ignoring personal stuff):  I do not think spirituality is supernatural because I believe it is part of nature.  I think that we err when we assume that the physical/mechanical processes we measure are the sum of nature, that nature doesn’t contain aspects that are outside our material experiences, and thus have to be accessed subjectively or intuitively.  My disagreement with organized religions is precisely the supernatural aspect they impose, I think that was myth to explain what people intuitively sensed, but needed a story about.  That has yielded exclusivist religions that deny each other’s validity rather than looking for common ground on values and principles. I am willing to look outside of material phenomena, but always playfully – I would never want dogma.
    I’ve read arguments trying to explain ‘something from nothing’ and find them unpersuasive (we can certainly discuss that if you want, perhaps you can convince me).  My thinking is very similar to the Dalai Lama’s in his book “The Universe in a Single Atom.”  He also embraces uncertainty, but disagrees that we should not use our intellect and intuition to ponder those things not materially available.
    Of course Marx believed he was espousing freedom – he wanted to end exploitation, his favorite economist was Adam Smith he thought communism would end oppression.  That isn’t my opinion, that’s an objective fact about his argument.  But he was wrong, just as Rand was wrong in her approach.  They each tried to create a theory – an ideology – to explain complex human interactions and no ideology can do that, especially not if built on just a few core principles taken outside of cultural context (but even then).  So I’ll praise the effort they made and their ideals, but point out they were both wrong.
    A good book on how fascism emerged from the enlightenment is Erich Fromm’s “Escape from Freedom.”  Essentially the enlightenment is about liberation, but people do not want total freedom (this draws a bit on Nietzsche).  Also Freud is important, as he shows the subconscious drives behaviors not the conscious, so that rational action is not truly possible in all instances – and may not even be the norm (media and cultural studies build that).  I think the West has, as Nietzsche noted, put reason so high that it was forgotten that reason is simply a tool, not a path to truth about values and principles.   Change your assumptions, reason will give you different answers.  Therefore, Nazism, communism, etc. are all possible.   Also, on the colonial era, it started after the renaissance, (which following Aquinas way back in the 1200s, made the enlightenment possible – you really need to look at western thought 1200 to 1900 to see it as a spectrum, the enlightenment is not cut off from the earlier eras by a clearly demarkated line.   The real European conquest of the planet – massive colonialism, took place in the 1800s.
    By relying on pure reason, anything can be rationalized.  Racism was an integrate part of colonialism, nationalism permeated all of western civilization.  They gave rise to slavery, fascism, and the belief other parts of the earth could be looted for gain – rationalized by religion and ideology.   Reason will never provide a path to truth since it is a tool dependent on assumptions made and knowledge about the world – assumptions inherently simplistic and knowledge that is uncertain.  Communism was the result of the working class seeing their own plight as being inherently unfair, and was to the working class what liberalism (capitalism and power away from the monarchy) was to the business class.   Now it appears in the West we have made great progress.  We eschew ideological extremes in favor of trial and error – what works, not what a theory says should work.  I believe we are on the right path.
    Finally, in comparison to other cultures, the West is materially opulent but psychologically difficult.  This was noted way back even by Pascal (and Fromm goes into this).  We are alienated, not guided by tradition, expected to define success for ourselves, and often treated like a number rather than an individual.  In traditional culture people had value due to their roles and there was a tremendous support system of clan and extended family, with tradition giving a sense of certainty.   I believe that psychological maladies (yes, I know they are chemical imbalances many times, but how they form and the way they exhibit themselves cannot be divorced from culture) like depression, eating disorders, anxiety, etc., come from the lack of balance in western thought.
    Thanks for providing some substance and not just delving into the personal.  That’s the best way to actually discuss.
     

    • This sounds exactly like the stuff I used to hear in half-drunk, half-stoned freshman bull sessions after the guys had had a few weeks of humanities survey courses.

      It’s also fascinating that stuff you believe about Marx and Rand and such are “facts” even though you give no reference to indicate why, while what everyone else believes about them is just opinion, no matter how well backed up it is. Another example of your disingenuous “debating” style.

    • I do not think spirituality is supernatural because I believe it is part of nature.

      *head pat*
      Will someone, I say, will someone please get this boy a dictionary? </Leghorn>

      I think that we err when we assume that the physical/mechanical processes we measure are the sum of nature, that nature doesn’t contain aspects that are outside our material experiences….

      Once again, dark matter and dark energy are terms that scientists use to indicate unknowns.  Theories of branes and higher-order dimensions, strings, etc. abound–enough to keep Morgan Freeman busy for a few more years–but nobody has solid answers.  Any honest rational thinker will readily agree that the “sum of nature” extends beyond our comprehension.  Again, one says, “I don’t know.”  That’s honest.  Why fill in the blanks with spirits or things which “have to be accessed subjectively or intuitively,” when there is no track record of such an approach being more successful than the honest admission of ignorance?
      You can light candles, meditate, sit around in prayer circles, chant in Hindu, and do all sorts of mental exercises to try to clear away distractions and focus your concentration, imagining that some unseen things or forces are behind the changes you feel.  Or, you can engage in a physical activity which takes concentration, whether it’s a competitive sport, climbing, biking, flying….  That will clear out the cobwebs and, once rested, you’ll find renewed abilities to concentrate.  Or, good old-fashioned REM sleep does wonders.  The brain is a physical organ, so maintaining fitness and fine-tuning the machine which feeds that organ will do more than a thousand prayers, chants, or whatnot.

      I am willing to look outside of material phenomena, but always playfully….

      When I’m in the mood to be playful, I’ll read a science fiction book or watch a movie with CGI creatures.
      When I want to understand the universe, I seek evidence and reasoned extrapolations to describe observed measurements which create mysteries.  I don’t understand the “always playfully” bit.  I’d expect a physicist or other theoretical scientist to take such things seriously.  Even pursuing an intuitive brainstorm, which might be whimsical in its genesis, one should eventually find a way to ground such creative exercises to reality.  Otherwise, it’s just science fiction, not science.
      I could discuss the ideas of physicists like Lawrence Krauss concerning something from nothing, but I’d just be parroting them, using their non-technical metaphors rather than the mathematical basis, which I never learned.  I took basic Physics and Chemistry in college, decades ago.
      I’m not interested in what Lhamo Dondrub has to say about science.  He claims, with no cause, to be the reincarnation of past leaders, and he is no scientist.  His advice not to use our intellect is a sure sign of a snake oil salesman.
      You’re not saying anything you haven’t said before about Marx and Rand.  You not getting any closer to facts, either.  Marx’s notions of human nature were fundamentally flawed, with huge gaping holes, like any understanding of what drives people to work hard.  Rand, on the other hand, had a firm grasp of how people seek their own values, and, for the most part, was spot on in describing human nature.
      Erich Fromm was a Marxist, thus his ideas about The Enlightenment are as useful as a holy man lecturing people not to think too much about science.

      I think the West has, as Nietzsche noted, put reason so high that it was forgotten that reason is simply a tool, not a path to truth about values and principles.

      Reason is the tool by which humans survive, by which we assess values, by which we conceptualize and abstract organized concepts into principles.  You don’t get values and principles by whim, by throwing chicken bones on the floor, or by praying to spirits.  Emotions and intuition are shortcuts which permit us, as animals, to take actions which tend to be beneficial.  These are honed by evolution (e.g., adrenaline) and by upbringing.  The latter, of course, can transmit wisdom or irrational superstitions and bigotry.  If you choose to abandon reason in your personal pursuits, indulging in whimsy or hedonism, that’s your prerogative.
      The problem is when you deny others the use of their reason, replacing their self-interested decisions with the diktats of powerful people, or mob frenzies.  To tell an individual that her reason is not perfect might be true, but to say that as an excuse to ignore her reasoned decisions so you can compel her through aggressive force (or threat of), is a denial of reality and a most selfish thing to do.  In practice, what this means is that the ObamaCare you tout forces people to do things or refrain from doing things they would have done by creating artificial, arbitrary, and incredibly stupid incentives.  Prices go up, insurance plans are abandoned, doctors and other medical personnel quit or change specialties, businesses cut back hours or decide not to expand.  Meanwhile, the architects of the Byzantine system are now panicked and wanting to delay implementation to avoid crushing electoral defeat when the ugly truth is exposed.  Unions jump ship.
      That is a real-life consequence of preventing others from applying their own reason to solve their own problems.

      Change your assumptions, reason will give you different answers.

      Which means you have to check your premises, always.  It doesn’t mean that logic is useless.  So long as your assumptions are correct and your logic is sound, you will arrive at the correct answer.  It is astounding that you deride reason, logic, organized thought.
      The Renaissance and The Age of Enlightenment are two different time periods.  Please, learn your history.

      The real European conquest of the planet – massive colonialism, took place in the 1800s.

      European colonization started in the 15th century, in Africa, followed by the Americas, the Pacific, etc..  Many atrocities and disease epidemics occurred well before the 19th century.

      By relying on pure reason, anything can be rationalized.

      Your premise of what “pure reason” means is flawed, which means your conclusion is based upon a fallacy.
      Reason is the application of organized thought (logic) to real world problems.  Words, numbers, variables all represent real objects or categories of real objects.  To use reason to solve a problem, without resorting to irrational emotion or whim, is to focus on what is know and what can be derived from what is known.  The notion of “pure reason” divorced from reality is a complete misunderstanding of the nature of reason itself.

      …rationalized by religion and ideology….

      Again, get a dictionary.  The word “rationalize” is generally used to describe a process whereby people offer fallacious, irrational arguments which, to the careless observer, only have the appearance of being rational.  Religion is the use of faith, not reason.  The term “ideology” is not specific, but it usually connotes a form of ideas to which the ideologue adheres to dogmatically, in defiance of even rational counter-arguments.  Of course, an ideology is simply an organized way of thinking and is only as bad as or as good as the ideas around which it is organized.

      Reason will never provide a path to truth….

      If applying your mind in an organized way does not lead to truth, what does?  Emotion?  Whimsy?  Throwing chicken bones?

      …since it is a tool dependent on assumptions made and knowledge about the world – assumptions inherently simplistic and knowledge that is uncertain.

      False.  If you make assumptions which are too simplistic, that isn’t reason, it’s sloppiness.  If you’re uncertain of something, you say, “I don’t know.”  That’s it.  A person employing reason doesn’t pretend to be certain of things for which he is not actually certain.  That’s the purview of men who claim to be reincarnations or preachers who claim that hurricanes are divine punishment for homosexuality.

      We eschew ideological extremes in favor of trial and error – what works, not what a theory says should work.  I believe we are on the right path.

      We?  You have a mouse in your pocket?  Take it out and plug it in to your computer.
      Yeah, the political system is on the “right path“.  Why, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel!  Press on, Bernanke.

      • You do not deny that spirituality can be a part of nature.  That’s the core belief in Buddhist thought and many others who do not believe there is any such thing as “supernatural” forces.  Reality may be more complex than what we perceive, and I think some people falsely believe that if such complexity can not be traced in material terms, then it is not natural.  Your glib “give the boy a dictionary” does not counter that point, and in fact the issue is not definitional.
        My favorite book on modern physics is Brian Greene’s “The Fabric of the Cosmos.”  In that he goes into the speculation within science about the unknowns – what it means that light is both wave and particle (really everything is both, even humans), quantum tunneling, nonlocality (that something can be instantaneously caused by something else quite distant – which violates basic notions of cause and effect), and the necessity of holding contradictory views to explain all of reality (also something the Dalai Lama’s book goes into).   Bottom line: there is nothing anti-scientific about being open to spiritual views.   David Bohm and others have seen that as necessary to help western science make sense of the world.  I’m not saying you have to do it, only that it makes no sense for you to ridicule or demean approaches different than yours.   There is room for a variety of approaches.
        Rationalization is not the creation of irrational or fallacious arguments; rather, it is the creation of a very rational argument to justify what a person wants to believe or do.  One can use reason to create rational and logical arguments to support just about anything.
        Again the real wave of imperialism whereby the Europeans took over the planet for their own gain was in the 1800s.  The Europeans took over the world and destroyed civilizations.  Yes, the French were in Canada long ago, but the French consider Algeria (1830) their first real colony.  The second wave was the one where most damage was done.
        Most assumptions are unfalsifiable, and calling them “sloppy” is often a way to denigrate someone else’s assumptions because they don’t mesh with your own (and thus lead to different conclusions).   Reason cannot prove principles to be true, values to be accurate, or morality.   If you have an assumption that life is meaningless, short and irrelevant, then reason allows anything.  That particular belief cannot be falsified.  Every ideology is based on assumptions that can’t be proven, and usually are unfalsifiable.  Reason is also only one tool – emotion, intuition, memory, etc., all provide tools that go along with reason (put on Rush’s Hemispheres for a cool song).
        Politically that inability to have any “right” ideology or solution is why any system but democracy (defined not in crude terms as majority rule, but as one that protects individual rights and the capacity to participate) will tend to either collapse or become despotic.  Only strong tradition based systems can provide governance, but that’s usually with a smaller population.  Democracy is predicated on the recognition that no one has the “right” answer, and that it’s worthwhile to debate and learn from each other, try new things, and experiment.   The only people I find dangerous are the ones who think they know the “right” answer – even if it seems like their answer is benign.

        • You do not deny that spirituality can be a part of nature.

          I did so, previously.  In this last comment, I merely instructed you to get a dictionary, which should have been a clue to you.
          If you’re propounding a theory of natural phenomena we have yet to detect, which have heretofore undetected influences, then use the scientific method to engage in experiments to test your theory.  Calling such things “spiritualism”, however, makes no sense to me.

          That’s the core belief in Buddhist thought and many others who do not believe there is any such thing as ‘supernatural’ forces.

          Buddhism usually includes karma, reincarnation, and some combination of mysticism, divinity, transcendence, and actual deities (Asuras and Devas).  When they pray, to whom do they pray?
          There are rare Buddhists who are strictly materialist, who are properly classified as atheists, but who use ideas from Buddhist traditions as a form of secular psychological or emotional exploration and discipline.

          Reality may be more complex than what we perceive, and I think some people falsely believe that if such complexity can not be traced in material terms, then it is not natural.

          I don’t know who believes that.  If one is open to considering brane cosmology, string theory, dark matter/energy, and other such ideas, then one can easily allow the possibility that aspects of the cosmos, such as parallel universes or complex additional dimensions cannot be detected by us.  Such aspects, even if never detected, would still be part of nature.

          In that he goes into the speculation within science about the unknowns….

          The key there being “within science”.

          Bottom line: there is nothing anti-scientific about being open to spiritual views.

          Non sequitur. You don’t bridge the gap between discoveries or theories of natural phenomena which do not conform to the rules that scientists currently think govern the natural world. There are blanks there due to unknows, due to gaps in understanding, but that doesn’t permit you or that guy from Tibet who claims to be a reincarnation of past leaders to fill in those blanks, those unknowns, with “spirits” or other such notions. Again, if we don’t know, then we say, “We don’t know.” We don’t say, “It must be spirits!”

          …it makes no sense for you to ridicule or demean approaches different than yours.

          I ridicule the insertion into unknown blanks of deities, spirits, magic, karma, or other products of faith which cannot be demonstrated and which do nothing to rectify the lack of knowledge. If a child is sick with an unknown disease, it does no good to tell the parents that god works in mysterious ways, or that praying will help the child. No, what helps is for a well-trained physician to look at the labwork and identify the disease before the kid dies. All the religion or spiritualism does is to distract. Even worse, filling in blanks with “god did it” or “karma did it” can motivate people to do hateful, violent things, or to fail to help someone they have accidentally harmed.

          There is room for a variety of approaches.

          If you’re picking a place to eat lunch, sure. But if a kid is dying in a hospital bed, bringing in a witch doctor, or a passel of Mormons, is not going to help. Get a doctor.
          If you want to be “spiritual” then I won’t stop you. If you want to discuss science, then I’d advise you to keep your “spiritual” ideas out of the discussion. Again, as Laplace put it: “…je n’ai pas eu besoin de cette hypothèse.”

        • Scott, give it up with the faux physics philosophysizing. Brian Greene is a decent physicist, but when he writes a book claiming there are non-local effects he is dead wrong and should know it. There are no non-local effects, none has ever been demonstrated and most likely never will since it violates the core principles of relativity and quantum physics, both of which show no signs yet of failing. If non-local effects do appear it will be because something fundamentally groundshaking topples both these systems of physics and in that case it will not be because of Greene’s claimed reasons. Likewise David Bohm spent his career building, or rather attempting to build, an essentially classical theory that would reproduce quantum theory but do away with the simple, elegant and amazingly successful quantum ideas. In essence he wanted his pilot wave, or hidden variable, theories to turn physics back from where it has ended up. He failed. Philosophically he was also a card-carrying communist, whether or not that influenced his faulty physics I don’t know. But both Bohmian physics and Greene’s claims of non-locality fail, for the same reasons, and they fail both theoretically and empirically. Hidden variable and non-local theories can be proven to fail to reproduce reality, therefore they are false. There is also no need to hold contradictory views in modern physics to explain nature. In fact the inexorable march of quantum physics and relativity towards unification under a particular string theory, or perhaps just a quantum field theory, indicates that there are no contradictions to be held so long as one dispenses with preconceived views from our typical every day existence. Physics has progressed from using the simple harmonic oscillator as the test-bed of ideas to using black-holes. Really all we lack to make the next stage of refinements is the necessary energy to probe which flavor of string theory is correct. Unfortunately there are stillpervading ideas hung over from the likes of Bohm that lead people down the garden path, decades even after they have been dispensed with in theoretical and experimental physics.

    • Heh – things you don’t know about nature are just things you don’t know about nature.  There’s no magic behind it, the universe works on mechanics, not mana.  Just because we don’t understand the process doesn’t make it magic.  I’ll assume a creator, and he or she is a whimsical but damn fine mechanic.

      Lightening isn’t Zeus throwing thunderbolts, the sun doesn’t rise because Apollo has hooked up the chariot of the sun for another day’s ride.
      You might perhaps meditate on something and discover the mechanism as a result of knowledge, intuition or plain lucky guesses while feeling spiritual as a result of meditation, but the kami aren’t behind it all.

       

  • “The real European conquest of the planet – massive colonialism, took place in the 1800s.”
    As opposed to the Roman conquest of everything their sailing technology could safely reach and their feet could practicably carry them to in useful time frames.    All of which occurred before 1200.
    As opposed to the Mongolian conquests of everything their steppe ponies could reach.
    As opposed to the Greek/Macedonian conquest of everything their army could march to and the subsequent empires Alexander’s generals established throughout the known world, all before 1200.
    Or the trading colonies of the Phoenicians from the eastern Med and out past the pillars of Hercules.
    The Caliphate ran from the border of China to Spain, long before the 1800s.


    Their only limitation was the technology of their ships.  There was no limit to their desire for colonies or conquest, and they were all a long way from being ‘Enlightened’ yet.
    Just because a colony is only across the sea, doesn’t make it any less a colony to the locals.

     

    • No one conquered the planet the way the Europeans did – they got most of the globe, and even places not colonized were forced to adapt to European power. Yes there were past empires, but that doesn’t deny the bloody nature of western civilization as it progressed, especially after the enlightenment (Robespierre really created state terrorism).  That’s not a criticism of the West, just an empirical fact.

      • Robespierre….bwaaahahahahahah – the guy was a piker. Empirical fact….What about the Spanish Inquisition, tell me that wasn’t ‘the state’.  Islam IS the state, how many were given the choice to submit or die as it spread it’s way across the Mediterranean?   Tell me that wasn’t ‘the state’.   State terrorism.  You really need to get your head out of the French Revolution’s ass as the start of state evil.

        Not everything done in blood has it’s roots in Western Civ.   Not every man from Europe is a standard bearer for western civ.   One of your many problems is you can’t see that Western Civ isn’t something that comes complete in a box with instructions.  It’s an ongoing struggle for improvement.  If it fails occasionally, that’s not an indictment of Western Civ, that’s a function of man as an imperfect creature.

    • Western civ is no more bloody than any other civ when it comes down to it.   It’s all merely the result of better tech.    As to being ‘forced’ to adapt, yes, imagine the locals hauling water out of a well with buckets discovering a pump and ‘being forced to adapt’.  Imagine them being force to feed themselves with better crop methods?  Imagine them being force to build better homes and cities.  Gee, we’re real bastards aren’t we?

      Of course there are cultures that want to preserve their old ways, and….they’re mostly dead or dying out.   The inheritors of the less advanced cultures can see the value in tech increasing their survival rate and comfort and have cast aside their animal skin tents,  Now less subject to the daily fickle nature of Nature it isn’t the FAULT of the people who showed them the difference in their life styles if they changed because they thought it was better.   You’re so fond of telling us to get with the program of the new century, you should take a page from your own book in understanding that we didn’t ‘wipe out’ a lot of cultures, we assimilated them when they ‘got with the program’.

      Isn’t it a pity that those primitives choose not to remain primitive?  Too bad you weren’t available sooner to keep them on the path of primitive purity.

  • DocD – nonlocality is a well established phenomenon, with over 50 years of empirical research.  The bottom line is that no one can look at modern physics, both relativity and quantum mechanics, and if they think through the philosophical implications, not realize the world is a lot stranger than we thought, full of paradoxes that defy the traditional Newtonian world view.  Most quantum physicists prefer to ignore that and “just calculate,” since it works.  Greene’s book goes into the paradoxes and speculations, which I find interesting.   And of course the beauty of science is that brilliant minds can try diverse approaches, with no dogma (hence its not a religion or ideology) beyond the basics of the scientific method or, for theoretical physics, mathematics.   So one can disagree or criticize people for their approaches as part of that; denying the validity of taking alternative routes would be un-scientific however.

    • Scotty, give it up. There is NO nonlocality. The unification of quantum theory and relativity, which is what modern physics is in the form of quantum field theories or string theories, explicitly rules it out. If you have a nonlocal effect then you can ALWAYS find a Lorentz transformation that is equivalent to changing your past. Have you seen any pasts changing lately? Since the Lorentz symmetry is an absolute requirement of special relativity, its failure through nonlocal effects would essentially falsify special relativity. But it has NEVER been seen. There are NO paradoxes if you correctly treat quantum and relativistic theories. That is what modern physics is. The paradoxes and contradictions appear to arise because some people, including Greene, are intent on reimposing a realist (specifically nonlocal realist) interpretation of physics. Essentially trying to reinstate a classical order. But it FAILS, it never reproduces the totality of quantum and relativistic effects because the theories become too complicated and self-contradictory. Hidden-variable theories have been proven to be wrong. EPR experiments and the like prove there is no nonlocal effect. There is entanglement but that is specifically local and not action at a distance, merely correlation of once-in-contact systems and it pervades the universe. But it does not give nonlocal effects. I do not know why Greene leads people like you merrily up the garden path in the final speculative chapters of his book but he does. No doubt you need to get a few years of study in modern physics to be able to realize this for yourself, but I somehow doubt you prefer to live with the supposed paradoxes that do no exist.

  • Elliot, by the way if you read the Dalai Lama’s book you’ll see that he’s had physics lessons from some of the biggest names in the field (I believe he even met Nils Bohr).  He’s fascinated with science, and there have been scientific conferences looking into connection with Buddhism and the mind.  Not that this would be your cup of tea, but just as I can’t tell you what the right way to think is, you can’t tell those scientists they are wrong.  They are exploring ideas – which is what the quest for knowledge is all about.
    I personally believe in karma, and that nothing happens by chance, but I see that as part of the natural order of things, nothing supernatural.  I see nature as being more complex than the material processes we can observe, measure and test.   So none of that is outside nature, none of it is “supernatural.”  The fact of the matter is FAITH is always there if you have beliefs about the world in which you act upon.   Just as there are rare Buddhists who are atheists, there are rare atheists who are not anti-theists.  People like Hitchens had very weak arguments, I’d have loved to have debated him on this.   Go to alt.atheism and the anti-theists are everywhere, they are dogmatic atheists, that’s more than lack of a belief.  If one believes the material world is all one needs to know and knowledge that comes intuitively or subjectively is never to be considered valid, well, that’s a belief – something one takes on faith.
    Ultimately to me there is one test – does my belief system work in the world.  It does – I feel (and I know you’ll consider this a delusion, but I’m fine with that) that my life is magical and full of joy because I listen to the universe, watch the signs and realize there is more to existence than just what we perceive in the material world.  It provides me an immensely satisfying life and a very positive/optimistic attitude.  Now, if those beliefs are deluding me into believing this when I’m really a slave to forces beyond my control, so be it.  It works for me, and that’s what matters!  That’s why I’m tolerant of different religions and non-dogmatic.  I have my beliefs, you have yours.  If it works, cool.  If beliefs violate known scientific principles then I will drop them (though with modern physics there is much more openness to diverse beliefs than the Newtonian world provide – though Newton was convinced that you couldn’t have a ‘world in motion’ without a first mover).   To me, tolerance of diverse views – and listening to different views – is really key, both in politics and in life.
    If you look at my blog, I try to do that in my posts.  I find fascinating the neo-platonic approach of Plotinus, sort of a pantheistic view.  Interestingly, he was writing at the height of the Roman Empire, with knowledge of both eastern and western religions (including Christianity).  But that’s just me, I would never say you should go there if that’s not where your mind is at.

    • “nothing happens by chance”
      Really….so every stray breeze that blows dust in your eye is part of ‘THE plan’ (note, not a plan, THE plan).  Every snowflake knows it’s place as it falls.  Each drifting winding path mapped, marked and plotted.
      Indeed.   I had given the creator credit for vast complexity, but that is many many orders of magnitude higher than I anticipated.
      I wonder why such a being would bother drafting and executing such a plan when there is every evidence that it engineered chance into the mechanisms.

      • In my opinion it’s not a mechanistic plan with no deviation.  Rather our minds shape the future by how we respond (both in action and thought) to the present.  Comparison:  Spinozza had a mechanistic deterministic view of the universe.  All played out as planned, nothing by chance.  Thus to enjoy life you had to decide to go along for the ride with equanimity – nothing you could do could alter it.  But with quantum physics we see a probabilistic world rather than a determined one.  Perhaps the mind determines through thought (and thought turned into action) which probable path each of our realities will take.   So the “plan” could be more like a massively complex virtual reality game, where choices made alter options and directions of ones’ life.  I actually have played with that in a series on my blog:  http://scotterb.wordpress.com/quantum-life/

        • Unlikely, if the mind determined through thought which path we take, Hitler would have had a hell of a time rounding up people for the camps, just as a major example of 11 to 12 million people thinking their futures forward. They didn’t think themselves to death under the Arbeit Macht Frei logo.

          I myself, would long since have won the lottery if it was a matter of thinking at the problem, because let me tell ya, I can ‘think up’ a sweet trip to Vienna for several nights of Mozart opera as a result of winning the lottery.

          • That’s the problem with Anthropocentric Solipsist Paleopostmodernist Erbianism, it only works for one man in one species from a time the species has appeared until it disappears. For everyone and everything else through the rest if eternity… Not soooo much.

          • Ah, but it’s not just what you want, and it’s not just you.  Your mind is very complex, negative thoughts lead to negative results, even if that’s not what someone wants!  You can imagine a lot of things, but where your mind is, well, that’s not just a whim.

          • sigh.

            Yes, more people wanted to see other people exterminated and the totality of the quantum connectivity and causality propelled by the thought wave emanations of those people activated the cosmic dingle-arm that initiated the sequence for slaughtering the millions of weak thinkers who couldn’t counteract the uncertainty balancing via boson propulsion.

            As you say, whatever gets you through, so long as it doesn’t involve dragging people up the steps of stone pyramids and cutting their hearts out to get your wish.

          • I should add, “mahloo mahloo”.

          • Just goes to show that “political science” is truly an oxymoron.

        • I suppose there’s comfort in thinking the plan has you in it….as opposed to being a random particle zipping about until you reach inert uniformity, at which point the universe fails to notice.

          From the age of Aquarius I give you….Reality

          • Could be.  Then again, maybe life does have real meaning, maybe life is actually valuable!  Because if its really meaningless and we’re just particles zooming around, then why have ethics?  Why not get what you can and not care about others?  I mean, if nothing matters…

          • Life is valuable, generally, to the possessor, there’s no denying that.   As Thoreau observed “the squirrel you kill in jest, dies in earnest”.  You’re the one proposing that just because you may be merely a particle, as I suggested, your life is worth less or nothing.  It’s worth something to you, to those who love you, perhaps even to those who dislike you.

            Worth….what is it worth to the universe that man can make fire?  What is it worth to the universe that Pharaohs built the pyramids?  What is it worth to the universe that we understand our sun does not revolve around the earth, that we no longer believe the heavens are a great bowl above us and the stars are holes in the bowl?  What is it worth to the universe whether or not Einstein proposed special relativity?  Have any of these things altered the stars in their courses (yet…)?   If you’re measuring your life against some great accomplishment you have yet to perform, you will more than likely die unmeasured.  That’s not a reason to quote Socrates – “I just drank what?”

            Let’s zig on the course here for a moment – is abortion really ‘a choice’.  After all, life is valuable, and spiritual.  Even the blobs of protoplasm that magically become human babies when they hit the air are ‘life’.   Still in favor of a woman’s ‘choice’?  Ready to become Catholic?

            Let’s zag on the course – if there IS spirituality that exists in a fashion that we cannot perceive, and is, if not instanced prior to what we perceive as life, at least initiated by life, and carries on after ‘life’, then ‘life’ is rather irrelevant isn’t it?  If we are spirits riding this mortal coil like a taxi, and when we shuffle it off at the end of the ride that spirit still exists and carries forward, than life as life WE perceive isn’t really all that important is it.  There will, as it were, always be another cab for the spirit to catch a ride on later, somewhere in the vast universe, right?

            And if there are no more cabs, the spirit still lives on, doing whatever disembodied spirits do while standing on the universal street corner waiting to hale a passing cab, surely they can ‘do’ something other than hang out on the corner.

            If you are going to create a storybook philosophy and sell it on the internet, it’s best to make sure your plot lines and hanging threads are bound up and tied in nicely.

             

    • Ah, but hang on, I see a knot in the weave today, perhaps Clotho & Lachesis have something interesting in store for me.

    • I don’t have time to respond to that in detail, but I thought this XKCD cartoon was good advice for you.
      I will make one point: It’s odd that you care so much about the silly man who goes around the world pretending to be the reincarnation of past leaders.  He is “fascinated” by science, but fails to apply its basic rules, so his thoughts on the subject are of no consequence to anyone who takes those rules seriously.

      • Put your mouse of the picture and it gives the caption: “You can also just ignore any science assertion where ‘quantum mechanics’ is the most complicated phrase in it.”

  • DocD – not a problem for me if it works for me.  You have to find what works for you.  “Whatever gets you through the night, it’s alright…”

  • I had this nagging feeling I had heard all this before.

    Then I remembered Annie Savoy from Bull Durham:

    “Well, actually, nobody on this planet ever really chooses each other. I mean, it’s all a question of quantum physics, molecular attraction, and timing. Why, there are laws we don’t understand that bring us together and tear us apart.”

    Except that I’m pretty sure Susan Sarandon knew it was supposed to be a joke when she performed the role.

  • Elliott, a lot of top notch scientists have spent considerable time with the Dalai Lama and respect him.  If you do not, that is your choice.  A lot of people smarter than either of us have a lot of respect for him.  Though it seems like you’re judging him on his basic religious views rather than reading what he writes and considering his thoughtful reflection.  That’s an error humans make a lot – they make snap judgments based on labels (the person is an “X” so I don’t have to take him seriously) or disagreements (“he believes in reincarnation so nothing he says is worth considering.”)  Those are clear logical fallacies.
    I also note that most responses to thoughts that aren’t in line with yours (speaking now to some of the other respondents) are simple ridicule and dismissal.  That’s OK.  It’s not logical or effective because it’s not a real counter argument.  It’s more putting your hands over your ears and saying “lalalalalalala” because to consider it seriously would create cognitive dissonance.  I personally try to consider all arguments, including listening to what you say when it’s logical, coherent and not rooted in emotion/ad hominems.

    • Same scientists that claim the earth is warming completely due to human activity?

      • Almost all climate scientists say that.  The only people who doubt are driven by political ideology, anyone who looks honestly at the science knows the evidence is overwhelming.  Moreover, its insane to risk calamity on the possibility the consensus is wrong – that would be utterly irrational.  Sure, all scientific theories could be wrong, and one can always find reasons to think evolution did not occur, cigarettes don’t cause cancer, and that humans aren’t causing the undeniable global warming.  But to risk the future on the small chance that the consensus is wrong would be irrational.   This isn’t even controversial outside a few ideological circles (and even then really only the US where a sub group of ideological driven folk with money from big oil and other groups try to mislead through a propaganda campaign.  Luckily, the tide seems to be turning and logic and evidence are starting to win the day.)

        • Almost all climate scientists say that [the earth is warming completely due to human activity].

          No scientist claims that warming is completely anthropogenic.  For example, this study estimates 75%, which is probably on the high end of estimates, well below the 100% you just asserted.  But in such a complex system as global climate, precise ratios of man-made to natural tends to be more the work of faqirs than actual science, since one must pick and choose what factors to consider and what to ignore.  And, much of it is guesswork, deciding how much to weight sun cycles, El Niño, ocean currents, clouds, aerosols, etc..  Every model treats these differently and must be an over-simplification of reality.  Even worse, there is no way to falsify or prove such figures.
          I could say that 0.4% of the flatulence I have in a month is caused by reading your comments, and the other 99.6% by diet.  How could you falsify that claim?

          The only people who doubt are driven by political ideology…“.

          False.  You’re tossing around absolutes which are easily disputed.  There are scientists who dispute the more catastrophic claims.  There are scientists who argue that the system is too complex to make accurate predictions.  Not everyone who disagrees with Al Gore is in the pocket of Big Oil.
          Global warming is not a binary, yes or no, question.  It is a series of questions and answers.

          …anyone who looks honestly at the science knows the evidence is overwhelming.

          The evidence of past warming is there.  The evidence of over a decade plateau is also there.  The evidence of catastrophic anthropogenic runaway warming?  No.  Warming will likely continue with CO2 increases, but probably much less than the Chicken Littles.  The only way to know for sure is to see what happens in years to come, to watch how long the dire rate of increase seen in the 1990s continues to not happen.  We’ll see.

          …its [sic] insane to risk calamity on the possibility the consensus is wrong….

          Why do you assume that gradual warming will be all negative?  People in norther latitudes will benefit.  Past warming periods correlated with a boom in culture and technology.
          But the fact is that if anthropogenic influence on global temperatures is so significant that the catastrophic alarmist predictions are accurate, then the only way to avert “calamity” is to curb emissions to a level at which modern lifestyles and industry are impossible to maintain.  And, when China, India, Africa, Russia, and others refuse to do so, or just fake their numbers for propaganda purposes, who will force them to cause mass starvation?  Will the Western world be forced to make double the cuts to compensate?
          On the other hand, if the Chicken Littles are all wet and their predictions way over-inflated, then all of the drastic cuts, the economically devastating restrictions and taxes, will cause useless suffering today for little benefit tomorrow.
          Run the figures and don’t assume that there will be “green miracles”, because we’ve seen Solyndra, German solar, Spain’s Potemkin “green jobs”, windmill farms with increasingly idle, broken turbines, etc..  It will most likely be more cost effective to deal with the consequences of global warming than to make pointless sacrifices which won’t change the outcome.

          …humans aren’t causing the undeniable global warming.

          The warming has been measured.  The increase in CO2 has been measured.  That much is certain.  Asserting that 100% of warming is due solely to human industry is false.  How much it actually influences temperatures is an open question, and the answer is not going to be 0% or 100%.  Quit treating this like a binary, yes or no, problem.

          • Elliot, I salute you for your patience. But, based on this thread, I can’t say I understand why you make the effort. Based even solely on what he has shown about his utter lack of thinking skills and emotional attachment to positions in this thread, your well done summary has about as much possibility of making a difference as trying to teach calculus to my neighbor’s cocker spaniel.

          • …your well done summary has about as much possibility of making a difference as trying to teach calculus to my neighbor’s cocker spaniel.

            I’m not trying to convince him.  Even if he had doubts, he’d keep them to himself.  He has a political stake in maintaining the scam.  After all “green is the new red”.
            If you can’t convince the stupid masses to take up the hammer and sickle, you can trick them into the same end result by scaring them with dire predictions of calamities.  Tell them that if the government does not act NOW to control, restrict, monitor, limit, tax, and redistribute, we will soon face mega hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, fires, dead polar bears, cancer, autism, and in-grown toenails!  The list goes on and on and on!  (Go read that list.  It is hilarious!)
            Scott is just another parrot.  I won’t change him, but at least anyone who might consider his point of view will be able to see counterarguments here.  If they go to Wikipedia or other forums, the admins will delete anything like what I wrote, flushing it down the memory hole.

          • Nor have I or anyone claimed “completely” man made.  But science has a clear position: we are potentially destroying the planet for future generations if we don’t act now.   Scientists agree.  Ideologues try to find reasons to deny.  They are quite literally destroying future generations.  And if that’s wrong – and if it isn’t a problem.  Well, the costs of trying to prevent global warming are relatively modest, while the risks are dire.  Rational action means weighing those possibilities and avoiding the worst possible outcome.  Ideology leads to weak thinking, however.  Anyone who puts ideology before pragmatism is engaged in weak thinking.  And you are not a climate scientist.  Almost all of the deniers are not – they are politically motivated.  That disgusts me, to be quite blunt.  Luckily, the next generation isn’t buying that ideological BS.

          • Scott Erb, July 23, 2013 at 19:03:Nor have I or anyone claimed ‘completely’ man made.

            Right here, just a few comments above:

            looker, July 19, 2013 at 10:40:Same scientists that claim the earth is warming completely due to human activity?

            Scott Erb, July 19, 2013 at 11:26:Almost all climate scientists say that.

            You need to read what others write before you respond to them with audacious assertions.

            But science has a clear position….

            No, “science” doe not have a “clear position”. Many scientists take a variety of positions which are actually not a single “clear position”. Even you give that away with qualifiers like “potentially”.

            They are quite literally destroying future generations.

            Get a dictionary. Start with the word “literally”.
            Future generations are already saddled with debt because of people like you, who push for deficit spending, entitlements, and bigger, more powerful, less accountable government. You attack anyone who calls for less government, less spending, more accountability as an “ideologue”, an “extremist”, and someone who is living in the past century. Apparently, your idea is that, in the 21st century, math will fundamentally change so that deficits are surpluses, up is down, red is green.
            Now, on top of ObamaCare and all the other spending you fight for, you want to saddle future generations with more debt by continuting exorbitant government spending while destroying the tax base through onerous restrictions and penalties on productivity, redirecting funds to carpet baggers like Solyndra. And, you want them to live in a world with less modern conveniences than you have enjoyed.

            And if that’s wrong — and if it isn’t a problem. Well, the costs of trying to prevent global warming are relatively modest, while the risks are dire.

            Modest? Like hell! If the more alarmist predictions are correct, then there will be no way to stop the dire consequences, unless all of the countries around the world abandon most of their industries, revert to a more agrarian and pre-instrial way of live, and write of a fraction of the human population who will die of starvation, preventable diseases, heat strokes (from no air conditioning), freezing, and other poverty-related causes.
            If the more sensible predictions are correct and there is about 1C warming in the next century, then the cost of dealing with the effects as they happen will be much less than the price that the more fanatical politicians, scientists, and activists want to impose on us today, shutting down coal plants, making automobiles unaffordable to common people, etc..

            Rational action means weighing those possibilities and avoiding the worst possible outcome.

            What if the worst possible outcome is unavoidable? If the more extreme predictions are accurate, then human beings have such a significant influence on global temperatures that only by wiping out industry, letting a portion of the population die off, and waiting a couple hundred years for the CO2 levels to drop, can such “calamities” be avoided.

            Ideology leads to weak thinking….

            Ideologies based upon bad ideas, like the ones you tout, definitely do lead to weak thinking. I would say that you’re proof positive of that, but you’re actually not even one of the brighter ones to tout your ideology.

            Anyone who puts ideology before pragmatism is engaged in weak thinking.

            That sounds like an absolute, an axiom, a principle, the foundation of an ideology. You’re not very good at this. Billy Hollis has you pegged. A man in his 50s who sounds like a half-drunk, half-stoned freshman.

            Almost all of the deniers are not [climate scientists] — they are politically motivated.

            Al Gore is not a scientist. James Cameron is not a scientist. Ted Danson is not a scientist. Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Hillary Clinton, are not scientists. Actors, actresses, politicians, journalists are the bulk of the alarmists. And, most all of them are politically motivated.
            There are plenty of ignorant people who just parrot what they hear. You seem to be in that category on the alarmist side. Those who deny that there has been any warming because god wouldn’t let it happen could be called “deniers”.
            Then, there are the intelligent people who actually have a handle on math and science enough to make informed judgments, to evaluate what others put out there. Most of those people are neither alarmists nor deniers. They fall into a range of positions in between, or they don’t take a particular position but wisely point out that there is not enough information to draw such a conclusion. Anyone who respects the scientific method of inquiry is always going to be skeptical.
            So, a skeptic of the alarmist preditions of catastrophic AGW is not a denier. He or she is being scientific. One who blindly accepts the catastrophic AGW predictions is not being scientific. One who looks to votes or popularity is not being scientific.

      • Ha ha ha. Yank the chain and Pavlov Erb comes yipping, the Scott Terrier maybe. Although it does look like now that someone has just reprogrammed a Nigerian email generator and let it take over Scottie’s identity.

    • Though it seems like you’re judging him on his basic religious views rather than reading what he writes and considering his thoughtful reflection.

      The man travels the world pretending to be the reincarnation of historical leaders, perpetrating a con job.  Usually, when one claims to be Napoleon or Lincoln, one ends up in a mental ward.  Get a handful of people to believe you and you’ll still be dismissed as a “cult”.  Once you get millions, it becomes “religion” and suddenly nobody is supposed to call you on it.  We’re supposed to respect your beliefs and take you seriously.
      That isn’t “basic religious views”.  That is a lifelong, worldwide fraud.
      The man is no better than a carnival psychic.  He’s just a better actor and has more fans.
      It’s not a logical fallacy to make judgments of a man’s character based upon his actions, particularly when they define his role in society, by his design.  It’s foolish to overlook such dishonesty, to be gullible.
      Either way, he’s not a scientist.  If I want to explore complex scientific theories, I’ll pay attention to people who dedicate their lives to the scientific method, not to scamming millions of people with fantastical tales.

  • But he’s not claiming to be Napoleon.  You’re judging him on your own caricature, not on reading what he has written or anything else.  That is why your thinking is so flawed Elliot.  You make rash judgments on labels and generalities, and you don’t really think through things.  Of course, you can’t deny that many top scientists take the Dalai Lama very seriously and have spent a lot of time with him.  They apparently don’t have the sneering judgmentalism that you possess.  Until you read what he has written, your “judgement” is based on your own biases and prejudices.  It can’t be taken seriously.  Because ultimately great scientists and world leaders have taken him far more seriously than they have taken you.  That’s reality!

    • But he’s not claiming to be Napoleon.

      Avalokitesvare is even more audacious, since Napoleon never claimed divinity.

      You’re judging him on your own caricature, not on reading what he has written or anything else.

      Caricature?  The man literally and unabashedly claims to be the 14th reincarnation of a leader with divine powers.
      My judgment of him is strictly on his relevance to a serious discussion of physics.  I don’t care what he has written on other topics, nor what he has done, nor with whom he has rubbed elbows.
      He is not a scientist.  He rejects science in the most dominant, defining aspect of his identity.  If he attempts to shoehorn his own superstitious silliness into quantum theory and gets otherwise intelligent people to take this seriously only speaks to how effective a con artist he is.

      You make rash judgments on labels and generalities, and you don’t really think through things.

      As opposed to the people who treat a con artist who literally claims to be the 14th reincarnation of Avalokitesvare with reverence?

      Because ultimately great scientists and world leaders have taken him far more seriously than they have taken you.

      More people are fans of Milli Vanilli’s albums than they are of yours.  By your logic, Milli Vanilli must have been outstanding musicians.

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