Archives for category: Transparency

Wishful thinking!

Conspiracy theorists are absolutely convinced that they are the true critical thinkers…

That their critique of how things works on the face of the Earth is the only reasonable one!

Then what?
Sheeple and conspiracy theorists are nothing but the very same thing? Each of them on the other ‘side’ of the dividing mirror? The surface on which the conspiracy theory dew has been craftily etched? To blurr the vision of all those attempting to look through?

After all, what’s the difference between sheeple – those who follow the official narrative and consider the ‘alternative’ to be wrong, and the conspiracy theorists? Those who consider theirs to be the true version and the ‘official version’ a misleading lie?

Each of them exercise their right and ability to doubt. To look for alternatives. And to discard the alternatives they deem to be implausible!

Most conspiracy theories have already been proven as having been bogus?
With the current ones waiting in line?

This, I’m afraid, is the moment for me to remind you that science is wrong by definition. That all scientific theories are, by definition, falsifiable. That the scientific community is convinced that all knowledge is maybe not completely wrong but definitely incomplete!
Hence there’s a lot of room out there for conspiracy theories to thrive!

‘OK.
I can follow your arguments.
Or, more exactly, I can follow your logic….
But I still believe you’re wrong.
Conspiracy theories ARE bogus!’

Let me put it differently.
Both the official narratives and the conspiracy theories are fueled by the same human need.
By our need for consistency!
Human mind has a hard time processing cognitive dissonances. Pieces of information which contradict each-other. Hence we need a ‘script’. A meta explanation for ‘everything’. A way to discharge the tensions produced by the conflicting pieces of information which assault our attention.

‘And why some people choose to become sheeple – to buy into the official version of things, while others remain conspiracy theorists for life?’

You’ve just set aside the vast majority.
Those people who are explicitly or implicitly aware that both the official version and the conspiracy theories are at least incomplete. And sometimes promoted by people with ‘ulterior motives’.
People who have a deeper creed. Many times of a religious nature but not necessarily.
People who have too many on their heads, mostly worries, so are no longer ‘available’ for ‘petty things’.
As for conspiracy theories being bogus…
I just mentioned how science works. Whenever a theory is judged to be plausible by the peers involved, it becomes the official narrative. All other competing theories become bogus. But all those earnestly involved in the process are convinced that sooner or later the official narrative will be proven if not wrong, then at least incomplete!

‘Then what about ‘critical thinking’? Is it good or not?
And you haven’t answered my question!’

Critical thinking is a tool!
And as all other tools, it becomes good or bad only in the hands of the person who yields it!

The most important thing about critical thinking is that we must remain critical relative to our own opinions!
Open to whatever new evidence happens to cross our path!
Sometimes the evidence which comes first might be misleading. Or false. We might reach the wrong conclusion. If we cling to the already reached conclusion we might be wrong. It is absolutely understandable – admitting an error is hard, but still wrong. That’s why some people remain sheeple while others cling to their beloved conspiracy theories.

You see, the true definition for sheeple is not ‘those who believe the official version’. Far from it!
The real sheeple continue to pay lip service to the official version long after fresh evidence prove the official version has been ‘incomplete’!

Let us imagine, for a moment – or longer, than among the already innumerable objects circling the Earth is yet another surveillance satellite.
One operated by aliens…

What would they think of the current developments?

One of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the topmost watchdog pretending to guard the ‘normalcy’ on Earth, brazenly attacks its neighbor.
Both the aggressor and the victim are members of the organization watched over by the Security Council.
But the aggressor has veto power over the Council.
And, of course, uses that power whenever it sees fit.
Another of the “five permanent members” of the Council chooses to abstain from voting. When the Council is discussing the aggression perpetrated by one of the permanent members of the Council against another fully recognized member of the ‘international community’.

Would the alien observers be laughing their heads off?
Would they keep us isolated from the rest of the Universe? Lest we spread our suicidal behavior ‘among the stars’…?
Both at the same time?!?

‘Guided missiles and misguided people‘….

True enough.
Good people don’t need laws to tell them how to behave while the ‘cunningly willful’ amongst us will indeed, time and time again, try to circumvent the consequences of bypassing the law.

Then why?
Two and a half millennia after Plato had dispensed this piece of wisdom we still have laws.
Is there a possible explanation for this apparent aberration?
Are we that thick-headed or there’s something else?

To settle this question – to start attempting to settle it, actually, we must first agree upon the difference between good and bad.

Ooops!

‘Everybody knows what good and bad is’ doesn’t really work, right?

In principle… maybe, but when it comes to putting principles into practice… we need guidelines!
Just as ‘good fences make good neighbors‘, a clear understanding among the good about where the realm of the bad starts in earnest makes life a lot simpler. For all of us. And the more visible that line is, the simpler our life becomes.

Only this is but half of the actual explanation.
Laws do make our life simpler, indeed. Unfortunately, ‘simpler’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘better’.

As some of you already know, I’ve spent half my life under communist rule.
Does ‘Ceausescu’ ring any bells with you?

Under communism, life was a lot simpler than it is now.
Presumably, life was a lot simpler under any of the many flavors of authoritarian rules experienced by humanity during its history. This being the reason for no matter how horrible a dictatorial regime had been, there were always some who had regretted when that regime had fallen.

‘OK, so what’s your point?
That laws, in general, might be good but the laws which impose an authoritarian regime are bad?
You know that you’ve just opened a fresh can of worms, right?’

How do you determine the difference between a good law and a bad one?

There’s no such thing. No law is above good and bad. For the simple reason that we call laws are made by us.
We are fallible human beings and everything we make, including our laws, is, and should continue to be, constantly improved.

‘Then you’re nothing more than a ‘closet progressive‘!
I knew it!
‘Constant improvement’… yuck!
Not to mention the fact that the most important Law comes from God, not from Man!’

I’ve already disclosed that I’m an agnostic.
That I have no idea whether a(ny) god had anything to do with what’s happening around/with us.
All I know is that all laws, including the Bible – and all other Holy Books, had been written by people.
By Humans, that is.

And I also know that there are two kinds of law.
‘Natural’ – as in noticed by us, and ‘synthetic’.

While all laws are ‘artificial’ – ‘written’ by us, the natural ones had been first noticed and only then put on paper.
While all laws had been written on purpose – each ‘writer’ had their own reason for doing it, the ‘synthetic’ ones had been put together with a specific goal.

While observing – and when necessary improving, the natural laws benefits all, the ‘synthetic’ ones serve only those who make it their business to impose those laws upon the rest of the community.

While observing – and, when necessary, imposing them upon SOME, improves the prospects of the entire community, designing and imposing ‘synthetic’ laws upon a community will always bring a huge amount of disturbance.
Sometimes fatal for that community.
Always fatal for the regime attempting it!

‘How about some examples?’

I’ll give you two natural laws and a ‘synthetic’ one.

The law of gravity. Also known as Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation.
This law didn’t need Newton to notice it. The Earth had already been orbiting the Sun for a while before Newton told us why.

‘Do not kill’. A subset of the Golden Rule, ‘Do no harm, if you can help it’.
Also ‘natural’ but a lot more ‘fluid’.
And, strangely enough, noticed and ‘put on paper’ way before the law of the falling objects…
Just think of it!
The ‘law makers’ have noticed long, long ago that the communities which follow the Golden Rule fare much better than those whose members treat each-other like dirt. Yet only a few short centuries ago somebody ‘noticed’ that things fall according to a constant rule… and bothered to make it into a law.
Was ‘gravity’ too obvious? Inescapable, so why bother?
While the Golden Rule worked better when enforced? When the formal rule mandated that even the rulers themselves had to obey the rule?

It’s easy to notice that the first two, the ‘natural’ ones, produce consequences regardless of people observing them or not.
Meanwhile, ‘synthetic’ laws are, entirely, the figment of somebody’s imagination. And produce consequences only when/if enough people are ‘seduced’ by the perspectives of those laws being put into practice.
Communist rule, for instance, could be put into practice only when enough people had been seduced by Marx’s ideal that all property should belong to the state and be managed by a ‘select’ few. Only then, after those ‘select’ few had, somehow, convinced enough followers, could Marx’s ideas be transformed into laws. And put in practice. With the already obvious consequences…

‘OK, but I still don’t get it!
Is there a way to tell whether a law is good or bad before-hand? Before its consequences had become manifest?’

That’s a tall order. And you know that!

Actually, no!
There’s no fire-proof method of ascertaining anything before-hand, let alone something made by us.

But there is a next best thing.
The ‘natural’ laws are natural because they had been first observed. Only then written into law. And because of things proceeding in this order, whenever something changed those who had noticed the change had adapted the wording of the law to the new reality. Simply because those who had to make do with the consequences of the law being put into practice could not wait too long whenever they had noticed that there was a better way.

People have dreamed of flying since god only knows when but they had learned how to do it only after they had been told that everything is pulled to the center of the Earth.
‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ had been very useful. For a while… Now we use the same principle – do no harm, but we implement it in a more nuanced manner.

People have also dreamed of a fair society.
And, frankly, ours is a lot fairer than that of our grand-parents. Because we have constantly improved our ‘manners’.
We have not only observed ourselves while living but we’ve also done something when anything went wrong.
The problem is – and it’s only one problem here, that not all things can be reversed. Some mistakes can be fully redressed, other compensated … but we’ll have to take with us the consequences of those mistakes. And the longer a mistake is allowed to happen, the more important the consequences.
So. ‘Synthetic’ rules are bad not because they have been dreamed up by us. They are bad because those who promote them cannot accept the idea they might have been wrong.
The really bad ‘synthetic’ rules were those who could not be changed from within!

Whenever a law maintains that things cannot happen, ever, but in the manner prescribed by that very law, that text is no longer a law. It’s a dictate!
It’s dictates that we can do without, not laws.
And it’s our job to make out the difference. One way or another.

Disclosure.
You haven’t ‘heard’ this from me.
I’ve only ’embellished’ some ideas I’ve stolen from Popper, inasmuch as I’ve understood anything from them.

Driven by hunger, trained by habit and enhanced by hope.

That’s how we, humans – a.k.a. conscious animals – operate.

Hunger must be satisfied.
Animals do it instinctively. They can be trained, some of them, only that training is based solely on memory and reward. Their individual contribution to the end result is small.

Humans do it conscientiously. As in ‘on purpose’. They identify first the available food sources – according to their training, rank them – according to their acquired tastes and to the relative ease with which food can be obtained from each of them, and proceed to feed themselves only after all these steps had been performed. However perfunctorily.
It is easy to notice that here individuals have a lot more lee-way. Their contributions to the process can be substantial.

In all of those three phases. And beyond.

When choosing.

When ‘training’ others how to choose.

And when determining that we’ve had enough. That time is ripe to let others feed themselves.

Why are all these people fleeing? From their own country?
Because the Taliban have arrived?

Why had the 300 000 strong, and well equipped, Afghan Army crumbled when left alone to face the 75 000 strong Taliban insurgency?
Because the Afghan government was corrupt? And because “All the major countries – probably except India – in the region had come to terms with the Taliban government.”?

What made these youngsters – very much similar to those above, to choose the Taliban side of the conflict?
And what made the Taliban ultimately more successful than the ‘democratically elected’ Afghan Government?
The Americans deciding it was time for the Afghan People to stand on their own two feet?

As I said at the beginning of the post, we, humans, have a lot more lee-way than the rest of the animals.
None of us is entirely free but each of us has some agency. Some power to influence the destiny of other people.
When exercising that power we’re all influenced by our previously received conditioning and by the present circumstances.
When pressed by ‘urgent considerations’ very few of us remain aware of the fact that present day decisions set the scene for what’s going to happen tomorrow.
When pressed by what we consider to be ‘urgent’ we forget about ‘primum non nocere’.
When caving in to urgency we forget that we are the ones going to live with the consequences of our present decisions.

The Afghans flee their country because they have lost hope.
The Afghan soldiers have caved in because they have lost hope.
The Afghans who have joined the Taliban have done that because they felt there was no other hope.

Who will have to make do in these circumstances?
When are we going to take responsibility for our own fate?
When are we going to start building our own hopes?

Bearing in mind that we have only one Earth at our disposal?
And that if we play our cards right, the sky is the only limit?

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The difference between us and the rest is that we can choose.
People – humans, that is, are capable of deciding things while the rest of the animals use simpler mechanisms of determining the way forward.

The ability to decide has consequences.
The most important being ‘responsibility’.
The most common being ‘blame’.

When confronted with ‘uncomfortable’ consequences of the decision making process, people get to choose between blame and responsibility.
Between apportioning blame – and feeling better, and determining responsibility.

I’ve long ago given up ‘blame’.
Because blame is driven by emotion. Hence blinds the blamers. Prevents them from checking all the angles. Prevents them from getting as close to the reality as possible.

Let’s go back to the current pandemic.
A large number of people have not yet been immunized against Covid -19, despite the vaccine being widely available. In certain ‘jurisdictions’…

Because each of the yet unvaccinated has chosen to pass the opportunity?
Or because so much ‘dubious’ information has been floated around that it has almost drowned the sensible voices?

Should we blame the as yet unconvinced or should we ask ourselves what’s going on in the heads of the ‘gaslighters’?

Facts are clear.

WSJ is a highly reputable source, the information is old enough – if ‘fake’ it would have already been ‘debugged’,…
Then why isn’t this being hammered down our throats? Constantly?

The vaccine which had been used was Chinese?

Let’s make the same experiment using one of ours!
It has been already done?
Let’s hear about it!

We are in the middle of a pandemic.
Which will continue until we’ll build ‘herd immunity’. Which can be achieved through vaccination or by surviving the disease. Surviving the disease takes longer and costs way more than the vaccine. Lives lost, money spent for health care and money lost because of business interruptions.
And if we don’t build herd immunity fast enough, the virus might mutate into a new one. And we’ll be back to the square one.

The only section of the society which has anything to gain from our reticence to get the vaccine is BigPharma.
They are the ones who will eventually come up with a vaccine for the new strain of virus.
They are the ones providing the treatment given to the infected patients. They are the ones providing the tests.

Want to give the finger to BigPharma?

Go out there and get the jab!

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As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
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‘Are you nuts? or something?
Isn’t exactly this what the Europeans had been doing all over the world? For the last five centuries?
And you attempt to ‘nuance’ it?
Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?!?’

Ashamed of what some of my predecessors have done, yes!
Also ashamed of what some of my contemporaries are doing.
Right now, as opposed to back then.

And since there’s nothing to be done about the past, but to learn from it, and everything to be done about the future, right now, I’d rather have at least some of those statues still standing.

In public squares!
Maybe not in the same places, maybe not in the same settings. But still in public!
Hiding them in museums would mean taking them out of the limelight. Out of public scrutiny!
If we are to learn anything from past mistakes we must focus on them. Putting those statues aside because we feel too strongly about them would only serve those who don’t want to admit mistakes had been perpetrated. Who actually don’t want to own our past.

Those who had promoted Jim Crow legislation had erected the confederate statues as a symbol of their regained public influence.
Obliterating the statues won’t make anything suddenly right. The consequences of Jim Crow won’t disappear, as if by magic, along with the statues. They didn’t disappear when the legislation had been abolished and they won’t disappear now.
If we want to put the past behind us, we must accomplish what has to be accomplished. We need to make things right, not hide away the prickliest pieces of evidence.

Demolishing statues won’t help any of those living in still segregated neighborhoods. Won’t help the children going to heavily underfunded schools. And so on…
Demolishing statues will only help those who will certainly ask, in a few short years, if nothing changes in our hearts and minds:

What more do they want?!?

We’ve even dispatched those damn statues!!!

How do we vote?
For a candidate/party or against? Usually against the incumbent… Or against what we dislike…

What do we vote for? What do we expect?
Leadership or stewardship?
Do we expect our elected officials to take us by our collective hand and lead us through darkness or just want them to turn on the light?
To make it so that we may lead whatever lives we choose for ourselves ? For as long as we behave in a generally acceptable manner, of course…

Which brings us to ‘what democracy really is’ and ‘how can we make it work for real’?

First of all, let me point out that no democratic ‘arrangement’ had ever failed. For as long as it managed to maintain its democratic nature, of course….
Secondly, no authoritarian regime had survived for long. And most of them had fallen under their own weight rather than under outside pressure.

You see, even the ‘weakest’ democracies are way more adaptable than any authoritarian regime. The fact that anybody can voice their concerns sheds light on each problem, as it arises. The fact that all positions under the despot are filled with yes-sayers actually blinds all authoritarian regimes.
Furthermore, the fact that ‘we, the people’ has peaceful means to ‘fire’ those who do not rise to the occasion makes it possible for the society, as a whole, to survive ‘the event’. Even if the previous ‘decision maker’ could not find a way out. Faced with the same predicament, an authoritarian regime must first pass through a revolutionary transformation…

Then, if democratic regimes have such an evolutionary advantage compared to the authoritarian ones, why are we still confronted by so many dictatorships?

Because democracy demands something which is in short supply.
Mutual respect among all members of a given society!
Furthermore, democracy works only when the questions seeking answers are about the ‘how-s’ of the matter and not about the ‘what-s’.
A democratic society will remain democratic for only as long as its members continue to stick together. To have a common goal. To share a common weltanschauung.

As soon as a society allows itself to be divided into ‘parties’ promoting antagonistic interests its previously democratic arrangement will fade into ‘mob-rule’. Which is the ante-chamber of authoritarianism.

Smart enough to brag about it when attempting to become the next President of the United States…. at least according to Donald Trump… and to those who had voted for him – numerous enough for him to achieve his goal.

Smart enough or smart, period?

Let me put it differently.
You have no car. Yet you need to go to work and to shop for groceries. Hence you use public transport. Do you pay for it?
What would happen if a sizeable portion of those who use it would find a way to stop paying while still using the service? Those who continue to pay would have to pay more to keep the service going? Or the community at large would have to subsidize it?

You don’t care for my example because you do have a car… Then you need roads to drive on… hence you have to pay local taxes. And federal ones for the interstate highways…
You’d like them all to be privatized? Then you’ll pay gladly?
And how much will that be?
At this point I must remind you of Ma Bell. The telephone company which had to be dismantled, by the government, to make room for the present ‘data revolution’. If prices to move information from one place to another would have remained in the same range as in Ma Bell’s time you wouldn’t have had access to internet today. Unless you were a millionaire…

Taxes, local and federal, are ‘access fees’. If you want to operate – as a corporation or as an individual, out of a civilized place – safe and all, then you incorporate your business/set up residence in a civilized country. And pay the taxes collected by the administrators – read governments, to run those places.

Taxes are too high and or ill spent?!?
That’s a completely different subject!

Most civilized places are run as democracies.
You don’t like the way your money is spent? Or how much of it is collected to run the place?
Then what’s keeping you from voicing your concern? From holding accountable those who misspend your taxes? From doing whatever you see fit? After you pay your taxes, of course…

You feel ‘crushed’ by the majority? Whom you despise, by the way?
Then you don’t live in an actually democracy.
That’s either a ‘mob rule’ – a.k.a. populist regime, or the population is so divided that no real conversation is taking place between the various social segments. And democracy without honest conversation is nothing more than make believe.
I had chosen very carefully the word ‘population’. When something like this occurs, ‘nation’ is no longer appropriate.

Still unwilling to pay your dues?
Still convinced it’s a good thing to turn your back to what’s going on in your front yard?

Still convinced that remaining ‘sane’ is more important than finding out what’s really going on?

Further reading:

“Why arrogance is dangerously contagious”.

Any attempt to learn something, to increase your knowledge about a certain subject, is nothing more and nothing less than an attempt to become intimate with it.

Students have two open roads ahead of them.

One which implies a lot of wooing, patience and a certain degree of self appeasement.
The other asks for a direct, almost blunt, approach.
While the first is more like the student dancing around the subject, the second is akin to a hands on combat.

The results are, obviously, different.
Not exactly different. Only fundamentally.

The difference is very much like the difference between courtship and rape.
The end result might be a child. But…

Same thing with art and science.

It is true that in order to have sex, both partners need to be, at least somewhat, naked.
But there is all the difference in the world between having sex and making love!

The end result is only apparently the same!

https://i.imgflip.com/3ua749.jpg

Well, we must remember that solutions came a lot easier when we refuse to think inside a box. Inside any box. No matter how large or how nice.

Every time I understand/notice that somebody tries to frame my thinking process, I go ‘ballistic’.

I try to raise my mind perpendicularly above the frame. So that I may observe the limits.

Every time when somebody is presented with an ‘either/or’ option there is a strong likelihood that the situation merits a more nuanced approach.
As in ‘yes, the government was terrible at handling COVID-19’ and ‘yes, the government – as our servant, should be mandated by us, the people, to coordinate the help we need in our hour of need’.

How can we reconcile these two?
Simple.
Hire a better government and keep a keen eye on it!

And, if I’m not mistaken, wasn’t democracy meant to do exactly this?

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