THE CRACKPOT CORNER

This post, which is similar to the “about” page on this website, is devoted to discussing crackpot ideas.  First, I must say that I believe that outside of the hard sciences, where rigorous scientific experimentation is possible to validate ideas, virtually all ideas about the nature of reality, and especially social reality, may potentially be crackpot ideas.   Also, I believe that all of us, given that we have finite mental resources in a world of unbounded complexity, are often overwhelmed by all the data and so we from time to time believe in crackpot ideas, though undoubtedly some people do more so than others!  I am here to discuss a number of such crackpot ideas, some of which I agree with and some of which I don’t, and some of which are popular and some of which are not.  I find that, at least in our quickly unraveling society, there appears to be virtually no relationship between the degree to which an idea is popular and the degree to which it appears to be crackpot. Some people seem to believe that if an idea is repeated often enough by enough people, then it is not a crackpot idea. I would call that idea a crackpot idea.  I am not even sure that the most fundamental ideas we live by today are not crackpot ideas, and I wonder whether it is a crackpot idea that by examining closely each and every idea that we hold dear then somehow we may be able to claw our way back to a healthy and sustainable approach to life.

If all ideas regarding social reality cannot be validated by scientific experiment and therefore are potentially crackpot ideas, then all ideas forming the basis for rules to govern a society, and all ideas regarding optimal or practicable forms of social organization, are potentially crackpot ideas.   Given that there are innumerable such ideas and potential narratives to support them, it seems that the only way that people have ever been able to coalesce around any one set of ideas sufficiently to develop a system of rules to live by and a stable social organization to live under has been through maintaining a narrowness of vision.  It also appears that such a narrowness of vision has typically been enforced by the dominant members of a society.

If most people were to realize the ideas underlying governmental organizations or legal systems are imposed by elites and based on a narrow, self-serving vision of social reality, would that not lead to social chaos?  Not necessarily.  There are any number of alternatives that individuals aware of a broader vision could coalesce around.  I explore a new conservative philosophical approach that is based on just such a broad vision in a post titled “Sustainable Conservatism” at another of my sites:

https://www.third-millennium-conservatism.com

Also, the philosophical foundation for many of the ideas expressed here can be found at my other site:    https://www.third-millennium-ethics.com

I also have a youtube channel “Conservative Utilitarian”

Feel free to comment on the crackpot ideas presented here or to add your own.

I start with a number of liberal crackpot ideas, followed by some  other crackpot ideas, and I finish with my own crackpot ideas.  I present so many crackpot ideas of social liberals, particularly Social Justice Warriors, because I find them to be the most numerous and extreme.   I would argue that  crackpot ideas of social liberals mostly derive from viewing social reality as a set of snapshots instead of viewing it as an evolving process composed of complex feedback loops. Simple snap judgments are made based on those snapshots and demands for change in the interest of social justice follow from that.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIBERAL CRACKPOT IDEAS

LC1:  Left-wing government can succeed by being soft

LC2:  Inevitable progress in social justice

LC3:  Social liberalism goes together well with economic equality

LC4:  People should be grouped so that those disadvantaged can be identified

LC5:  World would be a better place if women would perform the same jobs as men

LC6:  Christians invented differences between the sexes

LC7:  Only explanation for boys performing better is discrimination against girls

LC8:  No need for people to control their sexual urges in a large society

LC9:  When people give in to their urges it does not influence the behavior of others

LC10:  Undergoing a transgender procedure, is a healthy and reasonable choice to make

LC11:  It is important to love yourself in order to have high self-esteem and be happy

LC12:  It is healthy to teach children that they are “special”

LC13:  Goal of life should be “self-actualization”

LC14:  Arc of moral universe bends toward justice

LC15:  Non-human animals should have rights

LC16:  Spanking does more harm to children than psychoactive medications do

LC17:  Domestic violence would be reduced if women were to become more aggressive

LC18:  The patriarchy is responsible for over-sexualizing young girls

LC19:  Heterosexuality is in no way superior to homosexuality

 

OTHER CRACKPOT IDEAS

OC1:  Warren Commission provided accurate accounting of the Kennedy assassination

OC2:  Society with completely unfettered free markets would be ideal

OC3:  Libertarianism is the best political philosophy because it provides “freedom”

OC4:  Money is the same as speech for the purposes of the Free Speech clause

OC5:  Free Speech clause was intended to protect artistic or commercial expression

OC6:  American belief system will make life go smoothly for most people most of the time

OC7:  It is possible to “know everything”

OC8:  Either something like the Christian god exists or there must not be any god at all

OC9:  Christianity has no value if the fundamental beliefs about Jesus are incorrect

OC10:  Commercial pornography does not involve prostitution

OC11:  Identity over time is absolute

OC12:  Individual humans are imbued with some sort of “free will”

OC13:   Events are predictable

OC14:  Self-aware AI robots

OC15:  AI-programmed computers/robots would  develop human consciousness

 

MY CRACKPOT IDEAS

MC1:  Life should be seen as self-perpetuating feedback loops

MC2:  Phenomena in a society are the result of innumerable different chains of causality

MC3:  Government should establish boarding schools for disadvantaged youths

MC4:  Child custody presumption should be in favor of the parent of the same sex

MC5:  Nature of death

MC6:  US Congress should be half female

 

So let’s first examine some liberal crackpot ideas…

LC1:  One of the most fundamental liberal crackpot ideas is that a left-wing government can succeed by being soft, gentle, and permissive. I suppose that such an approach could possibly work in a small group, but in a large society the free rider problem* would lead to too many taking advantage of the lax rules to their advantage. Most conservatives understand that the free rider problem means that left-wing systems must be strict and even harsh if they are to be sustainable.  Moreover, a sustainable left-wing political system must implement some form of meritocracy, as the alternative is interminable bickering and jockeying for position of individuals and groups demanding a greater share of the pie.
* The free rider problem is that in a society with voluntary contribution for services, whether contributing with money or contributing in other ways, those who are best off are those who use the services but don’t contribute, and most people would realize that over time and copy that behavior, to the point the services are not funded or provided for sufficiently and are discontinued, at which time everyone is worse off than they would have been if everyone had contributed. Note that in a small group the free rider problem is less of an issue because there is no anonymity and social pressure can be applied to those who shirk their duties.

LC2:  A somewhat related liberal crackpot idea is that there is natural or inevitable progress in social justice. That would not be true even if social justice were well-defined, which it is not as its meaning continues to evolve and that evolution is always influenced by those in power. Moreover, what happens in any given space and time is the result of all the forces acting in that space at the time, all the different pressures being applied, and the history of social justice is just one of those pressures, one that is without solid foundation as those in power mostly determine what is the history. Now, it may be that there is an appearance of progress, as human technology, particularly related to communications, creates the conditions for building a bigger and bigger tribe or group, to the point that most people feel that the group includes the entire human race, and so some form of social contract appears to apply to virtually all the human race, eliminating much of the extreme treatment that people deemed “outsiders” often receive. However, this large group can become quite unstable as so many of the connections are not personal and traditional but are more abstract and tenuous, and the pressures for the elites in control to take personal advantage will likely at some point exceed the pressures to keep true to the social contract with the members of the large group.

Also, note that the long held and well-supported belief that a kinder, gentler approach to human relations would provide greater economic efficiency and productivity did have some effect in molding modern society, but in a future world heavily dependent on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics the connection between keeping the social contract, maintaining that kinder world, and economic efficiency may vanish and the entire history of building on that connection could become irrelevant.

LC3:  Another related liberal crackpot idea is that social liberalism goes together well with economic equality. This idea illustrates the blind spot that liberals have regarding the needs of non-elite men. With economic equality and social liberalism, non-elite men have no control and no hope of ever gaining control over satisfying their emotional needs. With economic equality, a woman does not need the offer of economic security that she might otherwise get from a non-elite man, and with social liberalism, the woman does not have much need for a non-elite man in order to have family and emotional security, so there is not much incentive for the woman to commit to a long-term relationship and the creation of a family with a non-elite man. This leaves the majority of non-elite men broken, bitter, and disconnected from the mainstream society.

LC4:  A liberal crackpot idea, popular with the Social Justice Warriors, that is particularly annoying is that people should be grouped by certain characteristics so that those disadvantaged can be identified and appropriately compensated.  A problem with this is that individuals have many different dimensions, including social class, income or wealth, wealth of one’s parents, educational level, intelligence (which can be multi-dimensional), race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, first language, age, general health, height, weight or body shape, physical attractiveness, athletic ability, sexual practices or preferences, hobbies, geographical location, job or profession, etc…

Note that an individual may be, with respect to one dimension, in a group that has been traditionally disadvantaged, and with respect to another dimension,  in a group that has been advantaged (e.g., an African-American from a wealthy family).  Actually, the odds are that the great majority of individuals are in at least one advantaged and at least one disadvantaged group for some dimension of some importance.  Any reasonable attempt to judge whether a person is “advantaged” or “disadvantaged” would require a holistic approach to consider all the dimensions with any significant impact on overall quality of life.  For example, a reasonable conclusion would be that a physically attractive, well-educated African-American woman with wealthy parents is certainly more advantaged than a poor, uneducated, physically unattractive white male immigrant from Serbia who was a child of poverty.

Instead of following a somewhat sophisticated and consistent approach to determining whether an individual is holistically advantaged or disadvantaged, it has become common to focus on just two dimensions – sex and race, with the implication that white males are the most privileged group.  This is troubling not only because it ignores the great majority of dimensions that could be considered, but because those are not particularly powerful indicators of advantage or privilege in the USA in the 21st Century.  Wealth and income, followed by educational level of the individual or the individual’s parents, are much more powerful indicators of advantage.  And if one does focus on race, it is problematic that  Asian-Americans outperform Caucasian Americans in wealth and income and in professional success.  Also, if one focuses on sex, it is problematic that female college graduates outnumber males by a significant percentage and the gap continues to grow.

Moreover, the selection of which dimensions to focus on to address grievances is inevitably going to be influenced by power relationships, meaning that rather than reducing unfairness, this method offers another avenue for the powerful and well-connected to use government to increase their advantages. In short, discrimination is multidimensional, and focusing on only one dimension at a time can lead to more unfairness, rather than less. The one dimension that incorporates other dimensions to the greatest extent, and so would be the most appropriate if one were to focus on only one dimension, is wealth, but the most powerful and influential do all they can to keep that from being the focus. Note that the groupings along various dimensions, other than by income and wealth, are often used by the wealthy and powerful to divide the common people.

However, I should add that I believe that sex is fundamentally different from the other dimensions, in part because sex differences, to be distinguished from the other differences, were found to be significant by the Human Genome Project, involve clear anatomical differences, including anatomical differences in the brain, and were clearly developed through evolution to lead to different abilities, propensities, sensitivities, and sensibilities, and these should be recognized and valued as the two sexes were designed by evolutionary pressures to complement each other. Also, though it is sometimes done, thinking in terms of tribe in grouping by sex makes much less sense than using tribe to refer to an ethnic or racial group. Actual human tribes required having both males and females in order to survive short-term and long-term and both sexes are essential elements in any real tribe, so trying to apply the tribe concept to one sex is problematic. As a side issue, note that discrimination by sex has no inter-generational effects as racial discrimination does, because each individual has male and female ancestors that they inherit from and is capable of having male and female heirs, so the effects of past discrimination on the basis of sex, as opposed to race, do not pass down from generation to generation.

LC5:  One related popular liberal crackpot notion is that the world would be a better place if women would perform the same jobs and tasks as men, ignoring any sexual differences, including jobs as firefighters and Marines, among other traditional male roles, and that they should be employed in equal numbers in engineering and computer science even if men on average show more aptitude. This notion is based on the idea that women can only be treated equally and have equal access to resources if we pretend that there are not any differences. This rough and crude early approach to equality of the sexes is doomed to failure because it ignores real physical and cognitive differences that developed, for survival purposes, over the course of evolution. We need to accept that men and women have different strengths and weaknesses and that they are both essential for the survival of the human group. Pretending they are identical not only contradicts virtually all the evidence on sex differences but is not even an effective method of achieving the result of equal status for women, which is really at the heart of the matter.

LC6:  A somewhat related crackpot idea of the past few decades is this notion that somehow Christians invented differences between the sexes. It seems that hundreds of millions of years of animal evolution, including millions of years of human evolution, distinguishing males from females in anatomy and physiology and in behavioral propensities had nothing to do with it. A corollary crackpot idea is that the millions of years of evolution designing female parts and male parts to fit together offers no advantage and does not imply that other aspects of male and female were designed to fit together.

LC7:  Another related liberal crackpot idea is that if girls perform better than boys on some subject at a young age, then the only explanation for boys performing better at a later age is discrimination against girls. However, just as it is apparent that girls mature intellectually at a younger age than boys, it is clear that girls peak at a younger age then boys. That is why it is common for boys to pass girls in aptitude in certain subjects as they grow older and why comparing young girls with boys of the same age on any subject is a poor method for predicting long-term potential.

LC8:  Another liberal crackpot notion is that there is no need for people to control their sexual urges in a large society . Humans evolved in small groups and whatever behavioral propensities they developed during evolution are designed to improve survival and reproduction chances in those small groups. As humans have come to find security, economic efficiency, and a much greater quality of life in large groups, they have had to make adjustments in order to fit into the larger group, in order to maintain some level of stability and harmony in that group, and that includes controlling a number of urges, including sexual urges. Only a crackpot would assume there is no trade-off for gaining the advantages of living in a large group.

LC9:  A related liberal crackpot idea is that when people give in to their urges it does not influence the behavior of others. This seems particularly inconsistent when the people who hold this belief also believe that every human act has innumerable repercussions for the environment because it is all interconnected. But the human society is an extremely connected subset of the environment. Every time someone gives in to an urge, particularly if it directly involves other people, there are innumerable repercussions. Our social environment is probably the most interconnected part of our environment. Moreover, if we should consider sustainability issues when we propose to impact the natural environment, as liberals repeatedly tell us, we should consider such issues when we impact the human social environment.

LC10:  Another slightly related liberal crackpot idea that is particularly troubling is that changing from one sex to the other, i.e., undergoing a transgender procedure, is a healthy and reasonable choice to make. First off, maybe medical advances will change this in the future, but as of now even with surgery and hormone therapy one can only resemble the other sex in a superficial manner. The years of brain and body development as the other sex can not be completely, or even mostly, erased. Also, much of the knowledge of how to survive as a member of one’s birth sex will lose its value, and one will have missed out on gaining the corresponding knowledge that members of the other sex developed during youth.

Another problem with accepting the idea is that one’s physical sexual characteristics at birth are objective and anything but arbitrary, while a culture’s association between one’s sex and personality traits (“feminine” or “masculine”) is somewhat subjective and arbitrary. Rather than changing the non-arbitrary body to fit with arbitrary and subjective notions about gender, it would make far more sense to change the arbitrary and subjective notions about personality characteristics of a particular sex to fit with the body.

But maybe the most compelling reason to condemn this idea is that it distracts and confuses troubled and unhappy individuals and prevents them from focusing on more reasonable means to improve their lives. A further problem is that as the idea gains momentum, it offers another opportunity for individuals to knowingly make behavioral choices that are disfavored by the general society, and then, after claims of discrimination, expect the society to make accommodations for that choice. This is problematic for behavioral choices because humans are quite flexible and adaptable animals, and there are innumerable possible behavioral choices they can make, and social chaos is only prevented, and some degree of social harmony achieved, by limiting that number through societal pressure to restrict apparently unhealthy or arbitrary behavior.

LC11:  Another common liberal crackpot idea is that it is important to love yourself in order to have high self-esteem and be happy. I find this to be nonsense. To declare love for something is to declare a strong connection with something outside oneself. Of course one is connected with oneself so the concept of love is misapplied to the self. Promoting self-love becomes harmful in that it encourages inflexibility as it reinforces connections to current behavior patterns that may be maladaptive. Also, conflating connections with oneself with love leads to overvaluing one’s characteristics in others, encouraging individuals to seek the company of others who resemble them rather than others who complement them, the latter being the healthier and more reasoned approach.

LC12:   A related crackpot idea is that it is healthy to teach children that they are “special.” This can lead to harmful levels of narcissism in the individual and society at large as it tends to convince people that they need not worry about the needs and welfare of others (who by implication are less special and less important as the descriptor means nothing if everyone is special). However, if the individual can keep in mind that the individual is part of different groups, a more intimate group composed of family and loved ones in which the individual is special and important, the recognition of which can fill important emotional needs, and a larger group of the broader society in which the individual keeps a social contract and does that which is expected without trying to assume a special or unique position with extraordinary privileges, the individual can have emotional needs met while simultaneously acting in harmony with the larger group. Note that the often sought after celebrity status in American society does appear to allow certain individuals to feel special in the larger group, but since one cannot have intimate relations with large numbers of people and maintain one’s emotional stability, the mismatch created between the type of relationship and the size of the group usually leads to far more trouble than it is worth.

LC13:  Another somewhat related liberal crackpot idea is that the goal of life should be “self-actualization,” as described by Maslow. There may be some merit to the idea of a hierarchy of needs, as Maslow claimed, but the notion of self-actualization is pure poppycock. Humans evolved for most of their history in small hunter-gatherer groups, with some more rapid evolution in the past few thousand years in large agricultural societies, and they struggled to adapt to various environments in order to reproduce and to survive as best they could as long as they could. Did a Cro-Magnon man self-actualize by killing a Mammoth? Did a Cro-Magnon woman self-actualize by finding a medicinal root? One’s goals and one’s assessment of whether they have been achieved are completely determined by one’s interpretation of one’s needs and the group’s needs, in a particular setting, a particular environment, and this is malleable. There are an infinite number of possible needs and goals to meet those needs and it is completely arbitrary as to whether achieving any of them results in “self-actualization.”

LC14:  A particularly soft-headed liberal crackpot idea was expressed succinctly and somewhat elegantly by Martin Luther King, Jr., “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”  This is an illusion that arises from the virtual inevitability that contemporary rules and laws will more closely conform to, and more likely be trending towards, contemporary beliefs and values than rules and laws from past eras will.  What happens at any given point in time is simply the result of all the different forms of pressure being applied at that moment.  But under the influence of this crackpot idea, it is assumed that there is some sort of inevitability of improvement in social policy over time, which creates pressure to recklessly abandon what has worked in the past in order to experiment with something new, usually making changes to address some particular social ill that appears on the surface to have an obvious solution.  However, addressing one social ill often leads to the creation of two or more new social ills.   Human society is one giant, interconnected, complex machine, and so unintended consequences, not progress toward a more just system, are what is inevitable with every radically new policy.

LC15:  A really annoying liberal crackpot idea is that non-human animals have rights. This comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of what rights are. Rights are part of the social contract of every individual in a society that offer an inducement for that individual to participate constructively in that society. Rights are also accorded to those who are unable to participate because of age or disability, but this is justified by their close kinship to, other connections to, and similarity with other humans who can participate. The system of rights creates harmony and stability in a large society as it convinces most to be productive and contributing members of that society. Extending this system to animals that do not understand it makes little sense as it provides no inducement to cooperate. Also, given that for every benefit there is a cost, every consideration given to non-human animals leads to some cost to humans. That means that the more rights given to non-human animals, the fewer rights that humans have, and given that the weak are usually bullied by the strong, ultimately this means that the most weak and vulnerable humans will bear the costs of the rights given to the non-human animal friends of the strong, which is somewhat ironic because the justification for extending rights to animals is to protect the most vulnerable beings. Also, if rights were extended to non-human animals, what would constitute the boundary of those with rights? Would it be restricted to pets, when they constitute a tiny percentage of the animals in the world? Would it be restricted to primates, when some aquatic mammals (e.g, dolphins) are more intelligent than some primates? Would it be restricted to mammals, while some birds and even invertebrates (e.g., the octopus) are more intelligent than some mammals? There are no defensible boundaries, except for the already established human boundary.

LC16:  One quite harmful liberal crackpot idea is that spanking does more harm to children than psychoactive medications do. At some point it became mainstream thinking that spanking does irreparable harm to most children even though the evidence from centuries of widespread use of the practice showed that it rarely had that effect. Also, note that humans evolved in a manner such that children would grow more slowly physically than other primates, allowing adults to physically control them somewhat easily until their post-pubescent years, implying that there was an evolutionary advantage in adults physically controlling young children. But instead of continuing to use spanking to control children’s behavior, it became common to use psychoactive medications for that purpose. However, after years of this practice, a mountain of evidence suggests that these medications are far more harmful than spanking ever could have been, and yet no movement has formed to curb this dangerous practice.

LC17:  A slightly related liberal crackpot idea is that domestic violence would be reduced if women were to become more aggressive and physical. Given that men are programmed by evolution to resist violently any attempts to dominate them physically, the more aggressive and physical women become, the more aggressive and physical the men will become, likely leading to more domestic violence. Evolution provided women with other means to control men that allow a couple to build and maintain a strong bond over a period of years, and it makes little sense for women to be discouraged from using those methods or encouraged to use the traditional male method of physical force.

LC18:  This might not be among the most commonly believed liberal crackpot ideas, but it is one that I have come across — that somehow the dreaded “Patriarchy” is guilty of over-sexualizing young girls in the US.  This seems particularly preposterous because the most patriarchal societies, including those where most of the members adhere to radical versions of Islam, go as far as they can in the opposite direction.  They view young girls as innocent and do all they can to protect them and their innocence.  On the other hand, in Western societies, feminists constantly encourage young girls to embrace and promote their sexuality, as the feminists believe this empowers girls relative to boys.  Some feminists, particularly the performer Madonna, encourage this over-sexualization as a means to win fans and to increase their personal profits.

LC19:  At the risk of being accused of bigotry, stupidity, or maliciousness, I must add that I believe that one of the most problematic liberal crackpot ideas is that heterosexuality is in no way superior to homosexuality. Heterosexuality and the associated preference for heterosexual behavior were created by millions of years of evolution to provide certain advantages, not by the Catholic Church or any other religion. Among the many advantages, one simple and obvious one is that it made male parts fit into female parts. Mother Nature spent millions of years fashioning male bodies and female bodies to complement each other and to go together in harmony.  Mother Nature also made the sexes complementary emotionally and provided them with a wide variety of complementary strengths and weaknesses.  Throwing away those advantages, not to mention the power of reproduction that heterosexuality provides, is like a giant waste of millions of years of effort. It makes about as much sense as having one’s thumbs converted to regular fingers. It would be a very inefficient use of resources, and it is nonsensical to claim that the most adaptable animal on the planet cannot modify its behavior from the inefficient to the efficient on learning of the advantage.

Also, one of the greatest benefits of the traditional prohibition against homosexual behavior is that it enabled societies to set up sex-free zones for children and adults by the establishment of same-sex activities and clubs.  This was of great benefit to children particularly as it allowed them to develop mentally and emotionally in such sex-free zones where they would be free of sexual tension and sexual distractions.  Sure, there would always be a few instances of homosexual behavior anyway, but for the great majority of children for the great majority of the time these sex-free zones were an essential part of personal development, and were a critical part of the maturation process that children went through in Western society that led to the development of modern Western civilization.

I will add that I understand that male homosexual preferences are often formed early in life and, even though humans are the most adaptable creatures on the planet, rewiring to produce different preferences can be quite difficult, so it may be unnecessarily harsh or cruel to try to force different choices on the male homosexual population.  However, female sexuality is generally much more malleable and few even try to argue that lesbianism is hardwired.  Even hardcore militant feminist lesbians claim that lesbianism is a choice, in part because that is consistent with their agenda to turn all women and girls into lesbians.  So lesbians make a choice to avoid sexual and romantic relationships with the half of the population that evolution spent millions of years to make them sexually and romantically compatible with.  Given that, I do not believe it is a stretch to identify lesbians as misandrists or lesbianism as a form of misandry, and misandry is hate.  Also, note that when misandry becomes fashionable, the very survival of the society is in jeopardy, as human behavior responds to social pressures, and if all the social pressure is in one direction, then there is the danger of creating an accelerating downward spiral leading to catastrophic levels of disharmony and discord.

It also should be mentioned that while the West was in the battle for world hegemony with the Soviet Union, stable heterosexual families were promoted by the elites to not only increase the population but also its productivity and the overall wealth and social stability of the society.  After the fall of the Soviet Union, a world market could be formed that did not depend on US or other Western labor or consumers, and overpopulation because of Climate Change and resource depletion became a serious issue, it appears that the elites began to promote homosexuality over heterosexuality in order to reduce the birth rate and thereby reduce the population over time, as well as make the society more chaotic to make an organized revolt by the common people more difficult.

 

Other crackpot ideas…

OC1:  One very popular crackpot idea is that the Warren Commission provided a full and accurate accounting of the Kennedy assassination. Not only did a congressional investigation in the 1970’s, following the release of a great many confidential documents related to the assassination, find the Warren Commission report to be seriously flawed, but it concluded that the assassination most likely involved a conspiracy. I suppose that a “magic bullet” could theoretically have done everything it was claimed to have done, but other highly unlikely events including Ruby shooting Oswald before he could talk, the alleged extremely fast and accurate marksmanship of Oswald who had never been a top marksman, and the forgiving nature of the US government with regard to Oswald’s prior traitorous activities, as well as many other odd phenomena associated with the shooting, should make any rational observer extremely suspicious.

OC2:  Another crackpot idea is that a society with completely unfettered free markets would be ideal. Though it appears that given a good number of capable, knowledgeable, healthy, and creative people in a society the implementation of something like a free market can help to create a high level of motivation and creativity leading to significant increases in innovation and productivity, the focus by all the economic actors on the narrow and short-term, which they must focus on in order to survive in an unfettered free market, means the broad and long-term goals are ignored, including the goal of maintaining the conditions necessary for the system to continue to operate. The natural and inevitable decay of all systems that are not actively maintained, that do not receive a consistent input of constructive energy, means that the unfettered free market system on its own is unsustainable. Also, the energy devoted to narrow, short-term goals in pursuit of maximum profit while taking advantage of the lowest common denominator applies pressure to force the lowest common denominator lower and lower and creates a downward spiral that vulgarizes the culture and leads to disintegration of the society.

OC3:  A related crackpot idea is that Libertarianism is the best political philosophy because it provides people with the most “freedom.” The main problem with this idea is that Libertarianism is not so much about liberty as it is about private property. It might more accurately be called “Propertyism” as it provides that the government’s main purpose is to protect private property. And what about private property makes its protection such a fundamental right? Note that there is no private property in Nature. Private property is an abstraction that creates a connection (generally called “ownership”), usually an exclusive one, between an individual and some non-human thing. The other members of the society are expected to honor this exclusive connection, and a Libertarian government’s main role is to make sure that they do. Certainly there is some value in honoring the connection as the connection can be used as a reward for positive contributions of the individual to the group. Also, establishing the connection can signal which individual has the responsibility for the thing, providing motivation that it be used for positive rather than negative effect. But these reasons are more consistent with Utilitarianism, i.e., honoring the connection is justified because it serves the greater good. However, if Libertarianism is to be preferred over Utilitarianism, then that must mean that a society should honor the connection when it does not serve the greater good, including when it means the unnecessary loss of life or harm to others, which most would find unjustifiable.

OC4:  A  crackpot idea regarding the US Constitution is that money is the same as speech for the purposes of the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment. Virtually all rules come with the expectation that a reasonable balance should be struck when different rights conflict. Allowing one party to flood the medium, e.g., the airwaves, so as to drown out the other party clearly violates the second party’s right to free speech more than restricting the first party’s expenditures does. Speech that is drowned out is speech that may as well be silenced, and guaranteeing the right to silenced speech is not guaranteeing speech at all.

OC5:  Another crackpot idea regarding the Free Speech clause, one that has more of a libertarian flavor, is that the clause was intended to protect artistic or commercial expression or to allow frustrated people to “blow off steam.” The clause was intended to allow the citizens to shine a light on the situation in the society, particularly on the actions of government officials, in order to apply pressure to correct misbehavior or force a change in policy. It had nothing to do with artistic or commercial free expression or with some psychological need to “be heard” through an ineffectual exercise of speech.

OC6:  A popular American crackpot idea is that not only is it possible to design a belief system and set of rules that will make life go smoothly for most people most of the time, but that the current American belief system and associated rules are close to reaching that goal.  This is untenable.  Humans were designed by evolution to live in small hunter-gatherer groups. They came together into large groups for security and economic efficiency. There may also be some attraction for the young to the large group because it offers more possible mating partners. But there is great cost in being part of a large group, as the human emotional-motivational system is not designed to handle relations with large numbers of people. Insincerity and dishonesty, as well as a number of more serious harmful behaviors, become more common in the large group because they are often rewarded as the virtual anonymity in the large group greatly reduces accountability.

Belief systems regarding “good and evil” with accompanying rules of morality are usually implemented in the large group to attempt to limit the harmful behavior, but a complicating factor is that the elites in the position to develop the rules usually do so in a way that advantages them, so that rule systems are in part designed to serve the purposes of the elites and in part designed to serve the needs of the whole society. Furthermore, it is possible to imagine innumerable different belief systems and there is no practicable method for proving that one is clearly superior to another or for proving that there do not exist innumerable other belief systems superior to a particular system. That makes agreement difficult because everyone tends to look at the world in a way that is colored by their own experiences and that is most favorable to themselves or people like themselves and this influences their preferences. What makes it even worse is that there is no universally accepted understanding of what it means for one set of beliefs or rules to be “superior” to another. Does that mean that for the individuals in the group it leads to a desirable goal? What goal? Is the goal a higher quality of life (what constitutes that?), a greater chance for long-term survival of the group, or something else? And what is the group? Is it the whole of the human race or some subset, e.g., the people in one’s own tribe or nation? Is it for the majority, the great majority, or all of the people in the group? Is it just for individuals in the group who are alive today or does it include those expected to be born sometime in the foreseeable future or even those who come after that?

For these reasons it becomes very difficult to build and maintain a system of universally accepted beliefs and associated moral rules, and so to limit disruptions caused by disagreements and belief divergence a large group usually relies heavily on some form of criminal justice system (certainly the US does, with more prisoners than any other nation in the world), which often uses a hammer when a scalpel is required, and leads to many broken individuals who then spread their misery to others almost like a contagion.

OC7:  Another related crackpot idea is that it is possible to “know everything.” What is problematic about this is that the set of all things to be known is unbounded. Not only is the universe evolving continuously, and not only does every event affect every other event eventually, and not only are there innumerable different aspects to and repercussions from the interaction, and not only are there innumerable perspectives from which to perceive those events, but any realizable set of rules for analyzing those events is incomplete (see Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem). Furthermore, no scientific theory can ever properly be declared infallible, as theories are merely rules regarding the nature of reality that have proven to predict events correctly, usually in controlled settings, with some arbitrarily defined degree of accuracy and better than alternative rules. All models of reality are limited by the limitations of those making the models, and there is no justification for declaring any model to be complete and infallible.

OC8:  Another popular crackpot idea is that either something like the Christian god exists or there must not be any god at all. Now this comes from a complete failure of imagination. Not only are there a great many other current and past religions which each have their own gods, but it seems entirely clear that innumerable different forms of a god could map onto the patterns of perception that give rise to the concept of any particular god, i.e., just as Plato’s shadows on the cave could have been created by any number of entities of any kind of form, any form or kind of god could be behind any number of layers of reality that give rise to our perceptions, though such speculation can create unnecessary, apparently arbitrary, and unhelpful complexity.  Occam’s razor can provide a path out of this swamp (that the simplest explanation that accounts for the facts is the preferred one, i.e., that there is nothing to be gained by speculating on extra layers of complexity, as our experiences simply flow from the universe unfolding before us), but it comes at the price of abandoning the pleasant feeling of wonder and any comforting afterlife myths that belief in the supernatural may provide.

OC9:  Continuing on the subject of religion, another common crackpot idea is that Christianity has no value, or even has a negative value, if the fundamental beliefs about Jesus and the Christian god are incorrect. Regardless of whether the fundamental beliefs are correct, and it is my guess that they are not, Christianity helped to build one of the most successful civilizations in human history. Organizing humans, who developed in small groups, into sustainable large groups is apparently quite a feat as failure has been far more common than success. Christianity is often blamed for a great many wars and much human misery, but humans in large groups usually behave in a callous and self-serving manner, as they are far more connected to their own narrow interests and goals than to the broad interests and goals of the large group. Christianity did not create this narrow focus (often called “greed”) or do much to further it, other than serving as an organizing principle for creating large societies, which virtually inevitably create the conditions that allow for manipulation of large numbers of people to serve narrow interests. I suspect that the powerful with the will and opportunity to manipulate others for self-serving purposes use whatever tools are available, including the predominant belief system of the society. That should not reflect on that particular belief system.

OC10:  A slightly related crackpot idea, related in that it has to do with human morality, which seems trivial but which should be addressed because it is just so preposterous is that commercial pornography can be legal while prostitution is illegal.  Given that laws against prostitution ban the practice of engaging in sexual acts in return for remuneration, and commercial pornography involves providing remuneration for people to engage in sexual acts for the purposes of a video recording, it is an obvious contradiction to claim that commercial pornography does not involve violating laws against prostitution.  It may be a special kind of prostitution, but it still is prostitution as it involves engaging in sexual acts for remuneration.  The fact that those who produce it have sufficient resources to hire legal talent capable of obfuscating the undeniable connection does not alter the clear underlying reality.

OC11:  Moving on to the topic of the human mind, a very simple and problematic crackpot idea is that human identity over time is absolute. However, a human brain is changing, evolving, all the time as it loses old memories while it gains new ones along with new concepts and ideas, and it learns new skills and behavior patterns while it discards previous ones. We assume we as humans have identity over time for the sake of convenience, to simplify our world, not because it accurately portrays reality.

OC12:  A related very popular and persistent crackpot notion is that individual humans are imbued with some sort of “free will.” The basic idea is that individuals have a “choice” in what decisions they make and that they choose to make “good” decisions or “bad” decisions. First off, this approach to the concept of choice is wrongheaded. Human behavior, like all animal behavior and virtually all phenomena in this universe, is determined by the set of internal and external pressures operating at the place and time. As the individual’s brain grows and evolves, it develops internal pressures, which usually have their origin in past external pressures, that it may perceive as its “will.” This will operates in the context of current external pressures, which will shape the individual’s response. Note that what constitutes the will is determined by the time frame. As the individual has experiences, the brain evolves and the internal pressures are shaped, and later these internal pressures are considered part of the individual’s will, though taking a broader time frame these internal pressures may be seen as a function of the earlier external pressures and not considered part of the will of the earlier version of that individual. Also, I will add that I am not here advocating a simple deterministic view. Each and every part of the universe at each point in time can be both determiner and determined. How one views it depends on the time frame and perspective one uses.

OC13:  Another related crackpot idea is that just because the events that occur are the result of all the internal and external forces acting at a place and time, that means that any event is predictable. The problem is that the complexity of the forces and their interactions can be virtually unbounded, while the resources of the individual or entity making the prediction are limited. It is particularly problematic when the individual or entity making the prediction is involved in the interaction, meaning that the predictive process becomes part of the force involved, which would have a recursive effect (i.e., the prediction affects the prediction which affects the prediction, etc…), adding another layer of complexity that is virtually unbounded.

OC14:  Another crackpot idea from science fiction is that an intelligent robot or computer, one benefiting from sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming, would likely become self-aware. The flaw in this is that humans developed self-awareness as a survival technique, as there were survival advantages in distinguishing what is directly connected to one’s mind, i.e., one’s body, and what is not, which led to the development of the concept of self. Thus, evolution “programmed” self-awareness into humans, and a computer/robot with AI will not likely develop self-awareness unless the AI programmer intentionally includes that in the code or at least through the coding creates a situation where the AI program can recognize that it gains some advantage in accomplishing its goals by developing some form of self-awareness.

OC15:  A related crackpot idea is that the AI-programmed computers/robots would likely develop something akin to human consciousness. The problem here is that human consciousness is the direct experience of brain function, to be contrasted with the images, sounds, etc…, that are part of the model of the real world that the brain constructs from those direct experiences. That implies that this direct experience is likely a function of the particular processes involved in the brain, i.e., the neurochemical processes giving rise to the direct experience, which implies that a computer/robot with extremely different processes, e.g., the electrical processes of a silicon-based circuit, would have a very different direct experience if it had a comparable experience at all.

 

On to my crackpot ideas…

MC1:  One of my favorite crackpot ideas is that all of life should be seen as self-perpetuating feedback loops. All living things seek positive feedback that energizes them to grow and expand and seek out new positive feedback in a continuous loop. The human brain grows complex inner loops or circuits that connect with loops outside the brain to form sustainable and nurturing relationships with the environment. An individual has strong feedback loops within the individual’s own body, then somewhat weaker ones with the close family group, then weaker ones with larger groups the individual is a part of, as there is usually an inverse relationship between the size of the group and the strength of the feedback loops.  I discuss this further at:  https://third-millennium-ethics.com

MC2:  Another of my crackpot ideas is that societal problems, or, more generally, phenomena in a society, should be understood as the result of innumerable different chains of causality that converge in one space at one time. Each link in each of these chains is some process, and the chain can be broken by disrupting the process. Therefore, rather than following the usual and self-defeating approach of finding some easily identified scapegoat to blame for any given societal problem, a better approach would be to identify the most significant chains of causality and find the best links to break in those chains.

Note that the point of assigning blame is to identify the causes of a negative outcome so that such outcomes may be prevented or mitigated in the future. The difficulty is that each event is one in a succession of innumerable events, i.e., each chain of causation is of unbounded length (and my involve feedback loops).  Also, each event may be influenced by innumerable different factors, so that there are innumerable interconnected chains of events, each of unbounded length, that converge at a time and place to cause the negative outcome. So, how to determine which of these innumerable events to blame for the negative outcome? First, eliminate those that are completely or virtually unchangeable. Then eliminate those so far removed from the event that the connection is speculative. Then remove those that would be too costly to change. So the best candidates for blame would be those closely connected to the event that could be changed without great cost, particularly those for which the cost of change is less than the cost of the negative outcome. Assigning blame to other events would be inappropriate.

The corollary is that healthy or desirable phenomena in a society are also the result of different chains of causality and that breaking or severely weakening links in significant chains leading to those phenomena should be avoided if possible.

MC3:  Another one of my crackpot ideas is that the government (federal, state, or local) should establish boarding schools for disadvantaged youths. Just pumping money into local schools with children who go home to chaotic environments does not appear to be very cost-effective, as the children are not able to develop the emotional stability or the positive attitude necessary to take advantage of the academic material they are exposed to. That is why they need to be admitted to boarding schools with controlled environments that provide them with the stable environment and positive feedback they need to develop good study habits and a taste for academics.

MC4:  Another of my crackpot ideas involving child development is that children learn more from the parent of the same sex so I believe that the presumption in child custody cases should be in favor of giving custody to the parent of the same sex as the child.  It was decided long ago that child custody cases would operate under a presumption that the mother should receive custody as it was assumed that the mother was the more necessary parent.  However, I think the data developed over the past few decades of how poorly boys do without a father in the house makes it imperative to abandon the earlier presumption.   Also, it was assumed that children would fare better if siblings were not separated, but the need of a boy for the constant oversight and companionship of a father appears to far outweigh any benefit the boy might receive from being placed with female siblings.

MC5:  I have one crackpot idea on the nature of death. Let me first say that I do not believe that identity over time is absolute, and I do think that what identity one can have is based on the actual matter making up one’s brain and its organization or structure, i.e., an individual’s brain is a particular organization of particular matter, and the identity is changed if either of those is altered. So I do not believe that an individual with the same exact identity will ever again exist as there will not exist the same exact matter with the same exact organization. However, from one moment to the next, there is not the same exact matter or organization, so continuity does not require perfect identity. So, if the matter of the individual’s brain who dies continues to exist, and if there is a never-ending cycle of Big Bang to contraction to Big Bang, or alternatively if any Big Bang never contracts but instead at some point the matter created encounters matter from other parallel Big Bangs, there may be an unbounded number of organizations of any matter in the future, and some organization with some similarity to the individual’s brain with some of the matter of the individual’s brain may exist at some point in the future (even unimaginably far into the future), in a sense bringing the person back to life. Also, it may be that the eons that pass between the two points in time will seem like nothing, as the individual will not be conscious.

MC6:  One of my other crackpot ideas follows from my belief in the special nature of differences between the sexes. In the long run, it benefits no one to pretend that men and women are indistinguishable or to use short-sighted and inefficient affirmative action policies that lower requirements for women in certain jobs, e.g., firefighters, Marines, engineers, or computer scientists. Mother Nature differentiated male from female over millions of years through evolution, so it is idiotic to expect the male and female populations to have the same distribution of talents or abilities. What women really want and need is equal power and the best way to achieve that in the US is not through the above-mentioned policies but instead by ensuring that half the members of Congress are women, which can only be done through a constitutional amendment that requires that half the members of the US House of Representatives (which would have to be reconfigured as there are currently 435 members – districts could be doubled in size and have both a male and female representative with all states getting at least two members, or the number could just be doubled to 870 ) and half the members of the US Senate be women. That would also require a provision to break ties in a potentially equally divided House, which could be done by the Vice President as is done in the Senate (the Vice President could have the same role in the House as in the Senate).

The US policy-making process clearly could use more input from women, but not from women trying to be or mimicking men, which is what the present system gives us. It needs input from women being women. Also, something radical needs to be done to end the current war between the sexes. As it spreads mistrust, anger, and even hatred, it is creating fissures in the very foundation of the society. As an old saying goes, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

 

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FAMOUS & MEMORABLE QUOTES

CONTENTS

FAMOUS QUOTES FROM NOTED PERSONALITIES IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER:

Sun Tzu

Thucydides

Aristotle

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Titus Lucretius Carus

Titus Livy

Voltaire

Benjamin Franklin

Adam Smith

Adam Ferguson

Edmund Burke

Thomas Jefferson

Napoleon Bonaparte

Karl Marx

Lord Acton

Mark Twain

Jay Gould

Friedrich Nietzsche

Lucy Parsons

George Bernard Shaw

Theodore Roosevelt

Mohandas Gandhi

Bertrand Russell

Winston Churchill

Albert Einstein

H. L. Mencken

Smedley Butler

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Edward Bernays

Margaret Mead

George Orwell

Martin Luther King, Jr.

THE BANKER’S MANIFESTO OF 1892

THE BANKER’S MANIFESTO OF 1934

A FEW CONTEMPORARY APHORISMS

 

FAMOUS QUOTES

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.

All war is based on deception.

There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited.

Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.

The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.

Sun Tzu (6th Century BC)

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Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.

Most people, in fact, will not take the trouble in finding out the truth, but are much more inclined to accept the first story they hear.

In a democracy, someone who fails to get elected to office can always console himself with the thought that there was something not quite fair about it.

Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.

War is a matter not so much of arms as of money.

Indeed it is generally the case that men are readier to call rogues clever than simpletons honest, and are ashamed of being the second as they are proud of being the first.

I think the two things most opposed to good counsel are haste and passion; haste usually goes hand in hand with folly, passion with coarseness and narrowness of mind.

Nobody is driven into war by ignorance, and no one who thinks that he will gain anything from it is deterred by fear.

Thucydides (460-400 BC)

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A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.

Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but with regard to their mode of life.

Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim.

I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.

Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

The virtue of justice consists in moderation, as regulated by wisdom.

Man is by nature a political animal.

Therefore, the good of man must be the end of the science of politics.

The most perfect political community is one in which the middle class is in control, and outnumbers both of the other classes.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

A sense is what has the power of receiving into itself the sensible forms of things without the matter, in the way in which a piece of wax takes on the impress of a signet-ring without the iron or gold.

Aristotle (384-322 BC)

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The good of the people is the greatest law.

An unjust peace is better than a just war.

Frivolity is inborn, conceit acquired by education.

In time of war the laws are silent.

Let us not listen to those who think we ought to be angry with our enemies, and who believe this to be great and manly. Nothing is so praiseworthy, nothing so clearly shows a great and noble soul, as clemency and readiness to forgive.

He only employs his passion who can make no use of his reason.

No sane man will dance.

The study and knowledge of the universe would somehow be lame and defective were no practical results to follow.

Time destroys the speculation of men, but it confirms nature.

Brevity is a great charm of eloquence.

Any man is liable to err, only a fool persists in error.

To live is to think.

To some extent I liken slavery to death.

Nothing is so strongly fortified that it cannot be taken by money.

It might be pardonable to refuse to defend some men, but to defend them negligently is nothing short of criminal.

Rather leave the crime of the guilty unpunished than condemn the innocent.

So near is falsehood to truth that a wise man would do well not to trust himself on the narrow edge.

Our character is not so much the product of race and heredity as of those circumstances by which nature forms our habits, by which we are nurtured and live.

Nothing is so unbelievable that oratory cannot make it acceptable.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC)

.

All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher.

Titus Lucretius Carus (99-55 BC)

.

We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.

Every city contains wicked citizens from time to time and an ignorant populace all the time.

True moderation in the defense of political liberties is indeed a difficult thing: pretending to want fair shares for all, every man raises himself by depressing his neighbor; our anxiety to avoid oppression leads us to practice it ourselves; the injustice we repel, we visit in turn upon others, as if there were no choice except either to do it or to suffer it.

Indeed, that is the nature of crowds: the mob is either a humble slave or a cruel master. As for the middle way of liberty, the mob can neither take it nor keep it with any respect for moderation or law.

The outcome corresponds less to expectations in war than in any other case whatsoever.

Titus Livy (59 BC – 17 AD)

.

All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.

As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities.

Clever tyrants are never punished.

The best government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination.

Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion.

The best is the enemy of the good.

There are truths which are not for all men, nor for all times.

Men will always be mad, and those who think they can cure them are the maddest of all.

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.

No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.

It is said that God is always on the side of the big battalions.

The public is a ferocious beast; one must either chain it or flee from it.

Voltaire (1694-1778)

.

A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.

All wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous ones.

Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

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Labour was the first price, the original purchase – money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.

All money is a matter of belief.

The theory that can absorb the greatest number of facts, and persist in doing so, generation after generation, through all changes of opinion and detail, is the one that must rule all observation.

Adam Smith (1723-1790)

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Like the winds that we come we know not whence and blow whither soever they list, the forces of society are derived from an obscure and distant origin. They arise before the date of philosophy, from the instincts, not the speculations of men.

In every commercial state, notwithstanding any pretension to equal rights, the exaltation of a few must depress the many.

Every step and every movement of the multitude, even in what are termed enlightened ages, are made with equal blindness to the future; and nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design.

Adam Ferguson (1723-1816)

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All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.

Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.

All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter.

Among a people generally corrupt liberty cannot long exist.

A State without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.

Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.

But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.

Liberty must be limited in order to be possessed.

Circumstances give in reality to every political principle its distinguishing color and discriminating effect. The circumstances are what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to mankind.

Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy.

Education is the cheap defense of nations.

I venture to say no war can be long carried on against the will of the people.

Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.

It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

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All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind.

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.

Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.

The good opinion of mankind, like the lever of Archimedes, with the given fulcrum, moves the world.

The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory.

The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe. Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

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A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.

A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets.

Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.

Imagination rules the world.

In politics stupidity is not a handicap.

Men are more easily governed through their vices than through their virtues.

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.

What is history but a fable agreed upon?

There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Good and decent people must be protected and persuaded by gentle means, but the rabble must be led by terror.

Governments keep their promises only when they are forced, or when it is to their advantage to do so.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

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History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.

Democracy is the road to socialism.

The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.

Capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.

Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries, unite!

Religion is the opiate of the masses.

The human being is in the most literal sense a political animal, not merely a gregarious animal, but an animal which can individuate itself only in the midst of society.

Karl Marx (1818-1883)

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Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Lord Acton (1834-1902)

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Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

There are lies, damned lies and statistics.

We have the best government that money can buy.

Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.

Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your HONOR. That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditching and shoemaking and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse.

Mark Twain (1835-1910)

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I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.

Jay Gould (1836-1892) (financier and railroad businessman)

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He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.
In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

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The involuntary aspiration born in man to make the most of one’s self, to be loved and appreciated by one’s fellow-beings, to “make the world better for having lived in it,” will urge him on the nobler deeds than ever the sordid and selfish incentive of material gain has done.

Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth.

Concentrated power can be always wielded in the interest of the few and at the expense of the many. Government in its last analysis is this power reduced to a science. Governments never lead; they follow progress. When the prison, stake or scaffold can no longer silence the voice of the protesting minority, progress moves on a step, but not until then.

Lucy Parsons (1853-1942)

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A fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic.

All great truths begin as blasphemies.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

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A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.

It is essential that there should be organization of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize.

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.

The object of government is the welfare of the people.

The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

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Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.

What do I think of Western civilization? I think it would be a very good idea.

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.

An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so.

Be the change that you want to see in the world.

There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.

I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948)

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Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.

Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.

Bertrand Russell  (1872-1970)

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A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.

The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.

Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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The grand aim of all science is to cover the greatest number of empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest number of hypotheses or axioms.

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.

The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.

The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.

Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves.

We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.

I came to America because of the great, great freedom which I heard existed in this country. I made a mistake in selecting America as a land of freedom, a mistake I cannot repair in the balance of my lifetime.

Democracy, taken in its narrower, purely political, sense, suffers from the fact that those in economic and political power possess the means for molding public opinion to serve their own class interests. The democratic form of government in itself does not automatically solve problems; it offers, however, a useful framework for their solution. Everything depends ultimately on the political and moral qualities of the citizenry.

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

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Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)

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War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

Smedley Butler (1881-1940), Major General (retired), USMC

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Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)

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The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

The great enemy of any attempt to change men’s habits is inertia. Civilization is limited by inertia.

Universal literacy was supposed to educate the common man to control his environment. Once he could read and write he would have a mind fit to rule. So ran the democratic doctrine. But instead of a mind, universal literacy has given him rubber stamps, rubber stamps inked with advertising slogans, with editorials, with published scientific data, with the trivialities of the tabloids and the platitudes of history, but quite innocent of original thought. Each man’s rubber stamps are the duplicates of millions of others, so that when those millions are exposed to the same stimuli, all receive identical imprints. It may seem an exaggeration to say that the American public gets most of its ideas in this wholesale fashion. The mechanism by which ideas are disseminated on a large scale is propaganda, in the broad sense of an organized effort to spread a particular belief or doctrine.

There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.

Edward Bernays (1891-1995)

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Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Our humanity rests upon a series of learned behaviors, woven together into patterns that are infinitely fragile and never directly inherited.

Margaret Mead (1901-1978)

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The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.

George Orwell (1903-1950), in “Politics and the English Language” (1946)

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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.

Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.

The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

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THE BANKER’S MANIFESTO OF 1892

as revealed by Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr. to the U.S. Congress

We (the bankers) must proceed with caution and guard every move made, for the lower order of people are already showing signs of restless commotion. Prudence will therefore show a policy of apparently yielding to the popular will until our plans are so far consummated that we can declare our designs without fear of any organized resistance. The Farmers Alliance and Knights of Labor organizations in the United States should be carefully watched by our trusted men, and we must take immediate steps to control these organizations in our interest or disrupt them.

At the coming Omaha Convention to be held July 4th (1892), our men must attend and direct its movement, or else there will be set on foot such antagonism to our designs as may require force to overcome. This at the present time would be premature. We are not yet ready for such a crisis. Capital must protect itself in every possible manner through combination ( conspiracy) and legislation.

The courts must be called to our aid, debts must be collected, bonds and mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible.

When through the process of the law, the common people have lost their homes, they will be more tractable and easily governed through the influence of the strong arm of the government applied to a central power of imperial wealth under the control of the leading financiers. People without homes will not quarrel with their leaders.

History repeats itself in regular cycles. This truth is well known among our principal men who are engaged in forming an imperialism of the world. While they are doing this, the people must be kept in a state of political antagonism.

The question of tariff reform must be urged through the organization known as the Democratic Party, and the question of protection with the reciprocity must be forced to view through the Republican Party.

By thus dividing voters, we can get them to expand their energies in fighting over questions of no importance to us, except as teachers to the common herd. Thus, by discrete action, we can secure all that has been so generously planned and successfully accomplished.

 

BANKER’S MANIFESTO OF 1934

“New American”, February 1934

Capital must protect itself in every way, through combination and through legislation. Debts must be collected and loans and mortgages foreclosed as soon as possible. When through a process of law, the common people have lost their homes, they will be more tractable and more easily governed by the strong arm of the law applied by the central power of wealth, under control of leading financiers. People without homes will not quarrel with their leaders. This is well known among our principle men now engaged in forming an IMPERIALISM of capital to govern the world. By dividing the people we can get them to expend their energies in fighting over questions of no importance to us except as teachers of the common herd. Thus by discrete action we can secure for ourselves what has been generally planned and successfully accomplished.

 

A FEW CONTEMPORARY APHORISMS

 Life is not a message so it does not have a meaning.

One simple way to sum up human individual development is as the expression of genetic propensities as shaped by social and other environmental pressures.

Humans are social animals, and, as such, most of them invariably become trapped in a web of social relationships from which there is little hope of escape.

Humans, like their fellow primates, mostly prefer to be lazy and only work hard when they are convinced that it is necessary to achieve an acceptable outcome (Note: that is why trying to guarantee “equal outcomes” rather than “equal opportunity” can never work).

Humans can be seen as lazy copying machines, copying others opinions, narratives, and ideas as they seek the easiest path in navigating through a social world to provide for their needs and wants, while always trying to avoid copying opinions, narratives, and ideas that they associate with significant negative feedback.
Possibly the greatest error made by those who would radically alter social conditions in order to achieve some hoped-for dramatic improvement in the lot of the common people is the failure to recognize that rapid and radical change creates social chaos, and the most ruthless and reckless predatory actors almost inevitably rise to the top under such conditions.
It appears that given the amount of speculation, because of the unavoidably many important questions without clear answers, required in order establish universal rules and behavior patterns, some irrational or otherwise somewhat baseless assumptions are necessary in order to establish and maintain a stable human society.

There is nothing conservative about multinational corporations controlling the nation or the world.

Any human economy must be described as artificial and not natural, as the former connotes what is created by humans, or possibly what is created by something that is created by humans, while the latter means something not created by humans.

A human economy much more closely resembles a human-created machine than any natural phenomena, and as a machine it must be regulated and maintained in order to be sustainable and to perform efficiently.

To honor individuals for anything other than accomplishment signals that the social system is based on caste or some other unsustainable form of unearned credit.

The only emotion one should appeal to in arguments regarding public policy is that which attaches the audience to the long-term welfare and survival of the society, as appeal to other emotions runs the risk of prioritizing less important and more controversial goals.

Freedom is the poor man’s equality.

The United States Constitution might be best thought of as a partnership agreement where every citizen is considered an equal partner for the enterprise that is the United States of America.

Plutocrats will concede the importance of every type of equality, on every imaginable basis, before they will concede the importance of economic equality, for every other type of equality is of limited effect without economic equality.

“Going with the flow” is not ideal when the flow is approaching a waterfall.

The famous claim by Martin Luther King, Jr. regarding inevitable progress over time, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” is based on the illusion that arises from the virtual inevitability that contemporary rules and laws will more closely conform to, and more likely be trending towards, contemporary beliefs and values than rules and laws from past eras will.

Excessive attention devoted to insulating individuals from the slightest offense creates the danger of making thin skin a virtue.

Focusing on one’s group identity is imprudent as group identity is not only a social construct but is completely arbitrary, at least in part because any individual could be said to belong to any number of groups based on any of a long list of personal characteristics.

Speech concerning the appropriateness or inappropriateness of behavior is utilitarian in nature, and discouraging such criticism by labeling it as hate speech removes an important means to curb impulsive, hedonistic, and other harmful behavior that can contribute to eventual social disintegration.

If words are equivalent to physical action in causing harm as those who believe in hate speech claim, then those who expose young children to sexual ideas and behaviors that they are not emotionally, intellectually, or physically mature enough to handle could be seen as engaging in sexual assault of a minor and charged with rape.

The great value in the protection of free speech becomes clear when one recognizes that without the negative feedback that free speech may provide the development and maintenance of healthy and sustainable policies in an unpredictable world, with innumerable unforeseeable consequences and with more that is unknown than what is known, becomes exceedingly more difficult.

The absurdity of the modern era may be most easily seen in the preposterous commonly held belief that men and women, who evolved together and who were shaped by evolutionary forces to be complementary to one another and to need each other for survival, can be thought of as separate tribes.

Engaging in decadent behavior is not a human right, and someone opposed to such behavior is not an enemy of human rights.

Gender is not fluid, though attitudes about it are, just as values and social rules are.

Creativity is not simply random experimentation but is the novel combination of ideas or objects that provides some advantage over existing alternatives.

The self-serving plans and schemes of the powerful or sophisticated virtually always come in disguise, often presented in a form that can be easily misinterpreted, even more so as they encourage such misinterpretations, and the motives and goals of any insightful critics will also be intentionally misinterpreted to help maintain the disguise.

Slogans designed to reduce the amount of violence in people’s homes or on the street are as likely to be effective as slogans designed to reduce drug use.

Instead of adopting the viewpoint that we live in a welcoming environment that is inviting us to share in the wonders of nature, it may be more useful and appropriate, given the inconsistency between the processes of the universe and eternal life for creatures such as us, to take the viewpoint that from the instant we become alive we all struggle to survive as best we can, as long as we can, in a universe that at every moment is trying to kill us and that will not rest until it finally is successful in that effort.

A society without idealism is a society run by miscreants in the interests of miscreants, as naked self-interest has no use for rules.

An economic system that motivates the actors to encourage others to behave and think foolishly, in order for the actor to take advantage of them, in the long term produces a society full of fools.

The celebration and choice of short-term human relationships, as opposed to long-term,  involves trading the ability to form strong stable bonds, with which to build enduring and dependable relationships, for the excitement and convenience of engaging in impulse-driven behavior.  This leaves in its wake broken dreams, broken families, and broken human beings.

The dichotomy created between acting emotionally and acting rationally is ill-conceived.  The more fitting representation is that the individual said to be acting emotionally is motivated more by transitory or narrow considerations while the individual acting rationally is motivated by long-term or broad considerations, as they both require emotional-motivational energy to act.

Those aggrieved by some act usually insist that the perpetrator is defined by that act, while the perpetrator often insists that he/she has changed since the act occurred and so the former self, a different person, was responsible.

Consciousness is the sensation of thought and not the modeling of thought or of the experience that provokes the thought.

The true dual nature of reality is between the sensation of the experience and the model of the experience, accepting that the model of the sensation belongs to the latter category and not the former.

Those who focus on the short-term usually win competitions with those focused on the long-term, which means that competitive systems for choosing those who would control any group, including the entire human race, often produce groups that are organized on the basis of maximizing the short-term results, to the detriment of the long-term, sometimes fatally so.

Focusing on a specific subject matter, at a great level of detail, allows for the development of very precise models of the underlying reality and very precise rules for optimizing the return for interactions with it, but the same level of precision and detail is impossible to maintain in approaches to broader subject areas, as the amount of pertinent information becomes unmanageable, so the observer “cannot see the forest for the trees” unless the level of detail is reduced.

It is certainly a defensible position to argue that it is impossible to prove beyond any doubt that a certain proposition about the nature of reality or about certain specific aspects of reality are true, i.e., that there is a universally agreed upon objective reality, but that does not mean that there is no benefit in striving to create the most accurate and complete model of reality, which would be the model that provides the most accurate and reliable predictions of outcomes in future interactions with that reality.

With regard to determinism, it should be clear first that anything that happens at any point in space and time is the result of all the forces acting on that point in space and time and that all those forces are determined by all the forces that have acted before in any space and time, so it does not follow that some subset of the universe in space and time (the one making the predictions) would be able to represent exactly the total effect of all the forces that have acted before in any space and time on any point in space and time in the future.

When an individual makes new connections with other individuals or groups, often in the course of performing a task or striving to achieve a goal, that changes the individual’s position and may change what “side” the individual is on, what goals the individual has, or what game the individual is playing (one of the many flaws in rational choice theory).

When predatory elites assume control, they always do their best to make sure that the little people “cannot see the forest for the trees.”

An individual’s dishonesty not only weakens the trust and thus the solidarity and common purpose in the group, to the detriment of most, but it also may significantly burden the individual’s mental processing, as extra resources become necessary to manage the increased complexity of the individual’s mental models, as the inconsistent information provided to others must always be separated from the good information and the record of providing it must be carefully maintained.

Control given to a democratic government follows the policy of one-person, one-vote, while control given to the “market,” is more akin to one-dollar, one-vote, which makes it surprising that so many people who believe in one-person, one-vote, will vote for a plutocratic system of one-dollar, one-vote.

Most of human social experience consists of interpreting the intended communications, whether by words or actions, of others, which means that significant changes in the conventional meaning of words or actions leads to significantly different social experiences.

One should assume responsibility to the extent that one wants to be given responsibility.

What is spirituality but a feeling of connection with that which is too complex and too impenetrable to allow for one to place any confidence in analysis, i.e,  a connection with infinity.

Self-awareness is merely the act of creating a model of one’s own mind.

If the Earth is our Mother, then the Sun must be our Father.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill when he was speaking about democracy, marriage is the worst form of romantic/sexual relationship except for all the others.
Ideally any society should strive to ensure that its members not only receive a sound education but also learn how to synthesize disparate information so that they may:  (1) develop expertise and exhibit creativity in some specific subject area that will allow them to contribute meaningfully to the material welfare of the society; and (2) develop a good sense of the big picture which will allow them to provide healthy pressure to move the society in a more promising direction.
Sophisticated and powerful elites recognized some time ago that constructing a dam to block the flow of revolutionary ideas was unnecessary, for they only needed to build levees to keep the flow from threatening their interests.

Consistent with Lord Acton’s observation (“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”), individuals or groups with greater power tend to abuse individuals or groups with significantly less power if they have any kind of continuing relationship.

A modern update to the old aphorism that “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross” would be “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in political correctness and carrying on with perpetual virtue-signalling.”

The world will never stop changing so there will always be a point where a sane individual, no matter how liberal, will decide that a proposed change is too far and will take the conservative position.

Propagandists long ago found that a good proportion of the population finds the seven-letter word “freedom” almost mesmerizing, producing within such individuals a predictable pleasurable sensation such that any pabulum associated with the word is made more palatable.

Just as fractals allow for continual growth of a boundary in a confined space, the limits regarding available natural resources and the requirement that one avoid harming other humans do not necessarily prevent growth in the limited space determined by such restrictions, particularly not growth that results from intellectual growth.
Ownership does not exist in nature but is merely an agreement among human individuals regarding which individuals may use which resources.  Individuals only agree to the arrangement to the extent they believe it to benefit them or those they care about and are connected to (usually family members and other loved ones, but possibly the society as a whole), and so for the vast majority to agree to an existing ownership arrangement it must be to some extent utilitarian (the greatest good for the greatest number) or most must have been manipulated so that they promote the interests of such manipulators over their own interests.
The bottom-up approach to social/economic organization with a capitalist market has within it the seeds of its own destruction as the decision-makers focus on narrow self-interest and on the short-term, as the competitive nature of the market means that those who do not focus on narrow self-interest for the short-term probably will not be around for the long-term, and this means that broad and long-term problems will not likely be addressed before becoming fatal.

As no one today assumes humans are free from the laws of physics, or the requirements of the natural world, the best interpretation of “free,” when the word is used by itself without further clarification, appears to be something such as “free from the power and influence of other human individuals, including, and most importantly, individuals within a government.”  However, in a densely populated society with a developed and interdependent economy people are increasingly interconnected and influence each other in uncountable ways, so as freedom is really a function of independence from other people, it seems it would be best achieved by isolation such as that found in the Amazonian jungles, not by individuals striving to secure a piece of the American dream in the heart of the US political/economic/social system.

Individuals outside of government can influence one’s life just as much as those within the government, in part because such individuals can influence government officials and in part because of the economic power that such individuals may wield (also in part because such individuals can escape from governmental punishment for breaking rules because of such economic power).

Many, particularly those who have adopted a postmodernist philosophy, assume that hierarchies invariably were imposed by those with power only to serve their own narrow interests.  Though there may be some truth to that, no hierarchy is sustainable unless it has utilitarian value as the structure will inevitably weaken over time unless it serves the interests of the whole to some significant degree.

The related movements of postmodernism, cultural Marxism, and radical feminism all start with the assumption that current societal institutions and belief systems were formed as a means of oppression by the dominant group of weaker groups, ignoring that many dominant groups of many different ideologies and perspectives imposed their will on others, but those that have thrived and been the most successful and sustainable over the long-term are those that offered the greatest utilitarian value for the whole of society, implying that they may be quite difficult to outperform with untested methods based on little more than pure speculation about human nature and human propensities.

One of the rarely noted dangers of radical feminism is that as feminists block or discourage men from engaging in constructive or helpful behaviors that evolution has designed them to prefer, then they become more likely to engage in destructive or harmful behavior, as they become alienated from the group that they had expected to nourish and reward them.

Given that the purpose of statements made by individuals is communication with other individuals, and that communication helps to build a common reality, a common or universal model of the universe that humans share, it is contradictory to state that a common understanding from a shared model of reality can never be reached and that individuals, or groups of individuals, will inevitably and interminably disagree with each other over critical matters no matter how much they communicate.

Given that there is obvious utility in recognizing that there are many dimensions to our social as well as our physical reality (or that a superior model is organized as a representation of multiple dimensions), it appears inappropriate to limit one’s decision-making to considerations of phenomena in only one dimension.  However, one-dimensional thinking is common in voting decisions, as people are easily lured into reducing the onerous complexity of the totality of the issues to one simple metric on one dimension, and those most likely to manipulate others into adopting such one-dimensional thinking in voting are those most trying to avoid evaluations over the entire set of issues, often for the worst of motives.