Monthly Archives: February 2014

Talk Radio Manipulations and Self Review

Today, as I flipped through my local AM station, (yes I listen to AM sometimes!), I caught a rant from a ‘conservative’ host about Americans obsession with government provided medications and having some sort of neurosis. I am not including their name since I can not remember the exact words used but the main implication is commonly spouted by their ilk. They use this strawman to represent the weak minded, sheep like fools, lining up to receive their unneeded medication (your paying for! )and imaginary mental illness.
Of course people like this exist, or at least we perceive them that way. We see them in grocery stores, department stores and using public parks and hospitals. Our common response is to categorize them as the ‘different’ or ‘opposite’ to you. People like our above mentioned host, use this disconnect to scapegoat and blame our common political and social problems on this character. Drawing a accusatory narrative to them as supporters of whatever target issue or politician they deem unacceptable. The juxtaposition of common sense to obvious corruption is clear as the host echoes your own sentiment on the matter.
This manipulation is clearly an inflation of our fears, paranoia and primal instincts. If this mirage of truth was true, where does the tax paying workers come from? If we were truly overrun with these leeches of society, it would fall from the overwhelming weight of running the infrastructure.

Full Disclosure:
I fully admit this is an assertion driven rant on my part so let me point out some weaknesses in the blog.
1. I pick on conservatives and liberals are just as guilty.
2. Accused this to be a common tactic. I imagine some of them are sincere.
3. I assume people like this are spotted by sight and that people pay attention to things like that so I can make a point.
4. I imply that ‘common sense’ and ‘obvious corruption’ are dichotomous when they could happen inclusively.
5. My conclusion lacks hard data and draws from a ‘false premise’.
Being as skeptical with yourself is just as important as you are with others.

Written while listening to Tool

Quantum Dichotomy

   Having a productive conversation on Twitter can be challenging, to say the least.  Currently I am engaged with a user about Quantum Physics.  Initially he expressed, to another user,  that his reason was invalid since you cannot prove ‘reason’ exist materially and then stated ‘reason’ proves a deity. He moved away from that position to then assert a ‘cosmic mind’ existed proven by Quantum physics.  I admit that I am not an expert in physics so I focused on this point,  since the claim seemed to be a provable one and I was willing to accept the evidence. When I did ask for proof,  he provided a fascinating video: Double Slit Experiment It basically says that an electron behaved differently when observed or measured.   Still I found this repeatable experiment lacking a direct correlation in proving the extraordinary claim of a ‘cosmic mind’. He then argued that, ” yes, how else does it change from a wave to a particle? what changes it from a wave to a particle?” and I do not have a clue but it is a huge logical jump to assign a ‘mind’ to a reaction. People are good at humanizing nature and giving it attributes that we express.  Greek Mythologies contains gods with unashamedly human features. They also were credited with affecting the weather, health and about any unexplained happenstance. Science is helping to remove these false associations.  Meteorology, science based medicine and rigorous skepticism has closed the information gap of many of these issues but it is unlikely, moreover,  unrealistic that every mystery will be solved or is solvable. 
What I believe his point is that there are currently unexplained processes, shown by Qutantum Physics and he has reasoned out that a mind is at work here.   I find that there are to many assumptions to agree with his view.  The dichotomy of Assumed Knowledge/Unknown Knowledge is not only found here but with debates about the origins of the universe/life,morals and purpose.  My assumption is that the unknown is unnerving to people.  Evolution has equipped us with this problem solving, reality deriving brain that could not possible process every mystery that confronts us as humanity’s knowledge base grows exponentially. It is easier to assign arbitrary answers instead of admitting, the humble truth of ignorance.

Bill Nye/Ken Ham Debate Dichotomies

The showdown between Bill Nye and Ken Ham over the validity of Creationism in schools occurred last week in a southern U.S. location not far from a dinosaur with a saddle(yes, that actually exist).  I encourage everyone to watch it on YouTube to hear their specific arguments. Their dichotomies were fairly straight forward Nye presented a Discovery/Authority dichotomy to Hams Authority/Ignorance view.  Notice Authority is on the negative spectrum for Nye and the opposite for Ham, displaying how the same concept can have differing values.
Nye described a great many positive attributes to scientific discovery that is directly stifled by the authoritarian view of Creationism.  Once an answer is found in science,  no matter who discovered it, that view can be modified, built upon and even disregarded upon new repeatable evidence. The top down authoritarian view, places borders around discovery, confining it to a small insular view that will retard our progress and stagnate our nation.
Ham views the height of virtue and truth is Authority (his is the Christian god and scripture). Without that base of assumed truth,  discovery has value but only for issues and information that has not been eternally fixed by his authoritarian. This simplifies his view of the world and shrinks his perceived ignorance with this assumption. When Nye admits ignorance on a question, Ham is quick to quote or equivocate his unfalsifiable authoritarian. To Ham,  ignorance is not acceptable when convenient truths are fixed and unchanging.
Conclusion :
The absence of predictive value and evidence forces me to disregard the authoritarian view, by creationist,   that is required to follow their logic.  I believe creationist are being logical in their view but it involves to many assumptions to be an objective view, especially promoted in our school systems. Science had once been in a similar state of authoritarianism, to other scientist in the past,  and had to overcome that failing to become a (mostly)  objective discipline.  Unfortunately Creationism is bordered by dogma where it will perpetually stagnate.

They Have It Easy: Job Dichotomies

     I would like to diverge from my usual scheme of picking dichotomous issues from the headlines and reflect on something that almost everyone is guilty of: accusing others of having an easy job (especially compared to us). This common practice stems from a empathy/observation dichotomy we experience (or more importantly do not experience) when at work, shopping, dining or receiving a service in the public sphere.
Empathy, or more accurately lack of, contributes greatly to a flippant attitude towards other peoples jobs.  In reality, we can only perform a certain number of jobs ourselves. We lack experience in a far greater range of employment and find it hard to comprehend the complexity of a unfamiliar situation.   For those who have performed the job they usually display a higher amounts of empathy but can also fall into a false sense of knowing what the current situation and duties truly entail.
What we observe of a person’s job Is most likely not a representative sample of their duties.  As experienced in our own careers,  the long list of responsibilities and nuances are rarely displayed to others. While it is easy to strawman, or criticize a simple portrayal of their job, and dismiss their difficulties as trivial for lack of effort or care.
The over simplification we make is common and is closely tied the rational of the ‘path of least resistance’ when exuding effort to understand others. It takes much less effort to assume a simple, easy situation for another than use time and energy to tease out the intricacies of their situation.  

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