Posts from ‘August, 2012’

Ghosts of the early morning

They come out to play, when the coast is clear, like mice, scavenging in the dark, seeing what there is to find, encouraged by the lack of light. Clattering across counter tops, drumming tiny claws on hard surfaces. Leaving traces of themselves, as they go. Many fear them. Some are fascinated by them. A few…

Destroy your civilization by dumbing it down

Our modern social systems all begin with democracy, and democracy has a fundamental problem: it is based on popularity with humans, and not reality. Where an individual leader can become deluded some of the time, a group can be deluded nearly all of the time, simply because as social creatures we want to believe what…

The right wing fragments its own vote again

If the right-wing has a fatal flaw, it is that it is not an external ideology but an internal one. External ideologies are a series of logical statements that you approve of, and assume that their results are identical to what they say their goals are. Such as “all people should be equally, so we’ll…

Assumptions control the debate

The best way to win an argument is to poison your opposition with assumptions. After an assumption is introduced, all future discussion is limited by what that assumption suggests is the truth. Where you were debating the whole field, now you’re debating how to apply the assumption. It is so in academia, media, social settings…

The surprising reason why our schools are failing

American schools receive a ton of money and produce few useful results. In fact, they seem to be cranking out inflated grades and zombie students. And it’s not cheap: the US spends more per student than any other industrialized nation, but its students rank 9th and 10th in math and science. Depending on who you…

Christians, Republicans cannot appeal to leftists with leftward drift

Beware prevailing wisdom because it’s rarely wisdom. The reason it is prevailing is that there’s an urgent need to make it official, because it won’t actually last. What’s happening is that people are using it to draw attention to themselves, because it’s the trend of the moment, which makes them de facto temporary sociopaths who…

Nothing is free and all is a zero-sum game

“And everything is free!” This is usually how government programs and extra services from corporations are explained. Sign up for this program, get free welfare; it’s free. Get a free toaster. You can always come back for a free consultation. Like the best lies, the word “free” relies on an ambiguous definition. Free as in…

Deconstruction makes us sociopaths

There are no facts, only interpretations; a wise man once said this. What is an interpretation? It can be many things, but the most basic type of interpretation is how much information you include in your decision-making. If you “boil down” a situation to one or two factors, it gets easier to make a choice,…

Displacement

People think of the world through a one-way filter in which whatever they want is most important, and everything else comes secondary. As a result they are blind, deaf and dumb to the thought that the increase in their “rights” — a marketing term, like “maintenance-free” — will also displace someone else’s right to something…

Unstable

Like ballet dancers on a frozen lake, we often have no idea how sturdy the support under us really is. In the case of modern society, we rely on thousands if not millions of transactions daily to be consistent. Even more, we rely on the presence of a social order: rules, identity and shared purpose…

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