Philosophy and Politics Blog
October 25, 2013
Stated simply, while we cannot assert that basing decisions primarily on personal feelings and desires is wrong, we can state, objectively, that doing so increases the probability that one will make decisions that harm others.
October 7, 2013
I'm not coming down on either side of the debate (and, ethically, I should not), but I Am asserting that this is a fascinating story, and important because it highlights the notion that people should not assume that the prevailing narrative, even one that has been accepted for over a decade, is necessarily correct.
October 4, 2013
It's just science, duh.
October 3, 2013
More evidence that what I've been saying is true. Now it is revealed that the law, as crafted, does not protect victims who took the photos themselves.
Yet another example of how the rigid law-based approach to justice and social order is fundamentally flawed.
September 27, 2013
More benefit would be derived from putting that money into actual education.
This is a fear-based response, and that is why fear should be outlawed, and people should be equipped with sensors that detect fear, and those who feel fear should be remanded to emotional-reeducation camps.
Transparency and Prejudice
September 17, 2007
Bloomberg to Fight Poverty with Cash Incentives
This story is interesting of its own accord, but two things in the episode caught my attention. First, the criticisms that Bloomberg's plan "assumes" that poor people will not do these beneficial activities on their own. This is not logical. There is ample evidence that some poor people (just like some rich people) fail to take actions that are in their own best interests. The idea to incentivize them with money does not imply that the same is true of all poor people. In a world with so many problems, any idea that proposes to solve a problem should be subjected to critical analysis, but that analysis must be logical.
Next, at one point in the report a caller suggests that part of the the reason for poverty is overpopulation. One of the guests, Linda Gibbs, New York's Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, completely ducks the issue of overpopulation. Besides overpopulation being one of the world's greatest problems, a secondary problem is that few people, if any, in government, at least here in the United States, are willing to acknowledge the issue of overpopulation and promote steps to solve it.
June 9, 2007
A report on PRI's Marketplace on micro-lending describes how a loan to a woman in Mali allowed her to build up a business to a level that allows her to... support an extended family of fifteen, inlucindng nine children! Thus is demonstrated the insidious destructiveness of micro-lending, and, in general, most forms of charity. Helping this woman has done nothing to make the world a better place. Just the opposite--the loan allowed the woman to support a larger family tan she otherwise would have, and that translates to greater consumption of the world's resources. Without assistance, the chances are better that some of those women's children would have gotten sick and died, or that, with lesser nutrition, the women herself would have miscarried in some of those cases. Yes, this sounds cruel, but it is infinitely more cruel to facilitate the expansion of population with the full knowledge that, at some point in the future, some of those people, or their children, will end up suffering from poverty and deprivation.
February 5, 2007
A report on the BBC speculated that the explosion of agrabusiness in India could transform the country from one that recently could not feed its population to one that produced enough food to export. What you must realize is that the effect of abundant and cheap food on a population significantly-comprised of the uneducated will result in increased population among that segment. Though the additional people will have enough food, they will still be uneducated, poor, and subject to exploitation and a generally wretched lifestyle.
Food alone does not help the poor. Only breaking the cycle of poverty will.
December 23, 2006
Some people say all TV is crap, but that's just not show. The prematurely-canceled Kidnapped on NBC was excellently written, acted, and directed. And in the final episode, which could only be seen online, like the last 8 or 9 (of 13), the FBI agent played by Linus Roache says something extremely meaningful. He explains that when he first entered the FBI he had ideas of making a difference, but once he had a child he completely lost his objectivity. Then he goes on to kill another FBI agent. Now, most people do not go to that extreme of antisocial behaviour for the sake of their children, but I think it's a safe bet that, in the general case, most people will choose their children over what is best for society.
October 23, 2006
Today's Democracy Now included the following story: "Hunter College student Stephanie Schwartz says Coast Guard officials stopped her two weeks ago aboard the ferry. During the summer, Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar was stopped by security officials for wearing the same t-shirt at JFK Airport. He was forced to change the shirt before boarding a JetBlue flight."
A coworker who claims to have liberalist leanings contends that this battle is not worth fighting. My present viewpoint is that the war against intolerance must be fought, and that, for Jarrar and Schwartz at least, this is a perfectly valid battle to fight.
Of course, we must keep in mind that the overall war against intolerance can only be won by radically changing human nature and, by necessity, the way in which children are raised. But since those changes will be slow to come into effect, more localized steps against intolerence will have to be taken in the meanwhile.
October 2, 2006
Talk of the Nation interviewed Sam Harris, author of a new book Letter to a Christian Nation, a follow-up to his earlier book, The End of Faith, which had somehow slipped under my radar. As it would turn out, The End of Faith expresses a thesis that is central to my philosophy. I have been waiting many many years for such a book to be published, and I'm a little relieved that I don't have to stand alone on this one.
In other news, it is reported that Wal-Mart is putting more pressure on employees. The report, and interviewees, take the position that Wal-Mart is being abusive. Well, that's true. Wal-Mart is being abusive, and acting just like humans with power have traditionally active. What the report does not mention, what is never mentioned, is that the employees are equally responsible for their plight for the simple reason of being vulnerable to begin with. Reduce weakness and vulnerability, and you will reduce the ability of the powerful to exploit.
September 6, 2006
NPR reported that in New Orleans the murder rate has reached pre-Katrina levels even though the city has only half as many residents. The police force cannot keep up, with only nine homicide detectives. Interviewees talk about how this needs to happen or that needs to happen, but none of them state the obvious--that New Orleans should never have been reopened to begin with, not under the same conditions as before. Everyone associated with the repopulation of New Orleans is guilty of a massive paradigm deficiency. They are stuck on the idea of returning New Orleans to the same glory as before, without ever considering that the city was lousy to begin with. New Orleans should have been handled the same way that Iraq should have been handled, clearing everybody out and then only letting people back in in a highly regulated manner. Actually, nearly everybody was cleared out of New Orleans, from what I understand. They just should not have let all the hoodlums back in.
September 2, 2006
A supposedly inspirational report on NPR about a young schoolgirl named Casey (sp?) who is on a mission to raise money for the victims of Darfour. I assume that such a young girl does not have a overall rational goal in mind, but the report specifically mentions "keeping [people] alive". The report goes on to say how Casey's mission is having an effect on others who are also trying to raise money for Darfur. Granted, the report was not an editorial, and the correspondent did not explicitly endorse the girl's actions, but the way the piece was edited gave tacit approval to what she was doing. No mention of the true impact of merely keeping victimized people alive without doing anything to change the underlying root causes of the problem. No mention that, for every person kept alive, there would likely be in another generation, a descendant suffering from the same victimization. Perpetuating the cycle of suffering, that's all the girl is doing.
July 5, 2006
Listening to Dave Matthews' song "Seek Up" and noticed the following lyric:
Late at night with TV's hungry child
His belly swells
Oh, for the price of a coke or a smoke
Keep alive those hungry eyes
Of course it can't be done within the confines of a song, but the lyrics are nonetheless... well, I can't even think of the right word to describe them, but they are flawed because they do omit any mention of whether the world is served by keeping that child alive. I suspect that many or most of the starving children in third world are living in a state of suffering, and acting to keep a child alive only prolongs his suffering. Of course going through a period of suffering is often necessary in order to accomplish a meaningful goal, but I suspect that were a study done, only a miniscule percentage of third-world children keep alive by food aid ever go one to accomplish a meaningful goal. I suspect that most of those who survive only go on to perpetuate the cycle of poverty and suffering. By a meaningful goal I mean something that benefits the world as a whole. Simply surviving, working, and reproducing is not meaningful.
June 26, 2006
The topic on KPFT's Open Journal was health care, and the host opened up with a question
June 24, 2006
Saw a pretty intense movie titled The King. In an early scene, the pastor's son climbs a stage and speaks about intelligent design. He makes statements asserting that because the world around us is beautiful, it could not have developed that way by chance. He also refers to intelligent design as "fact", and he and the others in his group wear t-shirts that read "GIVE US THE FACTS". True, what I was seeing was a film, but the conviction evident on the boy's face is one that we can see in many people on a daily basis. What the boy says is irrational, and the boy likely not only lacks any idea of this, but he might very well be incapable of understanding rationality because his mind has been so damaged by his father (the pastor). This, then, is one of the gravest threats facing humanity, the ability of one person to damage another's mind by the mere act of indoctrination, religious or otherwise. Would that Bill Gates, with all his intelligence and riches, had the boldness to tackle that problem.
June 21, 2006
It's been all over the news for a week that Bill Gates is stepping down from his position at Microsoft to focus on his philanthropic organization full time. A CNN commentator pointed out that at no time in history have we had a man so intelligent and so wealthy dedicated to philanthrophy. I don't know if that's true, but it doesn't matter. What matters is what's really going on in Gates' mind, and the burning question in my mind is why a man as intelligent as Gates is reputed would want to dedicate himself to ridding the third world of infectious diseases. How can Gates not realize that this goal does nothing to advance human progress? In fact, Gates' goal is ultimately destructive. If he succeeds, the populations of these third world countries will expand and one of two things are likely to happen. Either the populace of these countries will continue to live in economic stagnation and suffering, or their economies will begin to advance, and this will put further pressure on the Earth's already strained resources. The only so-called positive outcome here is the saving of lives, and only those of limited insight have the view that saving human life is prima fasciae a positive act. It is not. The saving and prolonging of human life without a plan for turning those humans into positive contributors to society, this is actually a selfish, self-indulgent, and destructive activity. It makes the benefactors sleep better and feel better, but it makes the world a worse place.
May 29, 2006
I heard another installment of the revived "This I Believe" on All Things Considered. I trust that NPR is well-intentioned, but by basing itself on the idea of personal belief, the project creates a destructive undercurrent in society by reinforcing the idea that it is positive character trait to have core beliefs and live according to them. The problem with beliefs is that they are rooted in emotion, not reason. Because of this, beliefs often lead to irrational decisions that have a destructive effect. The belief that abortion is wrong, for example, has caused many a young woman to destroy her life. Even when the most basic of logic screams out that what is best for society for citizens to be educated to their fullest potential and for children to be raised in an environment that offers all the necessities for a healthy upbringing, belief trumps that logic and leads to great suffering.
May 31, 2006
Two things. First, on a KPFT show called Open Journal, a speaker who seemed in favor of blacks in America creating their own state (a destructive idea if I ever heard one) used the word "crackers" when referring to black soldiers dying for the interests of whites in the Middle East. Dude. And what's worse, somebody in the background was laughing. The speaker should have stopped, apologized, and switched to the topic of why he is a racist and how he needs to start with curing his own racism before trying to address the problems of black America.
Earlier, also on KPFT, on Democracy Now, there was a report about problems with Diebold voting machines (see BlackBoxVoting.org or Google Diebold and voting). The real problem was, of course not addressed, and that is the problem with democracy as a whole as it it implemented in America and much of the world. Problems with voting machines would not be an issue if voting were restricted to a very small group of people. I mean group of people who, for a given election period, had as their primary responsibility, ahead of work, ahead of family, to research the issues and make the best rational decision about who to elect. And each vote would have to be justified. No secret ballot. If a voter cannot demonstrate that his vote is in the best interest of society, the it doesn't count.
May 25, 2006
Good Morning America had as a guest a lady, Emily Bowness, who survived after her SUV rolled over 12 times. The incident was captured on a deputy's (Kimberly Potts) camera and replayed over and over, and it is clear that it resulted when the driver of the SUV in the left lane noticed a car in the right lane serving towards her (because a third car was merging onto the freeway). She jerked the wheel, and this caused the SUV to flip over as the other two cars drove on. An accident reconstruction expert (Chuck Pemberton) was consulted and discussed how to steer to avoid losing control.
But what nobody, not the host, not the deputy, not the expert, pointed out was that the driver shouldn't have been next to the other car to begin with! From the video it was clear that the SUV was not in the process of passing. In fact all the cars were moving at 75 MPH. So the SUV driver, who was quoted as saying "...I was just minding my own business", should have dropped back so that she wasn't next to the other car. And especially when she saw the upcoming onramp. She should have noticed the merging car and anticipated the potential for a collision. The expert should know this, and it was irresponsible that he did not point this out.
The GMA host described it as a inspirational story of survival. It was actually a story of stupidity and dumb luck.
In more serious news, this is a perfect example of why would should eliminate laws and minimize the number of police.
If the arrest was in fact a retaliatory act, the officer in question should be executed with all due speed. All law enforcement officers who abuse their authority should be executed in a very public manner. Bad cops are the worst elements of our society. Worse than murders and rapists. As flawed as the very concept of law is, while it exists, the presence of corrupt authorities undermines the entire system.
May 24, 2006
During a report on Democracy Now about Burmese refugees, I heard a (presumably translated) quote from a refugee who expressed doubts about her ability to deliver and care for baby. I suspect this issue will be discussed on various news programs throughout the world, at least for one day. But will any commentator think to mention how socially irresponsible it is for that woman to bear that child under those circumstances, thus in all likelihood condemning it to an upbringing of suffering with very little probability that it will have the advantages of nutrition and education that will enable it to grow into a productive world citizen? Are any of the organizations dedicated to caring for refugees currently providing birth control, sterilization, and abortion services as a means of breaking the cycle of suffering? Would the Palestinian/Israeli conflict still continue if the Palestinians had simply decided decades ago to stop procreating?
May 18, 2006
Oh, after not having eaten for 6.5 hours, this diazepan is really kicking in, and I find myself giggling and finding it hard to type.
The time has come, and I'm finally doing it it. I'm in the waiting room with two men ahead of me for a vasectomy. With a probable film deal, the publicity generated by my Starbucks project is set to reach a new peak. And thus it is time to roll out phase two of my plan, to use that publicity to give me a louder voice with which to disseminate my ideas (since I won't be doing any other kind of insemination any time soon). Because population control is a key element of my philosophy of how to make the world a better place, I have to lead by example.
May 17, 2006
After 24 hours without my laptop due to a busted power adapter, I finally got to listen to the new Dixie Chicks song "Not Ready to Make Nice" some more. This song is more important than the average country fare, that most songs in general. The song addresses several important issues. The first, and the topic of the song, is how fans abandonded the Dixie Chicks in droves because of Natalie Maines' comments about President Bush. This is event is illustrative of the primary flaw in human nature. Human nature is replete with flaws, for sure, but the most insidious is man's tendency to react to criticism with hostility. I envision a more evolved rational being that embraces criticism as a means towards self-improvement.
The second most glaring issue briefly mentioned in the song is that of prejudice. Maines sing "...and it's a sad sad story when a mother would teach her daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger." Prejudice is another of humanity's greatest flaws. I hear people talk about how destructive it is and speculate about how to end it, but what I never hear are solutions that will actually work. And these solutions exist, boy do they exist. There are so many ways to reduce prejudice to a minor issue that it borders on a crime against humanity that world governments allow prejudice to flourish. Kill them. Send them off to camps. Don't let them raise children. But however we do it, we have to eliminate the racists that are holding back humanity's progress.
May 15, 2006
President Bush gave a national address, and one of the topics was a plan to deploy National Guard troops to help patrol the border with Mexico. Yet another imprudent government policy for so many reasons. Let's for the moment ignore the fact that the very existence of a border is a higher-order problem, and that the unchecked expansion of the Mexican population is one of the true root causes of the border friction. Even if we suppose that we want to control illegal immigration, all the evidence I've heard seems to suggest that adding more personnel and troops will not solve the problem. What will? It's so obvious, and so simple. Kill them. Non-citizens are not subject to the same constitutional protections, and the U.S. has proven time and again that it's willing to disregard international law and the Geneva convention. So then why not kill them? It is inconceivable to me that very public summary executions of illegal immigrants would not have an immediate deterrent effect. Regardless of all the political fallout, can anybody deny that the prospect of immediate death would not give a prospective border-crosser pause? It doesn't matter how many hungry children he has back in Mexico--he can't feed them if he's dead, can he? And if, as a result, the economic crisis in Mexico gets bad enough, then maybe the Mexican government will step in and start to put the brakes on all the rampant and socially irresponsible procreation that is plaguing their country.
May 12, 2006
Saw Water, a movie, by a Canadian director of Indian descent, set in 1938 and dealing with the plight of widows, who were prohibited from remarrying and forced to live in poverty. The reports I have seen indicate that while the practice still exists, it is in decline. I do expect that, given enough time, this practice will disappear or exist in a negligible form. What I do not expect to disappear, without a purposeful altering of human nature, is the way that other people treated the widows. There was one scene in the lead character Kalyani bumped into a women who snapped and said that she was going to have to go back home and wash herself. In another scene, the widow was standing near a wedding party and cautioned not to let her shadow fall on the bride. These are two examples of how humans, both then and to this day, both in India and the rest of the world, will treat those who have been designated as second-class citizens with hostility. This behaviour will not be eliminated with laws. The only way that this primitive animal behaviour will be eliminated is by fundamentally altering human nature in two was. First, by elimating hostile tendencies. Secondly, by eliminating the need that humans have to feel better than others.
OLDER POSTS (CATEGORIZED BY TOPIC)
Folly of Religion
Perils of Overpopulation
Procreation Is Not A Right
People Who Should Die
Sociopaths Among Us
Irrationality of Law
Abuse of Authority
OPTIMUM POPULATION TRUST
READ THIS BOOK!
The End of Faith, by Sam Harris, was actually published in 2006, and I have just now turned my attention to it after hearing him interviewed on Talk of the Nationabout his new book, Letter to a Christian Nation. I am a bit disappointed that it took me two years to discover The End of Faith, because, after having read just a few dozen pages, it appears that Sam Harris is saying some of the same things I have been thinking for the past 10-15 years, since my "awakening". Let me be the first to say that the book has flaws, as did Harris' interview on TOTN, but despite these flaws, this book is a must-read for anybody who truly wants to have a positive impact on changing the disastrous course that our world is taking. The paperback is only 227 pages, minus the epilogue, afterword, and notes--there is truly no conceivable reason for you not to read this book, even if it is just a few passages at a time while sitting in traffic or waiting in line at the grocery store.