Belief, Christianity, Cultural Traits, Culture, Education, Faith, Family, Fun, God, Honesty, Intellectual Honesty, Mysticism, Nontheism, Parent / Child, Play, Reason, Religion, Skeptical Thinking, Thinking, Truth, Values

How Mom Raised Me to Think For Myself About Religion

(About a 9 minute read)

We used gold star stickers in Sunday School. You licked them and stuck them to you. I always wanted my teacher to lick them — because I would over-lick them — and I always wanted her to stick them to my forehead.

It was almost the only good and decent thing I could fathom came of attending Sunday School.

When we three sons would ask Mom why we could not stay home to play on Sunday mornings, she would tell us that “Christianity is your cultural heritage and you should be exposed to it.”

That was mildly confusing because not only did I fail to fully understand what “culture” and “heritage” were, but it also seemed to contradict Mom’s almost scandalously old fashion notion that we were not to make up our minds about religion until we had “reached the age of understanding”.  That is, until we were at least 18 and “preferably 21”.

Continue reading “How Mom Raised Me to Think For Myself About Religion”

Alienation From Self, Belief, Consciousness, Education, Fantasy Based Community, Human Nature, Ideas, Ideologies, Learning, Liars Lies and Lying, Life, Living, Reality Based Community, Skeptical Thinking, Spiritual Alienation, Thinking, Truth

Only a Child Can Believe

(About a 3 minute read)

The next time someone gives you directions, take a moment to notice how you feel about them both before and after you have taken them and discovered for yourself they got you where you wanted to go.

Did your feelings change a little bit?  My own feelings change.  Not much, but still perceptibly change.  Near as I can figure, that’s the difference between my believing that something is true and my accepting that something is true.  It’s the difference between my conscious mind believing something, and my whole mind — including my subconscious — believing something is true.

I have a friend who is in the habit of saying, “I believe you, Paul”.  I have known him for at least a decade, and I have yet to see evidence he has believed me even once about anything!

Continue reading “Only a Child Can Believe”

Absolutist Thinking, Advice, Alienation From Self, Attachment, Authenticity, Bad Ideas, Being True To Yourself, Belief, Clinging, Courage, Creative Thinking, Delusion, Free Spirit, Freedom, Honesty, Human Nature, Impermance, Intellectual Honesty, Life, Living, Obligations to Society, Oppression, Passion, Play, Resilience, Self, Skeptical Thinking, Society, Spiritual Alienation, Spirituality, The Art of Living Well, Thinking, Truth, Whining, Wisdom

The Wisdom of Uncertainty

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Paul zealously offers his opinion that to embrace uncertainty is necessary and key to living a passionate, spirited, and authentic life.

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THE CRITICS ENTHUSE!  Zut! The Grand Fraud American of Blogging once more crucifies our world’s conscience and decency by attempting to undermine all that is holy and sacred about life.  He urges us to reject the certainty of every principle that is certain, reject the certainty of every truth that is a rock. I will not lie about the pig.  He is an outlaw, a criminal, a villain.  It is up to our world to deal justice to Paul Sunstone.  At last, he must be guillotined.  The guillotine must be returned to the public service of our world!”  — Aloyse Leblanc, Le Critique Passionné de Blog, “La Tribune Linville”, Linville, France.

Continue reading “The Wisdom of Uncertainty”

Bad Ideas, Belief, Biases, Communication, Conversation, Creative Thinking, Delusion, Education, Fantasy Based Community, Honesty, Human Nature, Intellectual Honesty, Judgementalism, Learning, Liars Lies and Lying, Life, Living, Magical Thinking, Obligations to Society, Quality of Life, Reason, Self-Flourishing, Skeptical Thinking, Society, Thinking

Willful Stupidity and the Good Reader

(About a 4 minute read)

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  — George Bernard Shaw

I suspect future historians will now and then speak of us as an “Age of Wonders”.  The wonder of our electronics.  The wonder of our communication technologies.  The wonder of our medical advancements —  especially in the field of mental health.   And so forth.

But sadly, I suspect future historians will also speak of us as an “Age of Willful Stupidity”.

If so, they will doubtlessly say our age began over 100 years ago with the Stupid Bolshevik Revolution in Russia that was soon enough followed by the Rise of Stupid Fascism in Italy.   And the historians are bound to point out that the willful stupidity has continued largely unabated straight through to today’s many Stupid Denial Movements.

I suspect future historians will write whole libraries on that one theme alone — willful stupidity.  And I expect — I actually expect — that somewhere in those libraries there will be a book or article with an insightful footnote saying, “The first casualty of willful stupidity is the art of listening.”

Continue reading “Willful Stupidity and the Good Reader”

Amanda Reilly Sayer, Art, Creative Thinking, Creativity, Eudaimonia, Free Spirit, From Around the Net, Fun, Happiness, Ideas, Life, Living, Outstanding Bloggers, Play, Quality of Life, Self-determination, Self-Flourishing, Talents and Skills, Well Being

In Which I Savage Amanda Reilly Sayer’s Most Recent Post

A kind man, a humane man, a fair and just man would sing to you, Dear Readers.  Sing nothing less or other than full-throated words of praise for Amanda Reilly Sayer’s most recent post.

By gods! He’d sing loud of Amanda Reilly Sayer, and of her post!  And he’d be doing it for you, Dear Readers, he’d be doing it for your own benefit.  He’d say, “Treat yourself today to what deep down you know you deserve now and then: A damn good post.”

That’s what a fair and just man would do — both for Amanda and for you.

Continue reading “In Which I Savage Amanda Reilly Sayer’s Most Recent Post”

Advice, Alienation, Alienation From Self, Art, Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Belief, Creativity, Cultural Traits, Culture, Education, Emotions, Ethics, Eudaimonia, Free Spirit, Goals, Happiness, Honesty, Human Nature, Ideas, Invention, Knowledge, Learning, Liars Lies and Lying, Life, Living, Love, Meaning, Memes, Mental and Emotional Health, Morality, Morals, New Idea, Oppression, Passion, Play, Poetry, Purpose, Quality of Life, Resilience, Self, Self-determination, Self-Flourishing, Self-Knowledge, Self-Realization, Society, Spiritual Alienation, Spirituality, Talents and Skills, Thinking, Truth, Values, Well Being, Wisdom

The Key in the Lock to the Door of Life

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Paul offers his views about the crucial and key role the pursuit of honesty plays in living a passionate, flourishing, and fulfilling life.

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THE CRITICS HEART’S MELT! “Down at the Hartsel Cafe and Salon last Tuesday morning Stella Bailey and Libby Sommer got into it over coffee in a dispute that turned so fierce at times Hartsel’s most famous local celebrity, Ernest the Moosehead, looked about to fall crashing down from his place of honor on the the North wall above the table reserved on Thursdays for the Liar’s Club.  I reckon no one in the whole of South Park Colorado honestly needs to be told the subject of the deafening uproar between the two normally soft-spoken and genteel ladies was none other than Mr. Wannabe Blogger, Paul “Fool” Sunstone. The ladies were trying to top each other in who could more objectively describe what an insufferable ass Sunstone is.  Libby’s final position was that any one of Sunstone’s blog posts was just about as confused and messy as an elk sucked into a jet aircraft engine firing up on the runway of internet blogging.  Stella snapped back that Sunstone’s post, “The Key in the Lock” transcended even a hamburgered elk for a confused mess, and could only be compared to the confused mess the infamous Fairplay Twister had made of Ivor Plumber’s strikingly original racoon-fur toupee. You’ll recall back in ’04, the Fairplay Twister came out of nowhere to inflict 16.4 million dollars of damage and in the process suck Ivor’s toupee right from his head. Suck it from his head in the very midst of one of his traditional Friday night courtships of Jane Basil, right along with a full half of her bodice. Ivor has ever since said, the memory of Jane’s exposed left bosom was the only thing that could ameliorate his profoundly felt sense of loss in the days ahead.  Jane has been even more vocal on the subject than Ivor. She maintains that, had the tornado taken her maiden aunt’s hand-me-down chastity belt instead of her bodice, she and Ivor would be right shacked up today. Now back to Libby and Stella.  In the coldly objective opinion of this blog critic, not one, but both ladies are right.  Right in the sense that Paul Sunstone forever and eternally tops his inner ass with each and every new post of his.  Sunstone has never taken so much as a single back-step in his relentless effort to destroy internet blogging once and for all.  ‘The Key in the Lock to the Door of Life’ is in no way, shape, or form a back-step.  Sunstone, the Contemptable Juggernaut of Confused Fools, ever remains true to his worthless self.  Sorrowfully yours, Gunning Gus.”  — Gus “Gunning Gus” Johnson, The Blog Critic’s Column, “Leper’s Gulch Gazette”, Leper’s Gulch, Colorado, USA.     Continue reading “The Key in the Lock to the Door of Life”

Education, Human Nature, Ideas, Learning, Obligations to Society, Science, Scientist, Thinking, Truth

Humanity’s Best Road to Truth

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Paul offers his opinion that humans best discern truths through group, communal efforts such as the sciences are founded upon.

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THE CRITICS GUSH! “There is no way Claude Thurston could have know he would blow his head off last Wednesday when he set out to clean his shotgun.  No matter what Harriet Bayou has been saying down at the Hartsel Cafe and Salon over coffee every morning since the accident, there is no way he could have known.  Claude was exemplary in his practice of firearms safety. Granted, Claude did not always practice safety in everything.  But to point out now how he and Cyndi had to get hastily married their senior year in high school after Cyndi got knocked up with little Eliot is to speak ill of the dead.  Claude simply could not have foreseen that his precocious four year old could insightfully load a shotgun.  And the unsuspecting blog surfer who lands himself on Paul Sunstone’s newest post will be just as unlikely as Claude ever was to see the grim severity of the accident that is about to befall him. May the Good Lord preserve the surfers who fail to read my column in time.”  — Gus “Gunning Gus” Johnson, The Blog Critic’s Column, “Leper’s Gulch Gazette”, Leper’s Gulch, Colorado, USA.

Continue reading “Humanity’s Best Road to Truth”

Bad Ideas, Belief, Creative Thinking, Cultural Traits, Culture, Education, Friends, Human Nature, Ideas, Intelligence, Knowledge, Learning, Life, Living, Love, Lovers, Memes, Poetry, Quality of Life, Society, Teaching, Thinking, Truth

A Flock of Sparrows for Majel: “The Walls of All My Boxes are Brown”

A Flock of Sparrows for Majel

(About a 2 minute read)

I’ve come to believe most of my “thinking”
Is nothing much more than exploring
the insides of my boxes.

The boxes my mother, my teachers, my peers,
My friends, my culture, and that old guy
Who lived up on the hill in the Victorian,
Gave me mostly when I was growing up,
Something fun to play around inside of.
Something fun for me to play around inside of.

Continue reading “A Flock of Sparrows for Majel: “The Walls of All My Boxes are Brown””

Christianity, Cultural Traits, Culture, Human Nature, Ideas, Intersubjective Verification, Knowledge, Learning, Logic, Observation, Philosophy, Quality of Life, Reason, Science, Scientific Method(s), Scientist, Subjective Verification, Thinking, Truth

Paul’s Brief and Saucy Primer to the Scientific Revolution

SUMMARY:  Several things or factors had to come together for the Scientific Revolution to take place.  The factors include logical reasoning, empiricism, peer review, and at least two basic worldviews.

(About a 7 minute read)

If you’re like me, your first question about this blog post will almost certainly be, “How did Paul’s briefs ever come to prime the Scientific Revolution?” I myself would say that’s a pretty good question!

On the other hand, if you’re NOT like me, but you instead suffer from a dangerous infestation of sanity, you probably already know that the Scientific Revolution is arguably one of the most consequential events in the entire intellectual and material history of our noble and esteemed species of poo-flinging, fur-challenged super-apes — and that it is still unfolding. Moreover, that knowledge may have gotten you to wondering how such an extraordinary thing ever got started?

As it turns out, that’s a huge question. Huge!

Continue reading “Paul’s Brief and Saucy Primer to the Scientific Revolution”

Education, Honesty, Human Nature, Intellectual Honesty, Language, Learning, Life, Living, Logic, New Idea, Quality of Life, Reason, Skeptical Thinking, Thinking

Three Pillars of a Well-Educated Mind

SUMMARY: There may be several pillars of a well-educated mind, but to me, the three most important are intellectual honesty, open-mindedness, and critical thinking.

(About a 12 minute read)

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”  ― Margaret Mead

Like most people who do not suffer from a crippling over-abundance of sanity, I am a staunch believer in the notion that we could do a much better job than we are doing in teaching people to think.

Saner people might point out the many ways in which American culture discourages teaching people to think.  For instance, there is a deeply rooted strain of anti-intellectualism in our society that has been present ever since the 1820s or 30s, and which most often manifests itself as contempt for anything exceeding a narrowly practical education.

I freely concede that making a living is of periodic importance in life, such as roughly during the period between the ages of twenty and sixty or so.  But to me, that doesn’t mean you should so focus your education on getting a good job that you fail to develop the skills necessary to lead a fulfilling life.

Continue reading “Three Pillars of a Well-Educated Mind”

Absolutist Thinking, Human Nature, Ideas, Life, Living, Probabilistic Thinking, Thinking

Thinking in Absolutes vs. Thinking in Probabilities

SUMMARY:  There seem to be two basic ways of thinking.  That is, thinking in absolutist terms or thinking in probabilistic terms.  Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps wisdom consists in knowing when to use one or the other.

(About a 5 minute read)

When I became a fire fighter, I had to change some deeply ingrained ways of thinking.  For instance, growing up, I had thought largely in terms of absolutes.  Something either was or it was not the case.  My teachers were either good or they were bad.  An idea was either true or it was false.  A classmate was either nice or he or she was not.

Yet, few things are absolutely certain in a fire, and absolutely counting on something is a good way to get yourself — or your fellow fire fighters — injured or killed.  In fact, fire fighting requires realism perhaps more than anything else — including courage.  And realism often enough boils down to thinking in terms of the odds something will or will not happen.

That is, realism requires you to largely think in terms of probabilities.  The man in front of you on the hose line is not going to advance.  He is likely to advance.  The nine foot high wall of flames in front of you is not going to be knocked down by your stream of water.  It might be knocked down.  The room is not safe to enter.  It is possibly safe.

Continue reading “Thinking in Absolutes vs. Thinking in Probabilities”

Belief, Cultural Traits, Culture, Education, Free Spirit, Human Nature, Knowledge, Learning, Life, Living, Love, Memes, Mysticism, Quality of Life, Satori, Self-determination, Skeptical Thinking, Society, Thinking, Transformative Experience

New Eyes

SUMMARY:  A look at maximizing our freedom by freeing us from our cultural assumptions so that we might pick and choose which aspects of our culture are of value to us and which aspects are not.  Life experiences (including travel), education, love, and mystical experiences are all considered as means of freeing us.

(About a 6 minute read)

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ― Marcel Proust

My first wife, Jana, was born in Bohemia, Czechoslovakia under the Soviet occupation.  At age 9, she escaped with her family to West Germany.  Two years later, they immigrated to the US.

Her mother and father, both being doctors, were able to send her back to Europe to attend a private Swiss boarding school for her high school education.  After high school, she lived in England for awhile, before returning to the US to attend university, where I met her.

By the time I met her, she was a confirmed traveler.  But travel was much more to her than an exciting adventure.  It was a way of learning new things, new ways of doing and thinking.  Or, as Proust might have it, travel was Jana’s way of gaining “new eyes”.

Continue reading “New Eyes”