Art, Christianity, Creative Thinking, Creativity, Cultural Change, Cultural Traits, Culture, Human Nature, Idealism, Ideas, Ideologies, Intellectual Honesty, Invention, New Idea, Obligations to Society, Philosophy, Religion, Science, Society, Thinking

What Do Intellectuals Do, Anyway?

SUMMARY: American culture has a virulent strain of anti-intellectualism.  Consequently, few people understand or appreciate the role intellectuals can — and often do — play in a society.  In fact, many intellectuals can be seen as similar to cartographers in that they create ideas that can be used as guides to reality.  When they do so conscientiously and accurately, the whole society can benefit.

(About a 6 minute read)

It is a truism among people who study such things that American culture has, almost since the founding of the Republic, harbored a virulent anti-intellectual streak.  But the founders themselves were anything but anti-intellectual.

Franklin, for instance, was the leading American intellectual of their day, and Washington — possibly the most prominent non-intellectual of the era — often made efforts to improve himself in that department, for he did not think himself an equal to the others unless he could muster at least a passing familiarity with the great ideas of the time.

But almost with the deaths on the same day of Adams and Jefferson, American culture developed a marked anti-intellectual streak.  Some people have attributed that streak to the democratic suspicion of anyone who might appear to be smarter than oneself.  But while that might sustain American anti-intellectualism, anti-intellectualism seems to have gotten its start in religion.

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Authoritarianism, Bad Ideas, Competition, Democracy, Economics, Economy, Human Nature, Ideas, Ideologies, Political Ideologies, Political Issues, Politics, Quality of Life, Society

Are Dictatorships Really More Efficient than Democracies?

SUMMARY: The post addresses the question of whether dictatorships are more efficient than democracies on both the political and economic levels, and on the level of innovation and invention.

(About a 5 minute read)

“Mussolini got the trains to run on time.”

Many people even today think that was true.  Actually, it was a bit of Mussolini’s propaganda designed to justify his dictatorship.  It was based on the notion that dictatorships are more efficient than democracies — a notion that also persists to the current day.

The question of whether the Italian trains under Mussolini had really run on time might never have been resolved had it not been for the grandfather of an American historian.

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Attachment, Buddhahood, Buddhism, Consciousness, Cultural Traits, Culture, Emotions, Enlightenment, Human Nature, Ideas, Knowledge, Life, Living, Memes, Mysticism, Neuroscience, Psychology, Quality of Life, Religion, Satori, Science, Self, Self-Integration, Self-Knowledge, Self-Realization, Sense of Relatedness, Spirituality, Thinking, Transformative Experience

What is Spiritual Enlightenment?

(About a 9 minute read)

When I was at university, I met a woman two years older than me who seemed to me at the time to be so psychologically healthy that I had not expected people could be that “together” before I met her.  She changed not only my ideas of psychological health, but a number of my ideas of what people were and could be.

One day, she and I were talking when the topic of enlightenment came up.  I had only recently heard of the idea and I told her I wanted to find out if it was true.

“Oh, it’s real”. she said, “And it’s my life’s goal to attain it.”

I didn’t know — and I didn’t ask —  how she knew it was real.  The idea was so new to me that I had scarcely heard any evidence for it at that point.  But I did realize she was a very rational person and most likely had reasons she considered solid for believing it existed.

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Allies, Altruism, Anthropology, Bad Ideas, Behavioral Genetics, Community, Competence, Competition, Cultural Traits, Culture, Ethics, Evolution, Fairness, Human Nature, Hunter/Gatherers, Ideas, Justice, Life, Memes, Morality, Morals, Nature, Obligations to Society, Quality of Life, Science, Society, Values

Lessons About Human Nature Learned From a Spider

(About a 6 minute read)

The spider had been stalking the fly for minutes.  There didn’t seem to be anything on the barren patch of ground to attract a fly.  I expected it to finish its investigations and leave.  But it would only buzz away a few inches when the spider approached it, then in a minute or two return.

Sometimes it would allow the spider to get very close before flying off.

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Bernie Sanders, Capitalism, Class War, Community, Democracy, Economics, Economy, Human Nature, Ideas, Ideologies, Political Ideologies, Political Issues, Politics, Quality of Life, Socialism, Society, Work

Socialism is a Dirty Word

(About a 10 minute read)

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” — Anonymous, but often ascribed to Mark Twain.

 

At the least, most of us harbor a few ideas that we mostly, or even entirely, owe our understanding of to the popular media. That’s to say, we have not studied the ideas much beyond what we hear of them from media sources.

A good case in point is the concept of “socialism”.  Very few Americans, I’ll wager, have ever had the benefit of actually studying what socialism is — and isn’t.  I would base my wager on having spent nearly a lifetime listening to descriptions of it that simply don’t match up with the reality of it.

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Belief, Biases, Cognitive Biases, Epistemology, Intersubjective Verification, Logic, Nature, Observation, Philosophy, Reality Based Community, Reason, Science, Scientific Method(s), Scientist, Skeptical Thinking, Thinking, Truth

“How unbiased is science and how unbiased are the scientists?”

A Special Guest Post by Boyd Stace Walters II

(An 11 minute read)

Boyd Stace-Walters here.  Worldly epistemologist, savvy logician, and adept philosopher of the sciences parachuting in from an undisclosed location and secret hideaway in academia to answer Mr. Bottomless Coffee’s excellent compound question, “How unbiased is science and how unbiased are the scientists?”

As it happens Mr. Bottomless Coffee, that question was the single most frequently asked question at the most recent party I was invited to back in ’96.

Admittedly, the reason it was the most asked question is because I got deliriously drunk on two two many glasses of the old bubbly and started asking it of all the guests.  I was hallucinating they were graduate students, you see.  But I’ve learned my lesson, and never again will I drink at my own wedding.

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Community, Human Nature, Intellectual Honesty, Intersubjective Verification, Knowledge, Logic, Philosophy, Reason, Science, Scientific Method(s), Skeptical Thinking, Teresums, Thinking, Truth

How Scientists Verify that Something is True

 

A Special Guest Post by Boyd Stace Walters II

(About a 7 minute read)

Dear Ms. Teresums,

Boyd Stace-Walters here.  Worldly logician, savvy epistemologist, and frighteningly good philosopher of the sciences.  Mr. Sunstone has asked me to address you on a subject he says is “as near and dear to her as wanking.”  Whatever “wanking” means.  The subject in question being “How Scientists Verify that Something is True”.

I must dutifully warn you, Ms. Teresums, that the subject we are about to embark upon is thrilling, entirely thrilling.  It is fraught with ecstatic moments of discovery, and there are dangers, Ms. Teresums — dangerous moments when the least slip in reasoning can plunge the unwary student into the racing, whitewater current of a logical fallacy!

I must recommend you have you smelling salts handy at all times.

Continue reading “How Scientists Verify that Something is True”