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.

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Bad Ideas, Community, Conservative, Cultural Traits, Culture, Donald Trump, Ethics, Fantasy Based Community, Honesty, Intellectual Honesty, Liars Lies and Lying, Morality, Morals, News and Current Events, Political Ideologies, Politicians and Scoundrels, Politics, Reason, Science, Society, Truth, Values, Village Idiots

“Truth Isn’t Truth”

“Truth isn’t truth”  —  Rudy Giuliani, NBC “Meet the Press”,  August 19, 2018.

(About a 4 minute read)

In Western philosophy, the notion truth is relative dates back at least 2,400 years to the sophist Protagoras, who is stated by Plato to have said, “What is true for you is true for you, and what is true for me is true for me.”

In the East, the notion goes back perhaps another 100 years earlier to the Jain teacher Mahavira, who seems to have been the first to teach Anekantavada, a doctrine that has been described as advocating religious pluralism.

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Abuse, Bad Ideas, Competence, Fun, Human Nature, Life, Magic, Magical Thinking, People, Play, Poetry, Quality of Life, Reason, Science, Superstition, Thinking, Truth

Magic Got the Upper Hand in Her Calculations

(About a 2 minute read)

I once knew a woman, very pleasant.
Middle aged, a real estate agent.
She smiled and laughed easily but
She had no grasp of technology,
Let alone the principles of science,
Let alone the cosmic division
Between natural causes and the gods.

The world to her was still magical,
She was so like a child in that way.

And least you think she was a happy person
Or a good person to always be around,
Rather than merely visit now and then.
She couldn’t fathom why light bulbs
Must burn out someday, and would blame
You or the last person in the room,
For messing with her bulbs.

“Did you screw with my bulb”, she’d say.
Truly! She’d say that!
And she wasn’t kidding you.

It was like being blamed
When you were a kid for Steve’s misdeed.
No one believed you, you’ll recall,
Thought you were lying like a child
When you pointed out the true miscreant.
She wouldn’t believe you, you see.
She had it all wrong, and you were the child.

She’d take you back, back to kidhood,
In so many ways.

Magic once excited me but it grew up
Strong and brave to become the sciences.

Some of us still long for our youth
And the fun we had taming talking rabbits,
Or flying on the throw rugs of our dreams.
But I tell you it’s not really pretty
When an even pleasant, cheerful person
Blames you for the crisis in her life.

I suppose somewhere back of her mind
Was the prize winning Nobel knowledge
That her bulbs sometimes burnt out
For reasons lesser than your malice,
Your bad character, and ill-will.

But magic usually got the upper hand
In her intellectual calculations,

Much helped, I think, by our Age,
A frightening Age when all of us clearly see
That truth has become comfortably
Relative, and easy to access.

Just look deep inside, the deeper the best,
To check your proposition X
Against the movements
Of your intestinal gas
To see if X feels good to you.

“What’s true for you
Is not true for me
And you’re not my reality check.
I’ll consult my intestines for that,
Thank you kindly.”

Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Buddhism, Christianity, Deity, Enlightenment, Free Spirit, God, God(s), Hinduism, Human Nature, Islam, Judaism, Life, Love, Mysticism, Religion, Satori, Science, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Self-determination, Self-Integration, Self-Knowledge, Spirituality, Taoism, Transformative Experience, Wisdom, Zen

If I Were a Theist, I’d Still be a Madman

(About a 3 minute read)

If I were a theist and believed in gods, I would be an insufferable theist.

Indeed, my opinions might be a tad insufferable already.  At least, I think that could be a reasonable conclusion based on the number of encouraging emails I get from my loyal readers that include a pic of someone’s buttocks, along with the usually brief message, “Thinking of you, Paul!”.

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