Trump Fires Self!

fired

I’ll Make Mars Great Again!

In a surprise move today, GOP front-runner The Donald Trump announced his resignation from the presidential race claiming it was all “just a tremendous joke — amazing! I never thought anyone would believe it for a second,… but I pulled it off perfectly, of course.”

Mr. Trump said he would devote his time now to building a Great Wall of Mars, which he said would be “way better than China’s so-called Great Wall; it’ll be tremendous, and it will look amazing!” He claims the Martians will pay for the wall, and that it will make space “great again.”

Two former Republican candidates for the highest office, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, told reporters they wished Mr. Trump every success and offered their assistance in hastening his departure for the red planet. Both Floridians said they’d be glad to personally strap him to any of NASA’s larger boosters.

April Fools! (In case that isn’t obvious!)

On a more serious note, I’m starting to wonder if The Orange One is a genuine, no hyperbole, literal psychopath. That is, a human being with zero empathy, and no sense of remorse, for other human beings.

crazy Donald

Yeah, The Donald, we’re all starting to wonder about that, too! Better have it checked out by a professional! Soon!

It has been said that about 1% of all people are psychopaths and that the percentage among CEOs is about 3–4%.

It makes sense; the job can require destroying people’s lives, so a genuine lack of empathy would be handy.

It’s also been remarked that psychopaths can be remarkably successful in life because they don’t care about hurting others in pursuing their own success.

Sound like any political candidates we know?

Here’s my question: Has anyone ever seen Donald Trump evidence a single moment of real human sympathy or empathy?

I can’t recall any such moment along the campaign trail.

This guy may literally be insane.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

31 responses to “Trump Fires Self!

  • Lisa

    You tease! I have really cut down watching news because I can’t stand to hear him speak or the media talking about him. I was so hopeful when I saw the title that he had announced and I missed it.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      No, sorry. Sadly the only way to stop a psychopath is with a garlic steak served by a tart… or something like that, I forget.

      I know what you mean about hating to even hear him speak; he’s such a nut-job. I’ve found the secret to being able to listen to the media talking about him: beer. Lots and lots of beer. Then it actually gets kinda funny…

  • Steve Morris

    Psychopaths have their uses. Supposedly many surgeons are psychos. It’s why they’re so good at cutting people open.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      That makes sense. Certainly some doctors do seem more disconnected from humanity than their profession might lead one to think (an interesting contrast with nurses, perhaps). And I guess we do need CEOs…

      But I think one of the last things I’d want to see would be The Donald coming at me with a scalpel! 😮

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, just puts more logs on the fire! 🙂

      There’s a good quote in that post:

      “While many political leaders will deny the assessment regarding their similarities with serial killers and other career criminals, it is part of a psychopathic profile that may be used in assessing the behaviors of many officials and lawmakers at all levels of government.”

      (p.s. Hello, and welcome to the blog. Thanks for commenting!)

  • Byenia

    I just assumed he came on board the presidential race on the Republican side of the fence in order to make that party look crazier than usual and to help throw the election to the Democrats. Seeing as how Trump previously donated to Bill Clinton’s campaign and spoke very highly of Hillary Clinton in the not-so-distant past.

    It all smacks of a ruse to me and has from the start, hence why I just tune it all out. Once I heard Gary Johnson would be running again in 2016, my choice was clear.

    Is Trump a psychopath? Honestly, I wouldn’t say he comes across as any less empathetic than nearly everybody else already or previously installed up in Washington. But they all put on such grand acts that it’s tough to guess what’s really going on inside their minds and behind the scenes.

    Hope you are well, Wyrd. 🙂

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Thing is, Trump has been talking about running for President for a long time. It’s something that rich white guys fantasize about (former NYC mayor Bloomberg, for example). I did think it would make a great political thriller story if he was actually a Clinton plant, but the facts don’t seem to bear it out. Trump, by his own gleeful admission, “buys” politicians, and he’s contributed to many campaigns on both sides. Just another fat rich cat greasing the wheels.

      Question: Why vote for someone with, literally, a 0.00% chance of winning? Such votes often end up helping the candidates you’d least want to support. Voting for the least worst candidate does suck, but it’s a tiny step in a better direction. That said, I’m glad you will vote! It does send a message — even a vote for a third party candidate does make a point.

      OTOH, if Trump does get the nomination (and at this point, it’s hard to see how that doesn’t happen), the election is going to likely be a blowout for the Dems. They might even get the House back, which would be really interesting.

      As for his psychopathy, I see a distinct difference in his comportment compared to, say, Sanders or either Clinton or Kasich. Even Cruz (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) looks mostly human compared to The Donald. (The tragedy of this election may be how an insane psychopath like Trump makes Cruz seem like a reasonable choice. There is a good chance the GOP will find a way to give it to him, and then things will get extra double-plus interesting. And the election will still be a blowout for the Dems.)

      As for me, between this insane election and a bunch of other things, I’d have to say the opposite of well. Giving very serious thought to getting off the damn highway for good.

      • Byenia

        You know me, Wyrd, I’m done with the two-party duopoly. Won’t ever get outside of it if we cave into always voting for one major camp or the other. People are going to do whatever they’re going to regardless, and one vote is only a drop in the bucket, but I have to vote my own conscience. As it stands now, I don’t see either Democrats or Republicans as truly lesser evils compared against each other. “Evil” shakes out differently between those two parties — different but not necessarily unequal. At least that’s my view on it these days.

        This election is a circus, hon. I’d recommend not focusing on it too much. You ever play games online? If so, cards or word games? Let me know if you might interested in some competitive play — I know a good site for it and would love to play with you.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        It’s a tragedy that intelligent people like you are so driven away from the process, because the intelligent ones are the only hope this world has. As badly fucked up as things are (and they are so fucked up), the only hope lies with the intelligent ones. If we let the stupid, ignorant, emotional ones (the barely evolved ape creatures that infest this planet) have their way, things will just continue to slide into the dark ages.

        This election cycle (as I keep saying) proves everything I’ve been saying for over 40 years. What’s so aggravating about all this is that it’s exactly what I’ve been warning about for all that time. But it’s the future of our country, and it’s important.

        I am so filled with hate and anger these days that I don’t know what to do. Obviously I’m a freak who doesn’t belong in this world, and I’ve gotten to the point of taking the hint. This post is #600 for me here, and I think it may well be my last. This blog is five years old on July 4th, and it’s pretty obviously a complete and utter failure — no one cares what I have to say. So I think I’m done with this and maybe done with everything. I just can’t be in this world anymore.

        In so far as I blame a lot of the current state of the world on the internet, online games are very much not my thing, sorry. (I can’t even express how angry I am that the fucking online gambling shit has infected the MLB channel. Just one more reason not to stick around anymore. (I despise gambling and consider it — literally — an evil. Obviously just one more thing that makes me a freak.))

        FTW is a popular anagram: For the Win. But to me it means Fuck the World.

        Oh, man… I am soooo fucking angry. And oddly, that’s not my natural state. It’s the state the world imposes on me, and I’m sick of it. Really, really sick of it.

        I keep thinking of the first lines in the opening scene in Hamlet:

        SCENE I Elsinore. A platform before the castle.

        [FRANCISCO at his post. Enter to him BERNARDO]

        BERNARDO Who’s there?

        FRANCISCO Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself.

        BERNARDO Long live the king!

        FRANCISCO Bernardo?

        BERNARDO He.

        FRANCISCO You come most carefully upon your hour.

        BERNARDO ‘Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed, Francisco.

        FRANCISCO For this relief much thanks: ’tis bitter cold, And I am sick at heart.

        That last line, “And I am sick at heart.” is a keynote of the play. It is exactly Hamlet’s problem.

        And mine.

      • Byenia

        Okay. Wyrd, let me start off by saying I care about you. Your blog is actually very cool and most certainly is not a failure. Someone replies on nearly every post, and typically a number of people do. That’s not nothing. And it’s because people find your viewpoint interesting and relatable. Plus you tell us about math and computer stuff plenty of us probably knew nothing about and now have gained a better understanding. Thanks to you.

        Though you and I disagree on political matters. If we don’t want the riff-raff, Fox-news-soaked, football-adoring, “reality tv”-obsessed, mind-numbed, properly propagandized majority in this country to drive this little red wagon further downhill, we better abandon ship and regroup elsewhere. Because this popular two-party duopoly is intended for the dumb masses. People play along with it because they can envision no other viable candidate outside of the two major parties. But no candidate will ever prove viable if people don’t opt to vote for them.

        I no longer wish to deal with any party sporting either Clintons or Bushes, that much I know for certain. Trump is a blow-hard I’m surprised anybody takes seriously. That an increasing number of voters allegedly do makes it clear that a notable number of folks are craving some sort of drastic change (no matter how wacky) or are just so apathetic that border issues are all they prioritize. Otherwise, don’t know what to say there. Life is crazy, life is mad…

        But I like you. 🙂 And I hope you like me too. 😉 You are someone I look forward to looking in on, more so than nearly any others online. Might squabble with idiots, but idiots abound. I think what we need is to quit taking this life so seriously. It is serious, but also it’s temporary and fraught with crap we didn’t see coming and other stuff we don’t know how to deal with. But I, for one, appreciate you and your contribution over the years to my life. Thank you.

        But it’s your life and ultimately your decision how it should go, or end. I will not pretend to know better than you about your own life and hardships. You’re a free man who can determine what’s best for yourself, so I’m not here to lay a guilt trip on you. Just glad to have known you as long as I have online. You’re a cool dude, whether you realize that or not.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I appreciate that, and absolutely I like you, too. I would agree my blog is actually very cool, but I don’t see how it’s a success given I have just two regulars (given the vast number of people on the interweb). And, sadly, my math and computer posts get the least number of hits. So, screw it, I’m done with the blogging thing (at least for now; forever remains to be seen, but I think so; I just don’t see the point anymore).

        The sad, sick thing is that those “riff-raff, Fox-news-soaked, football-adoring, “reality tv”-obsessed, mind-numbed, properly propagandized majority” are, in fact, a majority in this country and, per the rules of democracy, what they say is how it goes. (Translation: We are so totally fucked as a nation.)

        The only way that ever changes is if people change, and the only way people really change (that I can see) is through education. I keep referring back to this excellent quote from Leon Wieseltier’s appearance on The Colbert Report:

        “A democratic society, an open society, places an extraordinary intellectual responsibility on ordinary men and women, because we are governed by what we think, we are governed by our opinions. So the content of our opinions, and the quality of our opinions, and the quality of the formation of our opinions, basically determines the character of our society.”

        The character of our society does very much reflect the “quality” (he said sarcastically) of the content of our opinions.

        The phrase “the quality of the formation of our opinions” is especially striking to me. The opinions of many people are shit exactly because they don’t have a quality foundation for determining those opinions. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course, but that doesn’t mean we need to take them seriously when they are poorly formed (let alone head-up-the-ass stupid).

        One thing about two-party systems is that they reflect the fundamental Yin-Yang nature of the universe. Any given position basically has only two positions: for or against (guilty or innocent). It’s obviously more complicated than that, but at a fundamental level it very often boils down to that. (Per information theory, everything is binary, anyway! 😀 )

        “Life is crazy, life is mad…”

        Yep. The world has become so complicated that being ignorant and stupid are no longer an option. Ironically, that complicated world drives people into ignorance because their tiny ape brains just can’t handle the information so they numb themselves with drugs and internet bullshit and video games and all manner of child-like diversions.

        The human race will almost certainly kill itself off in the next 100 years or so, which will make this all moot. Global warming alone will almost certainly kill billions; it’s already starting to happen.

      • Byenia

        Hmmm…all I can say, Wyrd, is time will tell. Lots of variables floating around there, never know how a story might end until it does.

        Guess I don’t see the world completely as binary. Lots of angles to it, tons of perspectives. Not all may be created equal, that’s a given. And they shift and change over time, to where what once appeared to be a bedrock winds up being rendered obsolete or no longer effective. So we must change too, or so I am continuously reminded.

        Leon’s quote was good. I recall watching some clips from him after you mentioned him a while back.

        Just that the rules of the game don’t remain the same, nor does the objective apparently. Or maybe they do, underneath it all, even if on the surface it all looks different. And maybe we humans expect a bit too much out of one another, considering we are still a rather young species, at least in this leg of our evolution.

        I figure the Earth will be fine ultimately regardless. We humans might not be, and such is life. No one promised us eternal survival.

        Just strikes me as interesting the ways in which order comes into being and then erodes, and I don’t think it can be helped necessarily. Clashing wills and drives and whatnot, within us individually and among us collectively-speaking.

        Anyway, I like your blog and will keep on checking it out, so it’d be cool if you at least leave it up and open to the public. Catering to the wants and whims of the majority never made much sense to me. Humans are too fickle for all that. It’s the few who care and are interested who will come around and appreciate your insight and teachings. Just as has always been the case. And sometimes people lurk and don’t let us know they’re watching, reading and listening. Hard to know what impact any one of us really has. Might be more than we realize.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “Guess I don’t see the world completely as binary.”

        Keep in mind that just eight binary choices puts you into 256 different worlds. That number doubles every additional binary choice. When we say that information theory says it’s all binary we’re talking something very low level. (Another way to look at it: every video or song you watch or hear over the interweb is a bunch of binary.)

        When I’m talking about the dual nature of the world, I don’t literally mean that kind of binary (the part about info theory was just an aside that speaks to the Yin-Yang nature of reality). But it does seem true that humans in general have trouble seeing more than two sides to something. For or against. Innocent or guilty. Heads or tails. Hot or cold.

        You and I are exceptions that see more nuance in the world. Not flipped coins, but a die with many, many sides. (So why the hell do I keep rolling snake-eyes?)

        “And [perspectives] shift and change over time, to where what once appeared to be a bedrock winds up being rendered obsolete or no longer effective.”

        Yes, although I think some things remain true. It’s important to pick real bedrock rather than false. Build your perspectives on good foundation (exactly what Wieseltier meant about extraordinary intellectual responsibility and the quality of the formation of our opinions) and they suffer the winds of change much better.

        “Just that the rules of the game don’t remain the same, nor does the objective apparently. Or maybe they do, underneath it all, even if on the surface it all looks different.”

        Yes, exactly. Humans, and the crap we do, hasn’t changed (a bit) in thousands of years. Ancient Greek comedies are still funny (and humor is subtle and complex) and their tragedies still speak to us. The game has always been the same. It just gets dressed up differently.

        It’s about power versus community, even on a personal level.

        “And maybe we humans expect a bit too much out of one another, considering we are still a rather young species, at least in this leg of our evolution.”

        Or do we not expect enough? Those Ancient Greeks nailed it (just try to think of one original thought about the human race that they didn’t, and good luck trying). We haven’t done much in the last 2000 years other than make cooler toys and solve some science problems.

        We develop the shit out of our toys and boner pills (if I’m to believe the TV machine, the world is filled with diabetics who can’t get it up and suffer from digestive and urinary problems), and many exercise their bodies, but do we develop or exercise our minds? In most cases: Fuck No. And in this complex modern world, it is even more necessary.

        What disturbs me most is the recent decline in reverence for science and rational thought. Those things were the core of The Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, that lifted us up from Medieval Darkness and Ignorance into the light of reason and science. That people today deny these things makes me ill to my stomach. It’s a very scary trend; a trend that surrenders everything we’ve gained since then.

        “I figure the Earth will be fine ultimately regardless. We humans might not be, and such is life.”

        Well, yeah, that’s the point. Some folks would like humanity to continue. 🙂

        “Just strikes me as interesting the ways in which order comes into being and then erodes,..”

        Yep. Entropy in action. It requires energy and will to maintain that order. Sometimes a lot of it. And, generally speaking, humans don’t seem up to the task in large numbers. Too much ape brain remains. It is entirely possible that a society this large is simply unworkable in any shape or fashion.

        “Anyway, I like your blog and will keep on checking it out, so it’d be cool if you at least leave it up and open to the public.”

        Oh, yeah. I wasn’t thinking of deleting it. If I abandon it, I’ll turn off Comments and Likes, and ultimately the owned domain name will elapse, but the logoconcarne.wordpress.com link should work as long as WP is around. It’s the only thing I have to leave behind.

        “Catering to the wants and whims of the majority never made much sense to me.”

        Oh, I agree. I’m all for a meritocracy or technocracy where the smart ones rule, but (unfortunately?) we live in a democracy.

        Which is a funny thing… there is the wisdom of crowds, that is a real thing, but so, too, is the tyranny of the majority (lowest common denominator sort of thing). So much depends on the value of the people, and our people seem to me to be in decline intellectually (which, for my money, is the worst kind of decline) as well as in character (our society seems to have fully embraced dishonesty as a viable mode).

        I see it in how science programs have devolved into shallow glitz and many “science” channels (Ha!) now offer mostly reality programming (which I consider cheap voyeurism). I see it in how long-form blogging is in decline and how Twitter has become a primary communication channel. I see it in the level of discourse even among the (supposedly) better educated. I see it in how some people or things are referred to as “very smart” and I can’t see it. Apparently the bar for “very smart” has sunk below my perceptive horizon (along with the cultural taste bar which sank out of sight long ago).

        I used to think being smart or not-smart was like being fit or not-fit — a matter of effort — and I’ve spent a lifetime wondering why people won’t put in that effort and why I can’t seem to make them see the value of that effort (which is crystal clear to me).

        I’ve finally realized, to my chagrin, that being smart or not-smart is like being tall or not-tall. It’s just not something that most people can change. And while I feel like a normal person among a race of midgets, the truth, I finally realize, is that I’m a freakishly tall freak in a world of normal people.

        I.E. I’m fucked unless I can find Procrustes.

        “It’s the few who care and are interested who will come around and appreciate your insight and teachings.”

        Well, I hope there are more than the half-dozen or so that have been through here over the years. Five years is enough for this blog to find a regular audience of more than one or two at a time. All it would have taken is one of those people you mentioned spreading the word to others. There actually are a lot of very intelligent people in the world, and many of them do inhabit the interweb. I just haven’t been worthy of them for whatever reason. (And, it does seem long-form blogging is on the way out. Everything is video now.)

        “And sometimes people lurk and don’t let us know they’re watching, reading and listening.”

        Then they’re useless to me. Fuck’m. (Do you hear that lurkers? Fuck you very much. Where were you when I needed you?)

        “Hard to know what impact any one of us really has. Might be more than we realize.”

        I’ve gotten enough feedback over the years to know I’ve played an important role in many lives. (One person came back to buy me lunch and thank me for, essentially, giving her an entire career. She was a former office secretary I trained in computers, and she ended up making a living at it. What I got was lunch and appreciation. Which is wonderful, but not nearly enough.)

        One of my issues is that I’ve put myself out there time and again, and so many have benefited from my work, but my reward has been…. what again? Oh, yeah, that’s right. Diddly squat.

        Hell, I’m even living what remains of my life on a reduced pension because work treated me with such utter disrespect that I couldn’t work there anymore and retired early to save my soul and sanity.

        Seriously: F.T.W.

        [sigh] My anger level at people is high enough these days that’s probably best to just ignore me.

      • Byenia

        I grasped that you were referring to a duality or a pair of options when mentioning binary. I understand that the internet is constructed by binary information, but that’s beside the point for our purposes here.

        Funny thing is when I learn about the ancient Greeks through philosophy lectures, they had the same gripes about the masses being easily led, prone to being sloth-like, choosing willful ignorance, etc. So we still wind up with a situation where a few spoke above the many, yet the many remain(ed) as they ever were. And that’s just life, I guess. What more can realistically be expected if this has been the way of things as far back as we’re aware? Why do we like to think that now is some special time and place, that NOW we should be able to act differently, should want to embrace higher virtues, should be capable of behaving in a more civilized fashion? This is one of the reasons I’m not a fan of the civilization project — it has its uses and serves us well in ways, but the ideals it ushered in are still quite grand and seem to remain far beyond most of us.

        I wouldn’t worry too much about people abandoning the fruits of The Enlightenment Age. Plenty never embraced them in the first place — meaning it wasn’t universally popular among the masses. One problem with the current situation is that Science has come to be proclaimed as trumping all else, when really it’s just another tool for investigating life. A more sophisticated means of doing so, sure, but so much can’t help but remain uncertain. Yet people crave a sense of certainty, hence the retreat back toward religions. We’re a scared animal, to say the least, and I can understand why. There’s a lot to take in, too much to try to make sense of, and it can feel overwhelming very easily. But chastising people doesn’t arouse their desire to search for deeper truths — just gets us to repel further away from one another.

        On the topic of entropy, what I am getting at is that disorder is inevitable. We don’t have the ability to keep it all together in the most-modern sense for much longer, no matter what we might want. Historically, humans had a hard enough time managing clans and tribes — far smaller social orders than what we confront today. And now there are so many of us populating the globe, and we’re not all on the same team nor wanting the same things. Power vs. the community, yes, but we don’t see ourselves as all belonging to one major clan. So we clash and we pursue our own individual interests, and there’s virtually no way around that. Comes with the rise of individuality. As with everything in life, there are upsides and downsides. Open pandora’s box and revel at what enticements spring forth, but then we disdain the costs associated. But there’s no way out of that conundrum other than perhaps time.

        Even if we all hit the books and exercised our brains, we still wouldn’t all see life the same way and there’d still be strife and competition and viciousness. Some wish for a hierarchical setup while others do not. Some want to see globally-connected societies while others would rather theirs return to being isolationists. Some are in favor of state-funded, mandatory education programs, while others consider that setup a vehicle for state propaganda.

        We can’t all agree on the moral good either. And never could. The ancients argued over these matters and had different schools of thought, and we remain divided on these matters today. Some see the rule of law as supreme, while others view it as ideal but sometimes worth sidestepping for certain vigilante purposes. Some hold utilitarian perspectives and subscribe to the notion of the collective’s happiness being the greatest good, while some of us reject the notion of the individual being made sacrificial to suit majority interests. And on and on it goes. Should we be stoics or hedonists? Are certain emotions (as in the case of anger) required to be off-limits, and if so, how is that mandated? How does one walk that line between myself and the other, the one and the many? It all gets rather complex, especially the more voices, choices, and people up in the mix.

        Tell me, Wyrd, what is it that you were expecting? What did you think this blog project would bring you?

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “I grasped that you were referring to a duality…”

        Right. The main point is that dualities are deeply ingrained in reality and, hence, at least partly responsible for the tendency towards two-party systems. No third party in the USA has ever gotten much traction.

        “Funny thing is when I learn about the ancient Greeks through philosophy lectures, they had the same gripes about the masses…”

        Right. That’s what I was saying; people haven’t changed in any notable way since then. But society has changed tremendously, especially with regard to technology and globalization. Our survival as a species depends on us growing up and becoming adults. Many of us do manage this, so it’s definitely possible.

        “What more can realistically be expected if this has been the way of things as far back as we’re aware?”

        So don’t even try? Isn’t the first rule of growth that you have to try?

        “Why do we like to think that now is some special time and place,..”

        Because it kinda is. Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” has arrived, and it’s getting smaller and more connected every year. That is a game changer. I think the interweb takes that to a whole new level. Technology gives us more powerful tools all the time (also game changers). If we don’t improve, we will perish.

        There is something of a crux here. As population builds and the world gets smaller, we need to get our shit together.

        (Of course, in a few billion years our sun will make life on Earth impossible, so if we haven’t moved on by then, that will be the end of us. 🙂 )

        “This is one of the reasons I’m not a fan of the civilization project…”

        But what’s the alternative? Tiny villages with mud huts?

        I’m skipping over the other parts about society. I agree with many of your points, and we seem to share the dark Yin view of people. I also see a bright Yang of what humanity is capable of. There is greatness in us if we would just tap into it. That we so rarely do is a tragedy to me.

        For my money, the key is education, and I’ve been talking about what I call The Death of a Liberal Arts Education for over 40 years. Ignorance is one of humanity’s biggest problems, and education is the only known cure for it.

        “One problem with the current situation is that Science has come to be proclaimed as trumping all else, when really it’s just another tool for investigating life.”

        Yeah, that’s Scientism, which I agree is a problem. It tends to be more of a problem for those not well versed in science, though. Most scientists know, and live, exactly what you said: it’s a tool for investigating reality.

        A damned amazing tool. One of the best we’ve ever found. The alternative is living in mud huts, starving regularly, dying early and badly, and never seeing the world beyond our village. Which many might love, but the funny thing about apes and their science is that civilization happens anyway. We always open Pandora’s Box!

        The trick is learning to be smart about it.

        “A more sophisticated means of doing so, sure, but so much can’t help but remain uncertain.”

        Yet nothing is more certain than science. Well, okay, one thing is more certain. It’s the only truly certain thing there is: Cogito ergo sum. Every other certain thing is in the domain of science. (Yes, even death and taxes. The sciences, respectively, of biology and mathematics. 🙂 )

        “But chastising people doesn’t arouse their desire to search for deeper truths — just gets us to repel further away from one another.”

        Agreed, but I’m beyond giving a shit anymore. All I have left is my rage against ignorance and willful stupidity. Yelling at the “damned kids on my lawn” makes me feel better.

        (FWIW, I’m totally in favor of ramming a decent education down everyone’s throats. I think demonstrating your education should be a requirement for participation in society. Remain ignorant and it’s no soup for you!)

        “Even if we all hit the books and exercised our brains, we still wouldn’t all see life the same way and there’d still be strife and competition and viciousness.”

        The first part of that is true and as it should be. The second part isn’t. Intelligent people can resolve problems without viciousness. The dialectic is a powerful tool. The alternative is to accept that we’re no better than rats in a cage, and I just don’t believe that. We may, for a variety of reasons, not reach to be better, but we do have the capacity. That’s the tragedy.

        Or, I dunno, maybe you’re right and humans are just too stupid to live. [shrug]

        “Tell me, Wyrd, what is it that you were expecting? What did you think this blog project would bring you?”

        Many things:

        I hoped to educate people in things that are interesting and helpful. I know a lot things that are both.

        I hoped to find the same sort of community of like-minded individuals I found back in the 1980s and into the early 1990s. But then the “web” kicked in and the internet pretty much went to hell in some regards. I know those people exist, but I guess they’re busy doing other things these days.

        The blog is also my “legacy” so to speak. I have no kids, so this is what I can leave behind of me. My scrawl on the interweb wall.

        And, finally, I’m an artist, and the blog is part of my art.

      • Byenia

        “So don’t even try? Isn’t the first rule of growth that you have to try?”

        Plenty of people do try. But realistically-speaking, we don’t all succeed, and many do not apparently. And it’s also a question of what we’re trying to succeed at. Once again, just become more learned still doesn’t mean we wind up joining the same team.

        As for the two-party system in the U.S., some of us have to vote our conscience. Whether others approve of that or not. Hence the beauty of freedom. Sometimes it’s not a matter of whether you win or lose but that you stood your ground.

        ” If we don’t improve, we will perish.”

        And so be it. That’s the way it can go sometimes. Guess this is one of those moments when Stoic philosophy comes in handy — best to focus on what we actually have control over. The species dying off eventually isn’t within our direct control as individuals.

        “But what’s the alternative? Tiny villages with mud huts?”

        I’m not entirely opposed to the idea. It was the rise of technology that delivered us in this maddening state, so a reversal might not be so bad. But I remain fairly neutral on the matter.

        “We always open Pandora’s Box!”

        Indeed, we do. Hence why a restart probably only would buy humanity a bit of time. But our current predicament is so extreme, so convoluted and virtually impossible to get a full handle on, that we’re up the creek without a paddle, at least collectively-speaking.

        “Remain ignorant and it’s no soup for you!”

        Ignorant or educated according to whose standard? And that’s where things get sticky once again…

        “Intelligent people can resolve problems without viciousness.”

        Intelligence doesn’t automatically overcome our natures. Plenty of highly intelligent people still remained vicious, as history has demonstrated over and over again.

        And this is where we get bogged down in ideals of what humans *should* be capable of, supposedly. Well, I don’t know what to say on all that. There comes a point where it’s more useful to take life as it comes.

        And *better* according to whom? Many are content finding love, raising kids, doing work they reasonably enjoy, tending to hobbies, etc. Can I begrudge them for enjoying a simple life? Actually, I’d say I tend to envy them if nothing else.

        Our art has a life of its own, and sometimes people don’t appreciate things until many years after the fact. Some people aren’t appreciated until after they die, as history demonstrates often enough. Sometimes we labor out of love with no real rewards other than satiation of our own curiosity to whatever extents.

        And I aim to accept that. Because fighting against that reality doesn’t seem to be doing me much good. But I think the rewards wind up being intrinsic primarily, otherwise we’re relying on outside influences and feedback which are outside of our control ultimately.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “Plenty of people do try. But realistically-speaking, we don’t all succeed, and many do not apparently.”

        Of course! But we can’t succeed at all unless we do try.

        “And it’s also a question of what we’re trying to succeed at. Once again, just become more learned still doesn’t mean we wind up joining the same team.”

        Agreed. It’s not a matter of “more learned” (in the sense of knowing stuff) but of learning to think clearly and to ground ones opinions in fact and reason. It’s not what we think; it’s how we think.

        Again I’ll mention Wieseltier’s line about the “quality of the formation of our opinions” — of course we won’t agree on everything. The whole point is having opinions that make sense, that are founded on quality (i.e. clear) thinking.

        As an example, both the progressive and conservative worldviews are entirely coherent and valid. Which way a person leans depends (or should) on which fundamental view about life appeals to one.

        “The species dying off eventually isn’t within our direct control as individuals.”

        It is when individuals work together.

        “But I remain fairly neutral on the matter.”

        I’d be willing to bet big money that if you actually experienced a life without science that you’d be a lot less neutral! 🙂

        “Indeed, we do. Hence why a restart probably only would buy humanity a bit of time.”

        Or we can accept the fact that we always open Pandora’s Box and learn to do it wisely.

        “Ignorant or educated according to whose standard?”

        I like the standard established by over 2000 years of Western thought and literature with the collective wisdom of Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East, thrown in for good measure.

        For example, being able to debate a topic without committing the myriad of rhetorical errors that are well established. Or being able to rub two facts together and come up with a correct conclusion.

        A proper education doesn’t really teach you stuff, it teaches you how to think clearly and learn the stuff you’d like to learn. One of the great gifts of education is learning to learn.

        “Intelligence doesn’t automatically overcome our natures.”

        Never said it did; I said it can. It’s one of the few things that does. Obviously it doesn’t work with everyone; some people are simply a lost cause. We just have to work around them, as always.

        “And this is where we get bogged down in ideals of what humans *should* be capable of, supposedly.”

        I still like the standard of what humans have shown themselves to be capable of. Do we reach for what we can be (as demonstrated over and over) or do we not try? Do we say, “Well, I guess we’re just apes. Fuckit.”

        “And *better* according to whom?”

        Again, a key reference point for me is the 2000 years of Western thought and literature. Which is exactly why I think a Liberal Arts education is so valuable.

        Even people who just want to live very simple lives benefit from thinking clearly and knowing the difference between bullshit and substance (anyone who watches commercials benefits — the subtle lies in them can seem quite reasonable). A simple life need not, nor should it be, a stupid life.

        “[S]ometimes people don’t appreciate things until many years after the fact.”

        Very true. Which is why historical context is so important! History shows, over time, what works, what’s sensible, what’s insane. (A big reason history repeats itself is because people don’t learn from it.)

        I’ll say it again. You’ve got the dark Yin of humanity down pat, but I can’t help but wonder how much of the bright Yang you see. We are beasts, but we are also angels. At least potentially.

      • Byenia

        “[…] learning to think clearly and to ground ones opinions in fact and reason. It’s not what we think; it’s how we think.”

        But again, it often seems to me that we’re quick to dismiss opposing opinions and to assume that those folks aren’t operating with rationality or sound reasoning of their own when their views conflict with our own. Just sayin’ is all.

        I do get where you (and Wieseltier) are coming from there and largely agree. But I also can’t help but get tangled up in realizing how much we tend to assume about one another when we aren’t privy to the inner workings of one another’s minds. Some folks aren’t good at arguing their cases to others, yet that may say nothing about their deeper understandings on the matter. And plenty do try, albeit in differing ways, aiming for different outcomes, which seem perfectly rational to them based on the information they’re operating with. And with so many of us out here and so much information floating around since antiquity, we’re stuck in a rut when it comes to settling on some sort of universal compromise(s).

        And that’s where I get back to saying that societies have gotten too large to be governed well. There’s too much diversity here to expect us all to play the same game the same way and to remain satisfied with doing so. But I digress…

        “It is when individuals work together.”

        Not necessarily. There is no guarantee of that. Just as we’re not certain that massive fighting that leads to the destruction of 90% of the population won’t actually allow the remaining 10% to flourish. Could go either way. I’m open to all sorts of possibilities here.

        “I’d be willing to bet big money that if you actually experienced a life without science that you’d be a lot less neutral!”

        Maybe. But how can I speculate when this is all I’ve ever known?

        “Or we can accept the fact that we always open Pandora’s Box and learn to do it wisely.”

        Hmmm…wisely. Again we run up against the fact that there are so damn many of us humans out here and various pandora’s boxes capable of being opened at any given time. I don’t believe it’s realistic to expect us all to get on the same page and somehow figure out a way to collectively act “wisely.” And wise according to what standard? That’s the trickiness of Pandora’s Box…we never really know what the fallout or possible consequences may prove to be, even if the idea being pursued seems infallible to our current senses.

        You spoke of humanity’s collected wisdom throughout the ages, yet plenty of it differs and contradicts. And such is life. Part of that yin-yang deal is recognizing unsolvable paradoxes. Once again, wise according to whom? With what specific goal(s) in mind? Our goals can’t help but differ widely across the spectrum, and I’m willing to bet that will always be the case. And it depends a great deal on what areas of historic wisdom we opt to focus in on. Beyond that, it only stems back a few thousand years, literacy only arriving on the scene about 7,000 years ago. And in the big scope of human existence, that’s a small sample. Not to negate its usefulness, just saying that we have a great deal of room to grow and explore still. Which can’t help but lead to new conflicts and differences. And on and on life goes…

        “Correct conclusion”… hmmm… and that seems to be the problem right there — who gets the final say on what that may be? Each individual can come to his or her own realizations and act accordingly within our own spheres of influence. More powerful entities make their own determinations based on their interests, and that then tries to be mandated for all. It’s a game, dude. Just a huge, weird game that we can’t help but play. I don’t know — it’s gonna do what it’s gonna do. All I can figure is that I need to better in navigating within my own spheres. Beyond that, let the pieces fall where they may. One does what they can with what they have, and what more can be expected? And not all will choose to do their best (at least not in the ways we might wish they would) — that’s just another fact of life. It’s an ongoing conundrum, for sure.

        You keep saying “think clearly”…but again, how is this assessed? I’m not trying to be contrary here just for the sake of doing so, but I happen to see clearly that both of us partake in the regular use of substances that impact our minds and our thinking. So I have to wonder whether either of us are the best judges of what is “clear” thought. Not trying to be mean toward either of us here, mostly just acknowledging how common it is for folks to dull themselves down one way or another and how that then tends to impact our outlooks, whether we’re cognizant of this or not.

        “We just have to work around them, as always.”

        That category may or may not include me. lol Hmm… I think our intelligence can override a good bit of our biological programming, but our natures still remain what they are at the core. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing necessarily.

        Look, I’m not saying we shouldn’t try. Hell, I think we each should try, for our own individual sake. Creates a much more meaningful existence. But we don’t strive for the same things, nor will we ever. And the people you’re aiming to sidestep are growing in number, partly because they’re being conditioned by various aspects of society to do so (for whatever underlying reasons), partly because they’re frustrated with feeling inferior in the eyes of those assuming themselves to be superior. We’re all struggling here, and we all make mistakes, big and small, repeatedly. It’s all just a process, an unfolding, and I’m starting to think holding too many expectations winds up making us miserable, which we in turn cast onto others, making them miserable too. Then more strife occurs. Growling at one another only takes us so far. And I growl more than most probably, don’t get me wrong. Not judging you here. Just pondering aloud…

        It’s all just trial and error. We can learn from the past, but still we often have to repeat it whether we mean to (or want to) or not. I don’t know how this could be shifted. We only learn so much vicariously through others, particularly when the examples provided are written down, especially if dated over a thousand years ago. If we don’t see it, observe it, or experience it directly ourselves, our understanding of any given matter often remains very limited. Most especially when we’re talking about social matters. And this is where the breakdown of communities and tribes did humanity the most damage. But we can reframe this as the next leg in the journey where individuality reigns supreme and we each have to find our own ways. And that comes with even more trial and error. Such is life apparently. It’s not excusing us as stupid apes, it’s just recognizing the process and understanding it takes time. More time than we might prefer, but still. We don’t call the shots on that level. We just do what we individually are capable of, hopefully to the best of our abilities. One can wish.

        You know I’ve been in a rut for quite a while now, and sometimes I do seek out sources that chew people like me out and state it plainly and evenly harshly. But I also seek out motivating sources of information — people who provide something that sparks wonder and beckons my curiosity to seek further. That shit is cool, and you’ve provided some stuff like that on this blog. But people take it in and do with it as they will.

        “You’ve got the dark Yin of humanity down pat, but I can’t help but wonder how much of the bright Yang you see. We are beasts, but we are also angels. At least potentially.”

        Exactly. I’m actually wondering the same thing in reverse. I see our upsides and our downsides, and yet I also realize to some extent they’re inseparable. Can’t have one without the other, to whatever degrees. I can appreciate the bright side to life, but I can also accept that we don’t have the level of control we might wish we could, and I don’t think we even should have too much collective control. But so far as individual mastery is concerned, I think that’s the ticket. But through that I doubt we’ll, in the long run, be able to keep the nation-states that people have grown so attached to. Or the corporate dominance scheme. But I don’t think this setup can be changed from a top-down approach. It’s a grassroots deal, despite our diversity and uncompromising differences, and that’s where I do greatly admire our potential for growth and expansion. But the political game doesn’t strike me as very useful any longer toward that endeavor. Color me crazy, but I think the game is actively shifting and that we have to either adjust in unique ways or wind up at its mercy. That may not sound positive on the surface, but it’s not intended negative at all. Just trying to face the facts of life here and comprehending what I do and don’t have control over. Seriously needing to spend more time focusing on what I do have control over, having spent years already lamenting what I don’t.

        Potential is potential. It’s not a guarantee. Just a possible unfolding, with all the pandora’s boxes that can’t help but accompany that as well.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        We may be arriving at a juncture of different worldviews where we’ll just have to agree to see things differently. My sense is that you’re taking a post-modern posture, deconstructing and denying the rules and knowledge of modern thought. While I’m definitely an iconoclast, I end up embracing many of those rules and much of the knowledge as positive, good, and useful.

        And, weirdly, while I’m a deep-dyed misanthrope with a dim view of the half-evolved apes I find myself confined to a planet with, I still have a positive view of their potential. I’ve seen what humans can be capable of, and I don’t share the cynicism that things or people can never get any better. It’s entirely possible they won’t, but I can’t believe it’s utterly beyond our grasp, and I definitely believe it’s worth reaching for.

        Anyway…

        “But again, it often seems to me that we’re quick to dismiss opposing opinions and to assume that those folks aren’t operating with rationality or sound reasoning of their own when their views conflict with our own.”

        Agreed, but the tools of the dialectic cut through that. Dismissing a valid opinion is absolutely wrong, but doing something wrong doesn’t invalidate doing it right. The tools allow us to determine what opinions are valid and with aren’t (and should be dismissed).

        “But I also can’t help but get tangled up in realizing how much we tend to assume about one another when we aren’t privy to the inner workings of one another’s minds.”

        Agreed, but the tools give one the ability to share their inner workings to the best degree possible. They also provide the tools for seeing how much in common we all are thought-wise and for listening to the life stories of others.

        “Some folks aren’t good at arguing their cases to others, yet that may say nothing about their deeper understandings on the matter.”

        If they can’t communicate their understanding, then what value does it have? The tools do a better job of connecting people to the world, of giving them (an authoritative) voice, than anything else I know.

        “And that’s where I get back to saying that societies have gotten too large to be governed well.”

        Fine, and perhaps so, but so what? That’s never going to change. Never. The entire history of the human race involves larger and larger societies, so we need to learn to manage them wisely if we’re to survive as a species.

        “Maybe. But how can I speculate [about living without technology] when this is all I’ve ever known?”

        Try camping in the woods for a week with just what you can carry in on your back! 😀

        “I don’t believe it’s realistic to expect us all to get on the same page and somehow figure out a way to collectively act ‘wisely.'”

        A very cynical view, but if so then I think the species doesn’t deserve to survive.

        And likely won’t.

        “You spoke of humanity’s collected wisdom throughout the ages, yet plenty of it differs and contradicts.”

        Not the stuff that endures the test of time. Not logic, not math, not basic principles of human behavior that go back thousands of years and have shown to be true over and over.

        “Beyond that, it only stems back a few thousand years, literacy only arriving on the scene about 7,000 years ago.”

        Yeah, and so little has changed since then. 😀

        “‘Correct conclusion’… hmmm… and that seems to be the problem right there — who gets the final say on what that may be?”

        No person gets final say. Logic and facts do. That’s the thing about objective standards; they aren’t subjective!

        “You keep saying ‘think clearly’…but again, how is this assessed?”

        By the objective criteria established over thousands of years of trial (and error). This may be a point of worldview disagreement. You seem to see an entirely relative reality with no objective standards. I agree much is relative, but I do think there are objective criteria.

        As a trivial example, the old joke: Love is blind; Ray Charles is blind; Therefore Ray Charles is love. In the first week of Logic 101 you’d learn exactly why objectively that logical construction is invalid.

        “I happen to see clearly that both of us partake in the regular use of substances that impact our minds and our thinking. So I have to wonder whether either of us are the best judges of what is ‘clear’ thought.”

        Again, objective criteria offer a way around that. There is also that leveraging of thousands of years of careful thought, as well as thoughts when not UI. The whole point is not trusting one’s own mind, because even without extra chemistry onboard, our minds are awash in natural chemicals that affect our emotions and outlook.

        Worse, we live in this me-centric, self-indulgent world of ignorance, often wrapped in a comforting interweb blanket of carefully selected things that confirm our worldviews. The trick is getting outside that comfort zone and seeking what’s real and useful.

        And these tools are the only way I know of accomplishing that.

        “Growling at one another only takes us so far. And I growl more than most probably, don’t get me wrong. Not judging you here.”

        Well, as I said before, I’ve given up and growling is all I have left. (In fact, if I keep blogging at all, I may do a lot more of it. Let it all out, so to speak.)

        “I see our upsides and our downsides, and yet I also realize to some extent they’re inseparable.”

        Oh, absolutely. That’s a key point of Yin-Yang.

        “I can also accept that we don’t have the level of control we might wish we could, […] But so far as individual mastery is concerned, I think that’s the ticket.”

        Absolutely, and it’s kind of what I’ve been talking about all along. A key thing I took from Robert Parker’s Spencer (the detective) books is that while there is almost nothing external you can control (for long) in life, the one thing you can control is your word. Don’t give it unless you mean to keep it, and if you do give it, be sure you keep it.

        By extension, the one thing you do have some measure of control over is yourself. And what sets us apart from the animals is our ability to out-think our emotions. We don’t have to give into our emotions — nothing forces us to do so; we merely indulge ourselves.

        (I read an interesting story the other day. The author was decrying the now very common use of, “I feel….” when offering thoughts, views, or opinions. (As in, for example, “I feel Trump would make a wonderful president.”) She claimed (and I agree) that the phrase excuses analytical or objective, or even fact-based, thought in favor of one’s emotional opinions. Our society is slowing giving up the idea of that kind of analytical thinking, and I think that’s very dangerous.)

        “I doubt we’ll, in the long run, be able to keep the nation-states that people have grown so attached to. Or the corporate dominance scheme.”

        I’d agree with the former, but not the latter. Corporations are likely here to stay and they will only get more powerful. At least as far back as the original Rollerball (with James Caan) SF authors have posited a world without nations but run by corporations. From what I can see, we’re well on our way to that.

        “Potential is potential. It’s not a guarantee.”

        Of course. There are no guarantees. But there are best practices and historically successful ideas and systems and techniques.

        We are definitely in a period of social change and evolution, but my whole point here is that the decades old slide away from a decent education along with a growing rejection of science and rational thought is pushing us back into the Dark Ages.

        Put it this way: A stupid, ignorant public is a lot easier to control than an intelligent, educated one. Politicians generally love a stupid public. (Trump is thriving on one.)

        The way one fights the system is through education.

      • Byenia

        Somewhere our wires are getting crossed here.

        I’m not taking a post-modern position and barely even understand such jargon.

        “I’ve seen what humans can be capable of, and I don’t share the cynicism that things or people can never get any better.”

        Good, because that’s not (cynical) feeling about humans either. Sure, we have potential, but I just don’t think progress can be sped up on a whim necessarily. Or that the masses will all wind up on the same page at the same time. And I’m okay with that. It’s not even a cynical point of view, just trying to accept life’s possibilities. Can we strive for better? Sure. But we don’t all view “better” as the same thing in all cases, so it shakes out however it will in the end. I seriously am not trying to be negative here — just aiming to accept what’s outside of my control and pay attention to what’s within it. You appreciate stoicism, so I’d think my angling in that direction would make sense and seem reasonable.

        Either way, I’m not looking to engage in a big debate right now. Yeah, we do tend to see things a bit differently, and such is life. We both are uncomfortable with the corporate takeover and the unfolding of a totalitarianism like none ever seen before, so we share that much in common here. Different ideas on what to do about it, as to be expected. *shrugs* I don’t barely know what to say beyond that. Maybe I am to be included among those folks who have ideas but lacks the ability to sufficiently articulate them, and winds up worn out in trying to do so. And maybe that’s not too useful for others — c’est la vie. And maybe we are capable of taking life too seriously and that that itself is a problem too. I don’t know, dude.

        So much gets to seeming like a test in semantics and rhetoric and little else anymore. Not speaking of you specifically, just about dialoguing in general. I obviously don’t have any answers that will prove satisfactory to anybody else.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “Somewhere our wires are getting crossed here.”

        Well, like I said, it may be a point of differing worldviews. Nothing wrong with that. 🙂

        “I’m not taking a post-modern position and barely even understand such jargon.”

        If “modernism” is the embracing of the authority of science and technology, then “post-modernism” is the deconstructive, iconoclastic opposing response. The term is usually used in art, where it refers to artists discarding established rules and seeking new modes of expression that ignore those rules.

        Applied in a social sense it’s about deconstructing political and social establishments, which seems to be an interest of yours from what I’ve seen.

        “Good, because that’s not [my] (cynical) feeling about humans either. Sure, we have potential, but I just don’t think progress can be sped up on a whim necessarily.”

        “Sure, we have potential” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. 😀 😀 😀

        I agree we can’t force social progress,… but the best force for moving it along is a strong educational system.

        “Or that the masses will all wind up on the same page at the same time. And I’m okay with that.”

        Me, too, and this is where I’m not sure if you’re hearing exactly what I’m saying, since I’m not suggesting uniformity of thought. Ever!

        What I am suggesting is (as deGrasse-Tyson talked about) the tools that allow a person to think what they want with some confidence their opinions — whatever they are — have some validity and foundation.

        I’m talking about the dangerous anti-intellectual, anti-science currents that have been flowing — and gathering strength — for many years in this country (it is a little unique to us). A great deal of it traces back to evangelicalism’s rejection of what it viewed as a threat to its beliefs.

        As a result, something like 75% of Americans believe in the physical reality of angels. Or that Satan makes them do things. Or that the ghosts of their parents visit them. (My own sister is guilty of all of these.) Or in astrology or crystals or the power of copper or whatever fool-the-stupid-and-take-their-money trick is being foisted by this season’s snake oil salesmen.

        I’m appalled beyond words that educated, supposedly intelligent people are denying the importance of vaccinations. Any analysis of the facts makes the truth clear. If the brain damage extends all the way to educated liberals, we are in deep, deep shit.

        And literally threatened by the return of diseases we’d eradicated from civilized society.

        “Either way, I’m not looking to engage in a big debate right now.”

        That’s cool. I’m not sure we even are debating so much as just exchanging views. This “broken education” situation is one that’s bugged me (a lot!) since I was in high school, and it’s not gotten any better. Quite the opposite, from what I can tell.

        There’s a great quote from Carl Sagan that hits this nail precisely:

        We’ve arranged a global civilization in which the most crucial elements — transportation, communications, and all other industries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting, profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

        The more complex and technical the world is, the more important is it to have at least some degree of understanding about it.

        But it’s even more important to know how to think clearly!

      • Byenia

        On the post-modernism explanation…ah. That kinda does sound like me. ha

        You have more faith in the educational system than I do, that much is clear.

        And I am reading you right, just that 1.) while the evangelicals/fundamentalists do weird me out too, I’m also nearly equally weirded out by the mental tricks employed by plenty of the secularists/atheists, academic scholars, science-enthusiasts, and otherwise highly educated as well. So…I guess everybody is weirding me out at this point, to one degree or another. lol Oh, and 2.) despite people’s religious/spiritual experiences and ideas sometimes seeming off-the-wall or extreme, I can comprehend why folks are driven that way and acknowledge how our human psychology leads us there, though sometimes shit winds up lost in translation and metaphors aren’t recognized as such and dogma tends to take hold. But just because we don’t have a scientific understanding of these phenomena to a satisfactory degree currently doesn’t automatically render them irrelevant, and it’s that sort of thinking right there that trips me up time and again. Yes, indeed, educated people can and do still believe in angels though no empirical data can demonstrate their existence. People still believe in God (or the Godhead) despite what atheists like to argue on the matter (myself included, albeit viewed through an agnostic lens). This is part of the human experience, and that it is being actively vilified by so many is a bit disconcerting to me. Guess I’m able to take issue with folks on both/all sides of the aisle here.

        Not to be a contrarian, but still…that’s the truth. I see validity in a lot of these things despite also thinking that people take these matters too literally to where they lose a good bit of their value. Despite the sciences not being able to provide sufficient explanation for much of it as of yet. And even despite some taking it to fundamentalist extremes that I abhor. Still…people are geared this way naturally, and that’s not something we’re going to be able to educate away no matter how hard we might try. Pretty much promise you that. Again, myself included there.

        But if a “scientific” understanding is needed, I’m seriously digging some of the Jungian analyses I’ve been taking up time with in recent years. A book I’m currently reading and truly getting a lot out of right now is “Ego and Archetype” by Edward Edinger. Not sure if you’ll care for it, but it’s an interesting read, IMO.

        Enhancing our understanding of science and technology is unarguably useful, I agree. The education system can sometimes help with that, though often it itself is what turns students off to these subjects of study.

        Good quote from Carl Sagan there.

        You know I’m all for us learning how to analyze and develop our reasoning faculties, but that alone will not save us. That’s part of what I’m trying to get at here. It can help. But we’re terrific rationalizers and can find ourselves boxed in by our own logic (or at least our perceptions thereof) pretty easily. History and modern times teaches us that too. There’s some sort of balance calling out to be reached, and I don’t know how to get us there. A top-down approach can’t manage it, this I’m pretty damn sure of. We can try to teach on another, but the matter always lies in the hands and control of each individual and whether they choose to embrace the inquiry journey and also how far they take it. That we can’t enforce, only stimulate interest in, if we’re so fortunate to manage even that.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “You have more faith in the educational system than I do,..”

        Ha! No, in education; there’s a huge difference! Much of my complaint is about the system, but the system is our fault. We don’t value education, so we don’t fund it or treat it as even respectable. It’s often seen as a kind of free day care or holding pen for children until they’re old enough to start earning a living. We allow a “higher” education to cost more than luxury cars, and allow government-supported predatory lending as the default for college students.

        So, no, not in the system, but in the thing itself.

        “I’m also nearly equally weirded out by the mental tricks employed by plenty of the secularists/atheists, academic scholars, science-enthusiasts, and otherwise highly educated as well.”

        Therein, from my perspective, lies a problem. I see a large difference between them in (as Leon W. put it) ‘the quality of their opinions and in the quality of the formation of their opinions.’

        And the thing is, an education (a real one) is really helpful in sifting the wheat from the chaff in both cases (for there is wheat and chaff in both cases). Things like “emotional savvy” and life experience are also helpful; life isn’t solved with any one tool (or, generally speaking, “solved” at all in any real way).

        “I can comprehend why folks are driven that way…”

        [Spiritually] Absolutely. As I’ve said often, I’m a (Decisive) Agnostic with pronounced spiritual leanings and occasional theistic suspicions. (I’ve also been a hard-core Atheist, but decided that, like being a vegetarian (which I also tried), it wasn’t at all how I wanted to live my life. For one thing, man cannot live on cheese enchiladas.)

        There is a crucial difference between uncritical belief in counterfactual physical realities and a belief moderated by an understanding of physical reality (as well as an understanding of faith). Most thoughtfully religious people, on some level, as you suggest, treat their religion metaphorically — as a way of life.

        The distinguishing characteristic of fundamentalists is their literal treatment of scripture and insistence in its factual truth contrary to physical facts. It is one thing to believe in that which you cannot prove, but another entirely to believe in things contrary to factual evidence. (As I said above, opinions are not equal. Some are weak; some are robust.)

        “You know I’m all for us learning how to analyze and develop our reasoning faculties, but that alone will not save us.”

        Of course! Never said it was the only thing! But without it, most other things are impossible or much harder.

        Fixes have to start somewhere. (Thomas Watson, Jr., former CEO of IBM and the man who coined the “THINK!” sign, has a quote I like: “The worst possible thing…was to lie dead in the water with any problem. Solve it, solve it quickly… If you solved it wrong, it would come back and slap you in the face, and then you could solve it right”)

        What I am saying is that education is the best tool I know. So much comes down to thinking, and education teaches, not what to think, but how to think. If not this, what would you suggest?

      • Byenia

        “If not this, what would you suggest?”

        You’ve clarified your stance here, and I can’t disagree with you on it now that I have a better understanding of what you’re arguing. Wouldn’t know what else to suggest.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Heh, yeah. With a convoluted wannabe philosopher like me, nuance is everything! XD

      • Byenia

        My 4th paragraph in the latest comment should’ve stated: “Good, because that’s not *my* (cynical) feeling about humans either.”

        Oy. Typos.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Ah, that does make more sense! 🙂

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Synchronicity strikes again! XD So, I bought an iPad, which is a pretty fun toy, mainly for watching YT lectures and reading websites and ebooks, all from the comfort of my couch (’cause I just can’t sit passively and watch stuff sitting at a desk with a monitor — code, write, design, sure; just can’t sit staring). Totally thumbs up on the thing so far. And I happened to watch this video:

        Which is really, really a keeper (in part as a rare appearance by Colbert as himself during the days he was playing a role on The Colbert Report — he even appeared before Congress in character!) and very much gets into what I was saying about the importance, and nature, of a reasonable education.

      • Byenia

        I finally had a chance to finish watching that video now that my internet down here is connected. Was enjoyable.

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