Category Archives: Philosophy

A fun little thought experiment

Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine

I would like to share a fun little thing I do to get a perspective on things. I also use it to show why I have such high hopes for the kids of today. So here we go….

First think about the year you were born. In my case that is 1951. Now think about 100 years earlier, again in my case that would be 1851. Now here comes the first hard part, think about how people lived in that year. Then think about how things were 100 years ago, 1923 and how people lived back the. This last part is easier to do because there is an excellent and very readable history “Only Yesterday’ by Fredrick Lewis Allen to help you out. Now just think about just how much things changed in that time. In 1851 the telegraph was brand new. There was no Republican Party. Most Americans lived either on farms or in small market towns, lest than a few thousand people. Slavery was still going strong in the south. Most people depended on walking to get anywhere, you were both luck and well off to be able to ride a mule or a horse and that for a long trip, like 20 miles to town. Finally a dollar a day was very good wages, especially if you were paired in gold coin.

Now let us look at 1923. The telegraph is being changed by the Telephone. Railroads are “The” way to travel long distance over land. Commercial Radio stations were springing up and in two years the live broadcast of a Presidential Inauguration will take place. The start of the age of the automobile and expanse of paved highways between towns. The idea that to become a medical doctor you need to have a college degree before medical school. The list seems to go on and on.

Now look at your life, in my case 1951 to 2023 and look at what you took for granted when you were in grade school or Middle school or High school. For me one easy way is to watch old movies of the 1960’s that I watched. Not just science fiction, spy dramas, crime dramas, even comedies. With Science fiction it can be an especially big giggle when they talk about the distant future like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solent Green (set in 2022)., By the way I’m still waiting for my self driving flying car. Other movies like “Fantastic Voyage” and “ Satan Bug” can remind you of cutting edge technologies of the 1960s. In any case it will give you a wonderful feel for how we misestimated the changes we will see, both what we thought would happen and things we never saw coming.

Now to the whole point of this experiment. When ever you start getting down about the state of the world. When the “Doom” sayers get to you take a look and all we have accomplished in just your life time and even before. An have faith in the kids to over face what comes, to adapt and to over come.

The Forgotten IX

IX Amendment
US Constitution Bill of Rights

One of the first things I notice about Justice Alito’s option in Dobbs v Jackson was it was very careful about all of the texts in the Constitution it thought would apply or be affected by the decision. Except one. The IX Amendment (see above). Years ago when I first started to really started to study the Constitution one of my Professors called the IXth the forgotten amendment. We spent quite some time on just why it was forgotten and why it is so important.

Take a moment to look at it carefully. Now think about just what it is saying. It is just one sentence but it says something very important to all of us. In more modern language it says that the enumeration of specific rights, does not mean and should not be taken to mean, that the people do not still retain those rights. What Justice Alito’s ignoring of the Amendment seems to be implying is that the Federal Courts, and the Supreme Court in particular, has no role in protecting these unenumerated rights.

This idea is just one of many issues I have with both the ”Originalist” and/or ”Textualist” doctrines on interpreting the Constitution. I will not go into all of my issues with these two doctrines for they are legion. In stead I will concentrate on just one issue bought to light here. This is the idea that Enumerated Rights take president over unEnumerated rights to the extent that the IX Amendment is meaningless.

Before I start I’d like to point out one fundamental principle I have in reading the Constitution. There is nothing in it just for ”show”. Every word, every phrase, everything is there for a reason and therefor can not be ignored. Too many modern scholars of the Constitution seem to be unaware of this principle. They read the Constitution like “ Elmer Gantry“ read scripture. Quote what supports your view and ignore what contradicts you. We have seen this before in the “Great 2nd Amendment Debate” where the entire first clause is totally ignored. The same thing is being done with the IX Amendment, except it is the entire text being relegated to the trash bin.

What is truly fascinating about Dobbs is that in many many cases it takes head on the many of the clauses they wish to overturn in the reasoning of Roe vs Wade. Justice Alito does this in with the 15th Amendment. He does not with the IX. I think this is because, like himself, Roe vs Wade also ignores the IX. It also could be that he thought that the IX Amendment had no bearing on the case before the Court. (By the way, I accept this is a perfectly acceptable thing to do.) This seems to be stretching things just a might as Dobb’s deals with rights not enumerated in the Constitution (ie Privacy) and the IX Amendment is all about unenumerated rights.

In closing all we can really say is the Dobbs totally ignores the IX Amendment and we don’t know why.

Some Thoughts on Hell and Evil

Just so those of you reading this who know me, I still don’t believe in the traditional christian concept of Hell. Nor do I accept the classic portrayal of evil. What I want to do here is talk about a possible kind of Hell that the kind of just and loving God could possibly allow to exits.

This idea started to form in my thinking of just where all of the demons that ’punish’ the damned souls in hell. In all of the representations I have ever seen there are many more demons than souls. Like on the order of 3/4 to 1 or 10+ to 1. The traditional answer to this question is they are all fallen angles. Really? The classic all powerful / all knowing God created that many flawed Angles? This always bothered me.

Given that I currently work on the theory that 1) God does not make mistakes, is loving and Forgiving 2) while Heaven could exist, Hell does not; it has occurred to that a kind of Hell just may exist. It is actually a kind of Heaven. A Heaven for all those souls who do believe in a Hell and do believe the greatest duty of all ”True Believers” is to punish everyone who rejects ”The One True God/Religion” for all time.

Before you reject this idea, just stop and consider the idea for a minute or two. To those who feel that it is their calling to punish the evil/wicked what could be more heaven like than a place where they get to punish, personally, those people they feel are the most sinful? Where they get to enjoy seeing them, the sinful, suffer for their sins? Horrifying isn’t? But is it anymore horrifying than the classic view of hell? A place with out hope?

I think not.

Our Continuing Sheldon Crisis….


With the 2022 primaries true and well started I’d like to stop and take note of the ”Sheldon” crisis we are in. I know I’ve been talking about a crisis for several years now and before I go on, I’d like to point out some things usually over looked when talking about ”Sheldon” Crisis’. First, the ”Foundation” novels never really give us a good time frame for just how long a ”Sheldon” crisis takes to start and end. Shoot, we never get a good idea of how long it takes to travel from Terminus to Trator. Weeks, months? No clue, just that it is not too long for the people making the trip.

Also we are never told just what a ”Sheldon” crisis is. All we know is that it is a phenomenon of ”Psycohistory” a science that was invented by the mathematician Hari Sheldon. We are also told that ”Psyohistory” can predict the actions of very large bodies of humans (very large being the populations of entire planets if not multiple planets). So just how am I using the phase ”Sheldon” Crisis? What do I mean by it.

Simple put I’m talking about the phenomenon of a Sociopolitical science where a sudden, often violent events occur that mark a distinct change in a socialites social, political, and/or economic state. a good example is what happened between 1914 and 1945. Yes that is 31 years. But in the history of people and nations it is shorter than a blink of the eye. So live with it. I will go on from there.

What I’m looking at today is the possible death of the Republican Party that came into being in the last half of the 20th Century. If you look at the demographics of the Republican Party in the 1950/60 and the 2010/20 you can see a significant difference. (Please note that you can see a related demographic change in the Democratic Party) These changes are most notable in the rise of extreme politics. The shift from seeing someone with a differing political/economic/social/religious view point not just as opponent, not just as the enemy, but as fundamentally evil. Something to be eradicated at all cost. My side, right or wrong, but my side.

One of the key issues with this phenomenon is that it has a strong tendency to concentrate concentrate “The True Believer” (See Eric Hofer) into one political party or movement. It also has a tendency to concentrate the Authoritarian-Autocrat personality into one political party or movement. When it is in one political party/movement we have a very explosive mixture. This is what I see happening with the Republican Party of the early 2020’s. I shall give some examples of what I think of as symptomatic and/or diagnostic events in my next posting.

The American War on Science

Orange Koolaid

Ever sense the spring of 2020 and the struggle began against the Covid-19 pandemic we have been able to see the American War on Science shown in all it’s ferocity. I say the American War because America has been of two minds about science since the first colonist arrived on these shores. Part of us are children of the Enlightenment and another part are children of hyper religious dissidence. These two groups have never gotten along with each other and for the same reason. They perceive the other as a trying to destroy the other. An in away they are right.

First lets look at the basic philosophical positions of both sides:

Let us first look at the Children of the Enlightenment and their handmaiden, Science. I shall be using “Science” from here on out for brevity’s sake. Science, as seen by many, has as a central principle that there is nothing that can not be questioned. Even the most fundamental concepts and principles can be questioned. An by questioned I mean ‘put to the test’. We teach science both by lecture and actual hand on experimental experience. We have students conduct experiments for many reasons but one of the most important is to check the results of all the experiments that went before. An sometime, very rarely, a student will get a result that will like a spark in their mind that will lead to great and new findings.

Now lets pause right here because I’m sure there is someone reading this who will know, either personally or otherwise, a time when someone was “don’t question” X. It is a ‘fundamental law of nature’. An this happens much to often but it is not the philosophy of science that says this, but individuals who say it. People are human and so will have all of the failings of humans. All we can do is ‘smile sweetly’ and keep on questioning everything.

Now on the other side are people (both the Puritans and Quakers just to name a few) who believe and accept the philosophy of ‘“absolute truth”. There are somethings that are true for all time and therefore can not be questioned. Ever. And these things can not be discovered by asking questions, they can only be ‘revealed’. An there lies both the problem and the strength of Religion. It provides the comfort that a young child gets from asking a parent to deal with an impossible/unsolvable problem. And it provides the security to the one providing the answer of “Because I Say So.” An this is excepted. An the fundamental problem with reviled truth is there is never just one truth revealed.

Looking at the history of this country we have many many examples of intractable problems facing our body politic. From the ‘Devine right of kings’ in the 18th century, to who is ‘sovereign’ (the states or the federal government) and slavery of the 19th century. To segregation and racism of the 20th century. An none of these problems can be resolved from ‘reviled truth’. Why? Mostly because there is more that one reviled truth being referenced. And even when all sides agree on the source of the “truth” (in the USA it is often the Bible) they end up with a battle of scriptures. By a battle of scriptures I mean where all sides can find one or more lines in the reviled truth to support there position. Both are ‘right’ but we have no way of testing for who is right.

But wait you say, that happens in science all the time. Well, yes and no. Yes we get heated debates where all sides point out the “Math”, “Observations” and or experiments that ‘Prove’ there theory is correct/wrong. But unlike in Religion, in Science you have to answer the question “How do we test it?” One of the greatest challenges to “How do we test the theory?” If it can’t be tested it can’t be accepted as fact, no mater who says it is true.

So now we come to the “War on Science”. This is not a unquietly American phenomenon. But it is new in a historically as what we now call ‘science’ is new. Science as we now know it came in to being with the ‘Scientific Method’ in the 17th Century and the ‘Age of Enlightenment’. The ‘Scientific Method’ was and still is by some, seen as a direct challenge to ‘Reviled Faith’. Originally because science was seen to challenge reviled truth that dealt with the observable world. An not just in esoteric fields like chemistry but in very day to day issues like Astrology. After all if moving the sun to the center of the ‘universe’ (or solar system) makes doing ‘accurate’ astrological charts for your king or emperor your going to use it even if the church says the Earth is at the center of all things.

The problem this war has in America is that most of the people who came here to colonize were of the ‘very hard headed’ (some would say pig headed) verity. Both those of the Enlightenment and Regions verity. Next is the problem we have faced ever sense 1792 politicians have seen taking sides in this fight as an excellent way to win and keep voters. More on the ‘Reviled Truth’ side, mostly because they are less likely to respond to hard data and reasoned debate than those of the enlightenment bent.

So there you have it. Don’t get depressed about this “War on Science”. It not new. In fact it is a grand old American tradition we have been practicing since the founding of the country.

A Problem Facing the MAGA


With the Covid-19 (aka Coronavirus) pandemic entering it’s fourth month and the slow, if not laggardly, actions of Pres. Trump and his fellow MAGAs to fight this pandemic. The biggest problem is that like all MAGA Pres. Trump does not really understand the age in which we live.

This is the Information Age.when everything you say in public can, and often is, recorded for all time. More than that it can, and will, be shared with the entire world with in hours, if not minutes. An unlike MiniTrue in 1984 it is not possible for any government to control what information is peeing shared. So we have the problem facing the Governor of Georgia saying that he just found out that asymptotic people can spread the infection. With in minutes he was show to be either 1) a liar 2) ignorant beyond belief or 3) a total fool.

This is the problem of the use of the “Leadership Priciple” as first formalized in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. You have to be shown ‘leading’ and it must conform to your exposed political principles (even if it has nothing to do with politics) and you just may get it wrong. But as the ‘Leader’ you can’t be wrong, so now what? Back in the middle of the 20th century it was possible for government and big businesses to make the unpleasant truth to disappear down the memory hole.

There are several great examples of this in history the one I like the best was how Stalin was able to make one of the biggest communists of the revolution just disappear from wall USSR records. Photographs and all. But it was not just in communist states has this happened, nor just in the 20th century. This has been going on since before recorded records. Until now.

With the arrival of electronic computers, the internet and the ‘cloud’ it has become almost impossible for anything, truth of lie, to disappear down the memory hole. Now what happens is the truth is buried under an avalanche of lies and other ‘the real truth’. But do not loose hope. We also have the tools to protect the truth and it too is as old as history. Critical Thinking and the simple fundamental principle that the universe is non-partisan.

Something like Covid-19 does not, in fact can not, care what the leaders want. It will do what the natural laws of the universe dictate. If our leaders refuse to acknowledge this and we don’t do ‘social distancing’ and we let profiteers practice ‘classical’ capitalism and the ‘privileged few’ think it “can’t happen here” then we will have a great pandemic here with many deaths that would not have happened if they, the leaders, had acted as the medical specialist recommended.

Remember “The piper is Always Paid.”

The Age of Newspeak

Big Broghrt

One of the mistakes made by people who read George Orwell’s 1984 is that he was just righting about the threat of Soviet Communism. He wasn’t. 1984 was published in 1948 and this numeric relationship is not unintentional. George Orwell was a Socialist but a rabbit anti Communist. He also knew how people will use words to hide what they really mean. That is why NewSpeak is so important. That is why Oceania and EngSoc bear so little resemblance to any kind of Socialist state. When looked at closely Oceania looks more like a National Socialist sate (that is Nazi Germany) or a Stalinist Communist state. An just what does this have to do with NewSpeak? Just this.

Both states used what Orwell called Newspeak to the maximum extent possible. When I was studying Russian in the late 70’s my Russian teacher told the class a Russian saying. “There is no truth in News and no news in Truth”. The two major newspapers in the USSR were Pravda (the Truth) and Izvestia (News). It is quite telling when the two major sources of information are so characterize. The same could be said about all of the news sources coming out of the Nazi Germany although the Nazi’s were content with just seating up a ministry of Propaganda. In both cases it was up to the individual to understand just what the ‘leaders’ were actually saying and what should be done. That is the leaders were speaking using ‘code’ words.

This kind of speaking by leaders, or anyone for that mater is not new, it has been going on ever sense humans started to speak. It is quit often used by leaders to get someone to do something while giving the leader ‘plausible denial’ if it what is done comes to like. What’s new now is the general acceptance in the United States of the use of NewSpeak not just occasionally, but every day. Not just by some of our leaders, our mover & shakers, or anyone who want’s to influence the populous. It has gotten so bad it is both blatant and obvious to even the most casual observer.

For me, as an Amateur Historian, it reminds me more of the situation in the USA in the 1850’s. Every movement, religious, political, or what not, had it’s own newspaper. None of these newspapers even attempted to pretend any kind of objectivity but they often did speak in code words. Some of the code words were old, like “Peculiar Institution” for Slavery. Or “Manifest Destiny” for stealing Indian lands. But unlike today they were not hypocritical about their bias, they openly admitted it. Now we don’t.

I think this is a hold over from the dawn of electronic mss communication with the advent of Radio. (Interesting point it still has not been 100 years since the first commercial radio station went on the air.). At this same time a new ideal was taken hold in news reporting. The idea of objectivity. This was a very radical idea and was fought tough an nail for many years. It seems to have lost. Starting with the end of the ‘Fairness Doctrine” for Radio/TV in the Reagan administration the idea of objective reporting as been disappearing. The ideal still exists but it is in the ICU in the age of the internet. We need to do something NOW to resurrect it.

This is not impossible. What we need is one or more of our Techno-Genus’s to start working on a way to quickly, effortlessly, and reliably fact check what we see on the interned and in Social Media. I propose this effort start with some way to identify the “point of origin” of any and all posting. Next is a way to block on any social media postings from a source. Next we need a way of identifying just who is who. I mean do you really know just who is funding and/or running “the Good Guys Group”? Right now you may not even find out that they are a corporate entity based somewhere in the Federated States of Micronesia, on an island with a listed population of 0 (zero).

None of this is anymore impossible than what we take for granted today. Look around you, every person you see walking around you with a Cell Phone is walking around with a portable computer more powerful than ALL of the computers used to land men on the moon 50 years ago. Almost none of the software running on you cell phone was even dreamed of 50 years ago, some wasn’t even an idea 10 years ago. So what you and I need to do is start asking for, no demanding, technology that will take away the Antonymy of people who post on the internet and Social Media. It looked like a good idea, but it wasn’t.

Orange KoolAid IV

Orange Koolaid

After it is all over.

While we are only three days into the Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump I think it is time to start thinking about were we, as a nation, will be when it is over. This is going to be more questions that answers so Please jump in with an answers you have.

My first question is just how is the GOP going to convince most Americans that our elections are open, fair, and honest. That is, how can we trust our elections to really be the will of the people? Why didn’t I include the Democrats? It is because it is the Republicans who are being shown to not be willing to do anything to prevent foreign intervention. It is the GOP who seem to be more concerned with unlawful voters than hacked/stuffed voting systems.

Given the documented (look at Senates own website for all bills passed by the Senate in the current Congress) poor work performance of the GOP controlled Senate? Yes, I know this is wonkie, but I am a bit of a wonk. It is true that the Current Senate has confirmed more federal judges than almost ever before. It is also true that this class of new judges has one of the largest number of person who are considered “Unqualified” to hold the office by their peers.

Given the above, just how will the GOP get the majority of Americans to believe that we are all equal before the law. Be with MAGA, RINO, Democrat or undeclared. If the judge is hearing the case is just a political hack appointed because he/she is “right” on abortion and immigration what faith can we give him/her we will get a hearing?

Given the lackluster effort to even address the issue of incorrect information floating around the internet by the GOP/MAGA what faith can anyone give to any News? Will not the next four years be the age of All News is Fake News if I don’t agree with it? Is there nothing we, as individuals, can do? Is there nothing we techno-geeks do? (More on this soon.)

That’s all for now. I look forward to getting lots of comments with answers to my question. The best will be shared!

Orange KoolAid III

Orange Koolaid

This week I had posted on my Facebook page the image seen below.

I could not ask for a better example of the danger facing readers of Facebook. It is a great piece of rhetoric. None of the first five statements are wrong, that is all were made and all were based on some kind of science. All are also not really accurate. The last and final statement is also incorrect, both in it’s assertion that nothing happened and the assertion that there is some relationship with taxes. Let’s look at each statement in turn and see what is being done.

Yes, in the early 1960’s there were projections that all ‘known’ oil reserves would be exhausted. An, yes it was in fact true. All of the oil reserves known before 1960’s are exHausted by the early 1970’s. The key thing is that they were talking about all known oil reserves and it assumes no new sources of oil would be found and that no new oil extraction technologies would be developed. Finally I have not been able to find a single knowledgeable person in the 1960’s who accepted this idea. Indeed, in the early 70’s I heard this being said as a justification for more oil exploration. (BTW: I was working with my Dad’s oil exploration company at the time.)

In the 1970’s there were people sayings and papers being published predicting a coming ice age. Unfortunately a great many more people saying and papers were being published talking about the global warming. One of the problems with science is you can always find people exposing theories that go against the accepted view. What is worse, sometimes these people are right. That is why science has ‘pier’ reviews of all papers and every theory is, or should be, carefully and completely look at.

In the 1980’s, just like now, acidic rain, or acid rain, is being talked about and some people are making dire predictions. (See above about theories) The difference between now and then is that then it was sulfur oxides not carbon oxides that was the worry. The burning of coal burns some sulfur creating two oxides. Both sulfur dioxide (SO2) and sulfur trioxide (SO3). The first makes the weak acid Sulfurous acid (H2SO3) and the other Sulfuric acid (H2SO4). It was soon seen that it was sulfurous acid that was being made, but sulfuric acid was present in significant amounts. In any case the changing of the pH of the rain would and does have a significant effect on crops. (Please note that there are a great many compounds created by burning hydrocarbons such as CO, CO2, NO2, and NO3 to name a few.) Al that said, we did do something, we developed technology to ‘scrub’ (precipitate) the sulfur oxides out of the smoke of coal (and any other high sulfur content hydrocarbons).

In the 1990s, actually even before, the depletion of the Ozone Lay was becoming a concern. The connection with the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)and the depletion was soon shown in many scientific papers, an yes, there were papers challenging this (see about). The chemical reaction(s) between CFCs has been shown in the lab many times. This is not odd as ozone is quite reactive chemical. Once the world stoped using chlorofluorocarbons the ozone lay has been recovering (it’s still not back to where is was when it was first discovered but it is not getting weaker.)

Finally, yes there are ‘doom’ sayers out there who have published paper’s projecting the total melting of the two icecaps by 2010. Once again these papers were outliers, often based on either poor data and/or poor analysis. The vast majority of the work done is talking about the loss of the two ice caps with in 50-100 years BUT this is all based on incomplete data.

So what does this show us? First that it is true that the statements were made. Next all were incorrect. Most just citing outlier science and two forgetting to note that action was taken to prevent it from happening. It is the last and final statement that is wrong on all counts. That ‘None of this Happened’ is a true statement but implies all were taken seriously and that nothing was done. The second part is more insidious, it implies a connection between the earlier statements and taxes. With out any demonstration of causality. It is a classic use of correlation without causality. Using this same reasoning we should ban ice cream as it has been shown for over a century now that when there is a rise in the sale of ice cream there is a corresponding rise in Homicides. (This last is based on the classic example used in intro to statistics on correlation and causality.)

So beware, what ever the side you are on, of postings like this one. I would recommend if you see something like this that are tempted to say “Yes! Exactly right!” To take a step back and ask your self “What are they Selling?”

Why I see my bible as Allegory

The Deluge
The Deluge by Gustave Dore

I want you to take a look at the above picture carefully. It is a great artistic work by Gustave Dore of the last survivors not on the Ark of the Great Deluge. There are two in it that are totally Innocent of any sin or offense against God. The tigress and her cub.

When I really started thinking about Christianity, over 55 years ago, the story of the Great Deluge was on of the first things I started to question. Not because of science, but because of what I was thought to believe Christianity and God are all about. What upset me was all of the innocent animals that died in the flood. How could a loving and just god kill them all in such a horrible manner? (For me, then as now, drowning is the most horrible way to die. I’m a hydrophobe.) When I asked about this I was told God save two of each animal on the Ark. This is not a good answer to my way of thinking. If you do have what you think is a good answer please leave it in the comments. I really would like to know what you think.

This is what started me on my quest to question and understand the Bible. I started looking at all the places where god is supposedly acted in a manner that was not loving, and/or forgiving and/or just. There are a great many in the Old Testament but there are some few in the New. I’m not going to list any here, I think it is better you look for yourself. I recommend you first decide just what you mean by ‘loving’ and forgiving and just. Then see if the god in the passage is acting that way.

Now ask yourself if these stories were taken as allegory does it make more sense. Not that these specific bad things did or could happen but that if you act as the people acted bad things will happen. They will happen to you and they will, unfortunately to people and things totally innocent. An this will be a burden you will have to carry for ever after. This allows God to be Loving, kind, forgiving, just, and all the good things he is supposed to be and still teach us the lesson of the story.