Saturday, 26 December 2015

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate." - Noam Chomsky.

For Example: you are allowed to debate how much government we should have, and what kind of government that should be.... but the idea that no government should exist is never given any serious consideration in the mainstream.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Concrete-Bound

A realisation from Ayn Rand which has really helped me understand the psychology of others is the concept of being "concrete-bound" which took me a while to understand. When I would debate with my dad for example, he would often say things like "well there are very well researched people, as intelligent as you are, who disagree with you" - or (my favourite) "if you ask 100 people the vast majority would disagree" ; not realising these were not actually arguments - never mind valid or sound.

When I would make as obvious reductio ad absurdum like "Well if you asked 100 people if the world was flat in 1066 ..." he would say things like "I don't like your analogies..." as though my example had nothing whatsoever to do with what he said. Ayn Rand helped me realise he was "concrete-bound" he didn't know how to move from a specific example such as "if you ask 100 people they will disagree with you (on this issue)" to the underlying principle of the assertion (the truth is what the majority says it is.) Have you any experiences of interacting with the "concrete-bound" ?

I have found a method of intervening in a way that helps explain the leap but it requires a bit more patience.

You have to first make explicit the principle, "are you saying that if most people believe something then that something is true?" - Wait for them to respond. They are unlikely to say yes, if they say "no - but..." listen to what they have to say and then respond, "But you accept that just because the majority of people say something is true that doesn't mean it is true?" and proceed in the same fashion without hostility so avoid provoking defensiveness.

In other words: don't skip steps in your reasoning, and don't use hidden premises. Take people through the argument stage by stage.

Afterwards you can explain the concept of the particular logical fallacy

Monday, 26 October 2015

Why Government is Antithetical to Freedom

"When two people meet in a political discussion, regardless of the political affiliations, there are bound to be a number of issues that they agree on. For example, a socialist and a free-marketeer - despite having completely different opinions on how an economy should be run - are likely to agree on a dearth of issues including ending foreign military interventions, the war on drugs, reducing government surveillance into the private lives of citizens, and ending corporate welfare from the government to rich business issues. Nevertheless, under the political system which most people favour - parliamentary democracy of some description - both are almost completely powerless to fight back against these (real or perceived injustices) because they have to simply accept one of the "package deals" of policies offered by one of the parties that can win. If none of those parties offer the option of ceasing to sink state funds into nuclear weapons, for example, these supposed political enemies alike will both be forced to pay for them through the tax system - regardless of their personal values. It is the power to divest which is the real basis of political freedom. The power to say "no, I don't believe in this, I don't want to pay for it, and so I am going to spend my money elsewhere." That is the freedom that the non-state sectors of society (be they businesses, charities, cooperatives or other non-government organisations) offer, but the state does not, and fundamentally why the state is antithetical to freedom." - Antony Sammeroff

 I think if you use this argument when you get into political debates with statists, "even where we both agree - and there is lots of common ground - we are still powerless to make change under the system you support, which is parliamentary democracy" - the penny might drop.

It looks like this: "Both you and I agree on lots of issues, for example against the wars, against the war on drugs, against corporate welfare. But under the system you support, we are relatively powerless to change it because even if we vote - we can only vote for the package deals of party x or party y - if those issues are off the cards on both platforms, we will still have to pay for it whether we like it or not through the tax system - even if one is one platform, another one is not likely to be on the other platform. "

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Get in Touch with your Heroes.... Now!!!

Really sorry to hear that my friend and colleague Peter Gerlach passed away at 77. I had the pleasure of interviewing him 4 times for YouTube, sadly one of the interviews did not record and was lost forever, but I was told that our last one included 'a lifetime of takeaways.' I was looking forwards to collaborating more when I finished my current projects... Silly me for waiting. His wisdom lives on in his work. I honour you Pete thank you for all you taught me. funnily enough look at my facebook status from the 12th of October: Hey if you like or admire someones work or writing or whatever they do you should send them an email before they croak. I have exchanged emails with most of the people who really influenced my thinking that were alive during my lifetime. Alfie Kohn, Warren Farrell, Stefan Molyneux, Pete Gerlach.... Nathaniel Branden, another hero, died December of last year - I had never bothered to even try emailing him. Marshall Rosenberg died this year. For ages I wanted to tell sci-fi author Brian Aldiss what I thought of his writing, and how much I loved his ability to build rich worlds - even just for one short story or a novel. He is 90 now! I finally emailed him today, almost 10 years after the thought of wanting to tell him first crossed my mind. Perhaps he is too busy to reply but at least I put it out there, we'll see. Get emailing your heroes they might croak like Nathaniel Branden and Marshall Rosenberg. Talk about timing!

Monday, 19 October 2015

marriage

you know, my whole life I have taken it for granted that if I got married I would take the ladies name as well as her taking mine. So much so that the first time I realised it was when I mentioned a scenario that it was a feature of in passing to a flatmate around 6 years ago and rather than comment on the scenario he remarked that it was "very modern" of me to add a girls last name before my own. Isn't it weird? I never even regarded it as a thing, even although I knew that most people don't do that. Only problem is that if the tradition continues my descendants will have a massive long list of names.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Tax codes

Apparently Americans spend 6.1 billion a year complying with US tax codes. Wouldn't it be nice if they just replaced the 67,000 pages of tax regulations with the FAIR Tax and everyone could go out volunteering, spending the afternoon with their family, or making something that other people want for some extra cash?