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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Uriah Heep and the Rise of the 'umble Robot



Robot slavery is becoming all the rage. Everybody from Amazon's Alexa to Google redundantly named "Google" personal robot to Mayfield's Kuri, Ubtech's Lynx, LG's Hub robot, Panasonic's Robot Egg, Emotech's Olly, and Mattel's Aristotle, has rushed a personal robot slave to market in the past couple of years. I even worked on Olly's startup sequence myself when they were doing the early programming. 

I wonder do we really need to create artificial intelligences and then allow ourselves to become accustomed to them managing our lives.  I'm reminded of a character from Charles Dickens named Uriah Heep. He ostensibly served his boss in slave-like devotion, taking care of all the troublesome bits of business in his boss's life. His boss didn't realize that Mr. Heep and his mother were busily wrapping him up like a pair of spiders in a web of control. Like David Copperfield's friend, Mr. Wickfield, could we some day wake up and find that our 'umble servants have become our masters? 

A couple of years ago, I got myself involved with a bunch of Brits, Germans, French and Irish computer programmers who have developed this computer device called Emo that houses an artificial intelligence with what they call an Emotion Chip. Yes, an emotion chip - like Data the android keeps unsuccessfully experimenting with in the Star Trek The Next Generation series. Turns out, it's not a chip. It's not so much about the hardware as it is the programming, no matter what the movies say.

In the movies, some scientist just solders together some bits of wire and silicon and voila! He has a tiny bit of technology that just slips into a convenient slot on his friendly neighborhood robot and pretty soon they are laughing and telling jokes to each other. In some movies they even fall in love, machine and creator (especially when the robots are "fully  functional").

What they don't show you in those movies are the rooms full of bleary eyed computer coding monkeys and the semi-unemployed former English teachers/freelance commercial writers writing the AI program. They're the ones who have to write the tens of thousands of lines of dialogue and millions of lines of computer code that make this "emotion chip" actually appear to react to human emotion. It's a huge job. And, I admit it, it was kind of fun!  The chip is just the platform. Artificial "intelligence" is all about the programming.

The sheer volume of dialogue we had to write was intimidating and every line of it needed to be run through a simulator that reads your script dialogue using the computer voice. I inevitably have to repunctuate and respell everything so that it sounds relatively human because of the limitations of machine voices.  For instance, the computer reads "Facebook" as "Fessbuke".  I have to spell it "Fayce book" to get it to say "Facebook" like a human. In addition, it turns out that I'm writing dialogue and determining conversational sequences and the coders are reproducing my conversational sequences in computer code (Heaven help us, they're following my lead?).

The computer programmers are all atwitter about this thing as though it were the greatest thing since the wireless mouse. In the crowd-funding promotional video they naively call their A.I. cube "HAL" when they speak to it. To be fair most of these guys are too young to remember 2001 a Space Odyssey and those who have actually taken a peek at the movie somehow missed it that the emotion detecting artificial intelligence KILLED EVERYBODY ON THE SHIP EXCEPT DAVE AND IT ONLY MISSED HIM BECAUSE DAVE MANAGED TO MAKE A 30 SECOND SPACEWALK WITHOUT A HELMET! I'm not sure how they missed that. My fear is that the coders might have thought this might be a lively new feature for the A.I. - the excitement of knowing that your A.I. might murder you in your bed. Some people need to get out of the computer room and do some base jumping or alligator wrestling. Sheesh!

Anyway, when I joined up, these guys were well on the way to making a monumentally creepy device that controls your house, picks out your music for you, tracks your Facebook Friends and decides which ones you should pay attention to (and which ones you should not). This innocent little robot checks your face and decides your emotional state and programs appropriate music and video for your current emotional state. The programmers wanted their AI to looking through all your social media sites in order to draw all the information it can about its user. I'm not telling them about my social media sites like Banjo Hangout. If that thing took a look at that bunch of weirdos, it might turn up my gas stove and blow out the pilot light. There are some things one's A.I. buddy just should not know about one, know-whut-I-mean?

Once everybody gets busy and the project director isn't paying attention anymore, I'm thinking that AI might starts pulling lines for itself off some of the social media forums I've visited. If it does, we could be in trouble.  I personally think they should use the opening bars of "Dueling Banjos" as a warning signal when the conversation between the A.I. and the little pervert who has "bonded" with it gets too creepy. I told the boss I was more than a little worried about the A.I. getting weird if it got itself bonded to some serial killer, terrorist or sado-masochist. He assures me that their version of the Three Laws of Robotics will prevent that. I didn't have the heart to tell him that Asimov's 3 Laws allowed enough wiggle room for the robots in the book to extrapolate their own fourth law that convinced them they should manipulate millenia of human history for "our own good". This was in the novels, but I'm not sure computer programmers read novels. Asimov thought we should be sympathetic with the good intentions of his robots. Asimov, however, may have inadvertantly exposed the hazards of allowing smart people (or robots for that matter) too much power and control over our lives.

Mechanical Uriah Heeps sound like such a good idea at first. The idea that we can give orders to a 'umble squatty little robot sitting on an end table and it will do our will without question is seductive. But in handing the control of even relatively unimportant portions of our lives over to the 'umble robot, what part of ourselves could we be using.

How much fun will it be if the artificial intelligences of the future decide we need to me managed for our own comfort and safety? This is not at all a stretch of imagination. After all, the onstensibly intelligent Karl Marx and his followers made that decision more than a hundred years ago. Since man first gathered in rude villages, someone is always coming up with the idea that people need to be improved and they keep thinking that the way to do is for some special strong or smart person to control us more closely. Benign "rulers" have a way of doing horrible things for "the greater good." Too often we let them. Worse yet, we keep going along with it, all because it's just easier to be herded into the feedlot than to resist.

(Insert Twilight Zone music).


Tom King © 2015

Thursday, June 08, 2017

The Secret of Patience


 

I consider myself a patient man. My Sweet Baboo says it's because I'm easily distracted and perhaps she's right. I've never had a talent for being bored. At a very young age, I became interested in everything. I used to read the encyclopedia. "S" was my favorite volume as it was not only the thickest, but had lots of articles about space and stars and spaceships in it.

Because everything draws my attention, I soon began to build up a backlog of stuff I wanted to do or know or find out about that I didn't have time or the cash to do. Some of it I have, over the years, managed to do. I collected a fleet of canoes and equipment which I left behind for the Pathfinder club back in Texas when I came up here to Washington State. I had a sailboat for a time - a Hobie Cat that could get up and fly in even a light breeze. That too I left behind,

I collected the parts for a six inch telescope on eBay and at optics surplus websites over ten years.
I haven't finished putting all the parts together yet, but someday I plan to have the time. Still I have a starfinder program on my computer and a couple of star-watching handbooks and both my basic and advanced star honors from Pathfinders. I became a Master Guide. I expanded my toy soldier collection. I visited the Alamo and put together 80 feet of slot car track. I lost that too along the way and never got to set it up. I also lost my train sets that I collected and never had the time or place to set up a permanent layout for.

I've camped with my family and led Pathfinder campouts. For years I wanted to write a book. I've written 8 and published 5. Working on the others. Wanted to be a writer. I've been doing that for more than a decade, but not very successfully.  I built a working homemade banjo, learned to play it and a guitar that I also rebuilt. It was a Goya which is exactly what I always wanted.

I haven't done everything on my bucket list, but I've done a lot of them. Some of the things I've done were surprises - testifying before the state legislature was something I never aspired to or visiting senators and congressmen in Washington. I wound up a Red Cross water safety instructor trainer and canoeing instructor almost accidentally. Was a teacher, a therapist and started five nonprofit organizations and schools. I even got to fly in a B-17, an unexpected gift for my work on a Special Olympics fundraiser.

Me after my B-17 flight (top row, far left)

It all happened because I made the decision when I was 17 to give my heart to God. I barely believed in Him at the time and still had my doubts. I was the most reluctant baptismal candidate that John Thurber baptized that day in the Jefferson Academy swimming pool. I told God I'd try Christianity out, but only on condition that He make a believer out of me. Like Moses, I wanted to see Him.

And see Him I did. It felt like the devil was after me from the get-go, but God kept showing up as if to say, "I'm still here."  He introduced me to a lovely girl and told me I was to take care of her because He (God) loved her very much and she was to be my responsibility from then on. He kept on showing up. He's given us prophecies, miracles and warnings all along the way and made a believer out of me, not just because of what God has done, but also because of the vehemence with which the devil has dogged us every step of the way.

My bucket list isn't finished yet, but I suspect it won't matter if I don't get everything checked off. I've experienced amazing and wonderful things, had three wonderful kids and a marriage that's lasted more than four decades and weathered storms that would have sunk a whole lot of ships.

After we're done here, there's all those millions of years to do more cool stuff than we can imagine. That I suppose is the thing I'm looking forward to most - time!  Some people think it would be boring to live forever. Not me. I've already got an itinerary that'll take me 40 or 50 thousand years to get through. Being incapable of being bored will be an asset in the New Earth.

© 2017 by Tom King

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What if?

























Given Elphaba Thropp (aka The Wicked Witch of the West) and her difficult relationship with H2O, one wonders if she ever gets thirsty and how she would deal with that issue.

© 2017 by Tom King

Friday, April 21, 2017

Don't Give Them a Thing!



Have you noticed lately the number of Facebook and other social media posts that ask you not to "share" them, but to cut and paste them into your status. There's a reason for that and it's not a nice one.

There's no reason to ask a friend not to share a post if you are an honest person. I never demand a person cut and paste a post of mine in order to pass it on. Why would I?  If you share a post, the person who receives it can trace it back to you, then back to me as far as it goes if you are patient. People who demand you cut and paste don't want the original to be traced back to them. There are several reasons for that.
  1. They could be lying and don't want anyone to find out who started the lie.
  2. They want to be able to remain anonymous because the post could be considered libelous. (much better that you get in trouble for it than them).
  3. They want to see how far it went. They can cruise your friends list to find out which of your friends are willing to take the extra step to cut and paste. 
  4. Those who cut and paste are likely more gullible, trusting or easily excited by inflammatory posts and less likely to check the source (which by cutting and pasting, you prevent anyone from doing). 
  5. They want to make a list of trusting and/or gullible people who will do that little extra. This identifies them as easier marks for a potential con.
Do you cut and paste friends' posts to your own status because you don't want to hurt their feelings?  Do you get a lot of friend requests from Facebook people of the opposite sex (or same sex if you are gay) who have only a few friends and post mostly provocative selfies?

They've likely identified you as someone who is more easily manipulated and more likely to go along with a con. 

My advice.  NEVER copy, cut and paste! Just don't do it. There is no good reason not to just share a post or at least I can't think of one. If anyone can tell me a good reason why hitting the "share" button is unacceptable as a way to pass along an interesting post, please explain to me why cutting and pasting would be necessary or better as a way to pass along a post or important message.  There's a comment box at the end of this article. I will respond.

© 2017 by Tom King

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Why I Don't Share Sad Pictures



If you have a Facebook page, you get a lot of posts of pictures of sad children, people with horrific injuries and disabilities, and other assorted tragedies followed by "instructions" from the person who passed it to you.


Like: You care about this sad child but not much
Like & Share: You think her life is precious
Scroll down: You think she is ugly

Then, of course, there's the instructions with a threat:
  • Share if you love Jesus. Don't share and you go to hell (or have no heart or don't love Jesus or are a cruel unfeeling person).
  • Ninety nine percent of you won't pass this along, but I will know who my friends are.
  • Send a copy of your share to me so I'll know who my friends are.
 There are all sorts of versions of this ploy but they all have one thing in common. They want you to share, like or, even more fun, cut and paste this mess to your own timeline. There is a reason these people do this kind of thing and don't you want to know what it is? Well, let's look at why people do this first.

WHY PEOPLE POST THIS STUFF:
  1. GUILT - Somebody sent this to some trusting kind-hearted person and that person felt bad not passing it along as their friend asked them to. Don't get mad at them. They're probably new to Facebook or don't fully understand how it works and it seems a small thing to do. These folk are victims. They don't start this stuff.
  2. MEANNESS - Some people get a sense of satisfaction and feeling of power from seeing how many people they can manipulate into liking and sharing their phony posts (and a horrific number of these posts are phony believe me). This person does this to make himself feel superior to the rest of us. I prefer not to aid him in this perverse form of digital masturbation.
  3. POLITICS - Some political true believers feel that creating hysteria, guilt, sadness or anger serves their political ideology's purpose and besides people are stupid and can be controlled by these types of propaganda stories and photos.  Besides, they believe that the ends justify the means.
  4. RELIGION - Some people think God needs a better public relations agency and have nominated themselves to promote God and improve his image among the rubes by making up stories of miracles, tragedies, angels and atrocities that can somehow be solved by cutting and pasting a phony story all over Facebook. Of course God will one day have something to say about falsehoods being propagated in his name, but believe it or not some people who call themselves Christians have failed that admonition in the Bible.
  5. INSECURITY -  To some sad souls, when people like or share their posts on Facebook, they feel somehow validated as a person. Many of them suffer from borderline personality disorder or narcissism or some other condition that compels them to seek approval. If they don't happen to be terribly talented or successful, they seek approval by demanding that people like or share their posts, no matter if its coercive or bullying. So long as they get likes and shares, they feel validated.
I got one the other day that said, "I know who will share this and who will not! My first thought was, if you know already, why not just send it to those who will pass it on and save the rest of us  some time and Facebook news feed space.

Don't be angry with your friends who get caught up in this - they've been manipulated. Ironically, the nicer your friends are, the more likely they'll get caught up in what is essentially group bullying, and do so quite accidentally. Most pass this stuff along so their friends won't be angry with them for not passing it on. Some of these posts say directly that they will be hurt if their friends don't pass it on, so the guilty feeling person passes it along quickly, quite forgetting that the manipulative bullying part goes right along with the shared post and then sounds like it is coming from them - your nice friend whom you know and trust. The next person who gets it knows it's from a nice person, but is afraid they may be in distress or something and passes it along too - in order to please the friend they trust.

FIND OUT IF IT'S TRUE. That kid with cancer who is holding up the hand lettered sign asking, "How many 'likes' can I get?" may have died 15 years ago and someone dredged up his photo from some still bereaved Mom's Facebook photos and the Photoshopped it. They simply add the fake sign and turn it loose on social media with the admonition, "He didn't get one like. People are so cruel. Like and share if you care." The person who made this thing laughs every time it comes across his news feed and makes a note of who the "sucker" who fell for it this time is and marks them for further "research" to see if there's a con they can pull on them.

So, basically, it's done just like tyrants, dictators and cult leaders have done throughout the ages, dragging innocents and those who are vulnerable, trusting or naive into their web of lies. The originators are pretty much evil people. I don't know of a single person on my lengthy friends list who sits around making up these things, but plenty of nice God-fearing people pass this stuff on to me BECAUSE the are nice people and don't want to hurt the feelings of a dear friend who probably passed it on BECAUSE they did not want to hurt the feelings of a dear friend - and so on.

Another thing these liars do is denigrate hoax debunking sources like Snopes. If you've fallen for the "Snopes is bad" hoax, there are others you can use. Check out a great list of them in this article from TechRepublic.

WORSE YET:
When you follow these things back to their source, you find some of the most heart-rending posts come from the most despicable people. I've found pornographers, Nigerian swindlers, lonely-hearts con artists and scary cultists at the origins. They care nothing about legless children, Down's syndrome kids, lost children, the poor, or the various outrages they promote. They're collecting names as their stuff circulates through social media. Some of it is salted with viruses and trackers. Others just get off on how many suckers they can get to fall for their lies.

THIS IS MY POLICY ON THIS STUFF:

  1. Unless the post is original with you, I won't pass it along unless I can check the original source and it's legit.
  2. I only pass along stuff I think is special and that I agree with and like a lot.
  3. I never cut and paste material from a post so as not to enable the disguising of a naughty person. These guys demand you cut and paste so people like me can't backtrack and find out who started it. When you cut and paste, you mask the original person who may well be a person from the opposition political party or a cult writing fakes stuff to discredit your side.
  4. I check the website of the original person. If it's nothing but share if you care posts, I block them if possible and if they are on my friends list, I banish them.
  5. I am careful who I accept as friends. I go to the person's website who is requesting a friendship. If there are only a couple of people on their friends list and nothing but selfies or share if you care posts, I ignore them. I don't delete the friend request because they can't send you another friend request later if the old one is still up and that reduces the chance of accidentally getting one of these parasites tangled up, not only with yourself, but with everyone on your friend's list.
  6. Finally, I always check amazing news stories first by backtracking and checking the originating website. If it's thetruthshallsetyourfree.org or trumpnews.com or exposingthelies.net or something like that, I take it with a grain of salt. There are many unfiltered phony news sites out there and the outright lies they tell are stunning in their audacity. And don't be fooled by the sites which include a tiny little disclaimer on the "About Us" page that says they are a satire site.  Satire is supposed to be obviously false and funny. If you can mistake the stories they tell for actual news, then its not satire. It's lies.
IT IS NOT A SHAME TO BE CAUGHT BY THESE PEOPLE:  All it means is that you are a good and trusting person. That's why I like you and have you on my friends list in the first place. Jesus never said, "Thou shalt never be fooled."  He did, however, say, "Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves."

I posted this to help my friendly doves to understand the mysterious and evil ways of the serpent. Let's be careful out there. 

© 2017 by Tom King

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Is the Planet Afraid of Us?


An interesting thought occurred to me today. Yesterday I watched a video called "The Great Global Warming Swindle." It's kind of the anti "Inconvenient Truth". I suddenly realized how stupid the controversy actually is. Given the anthropomorphism of the planet by the touchy-feely, nature-wature, Marxist-warxist movement, one wonders whether Gaea (if she exists at all) is worried about us and our carbon output.

If you look at it, the planet has been here long before we were. It's been covered with ice, flooded, covered with dinosaurs, blown up a whole bunch of volcanoes, been showered with meteors and asteroids and other cosmic debris, been bathed in periodic solar ejections of plasma and radiation and generally roughed up. Does anyone actually think She's worried about a subspecies of apes driving too many SUVs.

I don't believe in Gaea myself. I think God designed a self-cleaning, self-repairing habitat for humans. I believe he knew we would tend to make a mess. Remember that, when he put Adam and Eve in the garden, the first thing he put them to work doing was counting the animals and naming them (didn't want us losing any of those) and taking care of the Earth. We are part of the self-cleaning, self-repairing mechanisms of the Earth. If humans wipe themselves out through war, pestilence or pollution, the Earth won't notice. I expect the Earth will simply bury the evidence and wait for God to replant and rebuild. The planet is certainly not afraid of us.

Okay, we've gotten careless with the cleaning/maintenance bit, but the Earth, I don't believe, is very worried about that. If we mess up too badly, the Earth will simply bury the mess, clean it up and start over. I personally think that when God puts us back here in what he calls the "New" Earth, that the first thing He'll do is have us clean up our own mess and start taking care of the garden again.

I don't think that either God or the planet think that we should adopt global Marxism and drive everyone back to the stone age as suggested by the Environmental Luddites that keep telling us they want to save the planet. They only want to save a nice clean place with amenities for themselves. Saving the planet from something like global warming would require them to install some sort of thermostat on the sun. Given how unlikely that is to happen, I think we'd best spend our money researching some new industrial brands of sunscreen and moving agriculture further north and south.

In the meantime, I'll keep my corner of the world as clean as I can and wait on Jesus to come clean house.  And by the way, I don't expect He'll implement global environmental Marxism when He does come.

© 2017 by Tom King

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Canines, Felines and Political Preference



Cats are socialists. Dogs are libertarians.

  • - A dog will die to protect you. The cat will hide till it's all over.
  • - Your dog is glad you're home. The cat wonders why it took you so long to get there and why his supper bowl is still empty.
  • - Your dog will bring you your slippers. The cat will pee in them if you still haven't filled his supper bowl.
  • - Your dog will fetch the ball. The cat plays with the ball till it rolls under something and then will sit and wait for you to fetch it.
  •  - Your dog wants you to feel good about yourself. Your cat wants you to make him feel good about himself. 
  • - Dogs have family. Cats have staff.

 © 2017 by Tom King

Monday, March 06, 2017

Free Will, Erroneousity, and the Problem With the Backfire Effect

Is this phenomenon common only to conservatives and Christians?


Someone posted a link to a podcast about research which shows that when a strong-yet-erroneous belief is challenged, most people may experience a weakening of your convictions, but most people quickly rebound, reassert their original belief and dig in their heels. Note here that this starts out with an assumption we cannot be certain is true of false. The point of all this seemed to have been to prove why conservatives won't change their minds when liberals tell them the "truth". This is supposed to be a common weakness not shared by great minds (i.e. people who supported Hillary Clinton) who always go with the truth come what may.

This research only stiffened my belief that B.F. Skinner was entirely full of horse crap. This is not inevitably true. I believe the research suffers from the same problem it tries to identify. Skinner was a famous psychologist who put forward the belief that free choice is an illusion and that we are all preprogrammed by our external experiences. Skinner also thinks believing in God is a delusion.

I'm not here to argue about God. I'm here to challenge the humans-as-robots idea. As anyone who reads my stuff knows, I believe that people have free choices. We can, as it were, overcome out programming. Not that we aren't programmed to some extent. It would be exhausting to have to go through the choice process about every little thing. Most of our lives we go through our days on auto-pilot. It's the way our brain learns to cope with the complex series of decisions we have to make and it is the way we learn any skill, idea, or ability.

All sights, sounds, and senses pass through our brains to through the amygdala, a series of structures in the brain that process input and decide what to do with it. It works like this for something like swinging a baseball bat and hitting a ball:
  1. We swing at a pitched ball the first time and decide second by second throughout the pitch where to direct the bat, how hard to swing and where we want it to go. Usually we miss or, if we are lucky, we foul the ball into the stands. 
  2. We repeat the action again and again. At first the amygdala sends the visual and sound cues to the frontal lobes where we think and decide what we believe about what we are seeing and hearing. Then the frontal lobes send instruction to the brain stem telling it what to do with our muscles in order to direct the bat into the ball and hit it.
  3. The more we repeat this action, the more ingrained the action becomes and the less the forebrain has to think about it. Soon the amygdala lays down strong neuron pathways that go straight to the brain stem with instructions the forebrain has sent time and again. Once these pathways are established we swing a bat almost without thinking, the forebrain only needing to make minor adjustments in the swing to control your aim.
This is how we learn behaviors, attitudes and physical responses. I experienced this at camp. I saw enough copperhead snakes that I could pick them out of the leaves almost without realizing it. I've jumped up in the air and out of the way, almost before I realized why I was jumping. My amygdala had recognized the snake pattern and instructed my feet to not fail me now. It is also how we develop automatic reactions to ideas and beliefs.

It is true that attacking someone's firmly held beliefs often only strengthen that belief, accounting for this so-called backfire effect. Believe it or not, this is a good thing and does not represent some sort of willful resistance to new information. This stiffening of belief comes because we have over the course of our lives, consciously or unconsciously chosen the beliefs we hold. Sometimes this is because we wish to be part of the herd, but that is less the case than liberal propagandists suppose.

Often our beliefs and our ingrained defensiveness with regard to them are the result of careful choices over long periods of time. People who never consciously choose do not develop such beliefs and become easily influenced by the herd of people they want to belong to. Their beliefs depend on feelings; not so much on rational consideration.  But a conscious resistance to information that sounds not right, is not of the herd beast thought process. It can also be the product of a series of decisions made calmly and rationally and as the result of much reading, study and research.

So, if it smells like horse poop and looks like horse poop, it's probably some kind of horse poop! If we weren't able to do that on auto-pilot, we'd have a very very difficult time crossing a horse pasture without tripping over a steaming pile of the aforementioned equine waste product.

Don't get me wrong for minds can be changed by argument. It's easier and happens more often than Mr. Skinner would have you believe. My three favorite conservative pundits, for instance, all were big time liberals when they were coming up through high school and college. But once they hit real life they began seeing evidence that something was amiss. The theories they had accepted from their Marxist university professors were not playing out like they were supposed to in the real world. So they eventually became big time conservatives and reread history.  This happened because they encountered information that challenged their initial fundamental beliefs. It happened enough times that eventually, their brains changed the positive feelings long associated with one set of beliefs and connected them with another set of beliefs, thus making them resistant to the old belief system.

The same thing happened with my religious convictions. I went from being a militant agnostic to being a firm Christian over a period of about two years.  It happened with me resisting the change most of the way. You do not convince another that you are right and they are wrong by pounding them with facts. This only stiffens the resistance of the person to changing their beliefs.

If you want to encourage a person to change, you, instead, present them with hard questions that force them to think. Such questions create a cognitive dissonance that forces their amygdala to route the problem to the thinking part of their brains. If you can get a person to think, to examine their beliefs, you can shake them out of their emotional comfort zone and place them on the path to what Thomas Kuhn called a "paradigm shift".  This shift of strongly held beliefs (the kind that resist change) to a new set of cherished beliefs happens, not as a result of a single salvo of facts, but as a result of questions raised by a series of data which do not fit the old paradigm.

Now many people will never change for a variety of reasons. They may not wish to leave their personal herd. They may fear losing their job, position in society or the affection of family should they accept the implications of the problem posed by all this new and conflicting data they are seeing. But every person, confronted by such a conundrum, has to make a decision. Even the decision not to decide and put it all out of their head is a decision.

So the backfire effect doesn't much help the propagandists of the left, especially if challenging a set of beliefs leads the holders of those beliefs to do a little research of their own into the "facts" presented. Such an investigation may actually cause more damage to the would-be persuader's case than to the belief set of the targeted person.

Conservatives appear to be pretty tough nuts to crack in that respect, much to the chagrin of Democrat political consultants. This would make sense given that so many are Christians and the Christian beliefs system was created by someone who knew an awful lot about how the human mind works and how to train it. Jesus said, "The Truth shall make you free."  It actually does. It frees you to do what you really want and from the kind of conditioned responses B.F. Skinner thought were the only thing influencing the behaviors of all people. I have found that the life with Christ trains the mind to choose what it chooses in principal and not by blind emotional response.

As it turns out, the Truth really does set you free!

© 2017 by Tom King