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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

Saturday, March 04, 2017

The Great Deception - The "Progressive" Version

I love my liberal friends. They are an unending source of material for my blogs. The other day I said that it looked to me as if the Democrats had mistaken George Orwell's cautionary tale, "1984" for a how to run a government manual. My friend corrected me and said that I must have meant the Republicans. Sadly, this lovely honest man really believes this. 

I am reminded of how the devil is able to lie outright and usually tells us he's going to lie to us before he even does. Somehow, we get so wrapped up in the details of the lie and allow our good feelings about what we are being told and our strong desire that what we are being told should be true to over-rule our heads in the matter. When Satan told Eve that she would be like a god, she was so excited about that idea, she missed the first lie (Thou shalt not surely die). With the consequences of disobedience clear out of her head, she followed her feelings. Her feelings over-ruled the logical part of her thinking so that she also missed the ethical problem that should have got in the way of her trying to be a god.

My friend has perhaps forgotten some things we learned about Democrats and their agenda over the past eight years.
  1. It was Democrats who were using the IRS to punish churches and conservative organizations which disagreed with the president? Locally we had mayors and city councils punishing conservative groups and demanding to see the sermon notes of local pastors to insure they weren't speaking ill of certain new local bathroom ordinances, the mayor and council had passed. These local officials partnered up with the Internal Revenue Service to threaten church's nonprofit status for daring to dissent.
  2. It was Democrats who passed the Affordable Care Act (a misnomer if there ever was one) and told us we couldn't see what was in it until they passed it. The ACA, as we discovered after they passed it, not only gave the IRS access to our health care records, but also gave them the power to fine us if we didn't buy health insurance even if we couldn't afford it? 
  3. It was the Democrat administration that sent in government agencies to arrest ranchers and private citizens (and in one case actually shoot private citizens) in their attempts to appropriate more land into federal ownership. 
  4. It was Democrats in Oregon, whose very Democrat state government staked a claim to the very rain that falls from the sky and has fined and imprisoned people who use such rain on their own land. Oregon and other Democrat states have threatened people who even try to catch some rain as it runs off their roof into a rain barrel.
  5. It was Democrat president Obama who wanted to create a domestic military force with weapons, tools and power to equal that of the US Military for the purpose of policing citizens who might become unruly? Barak Obama, during his administration, actually started putting a couple of battalions of soldiers into training groups for this purpose - to intervene domestically in a president-declared "emergency", something that is in direct violation of the Posse Comatatus rule put in place by Congress over 100 years ago specifically to prevent the Army from being used as a domestic police force (for obvious reasons).
So many liberals really don't understand conservatives if they think we favor an Orwellian society. In 1984, Orwell posited a large centrally planned collectivist government that spied upon its citizens, altered history, news stories, and even the language in order to preserve its power. I'm a conservative and sometime Republican. That's anathema to me. Like my fellows, I believe in these principles:

  • Smaller government
  • Individual rights and personal liberty
  • Free market capitalism
  • Local control of schools, charities and infrastructure (other than interstates and similar essential national infrastructures.
  • I believe in the first amendment including free speech, religious liberty
  • I believe in the second amendment which guarantees personal gun ownership rights
  • I believe parents should have education choice. In that respect I am pro-choice.
  • I believe that no one has the right to deny another life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. This means I cannot legislate another person's morals. I might however resist attempts to legally change the meaning of words for the purposes of deliberately altering culture. I also don't think you should be able to murder a human being for your own convenience. I define a human being as any creature with human DNA and a beating heart.
  • I and other Conservatives are strict Constitutionalists. We believe the Constitution limits the powers of the state for good reason.
Having associated with Democrats and talked to them, sat in on their councils, read their books and listened to them speak, here, I have learned that this seems to be what they believe, at least according to their own public relations:

  • Democrats espouse collectivism, or the idea that the individual should serve the state which, in progressive ideology, IS the collective.
  • Democrats support population controls and the right of one person to take the life of another person so long as that person hasn't safely left the womb of its mother. Some Democrats don't even stop at birth, espousing infanticide up to two years old. It's a different definition of what a person is than the one I have. That's a tougher issue to address than most, but I'm certainly on the other side of killing humans just because they haven't got themselves born yet.
  • Democrats have and do support limits on free speech through things like the Fairness Doctrine, which didn't guarantee fairness at all by the way. It simply forced the media to artificially balance their programs so that things nobody wants to watch or listen to were given equal time or better no matter what the public itself preferred. It is significant that the only media the US government now supports is NPR and NPTV, both of which lean hard to the left. This is an artifact of years of Democrat rule. The Democrats have long used government programs as a propaganda tool to support the progressive socialist agenda. The DNC even got caught manipulating the election in favor of one of their candidates over the other. The also got caught colluding with mainstream media journalists by handing them talking points for their news stories that supported the Democrat narrative. Obama even tried to shut down the Voice of America because it was too conservative and said nice things about our American culture and system of government to other countries.
  • Democrats favor federal control of charities, schools, healthcare, the economic market, education, speech, religious liberty, and rights to assemble for redress of grievances, unless said group agrees with the state.  One federal agency even got caught trying to manipulate the appointment of church officials. 
  • Democrats support doing away with the second amendment and initiating a massive gun confiscation program. I know they haven't been able to do it so far, but it's definitely on their ideological wish list and that troubles me. 
  • Democrats complain that the Constitution only tells the government what it cannot do and doesn't say what the government ought to do. Many advocate adding the above mentioned functions to the Constitution as a kind of "Government's Bill of Rights". 
  •  Democrats dream of building walls around cities to keep the citizens from roaming around freely, but not around our borders to protect them. I have sat in on meeting of Democrats and environmentalists who dream of building walls not around our borders, but around our cities to prevent anyone from going into wilderness areas (to take pictures and stuff) without the proper government permits. What is being planned by Democrats is truly Orwellian,
I draw every word of this from things Democrats have said to me and done, written (I read their stuff), or speechified about. I've sat in their meetings when I was doing transportation advocacy. They were very honest about wanting gasoline to become unaffordable so that the majority of Americans would be limited to public transportation. One Democrat in the group, in a sudden burst of honesty, commented that if people had to use public transit, their movements would be easier to track by authorities. Big Brother is precisely what the progressive Democrats want. What that inevitably works out to in states where government is powerful and highly centralized is a return to a virtual monarchy (see Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler and Stalin). The progressive ideal is a massive oppressive government by elite party members and a single class proletariat. A worker's paradise may sound pretty in theory and feel good to talk about, but so far, every one of them has worked out to be collective misery shared equally.

I think the free market system and the Constitution's almost obsessive support of individual liberty has done a good job of treating its citizens fairly, outstripping almost any other nation on Earth. Nine out of ten Americans have an income that is in the top 50% of incomes worldwide. The biggest health problem our poor have is obesity.

The frantic efforts by progressive Democrats to convince us that we need massive change in how our government works is nothing more than a power grab by a socialist elite class, seeking to create a kind of political version of the old European nobility. The Republicans are not without sin in this regard and are as tempted by power as their colleagues across the aisle. This is why I formally left the Republican party when they allowed the Democrats to force them to nominate Donald Trump.

Turns out, Trump may actually turn into a conservative after all. If that happens, well and good. Trump may buy us time to finish the work of spreading the gospel to the entire world. By challenging the forces of international Marxism perhaps the forces of global socialism will be stalled in their advance. That could be a very good thing. I am praying that Trump continues to do the right thing and that Americans of both political persuasions can refrain from shooting and suing one another until we see how this will all work out. Obama had his chance and he left 19 million Americans pushed out of the workforce and not even counted among the unemployed. So much for the worker's paradise. Trump deserves his chance at policy-making too. Who knows. He may show us something better than collective misery.

God go with him.

© 2017 by Tom King

Thursday, March 02, 2017

A Day Without Women - The Day After!

Headline 1: 50 Million Women Go On Strike for National Day Without Women

Headline 2: 50 Million Men Get Up Early, Go Fishing, Eat Lunch at McDonald's, and Take a Nap on National Day Without Women

I don't think the ladies quite understand how men think.

I'm just saying.

© 2017 by Tom King