Monday, January 15, 2018

Biologists have studied the Human body in incredible detail.  We have solved many puzzles of how our bodies work. Some things are still mysterious.  Nobody is sure quite how emotions, values, and faith are stored in the brain, or how they manifest in the body.  There is one thing, though, that has been well established.  Melanin content in the skin has no connection to emotions, values or faith. 

There has never been any case of someone's skin becoming lighter or darker because of changes in their personal values.  Nobody has ever changed color from getting religion.  Committing crimes does not change the color of anyone's skin.  Volunteering for charity work does not affect it.  Getting a tan will not make someone become violent.  Staying indoors and becoming very pale will not make someone smarter or kinder.  Insanity doesn't change one's complexion.  Skin color does not reflect ANYTHING about a person's intelligence, emotions, values or faith.

That is a fact.

In a culture that will not accept that, something does happen.  Someone with a different color of skin will have had a different experience in the culture.  So, they are likely to have a different outlook on life, perhaps even a sour one.  But, that's not because of melanin.  It's because of asshats. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Re:  Climate change, and Human response to it.

It's like my Dad. Doctors, friends, and even total strangers told him, "stop smoking, or it will kill you." He didn't. He said it was too hard to quit.  Finally, after a massive heart attack and triple bypass surgery, lying in a hospital bed, the surgeon standing over him said, "If you smoke any more, this will happen to you again, and I won't be able to save you." My Dad stopped smoking.   Evidently, it wasn't too hard to quit, after all. 

 I'm afraid it's going to be like that all the way. We know what we need to do. But, none of us really want to. Corporations think of the expense, individuals think of the inconvenience. We have the ability, but probably won't get serious about it until irreversible damage is done, and Nature smacks us down hard.  

Pseudoscience and antiscience are ways of ignoring the obvious.  I'm sure my Dad told himself that people were overreacting to bad press about the dangers of smoking.  He probably told himself that he was an exception, and would be fine.  Probably, with each pack of cigarettes, he thought, "I'll quit soon, before anything bad happens, but right now, I really need this."  He would got through the motions of quitting, without really quitting, and tell himself that at least he tried.

Humans.  For such an intelligent species, we can be awfully dumb.

Monday, October 16, 2017

I swear the Smith's I shop at is on the edge of another dimension or something. 

For instance,  I can always find a parking place near the door and a cart corral, even when they're busy.  They always have one or two marked down jars of gefilte fish on the clearance shelves, although I have never seen a new jar anywhere on the regular shelves.  Little things like that.

Today this happened.

I heard people talking in the next aisle.  Voice 1 sounded like an older woman.  Voice 2 sounded like a teen or twenty something guy.  Voice 3 sounded like a middle aged woman.

Voice1:  Oh, hello there!
Voice 2: Umh... hi...
Voice 3: Who was that?
Voice1: He's one of my pupils.
Voice3: *laughs* Is that where the scar came from?
Voice 1:  Yes, it is.

I decided I really wanted to see these people, and maybe talk to them.  By the time I got to the end of the aisle, there was nobody there but a man stocking cans of corned beef hash.  He looked too old to be Voice2, but who knows?  So, I asked him where the Gefilte fish is.  He told me they don't carry it.

He wasn't Voice 2. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

I had a very good counselor who told me this about memories that aren't confirmed by other family members:
If we could wind back your memory like a film, we might not find a scene that exactly looks like what you remember. That's h
ow it is for everyone's memory about everything. BUT, we would find that your memory is consistent in emotional content. Your memory of the location or the date or other small details may be inaccurate, but casting will be correct. Who the abuser was, and what sort of abuse it was will be accurate.

Our memories are how we move through life, and we get the gist of people right, because it can be important to our survival. Whether it happened in the back yard or on your Grandmother's sofa is not relevant. 

False memories do happen, but they take a lot of work to create. The cases you may have heard of are made with hypnosis, heavy medication, and a bad shrink trying to force their patient to dig up supposedly repressed memories that may not even be there. They don't jive with other memories, and usually can't be made to fit into any reasonable time or space. 

Memories that you recover yourself, you can trust. They're not so much repressed, as you just don't think about them. When you are emotionally ready to deal with them, they surface on their own. Or, they don't. It's okay either way.
At least, this is what I remember her saying...

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Here is why it is important to pay for certain types of personal interactions. Sex*, psychic readings, counseling, and other non-material exchanges.

We never do these things for free, really. When we do these things with friends, it is part of our ongoing exchanges of friendship. It's not tit-for-tat like a commercial exchange, but the recognition of value given and received is there.

When we do these things with strangers, the recognition of value given and received is represented by an exchange of money or other material goods. This closes the interaction, so that nothing else is owed. The provider and the client can go on their separate ways. They may never meet again, and that's okay.

You can probably guess what brings this up for me today. Someone tried to get a free reading, using the argument that, "It's a gift you should share with the world."


If I was a magical healer, then, yes, I would go around doing it "for free", because it would be making the world around me a better place to be in. But, giving that individual a free reading is not going to improve the world around me. Especially since they don't seem to appreciate the value of it, so will probably not heed the advice given anyway. It would be like healing someone's cirrhotic liver so they could keep drinking.

On top of that, I was not at all interested in being their friend.

*meaning one person doing sex for another person. Not a "one night stand" situation where someone does sex in exchange for sex.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Geez... I keep thinking about this.  I don't know if the original post is real or a hoax, but I have heard similar arguments in other places.  The line that keeps getting me is "God doesn't need a reason to punish you."  That's not a new idea, and goes back at least to the Puritans, and probably farther.
It's another case of not thinking the idea through.  If a parent punishes a child without reason, we call it abuse.  My father did that do my brother and to me.  We left.  He died without seeing either of us again. 

But, beyond that, is the idea that "You're bad, so you must be punished."  This rationale, carried to its logical extreme, led to the Holocaust.  The combined idea that people can be instrinsically evil, and that evil must be punished leads inevitably this way.

I'll address punishment first.  What is punishment about?  What's it for?  It is meant to modify behavior.  A parent punishes a child for doing something dangerous, because they really don't want the child to do that thing again.  A city punishes you with a fine for parking in a no parking zone, because they really don't want you to park there.  It's about changing what the person being punished does.  Therefore, punishment has a reason, a purpose for the target of the punishment.

Now, intrinsic Evil.  "Badness" as a physical trait.  I have trouble even picturing it.  I can understand bad behavior, maybe even a habit of bad behavior, but "badness" as something inbred?  How would someone observe this, how to you measure it?  Surely such a creature would never be able to do anything good, even by accident.  Would undesirable behavior count as Evil, or just destructive acts? Is playing loud music at 2AM evil, or just rude?  Is rudeness "bad", or just annoying?   It's a nonsensical concept.  And, it is not the basis of the concept of Original Sin.  That concept is not that "Man is naturally evil", it is the concept that "Man is flawed, and therefore bound to screw up.".  Original Sin is the idea that, no matter how good we are, we will sin from time to time, because we're not perfect. person is just naturally "bad".

But, for the sake of the original problem, let's suppose that it's possible.  Here is someone who is just naturally, by the fact of their existence, Evil.  Will punishing them change that?  If they are innately "bad", can they change their behavior?  NO.  Punishing a lion for eating meat will not make it a vegetarian, it will just make it a neurotic lion.  So, is there any point to punishing someone for their innate sinfulness?  No. There would be no reason to think that punishment would change their behavior.

The only reason to do something like that would be an evil reason... creating suffering for selfish personal gratification.*    I think we can all agree that doing that is BAD.

*BDSM is a different dynamic, it isn't selfish, for one thing.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Someone recently asked me, "Why is it so IMPORTANT to you that people believe in evolution?"

I had to think about it a bit, because it's not really a matter of belief. But, I do have an answer for him.

There's a difference between believing something that there is no evidence for, and refusing to accept facts there are plenty of evidence for.

Faith is not the same as deliberate ignorance. The fact of evolution does not preclude a belief in God.

As an example, suppose you believe that the arrangement of the metal rails of a train track are just right to provide positive chi vibrations. So, you might believe that standing between the rails will fill you with these vibrations.

Ok, there's no evidence of that, but there's nothing to contradict it, so I won't argue with you. I will, however caution you to watch for trains while you get your vibes.

If you then respond that you "don't believe in trains" because you believe the rails were placed there by Aliens, I'll have to argue with you.

I will point out that there is plenty of evidence that the rails were laid by Humans. I will tell you about trains that carry freight across the country. I will warn you that there is a train that runs every Tuesday at 10 am. You might come up with complicated arguments about cover ups or conspiracies, but the rather solid evidence of a train will come and smash you flat on Tuesday morning, no matter how much you "don't believe" in it.

This is how you look to me when you tell me you "don't believe" in evolution.

In order to not accept the fact of evolution, you have to ignore biology, physics, chemistry, and many other sciences. It's not just fossils. All the complicated arguments you tell me confirm your disbelief are not only unsupported by evidence, they are contradicted by it.

The complex set of deductions and observations that are known collectively as "evolution" are facts. Not because some authority or ancient text said so, but because they pass the tests Science demands. They are reproducible, predictable and testable.

Maybe you won't get hit by a train for rejecting all this data. But, the habit of not accepting reality can only lead to eventual disaster.