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'[OT] politics - I shouldn't be posting itanywaybut'
2008\07\31@111250 by Lindy Mayfield

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I'm sure I agree with you, Russell.  What you say reminds me of the famous quote by Oscar Wilde:

"Religions die when they are proved to be true.  Science is the record of dead religions."

And what you say about science is what makes it really great.  When the facts begin to present a new or different picture, science and knowledge eventually catch up to accept the theories that come out of it.  

One thing that comes to mind (for some reason) is Egyptian hieroglyphs.  For a long time the best minds thought that they were semagrams or basically primitive picture writing.  Then along came more facts (the Rosetta Stone) and after a lot of research turns out they were actually phonetic.  And a strange language that once was a mystery can now be easily read by scholars.

There are millions of people that believe without a shadow of a doubt that a magic man in a red suit has his magic elves build toys all year and then, once a year just after the winter solstice, he flies around the world in a sled pulled by his magic reindeer and delivers toys to good boys and girls.

And you're right.  We could argue fervently that in a quantum world this might be possible.  My point (and I think yours too) is if I said this and someone laughed at me, I have little right to get upset.

I like you mentioned evolution and how it cannot explain everything.  It can't of course.  But to give as an explanation things the science cannot explain as <insert magic spell here> serves no one.  When some day in the future we have some method to check that the sun doesn't really go round the earth, then, alas, the magic turns into knowledge.  

Sometimes I dream I can go back in time with a Polaroid camera.  I could be the biggest sorcerer in the land with Merlin as my assistant.  (And what a chick magnet, too.)



{Original Message removed}


'[OT] politics - I shouldn't be posting itanywaybut'
2008\08\01@075921 by Lindy Mayfield
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This really gives me food for though.

I think that if the conversation went something like this, then there
wouldn't be much to disagree or fight about:

"You really believe that the fairy tales you read in a book are true?
That's pretty funny.  How about this: I believe that if I play Bach for
my plants and talk to them in a quiet voice that they grow better and
prettier."

"Yeah, well I'll see that and raise you one.  I believe that in order to
be happy I have to clear myself of alien souls that are stuck to me."

"That's really funny.  We're pretty crazy, huh?"

"Yeah."

"Yeah."

{Original Message removed}

2008\08\01@123448 by Rich

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I like your perspective on this, Gerhard.  However, the extent to which
"pure reason" can produce results is limited, and the "law of unintended
consequences" as you point out reveals itself.  I am reminded of Kant's
"Critique of Pure Reason" and later "Prolegomena."


{Original Message removed}

2008\08\01@141836 by Tony Smith

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Meh.

<http://www.holytaco.com/2008/07/29/8-people-who-will-ruin-your-party/> -
#1, obviously!

Not me, honest!

Tony

2008\08\02@074721 by Gerhard Fiedler

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Rich wrote:

> I like your perspective on this, Gerhard.  However, the extent to which
> "pure reason" can produce results is limited, and the "law of unintended
> consequences" as you point out reveals itself.  

Right. That's where intent comes in, and knowing yourself well, to the
point of really, really being clear about your intent. That's not easy, far
more difficult than "reasoning purely", but still a worthwhile goal IMO.
This is also where intuition comes in, the means we have to get a grasp on
things that are outside the reach of reason and science. Same as above
applies...

> I am reminded of Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" and later
> "Prolegomena."

I find Kant too dry to be useful for me... :)

Gerhard

2008\08\02@080425 by Lindy Mayfield

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This is one of the things that I've been thinking about quite a lot
(thanks).  I was discussing this with a friend of mine today.
Seriously, what if we all just accepted each other's zany beliefs and
went about our business?

"You seriously believe there was a talking snake that conned these two
naked people into eating a poison apple?"

"Yes."

"Cause you read it in a book?"

"That's right."

"I read in a book about this kid who bought magic beans which grew into
a beanstalk to the sky where a huge giant lived.  Do you believe that?"

"Of course not.  That's silly."

"Sure that's pretty silly.  Wanna go grab a beer and check out the
girls?"

"Sure. Cool."

{Original Message removed}

2008\08\02@081944 by Lindy Mayfield

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What are the major things that form peoples' views on politics?  I've
been thinking about this a lot, too.  It's not so cut and dry as other
beliefs.

I came up with this.  The biggest factor that shape peoples' politics is
somewhat selfish:  What will he or she (or their beliefs or promises) do
for me?

In other words, what best fits my own personal agenda?  It could be
money, as in lowering taxes.  It could be my sense of right and wrong.
It could be based on more altruistic beliefs, such as global warming or
the environment.

I think discussion about politics can be beneficial.  But I think it may
be more difficult for a person to change their core beliefs.

Lindy

{Original Message removed}

2008\08\02@091307 by Lindy Mayfield

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Ok, now I shut up.

Just thought of then when mentioning "pure reason"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wppjYDj9JUc



-----Original Message-----
From: spam_OUTpiclist-bouncesTakeThisOuTspammit.edu [.....piclist-bouncesKILLspamspam@spam@mit.edu] On Behalf
Of Gerhard Fiedler
Sent: 2. elokuuta 2008 14:47
To: piclistspamKILLspammit.edu
Subject: Re: [OT] politics - I shouldn't be posting
itanywaybutIhavenorestraint

> I am reminded of Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" and later
> "Prolegomena."

I find Kant too dry to be useful for me... :)

Gerhard

.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/piclist

2008\08\02@111241 by Apptech

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> What are the major things that form peoples' views on
> politics?  I've
> been thinking about this a lot, too.  It's not so cut and
> dry as other
> beliefs.

> I came up with this.  The biggest factor that shape
> peoples' politics is
> somewhat selfish:  What will he or she (or their beliefs
> or promises) do
> for me?

Your above conclusion allowed of two meanings.
It may (or may not) be true for most persons.
It may not be mostly true for some persons.
FWIW


       R


2008\08\02@135050 by Gerhard Fiedler

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Lindy Mayfield wrote:

> What are the major things that form peoples' views on politics?  I've
> been thinking about this a lot, too.  It's not so cut and dry as other
> beliefs.
>
> I came up with this.  The biggest factor that shape peoples' politics is
> somewhat selfish:  What will he or she (or their beliefs or promises) do
> for me?
>
> In other words, what best fits my own personal agenda?  It could be
> money, as in lowering taxes.  It could be my sense of right and wrong.
> It could be based on more altruistic beliefs, such as global warming or
> the environment.

I think selfish is good. /Truely/ selfish. /Wholly/ selfish. IMO the world
would be a better place if that were more widespread.

I probably have to explain what I mean with this :)

I think that in the end, everything I want is selfish. I have yet to know
someone who did something for someone else without something selfish. You
can't stand the sight of the old poor guy shivering? So you relieve your
pain by helping him. You can't stand the thought of living in a brutal
everybody-for-himself world? So you try to calm your conscience by trying
to do something. In the end, it always gets back to what we think, what we
feel. I don't think that we can not be selfish, and even when we think we
are not, chances are that if we dig a bit deeper, we find we are.

IMO being clear about this already helps a lot. The next step is
recognizing that for my own happiness, I need a good degree of general
happiness around me. Rich and powerful people in Brazil, for example, have
ignored this for centuries. Nowadays, they have to live behind high walls
and bulletproof glass and are, in some respects, less free than poor people
-- and definitely less free than they would be if their forefathers had
spent a tiny amount of wealth and effort on general development.

But I think that what you call politics above is something a bit different:
it's about the concrete measures to achieve certain general goals. Most
people would probably agree that generalized happiness is a good thing --
but few people would agree on the concrete steps to foster that goal.

For most important issues there are lots of factoids but very little
knowledge about what they mean, so it's much more about what we believe to
work. I also think that as long as this is kept in mind when talking about
these things -- that both the other one and me are talking about what we
believe to work --, such conversations can be quite productive.

You also never really know what the effect is of a conversation. The person
you're talking to could change her mind days or months later, because of
the conversation. Listeners you didn't even know where around and picked up
a part of the conversation may change their mind unbeknownst to anybody
involved in the conversation. Your "stubborn" partner in the conversation
may tell someone else later about this silly conversation she had, just to
trigger some thoughts in the person she was telling this which could change
that person's opinion. In all these cases and all others that are possible
it may not be the direction you meant it to be, but thought-provoked change
is usually a good thing (I think) -- even if it goes somewhere else I
didn't mean it to go.

Gerhard

2008\08\02@161720 by Rich

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Dry is an interesting assessment for Kant, Gerhard; and shared by many, I
might add.  Relatively dry may work because the readings and ideas appeal to
some, however select that interested group may be.  Nevertheless, there are
important questions raised by Kant about "reason," which it seems to me is
fundamental to this discussion.  One might ask: does "reason" or even
rational thinking underlie political persuasion?  My personal assessment is
that reason is not the fundamental basis of political decision nor is it the
basis of political persuasion because there are many irrational and
logically unfounded political opinions and political activist organizations
that even defy reason.  Some propaganda rests on reason (logic) and some
does not (argumentum ad hominem as popular as it is does not).  The
personality has some intellectual component but it is emotion that often
drives their political motivation.  There is this duality of the persuasion
of passion and the persuasion of reason that creates not only the political
energies but the political conflicts.  I know that this is a very
oversimplified statement and I apologize for that but I hope that in its
brevity there is something to think about.  I am personally not in favor of
a totally logical or scientific political system, which I believe would be
sterile and contrary to the human dignity.  That is one of my main
objections to Marxism, among others I need not mention.  There needs to be a
prudent exchange of passion and reason.   If there is a free market of
ideas, those that best befit humanity will rise to the occasion, but only if
they are not suppressed by a scientific political edifice.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Lindy Mayfield" <.....lindy.mayfieldKILLspamspam.....ssf.sas.com>
To: "Microcontroller discussion list - Public." <EraseMEpiclistspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTmit.edu>
Sent: Saturday, August 02, 2008 9:12 AM
Subject: RE: [OT] politics - I shouldn't be posting
itanywaybutIhavenorestraint


> Ok, now I shut up.
>
> Just thought of then when mentioning "pure reason"
>
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wppjYDj9JUc
>
>
>
> {Original Message removed}

2008\08\03@044636 by Rich

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Gerhard, I think self interest is different from selfish.  Your position
would be more understandable in terms of self-interest.  Selfish has the
connotation of uniquely existential with a disregard for others but
self -interest has a bit more latitude.  Sefl-interest can be shared whereas
the case for sharing selfishness is difficult to support.


{Original Message removed}

2008\08\03@093500 by Gerhard Fiedler

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Rich wrote:

> Nevertheless, there are important questions raised by Kant about
> "reason," which it seems to me is fundamental to this discussion.  One
> might ask: does "reason" or even rational thinking underlie political
> persuasion?  My personal assessment is that reason is not the
> fundamental basis of political decision nor is it the basis of political
> persuasion because there are many irrational and logically unfounded
> political opinions and political activist organizations that even defy
> reason.  

I agree with this, and that's one of the reasons why I think that thinking
about reason (alone) doesn't help much here. What we want is /always/
beyond reason, there is always a subjective foundation. Reasoning can
create "if-then" chains or help calculate probabilities of certain events,
but how to value the events or their severity is subjective. (You can try
to do the "why" game: ask "why" for an affirmation of value of yours that
you believe to be objective, and answer honestly, and repeat. I think that
you'll always get to a point where the only remaining answer is "because I
want to" or "because I like it" or "because I believe it" or something
similarly subjective.)

IMO that's what politics is about: dealing with the different values,
solving the conflicts created by them. (I don't mean to say that this is
the intent of all involved in politics, of course... that's a different
story :)

> I am personally not in favor of a totally logical or scientific political
> system, which I believe would be sterile and contrary to the human
> dignity.  

Neither am I, and I'd go a step further: considering the above, I think it
is fundamentally impossible to create a logical system that works, because
the conflicts it is supposed to solve are outside of the realm of logic.

Gerhard

2008\08\03@094008 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Rich wrote:

> Gerhard, I think self interest is different from selfish.  Your position
> would be more understandable in terms of self-interest.  Selfish has the
> connotation of uniquely existential with a disregard for others but self
> -interest has a bit more latitude.  Sefl-interest can be shared whereas
> the case for sharing selfishness is difficult to support.

Thanks. What you say makes sense. In this sense, I'd probably say that
being (only) selfish is (often) not in your best self-interest :)

I used the word in the sense Lindy seems to have used it in this phrase:

>>> I came up with this.  The biggest factor that shape peoples' politics
>>> is somewhat selfish:  What will he or she (or their beliefs or
>>> promises) do for me?

If I understood this (and you) correctly, it seems that he was talking more
about what you call self-interest than about what you call selfish,
especially considering the examples he gave ("sense of right and wrong",
"altruistic beliefs").

Gerhard

2008\08\04@123452 by piclist

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On Sat, 2 Aug 2008, Lindy Mayfield wrote:
> This is one of the things that I've been thinking about quite a lot
> (thanks).  I was discussing this with a friend of mine today.
> Seriously, what if we all just accepted each other's zany beliefs and
> went about our business?
>
> [...]
>
> "Sure that's pretty silly.  Wanna go grab a beer and check out the
> girls?"
>
> "Sure. Cool."

Sadly that just will not work with many major belief systems.  
It's more likely to go like this...

"A book told me to kill all unbelivers."

"I don't belive your book is right... AUGH!"

--
Ian Smith
http://www.ian.org

2008\08\04@132357 by Apptech

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>> Seriously, what if we all just accepted each other's zany
>> beliefs and
>> went about our business?

>> "Sure that's pretty silly.  Wanna go grab a beer and
>> check out the
>> girls?"

>> "Sure. Cool."

> Sadly that just will not work with many major belief
> systems.
> It's more likely to go like this...
>
> "A book told me to kill all unbelivers."
>
> "I don't belive your book is right... AUGH!"

Maybe you mix with people of different belief systems than
most :-).

________

OK. Let's try it.

"I think the universe was created by a 'Supreme Being' [tm]"

' That's crazy - I think it created itself out of nothing.
Before that nothing at all existed.'

"Not even space or time?"

'No,  nothing at all.'

"That's crazy!"

' Let me think about that.'

...


       R



2008\08\04@135327 by piclist

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On Tue, 5 Aug 2008, Apptech wrote:
> Maybe you mix with people of different belief systems than
> most :-).

Not really.  But the problem is there are many belief systems that state
that they are the one and only true system, so there simply is no room for
them to be open minded or tolerant.  You are not different.. you are
wrong and possibly evil.  Add to the mix stuff like the need to convert,
by gunpoint if needed, and you wind up with much of the world today.

Remember, they are not doing anything bad in their mindset.. they are
saving you from eternal torment.

Some systems are simply incompatable with tolerance and coexistance.

--
Ian Smith
http://www.ian.org

2008\08\04@135704 by Lindy Mayfield

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I'm never sure which side of the fence you're on, Russell.  Not that it
matters, really.  You play both sides well.

Anyway, say someone did say this.  My point is, some people may answer
"hmmm... something to ponder."  And some may answer, "hmmm... yes, but
so what?  On my priority of things to think about, it's pretty far down
on the list."

Not really much left to talk about after that.  I'd say that is optimal,
but I'd be just dreaming.  I really think that if that were then end of
it, it wouldn't be much of a topic at all worth discussing.

{Original Message removed}

2008\08\04@144708 by Cedric Chang

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Wow      a fence !    Something for me to ponder.  What can you tell  
me about the fence ?
cc
{Quote hidden}

2008\08\04@153406 by Lindy Mayfield

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Do you mean that these discussions would be better if there were
artificial opposing sides (black or white) which defined the arguments
and discussions?

Such as in politics: Either a liberal or conservative

Religion: You have faith or you don't.
Or worst: My way is right, yours is wrong.

Spirituality: A purely logical view of the natural world vs. a sense of
wonderment at the beauty of it all.  (Einstein style or more recently
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzpbl2LgHXU
)


And so on.


-----Original Message-----
From: piclist-bouncesspamspam_OUTmit.edu [@spam@piclist-bouncesKILLspamspammit.edu] On Behalf
Of Cedric Chang
Sent: 4. elokuuta 2008 21:47
To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public.
Subject: Re: [OT] politics - I shouldn't be posting
itanywaybutIhavenorestraint

Wow      a fence !    Something for me to ponder.  What can you tell  
me about the fence ?
cc


2008\08\04@184058 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Lindy Mayfield wrote:

> Such as in politics: Either a liberal or conservative

If you're fed up with your bipartisan system, try to read up on Brazilian
politics. You may find it's not the worst :)

Gerhard

2008\08\04@233403 by Rich

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I have to agree with you, Gerhard

----- Original Message -----
From: "Gerhard Fiedler" <KILLspamlistsKILLspamspamconnectionbrazil.com>
To: <RemoveMEpiclistTakeThisOuTspammit.edu>
Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2008 9:34 AM
Subject: Re: [OT] politics - I shouldn't be posting
itanywaybutIhavenorestraint


{Quote hidden}

> --

2008\08\04@235723 by Rich

picon face
"...so there simply is no room for them to be open minded or tolerant." by
Ian Smith?

Is open-minded, or what you call tolerant universally beneficial or
advantageous to a society?  Why? Can you think of any circumstances under
which tolerance may be a disadvantage?  I wonder if we need to be more
definitive in the ideas we present as "possibly" universal.  In my humble
opinion, I think the politically correct idea of  "tolerance" has strayed so
far from practical usefulness that it has actually engendered a bedrock of
intolerance and social tension instead of harmony.  The political controls
exercised over verbalization, for example, are set in the midst of
confusion, ambiguity and contradiction.   Perhaps there is a sense of
tolerance that relates to the individual on a personal level and another
sense of tolerance that is established in the law.  I do not believe the two
are the same. In any case, we need to know what we mean by the use of the
word tolerance. I am not comfortable with the generalization of the word
because of the political usurpation of the word for the purpose of
furthering an agenda that, in my opinion, is counter productive to the
general social harmony.  There is an obvious political agenda to manipulate
public opinion concerning such matters.  Reprehensible in my view.

{Original Message removed}

2008\08\05@051045 by Lindy Mayfield

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Guilty as charged.  But only in a fake way when responding to this group
so as not to take the conversation into radical areas on both sides.

In reality, I am NOT tolerant, nor am I "open-minded", nor am I even
respectful of some of the crazy things that I see going on.  And I'm
sick of these one-sided laws that try to force me to bend one way while
giving the other side near total freedom to do as they please (within
the law of their respective countries, but they often bend that, too).

{Original Message removed}

2008\08\05@093341 by Rich

picon face
I like what you have to say, Lindy.  You are indeed a realist.  I like your
attitude :-)


----- Original Message -----
From: "Lindy Mayfield" <spamBeGonelindy.mayfieldspamBeGonespamssf.sas.com>
To: "Microcontroller discussion list - Public." <TakeThisOuTpiclistEraseMEspamspam_OUTmit.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 2008 5:10 AM
Subject: RE: [OT] politics - I shouldn't be posting
itanywaybutIhavenorestraint


> Guilty as charged.  But only in a fake way when responding to this group
> so as not to take the conversation into radical areas on both sides.
>
> In reality, I am NOT tolerant, nor am I "open-minded", nor am I even
> respectful of some of the crazy things that I see going on.  And I'm
> sick of these one-sided laws that try to force me to bend one way while
> giving the other side near total freedom to do as they please (within
> the law of their respective countries, but they often bend that, too).
>
> {Original Message removed}

2008\08\05@133312 by piclist

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face
On Mon, 4 Aug 2008, Rich wrote:
> "...so there simply is no room for them to be open minded or tolerant." by
> Ian Smith?
>
> Is open-minded, or what you call tolerant universally beneficial or
> advantageous to a society?  Why? Can you think of any circumstances under
> which tolerance may be a disadvantage?  I wonder if we need to be more
> definitive in the ideas we present as "possibly" universal.  In my humble
> opinion, I think the politically correct idea of  "tolerance" has strayed so
> far from practical usefulness that it has actually

Of course there are times it can be a disadvantage. Nothing is absolute.  
But I think I'll define those two terms here to clarify what I meant.

What I mean by tolerant is that you have to accept the fact that there
are people out there that belive things you find terrible, and disbelive
things you hold dear.  They exist, and have every right to exist just as
you do.

You are free to try and change their mind, to teach them your views, but
you can not use force or laws to make them chainge or get rid of them.
So no holy wars.  No passing laws to regulate morality.  And yes, this
includes both sides.. liberals and conservatives both are guilty of trying
to pass laws to make people moral.  

What I mean by open minded is to always be willing to question your
beliefs, and be open to the possibility that maybe, somehow, maybe,
possibly you could be wrong.  This is flatly impossible in many belief
systems, which is why I say they are incompatable.  You must belive, must
not question, you are right and that is all there is to it.

We can think and reason.  We were either given this gift by a higher being
for a purpose, or it just happened.. but either way it is a terrible waste
not to use it.

--
Ian Smith
http://www.ian.org

2008\08\05@141441 by M. Adam Davis

face picon face
Seems relevant to the current discussion:

"Strong opinions, weakly held"
bobsutton.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/07/strong_opinions.html
>From the article:
----------
A couple years ago, I was talking the Institute's Bob Johansen about
wisdom, and he explained that – to deal with an uncertain future and
still move forward – they advise people to have "strong opinions,
which are weakly held."  They've been giving this advice for years,
and I understand that it was first developed by Instituite Director
Paul Saffo.  Bob explained that weak opinions are problematic because
people aren't inspired to develop the best arguments possible for
them, or to put forth the energy required to test them. Bob explained
that it was just as important, however, to not be too attached to what
you believe because, otherwise, it undermines your ability to "see"
and "hear" evidence that clashes with your opinions. This is what
psychologists sometimes call the problem of "confirmation bias."
----------

One blogger's take on it:
http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001124.html

Something I've been mulling over for some time now...

-Adam

--
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Tuesday April 22
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