Author Topic: 1984  (Read 23611 times)

electrobleme

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Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true
« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2010, 07:28:20 »
Quote
Knowledge, Truth and Human Action: America Hits the Wall

    "Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true." [paraphrased Buddhist saying]


Americans have a problem with the truth. They seem to be unable to accept it, which is difficult to understand at a time in history when knowledge plays a larger and larger role in determining human action. Recognition of this problem is widespread. Beliefs and lies somehow always overwhelm truth, even when they are so contradictory that any effective action becomes impossible. A kind of national, psychological paralysis occurs. Nothing can be done because one belief contradicts another, and for some unknown reason, the facts don't matter. Even during those times when an overwhelming belief does compel action, Americans rush headlong into it neglecting the adage that headlong often means wrong.


The number of programs enacted by the Congress that don't work is huge. The war on drugs which began in 1969 has shown no measurable results; yet it continues unabated and has resulted in destabilizing other nations, especially Mexico. Various immigration reforms have proven so ineffective that the people are turning to their own solutions. Tough on crime programs have been enacted numerous times without any measurable reduction in criminal behavior. Educational reforms have proven to be illusionary. Inconclusive wars have been and continue to be fought. No one, it appears, ever wants to measure anything by its results. The nation continues to do the same things over and over again expecting different results, an activity Einstein described as insanity.


Paul Craig Roberts writes, "Today Americans are ruled by propaganda. Americans have little regard for truth, little access to it, and little ability to recognize it. Truth is an unwelcome entity. It is disturbing. It is off limits. Those who speak it run the risk of being branded 'anti-American,' 'anti-semite' or 'conspiracy theorist.' Truth is an inconvenience for government and for the interest groups whose campaign contributions control government. Truth is an inconvenience for prosecutors who want convictions, not the discovery of innocence or guilt. Truth is inconvenient for ideologues." Unfortunately he casts the blame on the characters of people: "economists sell their souls for filthy lucre. . . . medical doctors who, for money, have published in peer-reviewed journals concocted 'studies' that hype this or that new medicine produced by pharmaceutical companies that paid for the 'studies. . . .' Wherever one looks, truth has fallen to money."


Honoré de Balzac said, "behind every great fortune lies a great crime." So too, behind every dumb practice lies a dumb idea.


This debasement of truth stems from two misguided beliefs that many Americans hold. They affect much of American society and define the American psyche. One belief is that the truth emerges from a debate between adversaries. The other is the belief that everyone has a right to his/her own opinion.


Many American activities are based on the these beliefs. In law, the system is called adversarial. The prosecutor and defense attorneys are adversaries. Each side presents its evidence and the truth is somehow supposed to emerge. In journalism it is called balance. Two adversaries are asked to give their sides of an issue, and the truth is somehow supposed to emerge. In politics, it is called the two party system, where the majority party and the minority party, often called the opposition, are adversaries who present their sides of the issue. Again, somehow it is believed the truth will emerge and effective legislation will then be enacted. But it doesn't work, never has, never will.


Suppose two people who lived in the same community at a specific time in the past are talking about the weather on February 14th of some year. One says, "We had three inches of snow that day." The other says, "No, we had heavy rain and flash flood warnings." Who is right? Unless someone checks the weather bureau's records, the argument can't be resolved. And what if the weather bureau's records show that the weather on that day was clear with no precipitation? Neither adversary is right; the truth never emerges.


So do these adversaries have the right to their own opinions? The belief that everyone has a right to his/her own opinion is ludicrous. If your bank sends you a notice saying that you've overdrawn your account, can you counter with, "Not in my opinion"? If this maxim had any validity, truth and falsehood would have equal value. No dispute could ever be settled because the facts don't matter. Yet many in America seem to hold this view.


The point is that no debate between adversaries will reveal the truth if neither is willing to check the facts, or as is often the case in politics, just lying. But why would adversaries do that? In a legal action, because both sides want to win and will reveal only what is favorable to their sides. "As everybody knows, at least one of the lawyers in every case in which the facts are in dispute is out to hide or distort the truth or part of the truth, not to help the court discover it. . . . The notion that in a clash between two trained principle-wielders, one of whom is wearing the colors of inaccuracy and falsehood, the truth will always or usually prevail is in essence nothing but a hang-over from the medieval custom of trial by battle and is in essence equally absurd."


Peter Murphy in his Practical Guide to Evidence cites this story (likely apocryphal): A frustrated judge in an English adversarial court, after witnesses had produced conflicting accounts, finally asked a barrister, "Am I never to hear the truth?" "No, my lord, replied counsel, merely the evidence."


In politics, each side has a favored constituency to protect. In journalism, the journalist doesn't want to be accused of bias. In 2006, Dan Froomkin, former columnist at the Washington Post, wrote, "There’s the fear of being labeled partisan. . . ." But that fear would be dispelled if journalists checked the facts.


Listening to politicians or pundits debate issues should prompt listeners to ask, "Am I never to hear the truth?" The answer would always the same, "No, just our opinions." Yet basing public policy on the opinions of journalists, pundits, politicians, and even jurists is a hazardous endeavor. Since everyone has a right to his/her own opinion, why should anyone care about the opinions of others? None of us should, but somehow the establishment believes we do.


Consider so called experts, for example. Can two "experts," each with different points of view really be experts? "Expert" economists contradict each other all the time. One "thinks" this and another "thinks" that, but neither "knows" anything. Writing teachers routinely tell students, "Don’t tell me what you think. Tell me what you know." Apparently our economists never studied composition. Harry Truman once said, "If you took all the economists in the world and laid them end to end, they'd still point in different directions!" Right up until the economic crash of 2007, experts were telling us that "the economic fundamentals were sound." After the crash occurred, the logical thing to do would have been to conclude that the fundamental economic indicators were misleading at best and shouldn't be relied upon. Yet three years hence, economists are still basing their conclusions (estimates, opinions) on the same fundamental economic indicators. But suppose a chef had an oven that consistently undercooked his baking. Would s/he continue to rely on the thermostat's readings or would s/he replace it? How can such people be considered experts? Nevertheless they are.


Republican politicians, political consultants, and political commentators are fond of saying that Social Security was never meant to serve as a retirement program but only as a supplement. Ed Rollins made this claim on CNN even though the claim can't possibly be true, not even in one's wildest imagination, and Ed Rollins and others should know it. Social Security was signed into law in 1935, but in the 1930s, fewer than 25 percent of workers were covered by private pension plans. So exactly what was Social Security supposed to supplement? Only the pension plans of this 25 percent of workers? What about the 75 percent of workers not covered by private plans? Social Security certainly applied to them too, but they had no private plans to supplement. Even by 1960, only about 30 percent of the labor force had private pension plans, which means that 70 percent had no plans to supplement, and 1960 was a good year. Surely, in the 1930s Social Security was not meant to supplement personal savings, since there were hardly any, and IRAs were not authorized until 1974.Yet Ed Rollins, politicians, and political consultants are still considered "experts." No interviewing journalist ever questions their veracity even when all s/he would have to do is look up some facts.


Military officers, especially generals, are often cited as experts. But for every general who wins a battle there is another on the other side who loses. Is the losing general an expert too? And what general, facing a upcoming battle would have the integrity to say he can't win it?


By calling people with opinions experts and relying on adversarial debate between them, not only is the language debased, so is thought. Conclusions drawn from false premises are always false. Just as something cannot be created from nothing, truth cannot be revealed by falsehood. Belief never yields knowledge, but questioning belief often does.


Public policy based on mere beliefs or opinions sooner or later crashes headlong into the wall of reality causing disastrous consequences, for in the end, the truth cannot be denied. "Trust, but verify," a phrase often used by Ronald Reagan when discussing relations with the Soviet Union is a translation of the Russian proverb. Perhaps better maxims would be, "Reject when suspect" and "Belief brings grief." Yet the fundamental question that goes unanswered is why so many people continue to trust all those "experts" who have shown themselves to be inveterate liars? Has the populace really become that dumb? If the truth is emancipating, the false is enslaving. Indeed Americans are serfs ruled by an oligarchy devoted to the promotion of dumb ideas.
Knowledge, Truth and Human Action: America Hits the Wall


electrobleme

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Only human. ? we are human.
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2010, 16:36:49 »

First and foremost - we are human | human manifesto

Quote
First and foremost – we are human.

It is a basic tenet and understanding that seems to be lost in a world of great uncertainty.

We should celebrate our humanity, but instead we align ourselves with nationality, culture, and ideologies before acknowledging and recognising that we are part of something bigger.

This is not a call for mono-culture, but a call to value the other as much as we value ourselves, to embrace our diversity and declare that we all have something to contribute.

The ‘we are Human’ manifesto expresses a desire for peace and hope.

If we could come to an understanding of who we are, and what we can achieve – then we will begin to address poverty, war and inequality – and the most vulnerable members of our society could be supported to lead whole and rich lives.

Manifesto

we are compassionate
we are diverse
we are creative
we are purposeful
we are hopeful
we are enquiring

we are advocates
we are innovators
we are enablers
we are custodians

we are connected

we are HUMAN.

We live in a time, more than any other time in history, with broad prosperity and longevity of life.
We live in a time, more than any other time in history, where people have access to the tools and resources to have a voice and to be heard.

We live in an age of global information and communication, yet people are increasingly more isolated, and family breakdown is on the rise.

People are working longer hours and face increasing rates of depression, and poor mental health.
Faceless entities and globalisation deliver products and services on demand, yet little is being invested back into communities and there is limited connection with the people and ecosystems that ensure our standards of living are maintained.

Our environment and natural resources are under significant strain.
The rich are getting richer, yet the poor remain very poor.

We need positive change.

“The biggest disease today is… the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference toward one’s neighbour.”1

By diminishing others, we diminish ourselves.
It is not enough to be tolerant.
It is not enough to do no harm.

In 2008, researchers proved the theory that on average we are bound to everyone on this planet by a trail of little more than 6 people.2 This understanding exists as more than a gimmick or a social experiment.

We realise we are part of something bigger than ourselves and that “the only way we can ever be human is together”.3

We strive for a new paradigm that considers and encourages social, economic, cultural and environmental benefits in all human activity.
We actively uphold and seek to realise the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Convention on the Rights of the Child.

We take our passion, skills and networks and give them expression in all areas of our life.

We use our creativity to challenge, to question, to reinvent, to discover new solutions to old and emerging problems.

We use our powers for good, not evil (or indifference).

We work to equip and empower the vulnerable, poor, unheard, and under-valued.

We share the stories that need to be told.
Not the syndicated and dehumanizing violence, mayhem, crime and objectification fed to us through ‘popular’ media. Rather, the stories that dispel myths, communicate ideas, educate, enlighten, heal and unite.

We harness the power of creativity to positively change people’s lives.
Not just to sell more stuff to more people.

We harness the power of entrepreneurship as an agent of community benefit and to redress disadvantage.

We actively promote and equip people, initiatives and services that enrich humanity and create a better future for all.

We endorse this manifesto and seek to share its desire for peace and hope.

Footnotes:
1 Mother Teresa
2 The Guardian, 3 August 2008
3 The Most Reverend Desmond M. Tutu


First and foremost - we are human | human manifesto
« Last Edit: May 29, 2010, 16:17:42 by electrobleme »

electrobleme

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dwile flonking contest hit by binge drinking regulations
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2010, 16:21:18 »


dwile flonking contest hit by binge drinking regulations

Quote
The organisers of the inaugural world championship of a traditional East Anglian sport have been sent reeling by news that the age-old rules breach a new law designed to stop drinking games.

A key element of dwile flonking, which sees competitors using a pole to launch a beer soaked cloth at opponents, involves quickly downing a pot of real ale if you miss your target twice in a row.

However, after reading about tomorrow's event at the Dog Inn, in Ludham on the EDP2 website, North Norfolk District Council licensing officer Tony Gent yesterday visited landlady Lorraine Clinch to inform her that such speed drinking breached legislation brought in earlier this year.

Confessing that the news came as even more of a shock than being struck in the face by a soggy beer cloth, she said: “I was completely taken aback. It seems the law is the law and Mr Gent is only doing his job, but it does seem over the top.

“Everyone is a willing participant and we are not expecting hordes of drunken people turning up to take part.

“It is just a bit of fun and we are only talking about drinking half a pint of real ale provided by our sponsors Woodfordes Brewery.”

The event, which begins at 1pm, has been organised in partnership with the Norfolkbroads.org internet forum group to try to encourage more people to visit the region.

Sue Hancock, who helps to run the forum group and was yesterday travelling to Norfolk from her home in Coventry, described the ruling as “stupid” and “petty”.

She said: “It is just a bit of local tradition and this is a shot in the eye to pubs who try to boost their trade and help tourism.”

She explained that under the traditional rules a “flonker” who missed with his rag twice had to drink a pot of ale before the opposing team, standing in a circle, could pass round a rag one to the other.

It was a key element and they would now be having a crisis meeting at the pub to determine an acceptable change to the rules.

“It is too late to cancel the event. We have got teams coming from as far afield as Coventry and London,” she said.

The organisers are still looking for extra teams to compete in the games, which are believed to have been revived in the 1960s in the Beccles and Bungay area after a set of rules were found in an attic.

It is expected to attract a large crowd of spectators who will also be able to see welly wanging and horseshoe pitching.

The council's licensing manager Chris Cawley said as a result of legislation brought in from the start of April, new conditions on liquor licences banned games which encouraged drinking alcohol in such a manner.

He said the purpose of their visit was to alert Mrs Clinch to the law change so the rules could be adapted satisfactorily.
dwile flonking contest hit by binge drinking regulations