“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
With the 2016 presidential race already at full steam, and the unexpected rise in the popularity of Bernie Sanders, politics has been on my mind a lot recently. Conversations, debates, and personal attacks based on political beliefs are starting to take over Facebook. This article is intended to be a simple and straightforward presentation of “how I see it”. I’m not a political expert, but as usual I’ve done a lot of research. I’ve also been involved in politics at the local level here in the state of Washington, and spent time talking to a friend of my family who was on the city council of a nearby town and ran for Congress a couple times.
Everyone has different ideas of how the government should be run, what they should do, and so on. I would like to propose ideas that transcend petty divisions like party, left and right, conservative and liberal, and instead get to the heart of the real problems with our country, and some possible ways they could be fixed. One of the most important things we must do in order to survive, I believe, is learn to work together and eliminate the divisive “us vs. them” mentality that has become such a fundamental part of politics these days.
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
When I write nonfiction, I try to give people the questions they need to ask in order to think logically and hopefully uncover truth, no matter what the subject is. I like to think that most people are more intelligent than they seem to the people with whom they disagree. Thus, I tend to write more philosophical than informative articles, intended to get people thinking and researching on their own.
But there are a few groups of people who seem immune to any curiosity or reason. You might call them stubborn, irrational, or any number of things. One of these groups is fundamentalist religion, or really any form of religion that unquestioningly accepts an ancient book of poetry and mythical stories as an absolutely true revelation from a god. Another is the anti-science movement, anyone who dismisses scientific discoveries without even understanding them, anyone who distrusts all science because of whatever religious dogma or conspiracy theory they believe, anyone who thinks homeopathy could possibly be effective.
“I don’t want to believe. I want to know.”
This article may or may not be all over the place, and rather long. I’m hoping it will pull together some of my ongoing themes, and to that end I’ll be linking several of my older posts. If you haven’t read them yet, I would encourage you to read each one as you come to the link. I think all of them together will give a clearer and more comprehensive picture of the issues I’m addressing. The combined length of everything is in the range of a small book, so it may take you a little while.
I first ventured into the subject of knowledge and truth several months ago with this post, which is sort of an abstract philosophy piece about the nature of knowledge. Looking back, I can see that my ideas at the time were just beginning to form, and it’s a glimpse at the incomplete foundation on which I was starting to build new ideas. I’m sure several months in the future this article will look the same, and that thought excites me. What new things might I discover?
Lately I’ve been reading Carl Sagan’s excellent book The Demon-Haunted World. I’ve found it particularly interesting because he makes many points that I’ve already written or thought about on my own. While it feels good to find your own thoughts expressed by a highly intelligent and respected person in a bestselling book, it would of course be a fallacy to think it’s evidence they are true. We want to stay away from logical fallacies, and no matter how intelligent Sagan was, him saying something doesn’t make it true.
How can you look at this picture of the Andromeda Galaxy and not agree that the universe was created by my invisible friend? He shoots laser beams from his eyes and inexplicably cares about the well-being of earthworms! Isn’t he great?
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Specific claims require specific evidence. But what exactly does that mean?
Suppose you have no knowledge of modern technology, and you come across a device with a touchscreen. Your mind, which so far has only known a natural and mechanical world, is dazzled by this new electronic technology. And of course, you have no idea how it works. What is your first assumption? That the device contains a spirit which reacts to your touch and changes the display? That it was made by an advanced alien race from another galaxy? That it’s a special revelation from a god and contains all knowledge you will ever need about how to live your life?