Democracy. What does it mean? The Oxford-English dictionary defines democracy this way:
1.0 — A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. (1.3) The practice or principles of social equality.
Yet, it is more than that. In fact, it is a LOT MORE than that. Stanford University in a 2004 lecture for humanistic studies breaks down democracy with four pivotal elements.
A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.
The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life.
Protection of the human rights of all citizens.
A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
It is #3 that is the focus of my post here. But it is not the advocacy of “protection” that I’m going to address. I like a process I sometimes call Reciprocal Comprehension, or examining the positive and negative aspects of an image, in this case principles. Here is Stanford’s breakdown of #3…
In a democracy, every citizen has certain basic rights that the state cannot take away from them.
These rights are guaranteed under international law.
You have the right to have your own beliefs, and to say and write what you think.
No one can tell you what you must think, believe, and say or not say.
There is freedom of religion. Everyone is free to choose their own religion and to worship and practice their religion as they see fit.
Every individual has the right to enjoy their own culture, along with other members of their group, even if their group is a minority.
There is freedom and pluralism in the mass media.
You can choose between different sources of news and opinion to read in the newspapers, to hear on the radio, and to watch on television.
You have the right to associate with other people, and to form and joinorganizations of your own choice, including trade unions.
You are free to move about the country, and if you wish, to leave the country.
You have the right to assemble freely, and to protest government actions.
However, everyone has an obligation to exercise these rights peacefully, with respect for the law and for the rights of others.
There is also an inferred responsibility to all law-understanding and law-abiding citizens to be informed about and keen enough to understand the difference between rhetoric/propaganda and facts/truths regarding a subject. Just because someone has the right to say whatever they want, however they want, doesn’t make it right or true. Each of us, me included, are responsible to discern what the real facts are or what the probable or highly probable facts and truths are so as to properly identify bastard muses.
Cleanth Brooks is often referred to as one of the Fathers of New Criticism. He also is credited for composing formalist criticism of literature and poetry. While being the keynote speaker at the 2011 convention of History Makers in New York City, Bill Moyers spoke these words about literature, journalism, Cleanth Brooks, and to modern social-media:
…while “most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence,” the research found that actually “we often base our opinions on our beliefs … and rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions.”
These studies help to explain why America seems more and more unable to deal with reality. So many people inhabit a closed belief system on whose door they have hung the “Do Not Disturb” sign, that they pick and choose only those facts that will serve as building blocks for walling them off from uncomfortable truths.
George Orwell had warned six decades ago that the corrosion of language goes hand in hand with the corruption of democracy. If he were around today, he would remind us that “like the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket,” this kind of propaganda engenders a “protective stupidity” almost impossible for facts to penetrate.
The late scholar Cleanth Brooks of Yale thought there were three great enemies of democracy. He called them “The Bastard Muses”: Propaganda, which pleads sometimes unscrupulously, for a special cause at the expense of the total truth; sentimentality, which works up emotional responses unwarranted by, and in excess of, the occasion; and pornography, which focuses upon one powerful human drive at the expense of the total human personality. The poet Czeslaw Milosz identified another enemy of democracy when, upon accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature, he said “Our planet that gets smaller every year, with its fantastic proliferation of mass media, is witnessing a process that escapes definition, characterized by a refusal to remember.” Memory is crucial to democracy; historical amnesia, its nemesis.
Against these tendencies it is an uphill fight to stay the course of factual broadcasting.
I would like to personally clarify Brooks’ three bastard muses of broadcasting, or social-media, and Milosz’s amnesia muse on democracy, and modernize, more specifically distinguish, those bastard muses as opposed to the nine inspirational Greek muses.
Propagat, or propaganda, is as most of you know a selling, marketing, or diffusion technique of hype and/or disinformation of an ideology, cause, product, or service that may not necessarily be factual or truthful. Who or what can you name, past or present, that was a masterful or sinister propaganda machinist? Here are six rules-of-thumb from one of history’s most successful propaganda campaigns by one of the world’s most elite, most notorious propagandist:
Propaganda must be carefully timed, reaching its audience ahead of competing propaganda.
Propaganda must have a theme that must be repeated over and over.
It must label events and people with distinctive phrases or slogans.
It must evoke the interest of the audience.
It must diminish anxiety.
It must be transmitted through an attention-getting communications medium.
Who was this elite propagandist? He was Nazi Germany’s and Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. He was also primarily responsible for much harsher discrimination policies across continental Europe including the extermination of Jews in the Holocaust. This is the power of unchallenged, unscrutinized propaganda.
Addendum — The Pink Agendist below in comments offered an exceptional article that further reveals the spine-chilling, remarkable power of propaganda. I highly recommend reading it. Thank you Pink.
Sentimentality, or as I’m calling her nostalgia, in my opinion is the most covert, the most misunderstood bastard muse. Brooks correctly describes above that it is unwarranted emotion and in excess of the occasion; it panders to a gullible human sentiment to “rewrite history” as this Vox video informs us:
Sadly, much of modern racism, discrimination, and segregation in America can be attributed to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They’ve kept much of the old Confederate prejudices alive today.
Pornographos, or pornography, perhaps the antithesis of Erato, but only from a conservative, pious, or puritan viewpoint. She is derived from the Greek word Eros that in ancient Greece is historically just one of six forms of “love.” Modern-day conservatism rarely understands the full experiences of endearing Greek relationships of Antiquity.
Despite the fact that Brooks does indeed give in very few words the correct, yet truncated definition of pornography, I feel the fuller understanding of the muse Pornographos should be understood in her expansive form. Bill Moyers may have described her more fully at some other place and time, I’m not sure. But he did not elaborate or hint in this opening speech what he means by “total human personality.” That is what I wish to do.
Pornography, or Eros, belongs with another 5 or 6 siblings: Ludus, Agape, Philia, Pragma, and Philautia. The sixth sibling, in my opinion is the antithesis of jealousy: Compersion. It is unfair for societies and religious ideologies to separate out or orphan Eros (pornography). Though she can be the center of attention for a period of time and degrees of sublime endeavor, she will always be one of six sister muses. When her other six sisters are neglected, that is when habitual problems and implosion creeps in. When sexual organs and associated body parts are exploited and/or abused for the gains or pleasures of another, while at the expense or humiliation of the entire person/victim, then CLEARLY that is wrong, illegal, and detrimental to everyone involved. All become less human.
Based on what I know about Bill Moyers and what I’ve briefly read about Cleanth Brooks, this latter specified condition of an orphaned Pornography is more their “bastard” muse. It is still incomplete. Their description is the modern connotation of pornography within conservative-puritan society, but it does not represent her family of six sister muses.
Amnesia, or historical amnesia, is indeed an infection to democracy. On the distinctions of history, national or individual, known or unknown, there is probably no better an expert, a firsthand expert, than Czeslaw Milosz. While becoming an acclaimed poet, he survived ethnic cleansing, exiles, and two world wars in Europe and the constant annexations and occupations of his homeland by Russia/USSR twice and the Nazis occupation 1939 – 1945 during World War II. Plain and simple, the man knew much about history and truth. Milosz writes:
“The creative act is associated with a feeling of freedom that is, in its turn, born in the struggle against an apparently invisible resistance. Whoever truly creates is alone… The creative man has no choice but to trust his inner command and place everything at stake in order to express what seems to him to be true”
The 20th century culture surrounding him worshipped victorious power-versions of history, but Milosz is the artist who through his poetry worships truth. His craft allows him to save his and the reader’s soul. Perhaps the trick (or struggle) for all free citizens of democracy — the type of democracy Stanford describes above — should be which muse you fall in love with, which muse beguiles you and why, yes?
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
For the last several weeks I have been in a discussion, on various blog-posts and a public forum here in my area about a story, a way of thinking and living. It has been stimulating and enlightening to hear and read various testimonies from others. I want to share a satire of it and get your thoughts.
What if all forms of authority in your life — law-enforcement, government, parents, utility companies, military — told you that you must return to and use 18th, 17th, and 16th century personal, household, and public items and products? You can no longer use modern items in your daily life. No more cell phone, no more automobile or anything other than two-wheeled equipment, no more electricity, no more GPS, no more vaccinations or modern over-the-counter medicine, no more tapes or glues, no more television, no more contraceptives, no more modern kitchen appliances. If you try, you will be imprisoned for a minimum of 20-years; repeat offenders 40-years or suicide. Imagine, seriously imagine having to do this for an indefinite period of time.
How would you like it? Would you welcome the digress or would you complain and rebel? What would be the advantages of returning to a bygone era? What are the disadvantages?
If you are one of the thousands or millions who do not wish to return to a time of no penicillin, no 24-hour deodorant, no contraceptives, or no indoor plumbing, then you would be quite modernistic, quite progressive, to state the obvious. Why choose that if you don’t have to? Remarkably, there are millions of people who willingly elect to return or stay firmly entrenched in an antiquated, flawed life-paradigm no matter its expired ancient condition.
Time, insight, wisdom, and progress never stop. That is a universal law. It is human nature to be curious, to observe and learn, ever evolving sometimes for the worse, but frequently for better. These are empirical, ontological, epistemic truths. Yes, despite humanity’s horrific track-record at times, what is wrong with being an optimist, a realistic optimist? There are those, however, who do not want perpetual improvement. They do not want an unconditional celebration of life, this life right here and now. They teach and preach that this life and our planet is severely defective and irreparable.
Enter the popular, the great Masqueraders of Sanctimonious Rescue!
There is Hebaroo, then Kristop, and last Islahn. All three are brothers, so they claim, but family history has shown constant estrangement and little kindness to each other. All three blame complete strangers and the other two for all the family and world dysfunction. Each claim themself the sole heir of all this life’s riches and the next. It cannot be shared. Period. Would you like to marry one of them? If you do, each of them promise a perpetual state of war! If you don’t marry one, they’ll promise a perpetual state of more war so agonizing you’ll want to kill yourself, your children, and everyone else.
Now, don’t you see from what you/we need rescuing? This is the carnival merry-go-round everyone was born onto and can never escape or stop its endless rotation. Round and round we all go. What a Stephen King nightmare, huh? Do not fret my clever friends, there are MANY ways to completely avoid this carousel, carnival, and its sanctimonious masqueraders and keep your life, joy, peace of mind, and exciting future! (line break)
Unveiling the Masquerade and Carnival
All three temperamental brothers have their gangs, their peeps if you will, and various codes of conduct. Since much of the Western hemisphere is the territory of Kristop I will work on him and his gang-members, though I could address Hebaroo or Islahn as well, but for the sake of your time and mine I want to stick to Kristop for now.
Why Do I Need Rescuing?
In the spirit of this festive tale and Kristos’ mode of operation, you must be married to him as soon as possible. Even if you are 4-years old, do not wait! You must become part of his harem. Staying “single” or unmarried, at four or ninety-four, leaves you at high-risk for all types of tragedy, for emotional, mental, and physical anguish, and because the entire Earth and all its inhabitants — except for Kristopians — are carnivorous and want to devour you whole or slowly in little pieces before invisible King Exedo arrives and finishes you off! Plus, you and all strangers have no will-power, or at least strong enough not to fall under the spell of King Exedo.
One more thing, all human perceived deformities, malignate-terminal diseases, imperfections, or anything bad which is non-human are caused by and are wicked schemes of invisible King Exedo. All of these sad, painful, harmful, life-threatening problems are by King Exedo and any non-Kristopians. They are why we all need the loving rescue and marital brute “protection” of Kristop.
Since humanity’s present condition is so hopeless, so urgent of rectifying, Kristop demands a decision immediately. Why you need his protection is quite simply “membership has its privileges.” There’s a slight trick to this offer, however, in that how this ‘privileged membership’ plays out is about as varied as there are stars in the Cosmos or grains of sand on Earth. This is so for two reasons, two additional characters:
What makes these two characters so indistinguishable is that sometimes they can be one in the same. Other times they are completely different. What is most important though is not that you fully understand Aurae and/or Hermanewt, but that you become intimate with them both no matter what they may or may not represent. To know Aurae is to also know Hermanewt and to grasp and utilize Hermanewt you must first be intimate with Aurae. Once you have mastered these two characters, you are officially a member of Kristopians with privileges. Got it? If not, I will explain all in basic terms later in this excellent Greekish-Latinish medieval genre of storytelling. But we must continue with your/humanity’s dire need for death-insurance.
Protection for My Future?
Despite what hundreds of soothsayers, intuits, or NDS’s (near-death survivors) consistently report, Kristop and Kristopians, Hebaroo and Hebarooans, Islahn and his Muuslinians, and thousands of other gangs… all say ambiguously and unambiguously what destination you and humanity will travel to post-mortem. There is only ONE map to this destination. Kristop and Kristopians say it is their map. Islahn and Muuslinians vehemently argue it is their map! Hebaroo and Hebarooans say no, it’s neither of those maps, it is strictly their map! These three brothers have never gotten along or agreed completely about maps, nor Aurae, Hermanewt, King Exedo, or whose masquerade carnival is most magnificent. No matter, even though there has never been anyone to go to that post-mortem destination and returned to tell about it, you and all of humanity must still have their exclusive (free of charge?) death-insurance protection and password! Got it?
If not, I will explain all in basic terms later.
Failures of Kristop’s Carnival and Masqueraders
Like all demi-god-like human characters, Kristop has a boss, the head-honcho Godhead of the Syndicate, if you will. HHG of the Syn goes by so many different names that no one really knows if the “entity” actually exists. No one can indisputably prove its existence, only orthodoxy, and circumstantial evidence or theories within our three gangs here raise the HHG-Syn’s possibility. For the sake of argument, let’s say Kristop’s boss HHG-Syn does exist. Where is HHG-Syn and how can one perceive HHG-Syn?
possibly King Exedo
Kristop and his code of gang-conduct proposes two means of perception: 1) Woolly disclosure and 2) Exceptional disclosure. Because of these two methods not one single human being past, present, or future could/can/will say they knew nothing of HHG-Syn and the codes of gang-conduct.
Woolly disclosure, according to Kristop and Kristopians, is so obvious to everyone everywhere that if it were a snake, it would leap up and chomp on your nose! It never let’s go either. Honestly, look at all the trees on Earth. Every single tree is exactly identical; they have roots, bark, limbs, and leaves, some even have different color flowers and different shaped leaves. That reflects one HHG-Syn, and one HHG-Syn-Kristop code. That is woolly disclosure! It cannot be mistaken because everyone perceives the same.
Honestly, look at all the fish in the seas and oceans. Every single fish is exactly identical; they have fins, scales, gills, and tails, some even have spots or stripes. See, that reflects one HHG-Syn, and one HHG-Syn-Kristop code. That is woolly disclosure! It cannot be mistaken because everyone perceives the same.
Honestly, look at all the speaking and writing by all humanity, from beginning up to today. Every single oral story, book, language or hieroglyphs, and their plots are exactly identical; they have a table of contents, a prologue, page numbers, chapters, suspense, an epilogue, and a dramatic ending, some even have pictures. See, this too reflects one HHG-Syn, and one HHG-Syn-Kristop code. That is also woolly disclosure! You cannot mistake it because everyone perceives the same thing.
Exceptional disclosure, according to Kristop and Kristopians, is the one and only singular Code of Gang-Conductand later amendments to previous shortcomings. If the previously covered protection-plans and death-insurance policy wasn’t enough to persuade you/humanity, and Woolly disclosure is not pristine to the unambiguous ambiguity of HHG-Syn, then don’t be afraid, one and only one singular, timeless Code of Gang-Conduct (with amendments) has been given to you and all of humanity to aid in rescue! There is absolutely no ambiguity present in the Code of Gang-Conduct (with amendments) if you simply wear Aurae-Hermanewt goggles and headphones, and not ever take them off. Why? Because Hebaroo and Islahn and their gang-members, as well as other total strangers on this utterly doomed King Exedo planet, will lure and transfix your insignificant pervious will-power if you put on non-Kristopian or take-off Kristopian goggles and headphones. Don’t be tricked, don’t be stupid!
Hold on though. There are three basic questions or problems — if you haven’t already realized — with Kristop’s boss and his masquerade-carnival and carousel:
Has HHG-Syn been found and identified? By who or whom?
Has HHG-Syn spoken to everyone an easy auditory message?
Has HHG-Syn given the same identicalwritten message?
On number one above, if HHG-Syn has been found and has been accurately identified, why is there so much disagreement and diversity about the operation and personality of HHG-Syn among Kristopians?
On number two, there was/is no singular verbal Code of Gang-conduct (over many centuries of amendments and revisions) in the past or today. Due to the misgivings and conduct/nature of Aurae, no “easy,” no “singular” message can be heard among all Kristopians. Ask any Kristopian to intimately describe Aurae and how Aurae interrelates within Woolly disclosure and Exceptional disclosure, and you find much diversity and controversy aplenty.
And finally on number three above, there currently exists between 66-books and 81-books in Kristop’s Code of Gang-Conduct. Kristopians argue those differences are minor, but the simple fact is there’s no single number among ALL Kristopians. By definition of the word canon it implies there exists disingenuous or wrong stories and conduct. In a word, imperfection. In another two words, Unexceptional disclosure. This falls inline with Woolly disclosure quite well. Hence, this does not reflect only ONE way. It does not reflect necessarily two disclosures either. And it does not reflect consensus. It reflects many other things.
The Irreconcilability of Monism and Dualism Monism means that there is only oneness or singleness to a concept, life, or existence. Diversity, differences do not exist. Dualism (or binarism) means that opposed forces exist everywhere in thought, life, or existence. In the gangs of Hebaroo, Islahn, and Kristop, this is typically described as Good v. Evil, Male-Female, Mind v. Body, Physical-Metaphysical, and so on. There is nothing outside of this notion or belief, only black or white, no grey, nothing in between. It’s A or B and done.
When one genuinely examines the designs, functions, and endless purposes of all the people, of all the Earth’s organisms and species, and beyond our tiny planet into the endless Cosmos, tell me please, do you find only duplication or bipartisanship, only monism or dualism? If so, show/tell me where and I or another can show/tell you otherwise. Holding stubbornly to monism and/or dualism is like arguing a circle or sphere has corners.
Do Not Get Trapped in Tri-Brotherly Tunnel-Vision!
Unless you were born into and raised inside the Kristop, Hebaroo, or Islahn gang, asking yourself, their gang-members and gang-leaders how does HHG-Syn speak and how can you determine it’s really the one and only HHG-Syn speaking… is an exercise in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China’s Butterfly Maze to reach the prize. Kristopians do not want anyone starting the maze anywhere outside the 33,565 square meter park, you must start inside the maze only and try to find all exits and dead-ends, never venturing outside the borders. What does that mean exactly?
Kristopians and their gang-leaders first make you take an oath, that you accept without hesitation or doubt the reality of King Exedo’s irresistible power and charisma over your brain and body, then pledge your eternal marital allegiance and faithfulness to Kristop — not any other brothers or non-Kristopian gangs — and then finally promise never to stay more than 10-15 minutes in non-Kristopian lands or behaving in non-Kristopian ways. As a result of exemplary allegiance, your basic membership privileges gradually become Gold VIP status and once you pass Go, all fellow members recognize your accomplishments, follow you everywhere, and you collect unimaginable peace, happiness, pleasure, absolute perfection and riches in Caelum as your future promised death-insurance payout! This future promise is null and void if you frequently (or maybe just once or twice) go OUTSIDE the boundaries of the Butterfly Maze. “Frequently” depends on which Kristopian assesses your questionable behavior and what relationship they have with Aurae and Hermanewt.
Not so surprising, there is more than one entrance into and exit out of the brother’s masquerades, carousels, carnivals, and mazes. The only way there could be just one entrance/exit is if you repeatedly tell yourself there is just one. In fact, it is possible/probable that thinking strictly one way is a shrewd King Exedo trick. Don’t get caught in the tunnel-vision trap. It doesn’t really exist except in antiquated folklore and fairy tales from an expired bygone time-period in a tiny far away land from a tiny group of nomads wanting to be identified (way back then) as the only truegame gang in town.
In case you haven’t deciphered the title of this post, it is in Latin, meaning masquerading in the wrong time-period.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
Previously in Part II, methods of manufacturing uncertainty and five historical cases in which doubt was produced, the ignorance surrounding women’s bodies and pleasures both lost and suppressed, and the lost knowledge and worlds of West Indian abortifacients were briefly covered. Here in Part III I would like to cover cases of artful fabricated facts or conscious lying and how it might be recognized, how indigenous fossils have become lost worlds and knowledge, and finally how understanding the benefits and advantages of historical-interdisciplinary hindsight can improve one’s bull-shit detecting skills.
Once again, I apologize for the length. I realize this Part is over 5,400 words, but its content is critical, too vastly unknown today by the general American public, that again I just couldn’t reduce the word-count anymore than I have. I hope you’ll understand why when finished reading. Thank you in advance for your patience.
∞ ∞ ∞ § ∞ ∞ ∞ (line break)
Fabricating Facts (line break)
Profiling and discerning the who(m), what, where, when, and why of fabricators, their fabrications, infection, placebos and/or actual cures for individual or humanity’s honest betterment is not a Sherlock Holmes skill-set we are born with. It takes trial and error, often MANY trials and errors, over appropriate time, and hedged by just as many or more learners and teachers. Here are some uncinematic examples of prolific fabrication…
Secret Anecdotal History In 6th century CE Palaestina Prima, Byzantine historian and scholar Procopius secretly wrote a collection of abusive defamatory works about Emperor Justinian and other aristocratic elite whom he glorified in actual published works. After his death the writings became known as Anecdotal, which means a short obscure account of an event or events often for amusement and unsubstantiated. In our case here, truthy… maybe, possibly, probably fabricated. Political anecdotes are most suitable for casting degrees of public doubt.
Benjamin Franklin’s Boston Newspaper Hoax In 1782 a Boston, MA newspaper, the Independent Chronicle, reported a Native American tribe allied with the British had committed atrocities on American frontier settlers. The hoax-article written intentionally by Benjamin Franklin was to rouse pro-American and anti-British Crown sentiments. It was a significant propaganda success and proved very beneficial at later peace negotiations with the British Ministry.
Old French Canards 17th and 18th century French tabloids, known as canards, disseminated propaganda, one about a Chilean monster being discovered and shipped to Spain. This animal supposedly had “…the head of a Fury, wings like a bat, a gigantic body covered in scales, and a dragon-like tail.” The report was completely fictitious, but nonetheless became one of the best-selling broadsides in the streets of Paris—readers couldn’t get enough of the fake-news and ate it up.
Delmer’s “Black Propaganda” Radio Show From 1941 to 1943 in Nazi-occupied Europe, Sefton Delmer, known as Der Chef, regularly broadcasted what was thought to be actual news about the war and Nazi corruption to German listeners. The German High Command tried to block the radio signal, but unsuccessfully. As a result, Der Chef — who had a Berliner accent and came across as an old high-ranking Prussian officer — disclosed negative news such as German infantry receiving infectious blood-transfusions of syphilis from captured Poles and Slavs, two ethnic classes many Nazi-Germans despised. Delmer also gossiped on the airwaves that Italian diplomats in Berlin were bedding the wives of high-ranking officials and deployed officers. Through other radio stations, he introduced a youthful Nazi named “Vicki” that spread a mixture of real news taken from intercepted German intelligence sources and invented items like a nasty outbreak of diphtheria among German children. By most accounts of the radio broadcasts, as well as his Nachrichten für die Truppe (News for the Troops) air-dropped on the Western front, Delmer’s propaganda was insidiously effective and contributed at minimum to the disintegrating cohesiveness and morale of Nazi Germany.
The King Wizard of Fabrication One of the biggest, recent fabricated-facts scheme in American history was accomplished over a seventeen-year period by Bernie Madoff. The HBO film below summarizes the impact and ripple-effects well…
Bernard L. Madoff masterminded a multi-billion dollar Ponzi-scheme, defrauding thousands of wealthy investors, over 17-years until the Wall Street market began collapsing and imploding in 2008 from a Made-off-esque, unregulated, financial culture of greed, dishonesty, and severe lack of protective measures for common Americans wanting to trust and invest in the free-enterprise market.
Why Fabricate or Lie? (line break)
The June 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine writes specifically about this common, (natural? chronic?) human condition. According to the studies and researchers the article cites, “We all lie, but not all lies are the same. People [and assemblies of people] lie and tell the truth to achieve a goal: ‘We lie if honesty won’t work,’ says researcher Tim Levine.“ This graphic vividly illustrates the percentages of 11 reasons to fabricate, grouped under four general explanations:
The NatGeo article lists many other classic falsehoods, hoaxes, identity thefts, hoodwinks, scandals, and presidential untruths which infer the symptoms, behaviors, and mechanisms that manifest at certain rates from the cognitive psychology of one or a group. Hence, in this day and age an intimate familiarity with forensic psychology can be quite useful.
Be open as well as skeptical (to necessary degrees) to all sources of information and corroboration. “When you have eliminated the impossible,“ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, “whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth“ or highly plausible, as I like to quantify. This does assist one in profiling, impeding and/or countering fabrications. In my limited subjective experience and education, I’ve learned that the larger a collective database with interdisciplinary methodologies, i.e. verifications, comparisons, variance including reasonably opposed or contrasting perspectives, offer at the moment the best hedge against fraud(s). Presently, even technology must not be solely trusted because even it has proven vulnerable — e.g. internet phishing — and Yudhijit Bhattacharjee writes, “has opened up a new frontier for deceit.“
Lost Worlds and Knowledge of Indigenous Fossils
When the word “indigenous” is used here, it often indicates those peoples living on the continents other than Europe and Eurasia in the late prehistoric period, the ancient history period, and up until the Age of Exploration/Discovery (1400’s). Here specifically I will be referring mostly to the peoples of North America during those time-periods, also known as Native American Indians.
Secondly, it is probably important to quickly review modern techniques of fossil-dating before diving into this area, lost area of Indigenous Fossils Knowledge. How do modern archaeologists and paleontologists calculate the age of fossils? They have more than a dozen very reliable methods, all able to corroborate (or not) the others. Click here to learn more from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
Adrienne Mayor is a research professor in the Classics-History and Philosophy of Science department at Stanford University. Her speciality is how “ancient “folk science” precursors, alternatives, and parallels [that of] modern scientific methods.“ She calls attention to five cases from Imperial Colonization to the Enlightenment where indigenous people’s knowledge of Miocene-Pleistocene fossils are completely missing in Euro-American paleo-histories. Of Mayor’s five cases, I wish to introduce these three: Mather’s Claverack Giant, Cuvier’s Mastodons, and Simpson’s Dismissals, with a very short mention of the Lakota’s Agate Springs Corkscrews.
Mather’s Claverack Giant Bear with me a moment while I state the obvious. Though the last of the Cretaceous dinosaurs went extinct over 65-million years ago, falling exactly where they were, then buried over several millenia under many levels of geology, erosion and/or excavation unearthed and still unearthed today all across the Americas. Native American Indians discovered these massive bones of giants long, long ago, countless centuries before the first Europeans set foot in the Americas. The bones became the oral traditions of the 800+ tribes (est. population of 50—100-million) on the N. American continent alone. When European settlers first heard of these bones from giants in 1705 from Iroquois, Delaware, Shawnee, Wyandot, and other tribes along the Hudson River, they had to see for themselves. Debates broke out between the Indians and European settlers over what the bones were and meant.
In 1712 Cotton Mather, a celebrated New England Puritan minister, wrote the Royal Society of London about the gigantic bones from Claverack, New York. What is a minister, a theologian doing interpreting archaeological finds? Dr. Mayor offers her expertise:
“Mather was a complex man: he demonized the “savages” as devil worshippers, but his writings show a keen interest in their knowledge of natural history, and Mather took the trouble to learn Algonquian. In his letter to the Royal Society, Mather argued that the bones belonged to a giant victim of the flood. This and similar finds in North and South America were “scientific proof” that giants had once inhabited the Americas and died when the flood inundated the whole world.”
Wanting to support his (and the world’s) Christian beliefs Mather used these Indian stories while at the same time asserting that the Albany Indian folklore was ridiculously unreliable. Though many Euro-American church ministers and theologians argued the massive bones legitimized native oral traditions of ancient giants. Adrienne Mayor:
“In contrast, Mather believed that all pagan mythology was inspired by Satan. Could the seemingly spontaneous interruptions in the letter [to the Royal Society of London] be an artifact of a collision between Mather’s faith-based belief system and his scientific impulse to be objective and inclusive by citing Indian giant legends as proof of Christian doctrine?”
Using contradiction for an end-game, Mather’s humoured dismissal of indigenous accounts further cloaked valid evidence to broader knowledge:
“With [his] decision to cancel out native fossil knowledge, Mather became the first authority on record in North America to deny Indians a role in interpreting fossil evidence. I suggest that Mather modeled his tactic on a similar strategy of the Roman historian Plutarch, whose reports of giant bones Mather cites in his letter. Plutarch described the amazing discovery of a gigantic skeleton in North Africa in the first century BC, but dismissed indigenous explanations as “fantastic legends” and scorned their language as “absolutely unpronounceable.””
Cuvier’s Mastodons Following the 18th century Euro-American indifference of indigenous explanations of enormous ancient fossils, the 19th century records and accrediting was hardly improved. In spite of Georges Cuvier‘s extensive use of both native South and North American Indian traditions of their non-whereabouts, he went against popular prejudices. Cuvier is considered the founding father of paleontology and due to his exhaustive work in comparative vertebrate anatomy, his theories of Earth’s extinction-events were often aggressively challenged by mainstream socialites claiming why God, having created all things and commanded them good, would only turn around and raze it to into the ground. Mayor explains…
“Cuvier was especially impressed with Shawnee and Delaware legends surround the “astonishing abundance” of fossils of mastodons and other mammals in the Ohio Valley. In 1762, five complete mastodon skeletons were described and measured by “les sauvages shawanais.”
The details that emerged from indigenous accounts were consistent. The giant beings had lived in the remote past but were wiped out by some violent destruction event before the era of present-day Indians: no one claimed to have seen them alive. These widespread extinction scenarios, from Peru to Canada, helped Cuvier to rule out migration and focus on catastrophic extinctions, and therefore were significant in developing the theories that established the new science of paleontology.”
Historians of paleontology today give no credit to Cuvier’s intimate deliberation over Greek and Native American fossil accounts and finds, nor any speculation of their impact on his theories. Only by reading Cuvier’s original memoirs and publications can one recognize the Native American sources. Cuvier’s modern translator, Martin J. S. Rudwick, does not disseminate any of the indigenous finds either. They’re simply ignored leading the audience to assume Euro-Americans found them.
Simpson’s Dismissals In the July 1935 issue of the Journal of Paleontology, E.M. Kindle, from Cornell and Yale Universities in geology and paleontology wrote that Native Americans deserve credit for their fossil discoveries. This was not to happen. Not then, and for the most part, not in the 21st century either. Why? In 1942 – 1943 renowned U.S. paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson vowed to keep out Native American compensation or recognition in their field of science. In two popular monographs Simpson all but blocked any exchanges between the tribes and Euro-American “finds and accounts.” G.G. Simpson maintained:
“The first vertebrate fossils to be seen by Europeans in the Western Hemisphere were mastodon bones collected by the Indians in Tlascala, and shown to Cortez’s army in 1519. A few casual finds were made in the next two centuries but these also had no sequel and cannot be called scientific discoveries.“ — Simpson, George Gaylord (1942 September). The Beginnings of Vertebrate Paleontology in North America. Abstract p. 130. Retrieved from: http://www.blc.arizona.edu/courses/schaffer/249/Ohio%20Animal/Simpson%20-%20Beginnings%20of%20VP%20in%20NA.pdf
Mayor continues about Simpson’s indifference toward indigenous involvement:
“Since there was no record of “continuous consciousness” of fossil knowledge in Indian culture, argued Simpson, their discoveries never resulted in scientific advancement and thus had “no real bearing on paleontological discovery.” Why would a towering figure like Simpson go to such lengths to deny Native Americans a role in the early history of paleontology?
Simpon’s drive to erase Indians from the story let to convoluted reasoning. In his descriptions of the historic 1739 discovery of mastodon fossils by Abenaki hunters in the French army, Simpson’s logic is torturous: “Even though Indians were probably involved in the real discovery” of the Ohio fossils, “they cannot fairly be called the discoverers.” Despite the Indians’ “absolute priority,” which has been acknowledged by French scientists since 1764, Simpson went so far as to create an ahistorical discovery scenario in order to give credit to the French commander of the expedition.”
This bias for Euro-American findings, procedures, and ingenuity Simpson ardently portrays can be further gleaned from the same web link above (Beginnings) pp. 132-138.
As in many cultures around the world, including the U.S., there are longstanding mythos of elusive, mystical spirits or angels of good, as well as evil. Have any been caught on modern video which support or prove their existence? The validity of tangible paranormal activity with the aid of advancing electronics and technology is still an emerging (scientific?) field. In the case of the Agate Fossil Beds in Nebraska, the Lakota Indians named the site “Animal Bones Brutally Scattered About” because their ancient oral traditions — like those of the desert nomadic tribes of Judean Hebrews pre-Old Testament — were legends of Unktehi, ‘evil water monsters killed by Thunder Beings‘ long ago. Lakota elders believed that disturbing the giant bones of the dead was “bad medicine.” Hence, on moral grounds, or virtuous ignorance, these details were kept not just from outsiders, but within the general tribe too.
[The silent-secret virtue] “evokes some aspects of the Puritan witch hunter Cotton Mather’s anxiety about the satanic influences of Indian fossil legends 300 years ago. Mather deliberately created ignorance as a strategic ploy borrowed from Plutarch.”
The fact that many modern place names originated from antiquity’s legends and continued into the 14th century New World and through today indicates people, no matter their continental ethnicity or methods of knowledge-preservation, observed and theorized sedimentary traces of Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene life-forms before “modern” Euro-American scientific investigations officially began.
These are a few cases of lost and/or dismissed knowledge. Would interdisciplinarity help lower or uncover cases of knowledge-ignorance? Would that have positive or negative consequences on humanity’s progress? (line break)
Advantages of Historical-interdisciplinary Hindsight (line break)
A Prelude — I feel it bears importance to mention or reiterate that with regard to all hindsights of history and science there are pervasive varying degrees of knowledge and ignorance inherent in their operations. Further still, there is no one extant human activity (e.g. religion; theology and their claims) that operates with complete impunity from interdisciplinary examination, verification, and universal collaboration. No one discipline of human activity should ever be above these jurisdictions, yes, including science and history. The concession to or theft of complete impunity, with its implicit power extensions, has too often had disastrous consequences for thousands-to-millions of souls. (line break)
∞ ∞ ∞ § ∞ ∞ ∞
Ask yourself and answer this question, “Where will I be and doing what on July 15, 2023 at 12-noon?” Think about your answer for a minute before reading further.
Do you have a precise answer? Is your answer full proof and exhaustive? It might seem a silly exercise, but it does characterize several mechanisms involved in and constrained by ignorance. Dr. Alison Wylie of the University of Washington, USA, and Durham University, U.K., specializes in the epistemological unknowns of archaeology, its research ethics, and the social sciences relative specifically to feminism. It is her epistemic expertise in archaeology that I find useful in a broader spectrum. Allow me to summarize her archaeological approach to ignorance, in as few words possible, while also interjecting my own wider glimpses, then elaborate more the shadowing onto advantages of historical-interdisciplinary hindsight.
Intro: Mapping Archaeological Ignorance There are a number of factors and constraints to consider at archaeological sites when attempting to understand what is uncovered, unknown and why it might be unknown. Wylie examines several.
Epistemological Factors — a chief source of ignorance is the poverty of empirical data. For example, the scarce fossil evidence of hominid evolution compared to more plentiful prehistoric vertebrates of the Triassic through Cretaceous periods; the former strangely being significantly more recent! One might think most recent artifacts would be most plentiful. Another is technology which today can better locate, recover, analyze, and interpret data had not yet developed. Neurology and brain research are an obvious example. Epistemic deficiency isn’t the only factor; a noticeable inadequacy of theory also contributes. Observations without invigorating theoretical interpretations becomes mundane procedure. R. L. Gregory, Sir John C. Kendrew, and W. B. Webb, all contributors to the Encyclopedia of Ignorance (1977), elaborate:
[Mundane observations]“…are awash in detailed knowledge of form but not function, of correlations but not causal relations, of manifest pattern but not mechanism.”
Joined with historical-interdisciplinary hindsight, causal determinism, the language of precision, conjecture, and extraneous control, though always present everywhere, are further unpacked.
Ontological Constraints — levels of ignorance are often directly proportional to the expanding scope of knowledge, e.g. the more we know, the more we realize what we don’t know. R. W. Sperry explains this illusion of absolute certainty:
“A psychobiologist considers the implications of ongoing evolution: it “keeps complicating the universe by adding new phenomena that have new properties and new forces.” […] But the most daunting for these scientists is any phenomenon that is conditioned by human action and intention.” — Sperry, Roger W., “Problems Outstanding,” Encyclopedia of Ignorance, pp. 432-433
In gathering evidence we must factor in the projection or contamination, if you will, of the observer’s limitless ability to construct new frameworks, new twists, and new endings. From an intrinsic standpoint this is in essence theory and valuable. However, it also means exact science is impossible. That said, degrees of probabilities — the infinite divisibilities notwithstanding — can be, well, more exact when complimented with expansive historical-interdisciplinary hindsights.
Contextual & Normative Factors — standing opposed to the above factors and constraints are those doctors, scientists, and scholars who move their figurative microscopes away from ontological and epistemic ignorances, focusing instead on normative cultural, economic, and social factors. With chemical addiction general society has a complex and robust reaction to drug dependency, so much so that what defines addiction is less precise than the convictions about our knowledge of its causes. Geologists ask why is so much ignorance allowed right under our feet when scientists and engineers have been drilling in the deepest oceans with technology available for many decades? Considering epistemic, ontological, cultural, economic, and social factors within their contexts Dr. Wylie continues:
“…it is striking that these [geologists and addictionologists] do not chiefly blame biasing intrusions from outside science for the failures and limitations of inquiry they describe. […]
With the benefit of hindsight — specifically, thirty years of development in science studies — there is clearly considerable scope for asking why particular lines of evidence and theoretical insight had languished while others were avidly pursued, rebalancing the weight of the factors [above] in the direction of the political economy, the institutional structure, and the culture of the sciences in question, as well as the larger social contexts in which they operate.”
Dr. Wylie has begun inferring a symmetry thesis on ignorance she firmly believes: that contexts and factors which produce knowledge “…are quite relevant for understanding the production (and maintenance) of ignorance.” She insists that though these factors are symbiotic, we cannot always predict at any given time what all factors might be, their full impact, or the exact interactions.
How might these afflictions in archaeology or ignorance be minimized? Perhaps refining our powers of identification, a hearing the silence, if you will, can offer guidance.
Historical Silence Regarding the hazards of ignorance, the definition or composition of ignorance is inevitably sucked into battles of “objectivity” versus relativism and constructivism. The anxieties over error and ignorance, at least in archaeology admits Wylie, had created emergencies about every 30-years since these scientific disciplines began to professionalize as well as commercialize early in the 1900’s. It wasn’t until around the 1960’s that this fixation with ontological and empirical constraints on the depravity of insufficient theory shifted to political and sociocultural factors. Enter Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s study of “Silencing the Past.” Wylie finds Trouillot’s analysis of history very useful here:
“…there is no prospect, [Trouillot] argues, for eliminating the systematic ambiguities inherent in the way we use the term history to refer both to events in the past and to the narratives by which we understand the past in the present. History, the narrative, is produced at innumerable sites, few of them controlled by professional historians and all of them deeply structured by contemporary interests and power relations. What we do not know, as much as what we do know, tracks power as it operates in social contexts both past and present.”
Trouillot considers four stages of historical productions:
genesis of textual clues or traces
collection of these clues/traces into an archive
retrieval of clues/traces as facts for deposit into historical narratives
development of narratives with retrospective impact
At every juncture of the aforementioned epistemic and contextual-normative factors, coupled with the ontological constraints, these four stages symmetrically outline our knowledge and ignorance. Dr. Wylie probes these stages with three lenses.
Empirical & Ontological Factors — empirically speaking, the attrition or decay, displacement, or destruction of material traces and artifacts, as well as hyped optimism over the nature of garbage, are significant imprinting factors upon Trouillot’s first and second stages. Regarding a peoples garbage and artifacts, explains Wylie…
“…the production, consumption, circulation, and discard of material culture are as deeply structured by power relations as is the creation [and collection] of a textual record. […]
Here ontological constraints enter: what archaeologists can know (or know reliably) is conditioned by the differential survival of stone tools and metal artifacts, fired ceramics, and architectural features, by contrast, for example, [to biodegradable items].”
Further still, the seemingly egalitarian nature of a population’s waste or discarded items (which does provide a general theme of the people’s lives), is not represented equally from the rubble. Hence, this takes us to Trouillot’s third stage: retrieval of facts for entry into a narrative. “Here the entire spectrum of epistemic and sociopolitical factors are in play” says Wylie. What is understood about a subject is as dependent on visibility, the means to find it/study it, and manage it technologically, as it is to what the observer finds valuable. Retrieval and formation of usable facts of an archive or pool of data “…is very largely a function of what questions we know to ask and what material traces we know (how) to look for in attempting to answer them” for a narrative.
Given these considerations, factors, and constraints, archaeologists and historians alike must respect the reasonable parameters of evidence, taking care not to indulge too deeply in the forms and speculative practice of social configurations or religious dynamics, both with their hazards. Consider Diogenes of Sinope and his large wine cask—the researcher-observer may find his tub, but altogether miss its resident.
Theoretical Considerations — by the 1960’s and 70’s there was a strong reaction to the traditional skepticism of reliable archaeology. New modern archaeologists insisted the limitations of full understanding reflected, not ontological obscurity and empirical scarcity of extant clues/traces, but rather deficiencies of the valuable theories supplied to inquiry. As a result, the New-Era Archaeologists brought two strategies for redesigning Trouillot’s stages three and four to the skeptics:
reorientation of all retrieval modes: all evidence and artifacts (excavation, data analysis, survey) should be tested to problem-oriented questions, not (random?) open-ended exploration, i.e. theorem building on evidence/artifacts.
increased expansion of stage three and four: frame or rent independent background knowledge, “mid-range theory,” within and from the sociocultural contexts and norms.
Dr. Alison Wylie cram-packs her summary of these two strategies. Get your oxygen tank and mask, take a deep breath, and bear with me (and her):
“The contours of possible knowledge and probable ignorance are shaped by the resources—technical, empirical, theoretical, economic, and social—that archaeologists [and historians] recruit for the purpose of constituting facts of the past: identifying, recovering, recording material traces, and, crucially, interpreting them as evidence. What facts (of the record and of the past) archaeologists can establish has everything to do with what resources they have internally, or what connections they cultivate with the collateral fields that supply the crucial linking principles, and this is a function of institutional dynamics as much as of internal, problem, and theory-driven judgements of relevance; of conventions of authority and prestige, and the shifting availability of research funds, as well as accidents of personal interest and connection.”
As we continue analyzing the historical silences, a less-fuzzy picture is emerging. Compared to our pool of knowledge, we are finding ignorance to be atlantic! Indeed, the distant horizons where “dragons” lurk, recede and turn into minnows as we frequently embark. Not necessarily as authorities, but as explorers, finding other explorers in unchartered and newly charted seas. However, there has risen a new phenomena, a strengthening storm, if you will. It is loosely known as modernized scientific skepticism.
Sociopolitics — since the early 1980’s, with an increased fervor in the 2000’s, there has been a strengthening reaction to whether science can know and understand the past, particularly archaeology. This storm challenge is explicitly cast in sociopolitical terms, even with threads of religiosity mixed in—the Christopher Hawkes top-rung of his Inference Ladder (Evans, C. (1998). Historicism, chronology and straw men: Situating Hawkes’ ‘Ladder of inference’. Antiquity,72 (276), 398-404. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00086671). The eye of the storm is directly against Trouillot’s fourth stage, narrative construction.
These new warriors against archaeology, science, and history argue that stage-four narratives about the past are inescapable from contemporary bias and significance. Though this is a plausible, universal argument, it overlooks genre or discipline-specific credibility-tests designed to expose possible contemporary bias and significance. What exactly is meant by this?
One could characterize this modern reliability debate as Exclusion vs. Inclusion. Consider Ian Hacking’s counter-argument to these new warrior’s skepticism. In 1986 Dr. Hacking presented his lengthy essay-argument to the Canadian Journal of Philosophy, and I paraphrase:
In the field of lucrative high-stakes weapons-research, when boards and scientists target specific troubles, time and resources are not only rechanneled away from other equally bright lines of research, but future options of research are also revamped before given a chance of success. This diverting reshapes the “world of mind and technique” where science operates.
Accurate and reliable scientific research and development takes necessary time, sometimes years, and the ripple-effect of these redirections, refunding, and defunding has consequences, as Wylie explains:
“By extension, this canalization of inquiry in any one field has implications for what is or becomes possible in other fields, determining what technologies of investigation, what collateral knowledge, is available for application in the kinds of interdisciplinary exchanges that have enriched archaeology [and history] from its inception.”
The present-day skepticism and worries by new warrior-critics has formed and morphed into an implicitly uncompromising constructivism for which at its core assumes there is little archaeology, history, and sciences, perhaps even technology can exhaustively account for other than layered silences; “expansive ignorance and exuberant invention” says Wylie. Trouillot would certainly take exception to this new-age opposition and posture.
In his Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History, Trouillot superbly uses the folklore, myths, and legends surrounding the battle of the Alamo in Texas — today and for almost two centuries a popular lucrative tourist-site and sociopolitical extension of Texas’ proud Anglo-American image, “history(?)” and heritage intensively taught throughout primary and secondary public school levels — to make the crucial point of just why strategies and credibility-tests are necessary for historical silences or ignorance. I am also inserting two pieces of embellished artwork highly treasured inside our Texas state capitol.
“The lesson of the [Alamo] debate is clear. At some stage, for reasons that are themselves historical, most often spurred by controversy, collectivities experience the need to impose a test of credibility on certain events and narratives because it matters to them whether these events are true or false, whether these stories are fact or fiction.
That it matters to them does not necessarily mean that it matters to us. But how far can we carry our isolationism [exclusionism]? Does it really not matter whether or not the dominant narrative of the Jewish Holocaust is true or false? Does it really not make a difference whether or not the leaders of Nazi Germany actually planned and supervised the death of six-million Jews? […]
But how much can we reduce [oversimplify, extrapolate, biasedly project] what happened? If six-million do not really matter, would two-million be enough, or would some of us settle for three-hundred thousand? If meaning is totally severed from a referent “out there,” if there is no cognitive purpose, nothing to be proved or disproved, what then is the point of the story? [Hayden] White’s answer is clear: to establish moral authority. But why bother with the Holocaust or plantation slavery, Pol Pot, or the French Revolution, when we already have Little Red Riding Hood?
Constructivism’s[anti-science warriors’]dilemma is that while it can point to hundreds of stories that illustrate its general claim, that narratives are produced, it cannot give a full account of the production of any single narrative.[his emphasis]For either we would all share the same stories of legitimation, or the reasons why a specific story matters to a specific population are themselves historical. To state that a particular narrative legitimates particular policies is to refer implicitly to a “true” account of these policies through time, an account which itself can take the form of another narrative. But to admit the possibility of this second narrative is, in turn, to admit that the historical process has some autonomy vis-à-vis the narrative. It is to admit that as ambiguous and contingent as it is, the boundary between what happened and that which is said to have happened is necessary.
It is not that some societies distinguish between fiction and history and others do not. Rather the difference is in the range of narratives that specific collectivities must put to their own tests of historical credibility because of the stakes involved in these narratives.” — Trouillot, Silencing the Past, pp. 11-14.
And personally I would add “…must put to their own tests disclosed and compared to those of interdisciplinary credibility tests as well for increased accuracy” because of the stakes involved between fact-or-fiction!
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Given the hitherto three-part coverage and hopefully amplification of some of the intricacies and mechanisms constituting knowledge-ignorance, how it’s produced, and why it has silences, it becomes clear that a form of enlarged intellectualism is presently needed, especially in the U.S., and nurturing (versus uncompromising) in the general population, or at minimum a trustin those few credible experts who have obtained it, in order to better monitor and counter severe imbalances. Therefore, in Part IV, the conclusion, I will examine social theorems of ignorance, perhaps white (yes, Caucasian/Anglo) ignorance, should time permit and you readers/followers demand it in your comments below, and then finally ask Where are America’s Public Intellectuals?… to help in this imperative movement. I hope you will join me. Meanwhile, please leave your thoughts about Part III below and I will do my best to respond. (line break)
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
There are many many subjects I know nothing about; nothing of real significance that is, other than vague generalities and oversimplifications. For instance, I’m clueless about architecture and how to read a blueprint. I’m clueless about farming and how or when to plant certain crops, how to keep up the soil, when to harvest, etc. I’m also clueless about rugby or cricket and their rules! I’m clueless on how best to perform medical operations; I’m not a board certified doctor! There are many subjects I just don’t know enough about to carry-on any type of extended intelligent conversation!
So here are my questions to the cyber-world:
Is it wise to speak overtly, to be long-winded about things one knows very little or nothing about?
Why is it every two & four years — the American political cycle — everyone knows EVERYTHING about the dynamics of governing 319-million diverse people, or in my state of Texas 27-million, and are suddenly experts on ALL factors that effect people’s needs and wants and their current and future well-being? How do they have all the solutions!? What’s their secret? I want to know!
And now for some comic relief with much “truthiness”… 😀
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
I pointed to the classroom’s lesson hook on the board, I turned to my 8th graders and repeated the question, “Who has the power to do things in the United States?” I quickly had to add, “…LEGALLY do things!“
Over the years of teaching Social Studies, there is one answer I consistently get: “THE PRESIDENT!” I remain silent for as long as necessary. Why? For a number of fine reasons, comic relief is one, but mostly to gauge how extensive the class will need to cover U.S. government, and indirectly Texas state government, for the upcoming week or two. However, there is another reason I like to ask the class this hook question. Inevitably parental teaching and influence will surface between the lines of their responses, especially if I allow the students some time and freedom to challenge each other’s answer and explanation. Those opening minutes are not too unlike adult conversations over political issues you catch at town squares or workplace break rooms. Every four years these conversations, sometimes volatile debates, can be exactly the same as those my 8th graders start. 😮
Senator Huffines reply to me about the absurd injustice of Texas businesses refusing service to any of the LGBT community on religious grounds
If all of you received a quality education in primary school through secondary school and graduated obtaining your diploma, perhaps in the upper half of your senior class or better, or had the fortune to attend four years of undergraduate studies obtaining a bachelor’s degree, then it is reasonable to assume that you know that our U.S. President does NOT have all the power to do things. There is a very good reason… it prevents one person, or one office, organization, branch, from gaining a greedy and/or abusive advantage; in a word: dictatorship. Yet, surprisingly (or not) a significant population of American adults under the age of 50 feel the U.S. President is the sole person responsible for good times and bad times. At the risk of stating the obvious, this political mentality is tragic, let alone harmful for a community’s, a state’s, or a nation’s future.
Critical thinking skills are sometimes (often?) NOT taught to our young children, adolescents, or undergraduates. This is partly due to how much freedom people and institutions are indeed given, e.g. the above image and response letter from Don Huffines, my Texas Senator, regarding the rights of business owners to refuse all services to gays-lesbians-transgendered whomever they choose. Another reason critical thinking skills are not taught or tested in primary and secondary schools is that until recently Common Core Standards in education did not exist 10-20 years ago. Thus, a generation of un-ingenious or unimaginative followers were raised. Today, 43 states have fortunately adopted Common Core Standards teaching critical thinking skills to young minds. But that is only in public education. It does not reflect the ever-increasing popularity in some states for charter or private schools, much less the home-schooling sector.
Following is a good 3-minute video about these skills and how ProCon.org promotes them in non-partisan fashion.
As I alluded to in my previous post, I have very little time at the moment to write in-depth 3,000 – 7,000 word posts on such MONUMENTAL subjects as voting and other civil responsibilities during campaign years, primaries, elections — and elections of public officers who APPOINT other officers or judges into positions of great power the general population will have no direct say in their placing — and how these officials will affect millions of citizens for years to follow. Knowing how your candidate might “appoint” other officials, collaborate with other officials, or remain consistent to their campaign positions and promises are just as crucial as your here-n-gone single vote for him or her! I feel this is a subject, a blog-post that is important enough to pause my hectic life for a few hours and share in a small way how paramount civil responsibility is to each of us… including your own children’s and grandchildren’s futures and how to make changes, improvements, even though they may be slow and gradual.
Therefore, if you would like to get a broad introduction into how to be a more informed wiser voter, I’ll recommend my post Oversimplification 2012 and its 4-part series as a starting point. However, if you’d prefer the abbreviated more shallow introduction — i.e. the version(s) many American voters prefer or only have time for — then continue reading. If you barely had time to read this far, then I beg you to try and at least watch completely the below video. It could cause you to reconsider your voting and political tendencies regarding our privileged, important, and free (or costly?) civil right to vote that each of us are gifted. Voting, and voting wisely, as well as freely, should never be ignored or taken lightly.
So many political issues and controversy are rooted in economics; its healthy or unhealthy status. This is partly why I chose Joseph Stiglitz’s video and commentary over his new book, The Great Divide. Also because he is a Nobel Prize winner in Economics and has loads of wisdom to impart!
I hope this very brief post has helped you and other voters to be a bit more informed, but informed in more objective broader ways. Please get or remain very involved in your community’s, your county’s, your municipal’s, your state’s, and your federal elections. Correspond with your elected officials frequently. Vote and vote wisely, and just as important, vote for a greater good for the greatest number!
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always