Monday, November 12, 2018

Writing Yourself Back Into Sanity

Gun control. Hang on, hang on! Give this just a moment. Let's use that as an example, as well as address it, just for the moment.

I'm a writer. I write myself into impossible situations in fiction, or my characters anyway. Then I write my (their) way out of it so at first, my reader thinks my character is lost. Then, not lost, but in a fun way. Hopefully.

When I build into those situations both as the author and character God, I try to write cleverly. Whenever I can't, when I'm just as lost as my character (happens all the time, that's the fun of it!), I first have to realize, I'm lost. I consider all the rational, logical, even illogical ways out of the situation or scene, or picadillo. Once I find I have no solution, it's like there's a click, and I realize where I am. Stuck.

That's when it occurs to me to look 180 degrees about in order to see where to go. It's jarring at times. It's counter-intuitive. It's at times humorous. Or feels insane. But then, I ruminate about how to make whatever it is that rises to the surface, to work. Not forcing it, but jostling it about in my mind as mental attachments are formed and then, solutions begin to spark into life. Exercise at times aides that along. Also, removing oneself from the problem. Rest, entertainment (but be careful, that can also be a trap).

So often, that realignment to 180 degrees, becomes the actual and best solution. At times, the only solution.

I first discovered that in my life. With heavy contrast comes obvious elements previously unseen in the situation. Counter-intuitive, like I said. It's not always intuitive. So you have to break out of that mindset you are locked into.

That's what I've meant about conservatives and Republicans of late. They seem to have difficulty with situations that require counter-intuitive solutions or, ways of viewing things. They can'/t see the forest for the trees you might say, so much of the time.

I've shared this 180-degree concept with people over my lifetime and they've been surprised at first how often it works to their benefit in giving them insights or perhaps, outsights. It's a technique for thinking out of the box. Or realizing there was never a box to begin with. Now that's thinking outside of the box.

When I look at guns, the gun situation in this country, gun control, mass shootings, where we are at now...the obvious solution, for a child...is arming everything and everyone. It is an ill-informed, juvenile consideration,.

It is where the, "Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun" solution comes from. But it sounds like the solution of a five-year-old. Or, the NRA, or the Republican party. Of conservative gun owners and those who cannot see clearly any other solution. Because it's not obvious. It's lost among all the other chatter in the situation.

It's low contrast, obscured because of a reverent almost religious attachment to the US Constitution. Which is not a God. And once you consider the destructive dynamics of a God consideration, outside the blanket goodness attributed by theists to deity worship, one begins to see what is truly there.

Welcome to my world!

Remember a long time ago? Further up the page here when I mentioned getting out of tough creative solutions to fictional problems? Yes, those were the good old times, weren't they? The good old days of a moment ago. Before all this insanity in the world was boxing us about the head and brain, mind and morality. Yet, we really must continue on....

So, to summarize, IF you turn about 180 degrees you can frequently clearly see potential solutions.

And in this case, that is...the reform of gun control laws. Or going further in turning up the contrast levels, a rethinking of the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution. I know, I know, all that and the rest.

If you cannot see that, well...that's how the NRA and the extreme conservative Republican party and how so disingenuously they ard the travesty in the oval office, Donald Trump, have all continued to trick and con us all. To subvert reality to their own ends and not ours.

The solution isn't usually all that hard. It's just hard for some to see. But once it's been seen, you really cannot unsee it. That's the problem with atheists, you see. I went through that myself. I was raised strict Catholic. Old school, old country, old Slovak Catholic. Then I came to understand I was only half that. The other half was Irish by way of my father's family. I realized I was more Irish Catholic. That broke with the old strict traditional Slovak Catholic I had been all my young life. This was about the beginning of high school for me.

There were some other issues that helped me along, which aren't relevant here today about this. But you get the picture. I started looking around. In reading science fiction all my life, brilliants thinkers had given me a methodology to see when you are blinded by your reality and not THE reality. After a decade or so of theistic and philosophical, then college and studies in anthropology, sociology, and a degree in psychology, it all became clear.

Then I had to shake off the remaining vestiges of a lifetime of fear invoked by religious dogma and finally one day, after being a devoted theist, an adamant agnostic, a staunch atheist, I found the reality that wasn't in that box built by humanity and found one that was always there in form, a part, and parcel of the universe itself.

That is when one has to act.

That has been nearly impossible.

But times are now a changing yet again and those who are conning us are on the way out. Demographics are changing starting to fit a reality we have lived for some time now. We just have to open our eyes, our minds, and take in what is there and where we are headed. We can get in front of that train and get run over, or we can help it along and gain the love and respect of all those feeling abused because we refuse to see them or...to respect them. In ways they know, they deserve.

We will all one day, our descendants will one day, all look back at now and marvel at how really damned stupid we were and for so very long.

Really, it just takes courage.

And being honest about what is and what isn't, If only or even for a moment as we study it, we can see what is there without us in the picture. Then put us back in and see how we truly fit into what is and what has been. And what we haven't been able to see. For whatever reason.

Whatever it takes. And if that is looking about oneself 180 degrees, or counter-intuitively, so be it. Or if you have another way, one THAT WORKS, great! Use it. But do...use it!

Because we have to stop not seeing what is there and start seeing what others can clearly see while we refuse or simply cannot see it. Or see it all.

Especially when the solutions were there, staring us all right in the face.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Socially Posting Reality

First up, Vote!

This is the process I try to follow for posting\sharing information on social media. It is important that we post the best and most accurate information possible. We need to pollinate social media with reality and accuracy. We have got to get a handle on it, somehow. It's not just all up to the government or the platforms and companies who own, support and run social media.

"Post Reality."

Whose Reality? As objective a reality as is possible to divine from current and available information. I don't see a lot of that today.

Not to mention by one expert's account to the Congressional Intelligence Committee: "1 in 25" partisan memes\postings are actual American human beings, the rest are bots. Mostly if not all, Russian bots. Which means, we not as partisan as it appears. Well, that's SOME good news anyway.

That being said, EVERYONE screws up sometimes.

Whenever I do I try to be gracious about it if someone points it out, typically posting in public, sometimes to embarrass.

IF it is something extremely obvious, and I am correct, and the person is being outright stupid, I deal with them appropriately. That can be anything from pointing out their mistake with supporting evidence to cutting them down to an appropriate size in their mind (that takes a degree of skill or talent and I see many screw that up and embarrass both parties). Mostly it's best to be compassionate and polite.

But some just need a kick because others need to see that on their side and feel some catharsis on my side. I say that because there are too many bullies out and about, trolling for fun not to educate, not to be accurate. Like children.

Just be aware that nowadays they may simply be a waste of your time in trying to educate them. If they are obviously not interested in actual education, in better and more accurate information, they are just being stupid, and by definition (my definition).

As hard as I try, and I'm a university trained researcher but, I make mistakes too, I may act too fast. I'm human. I may be tired, nor feeling well, distracted, maybe I really shouldn't be posting, etc.

These here are my gold standard points however for how I do try to act in trying to be helpful to others and to be as accurate (and mature) as I can be. Consider that when you read some things online that people post.

IF trained researchers can make these same mistakes, what kind of information do you think is being passed about by those who have no idea what they are sharing or how to go about it? What percentage of information do you think is accurate? Because today one really needs to ask instead, what percentage of information do you think is inaccurate?

When you have other nations like Russia trying to subvert our path, to add chaos to our nation, with national leaders like the POTUS Trump constantly being incorrect and constantly outright lying, constantly escalating the numbers of already inaccurate or irrelevant information. along with people with vested interests in dis- and misinformation, just how much bad information do you think is out there?

Information you may pick up and inadvertently become a part of sharing incorrect information.

Traditionally all through history, we have had incorrect information simply because of an overabundance of poor information, and a lack of available accurate information. Either by accident and simple human fallibility.

Today we have it because people want it there for questionable purposes, vested interests, greed, espionage and political purposes. There is also the allegation that many people actually do like and prefer wrong information ("Study Finds People Like the Wrong Stuff on Social Media Better").

Weird, right?

We simply have to be more careful and do our best to flood social media with the most correct information available that we can access. So....
  • Think before posting.
  • If possible, click on the post, following it. Does it exist? Check the date it was originally published.
  • Do a quick search on the title or topic to see how recent (or valid) it is and what and if the source is reasonable. Especially if there is no publish date or if it is not obvious from content exactly when it was posted.
  • The more important or controversial the information the more vetting (validating) is necessary.
  • Post less assuredly from others you do not know or do not know well.
  • Triangulate (see footnote1 below) research on a post prior to posting (find one or more other relevant, trusted and disparate sources to vet information). Typically cyber-vetting is used today as it can be highly effective and quick...and accurate when done properly. Highly inaccurate when done improperly, which we see a vast amount of from right-wing extremists. 
  • As a general rule, if something agrees with your POV too much, it's probably a lie or Russian type disinformation attack on social media. So give it trust only once you've vetted the information.
  • When friend or foe challenges your post, do not do an ignorant, or conservative "knee-jerk" type reaction. It's immature and counterproductive. Instead, although you can initially reply with something clever or snarky if entertaining to others in some way and especially to your challenger. But do then go and vet that information to be sure you are correct about it. Especially if challenged by someone you trust or is known to post valid information. There is nothing more foolish than to be caught in a mishap and then double down on what is then your stupidity. Do not be a Donald Trump. Best rule is after guessing it is correct and posting, always go vet that info at some point in the next hour to 24 hours and come back to correct it if you find issues with it, or to clarify it if you realize it may come across with options for being incorrect in part or whole.
  • IF you post something incorrect, especially if it's gone viral before (or after your posting), leave it up online. Then, add to the initial post to indicate what is incorrect so as to allow others to read the updated post and attached thread below so they can understand WHY it's incorrect, along with links to associated vetted information. In that way, you help to decrease the incorrect information online. To simply remove it, typically so you are not embarrassed, leaves others who might have seen it, open to making the exact same mistake. 
  • Never call something "fake news". It is immature and has too much Donald Trump, Republican, and conservative negative baggage. 
  • Show don't tell. Telling is fine if accompanied with value-added information. But it's also all about the orientation and who your post is actually addressing. frequently we get emotional and address our side, not the other side and may even say things to force the other side to "dig in" and worse, "double down."
  • When you vet information, research down through several levels or layers and over several sources of information. Use sources who should know, not just any source with that topic. Sites like InfoWars, typically do not know a damn thing. IF you find something on a site like that, you then have to vet THAT information several more times and it can go exponential, so best to leave them to the nut cases and ill-informed (you cannot help them, they are not interested in reality and really not interested in being correct, especially not by a member of their as they see it, ignoble opposition...ironically enough, they are typically the ignoble ones). Most incorrect postings on social media are not verified at all or sometimes worse, vetted only one level down, or out. I say worse because then they tend to incorrectly think that they DID do due diligence. Typically it takes two, three or more to finally know if something is true or not and that all the related and relative supportive information has been acquired.
  • More questionable sources require ever more vetting.
  • At times you may find something requires excessive vetting of never seeming to be enough sources, or you cannot seem to vet it. That's not hard to deal with. You simply admit it's merely your (maybe informed, maybe not so informed) opinion. Or that you tried and cannot fully vet it and/or that you got the information from some public figure who should know or whatever. The point is to state it in such a way so if you are later proved to be incorrect, it reflects not on you or your vetting process but on others. 
  • That last part of the last point does NOT refer to "plausible deniability", a method used by national leaders and greatly abused by the Republican party. Don't stoop to their level. Though I do admit to using that at times for reasons that are hopefully overt, obvious and the biggest reason, humorous. 
  • Truth. That is what is important. IF you should find you are wrong, and in vetting your information you learn something new and contrary to your beliefs, you have two choices. Absorb those beleifs, incorporate them into your overall beliefs. Update, reprocess and look at your understanding of things with this new updated information. Do no ignore it. Worst case,place it to the side and DO NOT FORGET about it. The other thing you can do if it really disturbs you is to start again and revet with this new information. You can try to prove your original beliefs right, or the new ones right. Just be careful of ending up with your beliefs being verified, when they shouldn't be. Because in the end if is not about you, not about your beliefs, but about what is really going on. Share the new information and help humanity. 
  • Humor is almost always useful and one of the best ways to persuade or handle difficult information. Just be aware and careful, it can backfire. Joking about a mass shooting, typically will. 
In the end, we all want (or should want) ACCURATE information. Not Donald Trump type incorrect news and information, inaccurate and constantly changing information and faux facts and disinformation and misinformation all which benefits incorrectly one viewpoint over another.

There is a distraction involved in all this. One that has led to many new conspiracy theorists. Many new conservative Republicans who spook at a shadow in ever corner.

"How do you know what is true and accurate?" The ask.

That is for another article, this is for the foundational concept of sharing Truth. Next is the consideration for what is true or can be true or who to trust to disseminate what is true. But basically, a country has got to trust it's intelligence and law enforcement agencies over it's elected officials. See, for the most part, most of those people are like you or I. That is like most of us. We have a given job, we do our best to follow the mission set before us. To be honest, truthful. To do the best we cvan for our country.

Republicans and Donald Trump would have us distrust those people, until we distrust ourselves, until we have to trust only HIM. He wants us to believe we cannot trust our government, our judciary, our law enforcement, our intel agencies.

WHEN that is PROVEN untrue, then you act, you ignore, you refuse to believe. But at that point, you have far worse problems. Personally, AND socially.

But we are not there. Not by a long shot. Those whom extremists call the "deep state" or in some cases the "swamp", are just patriotic citizens, who remain in government from elected administration to elected administration. What conservatives have done in calling these people out is to sow fear into the basic fabric of America. Refuse them their fear mongering.

IF all information online were accurate and properly vetted, America would suddenly take a leap forward in education, politics and social interactions. Much of our bickering today is due to people either arguing the same point of view from different perspectives because one or both sides is lacking relevant information. Or one side is vastly incorrect and the other side has little or no grounds from which to debate the issues. It's like debating with a crazy person. Not to say the other is insane, but the dynamics are very similar.

In the end, we can help to alleviate this current situation by posting only the best information we can access. Also by focusing on the facts and not emotional reactions. Falling back to that old adage of "Hate the sin. Love the sinner." We have got to find a way to communicate, to see our opposition as noble opposition, and to help them find a way to become once again, noble. Just don't put yourself in that position where they have the same problem. Because then, we are all truly lost. Even though we have been seeing that effort pushed at this time by Donald Trump as POTUS. 

We find ourselves now at the point since Donald Trump became president, to truly need to make America great again.

We have got to get back to the basics, to pollinate reality into social media, politics, and culture. To get back to the facts, and back to...reality. 


Footnote 1:
Triangulation is three points, one being your POV. So one or two (usually at least two) other sources. A university professor of mine once explained this to our class saying to always get three other and disparate sources. Even better if you can find at least one on the opposition side who agrees with your POV. The other form is to go out to disprove your POV and if it proves true, you win. Either should be neutral in orientation so you don't involve personal information bias.

Either way: "'...triangulation ’ originates in the field of navigation where a location is determined by using the angles from two known points. Triangulation in research is the use of more than one approach to researching a question. The objective is to increase confidence in the findings through the confirmation of a proposition using two or more independent measures.2 The combination of findings from two or more rigorous approaches provides a more comprehensive picture of the results than either approach could do alone.3"

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Modern American Ignorance Defined

Pres. Trump and the Republican party today are spreading and seeding ignorance to further their own agendas and those of the Russian president Putin. Accidentally or on purpose, it damages America and their own base who are one or another kind of ignorant. But what exactly is ignorance and how many today are truly what we once understand ignorance to be?

A few of my personal quotes from the past on what we see so rampant in America today, especially from #Trump the oval office and the #gop, real or worse feigned #Ignorance. These were gleaned from my blog pages Quotes Along the Murdock I, II and III where you can see other quotes I've posted or published elsewhere over time.

Ignorance is the provenance of Anger.

If as has wisely been stated, travel is the antidote to ignorance, Donald Trump is most definitely going to need a starship. And he should take most of Congressional Republicans with him.

It's sad when you're talking to someone new and you realize, your own ignorance is still far more informed than their best "facts"

Ignorance is the greatest threat humanity faces.
Beware always those whose words may claim even to crave knowledge, but whose actions deny it.

Religion is the Art of using Guessing and Desire to explain Ignorance, rather than trying to find and use Reality based Explanations for that which we do not yet understand.

Ignorance is noble but as practiced today, it's disgusting.

Ignorance is noble. Everyone starts out ignorant.
Sustaining ignorance, however, especially in this day and age, is a cancer that is easy enough to fight against, with knowledge. But you have to want to fight against your own (and your group's) bias and agendas, which is another cancer.
Knowledge, by the way, is actual information, verified information; not just what sounds good to you or yours.

Beware of false ignorance, it is ignoble and more dangerous than knowledge.
[The opposite of false ignorance is not knowledge. To be falsely ignorant would be one who is being ignorant, but not really, so that they have chosen their ignorance. This presupposes a kind of agenda that actually propagates false knowledge. It is a kind of behavior that is both insidious and fundamentally, dangerous.
Example: "Monsanto was exhibiting false ignorance in their understanding that the chemicals could not give children deformities."]

"Ignorance is noble. Stupidity isn't."

"Ignorance is not a pursuit. Stupidity is."

Finally and most important:

"Everyone is ignorant, it's a normal state of being. Stupidity, however, is consciously choosing to remain ignorant."