Conflation Confirmation Conflagration

Nobody asked but …

Conflation is running amock these days.  People are actually making important decisions because certain things are viewed as Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, patriotic, religious, lawful, or criminal.

It is critical in this complex world that each person take in as much information as needed, in the most effective way, to make thoughtful decisions.  We should practice Ockham’s Razor whenever we sift facts, fictions, and factoids.  Ockham’s Razor, you may recall, is an admonition not to overstir the pot.  Reject overwrought accounts.  Just think.  Almost all of the information crucial to our physical or social health comes through news media, social media, politicians, bureaucrats, hidebound professional associations — none of whom know of what they speak, passing along only hearsay.  It is cacophony.  Can you keep your head when all around you are losing theirs?

There are traits that do not serve humans well as a rational species:

  • Conflation,
  • Confirmation, and
  • Conflagration.

Conflation is putting ideas together that should be sorted apart, first, before looking for specious connections.  An example would be to make some ideas congruent merely because they arose together.

Of course conflation goes hand-in-hand with confirmation.  We tend to conflate ideas that confirm our pre-conceived notions.

When we have thoroughly burdened any chance at truth, we start dropping bombs.  Presto!  Conflagration.

— Kilgore Forelle

 

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You Don’t Get Credit for the Moral Advances of Others

Oh, you’re anti-racism, hmm? You believe women should have equal rights? You’re against war? You think Nazis are bad?

Good.

But that belief (and repeating it on social media, etc) doesn’t make you a hero. Being “more enlightened” than your ancestors in these ways doesn’t actually make you smarter or wiser.

All of these beliefs are good, of course. But once a belief is mainstream (as these examples are), once it’s accepted, you don’t get to call yourself “good” for holding it. If you’re learning that belief in school, church, and home growing up, you can be sure that other people did the hard work for that belief.

Those people – the people who deserve credit for defeating segregationism or Nazism, for instance – lived before us, and they are gone or passing now. They deserve the credit, though I doubt they would accept as much as you do. They stood against evil when it was unpopular, psychologically uncomfortable, and physically dangerous to do so.

What made them so good was not just that they held the right beliefs when no one else did, but that they had virtue in concert with those beliefs. They spoke the truth courageously at risk to themselves, they put their lives on the line, and they even showed compassion to enemies. They were *good* in a way that requires much more than mental orthodoxy.

Virtue is much, much harder to acquire, and it will probably not bring you accolades when you first begin to follow it. But the feeling of growth and meaning from living virtuously is much realer than the feeling of pride in having better beliefs than your ancestors.

Originally published at JamesWalpole.com.

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Respecting Liberty Will Still Work

The world’s a bit crazy. Not as bad here as in other places, but we see the effects of those crazy paces even here.

Pandemics, riots, gangs of trespassers setting up their own governments … what’s next? A volcano spewing out zombies?

Whatever happens next, you can rest assured that respecting liberty will still work. It always does. It would even work against the volcano zombie invasion.

No matter how crazy the world gets, you don’t have to be crazy with it.

Aren’t you glad to know we had the cure for COVID-19 the whole time? Who knew all it would take to solve the pandemic were riots? Oh, sure, some has-beens are trying to keep the pandemic panic alive. Few people are still listening to them. Their 15 minutes of fame was over before they were ready. Maybe they’ll be happy if the virus comes back for round two this fall.

Speaking of riots, don’t confuse the riots with the peaceful protests. They aren’t the same thing and didn’t involve the same people. They only happened alongside the protests because parasites saw their chance to make trouble and latched onto an important issue. It seems to have ended when the protesters realized most of us were already on their side, but the rioters were driving away support.

Then the rioters became squatters taking over property they didn’t own. Much of the national mainstream media misidentified them as “anarchists.” Will they be calling horses “dolphins” next? It would be as inaccurate.

They aren’t the only ones who think of socialistic nihilists as “anarchists.” This is what they’ve been taught. Yet, anarchy only means you accept no human master. It doesn’t mean chaos, theft, destruction, or aggression. Those who seek to misinform you never define things correctly when a scary lie works better for their purposes.

How can you know the squatters aren’t anarchists? They set up a political government in the stolen territory — this is not “anarchist” by definition. Anarchists wouldn’t set up political institutions, nor do ethical anarchists steal property from others. I know this from personal experience.

What’s a person to do?

Liberty, which is freedom tempered with responsibility, could solve all these problems to the extent they can be solved. Exercise your freedom to do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t violate the equal and identical rights of any other person. There’s no better way to live among others.

Try it and I think you’ll agree.

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COVID-19: Freedom Means That We Can Do Stupid Things, Not That We Have To

NBC News reports that US president Donald Trump is “furious” over “underwhelming” attendance at his June 20 campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Only 6,200 of 19,000 seats ended up cradling Trump supporters’ butts. An optimistically pre-arranged overflow area went unused.

Explanations abound: Trump’s campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh, blames “radical protesters, coupled with a relentless onslaught from the media.” Others note the 95-degree heat combined with thunderstorms — not the weather combination most conducive to standing in lines. Still others credit a social media campaign to request but not use tickets to the event.

The most obvious and likely explanations are simpler.

First, Trump isn’t as popular, nor is his base as enthusiastic and energized, at the moment as was the case four years ago.

Second, despite what you may have heard, an individual’s support for Trump does not necessarily indicate more general idiocy.

Believe it or not, COVID-19 really is a thing, people really are worried about it, and it really is sensible to take precautions.

Has COVID-19 been abused by opportunistic bureaucrats and authoritarian politicians as an excuse to violate our rights? Yes.

Have we found ourselves bombarded by dubious claims about everything from how COVID-19 is transmitted to what must be done for humanity to survive it? Absolutely.

Have mask-wearing and other measures transcended their practical containment value and become more like public testimonials to belief in junk “science” as a state-sponsored religion? Yep.

The “lockdowns” should never have happened, it’s a good thing they’re ending, and the sooner life gets back to something resembling normal the better.

On the other hand, it’s a real disease that’s really killing people, and taking reasonable precautions is, well, reasonable.

Yes, as freedom returns, some people will throw caution entirely to the winds. They should be free to act like idiots, right up to the point they actually — not prospectively, not hypothetically, ACTUALLY — cause harm to non-consenting others.

They should also be free to refrain from acting like idiots.

Packing tens of thousands of people from hundreds or thousands of miles around into an arena for a rally in Tulsa was an idiotic idea that might as well have been designed specifically to maximize the spread of COVID-19. But hey, it turned out that most of Trump’s supporters from that area weren’t idiots after all.

Packing thousands of Republicans from all over the country into an arena in Jacksonville, Florida in August, or hundreds of Libertarians from 50 states into a hotel ballroom in Orlando, Florida in July, for gratuitous “national convention events” are idiotic ideas too.

No, those events shouldn’t be prohibited. Freedom demands that they not be interfered with. But freedom also allows us non-idiots to avoid the events and scorn their organizers.

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Complexity Simplistic, Induction, Standards, & Information (21m) – Episode 008

Episode 008 looks at the Complexity Simplistic logical fallacy, Inductive thinking, setting and using proper standards, and taking care when obtaining information from popular and social media.

Listen to Episode 008 (21m, mp3, 64kbps)

Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “thinking and doing”. Support the podcast at Patreon.com/evc or PayPal.me/everythingvoluntary.

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Stories Open Doors

Learning to tell stories is an incredible skill. But learning to think in stories is even more fundamental.

A narrative arc is more memorable and impactful than factual bullets. The ability to create narratives is what allows attracting friends, collaborators, investors, customers, and fans.

Storytellers are interesting people who get interesting opportunities. Not just those who tell anecdotal tales, but those who weave all of life into layers of narrative. The price of wheat is not merely an economic fact, it’s part of a story that started somewhere and will end somewhere. And it’s probably nested in other stories.

But telling stories starts with thinking in narrative arcs instead of dots.

I’ve seen this illustration several times (I’m not sure the origin):

Data To Wisdom Via Information, Knowledge & Insight ...

These are all different ways to see facts. But none of them weave a story. There’s no narrative in the dots or the colors or the lines or the connections or paths. They are facts with relationships, but they stop short of a narrative arc. Yes, there is wisdom in seeing that point A follows a path to point B. But why? How? For what purpose? What happened when the path was completed? What was going on before?

A narrative thinker will see these facts and be able to construct a story – a beginning, middle, and end – with motivations and purpose involved. Stories have teleology, facts do not.

The ability to see a meaningful story in any person, event, or series of facts leads to the ability to communicate in narratives. You can connect dots for reasons, and show the future if the dots continue to connect.

Thinking in story helps you be more interesting because it helps you be more interested.

When someone tells you, “I’m an engineer”, instead of filing this as a fact in your mental Rolodex, you immediately want to know the story. How did they end up an engineer? Is this the end of a long journey, the beginning of a new story, or the middle? Curiosity drives you to ask good questions, good questions make connections, and connections lead to opportunities.

Discovering, telling, and re-telling your own story is a great place to start. Why are you sitting there reading this right now? What led you here? Why? What does it mean for the future?

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