Thinking and Doing Podcast & Should Social Media Police Speech? (14m) – Episode 287

Episode 287 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: his new podcast “Thinking and Doing” that will explore logical fallacies, cognitive biases, Stoicism, and personal philosophy; an article he wrote in July 2018 looking at the role social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and reddit should play in policing speech on their platforms; and more.

Listen to Episode 287 (14m, mp3, 64kbps)

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

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Astra Taylor: The Unschooled Life (1h12m)

This episode features a lecture by Astra Taylor from 2012 on what it was like for her growing up without school. Raised by independent-thinking bohemian parents, Astra was unschooled until age 13. Join the filmmaker as she shares her personal experiences of growing up homeschooled without a curriculum or schedule, and how it has shaped her educational philosophy and development as an artist. Purchase books by Astra Taylor on Amazon here.

Listen To This Episode (1h12m, mp3, 64kbps)

Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “voluntaryist voices”. Support the podcast at Patreon.com/evc.

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Is That Woo Woo You’re Using?

I have a term I’d like to coin: “The fear of woo-wooing out.”

Should I call this FOWO?

Anyway, here’s the idea: the fear of woo-wooing out is when you hesitate to do things that are fun, fulfilling, or useful to you because your friends might think you’re being too weird, too new-agey, or too unscientific. No one wants to be accused of practicing “woo woo.”

Example: Let’s say you like to practice guided imagery meditations, or creative visualization exercises, or positive affirmations because they put you in a space where you feel more focused and motivated, BUT…you’re not sure if the scientific community has reached a consensus about how those activities affect human performance.

Are you being delusional? Are you engaging in wishful thinking? Is this merely the placebo effect at work?

I’m no Neil deGrasse Tyson, but here’s my two cents:

It’s not “woo woo” if it actually works for you.

Your personal experience is a lab where ideas can be put to the test.

Experimenting with ideas and sticking with what proves useful is not being woo woo. That’s being a pragmatic individual who understands the relative and real value of subjective experience.

If something consistently delivers the outcomes and advantages you want, you don’t need the permission of your local physics professor to do it.

As long as you don’t preach your personal strategies as some kind of universal philosophy that works for all people in all conditions, you’re entirely free to do what works for you. As long as you don’t equate “this works for me” with ” this is objectively true and everyone else should do it too, ” you’re safe from woo woo.

It doesn’t matter if your tools and techniques are quirky. What matters is your willingness to measure them by the results they generate in your own life.

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On Progressivism

Progressivism as a philosophy is about improving the human condition. It brings to my mind the old adage, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” In my opinion, the only way to improve the human condition is to improve the conditions wherein a person may act. It is a false progressivism to believe that this requires government coercion. All that government can do toward the progressive goal is to get out of the way. Progressivism should mean “free action” not “free stuff.” Markets have proven far more capable at improving the human condition than any other mechanism. Progressivism which stays true to its principles fits snugly under the voluntaryist umbrella. It’s too bad that progressives are progressivism’s worst enemies. And that’s today’s two cents.

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Philosophical Tools: In-Group Preference

When it comes to with whom we relate, we may consider likenesses in age, profession, or status. What we don’t consider are their philosophical beliefs, or what is at the core of the person with whom we are meeting.

As humans, we seek familiarity, commonality, comfort. We seek people like us with whom to relate. It’s only natural. We develop in-group preferences, not a bad thing, but interesting.

The reason I find this interesting is that I’ve developed my own theory on in-group preference. I call the dichotomy: Quantitative in-group preference and Qualitative in-group preference.

Quantitative in-group types seek the greatest peer acceptance by keeping their beliefs vague and acceptable by the greatest number of people.

Qualitative in-group types by comparison seek peer acceptance by being more narrowly defined. They are more focused on the details, the obscure.

Think of this like those whom are fans of football compared to those who identify with transgender dragonkin. There is a distinct difference between the two, football fans are aplenty however dragonkin… not so much.

Although this essay is more conjecture than empirical, I have personally found this to be a tool in my philosophical toolbox. A tool which has helped me discern between those of with which whom I relate, whether they seek acceptance by the majority or by the minority, the broader the thinker or the more pedantic.

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Foreign Policy III: AnCapistan

In my first article on foreign policy, I discussed normative foreign policy in the context of the United States Constitution. In the second article, I focused on a specific aspect of foreign policy when I posited that the United States should diplomatically recognize Liberland. In this article, I discuss “foreign policy” in a stateless society: “AnCapistan,” if you will.

What would foreign policy look like in a territory with no government? To someone yet infected with vestiges of statist philosophy, the question is absurd. Such a one may believe foreign policy is the exclusive province of governments.

Strictly speaking, in current political science parlance, this may be true. Britannica defines foreign policy thus: “General objectives that guide the activities and relationships of one state in its interactions with other states.”  In the absence of a state, this definition takes us nowhere. However, practically, an individual can engage in all the usual foreign policy domains: diplomacy, trade, military action, and humanitarian action.

Diplomacy on an individual scale is probably the most straightforward foreign policy activity to engage in, especially with modern technology. Sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and others let you network with people around the world for business, common interests, etc. The absence of the state simplifies the situation significantly: instead of a few people engaging each other with millions of lives on the line, people would just have to choose to be nice to each other or suffer relatively minor social consequences.

Trade is really a faux element of foreign policy.  While governments obviously do buy things, the vast majority of economic activity is done by private individuals and companies. Governments often interfere in this trade (in the name of foreign policy, usually) with tariffs and other restrictions. In the absence of a state, individuals would be free to choose with whom to trade. If you wanted to punish a group of people by declining to engage in commerce with them, that would be your prerogative. I suspect that this sort of thing would be much less common in a stateless society since it mostly happens only by force under the current paradigm.

Governments often undertake humanitarian action as part of their foreign policy. However, as with everything else, private entities do it better and more efficiently. Organizations like the Red Cross and the Free Burma Rangers engage in humanitarian action far more efficiently than governments can or will. Also, without huge portions of income being stolen through taxation, people would have more resources to share voluntarily. Better yet, they’d have more resources to create and grow enterprises, multiplying resources so many fewer people would need charity.

Military action is possibly the most apparent aspect of foreign policy, and also the one most would assume is the exclusive province of states. However, even now private citizens go to fight ISIS. Americans did the same in the Spanish Civil War. Others fought independently in the Cuban War for Independence. Some of these actions are of dubious legality now, and some might be of questionable morality as well.  Both points could likewise be made about most wars initiated by governments. Naturally, in the absence of a state or states, the legal question would be moot, while the moral issue would become much more clear. Often, bad and pointless wars are blindly supported by people who would know better if they had to write a check or pick up a gun themselves. For an exciting budget film by a U.S. combat Veteran that explores this point indirectly, check out One Man’s Terrorist.

In a territory without government, individuals would be free to be friends with whomever they wanted, trade with whomever they wanted, support whichever side of a military conflict they chose, and offer humanitarian aid to whomever they preferred. Also, without taxes, they’d have more resources to do these things.

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