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“Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Verbal Vol. Verbal is a software engineer, college professor, corporate information officer, life long student, farmer, libertarian, literarian, student of computer science and self-ordering phenomena. Archived columns can be found here. FTC-only RSS feed available here.
Are you a soldier in the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, or the onslaught against truth? Today I will try to recruit you to other endeavors – be the best individual you can be. If you are in this world then the statists consider you to be both taxpayer and supporter of the false crusades. Read on to see what you consider your alternatives to be.
I continue to list and expand upon the Winnies, facetious awards for the most foolhardy American misadventures. As the countdown of these citations, named for Winston Churchill, proceeds I will cover the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. Then I will follow that with a discussion of the phenomena which enable monstrosities such as these. I will talk about the behavior of lying.
(See previous columns under “Finding the Challenges” to see the full list of Winnies and the discussions so far.)
The War on Drugs – I’ve already written about American prohibition as one of the most damaging policy decisions ever made by our government, and everything I said there goes manifold for this new form of prohibition – except that this was not done through direct, perverse alteration of our constitution.
But by the same token, the fact that nothing within the Constitution has even phased the War on Drugs is a strong indication that the constitution is dead or dying. To me, the trashing of the constitution is a greater crime than all of the drug abuse in the world put together. And the trashing of the constitution has spread far beyond the War on Drugs itself.
This has amounted to a war on the individual by the oligarchy. It’s the old school game; somebody misbehaved at recess so everyone has to miss recess tomorrow.
Furthermore, this has settled the question, without ever proposing it, of whether pre-crime exists. A vast segment of drug use is victimless (some of it is even condoned by law), but the inability of government, and many of its authoritarian followers, to mind their own business, affords a marvelous opportunity to consider great chunks of our society guilty until proven innocent. And proving anyone innocent is impossible by virtue of the logical keystone that a negative cannot be proven.
Another egregious instance of fallout from the WoD is confiscation. The law enforcement industry, with its never-ending hunger for funds, is hugely subsidized by its seizures of valuable property, invalidly, from free men. This process is not slowed in any way by the determination of guilt or innocence
The War on Terror – All of the things I wrote above about the War on Drugs can certainly be ascribed to the War on Terror – to all taxpayer-funded adventurism. But the WoT is the most frightening of all. Throughout history, criminal rulers have based their degradation on defense against a common enemy. Now the USA master criminals have found the inexhaustible common enemy – the faceless practitioner of a clandestine behavior, and they have iced the cake with religion to boot.
We are in a thousand year war, started in the first years of the Crusades, but it has been perfected into an endless loop by the government, which we used to call “our government.” Our government started so auspiciously, with its every idea based on liberty (at least for the included privileged characters in the meaning of “all men”). Our new land was actually based on freedom from the European justifications for endless war. But the seed of war was soon planted by Alexander Hamilton and his henchmen in Washington’s cabinet (a collection of euro-style royalists, if ever such a label deserved application). These men wanted a government that served their private interests instead of the rapacious interests of the royal tyrants back home or of the humanist interests of the classical liberals who sought to tear Europe down to bedrock.
War guarantees hierarchy; it guarantees rulers and the demand for unquestioning obedience. We as a people can be free as long as we do it the way the oligarchy wants – we must fight perpetually for freedom from abstract foes. And the oligarchy cements their command by becoming the irreplaceable moving parts of the war machine. And the war machine becomes bigger by leaps and bounds as it confiscates then co-opts new moving parts.
In what universe is the trade of freedom for perpetual war justified? Is there any framework where the sacrifice of our children, as cannon fodder and/or tax slaves, falls within the definition of the pursuit of happiness. What weapons of mass destruction can exceed the destruction brought down upon us by warmongers, humans who seek to use the horses of the apocalypse?
5 Reasons You Can’t Tell When You Are Being Lied To
Beyond that when you feel you are being told the truth, you are likely only right half of the time, and when you feel you are being lied to, you are likely only right half of the time. It could get worse if you are ruled by your biases.
Dr. Riggio lists these 5 reasons (I paraphrase): stereotyping, trusting, seeing, low feedback, low apprehension of artifice. Stereotyping is a formalized bias that matches the way we classify information for the preservation of the species (don’t talk to strangers). But once we are engaged, our natural optimism wants to establish trust. We tend to give visual cues too much weight. We get hardly any feedback to test our assumptions on communicating with another. And we are impressed by artfulness (often liars are most theatrical, but the obverse applies as well).
Here are my reasons why I believe that truth is so hard to distinguish: accumulation of lies, language, fact vs fiction, indoctrination, process trumps content, complexity, confusion, evolution, time-orientation, space-orientation.
The human record is tainted with an accumulation of truths, half-truths, and lies. Everything we claim to know is an interlocking but often conflicting heap of versions of how things are. There are no general consensuses, other than tribal ones, about which versions and which parts of which versions are true in a useful way.
Language itself is a terrible filter through which to put verity. Then add to that the fact that among the users of any one language only a tiny minority have a command of that language. Further, many of those who command the language have a tendency, intended or otherwise, to misuse the power.
Ask your average government-schooled individual to define the determination between fact and fiction, between objectivity and subjectivity. The responses will astound you. Every boondoggle in history is explained by a failure to get information right.
I will very frequently in this column turn to the idea that processes pollute the information they should be meant to preserve. Presidential press conferences and talks to the nation are about showy lies, secretiveness, and trivialized false dichotomies, for example. Elsewhere, the use of the terms “caucasian,” “hispanic,” and “african-american” in government statistics are nonsensical behaviors to cram life into statistics (aka organized lying), for another example. And how about euphemisms like “enhanced interrogation” and “tradeoffs between security and liberty?” There is alive in the land a modern belief that we can make ice cream from manure if we will just process it enough.
Life is complex, and the information about life is complex. The sender has knowledge that the receiver lacks. The receiver has knowledge that the sender lacks. The message itself has a tendency to deteriorate, particularly in the richness of detail about the limitless degrees of truth among the limitless number of aspects of the truth. Layer in confusion and error among all the working parts of any communication structure. Also every piece interacts from different time and space orientations. Our inability to understand the past or to foresee the future compounds the problem.
Then there are two aspects of evolution at play: 1) evolution is not finite until after a species or organism has become extinct, and 2) we may or may not be the ultimate species among those endowed with reason. Everything looks like a failure in the middle. At this point in time, humans are still a failed path in the evolution of creatures blessed by reason (or cursed by reason, as the case may be). To pretend that we can distinguish truth from untruth from others in any effective and/or efficient way is – truly – a pretense.
“Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. – [perhaps] Benjamin Disraeli, [perhaps] Mark Twain … but to pretend certainty on either would be a lie.
What can you do about a world where there is a war against ingestion, where there is a war against thinking, and where you cannot tell when you are being told lies? Three things: 1) be an individual, 2) be an individual, and 3) be an individual. To lose yourself in a war against human nature, or a war of taking everything just because it is there, or to enslave yourself to the shaky grasp on truth of the average human being, is fatal to your individuality, to your ability to make voluntary decisions about your life and about caring for your loved ones.
Being an individual will not save you from external threats like lightning, automobile accidents, contracting disease, or pining away from a broken heart, but there is not one documented case in history of collectivism saving a person from those things, either.