The Dunning Kruger Effect

I became so tired of charges that I suffered the Dunning -Kruger syndrome that I resolved to find out what it was. Before I could, someone sent me a nice video, along with the observation:

“Here's a good video for you. It's animated, so you should be able to understand it:”

Of course! Talk about motivation! “Hi! Here’s a video that insults you! It only takes 10 minutes. I hope you’ll watch it.”

Still, he had done me a favor. I had been meaning to check it out. A taunter is not necessarily a bad thing because he helps you to test whether you can keep yourself restrained under evil. Sometimes you find that you cannot and then it is back to Bible 101 for you!

I watched it. Sigh....it is the Child’s game of King of the Mountain played on an intellectual plane by Adult Children—to the same self-aggrandizing end and with the same pushing and shoving techniques. Low information people are prone to overestimate their command of a subject? Is that really such a profound observation so as to wait for Dunning and Kruger to give it academic endorsement? Just read up on the “fool” in the Bible and you will pick up the same.

The video begins with the account of a bank robber who was caught because the lemon juice he put on his face hadn’t made him invisible to security cameras. He had imagined it would since lemon juice is a component of invisible ink. Can we agree that this fellow is not pulling with both oars in the water?

Nevertheless, university psychologists Dunning and Kruger seem to think this loopiness has broad applicability, as though anyone might commit such a faux pas. Reading of this idiot in the newspaper “led to Dunning and Kruger to examine this phenomenon more deeply.” This suggests to me that they too might not be entirely pulling with both oars.

There is a sneering quality to this video. Rather than view this fellow as a mental health candidate, these psychologists—or maybe it is just the video-maker—seem to expand his nuttiness to whomever might disagree with them over matters of science. Specifically, it is hurled at me because I do not lap up every bit of evolution they want me to lap up. I do lap up some of it. It wasn’t me who put dinosaurs on the Kentucky ark. But I don’t lap up the works.

In their experiment to “examine this phenomenon” more thoroughly, Dunning and Kruger take the lazy person’s way out and employ graduate students as their guinea pigs. Obviously, it is easier for college professors to do this—always there are graduate students lying about—but are graduate students representative of the overall population? In the matter of low-information people tending to overestimate their knowledge, are they not significantly different than the overall population? Probably the difference is not enough to make the experiment worthless, but it is enough to relegate its conclusions from book-status to pamphlet.

The cure for Dunning Kruger syndrome, as proposed in the video, if not D&K themselves? ‘Taking in more knowledge’ is the antidote. I doubt this goes anywhere near as far as taking in more humility, and graduate students are not known for this quality. Young people in general are not known for it—all the more so those who have entered the competitive heady world of graduate school. Rather than advanced learning being a cure for Dunning Kruger, it is more likely to simply transform an ignorant braggart into an educated one. Which is worse? It is hard to say. On the one hand, it is “I can handle a stupid person, and I can handle a belligerent person, but a stupid AND belligerent person...” That’s a pretty tough combination, my coworker said as we were batting the topic around. So yes, eliminating half the problem—that of being stupid—would seem to be an improvement. On the other hand, equipping braggarts with knowledge doesn’t necessarily change them into more tolerant people—as often, it simply makes them more insufferable.

Better than the recommendation to take in more learning, which depending on one’s circumstances, may not be feasible, is the recommendation to take in more humility. The world of academia probably provides the least fertile ground for growing that counsel, whereas the world of spirituality is probably the most fertile. You won’t find Philippians 2:3 on the quadrangle—counsel to “consider others superior to you.” Rather, it is usually just the opposite. Even in the most skewed comparison, everyone has at least one quality in which they are clearly superior. The trick is to find that quality and hone in on it like a laser beam.

The world of the head does not rule as it imagines it does. If not coupled with humility, then even when heady persons are right, they find that people resent and will not cooperate with them simply as a reaction to how ill-mannered they are. It’s staggering how the high IQ can be coupled with an infantile EQ.

To underestimate the gravity of what you do not know is a human tendency that will afflict all to some degree. No one is immune to the Dunning - Kruger effect. The video acknowledges this, even if it does propose a faulty solution. But the humble person who truly “does not think more of himself than it is necessary to think” has a leg up on the one who consistently does think more of himself than it is necessary to think, even when his increased knowledge reveals to him that the subject is more massive still. That doesn’t necessarily humble him. As often, it puffs him up with self-importance at the thought of what he has been able to figure out.

Dunning Kruger can work as my taunter says, but it can also work in the following Hans Christian Anderson way (per Wikipedia):

Two swindlers arrive at the capital city of an emperor who spends lavishly on clothing at the expense of state matters. Posing as weavers, they offer to supply him with magnificent clothes that are invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent. The emperor hires them, and they set up looms and go to work. A succession of officials, and then the emperor himself, visit them to check their progress. Each sees that the looms are empty but pretends otherwise to avoid being thought a fool. Finally, the weavers report that the emperor's suit is finished. They mime dressing him and he sets off in a procession before the whole city. The townsfolk uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear inept or stupid, until a child blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all! The emperor then sneers at the stupid little tyke, too stupid to know he is stupid, and laughs at his Dunning Kruger limitations.

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Climate Change and Global Warming: To Be or Not to Be?

The former local weatherman, Kevin Williams, tweets a photo of all his weather chums at a restaurant. "Aha!" I said. "I KNEW it. It IS a cabal! There IS collusion!" He liked that.

Now, I happen to know that Kevin Williams thinks global warming is a hoax. It is no secret. He is very open about it. He follows and sometimes retweets content of the man-on-a-mission climate change denier JWspry. (NOT, so far as I know, any connection to the JW of Jehovah's Witnesses) So I tweeted: "Are they across the board on global warming or on the same page, one way or another?"

No answer.

So I tweeted: "Ahh. Avoiding the answer to that question is the key to continued cohesion. Probably as it should be. Not everything has to be a fight."

He liked that one.

Untitled

Of course. You can't fight all the time. People believe what they believe, according to how they interpret the facts. Or more likely, they believe what they believe, and then spin the available facts to give themselves intellectual cover. We are not nearly so unemotional as the champions of critical thought would have us believe. We are dominated by emotion forged in experience and we thereafter consult our brains to make it fly logically.

It is even as the Bible says with spiritual things. "Prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God," says Romans 12:2. "Taste and see that Jehovah is good," says Psalm 34:8. What if someone tastes and sees that he is bad? Other than to advise he check his taste buds, there is little you can do about it. So don't get into judging. Present your version of truth as persuasively as you can and leave it at that. God knows whether he is a Trinity or not. He also knows whether he exists or not. Let him sort it out.

I asked Kevin (or was it JWspry?) about a previous post I wrote of how there was now 'Weather on Steroids.' He said it all depends upon what is reported. If you eagerly report all record highs and ignore all record lows, it does create that impression. Reporting means a lot. As Florence was churning over the Atlantic to deluge the Carolinas, everyone warned how it was especially fearsome because it was gathering strength over exceptionally warm waters made so by climate change. In fact, they were exceptionally cool waters and the surprise was that it became such a monster despite that.

Every time we hear, "it was the hottest summer since the year such and such," that means it was hotter in that year, and if anything, we are witness to global cooling, with lower highs. The stranded polar bear photo has admittedly been misrepresented, Al Gore's 'Inconvenient Truth' book has been lambasted for mishandling data to paint dire scenarios which have not panned out. To the extent emotion is the true driver in human affairs, Upton Sinclair's quote is the one to watch: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Big money is involved, either way, in climate change.

Me, I don't go there. It's not my cause. If humans are not ruining the earth in a Revelation 11:18 scenario via global warming, it is not as though they are too responsible to ever ruin the earth; it is that their combined activity is not powerful enough to do it. They are ruining it in plenty of other ways. To the extent 'ruining the earth' reflects the ruining the earth scenario of Genesis 6, it is not environmental factors at all being spoken of, but violence. Do we live in a violent world today? Tell me about it.

 

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Alzheimer's Research: So the Cops Shoot the Bad Guys Instead of the Good Guys...

Now that I'm old enough to receive the AARP magazine, I read each issue cover to cover. They're packed with nice articles geared to the aging, and......there's no nice way to say this.....that's what I'm doing. But a recent piece about Alzheimers research in September's Bulletin (Alzheimer's: a new Theory, by Elizabeth Agnvall) left me un-warm and un-fuzzy. I've known people to succumb to Alzheimers. Moreover, I don't have it now, but how do I know it's not lurking around the corner? Some would say it's made certain inroads, already. So...yes...I want medical science to get its act together on this malady. Sure, they have their act together now, the author maintains. But they insisted, with the same fervor, that they had it together just a few years ago. The author points out, however, that today's approach is a 180 degree reversal from yesterday's.

Turns out that for the last 20 years, medical science has proceeded on the theory that “sticky plaques” are the culprit causing Alzheimer's. Drugs have been developed to search and destroy those plaques. Haven't they been peddled on American TV: Ask your doctor if such-and-such is right for you? Those ads drive Pop into a rage. But now sticky plaques are thought to be not the culprit! Rather, they are the body's defense for attacking the real menace: clumps of amyloid beta protein, called oligomers. Oligomers do the damage, not sticky plaques, so the new thinking goes. Sticky plaques are the body's means to take them out! We've been targeting the wrong enemy! Medically sanctioned “friendly fire”…...the practice for the last twenty years!

Now, being a blogger who believes in God, I have to be so careful writing anything that might be perceived as critical of science, lest some science-worshipping atheist come along and lecture me that science is based on EVIDENCE, whereas religion is based on mere BELIEF, and what do I think is smarter when I'm sick: pray myself better, or go to a science-based doctor, and do I still believe that the earth is flat?! I tell you, it's a risky course to take. So, let me say it upfront: I'm not against science. I know it's a discovery process. I know mistakes are made along the way. Alright, so the cops arrive upon the scene and shoot all the good guys instead of the bad guys! Is that any reason to be down on law enforcement? Of course not! A slight adjustment is all that's needed. So let bygones be bygones and we'll all be happy.

No. I'm not critical on that account. Mistakes happen. God knows there's plenty of people who scour past publications of JWs to find understandings which have changed, and then get all hysterical over it, supposing, I guess, that any modification is like smashing the Ten Commandments tablets. Jehovah's Witnesses tack. We hone in. We get ever closer and sometimes alter course. Why should science not do the same?

What grabs me is this quote: “[Andrew] Dillin, of the Salk Institute, started pursuing the oligomer theory several years ago. Then, the idea was so controversial, Dillin says, that some scientists would walk out of the room when he made his presentation at conferences. Now, he says, many of the top researchers in the field are convinced.”

They walked out of the room? How dogmatic does that sound? How in keeping is that with Plonka's manifesto “prove a scientist wrong and he will thank you for it.” It's rather hard to prove them wrong when they walk out of the room as soon as they hear something they don't like. Now, that's intransigence of the sort they would, in a heartbeat, ascribe to religion.  And yet, just a few years later, these same scientists alter and say “Oh.....you know, that fellow was right all along!”


They're not immune to stubbornness, that's all I'm saying. What steams me is those who claim they are.....that second buttressing layer of scientist-philosopher-cheerleader-atheist types who worship science themselves and ram it down all of our throats as the be-all and end-all. For, if this new theory is right, then you were better off declining when your doctor prescribed those Alzheimer's medications. “No, I don't trust it,” and “these guys don't know what they're talking about” are now seen to be perfectly reasonable views to have held. But God help you if you held them while the fat-headed 180 degree ass-backward Alzheimer's approach was in vogue. “Alright, don't take the meds, if you're going to be so pig-headed!” can't you hear some of them say. “Maybe you want to go to a faith healer, or a witch doctor, instead!” But now we see that's exactly what you should have done. They may not have helped, but they wouldn't have hurt, as did the now-outdated science-based approach.

The article soft-pedals this bit of unpleasantness: “And if the [new] theory is correct, then drugs that target plaques – as many of the most promising medications have done in the past few years – may not help people who have the disease. They could even make them worse.” A very deferential statement, is it not? If the theory is correct, they certainly make them worse.....one would think, in exact correlation with how they were supposed to have made them better. Even though they were the “most promising” medications. Unless the old meds never did anything in the first place. Perhaps, in that case, you can now claim they do no harm. But when marketers urge us to pester our doctors for the stuff, surely the response they hope to elicit from that learned one is not “don't bother, they don't do anything, you'll just be wasting your money!”

It took me awhile to realize....dikki clued me in, actually....that pharmaceutical companies advertizing on TV is not a worldwide phenomenon. It happens in only two countries, I am told, of which the United States is one. So it will be hard for non-American readers to fathom just how obnoxious these ads are. Decisive, immaculate and impossibly handsome doctors stride purposefully through futuristic laboratories. They glance alternately at teams of researchers peering into microscopes, at banks of computers, at their clipboard, and, of course, at YOU, as they authoritatively report the very latest astounding medical breakthrough. “Such-and-such is not right for everyone,” they acknowledge, “but...damn it, man,” they seem to be saying, “you know it's right for you!” Even as I write, I'm recalling one such “doctor” striding through a lab reminiscent of Batman's lair, touting some new med that unlocks the very “power of the sea,” (fish oil...the stuff you've been able to buy forever at any health foods store) and.....would you believe it?....the donkey actually ends his pitch peering contemplatively into the lab's full-wall aquarium, as if marveling how his outfit has managed to make a buck out of something God provided free.

This formula is not set in concrete. It can vary slightly. Alzheimer's, for example, afflicts our grandparents, and our grandparents are kindly, aren't they? So a brusque futuristic setting will not do. No. The setting here must be warmer, a kindly doctors office, for example, and the doctor himself ought to have gray hair. Antidepressants, too, ought to be touted by a kindly and caring doctor, not some self-centered jerk who's Porsche vanity plates read “PSYCH DR.” For woman's health, we even change the doctor's gender, for isn't any guy specializing in female issues a little suspect? No longer is the doctor an impossibly handsome man. Now it's an impossibly attractive woman, who's also athletic, has piercing eyes and an oddly spelled first name....you know, a Bond girl.

This type of 180 reversal in medical science happens all the time*, so that one ought to be given more credit than they commonly are (namely, none) if they choose to pass on the latest medical, or even scientific, thinking. It's somewhat as they say about the weather here in Rochester (or most anywhere else, I imagine): don't like the weather? Just stick around. It will change. Those who resist the latest advances of science for whatever reasons....perhaps reasons they can't even articulate.....intuitive reasons, if you will, sometimes come out ahead. They certainly do so often enough that there's no reason to criticize them. To acknowledge such is not to deride science, but only to put it into perspective. It's a generally progressive means of discovery, but not so sterling that it trumps every other sort of thinking. If one accepts that the present scientific consensus is tentative, then one does okay, and one can take it in stride when understandings change, being happy about the advance. Even then, however, it's only a (most likely) forward step taken, and not the finished mystery. Alas, there are ever so many who take the latest scientific notion as dogma. God help you if you fail to embrace their conclusions as truth.

It doesn't mean you ought to disparage science, of course, but surely it means you need not respond “how high?” when science says “jump!”

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Tom Irregardless and Me        No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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Bea's Law

They're being tongue-in-cheek. Surely, they're being tongue-in-cheek. Please tell me they're being tongue-in-cheek. And yet.....Time Magazine really appears to be in earnest, as if a new scientific truth has been discovered, as if Einstein and Newton might gnash their teeth in envy....how could they have overlooked such a fundamental law of nature? You tell me: do you think they're being facetious here, or do you think they're dead serious:

From their article on the gulf oil spill (June 21, 2010), Time Magazine reports:“After studying more than 600 disasters over more than 50 years, professor Robert G. Bea has developed a unified-field theory of catastrophe: A+B=C. A is what Bea calls natural hazards, the unavoidable physical factors like the unforgiving vacuum and great distances that come with working in outer space. B is the human factors: the sins of greed, arrogance, laziness and indifference that corporations, governments and people exhibit far too often. Take a hazardous natural environment and flawed human beings and they'll add up to C: catastrophe.”

It sounds earnest, doesn't it? As if Professor Bea has made some breakthrough discovery of modern science. And with the apparent conviction that the formula  A+B=C helps, as if one shouldn’t be expected to get his head around the phenomenon in absense of the formula.. Let's see: people are lazy, careless, full of themselves, and greedy, and so they screw up everything they touch. Hmmm. You know, Time is right; that is a hard concept to grasp. Better to use the formula, where A stands for natural hazards, B stands for human ineptness, and C stands for....what else?....Calamity. Eureka!! A+B=C !! Of course! A modern scientific breakthrough!

Of course, if Time is dead earnest, there remains the hopeful possibility that Professor Bea is being tongue-in-cheek. Yes, that's it! He's being tongue-in-cheek. Surely, he's being tongue-in-cheek. Please tell me he's....but we've been down this road already. Anyhow, tongue-in-cheek or not, he's the right guy to make the assessment. Time tells us that Bea is co-founder of the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at the University of California, Berkeley, and a co-head of the Deepwater Horizon Study Group [DHSG], an independent investigative team [IIT]. "Katrina [K] followed that track [of his law], and Deepwater Horizon [DH] is following it too," he says …...[brackets mine]

Now, one ought not appear as if making light of this formula, for truly, it's helped me grasp some things  felt only intuitively till now. For instance, many today  maintain that science [S] will save us [SU], but that's unlikely because humans consistently screw things up [STU]. Is it not tiresome to hear devotees describing Science as though it were a beneficent being, ever eager to shower humankind with untold blessings? Alas, it's not that at all. Science is a tool. Put in the hands of wise operators, and it can indeed deliver the goods, if not to a biblical extent, then at least to a relatively impressive one. But how often does that happen? Instead, it's put in the hands of those given to “greed, arrogance, laziness and indifference,” to quote Professor Bea. Isn't that why Einstein, whose research led to the atomic bomb, lamented “if I had known I would have been a locksmith.”?

It's great stuff, science is. I've never said otherwise. It's a discovery mechanism. It's self correcting. It hones in with ever-increasing accuracy on the way things are. I regret sometimes that I didn't become a scientist. Immersion in research, and theories, and experiment, and discovery is very appealing to me. Funding? Someone else takes care of that. Implementation of whatever I discover? Not my problem. Politicians screwing up the planet? That's too bad, but it doesn't really affect me. You get to hang out with academics. You don't see poverty. You don't see squalor. What's not to like?


Science isn't the problem. But neither is it the solution. What was it God said back in Genesis chapter 11, upon surveying the tower  they were building in Babel?  “Look! They are one people and there is one language for them all, and this is what they start to do. Why, now there is nothing that they may have in mind to do that will be unattainable for them.“ It takes a lot to impress God, you know it does, but human technology, even back then, apparently did the trick. So with all the educated people today, you'd almost think they'd be able to get together and rule the planet wisely. Why can they not? Because successful governing is not a function of knowledge, or science, or technology. It's a function of  “greed, arrogance, laziness and indifference” and the extent to which people can free themselves from these traits. Education, which focuses soley on knowledge, with the apparent assumption these other qualities will take care of themselves, doesn't help. In some ways, it makes matters worse.

Now I'm hearing reports that scientists have created life. Have they really done that? Only recently have they succeeded in mapping out DNA sequencing; now  they've managed to assemble the stuff in new patterns. They've inserted it into living cells, with resulting new forms of life. Is that creating life? I don't think so, any more than jumpstarting a car constitutes building it. Still, that's not to say it's not impressive. I'm real impressed. Who would ever have predicted it?  Though I hate to think what may happen to such innovation once Bea's Law gets ahold of it. It's not that I don't trust the scientists. They're decent enough, I guess. But they operate in a vacuum. What happens when  businesspeople, politicians, and policymakers apply the discovery? Who hasn't at least envisioned genetic catastrophe, as recent laboratory successes are implemented by evil men, or just plain clumsy ones?

Taking issue with Bible teachings, one fellow, an atheist I think, at any rate, a firm proponent of human accomplishment, argues: "But if Armageddon comes tomorrow, how are we to know "this system" didn't end right before someone came up with a game-changing peacemaking idea?” Sigh....doesn't the very question betray collosal misunderstanding of the way things are? It's not ideas that are wanting. Any donkey can recall no end of peacemaking ideas; human history is strewn with them. Implementation is where the shipwreck always lies, as “greedy, arrogant, lazy, and indifferent” humans seek to undermine each other and turn whatever discovery into selfish advantage. Thus it is that Ragoth, a smart and decent fellow, declares he “could never really go into politics,” for he “would have a heart attack within a few years.” Of course he would! So would I! So would anyone except the born scrappers, the incurably naive, the mercenaries, and the good 'ol boys who love the game and aren't unduly troubled that it consistently lets down those who trust in it. Better to devote oneself to pursuit of knowledge, where you can succeed in your field, and lambaste those other idiots for not succeeding in theirs.


The issue before all creation is whether man has the capacity to govern himself, not whether he has the capacity to do good science. Nobody has ever said he can't do the latter. As to the former, that’s what the Bible’s message is all about.

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Epigenetics and Darwin's Update

"The potential is staggering," gushes Time Magazine (Jan 6, 2010) over the benefits epigenetics might bring humanity.  "For decades, we have stumbled around massive Darwinian roadblocks. DNA, we thought, was an ironclad code that we and our children and their children had to live by. Now we can imagine a world in which we can tinker with DNA, bend it to our will."
 
Yes, they can imagine it, but as ought to be apparent to anyone grounded in reality, it won't work that way. Epigenetics will not be our salvation. However, it just might give insight into today's worsening conditions.
 
Who has not entertained the suspicion that today's folk just aren't made of the same stuff as previous generations...that those old-timers were just plain tougher than we are? Tom Oxgoad, the Bethelite, made that point with me once. "Those old-timers must marvel at how frail we are," he said. "In the old days...say...back in the 1950's or before, one Bethelite might counsel another: 'you've got a rotten attitude and you'd better straighten up!'  And that fellow would straighten up, and he'd say 'thanks for the counsel!'" Or maybe he wouldn’t. Maybe he'd decide "this is not the life for me," and leave. But either way, he wouldn't melt into a puddle of mush, his fragile self-esteem dissolving, as we can so easily picture happening today. Does the newly explored field of epigenetics offer an explanation?
 
The upshot of epigenetics is that heredity works not just through Darwin's mutation and natural selection...a painstakingly slow process. We also pass along traits acquired via environment factors; furthermore, these changes can be dramatic and quick,  manifesting themselves in but a generation or two. Thus, Time says, a "long-standing deal" we've had with biology is now off the table, namely: "whatever choices we make during our lives might ruin our short-term memory or make us fat or hasten death, but they won't change our genes - our actual DNA. Which meant that when we had kids of our own, the genetic slate would be wiped clean."
 
No longer applies. Choices we make do change our genes, and our kids do not start with a slate wiped clean. The very idea is heresy to Darwin True Believers, but scientists are now quite sure of it. To put it more accurately, our genes do not physically change from generation to generation, but whether they are expressed or not changes. The epigenome sits just outside the genome and switches the various genes "on" or "off." It does so by smothering – masking gene portions meant to be “off” and leaving visible gene portions meant to be “on.” The illustration now in vogue is that of hardware (the genome) being manipulated by software (the epigenome). Hardware alteration via the Darwin heredity, as we all learned about in school, comes about slowly. But the new-found software changes happen quickly.
 
Furthermore, life-style and environment factors…..such as stress, such as smoking, such as gluttony, alters the epigenome, which in turn alters the genome, which in turn inflicts adverse results upon one’s children and grandchildren. Dr Lars Bygren studied a rural population of two centuries past, a physically isolated population that literally vacillated between feast and famine, depending upon the harvest. When the harvest was bountiful, youngsters gorged themselves. Their  grandchildren, Bygren discovered, had life expectancies reduced by as much as three decades!
 
In another study, published in 2006, Drs Bygren, Marcus Pembrey, and Jean Golding found the sons of those who began smoking before age 11 were at higher risk for obesity and various other health problems. Time Magazine summed it up: “you can change your epigenetics even when you make a dumb decision at 10 years old. If you start smoking then, you may have made not only a medical mistake but a catastrophic genetic mistake.” And to think I’ve been lectured before by atheists...capitalizing these very words....that, whereas I do what some god TELLS me to do based on a BELIEF, they act upon REASON based upon EVIDENCE. But in this case, as in so many others, you were far better off to quit smoking because God TOLD* you to, trusting he might be AWARE of EVIDENCE as yet UNDISCOVERED by humans.
 
*as inferred from 2 Cor 7:1
 
All this goes to show, BTW, that you need not lose your cookies when evolutionists rule creation absolutely out of the question. Nor should you feel you must wait for them to come on board. Opinions change fast. In 1996, Dr Pembrey, mentioned above, had a hard time getting published. Major scientific journals rejected his paper. Ten years later, it is “considered seminal in epigenetic theory.” Is that not a tidal change in scientific thought? For decades evolutionists carried on as if they knew all there was to be known - the essence of their subject was well-understood, and little remained but to mop up a few relatively insignificant details. With the discovery of epigenetics' role, if history is any guide, they will act as if now they know all there was to be known, save for a few odds and ends. Heaven help you if you choose a course of faith before it has been authorized by them. Yet the mapping of the human epigenome (already underway in Europe) will, when complete, "make the Human Genome project look like homework that 15th century kids did with an abacus," says Time. How immodest to have made grandiose, dogmatic claims, based upon a supposed thorough understanding of the genome, which now turns out to be but the tip of a submerged iceberg.
 
Look, don't think I'm anti-science. I'm not. Whenever scientists say they have discovered this or that I tend to accept it, but I do so tentatively, always with the caveat that these guys are frequently full of themselves, bursting with pride at human accomplishment, and intolerant of any layman who would question their theories, until they themselves revise them. Or - I suspect, its not so much those front line empirical scientists who are the problem, but a second buttressing layer of scientist-philosopher-cheerleader-atheist types, who ram science down all of our throats as the be-all and end-all. Me, I tend to side with that famous scientist and ex-Beatle John Lennon, who said "everything they told me as a kid has already been disproved by the same type of 'experts' who made them up in the first place." [quoted in interview with Playboy, so plainly I got this second-hand] As if to confirm Lennon's cynicism, Time writes of an upcoming epigenetics book by David Shenk: The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong.
 
You know, the epigenome comes a lot closer to explaining Rom 5:12 than does any Darwinian explanation, since Adam’s sin is obviously an acquired characteristic:
 
"That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned..."
 
Furthermore, back to the present, Time reports Dr. Pembrey speculating: what if the environmental pressures and social changes of the industrial age had become so powerful that evolution had begun to demand that our genes respond faster? What if our DNA now had to react not over many generations and millions of years but, as Pembrey wrote, within “a few, or moderate number, of generations”?

Extrapolating from his statement, could it be that epigenetics in our stressful times sheds light on the outworking of 2 Tim 3:1-5?
 

"But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up [with pride], lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away."

We all know in our heart of hearts that these ugly traits are on display today as never before. Yes, I know, I know....such is human nature and people have always been that way. But it’s a matter of degree; the unrestrained expression of these traits is what's new. After all, Paul's contemporaries might easily have labeled his ‘prophesy’ a yawner: "People will be ugly, Paul? So what's new?” But they didn't say that. They knew what he meant.
 
In seeking to understand these ugly, seemingly accelerated traits, Alan Greenspan's book The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, offers insight with regard to the barbarous slaughter that began in 1914. He writes: "World War I was more devastating to civility and civilization than the physically far more destructive World War II: the earlier conflict destroyed an idea. I cannot erase the thought of those pre-World War I years, when the future of mankind appeared unencumbered and without limit. Today our outlook is starkly different from a century ago but perhaps a bit more consonant with reality. Will terror, global warming, or resurgent populism do to the current era of life-advancing globalization what World War I did to the previous one?"

Could the barbarism unleashed in 1914, augmented by ever-increasing stressors of modern life, be triggering harmful genetic changes, as Dr Pembrey suggests can occur? The more one ponders the astounding woes that afflict persons today, the more plausible the idea sounds.

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Climategate and the Limits of Science

It’s the 131th "gate" scandal since Watergate [!], so said one writer who listed them; don’t ever say pundits can’t drive a fad into the ground. But Climategate is the first to take the tone of an actual gate – a prescribed sort of thinking – much like Jesus' counsel at Matt 7:13 to go in through the narrow gate.

Didn't this fellow sum it up well, who offered advice to the Economist?  (12/5/09)

Now that we know from leaked emails that some of the raw data behind the most widely used graph of global temperatures have been lost or discarded; now that we know that the peer-review process in climate science has been hopelessly incestuous; now that we know that some skeptics' concerns about corrections for urban heat islands were privately shared by those who dismissed them in public now that we know that proxy graphs were truncated specifically to "hide the decline" and avoid giving fodder to the sceptics - you are free to start covering the science of climate change again. Matt Ridley, Newcastle

He's not saying the global warming theory is wrong, necessarily. (well….likely he is saying that, but let him develop the point, not me.) For me, the striking revelation is that global warming science is run like any top-down organization. Those at the top disparage whoever’s not falling into line, suppress their contributions, and doctor their own data to gloss over whatever doesn't prove their point. And to think I was lectured by someone – was it Plonka? - “prove a scientist wrong, and he will thank you for it!"... so pure is their desire to reach unadulterated truth! Sigh....not here. No, here it's “try to prove a scientist wrong and he will run you off the road.” Maybe not when the stakes are low, if the research is about shoe horns or something.  But when the stakes are high, as they certainly are with climate change, people invest in their position emotionally, be they scientists or not. They become advocates, cheerleaders. And if they imagine themselves immune to emotional sway, as scientists are wont to do, they can become downright insufferable. They don’t suffer fools gladly, and a fool is anyone who disagrees with them.

News coverage of Climategate varied dramatically from source to source, depending upon pre-existing attitudes. Here in the U.S, conservative Fox Network beat the subject into the ground, opining (gloating?) it would mark the death of a theory they despise. The other three networks, on the other hand, the liberal ones, didn't even mention the story for two weeks, apparently thinking (hoping?) it would blow over. (they did run 37 juicy Tiger Woods stories in that time!) When it didn't blow over, CBS’s Kimberly Dozier (Dec 6) reported that “the e-mails show some of the world's top experts decided to exclude or manipulate some research that didn't help prove global warming exists…..1998 was the hottest year since record-keeping began...but the temperature went down the next year, and it's only spiked a couple times since….An e-mail exchange in 1999 shows scientists worked hard to demonstrate an upward trend. They talk of using a "trick" to "hide the decline" in global temperatures.”

Among the intercepted emails, there were some suggesting collusion to keep dissenters from getting published. "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC [U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!" wrote the head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of Anglia. When the journal "Climate Research" did publish a non-bandwagon article, another leading scientist wrote "This was the danger of always criticizing the skeptics for not publishing in the 'peer-reviewed literature'. Obviously, they found a solution to that—take over a journal!" And "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal." These guys play hardball.

Now, mind you, I don't necessarily disagree with this tactic. If manmade global warming is an imminent crisis, and if you wait till all the grousers and foot draggers come on board, the sea will rise and put out the Statue of Liberty torch before everyone agrees. My point is that science does not operate as the emotionless meritocracy that some would have us believe. No. It's those at the top bullying everyone else to hold the party line. If is the operative word, of course, and humans probably don't have the wisdom to determine if the if is so. Certainly they don't have the wisdom to persuade those of the opposite view. An extinguished torch would persuade them (maybe), but then it would be too late. So they twist arms instead, just like any other human organization.


Look, the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses is not a democracy, either. Nor was the first century congregation, as shown throughout the book of Acts, most notably chapter 15. There are those who take the lead in governing the congregations, both then and now.  (Lots of churches used to be that way, but no longer. Parishioners tired of it.) My point is that, as a purely practical matter, science isn't that different. Now, because I hang around the Bible a lot, I’m confident in the way Jehovah’s Witnesses explain it and the leadership they give. They're on to things that others miss or deliberately ignore. But when it comes to global warming, I end up acquiescing to those who know, though it's by no means clear that they do know. People end up going along because of the dire warnings issued, not necessarily the evidence presented, which is conflicting.

At least if you can't stand the governing arrangement of Jehovah's Witnesses, you can always leave; it's a big world and there is life outside. But there's no escaping the clutches of the global warming people, who aim to design policies that will affect us all. Ah, well. It's humans trying to rule the earth, for which they are ill-equipped. It does, though, make one long for government from the One who understands climate and can even control it. "Who really is this, they said about Jesus, for he commands even the wind and the sea, and they obey him." (Mark 4:35-41) That's the government we advocate, God's Kingdom. We have no part in bringing it about, you understand, but we announce its coming.

thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  (matt 6:9-10)


By the way, here are the 1400 intercepted Climategate emails. Why don't you take the next three years of your life going through them?

And if it is ever established that human activity is not responsible for global warming, it will hardly be any credit to us. It's not as though we're such caring stewards of the planet as to never let such a thing happen. It's just that the sum total effect of our environmental meddling isn't significant enough. If it turns out we're not ruining the earth in that way, well....there's a dozen other ways in which we are ruining it. Perhaps that's why climate change believers play for keeps? Man's record of caring for both the planet and those inhabiting it is not a noble one.


 

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Life on the Exoplanets

Driving to work one morning, wasn't I surprised to find all my carmates believed in extraterrestrials. They didn't just lean that way. They were absolutely, rock-solid firm-in-their-heart-of-hearts convinced that there was intelligent life on other planets. This could only be the effect of too many Star Trek boneheads and coneheads, for not only had extraterrestrials never been discovered, but even extra planets outside our own solar system had never been discovered. Casey, the one who, though she had never seen it, couldn't stand the film I Robot because she heard the plot deviated from Isaac Asimov's book, was the only one who knew no planets had yet been discovered. Still, she believed in aliens like all the rest.

That changed in 1995 - with regard to planets, that is, not aliens. Michel Mayor of the University of Geneva found the first planet, setting up a mad scramble amongst his peers, who as of this date, have found 370 others. They're all dogs, though - that is, you wouldn't want to live on them, and couldn't at any rate. Many are small and dense, revolving quickly around their parent star, and thus "tidally locked," with one broiling side always toward the sun and one frigid side always away. Or they're huge gaseous marshmallows, so that you'd sink well past your armpits. But scientists are confident they'll find an earth-like one sooner or later, and young people like those in my car, accepting life arising by chance and Natural Selection as an everyday event, wonder what type of aliens will live there: warm and fuzzy ETs, Independence Day thugs, or Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy screwups.

Of course, few, if any, of these new planets have been seen - they don't glow like stars, after all. Rather, their existence is discerned through various techniques. Maybe their gravitational pull causes the parent star to wobble a bit. Or, if they cross directly in front of the star, light flickers for just an instant. Such methods have proven valid closer to home. Neptune was first detected through the wobble it caused Uranus. Same with Pluto, whose status as a planet was revoked in 2006, thus disgracing our own Whitepebble Institute staff scientist Tom Tombaugh, whose only real credentials are a claimed distant relationship to Clyde Tombaugh, Pluto's founder. He's made other scientific contributions, to be sure, but they are all relatively minor - his thesis paper on sock-eating shoes, for instance. His real eminence stems from Pluto.

But Neptune and Pluto are light-minutes from Earth. These new planets are light-years. Are we really so adept at discerning what's way way out there? Maybe - but I look at it less confidently than with telling what's in our own back yard - our own solar system. Frankly, whenever scientists say they have discovered this or that I tend to accept it, but I do so tentatively, always with the caveat that these guys are frequently full of themselves, bursting with pride at human accomplishment, and intolerant of any layman who would question their theories, until they themselves revise them. Or - I suspect, its not so much those front line empirical scientists who are the problem, but a second buttressing layer of scientist-philosopher-cheerleader-atheist types, who ram science down all of our throats as the be-all and end-all. Me, I tend to side with that famous scientist and ex-Beatle John Lennon, who said "everything they told me as a kid has already been disproved by the same type of 'experts' who made them up in the first place." [quoted in interview with Playboy, so plainly I got this second-hand]

Now, it turns out that this year, 2009, is the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope. It's also the 400th anniversary of Kepler's publishing the laws of planetary motion. In time, telescopes would reveal our solar system to be only a tiny speck of existence, and not the embodiment of reality itself, as had till then been presumed. This discovery molded human notions regarding God. Says the Economist magazine: "it was easier to believe that a human sized universe was one that might have been brought into being with humanity in mind. It is harder, though, to argue that the modern version of cosmology, let alone any hypothetical one which is multiversal rather than universal, has come about for mankind's convenience." (8/15/09 pg 12)

This statement assumes religious people view it that way: that all has come about for "mankind's convenience." It's not hard to see how the Economist might reach that conclusion. Did not the Church maintain for centuries that Earth was the center of all creation, and that even the Sun revolved around it? Galileo got much grief for his contrary views. And aren't those born-agains always carrying on about their personal relationship with Jesus, as if no other issue matters? But - and I'm sure this is a fine distinction that will be lost on the scientist-philosopher-cheerleader-atheist types described above - anyone familiar with Watchtower publications know these have long maintained that mankind's salvation is not the primary issue before creation. Rather, it is the sanctification of God's name. Thus, Jehovah's Witness' view of God doesn't violate the spirit of that Economist statement.

Clearly, whenever scientists say "jump!" Jehovah's Witnesses do not respond with "how high?!" We believe, uphold, and defend the Bible. Nonetheless, whenever Watchtower publications have commented on other planets and the possibilities such may suggest, they have been eminently reasonable, in keeping with then-current knowledge, and free of the delusion that all revolves around humanity:

But what about the other planets? Were they put in space and into orbit for no reason at all? No, we cannot conclude that...... We should not be so shortsighted as to think that the earth is the center of the universe.   Awake 1973, 5/22 pg 15

But are there [outside our solar system] other planets? Maybe yes, maybe no. The fact is that other stars, or suns, are so extremely far away that scientists have not been able to prove whether there are any small planets around them.......One can see, then, that it is certainly unwarranted for persons to speak so positively about advanced civilizations on distant planets. They have not even proved that such planets exist, much less that they have advanced civilizations on them.   Awake 1981, 2/22

Tom Irregardless and Me.   No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Salvation of Moore's Law

You must admit, it's a cute ad. People from TV invade the Intel briefing room, only to find those therein on hands and knees looking for their newest chip - some clod apparently dropped it. 'It's - uh - not big,' murmurs the chairman. 'Ah - here it is!' And he holds it high at tweezer's end. Even magnified, you can't see it. Our big ideas aren't your big ideas, says the ad, and then everyone sings the Intel song. "Our big ideas" is the phrase we want to hold onto.

Back in 1965 Intel co-founder Gordon Moore had his own big idea, which all technogeeks know by heart. Dubbed Moore’s Law, it decrees that every two years you’ll be able to double the components that will fit on an integrated circuit. His prediction has proven valid. Thus, in my school days, our high school had an IBM 360 computer for "computer science" class. It took up an entire room, required air conditioning, was fed data via punchcard, impressed the daylights out of anyone then, and moved snail-like compared to anything now.

In recent years, scientists have started fretting over how much longer Moore’s Law can hold. It’s not that they can’t imagine chips getting yet smaller. It’s that the tools to make them so will become so expensive that nobody will be able to afford chips made thereby. But now IBM claims to have the answer: use the DNA molecule – the very building block of life – as a scaffold upon which to assemble the new chips! They're cheap, tiny, intricate, predictable, and readily reproducible. Pour your pre-mixed nanotube (strands of carbon atoms that can conduct electricity) goo over them and see it mold into the form you want, much like intricate snowflakes form on molecules in the cold atmosphere. Will it work? IBM swears it will, though it will be 10 years before it reaches production. Once it does, the current crop of designer tools, costing hundreds of millions of dollars, can be replaced with less than a million dollars of polymers, DNA solutions, and heating implements.

Is that clever, or what? "What we are really making are tiny DNA circuit boards that will be used to assemble other components," says Greg Wallraff, IBM scientist. Will IBM, like Intel, start boasting about their "big idea?" If so, who could deny them?

Still, isn't there something incongruous about praising human ability to copy nature, while insisting nature itself arose by pure accident, nurtured only by natural selection? Billion dollar companies, with million dollar facilities, employing the best brains on the planet, building upon generations of accumulated research, and their ultimate accomplishment is, not to design something new, but to mimic something already occurring in nature - a pure freebee once they figure out how to copy it! Even the most impressed-with-himself counterfeiter acknowledges the greater skill and organization of those whom he copies. And even the dumbest construction worker tromping on literal scaffolds, building IBM headquarters, knows those scaffolds didn't just set themselves up. But today's scientists aren't inclined that way. They've mastered a few card tricks, so they figure themselves David Copperfield's equal.

Humans lifting ideas from nature to devise this or that "invention" happens so often that there is a word for it: biomimicry. You can even go here and view the Nature's Top 100 List. But humans giving credit to the originator of the ideas is a rare phenomenon. Today, it almost never happens. It wasn't always like that.

Four hundred years ago Johannes Kepler worked out the laws governing planetary motion. They move in ellipses, not circles, with the sun at one focal point. Over any given time unit, the triangle connecting planets with both focal points sweeps out equal areas of space, regardless of where they are in their orbit. He published his findings in his treatise Astronomia Nova. Sure, he was pleased with himself, but he kept his big head in perspective. He saved his praise for the one who designed what he had only discovered. Smack dab in the midst of his treatise, he inserted:

"The wisdom of the Lord is infinite; so also are His glory and His power. Ye heavens, sing His praises! Sun, moon, and planets glorify Him in your ineffable language! Celestial harmonies, all ye who comprehend His marvelous works, praise Him. And thou, my soul, praise thy Creator! It is by Him and in Him that all exists. that which we know best is comprised in Him, as well as in our vain science. To Him be praise, honor, and glory throughout eternity."

His third law he call the "harmonic law," for he believed it revealed the harmony God had instilled into the solar system. "I feel caried away and possessed by an unutterable rapture over the divine spectacle of the heavenly harmony," he enthused. 

Galileo voiced similar thoughts regarding his own discoveries, as did Newton. And it was only a few generations ago that collecting artifacts of nature in the belief that studying such could teach one about God was a popular pastime. Alas, no more. Is it really inexcusable, as Romans 1:20 states, not to percieve God through the things he has created?

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me                 No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

More than Thrilled to Take a Look at it

“If any religious person can present non-circular reasoning and scientific evidence to be examined I am sure the scientific community would be more than thrilled to take a look at it.”

Thus goes a typical in-your-face challenge should you enter discussion with one of those atheistic Dawkins disciples. Someone threw it at me not too long ago.

What is demanded is that you put on coke-bottle glasses, pick up chalk, and fill the board with equations proving God’s existence. Why should any of Jehovah’s Witnesses play that game? Make them play ours. After all, the challenge cuts both ways:

If any person of science can demonstrate how our universal urge to war can be allayed, I’m sure Jehovah’s Witnesses would be more than thrilled to take a look at it.

If any person of science can demonstrate how disaster relief can be accomplished promptly and effectively, without greed or profiteering, I’m sure Jehovah’s Witnesses would be more than thrilled to take a look at it.

If any person of science can demonstrate how racism can be eliminated, I’m sure Jehovah’s Witnesses would be more than thrilled to take a look at it.

The preceding points play into well-known strengths of Jehovah’s Witnesses (expanded upon hereand here) which even detractors do not deny, though they sometimes attribute it to sinister brainwashing.

If any person of science can supply a satisfying answer to why we grow old and die, and why there is evil and suffering, I’m sure Jehovah’s Witnesses would be more than thrilled to take a look at it.

If any person of science can provide a nurturing model for raising the next generation (marriage being of religious origin, don‘t scientists favor the “four year itch“ theory?),I’m sure Jehovah’s Witnesses would be more than thrilled to take a look at it.

And so forth.

Why acquiesce to scientists as the final arbiters of how we are to live? How have they earned that status? And if I’m cruising down the highway at 60mph, I’m not sure why I should be overly concerned about the scientist on the radio telling me that my car doesn’t run. No one is saying to ignore science, of course, but must it be the value that trumps all else? Is all of life to be seen through Mr. Spock’s eyes? And is the only alternativeKirkthe obnoxious Dr. McCoy? Or can’t one live the balanced combination embodied in otherwise silly James Kirk?

There is enough common ground between the Bible and science that the two can reasonably coexist as is by “fudging” both sides a little. For example, no one in the JW camp has any beef with “microevolution”…..you know, the animal husbandry, Darwin beaks, feathers and feet type, and that is far-and-away the most well-supported aspect of evolutionary theory. All the thinking behind mutations and what they can accomplish….we have no problem accepting this as the likely mechanism through which such changes within a “kind” (the unspecific Genesis word) come about. Plus, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not among the religionists who insist on creation happening in 24 hour days. “Day” is an unspecific term as used in everyday life and even in the scriptures. We can live with “day” representing a very long time.

There are various other lines of evidence which JWs accept and, along with the foregoing, they are sufficient to convince them of the authority of the Scriptures. Numerous prophesies…some a bit vague, but others quite specific…..scientific facts presented in the Bible that were otherwise unknown at the time, the candor of Bible writers…..who frequently admit, even highlight, their own weaknesses….something most unusual in ancient histories, accuracy of detail…..for example Luke 3:1

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was district ruler of Galilee, but Philip his brother was district ruler of the country of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was district ruler of Abilene, in the days of chief priest Annas and of Caiaphas, God’s declaration came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

Do fairy tales or myths ever include such accuracy?

Not to mention that Jehovah’s Witnesses come to feel a genuine love for the Bible’s author. If you love your wife, do you really need some Dawkins scientific atheist coming around telling you that you shouldn’t?

Plus, the opposite of God seems so absurd, as expanded upon...oh, say here.

Does the Bible and science agree on all counts? No. But there is enough overlap and scientists are imperfect enough and revise their positions often enough that I can live with both sides, not feeling either rules out the other.

 

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Something like Mr. Spock in the Air

When Stalin and successors ruled Russia, there was strict media censorship. You didn’t speak against the state. Nowadays there is no state censorship, yet the media kowtows as though there was. The censorship is self-imposed. “There is no person who tells [me] what you can and what you can’t do.“ says journalist Nikolai Svanidze, recently quoted in the Economist. “It is in the air."

Lot’s of things are “in the air.” In fact, that expression and concept is found here:

Furthermore, [it is] you [God made alive] though you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you at one time walked according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience.    Eph 2:1-2

The “air” of Ephesians has unfavorable connotations, much like the “air” in Russia. In both settings it represents an oppressive mindset. It also has “authority;" it is so pervasive that it molds people’s thinking without their being aware of it.

For example, a contempt of authority is these days “in the air.” National leaders, teachers, and police officers who once enjoyed an almost automatic authority, now find themselves challenged at every turn….not just challenged when they do wrong, but challenged regardless of what they do.

Is scientific, critical thinking…as the be-all and end-all…. also “in the air” today? I think so. An intense distrust of any input that can’t be quantified, analyzed and proven. If it in any way smacks of emotion, it is something to suppress, almost something to be ashamed of. But if we can put it in measurable terms…..ahhh, now we’re talking! Carl Jung dealt with ostensibly scientific matters of the human psyche. Yet instead of "abstract scientific terminology," he declared that  he prefered dramatic, mythological terminology. It is more expressive, and besides, the former “is wont to toy with the notion that its theoretic formulations may one fine day be resolved into algebraic equations.”

Though it masquerades as the pinnacle of wisdom today, “critical thinking” is in reality a most shallow way of thinking. It is content to merely describe “magical” things, and yet imagines that by so doing it has arrived at understanding what these things are.

Here’s an example I've found on the internet of someone who thinks this way: a fellow named Ragoth:

I love music, and I play blues and jazz (as well as rock and metal). It's incredibly moving, often with very abstract themes. I also enjoy the feeling of love. However, I will readily admit that music is really just patterns of compressed air interacting with the ear and auditory networks of the brain. Likewise, love is a complex cascade of chemical signals carried out in the brain that affects the rest of the body. Does this take away from the "magic" of either of these? Not at all, as far as I'm concerned. In fact, to me, it's all the more wonderful to know that these are the kinds of things that molecules, in the right kind of order, can do.

Sheesh! That’s what music is? That’s what love is? Or has he not rather merely described some of its physical effects? The truly intriguing question of their nature….their “magic” as he puts it, he tosses aside as if it were the husk of the corn. Now, that would be fine if he realized he was doing it, but he appears to realize nothing of the sort. In describing physical effects, he carries on as if he’s solved two of life’s greatest mysteries.

I even hesitate to mention Ragoth by name (but I’ve overcome that hesitation) because it's hardly just him. Such thinking is increasing becoming the norm among today’s “critical, scientific thinkers.” It’s “in the air,” so to speak. People pick it up.

Here's one from Moristotle:

As I was publishing Tuesday's post, I felt vaguely uncomfortable that the photographs I was including were not of Monet's (or any other human being's) art, but of "Nature's art." I remembered that when I looked out a window in one of the galleries and spied the pond, I felt more drawn to it than to any of the man-made objects inside. And I supposed that individuals all over the world, of whatever religion (or irreligion) probably respond more reliably to the beauty of a lily pond than they do to any man-made work of art. Respond to Nature, that is.

He is drawn to nature. Aren’t we all, just like at the Plantation Gardens? Yet he’s “vaguely uncomfortable” about it. He fights it, as if it is something to be ashamed of, since he can’t scientifically account for it. (though they try to account for it…..via the ridiculous field of evolutionary psychologyin which every quirk of human nature is attributed to our ancient struggle for survival.)

In so many ways we sense intelligence behind physics, behind life, behind our environment, but critical thinking has us reject what we sense, at least until it can be confirmed by science….which it can’t be…..science has its limits.

Physicist Heinrich Hertz observed regarding the-then recent mathematics describing electromagnetism: "One cannot escape the feeling that these equations have an existence and an intelligence of their own, that they are wiser than we are, wiser even than their discoverers, that we get more out of them than was originally put into them." [italics mine] Little did he reckon on the determination of today’s critical thinkers, the ones who consider Mr. Spock Spocktheir role model. They have indeed learned to “escape the feeling,” or at least not to let interfere with life in any significant way.

The aforementioned Carl Jung observed that belief in God or gods was near universal. He didn’t pass judgment upon this, but instead recognized it as a basic need of humanity. To ignore or contradict it in one‘s practice, he maintained, would be irresponsible psychotherapy. The next time I need my head examined, that’s the kind of guy I’ll seek out, rather than some modern-day critical type who declares: “first think we have to do is get rid of this nutcake religion!”

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Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)