Please drink, gamble and fornicate responsibly

Monday, March 02, 2015

There is no such thing as reason


Not an easy argument to make but I’m up for it. Clearly there is such a thing as reason, but how useful is it for changing another guy’s mind? Not at all useful seems to be a common experience so the version I’m concerned with is the useless one from Oxford dictionaries.

The power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgements logically:

Nope, reason is much more like a unicorn - easy to define but locating one in the wild is a tad difficult. As for forming judgements logically...

…the faculty of judgment is a special talent which cannot be taught, but must be practised. This is what constitutes our so-called mother-wit, the absence of which cannot be remedied by any schooling. For although the teacher may offer, and as it were graft into a narrow understanding, plenty of rules borrowed of others, the faculty of using them rightly must belong to the pupil himself, and without that talent no precept that may be given is safe from abuse.
Immanuel Kant - Critique of Pure Reason

Firstly the easy part – beliefs on which we base our reasoning. Beliefs are fixed for us by parents, family life, religion, nationality, culture, politics, education, friends, colleagues, career, authorities, advertising, propaganda, gossip, health, age and lifestyle with a long etcetera to follow.

We may rebel against our parent's beliefs, but only because we’ve found a better source. Young people are good at that but they usually grow out of it unless they opt for politics.

What we refer to as reason in is almost always the art of defending belief, general disposition or some less overt standpoint. Belief is vitally important to what we are or hope to become. Or perhaps I should say that it is vitally important to what we are required to be socially.

Well worth defending then.

The verbal dexterities we employ are often grossly over-dignified by calling them reasons rather than causes or excuses. A touch of spurious dignity hardly ever works anyway because the other chap always insists on looking at things irrationally.

And really - that can’t be right can it? The other chap can’t always be wrong. Not every single time surely?

Yet if I’d been a Guardian-reading member of the chattering classes I’d probably be a politically correct prig with a profound belief in sentimental drivel - social, political, economic, environmental. A scary thought but comforting too. We are what we are. Not out of choice but it’s curiously satisfying all the same and therein lies the problem. We are what we are – reason cannot change that.

Secondly the old part – philosophy.

Truth lives, for the most part on a credit system. Our thoughts and beliefs ‘pass’, so long as nothing challenges them, just as bank-notes pass so long as nobody refuses them.
William James – Pragmatism

Reasoning is a search for whatever idea leads to few surprises – James’ credit system. It’s why we have consensus, our collective way of keeping surprises to a minimum. Our thoughts and beliefs ‘pass’, so long as nothing challenges them. Reason is rarely the best way to see off those challenges though. That’s why it isn’t popular.

Alternatives to consensus are a neutral detachment, scepticism or flat disagreement. I’ll ignore disagreement because that is usually an alternative consensus. Detachment and scepticism are more interesting. For convenience I’ll bundle them together as scepticism. The subject to too vast for a single post so economies have to be made.

So thirdly we have scepticism which tends to yield fewer surprises than consensus, especially for complex issues such as societies, cultures, economics, politics, religion, the arts, the environment, history, human psychology, health, diet, sport and so on. Oh – and blogging. There are no golden rules though. As ever it is a matter of selecting the best option.

Selecting – that’s a better word than reason too. Scepticism is not so much a matter of reasoning as a veto on ideas which seem unlikely to yield fewer surprises than standing back until the fog clears – if it ever does.

It’s an animal faculty. Sniffing the winds of change, listening, weighing the risks, bringing experience to bear, allowing others to make the first step across the swamp or throw the first spear at the big hairy thing.

We have to use the word reason because it is so deeply embedded in our language, but it is not a great idea to be deceived by it. Sceptical detachment is a better guide. Even flippancy is often better, especially when it comes to making fun of ludicrously obvious narratives dreamed up by political airheads.

As an aside, there are loads of those around these days aren’t there – political airheads? At least that’s the detached view hem hem.

We don’t think, understand, and form judgements logically, we select. Or we stand back and watch. Perhaps reason is best viewed as a spectator sport.

READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

False flags?

"False flags in Moscow?"

READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Interesting. Gosh." Catherine Ashton and the alleged "false flag" attack on Ukraine.



I said something about this almost a year ago and - "gosh" - the video of the above telcon I embedded has has the associated Youtube account terminated - "interesting".

Well. the issue has come up again on Washington's blog - at the same time that a similar theory is circulating about this week's murder of Boris Nemtsov.

And who is this talking?

"If the United States has its way they’ll be having a war in Europe between the Europeans and the Russians... countries that are buying gold are preparing for war. That has always been one of the signs of coming war... I think that this preparation of buying gold indicates clearly that there is going to be a big disagreement, eventually, between the Russians and the Chinese, and that disagreement might signify a war. And nobody wants to have the enemy’s currency as your currency and your reserves when you’re in a war. You want something that is independent of your enemy, right? And that can only be gold. So this purchase of gold by Russia and China, and other countries, indicates that there is growing doubts about the universality of the dollar. And the universal appreciation of the dollar as currency is now in doubt. That’s why their countries are buying gold, because they see that the dollar is too unstable and it’s not a firm enough basis in case of a crisis. Their countries want to have something on which they can rely on their own resources and that means they must have their reserves of gold."

Why, it's billionaire Hugo Salinas Price.

"Byee!" Dontcha just love her? We're in safe hands, I'm sure.


READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Peace, potatoes and cocoa

source

This is another chapter from my aunt's memoirs where she describes how family and neighbours celebrated peace in the back streets of Derby in 1919 when she was eleven years old.

June 1919

Although hostilities ceased in November 1918, peace celebrations weren’t held until the following June.

Our street being a cul-de-sac, the family next door living in the very last house, we were able to build our bonfire actually on the road. The neighbours living opposite were all delighted and we rummaged around for anything burnable to help the conflagration. Everyone rallied round as they had done during the war. One old lady every time the maroon sounded, had run up and down the street knocking on every front door, calling through the black letter box,

‘Are you up? Isn’t it awful?’

With that kind of spirit we did pretty well and when the enormous bonfire had been built, children and adults sat and stood round until my dad put a match to one side and another fellow lit the other side. Soon there were Catherine wheels spinning on walls and rockets soaring into the air. The boys loved (and I hated) crackers and jumping jacks which darted and exploded.

On the other side of the big brick wall at the end of the street was the railway line. Now and again a train went chuffing by but we were so used to them we hardly noticed. I’ve wondered since if any passengers saw our bonfire, or at least the sparks flying into the air as the men pushed the glowing embers together.

When the bonfire sagged into a heap of red-hot ash, potatoes were dropped in and mothers went into their houses, reappearing with jugs of cocoa for their families. Jugs of beer had been fetched for the men from the outdoor beer licence.

There was much talk and merriment. My dad picked the cooked potatoes out of the embers with a pair of long fire tongs. No potato tastes as good as one roasted in a bonfire. We children were all dropping to sleep as the fire sank and were taken off to bed, leaving the men still talking.

What a night to remember. Little did we think that in twenty years time the peace we were celebrating would once more be shattered by the dogs of war. But that’s another story.

READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The War that Ended Peace

source

I recently finished Margaret MacMillan's World War I history book The War that Ended Peace as recommended by David over at duffandnonsense. It covers the people and events leading up to the war rather than the war itself. 

I bought the Kindle version so the maps aren't as useful as they would be in a traditional book, but unless your geography is even worse than mine it should not cause too many problems.

I'm not a great history buff but the book is an excellent read. Very well written, it takes the reader through the myriad causes of the Great War. No doubt people from my generation all have some familiarity with the main events, but MacMillan's book brings them together in an extremely readable way.

I'll finish with this quote from the blurb which neatly sums it up, although if you read the book you may have some reservations about the word intelligent.

The story of how intelligent, well-meaning leaders guided their nations into catastrophe. Immersed in intrigue, enlivened by fascinating stories, and made compelling by the author's own insights, this is one of the finest books I have read on the causes of World War I (Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State)

READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A blogger protests against the world's corruption and injustice



READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Le Blob Vert

source

I see Lord Prescott is off to the the Paris climate jolly in December. From the BBC we hear -

John Prescott is returning to front-line politics as an unpaid adviser to Ed Miliband with responsibility for climate change.

The former deputy PM will focus on trying to help a future Labour government seek agreement at climate change talks due to take place in Paris in December, Labour sources say.

Mr Miliband said in a tweet that Lord Prescott "knows how to knock heads together".


Surely an odd choice - sending a known buffoon on a mission to save the planet. Maybe he barged his way to the front of a long queue using his well-developed political elbows to snatch the plum before anyone else spotted it.

Or maybe not. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Did Viet Cong soldiers get PTSD?

It seems some did, but not so often as among American soldiers:


I had wondered whether the disparity might be down to differences in culture, but it seems it has more to do with factors affecting morale. The authors of this study contrast US servicemen's experience of war with that of the Vietnamese:

"The situation of the Vietnamese veterans was totally different. The Vietnamese had justified reasons for engagement in the war, could discern the adversary,were able to feel relatively safe, and had the strong support of their country, and the local population. The Vietnamese veterans fought for their lives, for their families, relatives and country. They were founders of the guerilla war therefore they knew actively what they were doing, how it should have been done, or where and when they did it. They knew who were their comrades or adversaries. They did not have the passive or uncertain feelings characteristic of many American soldiers. The hit-and-run tactics, the fluidity, and the mobility of the Vietnamese soldiers generally made the American soldiers confused in locating them, and this, in turn, helped them minimize their casualties. Additionally, the Vietnamese soldiers got strong support from the Vietnamese population. As a result, they had greater feelings of safety than did the American soldiers."

Another hypothesised factor was how American Vietnam vets were treated when they returned home:

"The lack of social support for American veterans probably contributed to the development of PTSD symptoms. The Vietnam-America war was a politically unpopular one, and many American veterans were ostracized on their return home. This was in contrast to the experiences of veterans coming home from previous wars such as World War II who were given a hero’s welcome. [...] Society had subjected American soldiers to catastrophic combat victimization, and, when they returned, society avoided the victims, then blamed them for what they had done in Vietnam."

More here:

http://www.ffrd.org/AO/CGFED/12PTSD.pdf


READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Bethnal Green teen terror brides: Cameron acts

As usual, Mr Cameron has a two-pronged solution:

a) He has had an emotion at it ("deeply concerning").

b) It is everybody's responsibility to deal with it ("We all have a role to play in stopping people from having their minds poisoned by this appalling death cult").

Job done!




READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.