May 17, 2012

Politics, Religion, Emotion and Logic

Having been interested in political matters as well as spiritual, it gives me some interesting opportunities for observation. I am not saying that I'm unique and special in this area, but when I hang around with Biblical apologists, they do not seem to have much interest in politics, and vice versa. Things I have learned about logic and apologetics have applied to political rhetoric quite nicely.

There are a few things that I would like to explain to you, the viewing audience, to use during the rest of the American 2012 political season.

Learn some basics. I have some "Logic Lessons" (emphasizing informal logical fallacies) listed in the margin on this Weblog. Although they are focused on Christian apologetics and vituperative atheists have kindly supplied me with several excellent illustrations, the points made should translate to other areas, including politics. Also, there are links to other sites in those articles for further information on the logical fallacies. Even these should give you an excellent start, but you would do well to learn some basic laws of logic itself (such as noncontradiction, identity, excluded middle and that sort of thing). If you get ambitious, basic philosophy can be helpful.

We are not from the planet Vulcan. Yes, that's right, I'm going to appeal to Star Trek for an illustration. I had a difficult time suspending my disbelief that the Vulcans exchanged emotion for logic so thoroughly. It seemed that when they repressed their emotions constantly, it was a constant struggle to remain "logical" (to me, it was more clinical than anything else). In reality, we are emotional creatures. We have them, they are a gift from God, they enhance life. Further, we have our entrenched habits and worldviews. When emotions control us, then we have problems.

Sometimes, reasoning is quick. We have our experiences, memories, senses, learning, subconscious and so forth that can get us from Point A to Point K without seeming to make all the stops in between. A bloke hears a door close in the distance, pauses, someone else comes along and they may have collided if he had not stopped moving. He heard, remembered previous near-collisions, had a sense of timing and all that in a span of, say, two seconds. Edit: I forgot to add that I cannot instantly name every logical fallacy, and I do not expect that of others. (Especially when fallacies are compounded and blended!) But I can see when I'm being sold a bill of goods. This gives me reason to slow down and take a better look at what is being presented, if it is valid and so forth.

Strike a balance between intellectually analyzing things and our emotions. No need to act like a brute beast and let our emotions be in control. Nor should we become obsessed with our thought processes. Cut yourself some slack, because we cannot always think as clearly as we would like, and we will make mistakes.

Unfortunately, it seems that most people "think" with their emotions. In another article, I said that when people are attempting to persuade us to their viewpoint, they are often appealing to our emotions to some extent. Fine, that is a part of persuasion. We all do it.

But some types of people are willing to bypass logic and morality by attempting to manipulate emotions. This can take the form of the misotheist acting like a schoolboy who is angry over being disciplined by the headmaster and recruiting friends, "I hate 'im, you gotta hate 'im too!" Or when American leftists portray Republicans as evil people pushing an old lady in a wheelchair off a cliff. Both instances are ridiculous, but when people are caught up in hate and being fed empty rhetoric, this kind of thing discourages actual thought and is a play toward emotions.

I have watched and listened to political material and wanted to shout at the television, "Sean Hannity, you shouldn't let him get away with that...oops, another fallacy...Rush, you're not...wait, Mark Levin...he's giving you another red herring...stay on topic...Chris Plante, make him answer your question...arbitrary assertion, make her back it up...oh, nuts, now you're doing a fallacy, too..."

My idea is that if people took a step back ("got up on the hill") and saw the bigger picture, they could see the fallacies and appeals to emotion for what they are. Labels, unsubstantiated name-calling, derision, ridicule, bullying, loaded terminology added to bad reasoning can get someone motivated to be "on your side", but they did so without thinking things through.

I hope this simple overview can spark some thinking (and caution), especially in this manipulative political season.

May 16, 2012

I Lack Belief

Atheists play a disingenuous game of moving the goalposts by redefining the word "atheist". Instead of the established definition of "belief that there is no God or gods", it becomes, "I lack belief in a God or gods". That load of rubbish is insultingly transparent.

By the way, does a "lack of belief" motivate people to troll Christian sites under multiple and assumed names, protest Christian activities, write books and make lots of money, incessantly attack God and Christians on obscure and irrelevant Weblogs, hang out with other non-thinkers to brag about your logical fallacies &c? No, I didn't think so. Misotheists have a belief system, and something that motivates their worldview.

I heard a caller to a talk show bring this up the other day, and I thought I'd run with it. Yeah, two can play that "I lack belief so I have nothing to prove" game:

(Click for larger)
A follow-up article is here.

May 15, 2012

Should I Trust Joshua James?

Buona sera. I received an e-mail from my old pal Joshua James. And then he sent me "2nd Attempt" e-mail. It certainly is nice that he's persistent. He probably knows me and I rudely forgot about him, because he actually addressed me by name on one of my accounts where I conduct legitimate business.

Let's see... what are the problem areas?

Trust has to be earned. I learned from some of my associates this valuable lesson, that you don't give away too much trust too soon or you could end up taking a dirt nap, capice? Trust your instinct a little, but give trust slowly. This cafone hasn't done anything to earn my trust, since I never heard of the guy before. The only thing going for it is that my name is there, but he could have bought it from another of my business contacts or subscriptions.

Hotmail flagged it. Sure, I get stuff flagged all the time. That's why I check the spam filter.

I'm a member. Of what? I didn't join anything.

Click to access a download. I picked up an expression from my Cuban pal Tony Montana back when we were roommates as guests of the state, "What, are you nuts?" Leave the downloading of strange files from strange e-mails to others. You leave it alone.

His site is fishy. Using stealth technology, I checked it out a little bit. Not only is the site incomplete, but it has the promises of success. Ha! Josh should be learning from me about success!

International. This is from Canada. Although some of my best friends are Canadians (unlike a few years ago when some of us had an incident near the border), I don't like doing international business. It's hard to use legit means to come to a mutual understanding, and I hate sending Nicky and the boys all the way up there to make Joshie Boy understand reason.

Best approach? Leave it alone. Report it to the spam cops if you like, but don't ever click anything in strange stuff. For that matter, if you get e-mail from friends that doesn't look right, don't touch it. I've had junk from friends who got a trojan, and it sent e-mail in their names. Use protection, practice safe computing.
Click for larger view
Addendum: I am up to five spams from this cafone.

May 13, 2012

A Nemesis for Basement Cat

Did you think that Basement Cat's only nemesis was Ceiling Cat? Or my Bible? Really? I don't think so...

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