Facts

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Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

-John Adams

Facts and evidence! Those little things that are generally true regardless of your personal beliefs or opinions or as social researches put it: Personal bias.

We all know that facts are facts don’t we? and yet research shows that more often that not we consistently chose to ignore them when making decisions. From what to have for lunch to which car to buy or more importantly how to raise our children and what to believe.

Apparently, voluntarily ignoring facts is what makes us humans. If we were a fact based culture, astrology, religion alongside with myths, legends and politics would not have a place among us and we would cultivate values around science, arts, and evidence based truths.

Moreover, it has been demonstrated that once you have made your mind on any thing, you will selectively choose bits of information that support your view regardless of how true those really are. To make things more interesting the probability of you changing your opinion in the face of new evidence is still very, very low. Funny eh?

If facts and evidence were the ruling element in our behavior maybe this would be a better world. But for sure,  many things that create so much grief, suffering and pain like ignorance, religion and superstition would not exist.

I hope that as we evolve to a more connected society, we also learn to develop critical thinking that allows us to seek for evidence based truths that shape how we decide and behave and thus make this world a better place for us and the generations to come.

-Stein

 

 

Je Suis Charlie Aussi

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I am not a big fan of any of the organized religions of this world. I don’t really believe in what they promote and I am convinced that all of them have utterly failed to accomplish anything of significance.

However, I am prepared to respect what other people decide to believe (as long as I get the same respect from them), It is none of my business if someone believes this or that book to be true. However, what I am NOT prepared to accept is that someone uses any religous belief as a cheap and lame excuse to go and harm people for the simple and only reason that they believe in something different.

The fact that someone believes that they have the right to kill people just because they have “insulted” a potentially fictional character of some old book infuriates me beyond words. If these fanatics believe that by doing these stupid things they are promoting their beliefs or avenging “the prophet” well, they are very wrong and in my opinion has the oppossite effect.

Thanks to this wackos, I want to remain as far as I can from their belief system and would totally support the efforts of any government that takes the steps they deem necessary to ensure that something like the terrible thing that happened in Paris does not repeat again.

In the meanwhile, it is very encouraging to see all the support the victims and their families have received from around the world. I think that this shows that there is still hope for the human race and that the good people far outweigh the bad guys out there trying to harm innocent people.

-Stein

Believe what you will, but…

Ok, I am going to dive into deep, murky waters here because I am sick and tired of people trying to sell me to this book or that religion as the ultimate truth and the ONLY way to find meaning in life and eternal salvation (or else… I might add). 

I think you are free to believe whatever rocks your boat. You can even invite your buddies for a ride along if you want to, provided you genuinely respect those that do not want to join your happy tour. Those are some basic rights that every human should be entitled to (sadly, this is not so everywhere in the world).

However, there are a few things, that I cannot stand when it comes to this handsome, well dressed couple of young men that knock on my door on a saturday morning while I am still in bed contemplaing the multiple meanings of the word lazyness:
 
1. The one and only theory
2. The seems legit but… principle
3. The you have the right to remain silent law

As I believe these topics might look arid and incomplete and just for kicks, I am going on a limb here to add a brief description of them but more importantly how to avoid and counterbalance them:

The one and only theory
Please, please, please do not try to impose what you believe on others assuming that your religion, sect, group, congregation or whatever you call it owns the monopoly of the true (mainly because you don’t!).

Instead, consider that many other religions and groups (some of them very big) around the world are doing exactly the same. It does not take a rocket-science degree to realize that obviously it is not working out for everyone. And yes, this of course means that there is a lot (and I mean a whole lot) of BS flying around out there.

So next time you are sharing, predicating, saving, educating or enlightening someone and you get the BS look, don’t take it personal, put it in perspective and assume that your truth might not be the only one the other person is ready to accept.

The seems legit but… principle
Rumor has it that long ago an old man was counting apples he picked from the tree in his garden, and as he was doing it out loud a young man passing by heard him say: Those two apples plus these other two, according to the good old book equals five. The young man shouted at him: you crazy old man! Haven’t you heard? It has been demonstrated that two plus two equals four! while waving four fingers at him

The old man thought for a while and then said, mmmhhh. Maybe, but the good old book says it is five, so it HAS to be five, this generation and their new useless ideas! he growled, turned around and walked away.

I hope this little story sounds as ridicuolus to you as it does to me. However this is the perfect representation of the seems legit but… principle. Lots of people ONLY believe on a very old scroll of dobious origin found, interpreted and translated hundreds of years ago (kind of the chinse phone game) or what a pictogram found on the wall of a cave abandoned thousands of years ago they think represents.

And the sad part is that they do it despite very good evidence suggesting otherwise. They just decide to ignore it, shrug and as the old man in the story say: the good old book says otherwise, so it HAS to be true and consider the discussion terminated.

So, my suggestion is that by all means, you should firmly believe what your book, scroll, pictogram or celestial body say. BUT you have to be ready to change, update or at least cast the shadow of the doubt in your beliefs when the arguments are solid and new evidence that suggest otherwise is compelling. Maybe, just maybe, two plus two equals four after all.

As a corollary to this principle, I am happy to report that the earth is not flat and is not the center of the universe neither. So, please send a memo to he high priests indicating that they are to stop burning people as this matter has been settled beyond reasonable doubt.

The you have the right to remain silent law
As humans, we are very lucky to all posess a common trait: curiosity. We naturally ask questions and we like to have them answered. If you are a parent, you know how inquisitive a little kid can be. You also know that nowadays, children will not settle for half answers. The most surprising fact of this is that children don’t need to be taught to ask questions (some of them very good and creative) it just comes naturally. Amazing!

So, when you as a normal human being, have a genuine, good, creative question and no good answer can be pulled from the good old book, then you get a dogmatic one-fits-all answer or worse, a going around your head speech that gets you feeling stupid and guilty.

This is one of the big incompatbilities that I have with most of the major belief systems, you have to believe. That’s it. End of the story. Period. Caput.

In general, these systems count on you not to question, support research or do your own that might lead you to ask more good and creative questions. That would be a contract breach! And that, of course is a big no-no.

So, my suggestion (specially to the big wigs) is that questioning, reserching, being curious should be actively promoted. If perchance, this leads to find that an old dear principle or argument does not hold water, simple, follow the suggestion of the seem legit but… principle: Change it!

It will be much better for everyone, the benefits of this approach can’t be underemphasized. Imagine how many wars, murders, floggings and injustice could have been averted just by applying this simple principle.

Final conclusion
So, next saturday morning when you ring my bell, if you are ready to apply these principles, I might actually consider getting out of bed to have an intelligent and interesting conversation with you. But if that is not the case, please read the sign: Caution, guard dogs on duty and let me rest.

-Stein