Saturday, June 24, 2017

“The Fourth Turning: The Shadow Of Crisis Has Not Passed, Part 1”

“The Fourth Turning: 
The Shadow Of Crisis Has Not Passed, Part 1”
by James Quinn

“Imagine some national (and probably global) volcanic eruption, initially flowing along channels of distress that were created during the Unraveling era and further widened by the catalyst. Trying to foresee where the eruption will go once it bursts free of the channels is like trying to predict the exact fault line of an earthquake. All you know in advance is something about the molten ingredients of the climax, which could include the following: 

• Economic distress, with public debt in default, entitlement trust funds in bankruptcy, mounting poverty and unemployment, trade wars, collapsing financial markets, and hyperinflation (or deflation).
• Social distress, with violence fueled by class, race, nativism, or religion and abetted by armed gangs, underground militias, and mercenaries hired by walled communities.
• Political distress, with institutional collapse, open tax revolts, one-party hegemony, major
constitutional change, secessionism, authoritarianism, and altered national borders.
• Military distress, with war against terrorists or foreign regimes equipped with weapons of mass destruction” 
"The Fourth Turning", Strauss & Howe, 1997

"When you read pertinent passages from Strauss & Howe’s prophetic assessment of history from a generational perspective, twenty years after its publication and nine years into the Crisis they forecasted with uncanny accuracy, you find yourself shaking your head and appreciating their visionary generational appraisal of antiquity. Those who scorn "The Fourth Turning" either haven’t read it, are ignorant of the cyclical nature of history, blindly believe in never ending human progress, or their salary is dependent upon not acknowledging the truth. A year consists of four seasons – Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. A long human life of 80 years consists of four phases – childhood, young adulthood, mid-life, and old age. Human beings tend to associate themselves with the cohort born within the roughly 20 year period that makes up one phase of life.

Members of a generation share an age location in history, tend to share some common beliefs and behaviors, including basic attitudes about risk taking, culture and values, civic engagement, family life, and tend to have a sense of common perceived membership in that generation. The generational attitudes, moods, leaders, and events that occur during recurring 80 year cycles drive the pathway of history. Strauss & Howe have been able to document the Turnings of Anglo-American history back to 1435. Like the seasons in a year, there have been cyclical turnings every twenty years or so for centuries. They can be described as High (Spring), Awakening (Summer), Unraveling (Fall), Crisis (Winter). Each turning is a reflection of generational interactions, moods, and attitudes. We are now seven years into a Crisis that will likely not climax until the late 2020’s.

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• Saeculum (climax year) Crisis (Full Era) Time from one Crisis climax to next Crisis climax
 Revolutionary (1781) American Revolution (1773–1794)
 Civil War (1863) Civil War (1860–1865) 82 years
 Great Power (1944) Great Depression and World War II (1929-1946) 81 years
 Millennial (2025?) Global Financial Crisis (2008–2029?) 81 years?

Making annual forecasts in the midst of a 20 year Fourth Turning Crisis is rather pointless. Predicting improvement or progress in the midst of a Crisis is nothing but a futile exercise in mental masturbation. Fourth Turnings, like a protracted, brutal, frigid, gloomy, stormy winter of discontent, may have an occasional let up in intensity, but will rapidly revert back to turbulence, danger, and volatility. When I wrote "Fourth Turning Accelerating" in June of 2014, I made the case that core elements of this Crisis – debt, civic decay, and global disorder – were combining to provide an impetus to the next dire phase of this relentless blizzard of pain, suffering, chaos and war.

“Reflect on what happens when a terrible winter blizzard strikes. You hear the weather warning but probably fail to act on it. The sky darkens. Then the storm hits with full fury, and the air is a howling whiteness. One by one, your links to the machine age break down. Electricity flickers out, cutting off the TV. Batteries fade, cutting off the radio. Phones go dead. Roads become impossible, and cars get stuck. Food supplies dwindle. Day to day vestiges of modern civilization – bank machines, mutual funds, mass retailers, computers, satellites, airplanes, governments– all recede into irrelevance.

Picture yourself and your loved ones in the midst of a howling blizzard that lasts several years. Think about what you would need, who could help you, and why your fate might matter to anybody other than yourself. That is how to plan for a saecular winter. Don’t think you can escape the Fourth Turning. History warns that a Crisis will reshape the basic social and economic environment that you now take for granted.” – Strauss & Howe, "The Fourth Turning"

Putting forecasting into perspective during Fourth Turnings is easy when you have a grasp on history. Imagine there were pundits pontificating on CNBC or CNN in 1936, the seventh year of the Great Depression Crisis or 1780, the seventh year of the American Revolution Crisis. Most historians refer to the Great Depression as the period from the Great Crash of 1929 until our entry into World War II in 1941. Annual forecasts of improvement would be meaningless to people living through this brutal period in our history.

If Jim Cramer was assessing the period from 1934 through 1936 on his daily radio show, he would have been gushing about GDP growth of 10.8%, 8.9% and 12.9%. He would have been effusive about the 300% surge in the Dow Jones Index from the 1933 low to the 1936 high. CNN would be doing special reports about the tremendous success of New Deal programs, as Federal spending and handouts accounted for the entire surge in GDP. But, in reality the average American continued to struggle to survive, as unemployment ranged between 17% and 22% during this time and only the rich owned stocks. Another 10 years of hardship, war, and death on a grand scale awaited them. Perspective and context are essential when attempting to assess periods in history. You get no context from the entertainers passing for journalists in today’s world.

The beginning of 1780 saw Washington and his troops surviving the harshest winter of the 18th Century in Morristown, NJ as the 5th year of war still left the outcome highly in doubt. CNN would have blamed the polar vortex for the temporary lull in patriot fortunes. Defeats in battles against the British in South Carolina and the uncovering of Benedict Arnold’s plot to surrender West Point to the British would have been spun as minor setbacks. Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown was almost two years away. The Articles of Confederation hadn’t yet been signed and the U.S. Constitution wouldn’t be signed until 1787. The Crisis wouldn’t end for another fourteen years, in 1794.

Fourth Turnings have their own rhythm and pace. The reactions to events and mood changes of generational cohorts interact to provide the dynamic that drives Fourth Turnings. The specific events are not foreseeable but human weaknesses, faults, flaws, failings, strengths, intellect, and emotions are consistent across the ages. Human nature does not change, therefore it is predictable. Those who wish for this Fourth Turning to accelerate and get to the climax sooner may want to rethink their desire. The Civil War Crisis was accelerated because all parties were intransigent and unwilling to compromise or pause. The result was 700,000 Americans killed in four years, representing 5% of the entire male population. This Fourth Turning could be accelerated with the push of a button and millions killed in an instant. I don’t think anyone wants that kind of climax. We are entering a banquet of consequences where our choices will make a difference.

“A Fourth Turning harnesses the seasons of life to bring about a renewal in the seasons of time. In so doing, it provides passage through the great discontinuities of history and closes the full circle of the saeculum. The Fourth Turning is when the Spirit of America reappears, rousing courage and fortitude from the people. History is seasonal, but its outcomes are not foreordained. Much will depend on how tall we stand in the trials to come.” – Strauss & Howe, "The Fourth Turning"

The Shadow of Crisis: “Don’t think you can escape the Fourth Turning the way you might today distance yourself from news, national politics, or even taxes you don’t feel like paying. History warns that a Crisis will reshape the basic social and economic environment that you now take for granted. The Fourth Turning necessitates the death and rebirth of the social order. It is the ultimate rite of passage for an entire people, requiring a luminal state of sheer chaos whose nature and duration no one can predict in advance.” – Strauss & Howe, "The Fourth Turning"

Just as you can’t turn the clock back to the glorious warm days of Summer or the delightfully pleasant cool days of Fall, the dark, foreboding, bitter days of Winter will bring forth raging blizzards, dangerous sub-zero temperatures, and vicious gale force winds. And there is no way to avoid, sidestep, or escape the trials and tribulations which will sweep away the existing social order and replace it with something better or possibly far worse. There are no guarantees this Crisis will resolve itself in a positive manner. The spark that catalyzed the Crisis mood in 2008 was the global financial implosion caused by Wall Street bankers committing the greatest control fraud in world history, corrupt captured politicians’ spineless failure to address the nation’s spending and debt problems, and the Federal Reserve creating a housing and stock bubble through their loose monetary policies and complete failure to regulate the Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks.

The inability of the linear thinking ruling class to acknowledge the seriousness of our current circumstances and the implications of the era of depression and violence the country is about to experience can be witnessed on a daily basis by listening to mainstream media talking heads or politicians of all stripes who bloviate about economic improvement and progress just ahead. There couldn't there be a better example of myopia, delusion and willful ignorance than the theme and opening line of Obama’s 2016 State of the Union speech: “The shadow of crisis has passed.”

"There Is A Family Of Us..."

"There is a family of us who have this yearning for a kind of excellence that we can manifest every day of our lives, a family who wants to believe we're not pawns, we're not victims on this planet, that knows we have the power within us here and now to change the world we see around us!"

"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in 
each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof."

- Richard Bach, 

"The Rule..."

"Insanity in individuals is something rare- 
but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule." 
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Free Download: Richard Bach, "Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah"

"Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river. The current of the river swept silently over them all- young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self. Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth. But one creature said at last, "I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom."

The other creatures laughed and said, "Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks and you will die quicker than boredom!" But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more. And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, "See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!" And the one carried in the current said, "I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure." But they cried the more, "Savior!" all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a Savior.”
"Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah"

Notice: This electronic version of the book has been released for educational purposes only. You may not sell or make any profit from this book. And if you like this book, buy a paper copy and give it to someone who does not have a computer, if that is possible for you."
FREE download, in PDF format, is here:
- http://img1.liveinternet.ru/

"Two Possibilities Exist..."

"I'm sure the universe is full of intelligent life.
 It's just been too intelligent to come here."
- Arthur C. Clarke

"Suddenly We Realize..."

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"Fukushima Equals 14,738.25 Hiroshima Bombs Today, More Tomorrow"

"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
- Shiva

Updated June 24, 2017: Fukushima Equals 14,738.25 Hiroshima Bombs Today, More Tomorrow; There is No Place On Earth to Escape the Rad: The 3 melted-through cores of the destroyed reactors, totaling over 600 tons, at Fukushima daily release the radioactive equivalent of 6.45 Hiroshima bombs directly into the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean. As of June 24, 2017 - 2,285 days since the disaster began - this equals the detonation of 14,738.25 Hiroshima atomic bombs and it is still going strong, with no end in sight, considering that the half-life of uranium-238 is about 4.47 billion years and that of uranium-235 is 704 million years. There is no technology on this planet to deal with this situation. There are only 336 cities on Earth with more than one million people. That is the equivalent of 43.86 Hiroshima atomic bombs apiece. - CP
"Your Radiation This Week, June 24, 2017"
by Bob Nichols

"First thing, grasp the difficult concept that this is an ELE or Extinction Level Event. The deadly meltdown and dispersion of radioactive fuel throughout the world is on-going to this day. There is no escaping our fate, there are no solutions. No one is exempt. The radioactive particles are all over the world now. The Rad lethality will continue to increase because that is what Rad lethality does. The simple reason is some of the Uranium decays to Plutonium. When that happens the Rad count increases. Once set free, the change cannot be altered or stopped by anyone or anything. The Rad is the ultimate power and its mission is to kill You.

There is nothing we can do to stop it. The Rad will take us all out. Yeah, that includes all of us; plus the bugs and the fish driving around in our air, lakes, rivers and oceans. The Rad also nails the long lived remnants of the Dinosaurs; y’know… the birds. They don’t have a prayer. All of us are included; none are left out. That is reality, anything else is just wishful thinking or a purposeful lie. The amount of Rad in the air now dooms Humanity to a relatively quick extinction. Done In by our own war toys, how moronic is that?! I can’t say it any plainer than that.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said this: “…most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief, and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars. Their every truth is not quite true. Their two is not the real two, their four not the real four; so that every word they say chagrins us, and we know not where to begin to set them right.” "Self Reliance", 1841 

That was 176 years ago. Plutarch said much the same thing in Roman times. Why on earth anyone should expect a noble change from apes with a 3 lb. brain defies comprehension. And now these morons have gone and killed us all." 

Bob Nichols' “Your Radiation This Week” reports can be viewed here:

A Search of this blog will reveal many posts about Fukushima, covered since day one.
Use the "Blog Archive" sidebar by dates.

"Dogtown"

"Dogtown"
"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more
than you love yourself." ~ Josh Billings

"It's not just a sanctuary - it's Dogtown! Dogtown is the most welcoming place on earth. They may have been homeless, but none of the dogs here are sad and forlorn. Everywhere you go, you're greeted with wagging tails, whelps of excitement and big, friendly eyes. This is truly a neighborly, all-American town.

Best Friends Animal Society is guided by a simple philosophy: kindness to animals builds a better world for all of us. In the late 1980s, when Best Friends was in its early days, roughly 17 million dogs and cats were being killed in shelters every year. Despite the commitment of shelter workers to the animal in their care, the conventional belief was that little could be done to lower that terrible number.

Best Friends' No More Homeless Pets campaign created a new vision: A grassroots effort to place dogs and cats who were considered "unadoptable" into good homes, and to reduce the number of unwanted pets through effective spay and neuter programs. Since then, the number of dogs and cats being destroyed in shelters has fallen to approximately 5 million a year. There has been much progress, but there is still much more to do.

The next phase of this work – bringing the number down to essentially zero – will take more work and some bold new initiatives. Shelters are crowded with pit bulls, dogs abandoned after being bought from pet stores, stray cats rounded up on the streets and not looking their very best when they’re brought in, and other pets abandoned or neglected. As the flagship of a grassroots network of people and organizations that care about animals, Best Friends continues to lead the way towards this future. And that's why our purpose remains: A better world through kindness to animals. 


The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary at Angel Canyon, at the heart of the Golden Circle of national parks in southern Utah, is home on any given day to about 2,000 dogs, cats, and other animals, who come from shelters and rescue groups around the country for special care they can only receive at Best Friends.

Most of the animals who find their way to Best Friends have special physical or behavioral needs, and our expert staff of veterinarians, trainers and caregivers offer them all the help they require. Most of them are ready to go to good new homes after just a few weeks of special care. A few, who are too old or too sick, or who have suffered extra trauma, find a home and haven at the sanctuary, and are given loving care for the rest of their lives."


A wonderful organization, and I couldn't resist posting this amazing face!
 - CP

"If there are no dogs in Heaven,
 then when I die I want to go where they went."
- Will Rogers

Friday, June 23, 2017

"What Will Amaze You Even More..."

"There exists no more difficult art than living. For other arts and sciences, numerous teachers are to be found everywhere. Even young people believe that they have acquired these in such a way, that they can teach them to others. Throughout the whole of life, one must continue to learn to live and, what will amaze you even more, throughout life one must learn to die."
- Seneca

Free Download: Erich Fromm, "The Sane Society"

"The Sane Society"
by Erich Fromm


“The sick individual finds himself at home with all other similarly sick individuals. The whole culture is geared to this kind of pathology. The result is that the average individual does not experience the separateness and isolation the fully schizophrenic person feels. He feels at ease among those who suffer from the same deformation; in fact, it is the fully sane person who feels isolated in the insane society - and he may suffer so much from the incapacity to communicate that it is he who may become psychotic. In the context of this study the crucial question is whether the hypothesis of a quasi-autistic or of low-grade schizophrenic disturbance would help us to explain some of the violence spreading today.”
- Erich Fromm

"Social psychologist Erich Fromm’s seminal exploration of the profound ills of modern society, and how best to overcome them. One of Fromm’s main interests was to analyze social systems and their impact on the mental health of the individual. In this study, he reaches further and asks: “Can a society be sick?” He finds that it can, arguing that Western culture is immersed in a “pathology of normalcy” that affects the mental health of individuals."

Freely download in PDF format "The Sane Society", by Erich Fromm, here:

“US Recklessly Provoking Russia, The Unthinkable Could Happen by Accident or Design”

“US Recklessly Provoking Russia, 
The Unthinkable Could Happen by Accident or Design”
by Stephen Lendman

"Instead of fulfilling a campaign promise to improve bilateral relations, Trump so far continues acting provocatively. He’s pursuing the same reckless agenda as Obama, pushing the envelope toward possible direct confrontation with Russia. Despite neither country wanting war, unfolding events may cause the unthinkable to happen by accident or design.

Among major powers, Russia is the world’s leading peace and stability champion – America just the opposite. It’s recklessly waging wars in multiple theaters, threatening conflicts against North Korea, Iran, and perhaps Russia the way things are going. Madness defines US policy, state terror on a global scale, naked aggression its main expression, controlling planet earth, its resources and people its objective – risking potentially life-destroying nuclear war.

Last week, Senate members near unanimously imposed new illegal sanctions on Russia, including on its energy sector. House action awaits. On Monday, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it “reinforced existing sanctions on Russia by designating or identifying a range of individuals and entities involved in the ongoing conflict under four Executive orders (EOs) related to Russia and Ukraine,” adding: “US sanctions on Russia related to the situation in eastern Ukraine will remain in place until Russia fully honors its obligations under the Minsk Agreements. US sanctions related to Crimea will not be lifted until Russia ends its occupation of the peninsula.”

Fact: Russia wages peace, not war. Alone it’s gone all-out to resolve things in Ukraine diplomatically, its good faith efforts sabotaged by Washington.
Fact: Crimea is Russian territory, its newest republic, supporting the will of its people, correcting a historic error.
Fact: The territory won’t be handed back to US-installed putschists running Ukraine. Its people won’t be betrayed for Washington or anyone else.

Russia and America are world’s apart on Syria. Moscow seeks diplomatic conflict resolution, the country’s sovereignty respected, its territorial integrity preserved. Washington wants endless conflict, puppet governance it controls replacing overwhelmingly popular Assad, reelected president in June 2014 by an 89% majority. International observers called the process open, free and fair despite ongoing war, creating enormous hardships for its people. They want no one else leading them. They want their sovereign independence respected. They reject foreign meddling in their affairs – especially by America, NATO, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and their rogue allies.

On Wednesday morning, a NATO F-16 warplane, likely a US one, provocatively tried following closely behind Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s aircraft over Baltic Sea international waters while en route to Kaliningrad. Several Russian Su-34 aircraft escorted Shoigu’s return flight from Kaliningrad, NATO warplanes, likely US ones, following from a distance.


Russian Su-27 fleet fighters escorted his plane. As the likely US warplane approached, a Russian Su-27 maneuvered between both aircraft, waving its wings, displaying its arms, sending a clear message to back off or risk being downed. The F-16 few off, ending the provocation, avoiding a possible serious incident. An unacceptable NATO statement said the alliance “can confirm that three Russian aircraft, including two fighters, were tracked over the Baltic Sea earlier today (21 June 2017). As the aircraft did not identify themselves or respond to air traffic control, NATO fighter jets scrambled to identify them, according to standard procedures. NATO has no information as to who was on board. We assess the Russian pilots’ behavior as safe and professional.”

Baltic Sea provocations by US warplanes with Russian aircraft increased in recent weeks – risking possible direct confrontation if they continue. America’s rage for unchallenged global dominance risks unthinkable nuclear war, its recklessness threatening humanity’s survival.”

What could possibly go wrong?
"Russian Su-24 Making "Fake Attacks" at US Navy Ship USS Donald Cook in Baltic Sea"


"Russian Fighter SU-27 "Flanker" Comes Within 10 Feet Of U.S. Navy P-8A Spy Plane Over Black Sea"


"US Downing of Syrian Jet Act of Aggression"

Consider the implications of this...
 (Closed caption translation.)

And you know, you just know, 
sooner or later somebody's going to do something stupid...

Musical Interlude: 2002, “Suddenly Yours”

2002, “Suddenly Yours”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Star cluster Westerlund 1 is home to some of the largest and most massive stars known. It is headlined by the star Westerlund 1-26, a red supergiant star so big that if placed in the center of our Solar System, it would extend out past the orbit of Jupiter. Additionally, the young star cluster is home to 3 other red supergiants, 6 yellow hypergiant stars, 24 Wolf-Rayet stars, and several even-more unusual stars that continue to be studied. 
Click image for larger size.
Westerlund 1 is relatively close-by for a star cluster at a distance of 15,000 light years, giving astronomers a good laboratory to study the development of massive stars. The featured image of Westerlund 1 was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope toward the southern constellation of the Altar (Ara). Although presently classified as a "super" open cluster, Westerlund 1 may evolve into a low mass globular cluster over the next billion years.”

Chet Raymo, “In A Dark Time...”

“In A Dark Time...”
by Chet Raymo

“I've quoted a few of these lines before, from a poem by Charles Simic:

"It's like fishing in the dark.
Our thoughts are the hooks,
Our heart the raw bait.

We cast the line past all believing
Into the night sky
Until it's lost to sight."

In a sense, that's the story of my life: a long love affair with the night sky. My first book of popular science was “365 Starry Nights”. My first book of personal prose was “The Soul of the Night: An Astronomical Pilgrimage”. “An Intimate Look at the Night Sky” followed much later, but every book in between, fiction and non-fiction, cast a line into the night sky.

What is it about the starry night that gives rise so effectively to what might be called the "religious instinct"? The dark, precisely. The unplumbable depth. The hiddenness. The silence.

The infinity. The abyss of time. I can calculate the number of thimblefuls of water in the sea, but I have no way of knowing how many galaxies there are in the universe, or whether the universe is finite or infinite, or even how many universes might exist. Or where the universe came from. Or where it's going.

I stand barefoot on the terrace in the dark of night, and looking is a kind of prayer. A prayer without words. Without supplication. A silent acknowledgement of ignorance. Heartfelt ignorance. An ignorance that is a receptacle aching to be filled.

"My heart the bait."

The dark night of the soul. The starlit valley of shadow. The knowing that unknows. There, just there, hanging between Cassiopeia and Perseus, the barely visible blur of the double cluster, the rent veil of the temple.

“The line's long unraveling
Rising in our throats like a sigh.”

"Sooner Or Later..."

“Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson

X22 Report, “Everything Is In Place, The Fed Unwind Is The Last Step, This Is The Warning”

 X22 Report, “Everything Is In Place, The Fed Unwind Is The Last Step, 
This Is The Warning”
Related followup report:

Musical Interlude: Deuter, “Atmospheres”

Deuter, “Atmospheres”

The Daily "Near You?"

Easley, South Carolina, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

Free Download: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, "The Gulag Archipelago"

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name doesn't change, and to that name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil.

Socrates taught us: 'Know thyself!'” 
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Freely download "The Gulag Archipelago", by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, here:

“The Dangerous World of Logical Fallacies”

“The Dangerous World of Logical Fallacies” 
by Mario Livio

“Thinkers in disciplines ranging from mathematics to economics, and from science to philosophy, attempt to construct theorems, theories, or scenarios, that have at least a fighting chance of being correct. Since in many cases one of the chief guides is logical reasoning, the ability to spot fallacies is an essential skill. In this piece I will briefly discuss a few such potential traps, and I hope to describe a few more in a future blog entry.

One fairly common fallacy is known as the "post-hoc" (Latin for "after this") fallacy. This is the notion that because one event happened to follow another, cause and effect are implied. This type of faulty reasoning has helped to make many "healers" and "psychics" very rich. The placebo effect notwithstanding, the fact that someone's health improved following a visit to such a healer does not imply any causal relation. Similarly, if you fell and broke your leg after a black cat had crossed your path, don't blame the cat. This is not to say, of course, that one should not investigate cases in which a certain sequence of events repeats itself multiple times.

Here is an example of a common logical fallacy known as the ad hominem argument, which is Latin for "argument against the person" or "argument toward the person". Basically, an ad hominem argument goes like this:
Person 1 makes claim X.
There is something objectionable about Person 1.
Therefore claim X is false.

Another known fallacy is that of the "false dilemma." For instance, the question: "Is mathematics an invention or a discovery?" leaves you with the impression that these are the only two options, and that the two are mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe that mathematics is an intricate combination of intertwined inventions and discoveries. Similarly, a statement such as: "The government should invest either in scientific research or in education" is false, since it could actually do both (clearly within budgetary constraints). The world isn't just black or white. In general, one should always carefully examine phrases that start with "the choice is clear," since those can potentially hide false dilemmas.

Studies show that one of the most frequently occurring fallacies involves logic flowing in the wrong direction. The argument goes like this: If P is true, then Q necessarily follows. Q is true, therefore P is true. For instance, if Earth is the only planet on which intelligent life exists, then clearly we will not find any signs of intelligent life on other planets. However, just because we have not found extraterrestrial intelligent life yet, we should not conclude that such ET life does not exist. To make things a bit closer to home, consider the following situation that probably many young (and not so young) people have experienced. A man thinks: "If she is not interested in seeing me again, she may say that she has another commitment tonight." This may be true, but if the woman in question has sent him a text message saying that she has another commitment, he should not automatically conclude that she is not interested.

Some fallacies are very seductive, and avoiding them requires a close examination of the logic involved. A famous one concerns the warning against stepping onto a "slippery slope." No one likes to embark on something that inevitably leads to disaster, but one should always investigate how likely such a slide truly is. The fact that something could happen doesn't necessarily mean that it will, or even that it is likely to happen- not every action opens the floodgates. In particular, we should never allow fear of fallacious slippery slopes to stifle our natural curiosity.”
Click image for larger size.
Related:

"Like, Should and Will"

"Like, Should and Will"
by The Zman

"People who enjoy quantitative analysis of current events and social policy tend to get irritated by the fact that most people don’t know what “average” means. In fact, most people don’t know the difference between the words “some”, “all” and “many”, treating them as if they are synonyms. The easiest way to activate the nearest outrage machine is to say something like “Some women…” and you can be sure a local gal will clutch her pearls and tell you she is nothing like whatever you described. It’s madness.

Something similar happens to people when discussing social policy or describing a cultural phenomenon. What is good for society, may not always be good for each member of society. Similarly, what you like may not scale up very well. Open borders fanatics fall into this trap. They look at the quaint ethnic eateries around their college campus and think, “This is how it should be everywhere!” They never stop to think if it should be something we attempt and they never think about what actually will happen.

It’s not just liberals and libertarians that get confused by this. Lots of people say they want America to return to its constitutional founding, never stopping to think if we should actually try to do it. If we tried to roll back the 19th Amendment, there would be endless protests, even if every state promised women the franchise. Rolling back the Reconstruction Amendments would launch a civil war. You may like the idea of going back to the original, but we shouldn’t attempt it, which is why we will never try it.

This circles back to the topic of internet commerce. Lots of people like the convenience of ordering on-line and having their goods delivered to them. Some people like the fact they can buy on-line from cheaper foreign sources, thus saving some money. That’s perfectly understandable, but that does not mean we should, as a society, let Amazon monopolize the retail marketplace. There may be ugly trade-offs. Even if we can figure it out, that does not mean we will act accordingly. Instead, we will plow ahead and learn the hard way.

The easy thing to get right is what you like. The old maxim about being conservative about what you know best applies here. All the people screaming at me for questioning the wisdom of letting Amazon own the marketplace are doing so because they know how much they like shopping on-line. They don’t want any discussion of changing it. They know their tastes and habits better than anyone so they are the most conservative about those things. As a result, they instinctively recoil at any criticism of the internet economy.

To be clear, we all do this to some degree. I reject any and all efforts to impose regulations on gun ownership. I know the gun laws better than most and I know the gun statistics better than most. The only changes I favor are repeals of existing laws, but any mention of “gun laws” or “gun crimes” puts me in a defensive crouch. The most conservative position is to resists any discussion of changing gun laws so that is my default position. As a result, I probably have a few things wrong about the gun debate.

Where things always get squirrelly is when the topic moves into what we should do as a society. Libertarians, of course, leave the room at this point because they think “should” means “must” and they are against coercion. This is one of the reasons I have so little patience with libertarians. Politics is about what will be done and that results from the debate over what should be done. The libertarian impulse to retreat into proselytizing about their principles makes them worse than useless in the war with the Left.

Liberals claim to hold the moral high ground so all of their proclamations about what should be done are invested with moral authority. It is why they frame every debate in moral terms. That way, they avoid the granular analysis of what they are doing, so the focus shifts to the morality of their intentions. It is often assumed that this is a deliberate tactic, but it is instinctual. Progressivism is a religion. The adherents naturally frame everything in terms of their faith, in the same way Muslims rely on the Koran for their authority.

Buckley conservatives abandoned public morality long ago, so they are reduced to turning everything into a math problem. This appeals to many libertarian-ish people which is why you see so many of them hanging around the Official Right™. It would be nice if public policy could be decided, at least to some degree, by mathematics, but there’s no history of that ever happening, which means it will most likely never happen. It’s why the Buckley Right has lost every fight over the last 25 years. You don’t beat morality with math.

Of course, no matter what your conception of what should happen is, the odds that it will happen are fairly low. Even the most modest plans have unintended consequences and most of us are easily deluded by our sense of righteousness. It is why Progressivism has devolved into a madhouse of lunacy. They stand on their soapboxes sermonizing about what should happen, only to see the opposite happen. The recent string of elections has them thinking the gods have abandoned them, which is why they are so distraught.

This is not a post with some great important point to make so I’ll wrap it up. The one take away here is that when I write about some public phenomenon, I’m usually looking at it from the various angles of the “should” position. Is this something we should embrace? Is this something we should tolerate? That sort of thing. You may like midget porn, for example, but we should not have it on television. On the other hand, you may hate paying your taxes, but we should enforce tax laws, even the terrible ones.”