Cassman’s Principle of the Certitude of Contrarianism

Complex situations (like societies), can often be difficult for us to interpret and analyze (if you doubt me, watch people trying to order at McDonalds). I find that a reliable method for simplifying this process is to simply study my opponent. Put another way, if you know who your enemy is, and you are uncertain of your situation, observe your enemy closely for a reliable barometer of reality. I listen to NPR for this reason, and watch CNN. I can quickly ascertain the reality of any situation simply by believing the opposite of whatever they assert. If they say the polar ice caps are melting, I know they are not. if they say the seas are rising, I know they are not. If they say candidate X will lose, I know he will win. This is how reliable they are. It’s an extraordinary thing, really. But you have to read Orwell to get it, and that means I’m only making sense to 12.5% of you.

This Slate article is a great example: the modern understanding of “civil rights” is unequivocally a violation of the first amendment rights of every citizen. You are not even free to THINK without violating federal law. (Hate crime legislation and ‘enhancements’ in federal sentencing guidelines prove this beyond a doubt). P.S. Trump is winning and I don’t even think he gets it.


That Most Lethal of Combinations: Arrogance and Ignorance

FB is that most egalitarian of communities, making present the spirit of the French Revolution in new and unimaginable ways. Can you imagine a medium by which the Dunning Kruger effect could be demonstrated over and over again with such perfection? I know-as a few of you must-from daily first-hand experience that the very people who are smugly superior while proving their near-total ignorance of a topic on FB are also the least likely to speak up in a public forum. I fear that in the same manner a virus spreads, this online behavior must inevitably have an adverse effect on the cumulative IQ of the species.

How to Lose Friends and Arguments Quickly and Easily

It is rare I find myself in a discussion of any seriousness without someone resorting to personal attacks, ridicule and simple name-calling. I do not think the guilty parties recognize how bad this is for themselves, and their ideas.
First, when you engage in one of these activities, you are showing the entire audience-not just the person you are attacking, but everyone who will ever read those words-that you are either ignorant on the matter at hand, and unable to articulate an argument, or of such poor character that you cannot resist the temptation to attack the person, rather than their idea. You get pleasure from insulting them, but care not for advancement of truth.

This never reflects well on you, or your argument. It also plants the idea in the mind of your audience that perhaps people who believe like you all suffer from a weak and/or corrupt mind. This is not a fair observation, but it is a likely one. If you want to advance truth, you care more about effective persuasion than hurting your interlocutor.

Secondly, the personal attack represents a violent approach that, on the surface, suggests you are incapable of argumentation, and thus, must resort to violence to get your way. In other words, you are a bully. If you don’t know the difference between a bully, and someone who is simply strong, then you might be guilty of this. A bully rules through fear and force. A strong man rules through power. There is a difference between power and force.
Third, if you resort to these behaviors, you are showing yourself to lack self-discipline. If you are not in control of the words you write or speak, you are not in control of your mind, and thus you are proving yourself unworthy of participation in the conversation. It is simply verbal diarrhea. Who needs that?
These are principles every child should know by the age of reason. They may not be easy to conform to, but they should be accepted as reasonable guidelines for behavior.  Teach your children and those you influence, and if the requirements for civilized, mature conversation are out of your reach, just abstain from conversations that prove too much for you.  None of us are above falling into these errors, but we can at least hold these virtues above ourselves and strive to acquire them.

Fear of Failure is Fear of Living

It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen.

I love the diversity of personalities that make up a big family, and life, for that matter. #2 is much more like his Mother than he is

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

me. This morning I mentioned off-handedly that I’d ordered something online from China. A business expense.  A look of slight alarm passed over his face. I preemptively explained that I’d done some research on this particular item, the seller, and was reasonably sure it would work out.

He replied with great gravity, “What do you think the chances are you’ll be disappointed?” Ha! What a great question! I got a good laugh at that and said, “Well, I guess I would say about 30%, although it’d be tough to justify that. I’m quite a bit more sure of being satisfied, although I would say the chances are fair that I won’t be. But I have a plan if that’s the case, so I’m not too worried about it either way”.  I then briefly explained my Plan B.

He didn’t say anything. The look on his face showed his doubt. So like his Mom! So I said, “I don’t mind risks…I’m prepared for some disappointment, but also delight in achieving something, discovering something new, or learning something, or perhaps just as satisfying, proving my judgment to be accurate. That’s pride, of course, but enjoyable.  I learn something, perhaps even more, from my mistakes”.

At that moment his Mother entered the room and, hearing at least some part of the discussion, said, “Yeah, but I don’t like risk…yours or mine”.  Okay, so risk isn’t always fun.  But this is a woman who won’t try a new dish at a restaurant for fear she won’t like it!

I’ll let you know how it works out.