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How to Fix American Stupidity

A kind of intellectual stubbornness has taken that country by storm

When so many obviously intelligent and well-educated Americans claim that global warming is a “hoax”; when they seem obsessed with vilifying an entire, fourteen centuries-old religious tradition simply because of recent heinous actions of terrorists who profess to act in its name; when, nearly a century after the Scopes Trial, there is still significant public resistance to the theory of evolution, with one recent poll revealing that 34% of the population rejects evolution — over one third of the country! — and when voters elect a man so obviously unprepared and unfit to be president, I begin seriously to worry that Americans are exhibiting greater and greater stupidity.

Let me be clear: By “stupidity” I do not mean a lack of knowledge, education, skill or savvy. Stupidity is not the same as ignorance or incompetence or folly (although it often leads to foolish behavior). I do not mean it as some immature, all-purpose playground insult. I want not to offend but to diagnose.

In that spirit, I offer a different, more philosophical definition: Stupidity is a kind of intellectual stubbornness. A stupid person has access to all the information necessary to make an appropriate judgment, to come up with a set of reasonable and justified beliefs and yet fails to do so. The evidence is staring them right in the face but it makes no difference whatsoever. They believe what they want to believe. Not only do they have no good reasons for thinking that what they believe is true — there are often good reasons for thinking that what they believe is false. They are not acting in a rational manner.

Of course, everyone is stupid sometime or other.

We have all fallen headlong for some product because it looks cool or because some celebrity we like but who has zero expertise tells us he has one, despite there being no reason whatsoever for buying the item and maybe even good reasons not to buy it. We often make choices on the basis of emotions like hope, fear, love, envy, pride and anger — instead of reason. However, while other nations seem to be tackling the local and global problems we face head on, relying not so much on passion but on science and common sense, we seem as a nation to be acting stupidly. And in this regard we fail to live up to, and even betray, just those values that have informed our republic from its founding and to which we now so often merely pay lip service.

In many respects, America is, for better and for worse, heir to the intellectual revolution of seventeenth-century Europe. What characterized philosophy and science in the early modern period and represented a break from much of what went before is the concern to tailor theories to evidence, not to authority or tradition. Galileo, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Newton and others came up with explanations of the cosmos, of the world around them and of human nature and society not by appealing to what earlier thinkers (such as Plato and Aristotle) had said. Nor were they guided primarily by religious dogma. Rather, they took their lead from reason and experience. Whether they proceeded according to the logic of deduction or through the critical collection and analysis of data, what the modern scientific method they developed consists in is the testing of theories according to what reason allows and what empirical evidence supports. A rational person only believes what the evidence warrants him in believing; he does not merely accept things on faith; and when the evidence falsifies his beliefs, he abandons them. It is irrational — stupid — to hold onto beliefs when they are plainly contradicted by the evidence.

These early modern thinkers were not irreligious men; in fact, many of them were deeply pious, devoted to the Catholic or Reformed church. The alleged “war” in the early Enlightenment between science and religion is a gross exaggeration. But for Descartes and his intellectual colleagues, philosophical, scientific, even moral and political truth and progress was a matter of rational and empirical inquiry, not fealty to authority.

The problem is not that the people who don’t believe in climate change or who choose to not vaccinate their children or who deny evolution by natural selection are necessarily uninformed (although many of them are, and a good deal of what passes for “information” these days comes from highly suspect sources). Rather, it is that in the face of relevant information they have refused to adjust or abandon their beliefs accordingly. They are making a crucial decision not on the basis of what Descartes called “clear and distinct” evidence, but on prejudice, hearsay and, of course, those passions of hope and fear. An article in the New York Times recently said that “an aversion to scientific findings continues to shape American public policy.” What the writer failed to note is how much that aversion to scientific reasoning informs the decisions people make in their daily lives.

What is the solution to our creeping national stupidity? Learning how to gain more information from a variety of certifiably reliable sources is an important first step. But what the American public really needs are lessons in how to be rational, how to assess that information — distinguishing between real evidence and fake evidence — and end up believing only what one is justified in believing. We could use more lessons on what it means to be rational and how to be epistemologically responsible citizens who are familiar with the difference between a valid and invalid argument, and who know an unjustified belief when they see one.

Changing people’s cognitive behavior will not be easy; it may even be a fool’s errand. By young adulthood, we naturally become stuck in our ways of forming and abandoning beliefs. I like to think that the key lies in more philosophy, and more of the humanities overall. Most people, if they study philosophy at all, do so only in college — typically to fulfill some distribution requirement. But what if we start exposing young people to philosophy well before they become undergraduates? There is no reason why high school students, even children in elementary school, cannot absorb the basic lessons of rationality and critical thinking that come from studying the great thinkers of the past and of today, and the problems in ethics, politics, epistemology, metaphysics and aesthetics that they address. If there is a cure for stupidity, I am convinced that this is it. I hope I’m proven right.

 

Is it Wrong to Raise a Child Vegan?

“If a kid ever realized what was involved in factory farming, they would never touch meat again.” ~ James Cromwell

After recently reading a debate on a website where people offered their point of views on raising a child vegan, I thought I would share a few facts and information to correct some of the most common misperceptions.

The debate showed a poll that said 21 percent of people agree that it is wrong to raise a child vegan, whereby an overwhelming 79 percent stated that they believe it is the right thing to do.

One of the first points made, at the top of the page, was by someone who claimed that it is selfish for a parent to deny a child meat or dairy, as well as stating that they did not think it was moral to make the decision even if eating meat was animal abuse, or refraining from it was an ethical decision.

Whenever I consider whether it is morally right or wrong for a child to consume meat and dairy, or if the parents are selfish if they don’t allow it, I always come back to the same point:

Children are naturally compassionate and caring. They do not have the same awareness that adults have, or the knowledge of what occurs in factory farms or slaughterhouses. The reason many people do not tell children exactly what goes on is that it can be extremely traumatic for a child to learn the darker side of the meat and dairy industry, and the abuse and suffering that animals go through so that humans can consume them—or often parents don’t know themselves.

“The problem is that humans have victimized animals to such a degree that they are not even considered victims. They are not even considered at all. They are nothing; they don’t count; they don’t matter. They are commodities like TV sets and cell phones. We have actually turned animals into inanimate objects—sandwiches and shoes.” ~ Gary Yourofsky

It’s quite shocking really that many feel they cannot openly communicate with children about the abuse that animals go through, as it would likely haunt and traumatize them. That in itself tells its own story.

Almost all children adore animals. Their natural instinct is to show affection to animals, not to cause them harm. If they saw, or were told, the story of where their bacon, cheese, or milk came from, and they had the ability to make rational choices, I believe that it is highly unlikely that any child would still feel comfortable eating an animal’s meat, or drinking its fluids.

“If well-balanced, veganism promotes a healthful pattern of eating, and most will likely enjoy more fruits, vegetables, and fiber than non-vegetarians.”

Therefore, considering this, I personally think it is immoral to feed a child something that is the produce of unimaginable, horrific, and prolonged suffering.

I have talked to many who are vegan who say that they wish their parents had explained where food comes from when they were younger, as once vegans and vegetarians awaken to the cruelty and make the connection between what is on our plates, and what occurred before it got there, we are horrified to know that for so many years we played a part in the barbaric abuse and suffering of sentient animals.

One of the reasons that many believe that children should become aware of where their food and other animal byproducts come from, is that by the time people reach adulthood they have spent so many years consuming it that they consider it “normal.”

Some people even believe that certain animals were placed on this planet purely so that humans can eat them.

It seems that there is still a widely held belief that animals are pasture-raised, enjoying the freedom of the outdoors where they can live alongside their offspring. The reality is that only a small percentage of cattle ever see natural daylight, and the majority of dairy cows have their babies ripped away from them the moment they are born.

I personally think that the lives of dairy cows are a living hell, and that no mother, whether animal or human, should be forcibly impregnated, and have to repeatedly give birth, before having their offspring taken from them so humans can drink the milk that was intended for their baby.

It seems that many people have become so conditioned to consume animal products that they have become either ignorant or numb to the emotional, mental, and physical pain that animals endure.

One comment on the debate that declares that it is child abuse and neglectful to force your child to be vegan due to the lack of vitamin B in a vegan diet.

I understand the concern about a vitamin B-12 deficiency, which is why many vegans seek the advice of a medical professional before choosing to give their children a B-12 supplement, or they ensure their diet includes soy, almond, or coconut plant milk, soy products, and breakfast cereals that either have, or are fortified with, needed nutrients. Soy and oat milks are not recommended for babies under one year old, as they lack the vital nutrients required for growth, however there is a variety of healthy alternatives to consider.

Vegans are not the only ones at risk from a B-12 deficiency as children whose diets are high in sugary products could also suffer, as high sugar consumptioninterferes with B-12 absorption.

Not all parents choose to raise their children vegan purely to reduce the suffering of animals. Many carry out a considerable amount of research in regards to what goes into what they eat, and hold strong beliefs that eating a plant-based diet is a far healthier option for children than one including meat and dairy products.

Another reason that many opt for veganism is to help the planet and to support the elimination of world hunger, as almost every study carried out by scientists has found that the meat (cattle especially) industry is the largest contributor to global warming. 

Although I strongly advocate for a vegan diet for children, I also think that it should only be an option if the caregiver has first carried out a substantial amount of research, along with seeking the advice of a nutritionist and/or medical professional.

“There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.” ~ Charles Darwin

It’s Back to the Grrrind !

Well kiddies of the northern hemisphere – summer is OVER.

We had a great time visiting Canada BUTT can hardly wait to get back to the heat, it’s damned COLD here lately (especially at night.) We’re sorry to be leaving friends and family but they can now come visit us in February.

Montréal is a blast and we highly recommend everyone visit at least once.

MERCI MONTREAL! Au revoir !

 

Don’t fuck up your eyes today!

An annular solar eclipse

So… SUN glasses right? NO!!

Sunglasses won’t cut it, not even those with extra-dark glass used by alpine skiers. They still allow too much sunlight to reach your eye. The difference?

Eclipse glasses block 99.9999 per cent of sunlight. (Try skiing while only being able to see 0.0001 per cent of your surroundings!)

You’re going to need special glasses or the cheapest version – a simple cardboard BOX

For all you white supremacy redneck assholes: 

Aside from proper eclipse glasses, there is only one other form of eye protection you can use: welder’s glasses. NASA suggests No. 14 welder’s glasses. (You already own em – looky in yer truck!)

There’s been a lot more attention to eye safety during the lead-up to the Aug. 21 eclipse

Montreal loves Ria Mae me too!

Soo the whole crew was at pride last night to take in Nelly Furtado but were pleasantly surprised to see that another favorite Canadian was the opening act. RIA MAE

As cute as she is talented, she lit it up with great sound and Personality.

“I was super shy and just kept it hidden,” she says. “I used to write about relationships but I never had one. It was just imaginary”

See RIA sing “Ooh Love” on YouTube

Real Life Korean Drama?

As we edge closer to the abyss, I thought you might want to see what the poets are doing…

mushroom-cloud

Source: Real Life Korean Drama

Why r u still using a Keyboard?

Time for a new phone. So I asked a friend to let me test drive a **hemorrhoid home** waiting of course for the release of the new iPhone in the fall.

Turns out that Google’s voice typing is funny as hell (**Android phone – although I’m keeping hemorrhoid!!) BUTT (sic) it can hardly be considered an effective dictation recorder.

Anonymous usage report? Gee, thanks Google!! They only gave me three choices…

Intonation choices: Expressive (fuck you Charlie,) somewhat expressive (you Bastardo),  FLAT (politically correct) and off. No REDNECK setting.

STILL on holiday and can hardly wait to get back to The Studios to record more audio gems!! (Join our listener list or look for it here)

At best it’s improved greatly since I last looked at AI and at worse it’s a waste of my time…

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