The End of Isms (Part Two): What ISMs Do To Your Mind

To summarize Part One, we talked about how ideologies, or “isms”:

  • masquerade as ideas or beliefs, but are actually a mental technique–a way of directing your mind such that identifying with a camp or label takes precedence over your perception of the world (which we called “Camp Thinking”)
  • despite what we are taught to believe, are not necessary to engage in the act of thinking (since people can, with enough effort and time, step back from their identities and alter them, as history and introspection shows)
  • are a positive hindrance to enlightenment (since, by definition, they constitute the decision to constrain oneself to a narrow perception of the world)
  • consist mainly of stories, or fictions, about who we are supposed to be (our roles) and who we are supposed to hate (i.e., Us and Them thinking)
  • are restricted not just to politics, but also religion, nationalism, racism, language groups, science, nutritional philosophy, gangs, etc. (Any time you identify yourself with a group (Us), and distinguish yourself from non-members (Them))

Continue reading The End of Isms (Part Two): What ISMs Do To Your Mind

The End of Isms (Part One)

Cartman: Wait… Isn’t everybody at war over atheism?
Shvek: Atheism? No. We’ve learned to get rid of all the isms in our time.
Medic: Yes. Long ago we realized isms are great for those who are rational, but in the hands of irrational people, isms always lead to violence.
Cartman: So there is no war now in the future.
Blavius: Of course there’s war! The stupid French-Chinese think they have a right to Hawaii.
All: Yeah!!
-South Park, Episode 10.13: Go God Go XII

I sure thought that put a nail in it. I cheered at the TV and went happily to bed thinking that Matt and Trey had struck at the heart of human idiocy and we would wake up to a new and wiser world.

Alas, apparently no one watches South Park.

Or if they do, they don’t understand it.

Isms, you see, continued right on the next morning. Sorry Matt and Trey, you tried. As powerful a force for change as Cartman is, isms have been around a lot longer.

So long, in fact, that the modern world is drowning in its own philosophies.

It is choking to death on ideology.

Thinking people intuitively know this. They cringe as they hear politicians speak of “sides” Continue reading The End of Isms (Part One)

Forget Nations. How Do We Live as a Species?

We know who speaks for the nations. But who speaks for the human species? Who speaks for Earth?

–Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980


When democratic elections fail in other countries we often hear the quip that you cannot impose democracy in cultures that have no conception of liberty. That chaos and havoc are the natural result of such a clash of ideas. That it will “never work”. Continue reading Forget Nations. How Do We Live as a Species?

What Do You Think of the Environmental Movement?

Well, in short, it’s a mess. There is no such thing as a cohesive “movement”. What we have is a grab-bag of politicians, entertainers, corporations, and bought-science combined with a public that refuses to think for itself and seems willing to spout the platitudes of anyone who uses pleasing (or inflammatory) rhetoric.

The crucial question is the science. Are humans contributing to warming? That seems undeniable. Is it catastrophic? Well, that remains an open question.

We do know there have been great epochs of warming and cooling associated with thermal activity on the sun, geothermal activity here on Earth, and oscillations in the oceans. We also know that a cooling period is far more threatening, since, historically, life has tended to flourish in warming periods.

It does no good to deny these facts any more than it does to deny human involvement in warming. Would runaway warming would be catastrophic? Of course. Try settling on the surface of Venus if you don’t believe me. But are we in runaway, catastrophic warming right now, or are we in normal oscillation (to be followed by a devastating cooling)?

I say the answer is still open. I’m open to reason. Convince me.

But when you’re doing it, look at all the facts, not just the ones that support your ideological ends. Ideology is a decision to be blind to that which does not agree with your world view. Partial blindness is no path to the truth.

Having said that, I believe there are some closed questions regarding environment. Every sane person, regardless of ideology, should be in favor eliminating waste and pollution. Not because of any supposed connection with a global catastrophe, but because these measures make good, logical sense. Anything we can do to cut down on the toxins we are ingesting or breathing,  reducing landfills, conserving green space, cleaning the oceans, or exploring less wasteful forms of energy only serves to make us a healthier, happier species and increases the quality of life for all the flora and fauna that we live with and depend upon.

Environmentalism is good when it focuses on these kinds of measurables, not when it cherry-picks its science to support ideological ends.

What do you think? What are your thoughts on the current state of environmentalism?