CO2 gives ‘reflected heat’ a ‘cold shoulder’: Knowledge Drift

Interesting post at Knowledge Drift: ‘Longwave seeks hot date; Cold Shoulder from CO2’

“The wheels are falling off the AGW bus. Resignations, papers withdrawn, admissions of fraudulent analysis, bad data, missing data… and now the Institute of Physicists, the Royal Society of Chemists, and the Royal Statistical Society have all provided official submissions to the British Parliament. They are all saying pretty much the same thing. The research done at the CRU doesn’t come anywhere near close to the standards required to be called science.

“The problem with the common explanations of CO2 as a greenhouse gas is that they are both over simplified, and incomplete. For starters, even the term “greenhouse gas” is misleading. …”

From there, it goes into very clear, understandnable explanations of the inconsistencies in the hypothesis of Carbod-doixide forced Global Warming.

It is well worth the read!

ADD, Aspergers and the ‘cannot-put-weight-on-foot’ syndrome

This is not a ‘medical theory’ or even an ‘expert hypothesis’,  just my own thoughts and ideas.  Still, I do suspect that ADD/ADHD and Asperges are both a type of ‘cannot-put-weight-on-foot’ syndrome:

Let us do a ‘thought experiment’…

You come to see your doctor because you can’t put any weight on one of your feet, and you want your doctors to help you. They run their ‘standard tests’ and diagnoses you with ‘cannot-put-weight-on-foot’ (CPWOF) syndrome.   You are told that predicting the success of the treatment is difficult, because different approaches work for different people.
Some people are lucky and the CPWOF syndrome goes away on its own – they ‘grow out of it’. For others, there is a variety of treatments they can try, hoping one will work.

They can try icing it – perhaps even using a brace to support it.

They might try hot baths in salty water, perhaps rubbing in some antibiotic ointment.

Some people respond well to pain medication. Or, anti-inflammatory drugs…

Or other ‘stuff’.

Or nothing.

So, let’s try cycling through the treatments!

By now, you may have guessed that the ‘standard tests’ are questionnaires to be filled out by your family, perhaps teachers, for their observations of how you walk. Pages and pages of questions like:

Does he favour his foot: all the time, most of the time, some of the time, a little bit of the time, never. Circle the answer that fits best….

If they want ‘hard metrics’ – you know, ‘scientific data’ – they may ask you to put your foot on a scale and put as much of your weight on it as you can manage. That will give them ‘a hard number’ to work with!

Of course, this diagnosis does not differentiate between the ’causes’ of CPWOF syndrome.   The syndrome itself is so fascinating, they want to take a ‘whole-istic’ (chuckle at their own little joke) approach to it and not get bogged down in the details of ’causes’. (Translation: they don’t know and don’t care.  They have a ‘name’ for it and a bunch of treatments to try, and that’s enough…)

To make a long story short – whether you cannot put weight on your foot because you sprained your ankle or broke your femur or got a rusty nail stuck in your heel – or, if your foot got eaten by some piranhas that somehow got lost and ended up in your bathtub while you were soaking in it – it does not matter. You have ‘cannot-put-weight-on-foot’ syndrome!

(I also secretly suspect that many immune system diseases and disorders, limbic system illnesses and brain chemistry imbalances are also one form of CPWOF syndrome or another…a ‘label’ hung onto a collection of ‘similar’ symptoms, regardless of their root causes.  I also suspect that this interferes with proper analysis of ‘problems’ where one set of root causes can present as a very diverse variety of external symptoms.  This then would, I suspect, prevent correct diagnosis and even preclude a search for any effective treatment…)

In other words, I think that diagnosing someone with ‘ADD’ or ‘Aspergers’ is like diagnosing them with a ‘headache’ – and treating all headaches as if they were ‘the same thing’, regardless of whether it is caused by migranes, having been hit in the head by a baseball, a tumour or having over-indulged in alcohol…or any other billion possible causes for a ‘headache’.

So, what is it that this ‘headache’, this CPWOF of Aspergers and ADD/ADHD is? Instead of ‘not being able to put weight on foot’, we  have ‘malfunctioning filters’.  But, I am getting ahead of myself…

In order to be diagnosed with Aspergers, one has to first be diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. As in, everyone who has Aspergers has ADD/ADHD, but not everyone who has ADD/ADHD has Aspergers.  Therefore, it seems reasonable to see if there ‘is’ some ‘common mechanism’ to both conditions which differs from ‘the norm’.

This, then, is my hypothesis:

Both disorders/conditions could be caused by a break-down/partial development/some interference with the same ‘system’ in our brain and which could be described as: fewer ‘filters’, less conscious control over ‘filters’.

The difference is that in ADD/ADHD, only the sensory filters are broken. In Aspergers, these also don’t work, but, there are others that are also broken. And this is what leads to more pervasive disorders, problems, challenges – whatever you want to call them.

What do I mean by ‘sensory filters’?

One simple experiment that just about everyone I know has tried in one form or another is the whole putting one hand into cold water, the other into warm water. At first, we will have strong sensations that one hand is ‘cold’ and the other is ‘hot’. But, as time goes on, this will be less and less – the signal will diminish in strength over time, until we will ‘get used to’ the temperatures. Then, when we take our hands out of the water and touch them to each other, we’ll be amazed at the temperature difference between them when our brain is telling us both are ‘fine’….

That is an example of ‘sensory filters’ at work.

More simple examples:

We feel ‘clothing’ as we got dressed – but we are not consciously aware of every bit of clothing touching every bit of our skin at all times while we are wearing the clothes.

We may hear the furnace/air conditioner is on when we enter a room, but, after being in it for a while, we hardly notice its noise in the background…

People often over-apply perfume, because after they have been wearing it for a while, they do not smell it as much and keep re-applying more and more, increasing the ‘dose’ in order to get the same level of sensory input reporting it.

This is how our ‘filters’ ought to function. And, most ‘normal’ or ‘neurotypical’ people have lots of these ‘filters’, in various strengths.

In ADD/ADHD people, it is as if there were way fewer of these ‘filters’. Instead of, say, 100 (from weakest to strongest), we might have 20.

Or 3.

Or just 2:   100% ‘on’ and 100% ‘off’!

(Not all people with ADD/ADHD will have ALL their filters broken.  Some individuals may have ‘fewer’ filters in one specific area, others may have fewer ‘across the board’.  And, for some, it seems as if the ‘filters’ existed – but were only accessible at some times while totally off-line and unavailable at other times….which would drive their teachers and parents absolutely nuts about ‘inconsistencies in behaviour’! )

So, if the filter were 100% ‘on’, people might be calling your name, the fire alarm might be on, but, since you are reading a book and the rest of your ‘filters’ is ‘100% on’, you honestly do not hear any of it.

The ‘neat’ thing – the one that made me think of this as ‘filters’ rather than anything else – is that you actually DO perceive the sounds physically. It’s just that the brain sticks the information that you perceived the sound into a ‘buffer’ – and leaves it there unless you specifically try to retrieve it. Then it is a toss up as to whether the buffer has been ‘wiped’ or whether you can access the info held in it.

My younger son, for example, would not react to sounds as an infant – sometimes. Not even the ‘flinch’ which babies are supposed to have (say, when we are getting to 8 months of age and so on) when a loud sound happens directly behind them. He had absolutely no reaction. Yet at other times he obviously found even moderate sounds painfully loud…

Now, when he does not respond to what I say – not even aware of me talking to him – and I get his attention, I can ask him ‘what did I say’. He says he doesn’t know. I ask him to’ re-play it’. He does. He can repeat it word per word perfectly.

Only after he repeats it does he comprehend it!

Weird, but true.

My husband has the same thing…..as does my dad.

With Aspergers, these same malfunctions with ‘filters’ – or, perhaps ‘missing filters’ also exist. But, rather than just sensory ones (that drive one to distraction at one point while make them oblivious to their surroundings the next moment), the filters on feelings and emotions and – hormones – are similarly not all there, or broken, or whatever.  (And, having problems with ‘both sets’ it is sometimes difficult to tell where the dividing line ‘ought to lie’…)

So, it is easy for Aspies to get ‘overwhelmed’ by emotion and adrenalin, because where a neurotypical (NT) person would feel a gradual rise in these, we don’t. The floodgates are either down – and we ‘appear cold, unfeeling and un-empathetic’ or they are all the way up and we are ‘out of control’.  Total meltdown.

Many of us learn to develop various ways of ‘shutting down’ as a self-protection from this overwhelming flood….because this flood is often accompanied with adrenalin flood (we panic from being emotionally overwhelmed, which releases the adrenalin…).

This is bad.

Not only does it shut down our brain functions like, say, thinking, it also leaves us physically ill from the overpowering adrenalin rush. We get clammy and shaky and icky inside and out.

And most Aspies really, really, really do not like this feeling.  A lot.

What many people don’t understand is that  it is not just ‘negative’ stuff that can trigger this reaction.  ‘Positive’ emotions and feelings are just as dangerous to Aspies and their end-result is just as unpleasant and uncomfortable – at times quite painful, physically!

So, as we grow up and try to cope with this world (!),  we try to learn how to avoid ’emotionality’, even on a sub-conscious level.

If you know people with ADD/ADHD and/or Aspergers – or if you happen to be one yourself – please, try to see your experiences through the prism of my little hypothesis.  Then, whether it ‘makes sense’ or not – or any other observations you might have about this, please, let me know through the comments.  Pooling our observations and analysis might, perhaps, help us help each other!

(Cross-posted at Xanthippa on Aspergers)

Knowledge Drift: Physicist vs. Climatologist

OK – this is funny.

Except that it is so serious.

Still, it is illuminating – and fun!

Salim Mansur: Unveiling the truth behind Sharia

If you read this blog every now and then, you probably know I am not exactly a lover of ‘Sharia’.

Quite to the contrary:  I regard Sharia as an abomination designed to de-empower (if you excuse the expression) women and other segments of society.

Salim Mansur’s colum in the Toronto Sun is right on:

“But the Islamists have succeeded in making the argument that the faith in, and the practice of, Islam is confined by the Shariah, and anything outside of it is non-Islam.

This argument deliberately obscures the fact that the Shariah is a legal system devised under Arab supremacy during the last three centuries of the first millennium and it was based on a reading of the Qur’an that reflected the prejudices of that age in history.”

And – he is absolutely right!

Shariah did not exist at all until several hundred years after the life of Muhammad.

Muhammad – for better or worse – declared that he was the last of the prophets.  That what is said in the Koran IS the whole of Islam.  That no other human  being had the power to ‘interpret’ Islam for others…

Yet, that is exactly what Shariah is:  other men’s interpretation, superimposing their opinions over the Koran!

This is exactly the very thing Muhammad forbade!  If one is to follow the rules prophet Muhammad laid down, really really follow them, they have no choice but to reject Sharia because it is against everything Islam stands for!

OK – I am not as good at expressing it as Salim Mansur is. So, read his column!

H/T: Blazing Catfur

“Would I sell this information?” Part 1

Facebook.

Myspace.

Buzz.

Twitter.

Linked-in.

Flicker.

Photo-tagging.

Online bookmarks.

Online calendars.

Online contact  databases.

….a ‘billion’ other applications where you enter private information about yourself, your family, your friends, your likes, dislikes and preferences, and on and on and on…

We participate in these things because they are fun.

They make it easier to connect (on a professional or personal level) with other people.

And, they make it easier to keep track of the information we find useful.

Of course, doing this ‘online’ protects us from loosing our data should our own system go down.  And, we can log-in from anywhere in the world!

What could be better?

As much as these are useful tools, before we pump our information into them, we ought to ask ourselves one simple question:  “Would I sell this information?”

If the answer is ‘yes’ – no problem.

But, if the answer is ‘no’ – don’t put that info anywhere where it is accessible through the web!

Because, whether you like it or not, this information you enter into online sites about yourself – and all your associates:  family, friends, business – becomes public.

Even if you select ‘private’ settings, not displaying all of this information to anyone viewing these sites, the information is fully visible and accessible to anyone working on the ‘back end’ of the site.  This includes the people who run and administer the site as well as the contractors and independents who develop applications for that site!

And, have no illusions:  these people make most of their livelihood through datamining . Some use the results of their datamining simply to help them ‘tailor’ applications to ‘your liking’ – but, they do retain the original information for possible future use.  Others are less scrupulous…

Of course, any system is only as strong as its weakest link!

Do you know the people who work for these companies?  What kinds of security clearance these people have – if any?  What kind of assurances you have that your private information is not being sold (not necessarily by the companies, but, perhaps, by greedy 3rd party employees)?

In other words, even if you don’t sell the information yourself, somebody can.

And if they can – they will.

Because in today’s world, information is the most potent currency.

We have all heard about people who kept ‘tweeting’ their location – so thieves knew they were not home and could break in without impunity.  Well – if you have a GPS in each of your vehicles which is monitored by a 3rd party (for your safety, of course), are their employees not able to also see when you away from home?  Are you certain not one of their employees is on the payroll of organized crime?

Of course, that is just a mundane tip of an anything-but-mundane ice berg!

What about information about the people you do business with – or ones you socialize with?  Would you sell those lists?  Would you sell the list of all the people you are related to – and how?

Because if you publish them – and, yes, putting them anywhere ‘web-accessible’ is equivalent to publishing them – somebody will!

So – what sparked this reaction?

The other day, I got yet another invitation to yet another ‘networking site’.  It was from a person I highly respect, whom I have had professional dealings with for years and whom I have also enjoyed socializing with.  And, yes, he is likely to be one of the backers of this particular networking site.

Once I accepted the invitation, the site offered to migrate my ‘contacts’ into my profile – and it offered all the ‘major’ email services as options I could ‘click’ to have ‘contacts’ migrated from into this one central place I could easily access from ‘anywhere’ by just logging in.  OK – I admit it – I may have accepted the invitation to join, but, I was not about to hand over all my address books!

Despite not having migrated a single one of my contacts onto the site, just by the virtue 0f my name and email address, it ‘suggested’ potential ‘people’ I ought to ‘link with’ as I might know them – and asked if it ought to categorize them as ‘business’, ‘friends’ or ‘family’.  Lo and behold – there were very many people on this ‘would you like to link up with/you may know’ list whom I have worked with, some of them years ago….

Now, aside from my name and email, all other info I entered into the site was made up (yeah – so sue me!).  Thus, my name and email were the only two pieces of info this site had to work with.

Still, it could accurately re-create a large portion of my professional contacts, going years back in time!

Take a moment to ponder this.

What a powerful tool this is!

As to who is wielding it, to what purposes – and with what security – I cannot tell…

So, I repeat:  if you are not comfortable selling a piece of information about yourself – don’t make it web-accessible!

BlazingCatfur: one dangerous kitty!

BCF is SOOOO dangerous, the head commissar of the Canadian Human Rights Commission – Madame Lynch herself – would appear to have banned all her minions from reading his blog!

Or, something like that… with all the blacked out ‘ink’ on the ‘Access to Information’  thingy, citing “protected solicitor client privilage”, who can tell?

Mieow!

Agnostic: what it does – and does not – mean

One term misused in debates about ‘religion’ almost as often as the term ‘atheist’ is the term ‘agnostic’.

Perhaps it’s the Aspie in me, but I think that if people are going to make passionate arguments, often using some terms in an authoritarian or patronizing manner, they ought to have taken the time to learn what those terms actually mean.  (Of course, not everyone does that – but, many do…)

The term ‘agnostic’ does not describe a person’s ‘belief in’ or ‘non-belief in’ or ‘belief-in-the-non’ existence of god(s).

Not even a little bit.

An ‘agnostic’ can believe in the existence of god(s).

An ‘agnostic’ can believe in the non-existence of  god(s).

An ‘agnostic’ can hold no belief in either the existence, or the non-existence, of god(s).

Still, many people use the term to mean ‘someone who does not believe one way or the other if god(s) exist’…..

Sorry – that is NOT what the word ‘agnostic’ describes!!!

Certainly, some agnostics fall into the category of ‘not holding a belief in either the existence, or the non-existence, of god(s).  But, that is only because there is an overlap in ‘groups’ or ‘states of belief’ that various definitions describe.

…kind of like there is an overlap between ‘long arms’ and ‘long hair’.  Both revolve about something being ‘long’.  And, some people with ‘long arms’ also have ‘long hair’.  But the terms each describe a different ‘long’ – so they cannot be used as if they meant the same thing!

Yes – I am getting bogged down in words.  To re-phrase:  the term ‘agnostic’ may include theists, non-theists, atheists or any other -theist group because it does not describe the state of one’s belief in the divine.

Rather, it describes one’s belief about the ‘ability to have knowledge’ of the existence of the divine.

Let’s look at the root of the word:

‘Gnosis’ means ‘knowledge’ in Greek.

The term, when used in English, refers to ‘spiritual enlightenment’ – as in, the type of ‘mystical enlightenment’ a person receives during a ‘spiritual  rapture’ or ‘spirit quest’ or another altered-state type meditation or similar experience.

For example, Gnostic Christians do not recognize the authority of any church or clergyman, because they strive for direct spiritual knowledge – gnosis.  This they regard as much more important than any dogma…

The prefix ‘a-‘ simply means ‘apart from’.

Thus, ‘a-gnostic’ – taken bit by bit – literally means ‘apart from (spiritual) knowledge’.

Once ‘put together’, the term ‘agnostic’ means ‘belief that it is un-knowable ‘ if god(s) do or do not exist.

Thus, this is a statement of belief.  Yes, to be an agnostic, one must hold this belief!

But this belief is not about the existence of the divine: it is a belief about existence of knowledge of the divine!

Specifically, an agnostic actively believes that we cannot know whether god(s) exist.

This does not preclude choosing to believe, anyway.  Many people have concluded that they cannot know for sure if god(s) exist, so, to be on the safe side, they decide to believe!  This is the very point of Pascal’s Wager.

Blaise Pascal argued that we cannot know – through reason, so really, really know – if God exists.  Therefore, we ought to consider the 2 possible scenarios (God exists and God does not exist) and our 2 choices of action (believe in God or not believe in God) and do a risk-assessment:

Scenario 1:  God does not exist

Choice 1:  behave as if God does exist

Result – more effort during life, but, nothing gained.

Choice 2:  behave as if God does not exist

Result – nothing lost and nothing gained.

Scenario 2:  God exists:

Choice 1:   behave as if God does exist

Result – more effort during life, but huge gain at ‘the end’! Eternal Salvation!

Choice 2:  behave as if God does not exist

Result – less effort during life, but then… everything lost! Eternal damnation!

Therefore, Pascal’s reasoning goes, the cost to one’s soul of ‘not believing’ in God is much greater (eternal damnation) than the cost of believing in God while alive (obeying the church).  Therefore, the only reasonable choice is to believe!

(OK – there could be an argument made whether Pascal actually said ‘choose to believe’ or ‘live as if you believe’:  the first one would be an agnostic who chooses to be a theist, the second one would be an agnostic who is an atheist, but chooses to behave as a theist.  But, that – as well as just how ‘voluntary’ it is ‘to believe’ – is a whole different discussion!)

Aside:  this same argument has been used by some people to justify spending tons of money on ‘preventing the disaster of global warming/anthropogenic climate change’.  That ought to suffice in helping us recognize that the whole ‘ACC’ movement is a religion, not science, and that ‘carbon credits’ are its ‘indulgences’.

But – back to the main point…

Summary:  The term ‘agnostic’ does not refer to one’s ‘beliefs’ about the existence of God.  Rather, it is the positive (‘actively present’) belief that it is impossible to know if god(s) exist.

Thus, it is a belief about the nature (presence) of knowledge.  Specific knowledge, in this case, but knowledge none the less.

It is not a statement about one’s state of belief in the subject of that knowledge – the existence of god(s).

Agnostics can either believe that god(s) exist – or not.  They just believe they cannot ever actually know

Cat casserole: why are we outraged that people eat cats?

A scandal has erupted in Italy over a famous chef’s suggestion that people should eat cat meat because it tastes good.

Well, well, well…

The 77-year-old chef, Beppe Bigazzi (OK – I could not make up a funnier name if I tried…. the jokes about cats and cat lovers ‘Bepping’ his ‘Big-Azz-i’ pracally write themselves) used his show to give out a recipe for a cat casserole.  He advised that the skinned cat ought to be soaked in spring water for 3 days, to ensure the meat is tender….and that it tastes even better than rabbit!

As a person with a pet rabbit, I’d tan his hide for that crack about rabbits, but…

Mr. Bigazzi went on to  say that it is hypocritical for people to eat some meat, then turn around and criticize people who eat dog or cat meat.  He claims that ‘cat’ is a traditional Italian dish, which he himself has eaten many times, and that it is delicious!

He may have some point: cats have, historically, been eaten in Italy and considered a delicious white meat.  But now, eating cat is illegal in Italy and Mr. Bigazzi’s big mouth-y got him into a lot of hot water….there is even talk of criminal investigation of his eating habits as a result of his comments – which he now claims were ‘a joke’.

OK – I can see that ‘eating pets’ thing happening in times of famine.  Our rules for what is acceptable and not tend to be ‘stretched’ when we see our kids starving.  But, I also know of people who would eat cat and dog meat when they had other choices:  the cultural taboo made it that much more appealing to them.

So, are we hypocrites?

Is eating cat or dog meat the same as eating beef or chicken?  Are we hypocrites if we indulge in one while condemning those who partake of the other?

This question goes much deeper than many people give it credit.  It is very closely tied to things I’ve been ranting about, on and off – like, say, that various cultures interpret the concept of ‘murder’ quite differently.   Something very similar is at the heart of this, too.

It’s about ’empathy’ and ‘drawing lines’…

As much as we think of ourselves as gentle, caring creatures, our empathy is not limitless.  The more affluent we are, the more empathy we can afford to have.  That is the nature of empathy – and that the nature of humanity!

We can only empathize with someone or something if we can, in some way, on some level, identify with them.

Actually, this is something which comes up with the whole ‘Aspergers’ thing, too.  That is when I first started to think about the nature of empathy…

Some doctors – and some books ‘out there’ by ‘experts’ claim that Aspies are not empathetic.  This could not be further from the truth!  Aspies ARE empathetic.  They just do not think that empathy is warranted in the same instances that neurotypicals (non-Aspies) do!

Plus, most Aspies find it  embarassing  when others display empathy towards us, so, we usually attempt to suppress any show of empathy on our part, in order not to add to the other person’s discomfort.  Still,the more important thing here is that Aspies will often feel empathy when neurotypicals do not think it warranted, but do not see any reason to feel empathy in many instances where people around them expect an overt show of it.

So – why do we feel empathy, and when?

When I wrote about the different interpretations of  the concept of ‘murder’ (we consider ‘killing of another human being’ to be ‘murder’, while some cultures do not consider the killing of an unfamiliar human to be ‘murder’ – but killing a familiar animal that shares their dwelling is considered ‘murder’), our reaction depends on where we draw ‘the defining line’ of  ‘expectation of non-aggression’.  In other words, just about every culture considers ‘murder’ to be killing someone or something which has an expectation of protection or non-aggression from the one doing the killing.  If that expectation of ‘safety’ is not there, it is ‘killing’, not ‘murder’.

Similarly, when we take animals into our homes and them an expectation of safety/non-aggression from us, we have now drawn the line of ’empathy’ with them solidly on ‘our’ side of the dividing line.  They share our homes and we identify with them.  Therefore, we have empathy for them.

That is the big difference between a ‘pet animal’ and a ‘food animal’.  And that is why it is not hypocritical to eat the meat of a ‘food animal’ while being upset that someone would eat  a ‘pet animal’.

A really good example of this are rabbits….

My parents grew up in a culture where rabbits were 100% in the ‘food animal’ category.  When we got my son a pet rabbit, they were scandalized!   They thought it wrong to keep a rabbit in the same rooms as we live in!  It was just ‘wrong’!

Of course, they have come to accept him.  Sort of.  They still seem shocked to see him play with their dogs as if he were a dog himself…

But it was hard for them!

When growing up, of course, they saw many rabbits.  And, as kids tend to be, they were attracted to them – rabbits, especially baby rabbits –  are uber cute!  But, because these were `food’, there were strict prohibitions against ‘playing with them’ and turning the rabbits into pets:   having to eat one’s pet is traumatic!

Here, in North America, rabbits are ‘mostly’ in the ‘pet animal’ category. My kids are scandalized at the idea of eating rabbits!

And rightly so!

Because it does not matter what the species of the animal is:  if it is in the ‘pet animal’ category somewhere deep in our brain, we identify with it as our companion (or potential companion) and we  ought to be scandalized at the thought of it being slaughtered and turned into a piece of meat!

Unfortunately, ‘food animals’ (and ‘food plants’ are on the ‘ far side’ of our ’empathy line’.  They have to be.  We can take steps to only purchase food from places where food animals had a good life and were treated with the least amount of cruelty possible at the end:  small farmers where you can see the living conditions yourself, and so on.  These days, so many people have this as their priority, it is easier to do than many people think.  Do the least amount of harm – that is the best we can do for now.

This does not make us hypocrites:  until we have Star Trek style food synthesizers,  we cannot afford to move that ’empathy’ line to embrace all living things!

Iranian theocracy: 31 years of oppression

Today marks the 31st anniversary of when theocracy was inflicted upon Iran.

I cannot express the depth of my empathy with the people of Iran adequately – there are no words strong enough.

There are tyrannies – all kinds of tyrannies.  And it is not pleasant to live under the yoke of any tyrant!

But, not all tyrannies are the same.  The differences are very important:  perhaps not so much to any specific individual who is martyred by a tyrant, but to the overall population, there is a difference.

It is difficult to explain what I mean – but, I shall try.

There is potential for infinite goodness in humanity – but there is also a potential for infinite evil in us.  It is only the choices we make that determine which potential we are fulfilling.  The actions we choose to take or not to take – that alone fulfills our potential.

While there are such among us that take delight out of causing pain and suffering to others, they are in a minority.  If – or, rather, when (their ruthlessness drives them) – such a bad persons come to power, they can only remain there with the help of those who are corrupt. Sure, they will have cores of psychopaths they surround themselves with – but their numbers will never be large enough to keep them in power!

That is why tyrants need corrupt people to run their government.  Not actively evil psychopaths, like themselves, but, those willing to be corrupt are numerous enough among us to permit tyrants to rule.  Up to a point:  if the tyrants excesses get to be too much, even the corrupt will balk at their evil and refuse to prop them up any longer.

Or, perhaps another way of phrasing it is that a ‘simple’ tyrant is, sooner or later, seen for what he or she is:  a tyrant.  Therefore, at some point in time, enough people will loose their fear of the tyranny and will rise up against the tyrant.  This will happen when the people believe the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of rising up!

In a horrible sense, it is a self-correcting system.  Not a nice, pleasant or efficient system, but, it has been repeated enough times to note the pattern.

Even this pathetic ‘self-correction’, this ‘worst possible hope’ has been subverted by theocracies by changing the way the people measure the ‘cost in suffering’!

How?

1.   more people are willing to inflict suffering onto others if they believe they are helping bring them back to ‘righteousness’ (their ends justify the means)

2.  those oppressed are willing to suffer much longer and worse abuses because they believe they have more than just their worldly life to loose if they rebel!

The percentage of people who enjoy inflicting serious pain and suffering – for the sake of their own pleasure – really is not that big.  But, those who are willing to inflict pain and suffering onto others because they believe it is ‘a necessary evil’ – a way to drag others onto the path to salvation, whether they wish to be  saved or not – those people we have in abundance!

It’s a variation on the old saying:  ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’!  Yes, that is right!  You ‘ought to’ inflict violence on this here person, because it will ‘clense them’ and make them ‘better’!

Many of those who inflict suffering onto others under an oppressive theocracy do not do so because they enjoy the whole inflicting pain thing (except those who believe that suffering on this world buys you a better ‘next life’ – they are willing to open you a ‘savings account’ of type).

These are not inherently cruel people.  Rather, they perform these unpleasant tasks for the sake of those they oppress, for the sake of their society, for the sake of all the children, for the sake of their God!  It is the conditioning of the gullible, tricking them into committing evil against others in the name of ‘fighting evil’ and ‘being righteous’ that raises the number of potential oppressors that theocratic tyrants can exploit to keep themselves in power!

“Religion always leads to rhetorical despotism.

It shields evil behind walls of self-righteousness which are proof against all arguments against the evil.”

– Leto II

God Emperor of Dune

As for the oppressed people themselves…

They will endure more suffering if they believe it is God’s Will than they would ever stand for if they thought it a mere man’s will!

And, standing up to a God takes a lot more courage, too…

Of course, some religions add the element of ‘eternal soul’:  suffering on this Earth is good, because it will buy you everlasting bliss in the next, much longer life-after-life!  Of course, there is a stick behind  this proverbial carrot, too:  even if you get away with rebelling against God on THIS world, He’ll torture your soul for eternity in such horrible ways that only a God could imagine, so you had better not dare make trouble!

Others add the ‘collective punishment’ clause:  unless everyone does ‘the right thing’, all of humanity will suffer!   People will put up with much abuse, if they think they are buying protection for their loved ones…

Sometimes, the theocratic tyrants actually prey victim to their own propaganda and believe, truly believe, their own lies and religions!  Because they remain convinced of their own righteousness, they will remain blind to the worst evils they commit!

Just ask the people of Iran…  They rose up against a ‘simple tyrant’ only to have a theocratic one fly in from Paris and steal their freedoms away from them!

What a sad day…

Pat Condell: when the truth is illegal….