Archive for the ‘Self-Development’ Category

My response to Penn Jillette, Libertarians and compassion…

March 16, 2012

I happened to see a quote on Facebook from an article by Penn Jillette on CNN Opinion. In it he made the following statement:

It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.
People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we’re compassionate we’ll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.

It resonated with me as something an Ayn Rand acolyte might say. So, here’s the response I left on my friend’s Facebook post (with edits and corrections):

Wow! Penn sounds like an Ayn Rand acolyte. I sure am glad these kinds of ideas are not mainstream, at least not today. Perhaps if enough people like Penn educate enough children who become adults and choose to take care of themselves and all those around them who are less “gifted” or explicitly disabled, then and ONLY then would what he (and Rand) is saying might work.

Contribution, either chosen, obligated or forced, has been the story of man since long and deep into is tribal ancestory. The idea that there is now enough excess capacity such that individualism is even possible to hold socially and psychologically is a testament to the previous systems’ ability to elevate homo-sapien’s survival.

Luckily, the very thing that psychologically drives Penn (and Rand) is the very thing that diminishes their ability to generate and sustain social cohesion to the point of their being politically irrelevant. There’s an equilibrium between socialism and individualism. Slide too much to either end of that spectrum and one becomes psychologically incongruent and dysfunctional. I don’t know about Penn, but Rand was clearly at the dysfunctional control-freak end of the individualism end of the spectrum.

Penn gets to say what he says only because so many people before him fought to survive so that he now floats in the excess resource capacity to say it without ever having to directly experience the full consequences of his assertions. I’m glad he’s an entertainer. It’s provides the most elegant ironic background to his “serious philosophical statement”. {smirk}

I find his “moral credit” and “joy” assertions are arrogant. He can assert those values for himself. However, who is he to claim they are universal values and then claim the “proper way to evaluate” both morally and joyfully. What a tool.

Interesting piece on personal health and western medicine…

December 3, 2011

I really liked how this guy so completely identifies how modern western medicine has a very reactive “wait until they get sick” mentality over an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of tests and pharmaceutical products”:

http://www.aquatic-ape-diet.com/blog/2011/12/02/critiquing-the-lesswrong-mineral-supplementation-5000-contest/

Here’s a copy of the comment I left on his blog  just now (third from the top):

Tyvm for writing about your experiments and observations with a skeptical and critical tone of science and medicine status-quo. I appreciate your candor and assertiveness, although they have a slight ring of defensive superiority (which I don’t entirely understand).

That said, ultimately there are very few who are trained effectively in the scientific method, much less deeply understand it. Secondly, and to your point, you cannot really use those methods effectively when researching specific causes and causal chains in dynamic complex systems (i.e. chaotic systems) such as human biology (which is an attempted “subset” of the much larger organisms picture).

And since people have to make decisions today with limited information (not evidence…most people never get close to evidence…they read other peoples supposed interactions and observations and second hand elevate those via the labels “facts” and “evidence”), they want to do so with confidence and with deferred responsibility. That sets up the general mentality of avoiding self-experimentation and replying on “science” and “medical” experts to give them the confidence while the experts also take on implicitly the responsibility for all negative outcomes.

This simple psychological self-referential loop is what has caused so much of the “wait until they get sick” mentality of most of western medicine. And given the profit motive is so strong in the scientists and medical researchers and practicianers, and given the government force of the major agencies combined with the government encouraged and enforced monopolies of patent, copyright and trademarks, it’s a self sustaining self-deluding self-denial cycle that has no foreseeable resolution.

I feel very grateful that I have been able to see this and step away from it. And then re-enter on my own terms and with my taking complete and total responsibility for my health. My doctor does not prescribe, he consults with me. I make the choice to submit to the tests, to fill and take the prescription, to return if/when I decide. I don’t know of very many people who choose this balance. Most either completely submit to the “expert system” of scientists and physicians, or completely avoid the system all together. For me, both are extreme and result in avoidable undesirable outcomes.

Again, thank you for sharing from your own N=1 experimental perspective. I value your sharing very deeply.

ERROR: Failure to be consistent in commitment to blog once a week…

January 22, 2011

ARGH! I failed to post here once a week like I had committed to back in October. I don’t like failing. So, I am reluctant to make a new commitment. However, it’s strange how making a public commitment generates a form of accountability that isn’t the same when I just make the commitment to myself (especially internally and unspoken).

So much has happened on so many fronts in the last 3 months. The biggest was the holidays, of course. And then my recent move. Anyway, excuses aside and uncommitment commitments aside, I will write here as the fancy strikes.

Keeping my commitment (to myself)…

August 29, 2010

Well, it’s Saturday night at ten to midnight. And I have not posted anything this week. My commitment I have made is that I must make at least one post here between each Sunday morning at 12:00am and the following Saturday night by 11:59pm. I’m cutting it quite close to the line, huh?! 🙂

I have lots about which to write. I just didn’t manage my time well enough today to make a salient post. I’m sensing I will more than make up for it this coming week. Especially in and around my new PS3 toy, the EagleEye.

More later…