TWH, 5/18/16: The Argument for Revolution

A revolution in the United States is inevitable. Why? Because we make our own reality, and our reality is controlled by those who indoctrinate us to believe whatever the ruling class wants us to believe. Science? Facts? We distort both to conform to our indoctrinated reality. And, perhaps more crucially, the more educated we are, the more we distort reality to conform to our beliefs!
First, these studies:

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government
Abstract:
Why does public conflict over societal risks persist in the face of compelling and widely accessible scientific evidence? We conducted an experiment to probe two alternative answers: the “Science Comprehension Thesis” (SCT), which identifies defects in the public’s knowledge and reasoning capacities as the source of such controversies; and the “Identity-protective Cognition Thesis” (ICT), which treats cultural conflict as disabling the faculties that members of the public use to make sense of decision relevant science. In our experiment, we presented subjects with a difficult problem that turned on their ability to draw valid causal inferences from empirical data. As expected, subjects highest in Numeracy—a measure of the ability and disposition to make use of quantitative information—did substantially better than less numerate ones when the data were presented as results from a study of a new skin-rash treatment. Also as expected, subjects’ responses became politically polarized—and even less accurate—when the same data were presented as results from the study of a gun-control ban. But contrary to the prediction of SCT, such polarization did not abate among subjects highest in Numeracy; instead, it increased. This outcome supported ICT, which predicted that more Numerate subjects would use their quantitative reasoning capacity selectively to conform their interpretation of the data to the result most consistent with their political outlooks. We discuss the theoretical and practical significance of these findings.

Kahan, Dan M. and Peters, Ellen and Dawson, Erica Cantrell and Slovic, Paul, Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government (September 3, 2013). Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 307. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2319992 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2319992

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens
[T]he preferences of economic elites (as measured by our proxy, the preferences of “affluent” citizens) have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do. To be sure, this does not mean that ordinary citizens always lose out; they fairly often get the policies they favor, but only because those policies happen also to be preferred by the economically-elite citizens who wield the actual influence.
(Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page; American Political Science Association 2014.)

So, we live in an oligarchy. The oligarchy influences public opinion so that we favor what they want.
We are given choices in elections – choices between social ‘liberals’ and social ‘conservatives’. But never a choice for someone who would challenge the Oligarchy.
As this article is being written, Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee. Hillary is the presumptive nominee. Sanders has not given up, and may yet garner more pledged delegates than Hillary, but even if he does, it appears that superdelegates will hand the nomination to Hillary – already she has appointed about 70 of the 75 committee members and chairs for the upcoming Democratic National Committee.
Both Trump and Hillary will advance the fortunes of the Oligarchy. Sanders will not. We will likely be faced with the choice between a Fascist and an Oligarchist. Sanders’ supporters will be left out in the cold.

But how did we get here? Indoctrination.
Decades of “christian” private schools and homeschooling have indoctrinated a substantial portion of the populace to believe the very messages Trump espouses. Textbooks published by the Bob Jones University Press puts the imprimatur of God giving His Blessings on social and economic policies that benefit the very rich. Thus indoctrinated, these students become incapable of recognizing facts, of recognizing any reality, that conflicts with their indoctrination. Trump has tapped into these voters. They will not be dissuaded by any argument, any fact, any reasoning. And they are ready to take up arms if they do not get their way.
But what about the majority of us that were educated in public schools? You mean, public schools, that for decades have had their textbooks vetted by the Texas Board of Education? We’ve been indoctrinated too. Indoctrinated into a white-washed version of history.
Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

Both private school and public school students don’t know history. But there is one major difference. Public schools teach history – names, dates, places. But they don’t teach the lessons of history. They don’t teach the ‘why did this happen’ and they don’t teach the moral lessons that we can draw from history. Private schools do, but their ‘moral’ lessons all point towards acquiescence to the policies that favor the ruling class.
The nation is primed for a charismatic leader, be it a Hitler or a Ghandi. Trump, by all measures, is another Hitler. Sanders is the closest thing to another Ghandi. Hillary is, neither. She is the face of the Oligarchy – the face of Big Brother. The Oligarchy won’t let Sanders have a chance – they are content with either Trump or Hillary.
But given a choice between Trump and Hillary, the inevitable outcome is revolution.

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The Watering Hole, Tuesday, April 19, 2016:

Political Genetics

gene

[jēn]

 

NOUN

  1. (in informal use) a unit of heredity that is transferred from a parent to offspring and is held to determine some characteristic of the offspring:

    “proteins coded directly by genes”

    • (in technical use) a distinct sequence of nucleotides forming part of a chromosome, the order of which determines the order of monomers in a polypeptide or nucleic acid molecule which a cell (or virus) may synthesize.
Powered by Oxford Dictionaries · © Oxford University Press ·

 

I never knew this until recently, but a grain of rice has more genes (50,000) than humans (about 25,000). You would think a more advanced creature like us would have more, but scientists theorize that rice has been around longer, and had had to make more adaptations, thus creating more genes. An organism can never reduce its number of genes, but they can be added over time but the influence of environmental factors. Genetically the two fish below are brown trout. The first one has evolved in the environment of northern Europe.

The second has evolved in Italy.

There are many more isolated populations with color morphs more drastic, but they are all salmo trutta. The color morphs reflect the effect local environments have on the species. When they reproduce in the isolated rivers where the morphs are distinctly different, the offspring resemble the immediate parentage, that is to say they are evolving in to a very different sub-species.

Can the same be said to be true for humans political evolution? Has our species had enough time in the environment of democracy to take on unique characteristics? The politics of Iceland, or Sweden seem so very different from Italy or the US. In politics, as in the animal world, do superior traits win out? Or asked this way, will the US ever get to the point of being close to the Nordic countries? Are they on a different evolutionary path?

Open thread.

The Watering Hole; Thursday March 10 2016; “Religious Liberty”(?)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .
Bill of Rights, Article I.

The so-called ‘Establishment Clause’ of the Constitution’s First Amendment seems, to minds unburdened by doctrinaire religion, to disallow the government from either aiding or prohibiting the free exercise of any religion. Period. Religious bias, pro and/or con, is not an option. And while it’s true that the (oft-cited/criticized) ‘Separation of Church and State’ words are not used anywhere in the Constitution, the words make no law are crystal clear in meaning. It does seem, however, that the words free exercise inspire, in some, thoughts and attitudes which, to the rational mind, are in complete conflict with the Constitution’s stated “hands off” premise in re religion.

Recently, for example, (retired) Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin addressed an event sponsored by Liberty Counsel and the Freedom Federation wherein he went to some length to elaborate his views regarding the Constitution’s stated and presumably implicit positions in re his own religious biases. Boykin claims, for example (highlights mine), that the Founders must have understood there to be a major difference between “worship” and “religion” and the “freedom(s)” therein implicit, when he says:

Folks, if you accept the concept of freedom of worship you are going down a dangerous path. They [Founders] didn’t just give us freedom of worship, they gave us freedom of religion. What they said was you can believe what you want to believe, and you can live your faith.

In other words, to Boykin’s mind the difference is clear: freedom of worship imposes limits that freedom of religion does not. Freedom of religion apparently permits believers to do whatever they perceive their religion demands, even when doing so requires discrimination against those who believe differently. Freedom of worship, meanwhile, presumably denies to believers their ‘right’ to impose.

Boykin then continues to make his point:

Today, that constitutional freedom is in the greatest jeopardy of any of our constitutional liberties. It is the freedom of religion and it is based on a radical agenda to tell you that you can believe what you want to believe but you cannot live your faith in the public square. . . .

“If America accepts what Hitler forced the church in Germany to accept, which was freedom to worship, we’re going to wind up being just like Germany. We’re in the same situation today. We’re being told that we can have freedom of worship but we cannot have freedom of religion and we’re going to have to pay a price. . . . We’ve got to stand up to evil.”

Not sure I comprehend Boykin’s point. In his Nazi Germany ‘metaphor,’ is he suggesting that Jews were allowed the freedom of worship but not freedom of religion, i.e. “you can believe what you want to believe but you cannot live your faith in the public square” ergo the gas chambers and crematoria? Is Boykin implying that if he and others who share his religious beliefs are allowed only the freedom of worship and not the freedom of religion — the right to discriminate against others because religion allows — that death camps therefore await?

Seems like quite a reach. Boykin ignores the fact that the word “worship” is nowhere in the Constitution; that the words “freedom of” are found only in the ‘freedom of speech’ context of the first amendment; that the word “religion” is found solely in the Establishment Clause cited above, and that the word “religious” appears in one place only, in Article VI of the main body as “no religious Test shall ever be required . . .”; the words “religious liberty” are never used anywhere.

Speaking of “religious liberty,” Ted Cruz recently suggested that

“We are one liberal justice away from the Supreme Court ruling that government can take our religious liberty away and force every one of us to violate our faith on penalty of prison or fine.”

Cruz, supposedly a Constitutional lawyer, seems to presume that somewhere in that document is a guarantee of “religious liberty” that matches his opinion of what that might mean, but yet nowhere is there even a mention of the concept — with the possible exception of  the first amendment’s establishment clause closing phrase: prohibiting the free exercise thereof. But is it legally realistic to interpret those words to mean that believers of a particular religion have Constitutional permission, via the words free exercise . . . of religion in the first amendment’s Establishment Clause, to demand that everyone else submit to their beliefs because they believe that’s what their god instructs? Is the balance of the non-discriminatory and equality language in the Constitution as amended rendered meaningless by the concept of religion, by the free exercise thereof phrase? Do only the practitioners of a particular religion have absolute Constitutional rights?

Apparently not.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed
to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Bill of Rights, Article IX.

Seems clear to me, but then I’m not a retired Lt. General, not a constitutional lawyer, not a presidential candidate, not a religious zealot. Thank all gods (sotospeak).

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