You, Me, and Them

Being that I live in a sewer and am known for my lack of hygiene, I don’t often get out to the movies and they won’t install cable for me. However, I have subscribed to Netflix, so I can see movies and television shows, although they’re what you used to call “reruns”.

As I watch the political goings on, I am struck by the mob mentality. Mob might be a bit strong, but I believe someone once called it group-think. The phenomenon is that members of a group tend to surrender their individuality in order to fit in. Instead of using critical thinking and logic, they go with the prevailing opinion of the group.

The reason I mentioned Netflix is because I can’t say it better than how it was explained in Men in Black:

J: People are smart.

K: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.

No Place Like Home

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If you ever read about me you know that history claims that I lived in either a sewer or a large pot. Trust me, it was a sewer. If you live in a large pot, before too long, it becomes a sewer.

However, that was my choice. After all, I was a legitimate and, in fact, esteemed philosopher. I am credited with being a major force in developing the philosophical discipline known as cynicism. Me, being a cynic, suspect that you don’t believe that.

Observing events in your time, I must admit it adds great credence to the importance of the cynical philosophy. In fact, while every age needs a certain amount of healthy cynicism, your age will never be cynical enough.

But I digress.

I was thinking, after seeing political, social, and religious interactions over the past decade, how I am perfectly adapted to live in this time. If I had lived in your here and now, I would have readily eschewed my desire to find an honest man. It was a fool’s errand in my time, and today, um, well . . . .

Today, it is often not the person with a powerful title who has power; the power is frequently wielded by those who whisper in the leader’s ear–those once called the powers behind the throne.And, indeed, a throne it is.

If I lived in this day and age I could . . . .

No. Never mind.

I miss my sewer.

Latest Poles (Sorry, I meant Polls)

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The news is abuzz with the latest polls. A word of advice from Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) is appropriate. He told us, “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

At best, polls are lumped into statistics, although I believe they are somewhere between “Pipe dream” (as in, “Wow man, I can see it too! Far out!) and “Hallucination.”

Today the polls are not reporting the national standing of the candidates , but instead they are reporting on the first two states that will sorta, kinda have the first sorta, kinda primaries. Let’s put this into perspective.

Iowa has a caucus (February 3, 2020), which is different than a primary. It’s more like a block party than a political event.

New Hampshire, has the first actual primary (February 11, 2020).

The spotlight is tightly focused on these powerhouse states.

Just to put things into perspective–there are 538 votes in the electoral college.
Iowa’s power block? Six.
New Hampshire’s share? Four.

Between these two key states, together they represent not-quite two percent of the votes that actually are counted in a presidential election.

However, focusing on those two states definitely helps to sell television advertisements.

 

When Is a Fact Not a Fact?

There are people who perceive facts and act accordingly and there are people who do not accept facts. Instead, they ignore facts and believe(?) that by repeating a falsehood over and over, it becomes real.

They do nothing material to change reality. They don’t invent, they don’t discover, they just pretend a blatant fallacy is factual.

Gravity is a fact. No matter how much I want to fly without mechanical assistance and no matter how many times I say “There is no gravity,” it does not change the effect of gravity by a single Planck–the smallest measurement of energy.

Society has learned how to orbit the earth, it has invented computers that can do millions of calculations per second AND fits in your pocket, and it has cured many formerly fatal diseases and injuries. All of these successes were built on facts.

Nevertheless, some people are happier with their preconceived notions, even when the facts are clear.

Centuries upon Centuries

I’ve spoken. I’ve written. I’ve done what you would call “performance art.” All this has taken centuries.

Let me put that in perspective. Your father’s birth to your death might be around a century. Now multiply that by 20 or 30. Got it? Good.

I resorted to walking around in daylight carrying a lighted lamp claiming to be looking for an honest man. THAT is how desperate I was and am for exposing the truth. However, sooner or later, when one is not successful, it is wise to give up and seek another course.

I’ve been writing here (wherever here is) for over a year. Being dead, I do not have Twitter, Facebook, or whatever, nor do I want them. I have always fallen victim to the belief that people would seek the truth; if I were a video game, that might be true.

Bottom Line: If you want me to keep writing, do what you can to get others to follow this blog. If there aren’t sufficient people interested in what I have to say by the Autumn Equinox, I will cease writing and take my efforts elsewhere.

If few respond, then I must believe that people prefer the sensational and inconsequential to the truth.

The ball–as you say–is in your court. I’ll be napping in my sewer (look it up if you don’t believe me).

Politics Explained

I swear, I never get any peace and quiet. It had been a long day, walking through town with my lamp lit, telling anyone foolish enough to ask why that, “I’m searching for an honest man.” What a load of rubbish–but they continue to buy it.

Eventually, I made my way home to my sewer, crawled in, tuned out the cockroaches and rats, and closed my eyes. Immediately, some ignoramus (assuming that he was in fact, ignorant, rather than stupid) shook me and demanded an answer to his question.

“What is politics?” he asked.

I stared at him with the best malevolent look I could muster. He was undeterred. When I realized that my scowl would not get rid of him, I figured that the next best way was to give him some cryptic answer. Perhaps then he’d leave.

“Do you believe politics is more like chess or poker?” I asked him. He stammered and admitted that he did not know.

“It’s like both,” I told him. “It’s a long range game, but a long range game in which bluffing and cheating are not only allowed, but encouraged.”

He looked more puzzled as he walked away than he had when he had approached.

He’ll never understand politics.

I understand politics, so I went back to sleep.

Us, Them, and Me

“I” am powerful. “We” are dangerous.

If someone has an agenda, such as a politician or an actor, the worst way to build a following would be to sit  down, one-on-one with another individual and lay out the idea in a logical format. Why? The listener would examine the proposal, critically evaluate its merits and reach a logical conclusion as to its intellectual merit.

On the other hand, if the proponent presents the idea to a group–the larger the better–inevitably there will be some who agree with it. When these people express their support through cheers or chants, more will pick up the emotion and join in. Eventually, few will be silent.

Unfortunately, one of the easiest emotions to stir up in people is irrational hate.

The same people who had welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem, turned up at his illegal overnight kangaroo court with cries of “Crucify Him!”

In America, there has often been the idea, spoken loudly, that, “The only good [Insert group here] is a dead [and here].”

My advice to you is “Never let go of yourself. The individual is better equipped to make decisions than any group.”

In George Orwell’s novel 1984 he spoke of “groupthink,” in which all, or at least most, of the members of a group accept an idea because the group does, not because they have made a conscious and deliberate decision that it is what they believe. There is another term for this–mob mentality.

Perhaps the idea is best expressed in the movie Men in Black: 

Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Everything they’ve ever “known” has been proven to be wrong. A thousand years ago everybody knew as a fact, that the earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on it. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.