RE: Freedom and Responsibility (was: Re: [humanism-174] Science and Theories)

From: Marni T.
Sent on: Wednesday, August 15, 2007 12:16 AM
Anyway, Ken,
Since I write in plainspeak I may use exaggerations to make a point, whereas
someone more analytical would choose their words more carefully. Basically
you said here, in so many words, what I was trying to say:

       
I'd agree that there's only the
gentlest of correlations between a person's educational level and
logical abilities...

So I'm cool. You're cool. It's cool. All is cool. But W IS an idiot.

Mark
       

-----Original Message-----
From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of
Marni Tiborsky
Sent: Tuesday, August 14,[masked]:10 PM
To: [address removed]
Subject: RE: Freedom and Responsibility (was: Re: [humanism-174] Science and
Theories)

Ken, 
I'm not much into semantics when it comes to a commonplace term like
"idiot". I would define "idiot" as a person who repeatedly does stupid or
foolish things. For instance, the guy who was speeding and swerved around me
to blow through a red light this morning, for the purpose of arriving at
wherever he was going 45 seconds faster, is most likely an IDIOT. Behavior
like this would also show me illogical reasoning, in the everyday sense, not
in the scientific sense. I'll elaborate later, gotta go!
Mark

-----Original Message-----
From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of
ken
Sent: Tuesday, August 14,[masked]:42 AM
To: [address removed]
Subject: Freedom and Responsibility (was: Re: [humanism-174] Science and
Theories)


Mark,

You must be overstating what I said, because I don't recognize my words
in your reference.  If you want to accuse me of something or disagree
with something I allegedly said-- or with anyone else for that matter--,
please include my/their statement along with sufficient context.  Email
allows this to be done quite easily.

Wasn't W's daddy Director of the CIA while W was getting his MBA?  From
a couple interviews with W's profs I gather that they didn't consider
him even an average student.  He got his degree nonetheless.  Should we
be surprised?  W's an exceptional case in many ways, so also not a good
example... in many ways.

BTW, a counter-example doesn't disprove a general statement; a general
statement, because it is a generality, already admits of exceptions.

Having said all of that, though I've never met and never heard of a
literal idiot having a Master's degree (unless you're referring to
"idiot" in the original sense*), I'd agree that there's only the
gentlest of correlations between a person's educational level and
logical abilities... which is (another reason) why I don't recognize my
words in your reference to them.

Moreover, it should be obvious, Mark, that I wasn't attacking you or
anyone else who doesn't have a master's degree.  (And I still don't know
what you're talking about... makes it hard to address your point, if it
turns out there is one.)  Nor was I actually making a personal attack on
Todd.  Todd made an assertion about how great his knowledge was:

>> Ken, I probably know more about Communism than most people, so don't
>> try to downtalk my knowledge about different political views.

I was addressing that assertion.  Todd brought the subject of his
expertise into the discussion.  Am I then not permitted to address that
assertion?  Is it really a personal attack to address it?  If it is and
I'm not, then here's a few brief scenarios to consider:

We get a new member.  Let's just call him Joseph McCarthy... or Joey for
short.  Joey makes the claim: "I know everything about everything."
Joey then makes some ridiculous claim.  Since he knows everything about
everything, it must be true.  And we can't really query him to find out
whether he actually knows everything about everything, because that
would be a personal attack.

To bolster his assertion that he knows everything about everything, Joey
volunteers that he has access to a huge, secret file, one which he and a
few others (but not us regular people) are allowed access to.  Do Joey's
claims now have more credibility?  Are we in a better position to
question his claims?

Let's say that instead of a secret file about everything, Joey has
conversations with God.  Since God knows everything and will even look
stuff up for Joey, this is even better than a secret file.  Can we ask
Joey about his conversations with God?  'Fraid not.  These are personal
and Joey gets sensitive.  We just have to accept that everything Joey
says is true, regardless of the claims Joey makes.  Is this better or
worse for us than Joey's having a secret file?

So my intentions won't be falsely divined, let me say that I'm *not*
saying that Todd is Joey.  Joey is a different character, created for
the purpose of illustrating some relevant logic and a couple other
problems.  Originally I was going to explain these, but now I'm curious.
 Does anyone here see the logical fallacy common to the three scenarios
and to Todd's statement?  In these there's two other major problems.
Can anyone see what these are?


A Bit of the Personal

Quite a while ago, in my first career, I worked for years with
emotionally disturbed and mentally retarded kids (boys) at a couple
different institutions.  (It was probably the economics that tossed
these two different categories of kids into the same ward.)  Not only
did this provide a lot of contact with-- let's say "alternate mindsets,"
but in addition the counselors were required to write up weekly
evaluations of each kid under our care... so we were obligated to think
about and make assessments of each kid and commit these assessments to
pen and paper. Our evaluations were reviewed by others up the ladder,
including the institution's head psychiatrist and its foot psychiatrist.
 (Sorry... had to throw that in. :)  I don't know what it was... maybe I
just put some thought into mine and others didn't, or maybe I studied
(psychology) harder than the other counselors or somehow learned or
retained more, but my boss came up to me more than once to tell me that
the head psychiatrist really liked my evaluations.  Since she was a
couple steps up the ladder from my boss, it was also significant that it
actually filtered down to me.

I mention this personal account because it shows not only that I've
studied human behavior a bit and have professional experience, but also
that someone with a lot more education and experience in the field
valued my weekly reports.

One word I never used in my evaluations was "incoherent"-- this because
none of these kids ever was incoherent.  They lied and stole and got mad
and fought and screamed, but none of them was ever incoherent, even
though some were on medication and some who were supposed to be had
found ways to secretly avoid it.  Even when they lied, their lies were
consistent... i.e., the stories they told and/or the facts they related
were plausible and fit together seamlessly without incongruities or
leaps of reasoning.  And these were kids who weren't allowed to have
paper matches.  I wonder now how it is that so many of these kids, every
one of them coherent thinkers, were locked up while at the same time
there's so many incoherent thinkers walking the streets.

Years later, while studying philosophy, I had a class covering theories
of truth.  Two main and largely competing theories were the
correspondence theory and the coherence theory.  So of course we spent a
lot of time--weeks-- reading and talking and writing about each of them.
 I'm not going into details about either.  If anyone's interested in
finding out more about these, there's a lot of books and research papers
about them and probably a bit on the web as well.  One point we can draw
without going into too many details is that, even should coherence not
be *the* determinant of a statement's truth value (to use terms of the
art), it does at least play a major and necessary role in truth
(otherwise thousands of Ph.D. philosophers would not have spent and
still today be spending large segments of the lives on it).

So given the above, I'd say I'm quite familiar with and aware of the
coherence of an argument someone might put forth... or its incoherence.
 Nor would I use the lightly or inappropriately.  In short, if I make
the assessment that someone's argument is incoherent, there's quite a
bit of authority behind it and any reasonable person should believe me.
 Anyone care to refute this?


* The word "idiot" comes from the Latin "id", meaning "self" and
originally referred to a person who, rather than having the interests of
the community at heart, much more sought to embellish or enrich
him/herself.  While it's a shame that the word's lost this sense (we
need a word with that meaning these days), it's heartening to think that
at some point in history prior to the transition of the word's meaning,
that people identified self-interest with stupidity.


Closing

Finally, if this group is going to become just a place for everyone to
state their opinions and nothing gets challenged, then we should change
the name to the Free Opinionators... or maybe the Free and Irresponsible
Thinkers.  As Victor Frankel noted, freedom doesn't come without
responsibility; they're two sides to the same coin.  This applies to
what we do, what we say, and, yes, even to what we think.  If we decide
that we don't want to be responsible for what we say here, or what we
think, then this group really doesn't have much value, not for me
anyway.  Sure, everyone's got and is entitled to their own opinions.
But I can get my fill of opinions and unsupported statements every day
off the mainstream media and plenty of other sources.  I don't really
need any more of that.  More importantly, knowing that freedom and
responsibility are inextricably bound together, it would be bad faith,
existentially speaking, to participate in irresponsibility.


On 08/13/[masked]:00 PM somebody named Marni Tiborsky wrote:
> boys... Boys!... BOYS!!!!
> We're supposed to be making friends here. Both of you are perilously close
> to personal attacks, which should be a no-no. At the risk of sounding like
a
> condescending Father Hen, I'm going to speak frankly:
> 
> Todd, it is clear that you are VERY sensitive about your religious
beliefs.
> Marni started the Cleveland Humanism meetup back in March with the idea
that
> this would be a sort of refuge for non-believers and skeptics. It will
> continue to be as such. At my urging, Marni tried to broaden our horizons
a
> bit by changing our name, and by inviting "Freethinking Theists" to join
in
> our discussions. Maybe that wasn't the best idea... I fear that more
> non-believers & skeptics will leave the group, because it's not what they
> thought it would be. I'm NOT trying to push anyone out, but you may be
> better served to form your own group, maybe "the Cleveland Political
> Freethinkers", or something similar. You might not have to twist Marni's
and
> my arms to sign up for that!
>  
> Ken, I take some offense at your insinuation that how logical one is is
> based on their level of education. I myself have only a high school
> education, and have worked a blue-collar job for 25 years. You know as
well
> as I that there are plenty of IDIOTS with Master's degrees. Exhibit A: our
> government!
>  
> Please try to be civil, you guys.
>  
> Thanks,
> Mark
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf
Of
> ken
> Sent: Monday, August 13,[masked]:16 PM
> To: [address removed]
> Subject: Re: [humanism-174] Science and Theories
> 
> 
> Todd,
> 
> You've only confirmed my previous statement.  If the Manifesto is the
> only thing you've read by Marx, you don't know squat.  And the fact that
> you think that having read the Manifesto enlightens you at all about
> what communism is further confirms that you don't know squat about it.
> You might as well say that you understand medicine because you had a
> headache once and took an aspirin.
> 
> If you want to show you have even a rudimentary understanding of
> communism, explain and contrast the varying roles of excess value in
> four economic systems.  I'll be waiting.
> 
> The US has a heavily graduated income tax...?  Wow, you're smart.  Tell
> us more, Dr. Science.
> 
> 
> On 08/13/[masked]:18 PM somebody named Todd Maher wrote:
>> Ken, I probably know more about Communism than most people, so don't try
>> to downtalk my knowledge about different political views. One of the
>> first plank of the Communist Manifesto by Marx is a heavily graduated
>> income tax. We currently have that. If you haven't read the Manifesto
>> yet, I encourage you to do so. Then, you might have more credibility
>> when telling people what they do and don't know.
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: ken <[address removed]>
>>> Sent: Aug 13,[masked]:41 AM
>>> To: [address removed]
>>> Subject: Re: [humanism-174] Science and Theories
>>>
>>>
>>> In my (half tongue-in-cheek) suggestion I was not saying that we should
>>> do away with taxes.  You'd still have to pay taxes, but everyone would
>>> be offered an annual selection of what their tax money would be spent
>>> on.  And the separation of church and state would still apply, so you
>>> couldn't designate your tax money to your particular church or religion
>>> or to a religious school.
>>>
>>> So I'm not saying that you would pay no taxes.  Relying solely on
>>> people's generosity doesn't work.  If it did, we wouldn't have all the
>>> hungry and homeless and people without healthcare that we do now, would
> we?
>>> Also, you don't understand what communism means and so shouldn't use the
>>> term.
>>>
>>>
>>> On 08/13/[masked]:20 AM somebody named Todd Maher wrote:
>>>> Ken, I love this email below that you sent. The IRS used to work like
> that before it was the IRS. It was called private donation and conscience.
> If we abolished the Communist IRS, our nation would be leaps and bounds
> ahead with prosperity.
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>>­ From: ken <[address removed]>
>>>>>­ Sent: Aug 12,[masked]:12 AM
>>>>>­ To: [address removed]
>>>>>­ Subject: Re: [humanism-174] Science and Theories
>>>>>­
>>>>>­
>>>>>­ I'd love it if taxes worked that way, you only pay for what you want.
>>>>>­ Maybe we should have the IRS alter our 1040s so that we can check off
>>>>>­ what we will and won't fund.  I'd reduce the military by about 80%
> first
>>>>>­ of all and the spying on Americans by at least that amount.  I'd
>>>>>­ increase spending on the CPB, food testing, and education ten-fold.
> I'd
>>>>>­ allocate enough money to national healthcare to make it free for all
>>>>>­ citizens.  Social Security would be increased so that retirees are
>>>>>­ guaranteed twice the poverty level.  Less money for highways, much
more
>>>>>­ for public transportation.  No corporate subsidies, except for
>>>>>­ decentralized green energy.  That would be a good start.
>>>>>­
>>>>>­ On 08/12/[masked]:45 AM somebody named Todd Maher wrote:
>>>>>­> You bring up some good points, Maude, once again. I don't want my
> money
>>>>>­> funding something that I may not want it spent on. It's my right,
>>>>>­> because it's my money. I believe in vouchers, because no one should
>>>>>­> force me to go to school somewhere that I have to fund. I'd rather
> give
>>>>>­> my money to a reasonable school.
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>     -----Original Message-----
>>>>>­>     From: Maude
>>>>>­>     Sent: Aug 12,[masked]:25 AM
>>>>>­>     To: [address removed]
>>>>>­>     Subject: Re: [humanism-174] Science and Theories
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>     Ok, well how's this for you: I own a house. I pay property taxes.
> I
>>>>>­>     have no children and plan none. My property taxes fund my public
>>>>>­>     school district which I do not use. And if I had children, they
>>>>>­>     wouldn't be using my public school district because it is not
> known
>>>>>­>     for it's educational superiority. If I lived in the
>>>>>­>     Brecksville/broadvie­w system of the Shaker district, I would
> gladly
>>>>>­>     have my kids go to public school.
>>>>>­>      
>>>>>­>     So basically, I don't really give a flying fig what is taught in
>>>>>­>     public school personally. I only care because I have to pay to
>>>>>­>     educate children who are not mine who I don't care what their
>>>>>­>     parents would like them to believe versus what is taught in my
>>>>>­>     school district, and who might some day run the damn country. I
> also
>>>>>­>     have a marginal concern in that my property value can go way up
or
>>>>>­>     way down depending on the quality  of the attached public school
>>>>>­>     district-good schools-more people want to live here and buy my
>>>>>­>     house-I can list my house higher.
>>>>>­>      
>>>>>­>     My mom was a high school guidance counselor, and before that, a
> high
>>>>>­>     school lit. teacher in Cleveland schools. Therefore, she did not
>>>>>­>     send me to public school. She said if we lived in a decent
> district
>>>>>­>     she would have but she couldn't afford a house in the best school
>>>>>­>     districts in the county so.....I went to private catholic school.
>>>>>­>     The "catholic" part was an aside. The quality of education
> including
>>>>>­>     the "learning philosophy and the ability to question values" was
a
>>>>>­>     primary concern of hers. It just so happened, that economically,
> it
>>>>>­>     worked out best for her as a single mom to pay the private school
>>>>>­>     tuition and the mortgage on a house in a suburb with a
substandard
>>>>>­>     school district. Period.
>>>>>­>      
>>>>>­>     Oh yes and there were no such things as "vouchers:" then, which
is
> a
>>>>>­>     system I vehemently oppose. With all the property tax money going
>>>>>­>     into schools, including property tax money from people who never
> use
>>>>>­>     the schools (like me), one would think the school district in
>>>>>­>     question could devise some sort of decent schooling.
>>>>>­>      
>>>>>­>     As far as I am concerned, no, I do not think creationism should
be
>>>>>­>     taught in the school district which I am paying nearly $4K in
>>>>>­>     property taxes every year to support (we have the highest
property
>>>>>­>     taxes in the county in P. Hts. and I do understand that only a
>>>>>­>     portion goes to the schools and believe me-i vote against every
>>>>>­>     school levy! I mean seriously, $4K for a 60-foot frontage is
> pretty
>>>>>­>     huge.)
>>>>>­>      
>>>>>­>     But on the other hand, if tons of other people paying those same
>>>>>­>     huge property taxes want to send their children (which I have
none
>>>>>­>     of) to a school that teaches creationism as part of a science
> class
>>>>>­>     that includes evolution because it is science, well good for
them.
>>>>>­>     If I were poor and had kids, I would send them to my local school
>>>>>­>     and simply have conversations with them about how my views oppose
>>>>>­>     creationism and tell them that they will have to make their own
> mind
>>>>>­>     up-i'm not into controlling anyone's thought.
>>>>>­>      
>>>>>­>     So, how about "vouchers" or something for all of us property
> owners
>>>>>­>     who have deemed that the state of the local school district is
>>>>>­>     detrimental to our property value? How about vouchers for all the
>>>>>­>     property owners who pay but never use the attached school
> district?
>>>>>­>     I mean, fair is fair. I pay and pay for something I have never
> used
>>>>>­>     and will never use.
>>>>>­>      
>>>>>­>      
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>
> --------------------­--------------------­--------------------­------------
>>>>>­>     Get a sneak peek of the all-new AOL.com
>>>>>­>
> <http://discover.a...;­.
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>     --
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>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­> Chair, Lake County Libertarian Party
>>>>>­> Asst. Organizer, Cleveland Ron Paul 2008 Meetup
>>>>>­>[masked]
>>>>>­>[masked]
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­> "In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave,
> and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for
then
> it costs nothing to be a patriot."   -Mark Twain, 1904
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­> ____________________­____________________­
>>>>>­> PeoplePC Online
>>>>>­> A better way to Internet
>>>>>­> http://www.people...­
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>
>>>>>­>
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>>>>>­> This message was sent by Todd Maher ([address removed]) from
The
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>>>>>­> <http://humanism.m...;­
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>>>> Chair, Lake County Libertarian Party
>>>> Asst. Organizer, Cleveland Ron Paul 2008 Meetup
>>>>[mas­ked]
>>>>[mas­ked]
>>>>
>>>> "In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave,
> and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for
then
> it costs nothing to be a patriot."   -Mark Twain, 1904
>>>>
>>>> ____________________­____________________­
>>>> PeoplePC Online
>>>> A better way to Internet
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> Cleveland Freethinkers.
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>>
>> Chair, Lake County Libertarian Party
>> Asst. Organizer, Cleveland Ron Paul 2008 Meetup
>>[masked]
>>[masked]
>>
>> "In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and
> hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then
it
> costs nothing to be a patriot."   -Mark Twain, 1904
>>
>> ____________________­____________________­
>> PeoplePC Online
>> A better way to Internet
>> http://www.people...­
>>
>>
>>
>> --
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> this mailing list ([address removed])
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> Cleveland Freethinkers.
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> 
> 
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