Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Free Will and Fairy Dust

* from Joss Whedon's "Serenity"

A friend told me that believing in free will was like believing in magic fairy dust. He's a big B.F. Skinner fan. Skinner was the big behavioral psychology pioneer who firmly believed that all our "choices" were illusory and that we are merely the product of rewards, reinforcement, punishment and dysfunctional relationships with our Mums and Dads. He's very popular with progressive socialists because he along with Abraham Maslow and Freud provide the basis for socialism. That is, the belief that one can make people better from the outside - through things like laws, policing, propaganda and the inevitable liberal application of the gulag.

If there is, in fact, no such thing as free will, then it would logically follow that it would be impossible for me to change my mind and believe what my friend wants me to believe. That's because, since I have no free will, I have no mental mechanism that would allow me to change my mind of my own accord.

So then, it makes absolutely no sense for him to be telling me that the idea of free will is stupid. I'm not going to change my mind. In fact, by his own reasoning, I can't change my mind and suddenly believe what he wants me to believe in the first place. - at least not without a liberal application of rewards, reinforcement and punishment. I suppose that's what all the ridicule, sarcasm and nagging are about. Perhaps he thinks that will change my mind and induce me to follow the herd that he and his ilk are trying to assemble.

If, then, outside circumstances must be brought to bear to change my mind for me, I suppose he believes that he's is acting as the environmental stimulus that will force me to come round to a belief that he believes is more rational.  Of course, then he has the problem that he has no way of knowing whether or not what he believes is rational or the product of a miserable childhood, a bad bit of beef or an old potato to paraphrase that monument to the power of free will, Ebenezer Scrooge, and therefore, my friend and others who do not believe in free will, inevitably live down a rabbit hole where they have no choice about anything and from which there is no escape (to mix my 19th metaphorical literature). In fact, without free will, how is it even possible for me to ever choose to mix my 19th century metaphorical literature in the first place?

My career in therapeutic recreation relies on an experience called "flow" which, as it turns out, is a primary mechanism which makes people happy. Flow is that all-absorbing activity that tests your skills, gives you constant positive feedback and makes you totally loose track of time. Entering flow makes you feel happy and has all sorts of positive health benefits. One of the key factors required to enter the flow experience, however, is that the activity must be chosen by the individual of his own free will.

Flow doesn't happen when you are forced to do something against your will, no matter how much fun it might be to another person. The activity must be chosen by you. And therein lies the flaw in the idea that some elite group of smart people can somehow make everyone happy and content through the application of uniform external rewards, reinforcement and punishment. Happiness and contentment come from within, not from without as generations of miserable discontented rich people, who have everything stimulating they could want, could tell you.

The idea that such a thing as the socialist utopia can even exist, that is the magic fairy dust - designed by smart people and enforced by law though it may be. It won't work. Happiness comes from within and there's only one entity in this wide universe capable of changing the human heart from within.

It's not Marx, Skinner, Maslow or Barak Obama.  There's only One who can take a heart, battered by  bad experiences, evil parents and old potatoes and scrub it up and give it back to you with your free will, not only intact, but freed from any behavioral conditioning you might have picked up along the way. 

As He described the process, "The Truth shall set you free."

Thank God for that. Otherwise all we'd have to look forward to is everybody being sad, receiving bad food, bad healthcare, bad housing and bad jobs for the rest of our short and miserable lives. Uniformity does not ensure happiness, productivity, creativity or peace. The only thing the collective can give us is universal shared misery.


And, as Captain Reynolds so eloquently put it, "I do not hold to that." And I may have to misbehave.


Tom King
(c) 2015

 

Monday, August 24, 2015

How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Trumpster?

Trump - It's all about the power!
How can people be so angry and frustrated that they will seize on a huckster like Trump to pin their hopes for America upon? The man changes political parties every two or three years, he's personal friends with the Clintons (they came to his wedding), he's supported more Democrat candidates financially than you can shake a stick at and he's bilked people on Mexican land deals, bankrupted his way to riches and builds monuments to himself.

And if that's not enough in the way of flaws in Trump as a candidate for President, there's the glaring evidence that the man seems to be clueless to the fact that we KNOW that combover is hiding either a bald head or failed hair plugs. 

I want a president who is more self-aware and less full of himself. All Donald Trump is good at is saying things loudly and with authority so that the less-than-critically-minded line up behind him. I won't vote for him. I don't trust him. 

If it comes down to Trump on the Republican ticket, I'll write in Ben Carson even if he's not on the ballot. I want a president who unites, not divides; who believes in Americans and the American ideal of hard work, fair play and getting the government out of the way of small business.

Trump is the epitome of the evil corporations that Democrats profess to hate and then turn around and protect when they are running the government. Hell, Trump has been a Democrat off and on his whole life. Whatever party takes him to power, that's Trump's party. He's mastered the art of saying things frustrated Americans feel, out loud and with authority. Trump is the kind of guy who crushes his competition and will step over anybody blocking his path to the top and he's not above playing Pied Piper to the discontented in order to build an army to support himself and his ambitions. 

Trump is not a nice man. He's like one of those evil guard dogs - a Doberman whose skull is so thin it squishes his brain and makes him nasty. People like to have an evil dog because it growls, shows its fangs and barks menacingly and frightens away the bad guys. What they don't stop to think about is that such a dog will also try to take charge of their home when burglars aren't around and will dominate those who thought they were going to be his masters.

Be very afraid of a Trump presidency, my friends. Remember, Hitler, during his early years, said a lot of things the Germans wanted to hear and criticized the people they wanted someone to criticize. He expressed their frustration with the Weimar government and did so loudly and with authority. The only problem was that, when they put him in power, bad things began to happen rather quickly. 


So how do you solve the Trumpster problem for the Republicans without alienating his supporters?  You unite all the other candidates, find someone who is attractive to the Trumpettes and to everyone else and nominate them by acclamation. You don't actually call them Trumpettes by the way. I can get away with it. The Republicans cannot. I see The Donald as a spoiler; a stealth candidate designed to fracture the conservative vote and preserve the win for Donald's good friend Hillary. I'm not sure Trump even wants the White House other than as a sop to his ego. It would cramp his party boy lifestyle. Whatever happens clear-headed conservatives need to keep hitting on his spotty record as a faux conservative. Keep hammering on the sins in his past and on his Bozo the Clown hair - not so much that people feel sorry for him, but enough to make him a figure of fun.

There's a reason the media haven't chewed him up. They are waiting for the last few months of the race; after the primaries. Then they are going to pour it all out on him in rivers. If, as I suspect, he's a stealth candidate, he's probably expecting it.  There's MY conspiracy theory for the week.

  Character is everything. Trump has no detectible character that I can see; only avarice and the lust for power. I've seen him on "The Apprentice". I've heard him speak. He makes my skin crawl even when he is saying things you wish you could say to the powers-that-be. But like that Doberman with the thin skull, he may be useful in attacking the bad guys, but at the same time, you don't want him taking the bad guys' places either.

Just sayin'.

Tom King © 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

From the Duck Blind of Truth - An Observation


We are, I believe, nearing the end of time. 

Perhaps we are even seeing the beginning of the last great debate - good vs. evil; God vs the Adversary. 

Jesus said at the end we would be divided, not into Democrats and Republicans or even liberals and conservatives, but into Sheep and Goats. When I see people on both sides acting like goats, I do understand the analogy and why God divides along different lines than does man. 

Don't get me wrong, it's great to have well-considered political opinions, but it's even better to live by the Golden Rule and those pesky Ten Commandments, than to toe the party line, right or wrong, whichever party that happens to be.

Better to be a good person in any case than to be a good Democrat, a good Republican, a good liberal, libertarian or conservative.  

Just an observation from the old Duck Blind of Truth.

Tom King (c) 2015
.