Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Comments on Sam Harris: ‘Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?’

Sam Harris: ‘Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?’ – Tablet Magazine.

This is one of the best pieces of writing that I’ve seen in a long time on the subject of Israel vs Hamas / Palestine. The headline is misleading, though. Sam Harris does criticize Israel. But his criticism is specific, carefully weighed, and held up against the vastly more serious criticism that every rationally thinking person ought to level against the Hamas, ISIS, and the other Muslim militant fundamentalists.  Thanks to Kari Eugenie Damhaug for sharing this article on Facebook.

There’s a larger point here, though, which Sam Harris misses. It has to do with the way the human brain functions. He is best known for writing as an athesist, and he does a great job in illustrating how cool, rational, level-headed analytic thinking can be better than “faith” ….. as long as we are dealing with a brain capable of doing just that.

Rational thinking is great, but it can’t exist alone. It is always – and I repeat ALWAYS – superimposed on mountains and mountains of ideas and beliefs that become prejudice the moment they aren’t being actively investigated. Read more…

Categories: Politics, rationality

PS about Gaza

– Hamas would kill many more if they had the means.
– Israel could kill many more if they had the will.

Leif Knutsen posted these words on Facebook. To my (deeply prejudiced) Western-liberal mind, that is a good distinction.

So imagine my surprise when it turned out that another of Leif’s friends disagreed. Read more…

Categories: Politics

Glenn Beck’s Post-Election Plan: Buy Farmland and Guns!

Karyn shared this video on Wednesday.

It shows Glenn Beck explaining his post-election plan: To buy farmland and guns.

Beck’s talk is interesting because it illustrates a huge problem that we’re coming up against in the Middle East, as well as in the Midwest and everywhere in between: Bigotry and its offshoot, Fundamentalism. When other people do this, there’s often a hint of subtlety about it. Not with Beck. He goes all out from the moment he opens his mouth. He starts with a splinter of insight, spins a story around it, and BELIEVES.

In some ways, I can understand him. Read more…

Categories: economy, Politics, rationality

The Permanent Militarization of America

President Dwight Eisenhower was a Republican and a career officer, and he would (apparently) have been appalled at the amount we’re wasting on the military today. The author of this article quotes him as saying that

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, Read more…

Categories: economy, Politics, rationality


I read several articles this morning about the attacks and counterattacks between Gaza and Israel. The impression I’m left with is that both sides are right on enough issues that none of them can win.

On the surface level, Israel’s position is straightforward and justified. Palestinians in Gaza are regularly committing acts of war against Israel. In fact, they are not only acts of war, they are war crimes: The indiscriminate lobbing of high explosives into civilian targets. Israel has every right to fight back. (The only question I’m asking myself in that connection is whether Israel would be better served by mirroring Hamas’s form of warfare. Every time they got an incoming rocket, they could simply send one back. An eye for an eye ….)

On the deeper level, I’m getting a stronger and stronger impression that Israel cannot win. Read more…

Categories: Politics, rationality


Mobs are terrifying. The sense of individual rationality disappears into the black hole of crowd psychology, while the onlookers get paralyzed by the bystander effect.

We’ve seen it so many times now that it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. When it still does, I believe it’s because of the pretense that we’re rational, thinking beings who are always trying to be “good”.

For whether or not we like it, whenever human beings are in a crowd, many of them are going to let the crowd do a lot of their thinking for them. Read more…

Categories: Personal, Politics

What Must Be Said

Günther Grass created a lot of controversy last week with the poem “Was Gesagt Werden Muss” – “What Must Be Said”.

Grass’s biggest mistake when he wrote the poem, was to use an ambiguous form to invite discussion about a flammable subject. Everybody who reads such a text will read into it what they think it means. Read more…

Categories: Politics, rationality