Archive for the ‘rationality’ 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

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

Half Truths

It’s well known that it’s easier to explain the past than to predict the future.

The main reason for this discrepancy is not that we have perfect information about the past, and not about the future.

It’s that we are easily satisfied by half-truths … as long as we’re not too afraid that events will prove us wrong.

Categories: rationality

When would be the best time to tackle Global Warming?

I’ve found a metaphor for Global Warming. It’s like the tall tree that’s growing close to a friend’s house.
  • Fifty years ago, I could have disposed of it with a pair of clippers.
  • Thirty years ago, it would have required nothing beyond a handsaw. Read more…
Categories: economy, rationality

The Soul

I’ve had trouble defining the word “soul”, but believe that I’ve found a solution. A “soul” can be seen as the difference between the whole and the apparent sum of its parts.

Categories: economy, rationality