Want to ‘save’ Science? Then Follow the Evidence, not the Consensus

Science has run into some problems as of late and the organized March for Science didn’t address these.  In fact, it turned out to be mostly about politics, and set an example of how to not do science.

The central issue is that people are being taught not to question what science tells us, or what is being passed off as science. The celebrity scientists of our day encourage STEM programs, wax on how amazing science is, and how important it is for you to study it.

But don’t question it. Anytime someone yells “the consensus says,” you should stop and shake your head in agreement.

This isn’t science. It’s pseudoscience at best, brainwashing into conformity at worst.

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Farmlands: Darkness in South Africa

Lauren Southern, Canadian journalist, author and political activist, has made quite a name for herself in recent years. No doubt her work is loved by some, and ruffled the ire of others, but hopefully none of this will discourage people from watching her documentary, Farmlands.

The film is troubling and eye-opening. Southern has exposed the myth of a post-apartheid South Africa where everyone supposedly lives hand-in-hand, in beautiful bliss. Rather, the country may soon be another lost Third World nation where chaos, war, and death, are all that its people will know. Watch Farmlands now, and don’t let the world forget South Africa and allow it to crumble into ruin.

Categories: Modern History | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Instruments of Tyranny

In the November 1970 issue of National Geographic, an article entitled “Behold the Computer Revolution,” has Peter T. White breathlessly writing on the coming changes computers would bring.  Among them are paying your bills by computer, a “truly theft-proof” credit card, the impending arrival of home computer use, and many more examples how the computer would touch every corner of our lives. This was about a decade before computers started entering homes, and over two decades before the internet would morph into the world wide web. And then White shares this from a Professor Alan F. Westin:

Man has progressed over the centuries from the status of a subject ruler to that of a citizen in a constitutional state. We must be careful to avert a situation in which the press of government for systematic information and the powerful technology of computers reverse this historical process…making us ‘subjects’ again.

Perhaps what we need now is a kind of writ of ‘habeas data’ — commanding government and powerful private organizations to produce the data they have collected and are using to make judgements about an individual, and to justify their using it.

Now, forty-eight years later, we have fallen into the very scenario that Westin warns about. It happened little by little, yet largely out in the open. How many major data breeches at banks and retailers, how many shady government data collection schemes, or how many social media abuse revelations, must continue to happen before people realize that technology is no longer their tool to control?

How long until we realize that it is being used to control them? To spy on them? To shape their beliefs?

If you read my last post, you can’t help to agree that Distraction is our greatest downfall. It is what politicians have long used to cling to power and shape our world. Corporations and social movements use it to mold your thoughts. Be happy with who you are — only if that “who” is on the approved list. Do what you want — only if that “what” is on this other list. And computers have been used with frightening efficiency by social engineers and by those who subvert democratic processes.

In 1970, some warned that “the computer’s potential for good, and the danger inherent in its misuse, exceed our ability to imagine. Wouldn’t that be the worst it could do — to become an instrument of tyranny, propelling mankind into a new dark age?”

And decades before that, Orwell, Huxley and Bradbury warned us in their fiction. Some people have listened.

Many more have not.

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Man’s Infinite Appetite for Distraction

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.

“Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.

“Orwell feared we would become a captive audience. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

“Orwell feared that we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.

“As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny ‘failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.’ In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.” – Neil Postman

Categories: Books, Fiction, Modern History | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

First Man: Once Our Future, Now Our Past

Once upon a time we pushed the threshold. No, we broke it. Perhaps it’s time to remember that age, so we can reignite it.

Check out the the trailer for the upcoming film, First Man, the story of Neil Armstrong and the most dangerous mission ever undertaken.

FMan

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Interview with Darrick Dean, Fantasy Author

[Full disclosure: This is an interview with me, by me. Yes, you read that right…]

Today we are talking with writer Darrick Dean, author of the Watchers of the Light historical fantasy series. He has graciously taken time out of his busy schedule to answer a few quick questions on his books and writing. Thanks for joining us tonight, Darrick, ready to dive in?

Good to be here. Let’s give this a go.

Q: So, fantasy stories are often set in other realms or alternate realities, but the Watchers of the Light is set in our own modern world. There is a catch, however. Not all myth is fiction. Can you tell us more about this premise?

A: I wanted to really blur the line between reality and fantasy, so I took some historical elements, and overlaid bits of myth and legend. Of course, another facet is that legend often has remnants of truth in it. Take the core of the Iliad — the Trojan War and the siege of Troy — turned out to be true. So did the Viking Sagas detailing voyages to America, and so on. Now the reader is left wondering where fact ends, and fiction begins, while being drawn deeper into the story.

Q: Among the Shadows has an archetypal villain, the shadowmancer Ahriman. What kind of threat will the Watchers face in Awakening?

A: Ahriman is largely a puppetmaster, controlling everything from afar. He isn’t overly complex in his motivations, but is certainly malicious and powerful. His past his only hinted at, which leaves an opening for future stories. In Awakening, we encounter a different sort of enemy. Darkness pervades her as well, but her story is more complex, her motivations more faceted.

Q: In the first book, much of the story centers around Ethan and his family, all gifted with different abilities. Does the focus change in book 2?

A: The plan was always to give all the characters substantial roles, but to shine the light a little more on different people in each book. In Awakening we see that happening, including bringing to the forefront a person who was just hinted at in book one. She was a bit mysterious, bookending the first story, but here we find her in the thick of things. Also, with the establishment of the characters out of the way, I think we will see them grow more and be more comfortable in their chosen paths.

Q: Among the Shadows certainly was influenced by traditional fantasy in the sense of creatures and battles and searching for lost relics. Will the story continue down this path?

A: A little, but I want to move the needle just a bit. Not only don’t you want your plots identical, making some subtle changes in the atmosphere keeps things fresh. I like how the Mission Impossible films use different directors to give each film a slightly different look, yet still keep them in the same continuity. Not jarring change, but they avoid a same-old feel. Awakening has creatures and battles for sure, but there is an Edgar Rice Burroughs influence here. Think lost worlds and kinetic action. More crisp and tactile.

Q: What’s the best part of writing these stories?

A: Seeing them come alive on their own. Sooner or later in writing a story, people and places appear that you didn’t plan for. Character arcs you never outlined form on their own. When an author experiences this, he or she has left writing and entered storytelling.

Q: What’s the hardest part?

A: Editing. First you must find the best parts, the ones that just pop off the page, and compare everything else to them. You cut and delete what no longer works, or never did. Think you can’t delete your amazing words? You will once you realize how much more amazing they can be. First chapters, then paragraphs are refined. Next are sentences. Then you are down to individual words. Shaping and trimming like a sculptor. Then you’re done. Mostly.

Q: What does the future hold for the Watchers and their adventures?

A: Finishing Awakening is the first goal. Everyone thinks in trilogies these days, and that’s my initial plan as well. That could no doubt change, but this universe will ultimately have self-contained sets of different lengths. Two books I have planned will parallel the Watchers of the Light, and most likely intersect with it. Set in the same world with a different focus. There is a clue in Among the Shadows to what beings will be featured in the Servants of the Flame duology. I also plan to put together a collection of shorts — lost tales, deleted scenes — featuring various people we have already met, and yet to come.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to everyone. Where can readers find your book?

No, problem, it’s been fun. Among the Shadows is on Amazon, of course, plus most other booksellers. And be sure to check out some excerpts, character profiles and other cool stuff.

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Why Hate Homer?

I was listening to this podcast concerning how students aren’t ready for college. In particular, what they have read in their educational or personal lives is rather deficient. Instead of offering the best of the best for them to read, colleges instead replace classics with forgettable, trendy books.

So while colleges are falling down on their job of broadening minds and overcoming prejudices — through the abandoning of classical education — what about the student or not going to college? What about the person who doesn’t care about reading the classics or doesn’t think it’s necessary?

As educator and writer Susan Wise Bauer writes, “A classical education is valuable [even] for people who hate Homer.” In her book The Well-Trained Mind, she describes the frustration of employers who are expected to prepare people for life in the world. Many graduates of high school “can’t write, don’t read well, can’t think through a problem.”

Bauer writes that, “A well-trained mind is a necessity” no matter your path in life, and even though a “classical education is not intended to teach all subjects comprehensively,” it is designed to teach us how to learn.

But it goes further than that. There’s something deeply fascinating about reading books that have often endured for centuries. They reveal our past and our history. It allows us to join what Mortimer J. Adler named the “Great Conversation” which is the “ongoing conversation of great minds down through the ages.”

And there is the rub: Perhaps at no time in history have we had such a widespread hubris in society. We think those who came before us can’t possibly have anything to teach us.

The truth is that we wouldn’t be here without them. They experienced far more great events — and terrible disasters — than we can imagine. Our civilization is built on their millennia of knowledge. We mistakenly believe many of our contemporary issues are new — rarely are they.

Schooling, at all levels, can be very important in achieving your purpose. Increasingly, though, secondary education has lost its way, forgotten its purpose. These institutions that were built on an idea that stretches back to the Middle Ages — Western Civilization’s contribution of the university — is in terrible trouble. However that all may play out, realize this:

Your education, your mind, and where you take them, is solely up to you. “Being smart” is not based on the decision of others, but what you decide to be. Be part of the Great Conversation and rise above fast-food-internet “knowledge.” See beyond the selfish views that act like we are the first to walk the Earth. The voices of our ancestors left many lessons for us. One in particular stands out.

When they forgot what truly mattered in their lives, they lost it all.

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Character Profile: Solana

Solana To you it is just a breeze. A wind on a wintry day. A summer storm across the plains. When I lost what was dearest to me, a storm was unleashed from within. The winds could terrify and destroy.

I tamed them, made them answer to the Light.

Now evil arises among the sands, in the shadows, and the deep sea. I am Solana, and I will hunt the Darkness, search it out, and call forth the tempest to hurl the demonspawn back into the Abyss.

Among the Shadows: Watchers of the Light Book 1 now available!

[Photo used under license from Shutterstock.com.]

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Pink Houses, Senators and Abuse of Power

Two important indie films that the politicians don’t want you to see are currently in theaters.

The first is Little Pink House, a true story of the abuse of eminent domain by the government. Also check out John Stossel’s report on this legalized larceny.

The second is Chappaquiddick, on the events surrounding the death Mary Jo Kopechne in a car driven by Senator Ted Kennedy.

Someday history will look at that era as when abuse of power was institutionalized at an unimaginable level. There were a whole series of dark events like this in the 1960s. Only a few days ago, we read again how the family of Martin Luther King, Jr. believes James Earl Ray was framed for MLK’s assassination. Considering that, it’s disingenuous to continue to call this a conspiracy theory.

Some may ask, “Why does it matter all these years later?”

It matters because, then and now, people like to look the other way even when they know the official stories don’t square. They want to believe so hard that their leaders are so much better than them, that they allow themselves to be distracted and convinced what is wrong is right.

We let the government become what it is. And they have done far worse than the daily drama they put on for us — the fake angst and hand wringing against each other, only to have nothing change. They divide us with the frivolous so we never truly bother to look behind the curtain.

And as long as we are afraid to rip that curtain down, nothing will change and many will escape justice.

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Join the War, Choose a Side

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