The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Where's my Tinfoil?" - Rebuttal

This post is going to be different from any so far and, hopefully, any in the future. Because I feel I may have offended a couple of people, I think it's fair that opposing positions on the matter of ignorance and conspiracies be given some prominence. These people have valid points and deserve my (our) respect for both having the courage to stand up for those positions and for not taking those positions without considerable thought and research. I made light, in a way, of these perspectives. The worst part is that I knew, not all that deep in the recesses of my mind, that I would likely ruffle some feathers with the "Where's my tinfoil?" post and yet I did it anyway. There's no excuse for that and I apologize for my rude behavior.

We all like to listen to those who say what we already believe. A wise man questions his own beliefs as deeply as he questions another's.

The above is part of the core of my philosophy. I ignored it when I wrote and posted "Where's my tinfoil?"

The Logisitician has left a new comment on your post "Where's my tinfoil?":

I have very mixed emotions about this subject. I'm all over the place in terms of the "wilfull" or "conscious" aspect. I really don't know.

I've been to some 3rd world countries where I have posed this question to myself. If I remember correctly, you were in the Navy, and you obviously saw all sorts of people from all works of life from all over the country.

There are a couple of recent experiences in my life which have made me less certain about this issue. Moving from a metropolitan area like Los Angeles, 2 blks from UCLA, and then returning home to North Carolina and teaching adult students seeking their GEDS at a local community college. Some of them have struggled for years.

Just three weeks ago, I attended a blogging, social networking, new media conference, and met some extremely bright people, only to consider how many kids in my town are so far behind the conference participants in ..... virtually every way.

I keep coming back to the concept of not being willing to learn. I know that you mean something other than the level of educational attainment. I just don't know how that is separated from ... and I'm obviously not contributing much to this conversation.

I will say this. I think that some narrow-minded people view the world they do because it gets them by. I call it "muddling through." Life is too complicated for them to process without being Neanderthal in nature, and their attitude makes the world more comprehensible. They can understand up and down, and left and right, but not oblique or skew. I think that we've seen that throughout history. In some ways, it is often safer for people not to venture beyond the realm of the known, and the realm of the beliefs held my the neighboring majority. Safety in numbers.

I actually think for many people, it is risky, and dangerous, to think outside of the box. I don't know. I'm not helping here.

One more thing. I have unending curiosity. I always have to know more. No information is off limits in my view. However, my Father often tells me that I know too much, and that some information is unnecessary and does the average person no good.

Sorry for occupying the space here. Just had to ramble.
[No need to apologize and it truly wasn't a ramble, Logistician, it was an attempt to explain something I have seen in every part of the country and world that I have visited. It is the way human beings cope with environments which they feel would overwhelm them, I think. You have done a good job presenting that perspective. We both have that curiosity. You have a couple of things I don't have; one is the discipline to follow that curiosity through the educational system and the other is the strength of purpose to share what you have learned with others. I respect and admire that. You also have something else I admire and respect: a non-judgmental nature. Maybe not entirely non-judgmental (you judged my post,after all) but reasoned judgment without condemnation. I have tried to walk that fine line myself but I all too often lose my balance.
With all due respect, your father is wrong. At least, I think, from our perspective. Knowledge may be painful and cause you to challenge your environment, but it is something we should never be willing to restrict in ourselves or accept in others.]

PhreedomPhan has left a new comment on your post "Where's my tinfoil?":

After seeing this answer to sal, Douglas, I'm afraid I have to say you have no room to talk of ignorance.

Thirty years ago, while fighting against a so-called "Home Rule Charter" in my county, an associate and I stopped by his house to pick up some documents. When we walked into his basement I was stunned. Two forty-foot walls were lined with bookcases filled with books and documents. In the center was an island of back to back file cabinets filled to overflowing with documents, clippings, newsletters, and the like. In all, the man had more documented proof of a conspiracy or conspiracies than all I've seen on the Internet. He was not a conspiracy "theorist." He was a "watcher." He had spent most of his adult life gathering this information and much of it he'd inherited from a Philadelphia woman who'd done the same most of her adult life. Yet he never mentioned conspiracy. Why? Because, as he said, the majority of people have been conditioned to a knee jerk reaction to the word. They roll into a little ball and start hurling epithets like "kook" and "crackpot" at those who disturb the pleasant little world "education" and the media have created for them where power hungry men have never conspired to enslave their fellow man.

Maybe my blogs are the ones you are talking about. But I have some evidence that should at least start those with an ability to connect the dots thinking. There's a lot of info there so they'll also need an attention span greater than a gnats.

[You are correct, Rick, I did have no room, or right, to talk. While I may disagree with you on the validity of some of your evidence and on the way you connected the dots, I spoke from ignorance because I did not research it as deeply as you nor did I open my mind to the possibility that your connections were valid. Please accept my apologies. Your "watcher" was (is) quite correct. We do ascribe certain connotations to words and lose the general meanings in the process. Type is sort is ilk; these all have the same general meaning but the words are perceived differently because of their connotations.

I watched a TV show last night that I had TIVOed (there's a new word); The Eleventh Hour. It's a good show, not great, but good. This episode was poor, in my judgment, because it ignored what I believe to be prudent protocols in order to advance the story's plot. Because I concentrated on what I deemed willful distortion of reality (what the characters should have logically been doing based on the situation), I failed to enjoy the show. I do this too often.
I did your blog, and you, a disservice. I was wrong.]



IB said...


I think you are being too hard on yourself. Your post "Where's my Tinfoil" was interesting and thought provoking. The responses were likewise. We, as writers are destined to upset people every once in a while if we are being honest. I often find my best pieces are those during the writing of which I have not self-edited but rather took in a deep breath of air and wrote what I felt. Keep it up.


Douglas said...

One cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, eh?

My desire is to opine but to offend as little as humanly possible. Since to err is human, I may have set too great a task before me. I could have worded my original piece better. I think both criticisms helped clarify my original thought.

Sal said...

I enjoy your blog very much Douglas, and part of the beauty of living in a free world is the ability to be able to post opinions and ideas, even if they differ from those of others, don't you agree? Keep on writing, entertaining, and keeping us all thinking.I don't feel you have offended anyone..certainly not myself that's for sure. More power to your electronic " pen "...

PhreedomPhan said...

You made a fool of me, Douglas. I had you pegged as an arrogant jerk, but arrogant jerks don't admit they're wrong and apologize. Well, I might be an exception. I may have suffered short fuse syndrome after seeing your response to sal. Apparently sal did not take offense so I shouldn't have. Sorry!

BTW, tinfoil didn't bother me. I have a way of handling those who pull the tinfoil hat gambit on me.


The Logisitician said...

IB, Sal, and Phreedom Phan: Such timely responses in terms of tone. Perhaps civility has returned to public discourse. Thanks to contributing to that goal.

The Logisitician said...

Left a very detailed response yesterday to your response and on the issue of conspiracies. Initially thought that you had comment moderation on your blog and that you needed to approve the post. However, it now appears that I forgot to hit the Save or Post button, and that it is forever lost. Will try to summarize here.

You were far too hard on yourself. You did not offend me. I honestly do not know the meaning of "ignorance," outside of the dictionary meaning. I'm struggling in terms of how I can personally bring the gap between the kids with whom I come into contact who are poorly educated, and the ones who are whiz kids and super smart. I appreciate you being civil and insightful in your discussions.

As for conspiracies, the definition of conspiracy is as follows: (a) an agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act; (b) an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime, or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action; (c) a joining or acting together, as if by sinister design.

The focus in conspiracy is on the front end (the planning, the thinking, the organizing, and other acts in furtherance thereof), not the back end, namely to consummation of the crime. It is difficult to delve into the minds of the co-conspirators and their motives, unless we have fairly direct evidence. In my pieces on O.J., I noted the difficulties and risks associated with circumstantial evidence. The analysis of conspiracies is equally problematic, although the standard is different.

Connecting the dots after the fact is exactly that, and does not focus on the front end. Imagine connecting the dots after unintended consequences have occurred. Note the word "agreement" in the definition, which is crucial. Did the voters "conspire" to make Obama the next president, or did they simply go out and exercise their right to vote? Did some of the organizers conspire? Could the dots be drawn between family members to the effect that they conspired to all vote for Obama?

Just raising some questions.

A buddy of mine claims that very few conspiracies really exist, because very few people really do much planning for activities in their life, and thus the prospect of planning and coordinating with another for a common goal is even more difficult, since the agreement on the values, goals, mechanism, vehicle, etc, is mor problematic. In bank vault, they have 3 people count all of the money, since if there is going to be a theft, it is more difficult for two to coordinate, and even more difficult for three. The conspiracy is on the planning, discussion, and coordination on the front end.

Another potential risk with labeling something a conspiracy. Once you do that, you establish an emotional or subjective basis to the act, and depending on your point of view, it can take on a life of its own. Then the alleged co-conspirators have to prove the negative, namely that they did not think, plan, or coordinate. Difficult to do.

The original discussio which I drafted was much better organized and articulated. It's more difficult to draft it a 2nd time.

Argentum Vulgaris said...

Omelettes need to be made Douglas.


PhreedomPhan said...

Logi, some of the things you said hit home to me. For example, the idea that few conspiracies exist because most people don't do much planning. That's exactly the reason I've given why people don't believe in conspiracy. Unable to plan what they're going to do next weekend, they can't believe that there are people who plan years and decades in advance, even for things they know won't happen in their lifetimes.

Another thing is "unintended consequences." That goes to what I call the "accidental" or "stupidity" theories of history. These can be valid on occasions, but when all the "accidents" or "stupid" actions point in one direction it defies all laws of probability. Much like an organization that makes up less than 15 ten thousandths of the population providing the key people in one administration after the other. Watch for them in the Obama administration.

It's true, an unjust labelling does put an unfair burden of proving a negative on the accused, but when the accused have left a long list of speeches, writings, and financing of those things that might rightfully be labelled conspiracy, denial is futile and smearing those who oppose them, rather than disproving, becomes the strategy.