No objective truth? We’ll see.

There are those who say things like: “There is no objective truth. Everything is relative. There are no objective standards of beauty, value, right or wrong. There is only opinion and no truthful way of judging opinions.” These statements, taken together, form a “philosophy” labeled relativism, subjectivity or postmodernism. If my 40+ year career in psychology and financial planning has taught me anything, it’s that people will say anything, no matter how absurd or irrational (like those statements in quotes) until their own money is on the line. When their stated beliefs are almost certain to lose money, they can temporarily become, or try to become, rational.

In 1979, behavioral finance founders Kahneman and Tversky presented a concept called prospect theory. Prospect theory holds that people tend to value gains and losses differently from one another, and suggests that losses hit us harder. There is a greater emotional impact associated with a loss than with an equivalent gain. As an example, consider how you may react to the following two scenarios: 1) you win $50, 2) you win $100, then you lose $50. Either way, you end up ahead $50, but the pain of the loss is greater than the pure gain. Lets apply this and another principle of behavior to the person who insists there’s no objective truth, whom I’ll call doubter. Cognitive Dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values simultaneously (Festinger, 1957). Typically it is triggered by a situation in which a person’s belief clashes with new evidence perceived by the person. Note how almost everything in this paragraph contradicts doubter’s assertion that there’s no objective truth. If you presented the $50 scenarios to doubter, and assured him he would really get the money, it doesn’t matter which he would prefer, because by choosing either one, he is admitting that the $50 is real and has value. That fact just caused cognitive dissonance, because he is simultaneously holding the belief that there’s no objective reality while admitting he would value ending up with $50, which is objective reality. Even the very definition of cognitive dissonance admits to objective reality, since if two beliefs are contradictory and there’s evidence for one of them, the other is likely to be false. That’s objectivity. The existence of evidence itself contradicts subjectivity.

My favorite real world example of debunking relativism was J. Gresham Machen, a theologian who founded Westminster seminary, teaching a course when one of his students loudly proclaimed “there’s no truth, everything is relative” in class. Machen paused, and asked, “do you absolutely believe that?” Ignoring the fact that the word “absolutely” contradicts his assertion, the student blundered ahead. “I certainly do.” Machen’s response: “Then I’m giving you a failing grade.” The student spluttered, “you can’t do that, I have high scores.” Machen pointed out that in a world without objective truth, his scores were meaningless.

Going back to the finance example, give doubter the following choice: I will trade you a certain multiple of stock value for all the money you have saved (ignoring the obvious that if he’s saved money, he must believe in objective reality). You can have either twice the value of your savings in Amazon stock, or three times the value in Microsoft stock. You can have a full day to decide. Which would you take? I guarantee you, mr. there’s no objective reality would be checking P/E ratios, growth history, analysts’ reports. You don’t even need to know about prospect theory or cognitive dissonance.

A friend of mine, who firmly believes that we are all god, would argue that doubter’s belief in his money only proves that he is under the illusion that the material world is real. She would say that human beings don’t perceive the true reality of the universe. Okay, but she still lives mainly off her investments.

4 Teachings of Jesus That His Followers (Almost) Never Take Seriously.

That headline begins yet another diatribe analysis by a Huffpost contributor, Brandan Robertson, whose bio is Cultural Commentator, Activist, Pastor, and Author of “Our Witness: The Unheard Stories of LGBT+ Christians”. In the interest of full disclosure, I am somewhat prejudiced against Huffpost, and LGBT activists. However, he says he’s a Christian in good standing with Jesus Christ, so I will restrict myself to presenting his own words, as well as my opinion about what is left out and what is inaccurate. My commentary is in bold. So are his headlines.

He says: “One of the most transformative periods in my faith was when I took time to re-read the Gospels of the New Testament and get reacquainted with Jesus’ himself, in his own words. I have compiled a short list of 4 clear teachings of Jesus that most of us who exist within Evangelicalism have either never heard, refuse to acknowledge, or believe the exact opposite of.” He says “most of us” to create some kind of solidarity, while simultaneously criticizing the majority of believers as either being ignorant of Jesus’ words, or deliberately opposing them. How does he know what percentage of evangelicals heed or fail to heed Jesus’ words? As for “clear teachings”, it remains to be seen to whom they are clear and how he applies them.

1. Jesus, not the Bible, is God’s living and active Word that brings life. “You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent. You study the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.”– John 5:39-40 HCSB. “The problem is that a faith that is rooted in the Scripture alone is not sustainable. It will dry up and wither on the vine. While the Bible is an important and authoritative guide for Christian faith and practice, it isn’t the foundation or center of our faith- Jesus is. But in order to maintain a vibrant and living faith, we must not make the Bible our substitute for communion with the living Word of God.” Okay, I agree that Jesus Christ is the living and active Word, and that a faith rooted in scripture instead of Christ will wither. But is he implying that the Bible is not also the word of God? Let’s consider whom Jesus was addressing in his quoted passage. In the passages that preceded his quotes, Jesus was speaking to “the Jews”, specifically Pharisees who were disputing with him for breaking the sabbath by healing a man who was paralyzed. If Robertson is trying to use that quote to speak to fellow believers, it’s an odd choice of example.

2. The only way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven is through DOING the will of God. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 ESV. “An expert in the law stood up to test Him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?””What is written in the law?” He asked him. “How do you read it?” He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” You’ve answered correctly,” He told him. “Do this and you will live.”– Luke 10: 25-28 HCSB. “We are saved by faith alone, apart from works!” “This is a very popular Protestant catch phrase. The doctrine of sola fide (faith alone) was developed by the Reformers in response to the Roman Catholic Churches corrupted teachings….” This is misleading. Jesus’ brother James explains: So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. – James 2:17-18. “Sola fide” does mean that works are irrelevant. Salvation IS by faith alone, “so that none may boast”, but the changed heart that answers the call of Jesus Christ includes the desire to mimic Jesus. A truly saved person WILL want to do the will of God. Once again, we have to consider whom Jesus was addressing. He was addressing a Jewish lawyer who was testing Him. Was the lawyer sincerely asking, or trying to trip Jesus up? When Jesus said, “do this and you will live”, was He really saying you will be saved if you follow those two commandments? Doubtful, since Jesus knew his heart was not right….or he wouldn’t have been testing Him.

3. Condemnation isn’t Jesus’ style.I have not come to condemn the world, but to save it.” John 3:17 ESV. “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”– John 8:11 ESV. “Many modern day Evangelical preachers spend a lot of time talking about the kinds of people that God is opposed to and who he condemns.” Yeah, they do, and often they aren’t even right, and some are committing the same sins. However, Jesus had plenty of words of condemnation, though not for repentant sinners. He called the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs, full of dead men’s bones” and “hypocrites” and “blind guides.” He chased the money changers out of the Temple with a whip of cords He made, calling them robbers and such. It is not accurate to say “condemnation isn’t Jesus’ style.” The parable of the unrepentant Pharisee vs. the sinner throwing himself on God’s mercy is more appropriate. So Brandan, are YOU repentant?

4. You’re supposed to sacrifice yourself and speak words of blessings for those you disagree with the most. “Love Your Enemies and Bless Those Who Persecute You” Matthew 5:44 ESV. “It seems like every week there is a new major controversy taking place within the Church. Most of the time, the situation revolves around one group of Christians disagreeing with another and then taking to the internet to write slanderous posts about the other.” This teaching is true enough, and nothing is harder. But to say “every week there is a new major controversy” is really about you as much as it is about the unnamed controversies. I think you should define “controversy”. Do you mean disagreement over the meaning or application of particular verses, sincere seeking of better understanding, or a real mess, like sexual abuse?

He claims to present four “clear teachings” as headlines, and if they are clear to him, they’re a lot less clear to me. The only one I agree with, the way he states them, is #4. Even there, he follows up with a questionable example and over generalization. I will leave it up to the reader how clear his interpretation of Jesus’ teachings are, and whether his intent is to teach, or subvert.

With one hand on my wallet, the other over my mouth. Polspeak.

High-end

Just don’t get the hands confused, I wouldn’t want you to swallow your wallet (though the Democrats have proposed a string attached to it, so they could pull it back out). What prompted this title? E. Warren, aka Pocahontas, (sorry, couldn’t resist) justified getting rid of the electoral college by saying “every vote should count.”

Why? If you voted for a candidate that lost, would your vote “count”? Not once the election is over! I was going to title this post “With one hand on my wallet and the other on the trigger”, but these days even making a joke like that can get you escorted off the plane….or deplatformed. Beware “moral high ground” soundbites, like “every vote should count.” That is political speak–Polspeak— for “this is a really bad idea that will cost you in the long run”–the one hand on my wallet part–and “if you knew what this is diverting your attention from you would heave”–the other hand over my mouth part.

Another example that comes to mind: Former Surgeon General under Clinton, Jocelyn Elders, justifying aborting children by her famous Polspeak “every child a wanted child”, though it rolled out of her mouth in a southern-ish drawl, “everryy cha’ll a wanted cha’ll”. Behind every Polspeak, there’s a corresponding uncomfortable truth lurking. Behind “every child a wanted child” is “kill the ones that aren’t wanted, at least right now.” Behind “every vote should count” is “unless your vote is deplorable.” Behind the “final solution” is gas chambers and crematoriums. Behind “high end” is a mandrill’s butt.

In fact, let’s leave it at that.

Welcome to the United States of L.A. and N.Y.C.

2016 Presidential election by county…

Headline from the Babylon Bee: Candidates Propose Changes To Fix Flaw In Constitution That Allows Republicans To Be Elected.

“Sure”, say the geniuses of Los Angeles and New York city, “let’s get rid of the Electoral College”, so we can decide the fate of the whole country. Hillary Clinton i.e. Democrats, garnered 2,864,974 more total votes in the 2016 presidential election than Donald Trump, i.e. Republicans, BUT LOST THE ELECTION! It’s unfair, a crime even.

As if the county by county electoral map above is not enough, let’s consider the two most populous metropolitan areas in the country, Los Angeles and New York. The combined popular vote differential in those two metros was: 3,076,093 more for D than R. That’s 211,119 more than the number of national votes that D had over R. Without the Electoral College, Los Angeles and New York metro would have decided the national presidential election!

From National Review: Elizabeth Warren has joined a growing chorus within the Democratic party in calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. Speaking at a forum in Mississippi on Monday night, Warren said that she hoped to ensure that “every vote matters” and proposed that “the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College.” Indeed, no sooner has the Democratic party lost control of an institution that it had assumed it would retain in perpetuity than that institution has been denounced as retrograde and unfair. In the past year alone, this impulse has led to calls for the abolition or reinvention of the Senate, the Supreme Court, and more.

Up until now, I have criticized policies of either political party that seemed to me impractical, foolish or damaging, and have satirized the politicians who promulgated these bad ideas. Sure, almost all the bad policies were from Democrats, but that’s not my problem, that’s theirs. However, this call to abolish the Electoral College, under the incredibly hypocritical statement “every vote matters”, when clearly that means only votes for democrats, from a senator who has embraced reparations for slavery, universal child care, claiming Cherokee ancestry and has been in and around politics long enough to know why the electoral college exists. To her and others who propose fundamental changes in our Constitution in order to protect their own power, I hereby call them traitors. That headline from the Babylon Bee was satirical, and serious at the same time. The spirit of totalitarianism is alive and abides in those traitorous hypocrites.

Oh yeah, let’s not forget Nancy Pelosi, who says “we must lower the voting age to 16.” Lowering the voting age to 18 argument went, “these kids of 18 are being drafted to fight in Vietnam, but have no right to vote?” I served with a lot of those 18 year olds. You know how they say today, of retired people, “70 is the new 50”? Well, back then 18 was as mature as 24 is today. There was no such thing as “adulting”. Just saying.

Hate, hate, hate, what a business model!

Because all “right wing haters” are white…

Over the decades, the SPLC basically made the American philosopher Eric Hoffer’s famous line about organizational degeneracy its strategic plan: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket.” Originally founded as a civil-rights group in 1971 and gaining fame for its campaign to bankrupt the Ku Klux Klan, the SPLC shifted to a catch-all “anti-hate” group that widened its definition of bigotry to encompass more and more people as the Klan faded as a threat. So begins The National Review’s Rich Lowry’s op-ed in the New York Post, March 19, 2019. He continues in this vein, and I agree with every word:

It used the complicity or credulousness of the media in repeating its designations to punish its ideological enemies and engage in prodigious fundraising. It raised $50 million a year and built an endowment of more than $300 million. Imagine a left-wing outfit with the same shoddy standards as Sen. Joe McCarthy but with a better business sense. The SPLC never sees honest disagreement over contentious issues if it can see “hate” instead. It named the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom hate groups for opposing gay marriage. It designated perfectly respectable restrictionist ­immigration groups like the Center for Immigration Studies for the offense of favoring less immigration. It labeled the American ­Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers as complicit in “male supremacy.”

Not only the SPLC, but even the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation league (ADL) wants to get into the act (of adopting the business model racket of linking every bad thing to hate=right wing=white supremacy). This is a tweet from tweety-bird Ilhan Omar sent to MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin as he reported on a proposed hearing the House Judiciary Committee wants to call to address hate crimes.: “It’s overdue! Far-right extremists were linked to every extremist murder in the U.S. last year, including the Tree of Life and Parkland shootings. They are not operating in a vacuum. This is a crisis and it deserves national attention.” In a follow up tweet to this hyperbolic divisiveness the Congresswoman who traffics in defaming Jews on the regular offers up a link to a piece from the Anti Defamation League. The following are examples of crimes that the ADL is trying to pin on “right-wing, white extremism: It’s a long list, but very educational about the “destroy whiteness” agenda. Is “whiteness” really a thing? See my previous post.

Parkland, Florida, February 14, 2018The school itself was not a likely white supremacist target, nor did Cruz seem to target his victims by race, religion or ethnicity. However, little evidence has so far emerged to suggest that the MSDHS shooting spree itself was conducted as a white supremacist attack. In the end, however, it is not clear to what extent Cruz’s white supremacist beliefs may have played a role in the killings. Because of this uncertainty, Cruz’s killings have been listed here as non-ideological. This is the lead example in the report, and one Omar felt the need to note in her tweet. Non-Ideological, but listed as proof of right-wing extremism all the same.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 27, 2018: Robert Bowers opened fire inside a synagogue killing 11. What the report fails to note is that Bowers despised President Trump, and his violence was apparently inspired by the President’s support of Israel and Jewish citizens. This places Bowers in a camp much closer to Ilhan Omar.

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, March 12, 2018: Corey Johnson, 17, killed a 13-year-old and severely injured two others in a stabbing spree: In the year before the attack he had become interested in radical Islam (and had even been reported to the FBI by local law enforcement). After his arrest, Johnson reportedly told investigators he had stabbed his victims “because of his Muslim faith”.
— Is Ilhan Omar actually comfortable calling those who murder in the name of their Muslim faith “right-wing extremists”?! That could explain quite a bit.

Nashville, Tennessee, April 22, 2018Travis Reinking opened fire inside a Waffle House, killing four: Reinking also has a serious history of mental illness and the shooting appears to have been non-ideological in nature; he has been ruled incompetent to stand trial.
— Non-Ideological, and attributed to mental illness, but still tabulated here.

Sumter, South Carolina, August 11, 2018: Demetrius Alexander Brown, a self-proclaimed Moorish sovereign citizen, was arrested for the fatal shooting of Sharmine Pack following a dispute about a vehicle sale at an auto repair shop.
— Is violence over a car sale “extremist violence”? Brown was affiliated with the Moorish Sovereign Citizens, a group that declares they are African society members with no allegiance to state and federal rules of law. In other words, they are Black Nationalists.

Robstown, Texas, July 27, 2018: Richard Starry shot and killed four relatives at a local nursing center and at his home in an apparent act of domestic violence before killing himself. According to local media, Starry had been a member of a white supremacist group while in prison.
— The ADL recognizes this as a domestic violence situation, but since he was a member of the group they chalk that up statistically

Abingdon, Virginia, May 4, 2018: Roger Melvin Tackett was charged with first degree murder and other crimes after fatally shooting an acquaintance following a dispute.
— Okay, so how was this “right-wing extremism” exactly?
According to police, Tackett has multiple white supremacist tattoos.
— Ah, there it is. So we are not actually tabulating incidents any longer, just any tangential evidence will do

Dothan, Alabama, June 4, 2018: James Mathis, a member of the Georgia-based white supremacist prison gang Ghostface Gangsters, and his wife, Amanda Oakes, allegedly killed their six-month-old son and put his body in a freezer in a hotel room.
— I do not even know how this manages to qualify.

Athens, Georgia, May 11, 2018: Following a family argument, Malachi Qaadir Dorns, 19, stabbed his mother and older brother multiple times, wounding his mother and killing his brother. In an earlier arrest, Dornss told police that he was a sovereign citizen.
— Domestic violence…again, but he tried to dodge responsibility via nationalism, we guess???

Locust Grove, Georgia, February 19, 2018: Tierre Guthrie, a Moorish sovereign citizen, shot and killed a Locust Grove police officer when the officer and two Henry County sheriff’s deputies tried to take Guthrie into custody for a failure to appear warrant. Both deputies were wounded but survived. Guthrie, who was himself shot four times in the firefight, died at the scene.
— Another Black Nationalist we will pretend is white right-wing extremism

“Whiteness”, the new cliche of stupidity.

Owsley County , Ky. lowest median household income

My comments in bold.

Sean Illing: “Why are so many poor and working-class white Americans endorsing policies that are literally killing them?” Sociologist and psychiatrist (two words give early warning that drivel follows) Jonathan Metzl is being interviewed by Sean Illing of Vox, about his new book, Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland.

Jonathan Metzl: “That’s the core question I address in the book. I look at the rejection of the Affordable Care Act in the South. I look at policies that make it far easier for people to get guns and carry guns everywhere. I look at tax cuts that benefit wealthy Americans but cut roads, bridges, and schools in poor and working-class areas. (actually the latest round of tax code changes phase out tax deductions that more “wealthy” Americans used to depend on in high tax states, like state income tax deductions) Every one of those policies has been sold as a policy that will make America great again. But they have devastating consequences for working-class populations, particularly working-class white populations, in many instances. I found that if you lived in a state that rejected the Medicaid expansion and blocked the full passage of the Affordable Care Act, you lived about a 21- to 28-day shorter life span on the aggregate. So it was costing people about three to four weeks of life in those states. (slight problem with methodology: the ACA, and Medicaid expansion, went into full effect 2016, just 3 years before this book was published. How can someone draw any conclusions about life span effects with less than 3 years of comparisons???)

“When I looked at states that made it incredibly easy for people to buy and carry guns pretty much anywhere they wanted, I found that this correlated with hundreds of deaths that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, (“wouldn’t have happened otherwise?” Do you have an alternative future generator or some way to prove what would have happened otherwise?) particularly in white populations, because gun suicide rose dramatically. (so, there’s a correlation between gun suicides and legal guns? Did you look at suicide by other means? Aren’t the states you are referring to also leading in ophioid abuse, and doesn’t that correlate to suicide?)And I found that if you lived in a state that cut away infrastructure and schools and funding, that correlated with higher high school dropout rates. (Infrastructure is related to dropout rates how?)

Illing: “Can you explain what you mean when you say this is a structural story, and not necessarily a story about individual bias?”

Metzl: “I found so many instances where people, if you talk to them in their daily lives–and this is true for all of us–are much more accommodating, they’re much more willing to compromise if they can understand somebody else’s point of view. When they engage, when they make eye contact with somebody, they have empathy. And I found that again and again in my research. (Finally, a worthy conclusion)But I also found that there are powerful forces in this country that benefit from polarizing us and keeping us apart.( Like ridiculous conclusions you have drawn from “research”, all trying to make up, then prove the toxicity of “whiteness.” You people are pathetic). People actually benefit from that polarization. And as long as we’re having these polarizing, nuance-free conversations driven by the [National Rifle Association] or Fox News, we’re unlikely to find a common ground.” (sure, Fox and the NRA are the problem, not bogus drivel like this interview and your book!).

 

“Keep Washington green” they used to say.

Consider this post a follow-up to my post titled “The global warming. risk premium ….or not” of March 16, 2019.

That old plea used to appear on warning signs about forest fires, from 1940-1995. Now what is it used for? “In the tradition of the Evergreen State, Keep Washington Green donates a portion of each sale to the Environmental Priorities Coalition. This organization supports sustainability, environmental, wildlife protection and other ecological causes. Your purchase helps to Keep Washington State, Green.” That’s a message at the bottom of the home page of keepwashingtongreen.net. Who are they? Supporting Medical Marijuana Freedom. Great slogan, kill two birds with one contribution: make sure dope stays legal, support ecological causes! Shows you how pervasive climate change propaganda is.
Or was? In 2020, mandatory vehicle emissions testing is going the way of the dodo.“Despite the end of mandatory emission testing, we believe air quality will continue to improve in the years ahead as newer, cleaner vehicles replace older, less-efficient models,” said a news release from the state Department of Ecology. Since 1982, an emissions test has been a yearly requirement to renew registration for a vehicle in certain counties. After 2020, it will no longer be necessary. According to the Department of Ecology, the emissions testing program’s end was contingent on Washington’s air quality meeting certain thresholds. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency required that Washington’s air quality not just meet federal standards, but that we can demonstrate that we’ve reached a point where our air quality won’t worsen without the emission check program in place,” said the state DOE.

Somebody better tell AOC. In my Washington, the green new deal means getting high. That’s what she will do when she reads the last sentence from the state DOE!