Project 313 – Post No. 038

As I write this (about three days ago from when this will be published), I just ended a marathon discussion (that I don’t intend to repeat) stemming from a few casual sentences in the Project 313 No. 026 post. It was draining.

Anyone brave enough to check it out will endure long back and forth comments on the topic of free will. I’ll not go into it here, but I do want to point something out about the exchange.  (Note to Marvin: don’t bother trying to restart the discussion as I’m not interested in continuing it.) 

No, it’s not about who is wrong or who is right, but on the approach to the discussion. 

In case it’s not obvious, there were several instances where I was close to chuck it all and go into full-on snark mode. Meaning, I was frustrated. Again, unless you have a deep interest in the subject, I wouldn’t bother reading the discussion as it’s basically Marvin and me just repeating the same things over and over until one of us got tired (me). By the way, if you are interested in the discussion, there is a lot of material both written and in videos of people much smarter than me and Marvin discussing the nuances of the topic. 

Side note: the discussion in the comments of No. 026 centers only on the viability of compatibilism which — to me — is the least interesting and easily dismissed argument for free will. The whole of the compatibilist argument is — literally — “We have free will. Period. Why are we still arguing about this?” As an argument, I find it deeply dishonest and dismissive.

So, here’s the interesting thing . . . I full-on argued what I don’t believe, or rather, what I don’t want to believe. Meaning, I can admit the concept of free will is flawed as currently understood but I’m not willing to chuck the whole thing. I’m in the camp that’s waiting for more data and studies and hopefully an eventual understanding of consciousness and self-awareness and all the related subjects, including free will. I hold hope we’ll eventually have an explanation that allows us some agency. However, if not, I’m fine with it.

Again, please, please, please, I don’t want to continue the discussion. 

What I want to stress is that if one just reads the discussion, one might think I’m in the camp that says we have no free will, as in we can’t explain how we make decisions and what motivates our decisions isn’t what we say it is. 

I can argue the point I don’t agree with as if I did because I took the time to understand what was behind that particular position. I learned as much as I possibly could about it (given my limited lifespan) not with the idea of supporting my position but, rather, to understand why someone would hold a different position. 

Over the years and in the course of my research on the subject, I came across arguments I could not honestly refute and hence I now find myself in limbo. I say “honestly refute” because I had another option. An option many take; I could dishonestly refute the arguments. Or, I could change the underlying premise to make the arguments irrelevant. Or, I could characterize them wrong or, maybe, “silly” arguments.

It seems — at this time in humanity’s continuing saga — people opt to go with the second option. It’s not a new approach; when challenged, that’s always been the approach of religious individuals but it has now spilled into other areas of discussion. Politics, science, medicine, you name a topic and you’ll find people who take the easy path when challenged . . . dismissal, derision, and denial.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing that crosses my path during discussions — as it did here — is when someone completely ignores a point made in opposition. Basically, they act as if it doesn’t exist. They do not address it, they don’t acknowledge it, they pretend it wasn’t said. Instead, they repeat their case; they repeat stuff not related to the challenge presented to them.

Perhaps the greatest example we have is our fearless leader. Well, OK . . . he’s also a pathological liar and that’s not most people. Many, but not most. 

This isn’t me calling in political sides. The practice has spread to all camps and many disciplines. 

In the past, my advice was to “be skeptical” about what you hear . . . except that term has been co-opted by people who use it to lend an artificial aura of legitimacy and respect to their arguments even as they violate all the tenets of skepticism. Climate skeptics, vaccination skeptics, nutrition skeptics, medicine skeptics . . . they don’t follow any of the practices involved with a skeptical investigative approach. In fact, they use the antithesis of a skeptical approach characterized by starting with a conclusion and then only looking at stuff that confirms that conclusion. 

Honest, as little as ten years ago I would have said we were making progress in the application of reason combined with critical thinking. In part, because we have seen an explosion in the availability of data. I saw the development of the Internet and the possibility for the widespread dissemination of information not only transformative but good. Good for individuals and humanity in general. 

But, there’s something I didn’t count on. 

I didn’t count on the propensity of people to seek validation over knowledge, comfort over uncertainty. This spilled into wholesale movements that reinforced a culture of victimhood. By that, I mean the practice of — when challenged — claiming persecution. You aren’t wrong in your crazy-ass beliefs; no, it’s the Man just wanting to keep you down. It’s not that your ideas suck; no, you’re an unrecognized genius.

All this is accomplished by making use of as many informal fallacies as possible. 

Fox “News” used to have a monopoly on them, but I think the government broke them up and now all of Cable’s “News” shows have them at their disposal and they’re all desperately trying to catch up to Fox “News” . . . because they work. 

That’s perhaps the saddest part about living today; the realization that so many people are . . . how should I put this . . . non-critical-thinkers. The even sadder part is how many suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect.  

Who knows . . . perhaps I’m the worst culprit of all. If so, like many others, I’ll never know it.

And now, the photo:

Project 313 038

I keep going back to these painterly effects because — in combination with the framing — the process can take ordinary photos and give them a new life. 

There’s also a generic and recognizable aspect to them . . . they look like many of the framed paintings decorating professional offices.  

I’d sure like to get that contract . . . providing generic framed photos for waiting rooms, hallways, and conference rooms would make me an instant millionaire. No! Billionaire!

I’m shuffling in Mr. Boffo cartoons to break up the Willy ‘n Ethel monopoly,

I understand if some people don’t get the humor of these strips. Like, if you’re Brittish or Australian. Or asleep. 

I kid, of course. I like to tweak my Brittish and Australian readers because 1) they are so sensitive about it and, 2) there’s an air about them as if they consider themselves above; better than. Well, maybe I’m not a fancy gentleman like them with their . . . very fine hats . . .  but I do humor. I’m here to provide humor. 

Now, before they get all in a huff (they tend to do that), I suppose I should mention that I’m borrowing a few lines from one of my favorite episodes of one of my favorite shows. 

No use telling them about it because they’ll just put the series down and then I’d have to swear them in as mortal enemies and I don’t want to do that. I mean, I even almost like some of them. 

So another GIF animation . . . Eye Grate.

Eye Grate

And . . . that’s it

Some of these posts will likely be longer as the mood hits me, but most will be thus; short, uninteresting, bland, and relentless.

You can read about Project 313 HERE.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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