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Ayn Rand And The End Of Love

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5 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Wolf,

I don't understand the hostility.

Vigilante porn :) is a target market. 

He serves it well.

I don't think his purpose is to be a literature innovator or highbrow stylist. I think it's to be a storyteller and entertain his market. He produces a good product for his market and he markets it well. His fans love it. He makes money honestly--he even eats his own intellectual dog food, so he's not being a sell-out.

Capitalism...

What's wrong with that?

I can think of some authors who are not good for real. For example, I recently read a thriller called Law and Disorder by Mike Papantonio. The plot points were OK but his characters were awful. It was like paint-by-the-number writing to promote a political agenda (progressivism in his case). I could almost see him with a checklist from Save the Cat (for the reader, this is a formulaic screenwriting book that is easy to abuse), then sighing and wondering when he would be done as he had to fill out each story beat with something that looked like fiction.

I read it because I've seen him speak on video and I wanted to get a feel for how a person puts those ideas into fiction. As I learned, as a thriller writer, Papantonio is a decent speaker on video. :) 

I also read The Circle by Dave Eggers. This guy has no notion about human nature, at least not in this book. His characters bounced between pure cardboard and suddenly doing stuff out of character to meet or explain a plot point.

There are others, but if I want to go real crazy with an example, I've tried to read Irene Iddesleigh by Amanda McKittrick Ros several times. I always start cracking up in the middle and can't continue. Someday, I will get through the whole thing. I swear I will... :)  

But that's for fun. You just can't beat passages like this from her: 

Or like the following:

:) 

Michael

Imagine how that makes me feel, everyone else gets dust jackets and shelf space, talked about.

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34 minutes ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

Imagine how that makes me feel, everyone else gets dust jackets and shelf space, talked about.

Wolf,

As a friend, I have to say this. Hurt feelings will not sell your books.

Among all these authors I mentioned (even Dame Ros in her day), they all have one thing in common: they spend whatever focused time devoted to the business side of their profession they need to make it work. They approach the market the way it is, not the way they think it should be. They learn how to do business in that environment and they don't do it haphazardly, either. They adapt and keep plugging until they get a result. Writing takes up only half their efforts as a writer (probably more, but you get the idea).

This isn't just me saying. It's the way reality works. Those are the kinds of people who succeed these days. There are some exceptions, but not for the vast majority.

I've often thought you got a raw deal by getting the equivalent of a royal patron early in life. It taught you one way of getting results, but that's not the way it works in a competitive environment where you are one among many. It did not prepare you for the patronage to end. But try telling that to your subconscious after years of knowing that first reality. It's tough. I know.

I, myself, had to overcome that same feeling. I was successful and in charge in my professional projects in Brazil (mostly music, then some other things). Starting over in a new field (writing) with no contacts when I returned to the US and starting from the bottom confused me at first, then came the resentment. A lot of resentment and bitterness. Then I started adapting and now have a good project I am developing backstage, but I still get attacks of feeling that my current reality is not the way it should be because I have known different.

The best thing I did was let go of the negativity. I didn't want to, either. I had to. Otherwise, I got precious little done and felt awful all the time. But now I'm glad I made the choices I've made. They weren't easy, but they got me out of my funk.

Michael

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41 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Wolf,

As a friend, I have to say this. Hurt feelings will not sell your books... The best thing I did was let go of the negativity.

I feel the same way, a firm friendship, much admire the time and effort required to build and operate OL -- ten years of investment, all of it positive and cheerful.

I don't regret anything I've done to publicize my work recently, spent many thousands of dollars, did radio interviews, social media, pitched a long list of agents and publishers. What I have is unwanted. Brant read Valor and panned it, wanted to slap my hero, said he was disappointed with the story. The Good Walk Alone, serialized above the fold at LFC Times, generated a flood of angry complaints every week. I'm accustomed to rejection, silence, zero sales. Curiously, it only affects me at night when, like now, I hope to tempt someone to buy a book. There's a $4 anthology at Smashwords, three complete novels that will likely be scraped and pirated.

Tomorrow morning like all other mornings I'll walk down the hill with my dog and put my key in the door of my writing office, rested and eager to start coffee and go forward on a project that I don't think has a precedent in literature, the same adventure related twice, his story (40,000 words) and hers (another 40,000) two completely different experiences. I don't actually care whether it's read, not this book. I'll archive it at CreateSpace and Kindle, because I can't rely on my laptop to live forever.

Roark didn't care what people thought -- just saying. It did not matter to the work.

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12 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

 

I don't argue matters of faith.

I have no wish it insult anyone's religion.

:evil:  :)

Michael

1

Michael, it is anything but "faith" and religion. It is yonks of experiences with reality and thinking: introspection (here, about emotion) and observance of others' behavior (with their emotions). So, piles of induction and a lot of deductions about these "acts of consciousness" incorporating the other cognitive "acts" over a lengthy period. I've read Roger Bissell say that you can't "prove" your conceptual knowledge, roughly. A basic truth. I'll add, only *you* knew how the concepts were built, layered piece by piece, but can -quite successfully- only explain your methodology and share your conclusions. You have yourself to satisfy as to 'the truth to reality' of your concepts because they are for your consumption and use.

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13 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

If you are talking about value judgments as Rand used the term for humans, no, they do not determine emotions. (Some do, but the reverse is also true for some--that is some emotions determine some value-judgments.)

As the saying goes, correlation is not necessarily causation.

If you are talking about plants seeking sunshine the way she did in The Virtue of Selfishness, these innate food and avoid predator behaviors determine some basic emotions once a nervous system evolves, but not all.

 

I

:evil:  :)

Michael

 

Well of course, the experiences and memory of *past* emotions also determine one's value-judgments! With the prerequisite of one integrating thought and emotion in a singularity of consciousness, the object of value isn't and can't be separate from one's prior emotions about it/him/her. Those emotions only accentuate the value one perceives in them presently. Our 'history' with "values" increases their worth to us.

We know the human is an animal, and we can see that higher mammals have simple values and therefore a small range of simple emotions, too. However, they cannot 'know' and choose further and greater values since they haven't the self-knowledge man has - man has a huger, much more complex emotional sphere, as consequence of his thinking and values.

That difference is everything. We are self-determining creatures because of just this.

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2 minutes ago, anthony said:

Well of course, the experiences and memory of *past* emotions also determine one's value-judgments! With the prerequisite of one integrating thought and emotion in a singularity of consciousness, the object of value isn't and can't be separate from one's prior emotions about it/him/her. Those emotions only accentuate the value one perceives in them.

We know the human is an animal, and we can see that higher mammals have simple values and therefore a small range of simple emotions, too. However, they cannot 'know' and choose further values since they haven't the self-knowledge man has - man has a huger, much more complex emotional sphere, as consequence of his thinking and values.

That difference is everything. We are self-determining creatures because of just this.

How do you know you know what you are talking about?

I ask because your post is not testimony. "They haven't the self knowledge man has" actually means no one--and nothing animate--has another's self knowledge. Etc.

Ideological thinking just generates opinions. It's no way to drive a car or fly an airplane.

--Brant

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On ‎1‎/‎20‎/‎2018 at 9:34 PM, Wolf DeVoon said:

I feel the same way, a firm friendship, much admire the time and effort required to build and operate OL -- ten years of investment, all of it positive and cheerful.

I don't regret anything I've done to publicize my work recently, spent many thousands of dollars, did radio interviews, social media, pitched a long list of agents and publishers. What I have is unwanted. Brant read Valor and panned it, wanted to slap my hero, said he was disappointed with the story. The Good Walk Alone, serialized above the fold at LFC Times, generated a flood of angry complaints every week. I'm accustomed to rejection, silence, zero sales. Curiously, it only affects me at night when, like now, I hope to tempt someone to buy a book. There's a $4 anthology at Smashwords, three complete novels that will likely be scraped and pirated.

Tomorrow morning like all other mornings I'll walk down the hill with my dog and put my key in the door of my writing office, rested and eager to start coffee and go forward on a project that I don't think has a precedent in literature, the same adventure related twice, his story (40,000 words) and hers (another 40,000) two completely different experiences. I don't actually care whether it's read, not this book. I'll archive it at CreateSpace and Kindle, because I can't rely on my laptop to live forever.

Roark didn't care what people thought -- just saying. It did not matter to the work.

I'll have to look at Valor again for I don't remember the panning.

Roark didn't have to care what people thought because he always took care of business. His way was the right way. Practically speaking he was somewhat deluded. The value of his characterization was watching how his character was invulnerable to various insults because of that lived-in integrity, but it was an admixture of subjective and objective. Thus he corrected Keating's work in college and perpetrated a fraud against the government--an oxymoron I think--and blew up that housing project for Rand's literary reasons. Roark is a square peg forced into a round hole. He almost fit but still needed fitting. Roark as a dynamiter was too choice for Rand not to use. So on and so forth.

You have the great luxury of doing the work you want to do. It's a luxury I hope to have in a few months.

--Brant

Edit: I'm one third way through Valor and still don't recognize me panning it, etc. It's not my style of criticism. You see, this is my first read. I had too much trouble a while back getting going with your prose style so I put it down. So far you seem to be setting up the overall two-fisted context. You are not easy to read here. Spillane is easy to read for this type of first-person noir, but that type died out in the 50s and early 60s, seemingly with him. Even Hollywood couldn't handle him except for a cheap movie or two.

First official criticism: the paper and ink are too reflective. Not a big problem but they need to be toned down a little next time.

Edited by Brant Gaede

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12 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

"Am I to foster the opinion that you treat me thus on account of not sharing so fully in your confidence as it may be, another?

"Or is it, can it be, imaginative that you have reluctantly shared, only shared, with me that which I have bought and paid for fully?

"Can it be that your attention has ever been, or is still, attracted by another, who, by some artifice or other, had the audacity to steal your desire for me and hide it beneath his pillaged pillow of poverty, there to conceal it until demanded with my ransom?

"Speak! Irene! Wife! Woman! Do not sit in silence and allow the blood that now boils in my veins to ooze through cavities of unrestrained passion and trickle down to drench me with its crimson hue!"

Positively dripping purple.

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28 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

How do you know you know what you are talking about?

I ask because your post is not testimony. "They haven't the self knowledge man has" actually means no one--and nothing animate--has another's self knowledge. Etc.

Ideological thinking just generates opinions. It's no way to drive a car or fly an airplane.

--Brant

Knowledge is initiated by self-knowledge/self-awareness. Someone who 'knows'/is 'aware'. Value-judgments begin with recognizing the value of this life one has within existence. Opinions. You can't divorce knowledge from the 'knower', and value also presupposes the existence of 'a valuer'.

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

Michael, it is anything but "faith" and religion. It is yonks of experiences with reality and thinking: introspection (here, about emotion) and observance of others' behavior (with their emotions). So, piles of induction and a lot of deductions about these "acts of consciousness" incorporating the other cognitive "acts" over a lengthy period.

Tony,

Therein lies the problem. That's the first half of gaining knowledge. The second half is testing your conclusions against the findings of others (or your own controlled experiments). And that means establishing criteria, standards of measurement, observation controls, and all the rest. Or studying those who have done this. And that doesn't feel good. That's donkey-work.

But you need both.

I see lots of people in our subcommunity avoid the donkey-work half like the plague. I mean, why bother with the boring stuff which doesn't squirt good-feeling neurochemicals at your inner mammal when everything that feels important can be an epiphany from introspection, especially since that way provides you with all the neurochemical fixes and serotonin dominance highs you could ever want? Right?

Who needs observable facts and repeatable results that challenge the triggering of those emotions? Bleh!...

:) 

(As a former addict, I can tell you folks hate it when you mess with their feel-good shit. They get real stubborn and nasty. :) )

In O-Land, people seem to think "checking one's premises" does not include studying and learning what they missed. It means looking deeper into the Objectivist canon for a gotcha of some sort, daydreaming more than normal, then pretending they have a superior way of thinking.

:)

But that way tends to stifle intellectual growth. You gain certainty of false conclusions based on incorrect perception of facts. At least the certainty feels good...

I hate to say it, but the Objectivist philosophy (which I agree with in most part) did not cause the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. It did not double the human life-span or blast human population growth through the roof. That in itself is proof that humans have learned a few things and have done something right without having Rand's writings to rely on--seeing how most of foundational stuff happened before Rand was even born. I invite you, if you are interested, to look at some of it.

In the area we are discussing, there's been a lot of fact-based progress about the human brain and mind recently. This progress has not been a straight line, it's been logarithmic. 

It's good to check one's premises. Hell, Rand even said so.

:) 

Michael

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14 hours ago, Mark said:

Jonathan’s last post is a nasty projection.  It makes me sick.

Bidinotto is a good essayist but judging from the free excerpts a crummy fiction writer.  Besides, I wouldn’t care for a novel with a CIA agent as a hero or heroine unless he or she was an innocent discovering corruption within the agency.  In Bidinotto’s case the race was not to the swift.

Mark

I bought it in hardcover from Amazon, but haven't read it yet. 

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

That difference is everything. We are self-determining creatures because of just this.

Tony,

This is way oversimplified.

The fact is we are predetermined creatures for the most part with a self-determining component on top. But the ratio of the difference is huge.

Apropos, there's a metaphysical component here. Notice that there is a pattern that is repeated often in nature. You have a small hub that controls (in a gravitational or form-making sense) a huge number of other existents to make a synergistic whole. Space-wise, this goes for the solar system (as one example)--the sun (the small hub) attracts the planets and holds them into orbits (the body). Time-wise, it goes for seeds (the hub) turning into living things much larger than the seeds are (the body). 

All higher-level living organisms have a relatively small brain compared to the rest of their bodies. When the brain stops, the body essentially shuts down.

Even in human-made things like submarines follow this form. You have a small command post and a big rest of the body.

This same pattern works for self-determination. It sits on top of a body it did not determine--and could not have determined. And that body part is huge.

For example, you did not determine to have two legs and two arms. That came predetermined when you came into existence. You did not determine your palate of emotions. You feel from a predetermined set and can control some of this some of the time. But not the vast body of emotional activity. You did not choose the formats for organizing your knowledge. Perception, conceptual abstraction, certain story models, and so on are already predetermined in your brain and you (as a hub) can determine which to use and when, but more often than not, you let 'er run on autopilot (meaning a predetermined body of mental operations).

It's great to feel like humans have total self-determined control over their minds. The reality is, these lopsided feelings don't reflect the facts. Humans only have partial self-determined control (a small hub) that sits on top of a huge amount of automated stuff (a body) that they did not automate.

The only way to increase control of the hub is to abandon illusions and look at reality--especially the reality of the body and it's environment, no matter how bad this feels.

Michael

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I was listening to an oldies station and heard a song by Rush that is optimistic and exciting. Need a lift? Listen to it.

Peter

Freewill

There are those who think that life
Has nothing left to chance
A host of holy horrors
To direct our aimless dance

A planet of playthings
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
The stars aren't aligned
Or the gods are malign
Blame is better to give than receive

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose free will

There are those who think that
They've been dealt a losing hand
The cards were stacked against them
They weren't born in Lotus-Land

All preordained
A prisoner in chains
A victim of venomous fate
Kicked in the face
You can't pray for a place
In heaven's unearthly estate

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose free will

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt
That's far too fleet

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose free will

Songwriters: GEDDY LEE, ALEX LIFESON, NEIL PEART

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36 minutes ago, anthony said:

Tony.

Well, if Business Insider says something about cooking lobsters, that must end inquiry into serotonin, right?

Did you even read what I wrote about lobsters expressing dominance hierarchies? They fight each other. Sometimes the fights get real intense. That's where the emotion resides.

(The victors even get the girl in the end for some quality romance. :) )

Michael

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

We know the human is an animal...

Tony,

That's a particular beef I have with Rand and I've been writing about it for years. She defined the human being as a "rational animal," then ignored (or outright waged war on) the animal part while giving most of her attention and metaphysical importance to the rational part. And she started by declaring that man's mind (meaning the rational part) is man's only means of survival.

If that were the case, humans would have never evolved from non-conceptual primates. No wonder she had her doubts about evolution. It contradicts her very definition of man.

Rand cut her differentia off from her genus in "rational animal" a lot in her writing, then got nasty with those who disagreed with her.

Why bother defining something if that is what you are going to do with it?

Michael

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

Therein lies the problem. That's the first half of gaining knowledge. The second half is testing your conclusions against the findings of others (or your own controlled experiments). And that means establishing criteria, standards of measurement, observation controls, and all the rest. Or studying those who have done this. And that doesn't feel good. That's donkey-work.

But you need both.

 

:) 

Michael

 

You need both, indeed, but do you have the time? First off, there many, many specialized scientific fields one could go into in depth--but to carry out the all experiments to validate all the hypotheses? Without one being a full time scientist in one specific area? I doubt it. To grab at random, a few areas I am somewhat interested in of many, aeronautical engineering, ship design, astronomy, (all without any expertise), then optical theory/ lens design, where I have some expertise.

Where does that leave us? Not sufficient time in a dozen lifetimes to be proficient in all of science, and that's the reason for forming basic concepts which give a little grounding in everything and 'a place' to enter new knowledge into.

E.g. in this topic, I have a little idea of the ideas of brain science/neurochemicals, like everything in memory not always reliable - but - I know at any time I can again look up the 'facts'. Finding empirical facts is easy. One shouldn't forget they are not actually 'facts' until one has slotted them without contradiction into one's present knowledge. They are the scientists' findings until then. If they don't fit, premises have to checked and/or the new findings double-checked. Factual reality for the individual is reasoned from a sense-percept base and grows from there, while the "learned knowledge" which one will accrue, integrates into one's knowledge too - as long as it has been clearly reasoned and it too can be grounded along with one's total knowledge.

 

The effort to conceptualize and keep the concepts tied to reality is not easy - but extremely rewarding. Finding newly-discovered facts is dead easy, and then the effort starts. A problem I see sometimes is that empirical findings can be accepted as 'floating' principles detached from reality - and from any conceptualization - by the science-minded -- much the same as an Objectivist might avoid the effort of inducing/discovering the O'ist principles for himself from scratch, despite those tasks of thought being perhaps the only categorical requirement in Objectivism. In both instances, knowledge is accepted "on faith".

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

You need both, indeed, but do you have the time? First off, there many, many specialized scientific fields one could go into in depth--but to carry out the all experiments to validate all the hypotheses? Without one being a full time scientist in one specific area? I doubt it. To grab at random, a few areas I am somewhat interested in of many, aeronautical engineering, ship design, astronomy, (all without any expertise), then optical theory/ lens design, where I have some expertise.

Where does that leave us? Not sufficient time in a dozen lifetimes to be proficient in all of science, and that's the reason for forming basic concepts which give a little grounding in everything and 'a place' to enter new knowledge into.

E.g. in this topic, I have a little idea of the ideas of brain science/neurochemicals, like everything in memory not always reliable - but - I know at any time I can again look up the 'facts'. Finding empirical facts is easy. One shouldn't forget they are not actually 'facts' until one has slotted them without contradiction into one's present knowledge. They are the scientists' findings until then. If they don't fit, premises have to checked and/or the new findings double-checked. Factual reality for the individual is reasoned from a sense-percept base and grows from there, while the "learned knowledge" which one will accrue, integrates into one's knowledge too - as long as it has been clearly reasoned and it too can be grounded along with one's total knowledge.

 

The effort to conceptualize and keep the concepts tied to reality is not easy - but extremely rewarding. Finding newly-discovered facts is dead easy, and then the effort starts. A problem I see sometimes is that empirical findings can be accepted as 'floating' principles detached from reality - and from any conceptualization - by the science-minded -- much the same as an Objectivist might avoid the effort of inducing/discovering the O'ist principles for himself from scratch, despite those tasks of thought being perhaps the only categorical requirement in Objectivism. In both instances, knowledge is accepted "on faith".

Tony,

That's a lot of verbiage to rationalize laziness.

I'm too lazy to study, but I want to be thought of as an expert anyway.

That's not my way.

May I introduce you to a concept from a book called For the New Intellectual by Ayn Rand?

In her meaning, the Intellectual synthesizes technical knowledge and packages it for lay people, who don't have the time to do all the stuff in the manner you delineated. She even claimed (if memory serves me correctly) that being an Intellectual is a relatively new profession in human history.

(The history-influencing irrational archetypes she talked about in the opening essay were Attila and the Witch Doctor and their corresponding rational counterparts were the Producer and the Intellectual.)

Well, there are oodles of Intellectuals in modern culture who fit this mold. Many lay people buy their nonfiction bestsellers all the time. One after the other. And, for as odd as this might sound, you don't have to be an Objectivist to be an Intellectual. :) 

(All right, all right... I get it... no need to go theeeeeeerrre... :) ) 

Seriously, though. There is no excuse except laziness not to pick up these books and at least scan through them if you claim knowledge about a relevant topic. Reading your comments on brain science is like reading someone from the 1950s or 1960s trying to lecture us about the Internet and smartphones (if such person existed).

There are bookstores and libraries all over the place, and you can even look at the table of contents and read a few pages online on Amazon previews of almost any book you like. There are plenty reader reviews to scan through.

Hell, most of these authors put out videos of interviews and lectures on YouTube.

There is literally no excuse except laziness. The only rational (and, frankly, moral) alternative is to admit ignorance. There is no character defect in not knowing something. Just say you don't know yet and need to look into it. But there is no virtue in claiming to know something about a super-dynamic field like emotions (through the lens of brain science) and refusing to look and absorb new knowledge when it's so easy to do.

Michael

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3 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

He watched one cry just before he dropped it into the pot.

Actually they don't, "cry," until they are in the pot.

So perhaps they lied to me when I asked them if they felt emotion. Not one ever said they did, and I've asked scores of them. Same goes for clams. I've tortured thousands of them without complaint, and both lobsters and clams have rewarded me by tasting wonderful.

Randy

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Let me mention an example of holding a firm position on something where there is a lot of exponential knowledge exploding, but not having time to keep up with the knowledge:

Manmade climate change.

My position is not that it exists or doesn't exist. My position is that the government well-paid experts and scientists and propagandists who have tried to sell massive government controls to people have been caught lying over and over. And their predictions keep crapping out. I'm certainly not going to invest a lot of my own time and energy reading materials--even materials for lay people--based on their work. (In fact, I used to look at this stuff, but then I found out the monkey-shines and stopped.)

Besides, there are plenty of scientists of good repute who dispute their claims.

So I don't trust liars who have conflicts of interest to boot. I don't claim to be an expert on climate science. What little interest I did have in it evaporated when I discovered what a dirty, morally flawed field it is in gathering and presenting evidence. 

I prefer to give this issue some time and wait until scientists of reasonable integrity appear. The scare tactics of proven liars don't affect me.

As to my own beliefs on manmade climate change, I can't appeal to hard science. But I do have a rule of thumb that gives me a strong bias. I admit this is not science so there is a small margin for error.

I don't believe much of what liars say. And proven liars are the most vocal ones who constantly claim manmade climate change is a danger. I don't believe them.

That's a way to do it as a lay person when there are too many piles of technical data to look at and everybody is yelling for more and more government money and power.

You simply look at the moral character of the scientists who do the experiments and measurements and judge them by their actions. At least you will be able to conclude that what they tell to the public is flawed and misleading.

Michael

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

But there is no virtue in claiming to know something about a super-dynamic field like emotions (through the lens of brain science) and refusing to look and absorb new knowledge when it's so easy to do.

Perhaps you could provide a short list of authors or books that provide that new knowledge.

Randy

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