Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Bit of Philosophy: What is the Truth?

I heard a story once about a man in a psychiatric ward who thought he was Napoleon.  One day, the man told the doctors that he was cured.  So the doctors hooked  him up to a polygraph and asked him if he was Napoleon.  The man answered no, but the machine said he was lying.

While I like the story for the general humor of the situation, I think it brings up a valuable point about humans:

If someone wants to believe something enough, he can convince himself it's the truth regardless of reality.
Think about it a minute.  There is a group of people who believe the earth is flat, contrary to an overabundance of scientific evidence to the contrary.  You can visit the Flat Earth Society and visit the International Flat Earth Society's forums (website still coming).  Despite evidence to the contrary, people also believe that the Earth is only a few thousand years old, going so far as to present what is supposed to be a logical "proof" to back up their belief.  A recent poll showed that about 20% of Americans still believe in witches, as in Samantha and Sabrina.  People also believe that the rotational patterns of giant balls of gas millions and billions of miles away from Earth effect their own, individual personal lives (astrology), that the sun rotates around the Earth, that people rode dinosaur (Creation Museum), that people leave ghosts when they die, and that the Loch Ness Monster will someday be found.  If you put aside your desire for these things to be true,  your desire for those giant balls of gas to excuse your behavior and bad luck, your desire for magic and magical answers, and look at what's around you, really look, you will see how silly these beliefs are.

Voliva's flat earth map. Modern Mechanics and Invention, October, 1931.
But most people never look.  They never realize that Santa Claus is a great game of make-believe between parents and their kids.  They spend so much time trying to justify and artificially quantify the insanity that they don't have the time or energy to focus on their own lives.  Because with a little bit of effort and a lot of belief, you can make astrology real to yourself. Then BAM!  Instant excuse for the crap in your life and eternal promises of "It will be better tomorrow".  It all depends on what you want the truth to be. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Freaky Friday News: March 21, 2014

New Happiness Study: Google Got it Right

Last month, the University of Warwick released a study called "Happiness and Productivity".  In the study, they set about gathering evidence to either confirm or deny the belief that happier employees are more productive employees.  Not surprising, it turns out that happy employees are on average 12% more productive than neutral employees, while unhappy employees are less productive.  Or as Google so succinctly put it:
We want to make your life better and easier.
Here’s the secret sauce to our benefits and perks: It’s all about removing barriers so Googlers can focus on the things they love, both inside and outside of work. We’re constantly searching for unique ways to improve the health and happiness of our Googlers

Fred Phelps is Dead, but Bigotry Lives on!

Susanne Atanus
Fred Phelps Sr. from the Westboro Baptist Church died this week at the age of 84.  But fear not, his particular brand of bigotry continues to haunt us.  First, Susanne Atanus won the Republican primary for the Chicago area's 9th Congressional District.  Atanus is on record as stating that natural disasters and mental disorders, such as autism, are God's punishment for our advancements in LGBT equality.  

Next, Dr. James David Manning of the ATLAH Missionary Worldwide Church in Harlem put the following messages up on the church billboard:
Obama has released the homo demons on the black man.  Look out black woman. A white homo may take your man.
Jesus would stone homos 
A local lesbian, Jennifer Louise Lopez, dropped by the church and asked for her stoning.  As of now, they refuse to stone her.

Kathy Afzali, R-Frederick
Third, a group in Maryland who call themselves Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government (website at and Del. Kathy Afzali (R-Frederick) are working hard to convince everyone if the Fairness for All Marylanders Act passes (making discrimination against transgender people illegal), then women everywhere will be attacked by cross-dressing men in bathrooms.  On the positive side, over 70% of Maryland residents support the act.

If only we had a vaccination for bigotry...

Alabama State Congress Approves Bill Allowing Medical Marijuana

That's right, folks.  In a move that shows Alabama is more than just country music, the state congress passed a bill called Carly's law, after a toddler who needs the medical marijuana to help treat her seizure disorder.  The governor has indicated he will sign the bill, making the state the 21st to allow medical marijuana usage.