Day 730 Sunday January 6, 2019 861 Days to Go
Tomorrow is the last day of Christmas and I hate to see it go, but then we have a new season. A season of rebirth and of light, the days are getting longer. Yes, there will be a time of darkness and cold but then will come the glorious healing. I am talking of the forthcoming indictments in the Mueller probe, of course. Ah yes, I do hope to see many of these crooks, swindlers, and fourflushers hauled off to the pokey. It may be too much to wish for but I am optimistic.
I’ve been thinking a lot about truth, reality, and science. The average life of a person didn’t really improve until Sir Issac Newton introduced the idea of scientific thought. This is a methodology which says that you look at the evidence and draw conclusions. You can make guesses of course, but then you have to find evidence to support them in order for them to be taken as true. There have been other methodologies suggested tried and used, but none have been as successful as the scientific method. The other methodologies being based on guessing, magic, religion, or authority.
Then we get to facts. there are two kinds: those that can be repeatedly demonstrated and those that are historical and only happen once. Historical facts are by definition not repeatable. They are open to both interpretation and misrepresentation. For example: “Was it a touchdown?” That is debated every Sunday of football season. We now have video replay, which by and large clears up the question, but there are times when even that is called into question. In a way, video replay allows us to look at a historical event (i.e. something that happened in the past) again, and decide what happened.
Unfortunately, there was no video replay when Jesus walked on water. You have to believe, or you have to say that there is no evidence that it happened and no supporting facts to say that it could have happened.
Having studied religion on and off for most of my adult life I have come to see that religions have three things in common: 1) a charismatic leader, 2) a sacred text, and 3) I forgot (Whoops).
As I study archaeology and I look at the various remains of the past I see evidence of people believing in a superior being or group of superior entities. There seems to be an innate part of the human mind to make stuff up to explain that which we don’t really understand. This satisfies some sense of closure I suspect. By that I mean you don’t have to think about it any more and can move on to other things. I’m also convinced, based on little evidence, that most religions and wacky ideas come from authority figures (notably grandparents) who just make stuff up to get the kid to stop asking, “Why?” The kid has no idea and accepts it as true. I remember once telling a young neighbor’s kid that cannolis were filled with goat poop (or something like that.) The poor mom couldn’t convince the little guy otherwise.
But think about this, until we discovered germs, viruses, and antibiotics (the last one being in the 1940s) we were subject to waking up with a cough and the likelihood of being dead by nightfall. What gets me is the folks that reject science and put their lives at risk, like the anti-vaxers and The Christian Scientists. Just think about the recent Fox News commentator who died who was opposed to vaccines. Dead from things that a vaccine could have prevented. Or ask the American Indians both North and South who were 80-90% wiped out by smallpox and measles. They didn’t have the advantage of 400,000 years of development with the Neanderthals to overcome most of the harmful effects of those illnesses that Europeans did.
There was also the need to try and explain how and why the sun rose everyday; why the rains came or didn’t; why the stars moved like they did, and why some stars “wandered.” We now know that the wandering stars are planets, that the Earth goes around the Sun, that the Earth spins and wobbles causing summer and winter, that the moon pulls the water in the oceans causing tides. Ancient folks had no idea what caused many things, like the tides. They made stuff up to explain it.
We are watching a resurgence of that kind of behavior today, fueled by media companies looking for profits, and powerful individuals and political entities with a motive.
I still remember being outside a Roman Catholic church as services were letting out and a priest was telling a story. He had a rich Irish accent and was talking about a young boy whom I knew. The boy’s name was Chris and he was an enthusiastic child. That is to say he did what he wanted with little regard to consequence or warnings. He wasn’t being bad. He just enjoyed doing stuff. He had a great smile. It was Easter season and the priest had just told the kids about Christ dying, rising three days later from the dead and walking among the living before rising up to heaven. Chris had probably not been paying attention the whole time but when he woke up to what was being said he was having none of it. I still remember the priest in his rich brogue saying that Chris said, “Uh-uh, no, when you’re dead. You’re dead. There’s no getting up.” And he went on to expound further, all this to the amusement of the priest and the adults gathered to hear the story.
But it’s a cautionary tale, isn’t it? It’s really the story of The Emperor has No Clothes, but the difference is that the adults believe. They believe a story that can’t be proved. That there is no supporting evidence to say it did or could have happened, but they are asked to suspend all rational thought and BELIEVE! The kid is having none of it.
Then we get to Ms. Cortez and the continuing Republican love affair with her. Some Republican idiot called Ms. Cortez “a girl with a big mouth.” He then went on to criticize her idea to tax the very rich at 70%. The Republican guy thinks that’s dumb. Well, what do others think? Let’s check in with a Nobel prize winning economist. Paul Krugman. He agreed with Ms. Cortez. He pointed out that the last time tax rates on the rich were that high the U.S. had one of the strongest economic resurgence ever. He also pointed out that it would affect only a few people but would benefit many if the many had their tax rates lower. Hum. Surprise, a twenty nine year old bartender knows more about economics than the whole Republican Party. Well, maybe that’s not fair. Maybe they do know something, but don’t care, because they are bought off by their rich donors. If you back the Republicans you’ll get screwed. If you go with Cortez we’ll see a revival of our economy.
Which do you choose?
861 Days to Go
PS I’m Coming for you!