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Archive for June, 2011

Books I Want to Write Before I Die

June 27, 2011 3 comments

There are a number of books that I want to write before I die. As someone that has pessimistic tendancies, I do not think I will accomplish them all. I hold a full time job and have to write my books in my spare time, either on my lunch hour, or time that I make available to write after work. There really is only one book that I know for sure that I will finish(unless I get hit by a car or something of that sort), and that is the one I am currently in the process of writing and have been for a number of years now. My first book will be Breaking the Free Will Illusion for the Betterment of Humankind. It will show, in complete layperson’s terms, the absurdity of the notion of free will. It will also detail why our current free will psychology is harmful and needs to change. I have started with this book because it is a base topic. In other words, strongly establishing this fact is of great importance for most others. The four main books I want to write are as follows:

  • The book I am currently writing about the lack of free will and the direction that I hope humanity will be lead with this understanding.
  • A book detailing my ethical philosophy, of course written for the layperson (as all of my books will be). One that I find of equal importance as my book about the free will illusion, but one that must come afterward.
  • A book about the state of affairs of life, and what our ethical responsibilities should be to those state of affairs. This book will be even more controversial than my book about the free will illusion, but it will be a very important book, and equally as supported by logic.
  • The three above are all nonfiction books. I would also like to write a science fiction book that illustrates some of my philosophical concerns. One that has thoughtful entertainment value. I have already started one and work on it when the mood strikes. Ideally, I’d like this to be my third or fourth book.

If I could get all of the above books written and out to the public before I die, that would make me ecstatic. I have more books in my head in which I would like to get out as well, such as one in regards to my philosophy of knowledge (epistemology), one on animal welfare, one on certain -isms that are problematic, and maybe even another fiction book or two. At the rate I am processing the first book (hopefully complete in 2012), these ones will need to take back seat. I’d be happy enough with the four books I have bulleted above before I croak. We’ll see.

Is there a book you desire to write before you die? If so, what type and what’s it about? Leave me a comment.

Self Learning Stigma

There is a stigma placed on people who learn through self study rather that institutionalized study. They are less worthy in the eyes of the public.

Certainly, when someone has credentials from a respected institution, it means that they must know something. They put forth the effort to receive good grades, awards, and certificates.

Or, possibly, it means that they have endured a process to get through courses they had no real interest in, and forgot most of the things they forced into their brains by rote memory once the course had ended.

Not to mention the tendency of academia to strip the creative mind away from people. The more a person can spew back what is fed to them, the better there grades. Creatively deviate, however, and you might notice a grade drop.

Mind you, I find there are many benefits of the college/university process. That being said, I think everything I had learned at college, if today’s Internet, technology, and stores of information had been available in the late 80’s and early 90’s,  could have theoretically been self taught. That, of course, does not mean people would actually make the effort to self learn without that piece of paper to show they have made the effort. But what if they do?

The drive to self study means that there is a real interest within the person that does so.  They truly care about the topic. And when someone truly cares, they become the real subject matter experts – certificate or not. Certainly many people in academia care about topics. It does not follow, however, that one needs to be part of an academic institution to care about and become an expert in a topic, or that following such academic lines means that one does care about those topics or is an expert in them. Some cannot afford the expense or the time of school. They work full time jobs to pay the bills.

Self learning enables people to learn on their own time without putting them into debt. It enables them to access the abundant supply of resources that are ever expanding.

And with the Internet, self learning is quicker and easier than ever before. Unfortunately it is an uphill battle to gain the respect needed in your area of expertise.

In philosophy, for example, the problem comes when someone makes a case and they are dismissed entirely due to a lack of institutionalized credentials. It matters not how knowledgeable the person is or how solid their arguments are. It matters not that there are people with PhD’s who make extremely illogical arguments. The person without the credentials is dismissed out of hand. The term armchair philosopher is thrown at many people who deserve as much respect as those that have gone through a large block of their life in institutionalized study.

Also, the argument from authority fallacy is rampant amongst many. People make a claim given to them by an authority, and as soon as someone challenges them on the claim they refer to the authority. They cannot, however, go head to head with the challenge. They have taken the authorities word for it without actually looking at the logic of said authority. And when someone without the same institutionalized credentials makes the challenge, they will say things like:

“Are you a professor of X? Such and such is.”
“Do you hold a PhD in X? Such and such does.”

They put people on a pedestal instead of trying to understand the logic themselves to see if such a person really is deserving of that pedestal.

We need to move away from this mentality. I don’t mean that we need to take away from the effort a person put in to go to school.  I just mean we should not dismiss those that do not. The age of self learning is here and getting stronger each moment. No longer are people limited to academia for knowledge and wisdom they wish to obtain. Most information is readily available to the majority of people in developed countries. The ways in which such information is being disseminated is changing rapidly. Boring lectures and bloated droning textbooks are still here, but losing ground as teachers begin to use technology in the classroom.

To be honest, I do not foresee teachers or professors existing in the future with the exception of certain manual labor fields. Instead there will be guides for lab work and “information directors” who will assist students with how to use technology to find all of the answers they require. Most lectures will be recorded in various media forms by the best of the best. Everyone will be able to have standardized learning experiences from recordings of the best teachers. Question and answer databases will expand and students will learn to answer their own questions. Once technology and self study reaches a certain point, how we determine if someone has knowledge and how we give credence will need to change. This is the future.

The point is, people need to start reducing the sigma of those that self learn. The boundaries are blurring between those in academia and those that are self taught. With the Internet and new media, the public can be the arbiters of who has expertise and who does not, based solely on what a person produces. A piece of paper on a wall is, and always has been, a very shallow arbiter.

Are you a self learner? What is your take on the future of self learning?

Poll on “Free Will”

(Note: This was initially posted in April 2011, but am republishing it under the current date every now and again so it is visible. I am looking to get more responses as I build readership. I am truly interested in people’s answer to this.)

Doodles for my Blog

June 13, 2011 4 comments

If you have been reading my blog, you may notice the line drawings above each post. Once I write a blog post I like to whip up a sketch that has some relation to the post. I started these doodles from May of this year on. Hopefully I can keep these up.

I also am going to illustrate sections of the book I am currently in the process of writing: Breaking the Free Will Illusion for the Betterment of Humankind. Of course (like the writing) I plan on taking more time with those pieces used for the book than the ones I draw quickly for my blog.

I’m also considering creating a page linked off of www.TrickSlattery.com for art that will be free for people to use as clipart, or on their own website or blog (as long as they are unaltered and link back). Just random drawings that I may do. The drawings will probably be a little obscur (I have a weird mind), so not sure if many will find them of use. I have not created such a page as of yet, but stay tuned. Once I do I will create a new blog post to let any blog subscribers know, and a quick blog post when I post a new doodle or drawing.

I’d appreciate it if people do not use the images at the top of my own blog posts, as I am drawing them specifically for my posts and would like them to be unique. If, however, you like something I am using for a post, let me know. I’m flexable.

Evolution Worship

June 6, 2011 3 comments

First thing first – I hold to a naturalistic worldview. I believe strongly that we came about via a process of evolution. It is a scientific fact. It matters not to me if you are a naturalist, spiritualist, theist, or atheist. If you do not believe in evolution, you go against one of the strongest scientific theories in existence. One with mounds and mounds of evidence (The genetic ERV evidence alone is undeniable proof  of common ancestery).

Evolution explains how we came about from the simpilist of lifeforms, and knowledge of evolution is an important key to most if not all biological and medical sciences. For this reason we should learn as much as we can about the process. It is also an important fact about our history.

But that is where my appreciation for evolutionary processes ends. History is riddled with horrors, and evolution is one of them. And unfortunately for animals in the wild it is a process that continues.

The fact of the matter is that evolution is a terrible process. Survival of the fittest is sloppy, unintelligent, and harmful. It does not care about pain and suffering. It does not care that it is a process of elimination in the worst possible ways.

That is why it bothers me when fellow thinkers and scientists who hold a naturalistic worldview do what I call “evolution worship”.

They might, for example, say that moral intuitions have come about through the process of evolution – as if that is a worthy process for morality that we should continue to adhere to. As if such a process is where we as intelligent humans should continue to derive our moral understandings. I have seen this type of attitude first hand, and it is used to trump logical conclusions of ethical systems.

I don’t deny that our ability to be social animals who worked together and helped others within our community was a trait that was an evolutionary advantage. But what of the actual process. Well, those that were less social were killed off before they can procreate. And they were usually killed off in the worst possible ways. Eaten alive, injury, and starvation are just a few of the many ways to go.  We as survivors tend to ignore the actual process for the benefit of the survivors.

Another way they might grandize evolution is to point to the beauty that they subjectively feel within nature – as if such “beauty” trumps any of the problems that an unintelligent process of evolution causes. Seeing only the beauty allows them to close their eyes to the horrors or minimize the concern for such horrors. And it propagates that sort of meme on to others, making it easier for them to close their eyes on the problems as well.

The worst part about survival of the fittest is that it is still happening in the animal kingdom. Sure, we humans are the top of the food chain and do not have to worry much about survival in the wild any longer. Instead we have replaced that with war, destroying the environment, putting chemicals in our bodies, factory farming, and a slew of other harmful activities. Another time, another blog entry.

But as you read this a baby elephant is being ripped to shreds by lions. An elephant that is still alive. As you read this there are masses of animals in pain, suffering long dying processes, sometimes days, sometimes weeks. As you read this there are animals feeding off of other animals. Large birds swooping down grabbing cute little defenseless herbivores. If those little herbivores can bear enough babies before they are snagged by carnivores, that is their survival mechanism. Sheer numbers so that some of those numbers can produce more before they have teeth or claws stuck in them.

Some scientists suggest that we should launch organisms into outerspace, so that, if they can get on to a planet where they can thrive – the process of evolution can start all over again on that planet. We can increase the number of planets that have to endure such a nasty process. If that is not evolution worship then I do not know what is.

No, evolution is not a process that we should bow to the alter of. It is a constant stream of blood, pain, and suffering. It should disgust us. It is something that we should be very concerned about fixing, for all life that has to endure it.

What types of “evolution worship” have you experienced?