DR. DREIMER'S OBSERVATIONS: (updated as inspiration strikes)
|The only constant is change; time is the ultimate victor. Robert
Frost declared that "nothing gold can stay;" it was
Gertrude who remarked: "all that lives must die, passing through nature to
Man has imagination, and conceives of things outside time – eternity, perhaps – or Nirvana – or some unchanging perfection. And through art – painting, music, sculpture, literature, or film – he attempts to achieve -- in the words of Frost again – "a momentary stay against confusion." The stay is momentary, because, as Frost also noted: "Some say the world will end in fire, /Some say in ice..."
But --whether in fire or ice -- the human experiment will one day end -- and all the golden words and silver music will be spent.
In the meantime, man creates – in defiance of time and meaninglessness. The futility, perhaps, lends a sense of nobility: a noisy but doomed struggle is yet better than a quiet resignation, an acquiescence in defeat.
The observations below attempt – with varying degrees of success – to say something true about the human condition. They are constructed in an attempt to reflect the spirit of Alexander Pope’s definition of true wit: "what oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d."
Our primary Observation -- which applies to all strivings of the human imagination -- is this:
Art is man’s challenge to Time, his rebuke to Chaos; the protest will survive neither the triumph of fire, nor the finality of ice -- but it is better than the silence of consent.
These Observations are in chronological order. The vast majority -- except the most recent (currently those after #1255) -- are recognized by Google. (Sometimes Google seems to require the number of the Observation in order to recognize it.) About sixty may also be found at www.quotegarden.com. through a search for the quotation or "Dr. Idel Dreimer" on that site. The Quote Garden is a good source of quotations if you are searching by topic.
(There are now so many Observations, that we have also listed them by topic. Click here for Observations by Topic, including Most Popular and Personal Favourites
1275. We do not expect government leaders to criticize any religion -- but nor do we expect them to decry "Islamophobia," and suggest that criticism of Islam should be silenced. In doing so, they betray the principle of freedom of speech. Expressions of pious outrage in defence of Islam are, in fact, counter-productive: like those of the Player Queen -- they are seen to be protestations entirely too much.
1274. The endless protection of feelings -- a cultivation of fragility -- is unwise. It leads to the seeking of validation, not through competence and the overcoming of obstacles, but through claiming increasing degrees of passivity and insufficiency – the "triumph" of victimhood.
1273. It is not surprising that, in an era of approved infantilization, so many seek validation, not in accomplishment, but in victimhood.
1272. The infant assumes he is the centre of the universe -- but eventually must encounter the reality. The failure to say "no" -- to enhance self-esteem -- ensures a prolonged infancy, and a consequent failure of competence.
1271. Self-esteem is not bestowed, but earned through accomplishment.
1270. Political correctness is the barometer of a society which does not wish to confront reality.
1269. When does lying to people in order to protect their feelings show respect -- and when does it show condescension?
1268. Every culture seeks success; some do it through economic progress, enhanced social stability, and creative endeavours; others by constantly emphasizing their lack of it -- their righteous claim to victimhood.
1267. The number of cultural grievance tantrums will decline in direct proportion to the amount of ridicule they elicit. (Henceforth this will be known as Dr. Dreimer's Second Law of Cultural Sensitivity.)
1266. The number of cultural grievance tantrums will rise in direct proportion to the kind and solicitous attention paid to them. (Henceforth this will be known as the Dr. Dreimer's First Law of Cultural Sensitivity.)
1265. The cultural grievance industry -- like any other -- will fold when it ceases to be profitable.
1264. Political correctness represents the desire to attain the unattainable virtue of equality; it must eventually founder on the fact that price of any ideal virtue is too high -- it is paid in the coin of freedom and the currency of truth.
1263. Determining the difference between the achievable and the simply stupid is something we have not yet figured out.
1262. Damnation is inevitable: if you do not engage in the struggle for perfection, you are a moral failure; but too determined a struggle for the impossible invariably brings not virtue, but vice.
1261. Human aspirations for "equality" are cruelly mocked by the unaccommodating reality: some ideas, behaviours, and attitudes are more useful than others.
1260. Not only are human beings not perfectible -- the point at which apparently desirable virtues are transformed into practical vices comes much earlier than most people think.
1259. It is surprising how many people trade in their bullshit detectors for illusion receptors.
1258. Meaning is in the moment, not in eternity.
1257. No one can deny the confounding mysteries: the existence of matter, the transformation to animate matter, and the existence of consciousness. But religious explanations are always too simplistic; they assume a grand design, a human primacy and a divine concern and benevolence which cannot be justified by the facts of our circumstance.
1256. Political correctness suggests that feelings are the rock upon which a moral philosophy can be built. But feelings -- subjective, variable, and potentially unlimited in scope -- are not rock -- but sands -- shifting, unstable, and ultimately -- incoherent.
1255. Every ideal is blind to reality. The abyss of truth is remarkably patient.
1254. Political correctness is the new religion; it holds that truth should always defer to kindness and compassion. It is the always -- the categorical imperative -- that is the problem. When the avoidance of hurt feelings is the overriding virtue, not only is truth ignored, but the freedom to speak it must be suppressed. Every virtue contains the self-destructive seed of uncompromising absolutism, the potential fruit of categorical oppression.
1253. It is possible that the belief in powerful, concerned, and often benign deities -- while completely unfounded -- is an illusion essential to the human project. History would seem to suggest so -- but perhaps there is hope for a faith in reason in the future.
1252. One of the great -- but largely unacknowledged -- sources of human wisdom is the simple, lowly, bullshit detector.
1251. In summation: orderly progress appears to be the result of a powerful -- partly random -- force of experimental creativity thrust against a restrictive but constantly varying gate of efficacy and utility.
1250. The universe appears to operate through an interplay of chaos and utilitarian limitation -- which gives the impression of order. Random, creative, experimental elements are loosed, then reigned in and limited by what "works." This is how evolution proceeds; we suspect that it is how living brains operate. Without experimental "playfulness," there could be no works of art. The fact that this universe is "just right" for life may not be by design -- but because it is simply the "successful" outcome in a series of other universe experiments.
1249. It is currently the fashion to decry "rote learning." But no matter how wonderful your oven, it will not produce a cake without a batter of necessary ingredients.
1248. A more sophisticated slogan would have been "All Lives Matter." "Black Lives Matter" suggests that skin colour is both defining and important -- which is exactly the mindset being condemned.
1247. Different standards are applied to different races and cultures; it is legitimate to condemn the white race and culture with the term "white privilege;" it is deplorable racism to note any scientific or cultural achievements by those who are white. For other races and cultures, the reverse is true: approval is allowed; criticism is not. At the heart of such disparities is the desire to find equality where it "should" -- but does not -- exist.
1246. There is a double standard when referring to indigenous cultures: approving comments reflect an acknowledgment of cultural achievements; disapproving comments are dismissed as racist.
1245. To object to someone because of race -- an unchangeable characteristic -- is foolish; to be opposed to cultural practices -- which are alterable -- is legitimate. Awkwardly, race and culture are often intertwined, and race is used as a visual signal to justify prejudice based on cultural antipathies. In a perfect world, people would never leap to conclusions about individuals -- or generalize about groups; in the real world, it is commonplace -- and may be part of our genetic heritage. Even those who condemn prejudicial negative generalizations about one group, often fall into the same error -- by making positive generalizations about the same group -- or with categorical condemnation of some other group.
1244. Political correctness: It would be madness to predict when the madness will end.
1243. Finding something which -- by some elasticity of the imagination -- might be termed "racism" is like discovering a well-travelled broomstick in the garden shed. A gleeful dance of moral triumph around the ritual bonfire is assured.
1242. Moral superiority is impossible in the absence of egregious moral turpitude in others -- thus the timeless appeal of witch hunts and virtue signalling.
1241. Traditionally, men have required myths to live by -- as refutations of an apparently uncaring universe, and as an assurance of immortality. The great modern danger is that they are divisive elements not subject to rational discussion, and are -- as in the past -- convenient tools for oppression.
1240. It is the aim of political correctness to put a gloss of lipstick on the snout of truth -- to ignore deficiencies -- to focus on what sounds good -- to proclaim the advantage to every awkwardness. There is always a degree of coercion involved in requiring people to see only the lipstick, not the pig beneath.
1239. The current "correct" view is that "equality" is a reality implicit in the nature of things -- or one that must, at all costs, be engineered. Thus all apparent competence and success bear the taint of moral failure -- and must be condemned; failure and incompetence are redeemed by moral virtue -- and must be promoted and encouraged. High self-esteem should be independent of accomplishment, and feelings -- so often vulnerable to facts -- must never suffer the perception of an "unequal" deficiency. In other words, intellectual dishonesty is currently the prime requirement for holding socially approved views.
1238. Religion -- traditionally -- enhances the commitment and ferocity of the tribe -- and hence its survival.
1237. "Equality" sounds good; "merit" works. The desire to substitute one for the other is a modern folly – one which underlies socialism, multiculturalism, and, of course – political correctness.
1236. Affirmative action -- discrimination with an euphemistic face. (An improvement on #13)
1235. Heaven sounds awfully boring. Let's face it -- it's sin -- or the prospect of it -- that keeps us alive and interested. No wonder you need a death certificate to get in.
1234. Heaven sounds awfully boring -- like rice pudding without the raisins.
1233. People who go around saying, "Our strength is in diversity" are probably thinking of plywood. But you can't make plywood out of maple syrup.
1232. The home improvement store -- the local lumber yard -- should not be seen as prosaic purveyors of paint and plywood -- but as hymns to the creative spirit.
1231. Runaway spending -- when the money engine busts the brain brake.
1230. Ostentation is the horn that blows when the money engine has broken the brain brake.
1229. The law of the jungle says that inadequate, unhappy, and inefficient cultures must adapt or die; the law of compassionate civilization says they must be cherished and encouraged as equally worthy. Those who consistently choose tact over truth are likely to go -- politely -- extinct.
1228. It used to be that education was for the few; now, quite rightly, it is for the many. But we should not be surprised at the "democratization" of the language -- as more people use it -- the average proficiency in expression declines.
1227. We are moving from an era of religious idealism to one of secular idealism; the central secular ideal -- which underlies socialism, multiculturalism, and political correctness -- is that of "equality." Beyond, a corrective era awaits -- one in which it is recognized that ideals must be tempered by reality.
1226. Religions are useful, not truthful.
1225. We launch our atheistic missiles without scruple at the staunch believers; we know that the carapace of irrational faith has never yet been penetrated by reason, nor yet been dented by doubt.
1224. The Bible: historically significant; increasingly irrelevant; and -- to the gullible -- dangerously misleading.
1223. Masking the face always symbolizes a rejection of collaborative humanity: the medicine man signals his supernatural powers; the criminal his anti-social intent; the niqab-wearer her rejection of community.
1222. Religion may be reasonably benign when seen as a comforting -- but temporary and occasional -- flirtation with fantasy -- and as an acknowledgment that life has many unanswered questions. It can be quite dangerous as a permanent delusion -- a conclusion that all the questions have been answered.
1221. The great promise of socialism is "equality." But "equality' is a Procrustean bed into which real, competitive, and unequal human beings simply will not fit. The attempts to make them fit explain why socialist experiments eventually end as dictatorships.
1220. Seeing the faces of others enables empathy; the masking of faces creates uncertainty; it suggests and encourages hostility.
1219. Age does not attenuate -- rather it accentuates our eccentricities.
1218. In some music, one hears the metronome of the soul.
1217. The face enables empathy: it is easier to insult someone at a distance -- in writing -- than in person. This is another reason that cultural face-coverings are to be deplored.
1216. Ideals represent virtuous perfection; democracy is messy and unpredictable. The left will always favour ideals over democracy.
1215. Those on the left are often so enamoured with their ideal conceptions of man and society that they deem them unassailable virtues -- to be finagled when possible -- or imposed when necessary. This explains why all socialist schemes -- even those approved, initially, by the majority -- are eventually revealed as coercive. It is why "socialism," in time, becomes indistinguishable from dictatorship.
1214. Aiding the unfortunate should never be referred to as "reducing inequality" -- since that suggests that "equality" is a desirable goal. It is not: the attempt to attain the unattainable is coercive and stupid. "Aiding the unfortunate" should be referred to as "aiding the unfortunate."
1213. We are witnessing a period of self-loathing in western societies which is based on a sense that "equality" is the bedrock reality of the human condition. Using that standard, everything which is "successful" offends the egalitarian moral imperative, and, in that sense, is a failure. Conversely, anything manifestly unsuccessful represents an oppressed virtue in dire need of promotion and respect.
1212. Human beings respond to incentives; they are inherently competitive. Just as the competitive spirit cannot be allowed unfettered reign, neither can it be extinguished. Those who attempt to do so -- under the banners of virtue and equality -- are not merely foolish; given sufficient power, they become dictators -- and murderers.
1211. If the niqab were merely an armband depicting a veiled face – it would be symbolically offensive – either as a marker of oppression – or of deliberate cultural insult. Because it actually masks the face – it adds injury to insult: it is a barrier to integration, ensures cultural isolation, and represents a risk to security. A further symbolic insult is added – that of a superior stance – the claim of a right to observe faces which it denies to others. Hiding the face is no more a "minority right" than is public nudity.
1210. Stupidity is easy to implement, harder to fix.
1209. The single payer health care system is, necessarily, coercive, removing competition and reducing patient choice. How we supplicants wish to throw off the yoke, and become customers, able to take our business elsewhere!
1208. Truth will always be ignored if it challenges a cherished illusion.
November 1, 2017 ends the eighth year of Observations
1207. "Racism" is a convenient buzzword used as an unanswerable accusation of moral depravity. It is often applied to criticism which has nothing to do with race.
1206. The just society does not promote equality, rather, it removes barriers to self-fulfilment. It allows capitalism as the most efficient economic system, but mitigates its Darwinian effects by alleviating need.
1205. Political correctness is the inedible fruit of unreasonable expectations.
1204. There are truths which everyone knows -- and which everyone is afraid to say; that is the triumph of political correctness.
1203. The criminalization of hatred can only ensure its continuance. What is more worthy of contempt than the attempt to criminalize a human emotion?
1202. The law of the survival of the fittest is cruel, but axiomatic and irrefutable. As civilizations focus on equality, rather than merit, so they ensure their decline.
1201. Socialism, multiculturalism, and political correctness are all informed by the principle of equality. Since "equality" is an unattainable ideal state, coercion and oppression are intrinsic to all three.
1200. What evils are wrought in the name of "equality!" It is the Procrustean bed into which the great unequal masses of mankind must be forced in order to proclaim that "virtue" has been achieved.
1199. The strand of self-loathing currently so evident in western civilization may be attributed to the idealistic focus on equality. All western achievements fail the egalitarian test; true virtue is to be found in cultures less competent, and less successful -- the traditionally disparaged. Even directly antithetical cultural values must be spared criticism in the name of "equality."
1198. When equality is the measure, all success is tainted by failure.
1197. Propaganda is only needed when the truth isn't good enough.
1196. The United Nations is a whited sepulchre -- a veneer of noble intentions covering a festering corruption beneath.
1195. The road to infantile incompetence is paved with exaggerated sensitivity.
1194. Liberal principles...aren’t they a bit like worthless treasures, unlikely certainties, and – oh yes -- straightforward deceptions?
1193. Banning the burka -- a great kindness mischaracterized as an offensive cruelty.
1192. Islam is a tough nut to crack: at its core is a ruthless, aggressive, hostile political ideology cunningly concealed beneath a ruthless, hostile, aggressive religious philosophy.
1191. Hiding one's face during ordinary social interactions is ridiculous, divisive, and subversive.
1190. Political correctness is the new religion -- determined to make up enough commandments to ensure that everyone is a sinner.
1189. In the ideal world, water also flows uphill.
1188. The truth will not win any popularity contests. It cannot compete with comforting illusions.
1187. In the ideal world, the niqab would not be banned; in accordance with the concept of freedom -- it would be allowed as a symbol of an oppressive political and religious ideology which is destructive of that very notion of freedom which permits its expression. But in the real world, that "tolerance" seems inextricably wedded to the notion that the oppressive symbol -- and the underlying ideology -- not be criticized. To allow opposing ideas a free rein -- and then prohibit criticism of them -- is not tolerance but stupidity. It seems the equivalent of a death wish.
1186. The origin of the universe and the nature of consciousness are considerable mysteries. It is possible to put mysteries into a black box, and give them the name "God." But that's what it is -- a label for the unknown. It is not then legitimate to ascribe to the unknown human attributes such as thought and intention. The unknown is not a person, and nobody knows what it eats for breakfast.
1185. It is impossible to disprove the existence of something imagined, such as "God." On the other hand, the existence of something imagined cannot be confused with something for which evidence exists. The onus is on the imaginer of God to prove his existence. The universe is not that proof. We all agree about the universe. What is at issue is "God" -- as something separate from the universe.
1184. Morality is socially derived -- but religion is the lie used to reinforce it. Some say the lie is necessary, but as more and more people cease to believe in God -- while living socially acceptable lives -- that argument loses its force.
1183. We live in an age of "necessary equality." The truth -- that things are inherently unequal -- must be denied at all costs.
1182. The virtue of harmony is a convenient cover for the totalitarian impulse.
1181. Those anxious to signal virtue are mostly signallers. They are generally not opposed to convenient pacts with the devil in support of their pretence.
1180. Those anxious to signal virtue seek not virtue, but approbation, and a sense of moral superiority. Thus selfishness parades as piety.
1179. The great trouble with fools -- they are so easily transformed into knaves.
1178. The great trouble with fools -- they so easily become the tools of knaves.
1177. All religions attempt to deal with the gap between desire and reality. The theistic religions promise to fulfill desires under certain conditions -- and -- rather conveniently -- after death. Buddhism attempts to solve the problem by banishing the desires. The persistence of religions is a testament to the usefulness of utter nonsense.
1176. Those who murder for the "correct" socialist reasons seem to be judged on their fine egalitarian intentions – never on their ruthless means and disastrous results. (Ireland issues Che Guevara stamp.)
1175. The Genie of power is notoriously reluctant to return to his bottle.
1174. In the marketplace of ideas, a winner can be chosen on the basis of efficacy; in any battle involving religion, reason is irrelevant -- determination is all. It is folly to believe that a winning idea will overcome a commitment of faith -- yet this appears to be the presumption of western secularism.
1173. Contempt -- as an occasional sauce added to a final dish of factual triumph -- may be difficult to resist; as a main course -- served reflexively and repeatedly-- it indicates a woefully impoverished larder.
1172. The great revolutionary truth that hardly dares to speak its name: some things are better than others.
1171. We live in a time of universal deceit -- and there is little appetite for revolution. "Equality" is the pleasant lie which underlies multiculturalism, socialism, and, indeed, political correctness itself.
1170. Banning the burka: in a war, one neither broadcasts nor approves the propaganda of the enemy.
1169. Everyone knows that people are not equal. That is why it is necessary to keep insisting -- with such vehemence and conviction -- that they are. That is why we are always willing to give socialism one more chance.
1168. Socialism pretends that men are equal, interchangeable, nitwits -- imbued with all the aspirations of a working-class ant.
1167. The most dangerous men are those who have -- or pretend they have -- a vision of an egalitarian society. That noble end will justify a tsunami of oppressive means.
1166. The secret to a successful murderous dictatorship is to call it socialism.
1165. Emphasizing equality rather than merit will work -- as long as you are not in competition with realists.
1164. We are witnessing the clash of two antithetical traditions: one allows the freedom to criticize; the other holds that a religion must, unfailingly, be approved. There can be no compromise between such opposites. If we fail to uphold the freedom to criticize -- we concede the triumph of irrational belief, and embrace not merely the slavery of silence, but the imprisonment of the mind which it implies.
1163. The attainable is always at some distance from perfection.
1162. The concept of necessary complementary opposites is the key to understanding the difficulties of the human condition. The attainable always lies at some variable distance between the desired and the reviled.
1161. Religions claim the status of truth for what is merely speculation. They are dangerous to the extent to which they justify the compelling of belief.
1160. "Islamophobia" -- the irrational fear of Islam -- scarcely exists. An example would be the belief that agents of Islam are reading our thoughts through the television set. Overwhelmingly, the fear of Islam is perfectly rational -- it is based on the fact that the religion is oppressive and threatening in theory, and is interpreted literally by significant numbers. The attempts to vilify those who fear Islam represent stupidity wearing the mantle of "tolerance."
1159. Religion is the attempt to make comforting sense of the puzzle of the human condition. Where truth is unavailable, fantasy is made to suffice.
1158. Climate alarmism echoes the familiar narrative of religion: because of original sin -- selfishness -- there is a terrible threat of death and destruction; but salvation may be obtained -- by a degree of communal restraint and appropriate human sacrifice.
1157. Socialism pretends to equality; but the distinction -- the inequality -- between the central planners and those who must fit into their plan reveals the intrinsic and fatal flaw in the pretence.
1156. In healthcare -- as in everything else -- he who pays the piper calls the tune; when the government pays the piper, the patient must adjust his musical sensibility.
1155. Customers are accorded respect because they have the power of choice; supplicants, lacking choice, are treated with condescension. Despite sincere and earnest intentions, the socialist health care system creates supplicants, and will invariably suffer from the malaise of condescension.
1154. Socialism promises the ideal of equality; it fails to note two pertinent truths: equality is not actually attainable in the real world -- and the attempt to achieve the impossible is invariably oppressive and coercive.
1153. When the rallying cry is "equality," it takes a very brave man to resist. There is little to be gained from denying cherished illusions.
1152. Socialism proves -- through its repeated failures -- that equality is not in the blueprint of nature. That socialist schemes are still pursued illustrates the continuing unpopularity of reality.
1151. Churchill described the virtues of socialism and capitalism as -- respectively -- the equal sharing of misery and the unequal sharing of blessings. What the Canadian health care system shows is even less flattering to socialism: despite the pretence, even the sharing of misery is unequal.
1150. Socialism teaches a valuable -- although very expensive -- lesson: societies cannot function on the principle of equality. Unfortunately, idealists are very slow learners.
1149. Socialism: the aim -- equality; the result -- stupidity.
1148. Socialist schemes will always fail because they attempt to suspend the laws of economics, and to defy the realities of human nature.
1146. The road of the ideal never reaches the imagined heights; after a few blocks of well-defined enthusiasm, the track becomes muddied, reality floods over, and the path disappears in the treacherous quicksands of gullibility.
1145. The great political divide has its roots in psychology: Those on the left are idealistic and gullible; those on the right realistic and apprehensive. One side focuses on hopeful intentions, the other on unsatisfactory results.
1144. The multiculturalist assumes, naively, that cultural success -- both material and psychological -- is solely a function of location, and has nothing to do with cultural values and attitudes.
1143. "Infidels" will stop fearing Islam when the religion ceases to call for their deaths.
1142. We have arrived at a hell of stupidity -- a state of wilful ignorance based on good intentions -- that feelings of Muslims must not be hurt by calling attention to the oppressive nature of their religion.
1141. An irrational belief -- like a crucial break in the dyke of reason -- enables and encourages the flow of ever greater absurdities.
1140. Religion is a four-letter word: scam.
1139. Religion and science both represent man's quest for agency. Religion is the easy inheritance, promising unproven magical rewards; science is more demanding -- it offers real but limited benefits -- in exchange for effort. The persistence of religion is not difficult to explain.
1138. With age, reduced expectations follow diminished possibilities in an increasingly narrow circle.
1137. It is the unpleasant -- but necessary -- task of the curmudgeon to tell people that what they most desire is either improbable or impossible.
1136. It is a matter of enduring wonder that, even for intelligent people, the mind stops working when religious belief is at issue. What, do they imagine, would have been their convictions had they been born in ancient Egypt, China, or Peru? Would they have been "saved" at the time of their demise -- or just have fallen back into the "immense design of things?" Why should their present time and place make any difference? How unfair if it should!
1135. The notion of complementary opposites is the key to understanding the limitations of the real world. It is not a question of choosing, irrevocably, peace, freedom, love, tolerance, and equality. All of these ideal conceptions imply their necessary opposites. Conflict, restriction, hatred, and inequality cannot be wished away with pious incantations, however heartfelt, or with determined imaginings, no matter how fervent.
1134. Paradoxically, choosing "ideals" -- such as peace, tolerance, and equality may be counter-productive. Every virtue, carried far enough, transforms into vice.
1133. The great intellectual failure of the left is to assume that ideal conceptions represent viable alternatives in real life. It is easy to proclaim virtue by being on the side of peace, tolerance, and equality. But peace may entail self-destruction, tolerance of evil allows it to spread, and equality -- if it were actually attainable -- implies mediocrity, stasis, and the cessation of progress. Choosing -- in the real world -- usually involves determining the lesser evil.
1132. Political correctness attempts to realize -- on earth -- a heaven of equality, with saintly concomitants of benign tolerance and universal respect. The problem is that equality is not in the blueprint of natural things, and what political correctness exposes -- unintentionally -- is the gargantuan gap between the ideal and the real.
1131. When excellence plays second fiddle to diversity, the performance will suffer. (The more refined version of #1130)
1130. When excellence plays second fiddle to diversity, the tune will stink.
1129. Plagiarism: a surprising admission of inadequacy.
1128. The stronger the love, the greater the vulnerability to its loss.
1127. It would not surprise us to learn that God, in considerable annoyance at the arrogant claim of human beings that they are created in his image, and are the sole and worthy focus of his attention, is preparing an especially humiliating comeuppance. Perhaps an all-consuming solar flare, or a pulverising collision with a huge asteroid.
1126. Mr. Trudeau: a man whose superficiality extends, undiminished, to his core.
1125. Mr. Trudeau is a deeply superficial man.
1124. Immigration: compassionate ideals are attractive -- but practical realities -- despite their cosmetic deficiencies -- often interfere.
1123. Political correctness seeks to suppress speech critical of Islam. Thus not only are bad ideas protected -- including the absurd claim of infallibility -- but a liberty fundamental to western societies -- the right to criticize -- is denied. It is an obsequious appeasement -- an offer of cultural suicide in the hope of harmony.
1122. Political correctness insists on a smooth, egalitarian consistency -- but reality is always lumpy.
1121. If he did not have to eat, the tiger might well lie down with the lamb.
1120. Political correctness aims for a world of equality where feelings are triumphantly unhurt; the attempt is oppressive, and ultimately must founder on the implacable truth: feelings can never be sacrosanct, and equality is not in the blueprint of natural things.
1119. Ideals are conceptual and theoretical -- they are notions of perfection; human beings are real and -- resistantly -- imperfect. That is why the attempt to implement ideals invariably involves coercion and a loss of liberty.
1118. Socialism illustrates the tyranny of the ideal: it invariably leads to dictatorship.
1117. The tyranny of the ideal becomes possible when noble intentions are considered more important than actual results.
1116. Religion provides magical explanations; science is more prosaic, but has a winning track record. Where there are mysteries, leaping to religious answers seems unwise. When science has done its best -- some magic may remain -- the origin of the universe and the development of complex life forms seem dauntingly mysterious and miraculous respectively. But "God" is never an answer -- merely the evasive postponement of one.
1115. Just as cunning is "the dark sanctuary of incapacity," so the ad hominem remark is the refuge of those without facts, rational analysis, or coherent arguments.
1114. Most animals participate in a ruthless scheme of murder necessary for survival, but the claim of moral superiority for human beings is specious. It is simply that we are adept at disguising our involvement with well-run farms, discreetly placed slaughterhouses, and plastic packaging.
1113. With political correctness, "tolerance" and "diversity" are one-directional, not reciprocal.
1112. Religious presumptions invariably prefigure further foolishness.
1111. "Cultural sensitivity" should not preclude the criticism of oppressive, unjust, and absurd cultural practices. For how else can freedom, justice, and reason be advanced?
1110. Political correctness foolishly favours uni-directional -- rather than reciprocal -- tolerance.
1109. In the present age of enlightenment, the right to criticize injustice and absurdity must defer to the demands of "cultural sensitivity."
1108. If "cultural sensitivity" had always been considered the chief virtue -- we would still be practising slavery, human sacrifice -- and cannibalism.
1107. We need a complete explanation of the meaningless of existence. Or -- We will not be satisfied until we have a complete explanation of the meaningless of existence.
1106. Those who return from a place of "refuge" to their home country for a holiday or special event irrevocably alter their status -- from refugee to "prefugee." They are obviously "refugees" of preference or convenience.
1105. It is said that a habit of gloom may be erased by a determination to smile: what is at first forced becomes, over time, easy and natural. If this is true, a consistent and determined replacement of "religious" and "religion" with the word "stupidity" should result in a great benefit and advancement for mankind. The habit of deferring to "stupidity" might lose some small part of its allure.
1104. The collector of quotations is an intellectual magpie -- selecting the shiny bits to relieve -- and perhaps conceal -- the drabness of an insufficiently learned nest.
1103. We are waiting to see the point at which political correctness simply devours itself – is paralysed in a web of contradictions and impossibilities – or subsides beneath an incoherent sea of infinitely parsed microaggressions. (We are not holding our breath.)
1102. Islam presents a problem because it is very oppressive in theory, but can be less so in practice. The danger is that failure to criticize bad ideas can be mistaken for consent; the feelings of believers must never stand in the way of criticizing absurdity and injustice -- wherever they are found.
1101. The theory of evolution is resisted by many of the faithful. The immediate, strategic brilliance -- the magic of purposeful creation -- is replaced with eons of tiny changes -- an uncertain, meandering slog of natural interactions. Worst of all, perhaps -- the curtain thus pulled aside -- there appears no magnificent wizard worthy of worship -- but rather -- exposed -- is the deceptive machinery of religion -- a bunch of levers requiring constant activation by mortal hands.
1100. The God of the Old Testament differs from that of the New; the Christian God of the fifteenth century differs from the Christian God of the present day. That is because Gods are created by men, and are obliged to change with the times.
1099. Political correctness invariably leads to moral relativism -- because the commitment to "equality" precludes judgment. The criticism of ideas -- the suggestion that some ideas are better than others -- is considered unseemly and hurtful of feelings. But ultimately, basic judgments about life are necessary. It is better to be free than to be enslaved; it is better to be comfortable than in pain -- to be fed and sheltered rather than hungry and exposed. It is better to be confident than fearful. It is better to have more opportunities for self-fulfilment rather than fewer. It is better to live a long life than a short one. One may quibble at the edges of such assumptions -- there may be occasions when death is preferable to life -- but, quibbles aside, cultures can -- and should -- be judged.
1098. Egalitarian ideals will forever founder on the unmovable rock of hierarchic reality: some ideas are invariably better than others.
1097. The conflict between the ideal and the real worlds cannot be resolved: one is too fanciful for implementation, the other too depressing for contemplation.
1096. The history of religion shows a marked propensity for leaping to conclusions -- "certainties" later contradicted by evidence.
1095. Religion -- the happy marriage of gullibility and mendacity.
1094. In the absence of evidence, speculation is a thin, unsatisfying gruel for the mind. We may speculate that there is a benevolent God obsessively concerned with the human race, anguishing over the beliefs, attitudes and customs of human societies, and fretting about the success -- or lack thereof -- of his Divine Plan. But is it not equally valid to speculate that God is largely indifferent to human affairs? Perhaps, after all, he has a far older, more interesting species on an entirely different planet -- one far more worthy of the concern and focus of his Divine Mind.
1093. The universe is a great mystery -- there is no evidence that it has -- or has not -- any meaning or purpose. Theories are proposed which are comforting, benign, and anthropocentric -- but they are contradicted by the realities thus far discovered: human beings evolved using the same building blocks as other creatures -- and we are interdependent -- all involved in a ruthless scheme of necessary murder.
1092. Victimhood likely has its limitations. It requires certain awkward mindsets: continuing self-pity and resentment -- and unstinting affirmation and accommodation.
1091. When victimhood is unduly rewarded, it becomes addictive -- a habit of mind requiring ever new oppressions for "success." Of such oppressions, life -- unfair to the core -- has an infinite supply.
1090. If you are determined to be an oppressed nail, you will find -- or manufacture -- the necessary hammers. (A variation of #803)
1089. Tolerance is a poor defence against knavery.
1088. Evil is the distillation of self-interest.
1087. Thoughtless human beings have it so easy! (An irreverent addendum to #1086)
1086. To determine what is true, and what is false, to judge what improvements are achievable, and what dreams are idle or even dangerous -- these are the difficult tasks which challenge all thoughtful human beings.
1085. Mr. Dawkins has noted the "epidemic" of restrictions on open speech. The pathogen responsible is the notion of equality; the disease is called political correctness. In the ideal world, people, cultures, and religions -- even ideas-- except those which deny the very premise of equality -- are equal. Thus criticism becomes "unfair" and -- the ultimate in tragedy -- hurtful of feelings. The ideal world is, necessarily, a restrictive and coercive factor in the real one
1084. The belief in multiculturalism is one of the chief follies of the age. It ignores the diversity of cultural beliefs, the powerful roots and bonds of traditional practice, and the essential incompatibility of some traditions with any humane continuance of the human project. In particular, religious certainties -- which have no basis in evidence -- are resistant to reason, and to the moderating effects of secular perspectives.
1083. The appeasement of bullies serves as an encouragement -- it shows that they have embraced a successful strategy.
1082. The road to nonsense is paved with unthinking, untroubled acceptance; the truth is less accessible -- often found only at the end of a steep, questioning path of challenge.
1081. If Islam were a person, he would be seen as suffering from a number of mental deficiencies -- some of which alone -- but certainly all of which in combination -- would render him unfit for human society. He would be seen as utterly lacking in empathy -- calling for the death of all those around him who were insufficiently supportive -- or who expressed a desire to move to more congenial neighbourhoods. He would be seen as an obsessive compulsive -- attempting to control every aspect of the lives of those around him. He would be seen as a megalomaniac -- insisting that complete strangers pay him the same respect required of those in his inner circle. Indeed, he would be seen as emotionally unstable -- reacting to mockery with the tantrums of a two-year old -- murderous outbursts in his case -- ineptly battling the unwelcome reality -- that he is not the centre of the universe.
1080. The world is divided into two classes: the small number of those who know how to use the apostrophe -- and the vast hordes who do not.
1079. All religions arise from the claims of special insight or "revelation" on the part of fallible human beings. The messages are rare, arbitrary, and conflicting; they vary widely according to location and time. A serious God -- one with modest intelligence and a half-decent marketing department -- would hardly let belief in his existence -- if it mattered -- depend on such a tenuous and unlikely strategy. The conclusions are clear: "God" is incompetent, capricious, or indifferent. If he is there at all.
1078. Disorder and order are the yin and yang of all progress.
1077. Progress is the result of a necessary taming of a necessary disorder.
1076. Without disorder, there is no creativity -- only inevitability. Without some limiting order, creativity descends into chaos.
1075. We imagine that the brains of sentient creatures reflect the evolutionary process. Evolution makes random alterations which are approved -- or rejected -- by the constantly changing environment -- giving the impression of orderly progress. So the brain may make random suggestions which must meet the changing requirements for the survival and success of the organism -- giving the impression of reasoned, orderly decision-making.
1074. In left-wing philosophy, only society is to blame -- evil and self-interest are vague illusions. Justice is best employed as an occasional scullery maid in the house of infinite mercy.
1073. As instinctive tribalists, we are programmed for herd-like thinking.
1072. Separating truth from lies is a never-ending task. Generally speaking, anything disappointing and unpopular is the truth.
1071. Tribalism -- which is instinctive -- favours conformity and provides the comfort of herd-like thinking; thus it tends naturally towards dictatorship. Democracy attempts to modify the natural bias -- but it requires constant effort and commitment. No one should be surprised that it is not more eagerly adopted.
1070. Persistence is often more important than aptitude.
1069. Socialism pretends that benevolence can be made compulsory. But compulsion is corrosive -- it erodes and eventually destroys benevolence.
1068. Religion is a useful -- but flawed -- coping mechanism; it is like an enabling drug with dangerous side-effects.
1067. Stupidity can be just as dangerous as animosity.
1066. A tone which is consistently jeering does not suggest superiority, but weakness. Those confident in their arguments do not feel the need to antagonize their opponents.
1065. Apology and appeasement -- the Obama approach to world affairs -- represents a sacrifice of truth in the pursuit of harmony. But, in the end, the world recognizes merit; it is not productive to hide the light of superior ideas under a barrel of obsequious self-effacement.
1064. Life, at its core, is not egalitarian, but competitive. This fact may be deplored, and competition may be beneficially modified in the interests of "equality" -- but it can never be eliminated. The attempts to create egalitarian societies -- socialist states -- are coercive cures worse than the disease they are meant to remedy. All socialist societies are Procrustean beds -- they invariably become dictatorships as they attempt to force real, natural, competitive inequalities into a theoretical framework of equality.
1063. Religion is a kind of formalized insanity in which suppositions are transformed into facts. The trouble is -- any insanity sufficiently common and widespread is viewed as completely normal.
1062. It is fashionable to proclaim -- especially in the interests of compassion and tolerance -- that unequal things are equal. In this manner, stupidity is enhanced, while the reality remains unchanged.
1061. Voting for politicians who spout optimistic nonsense is like buying a lottery ticket: you can live in a fantasy of hope until the numbers are drawn. Then it's back to reality.
1060. It is remarkably easy to prove that a professed multiculturalist is a fool, a monster, or a liar. It is simply necessary to ask: "Are you in favour of cannibalism, slavery, appeasement of the Gods with human sacrifice, stoning for adultery, female genital mutilation, and honour killings?" If all these customs are approved, then the "multiculturalist" is -- clearly -- either a half-wit or a monster. The "multiculturalist" who balks at any of these practices is obviously a liar who likes the sound of the term, and thinks it denotes his superior tolerance and compassion.
1059. People who endlessly praise "diversity" forget that the ultimate in diversity is chaos. Too much of a good thing is invariably a bad thing: a society too diverse will fall apart.
1058. Diversity and uniformity are opposite but complementary concepts. One suggests tyranny; the other, chaos.
1057. The success of strategic victimhood is always somewhat tenuous: the pool of necessary and enabling pity can evaporate in the wind of whining.
1056. The most promising dreams are those long-cooked over a slow fire -- and well seasoned with reality.
1055. Conclusions should not be drawn until the canvass of evidence is complete.
1054. Religion is the curse of mankind. It claims certainty about matters which are unknowable, and provides a sanctuary for those who seek ready-made -- but mindless -- solutions to the real problems of existence.
1053. Those who see the world through the prism of ancient grievance are likely to misinterpret the present and compromise the future.
1052. Those who define themselves by ancient grievance make victimhood a continuing necessity.
1051. The collision between idealistic dreams and stark realities is seldom pretty. (The dreams are always found liable; reality is awarded for insult, injury, and costs.)
1050. Morality has nothing to do with God -- and everything to do with social interaction. There is no "morality" for a lone castaway on an uninhabited island. His actions can be considered neither moral nor immoral -- for they affect no one but himself. With the addition of another castaway -- or a troop of monkeys -- the potential for morality -- or immorality -- is introduced.
1049. When paradise is assumed a birthright, the earth can harbour only the aggrieved.
1048. The more ancient the grievance, the more likely it is to become a raison d'être, incapable of being appeased.
1047. When there is more reverence for religious fantasies than observable facts, you know we're dealing with a major flaw in circuitry design.
1046. Far too much reverence is accorded to religious belief. It is as if all the inmates in the asylum had joined in a conspiracy to respect each others' delusions.
1045. Religion shows the danger of allowing wishful thinking to dress up and parade as received wisdom.
1044. Multiculturalism is the idealistic -- but unworkable -- response to the violent and aggressive nationalism of the last century.
1043. Political correctness romanticizes reality -- and then insists it has discovered both truth and virtue.
1042. Spending money is an affirmation of one's worth and worthiness: it lifts the spirits and soothes the soul.
1041. The weakness of science is that it is a human endeavour -- and scientists do not live in intellectual or social vacuums. They need jobs, funding, and the respect of their peers. Thus -- for surprisingly long periods of time -- science can become the handmaiden of orthodoxy.
1040. The future is prone to perversity; it delights in mocking its eager predictors.
1039. Political correctness chooses to ignore facts in order to assuage feelings. The difficulty is that feelings can be unexpectedly needy and voracious, while facts are notoriously unflappable and persistent. Over time, ignored facts tend to band together, becoming noisy, nagging -- and even vindictive.
1038. Political correctness assumes that ignoring unpleasant facts will make them disappear.
1037. Political correctness represents a determination to see the world not as it is, but as it "should" be -- a happy place of equality and infinite tolerance.
1036. The border between La-la land and Stupidity Street is ill-defined. ("Singer Katy Perry has called on music fans everywhere to unite and love each other in the wake of the Manchester terror attack." Evening Standard, May 23, 2017)
1035. Evils are often selectively perceived. Many who abhor racism have no difficulty in inveighing against "white privilege."
1034. Tolerance of evil cannot escape its taint.
1033. Death is the final mockery.
1032. Trying to personalize the great mystery by calling it "God" is like naming your car "Bessie" -- because then you don't feel like such an idiot when you talk to it. Nothing changes. "Bessie" is still a car -- and you are still an idiot.
1031. The desire of indigenous people to retain their traditional culture and way of life while at the same time attaining the standard of living common in modern capitalist societies is an example of Multiple Cake Syndrome.
1030. Multiple Cake Syndrome: The desire or requirement for two or more conditions which are incompatible, contradictory or mutually exclusive.
1029. The indignant response to the sin of cultural appropriation may be likened to laws against blasphemy: they are both attempts to compel reverence where it is not being freely given.
1028. When ideas -- whether religious or secular -- are considered too "blasphemous" to be expressed -- we know that somebody's illusion is being threatened.
1027. Laws against blasphemy always suggest inadequacy -- the need to proclaim certainty in the absence of evidence.
1026. Every orthodoxy lays claim to virtue and certainty.
1025. Facts have never required the protection of anti-blasphemy laws.
1024. "Blasphemy" is found in matters of comforting but vulnerable belief; the forbidding of criticism is invariably a sign of weakness and insecurity.
1023. Socialism -- the dictatorship of good intentions.
1022. Socialism is the road paved with good intentions -- it invariably leads to the hell of dictatorship.
1021. Central planning can never achieve the promised equality -- for its premise is the existence of two unequal classes: the planners and the planned.
1020. Socialism seeks harmonious perfection through central planning -- the successful completing of ideal round holes using the square pegs of reality. Thus it is necessarily oppressive; it is invariably revealed as a dictatorship.
1019. The art of civilization lies in convincing citizens that their conformity is freely chosen.
1018. Socialism requires central planning -- it assumes that men are piano keys to be manipulated in the achievement of an ideal harmony. But men prefer to be composers and pianists -- not piano keys.
1017. Conformity and diversity -- the oil and vinegar of the cultural dressing.
1016. Happiness is not designed, but discovered.
1015. Capitalism works because it recognizes and gives scope to the competitive instinct. Socialism doesn't work because it pretends that people don't want to compete -- they want to be equal. It's the distinction -- once again -- between what works and what sounds good.
1014. A capitalist democracy -- in which citizens conform in the interests of self-improvement -- is superior to a theocracy or socialist state -- where citizens are required to conform to an ideal vision of reality; these invariably become indistinguishable from oppressive monarchies or dictatorships.
1013. Tribalism -- instinctive and essential -- depends upon conformity -- and conformity implies some degree of tyranny. There is always a penalty for failing to think with the herd.
1012. Religion should be like nudity: an indulgence unlikely to be fatal in the privacy of the home -- permissible, in seclusion, among small groups of like-minded eccentrics -- considered scandalous and uncivilized in the public sphere --unheard of in the workplace -- and utterly irrelevant in any government deliberation, discussion, or decision.
1011. Our favourite essay-writing service is the one which boasts that it has "no tolerance for plagiarism."
1010. Serenity requires an element of obliviousness; those who are uniquely aware may be anguished -- both from their perception and from the isolation which it entails. The comedian is aware, but is an alchemist of reality. The emotional angst -- tragedy -- is deliberately ignored; the incongruities of the world are presented as comedic -- a triumph of intellectual -- rather than emotional -- perception.
1009. Most stand-up comedians rely heavily on personal anecdote; that is because they have a unique comedic perception of the world -- they are the lens through which the audience must peer, and, vicariously, perceive.
1008. Creativity differentiates and isolates; happiness is most often found with the herd.
1007. At the heart of comedy is the perception of incongruity -- but those who create comedy are unlikely to be mere trivialists, blissfully unaware of the more profound and tragic incongruities of the human condition.
1006. Happy people are seldom funny.
1005. God, Equality, and the Easter Bunny have a lot in common.
1004. Experience tempers enthusiasm. (The short version of #1003)
1003. The older we get, the more we realize that things often go wrong. Thus the impetuousness of youth cools to the caution of age.
1002. The idea of perfection can be like a censorious bird of caution sitting on the shoulder of creativity.
1001. Science questions everything in search of answers; religion provides answers for everything -- but refuses to be questioned.
1000. All our philosophies have their roots in temperament and emotion.
999. Political correctness is the new humanist religion. It dispenses with some old ideals -- the anthropomorphic monarch in the sky, and the reward of an afterlife -- in order to focus on the new: human equality -- including the equality of ideas and cultures -- and human dignity. It is currently experiencing the inevitable skirmish with reality: human beings are neither equal, nor inherently dignified.
998. Good ideas are unpretentious, fearless and confident; bad ideas -- pretending to virtue and authority -- fear the truth, and thus claim immunity from the scrutiny of free debate.
997. God is the great Jester: into a hierarchical world of cruel competition, he has thrust his "favourite" creature -- cursed with unquenchable, unattainable dreams of justice and equality.
996. The attractive theory is equality; the plain reality is hierarchy.
995. That morality is best which allows for the greatest liberty of citizens which is consistent with the well-being of the society of which they are a part.
994. Certainty is at once the great strength -- and the great weakness -- of religion: for the believer, certainty in the absence of evidence is the solid rock of faith; for the skeptic – it is the treacherous quicksand of stupidity.
993. At its core, religion is utilitarian: irrational belief is a potent force for tribal unity. As the need for aggressive nationalism declines, we expect religious belief to become less fervent.
992. Morality is not divinely revealed, but socially derived. It represents an adjudication between the desires of the individual and the requirements of the tribe. That adjudication may have some universal elements essential to survival, but it may also vary according to beliefs and circumstances. The moral values inspired by the belief that a good harvest depends upon the appeasement of the Gods with human sacrifice differ from those which arise from a belief in the efficacy of a well-designed irrigation system. The values of the tribe under constant threat of attack are unlikely to be identical to those of the tribe which co-exists peacefully with its neighbours. Morality is, essentially, utilitarian rather than holy.
991. Where would you place your bet in a "clash of civilizations?" On the civilization which believes that it is incomparably superior -- or on the one which believes in the equality of all cultures?
990. The two faces of religion: hopeful illusion -- and dangerous certainty. In the theatre of the absurd, it may wear the mask of comedy -- or of tragedy.
989. A world without nuclear weapons is not feasible: Science has not yet devised a bottle of forgetting into which the genie of scientific knowledge can be safely stuffed.
988. Religion is a dirty trick of evolution. Blind and irrational belief in the "divine" has been useful in fostering the unity and determination of primitive tribes. Now -- modern tribes are still burdened with the inherited stupidity which resists reason, and sanctions conflicts potentially fatal to the human project.
987. Sometimes the request for "equal treatment" is mere artful dodgery: the aim is, in fact, "special treatment."
986. The difference between what is believed and what is known accounts for a world of stupidity.
985. A theory is not validated by "scientific consensus" -- but by consistent predictive success.
984. Those who seek "victory" by claiming victimhood need, for their success, the collaboration of the competent.
983. Every human society must adjudicate between desirable but conflicting concepts: competition and co-operation; equality and excellence; freedom and security; diversity and uniformity; justice and mercy.
982. "Cultural appropriation" is the sin discerned by those determined not to be flattered: success is -- for them -- to be found not in accomplishment, but in victimhood.
981. "Cultural appropriation" may be seen as flattery, or insult: everything depends on the desire to be insulted -- to claim the triumph of victimhood.
980. No life is without the hardship of regret.
979. The more cherished the illusion, the more reviled is the teller of truth.
978. Some believe that their tolerance, earnestly displayed, is a virtuous garlic -- powerful enough to protect them from the vampire of of folly, or the infection of stupidity. Unfortunately, that very belief disproves the thesis.
977. Political correctness is politeness gone mad.
976. Neither diversity nor conformity can make it to shore alone. They have to swim together.
975. We all have an inner sheep. Possibly an inner lemming.
974. The hypothesis that successful cultures will continue to prosper by welcoming those with values antithetical to those which have been instrumental in achieving the success is, as yet, unproven. It is a theory, however, which many idealists seem anxious to validate.
973. Political correctness is always serious -- determinedly empathetic, and cautiously apprehensive. Laughter is spontaneous, and doesn't give a damn. The politically correct can never be jolly.
972. Laughter arises from a triumphant perception of unexpected differences. The politically correct can never acknowledge differences -- which is why they are so grimly humourless.
971. Laughter is a spontaneous cry of triumphant perception. The cause may be a word with a double meaning -- an incongruous circumstance -- or some absurd human pretension. The triumph is all; it is agnostic with respect to feelings.
970. Laughter arises from the sudden, triumphant perception of incongruity.
969. Political correctness bleeds mercy -- but ignores justice.
968. Political correctness values empathy above all; thus it eschews criticism, and refuses to pass judgment. It is all mercy -- but has no concern for justice.
Sometimes – in a quirk of happiness --
Lost love leaves scarce a scar --
But oft its wound of neverness
Bleeds long past reason’s bar.
966. Any ideal conception -- to the extent which it is not consonant with reality -- is potentially oppressive. Thus, the utopias of religion and socialism -- the ideals of equality and infinite tolerance -- are all inherently tyrannical.
965. To escape the tyranny of reality, we flee to the ideal -- only to discover that even velvet gloves hide similar fists.
964. Hate is a human emotion; it may, perhaps, be tempered by reason, dissuaded from violence, or cajoled into mere antipathy. But the notion that it can be banished entirely is, quite simply, Canutian.
963. People often use the word "racist" when they cannot think of a logical argument.
962. "Freedom of religion" does not allow adherents to dictate how others should view their faith.
961. Success is a target most often hit when the aim is excellence.
960. One of the great strengths of a religion is its certainty: it is a communal, unifying force; it provides assurance to adherents that they are in possession of truth where others are in error. But certainty is also a great weakness when it concerns matters which are entirely speculative; dogma divorced from reality is coercive, and is the seed of apostasy. Christianity, which has passed its period of greatest certainty, is less coercive than Islam, which often defends its absurdities with violence.
959. "Free will" suggests a "rational chaos." It supposes that we are not automatons -- our decisions resist the near-universal workings of the laws of cause and effect. Those workings are interrupted, however -- not with randomness and chaos -- but with something equally as orderly, logical and rational as those laws of cause and effect which are supposedly being ignored. It looks awfully suspicious.
958. Political correctness -- which values feelings over facts, and fiction over freedom -- has led to a kind of intellectual bankruptcy. Any criticism of ideas is seen as an illegitimate attack on the feelings of those who hold them; thus the competitive marketplace of ideas -- where the best must battle to survive -- is rejected in favour of a central plan – a plan designed to enforce an inoffensive egalitarian harmony. It proclaims, in effect, a socialism of the mind.
957. Discussions about the validity of religion must always rest on estimations of likelihood -- since real evidence is unobtainable.
956. Religions are hypotheses suitable for those "dying for evidence."
955. Those who would chase a dream should always examine the intervening terrain. Often a dream shines brightly, distracting attention from the fact that it lies on the far side of an unbridgeable gulf of nightmare.
954. Religion, with evolutionary sanction, embraces an illusion -- and, like tribalism itself, may not be entirely extinguishable. Let us hope that, at least, it can be transformed by doubt: from absolute certainty to something less dangerous -- such as guarded hope.
953. Every child should learn something about three or more religions; in this way, certainty about the truth of any religion will be challenged, and religion will become a force less dangerous to the humane continuance of the human project.
952. Religion has had a useful, unifying rôle in the evolution of tribes: battles are more easily won with fanaticism than with hesitancy. But fanaticism has now outlived its usefulness: religious certainty must be leavened with doubt, and weakened by reason.
951. All religion is rubbish. The problem is that the human brain appears to have evolved with a large Rubbish Reception Centre.
950. Mr. Trudeau’s intellectual arsenal consists of a stock of comforting platitudes, feel-good fantasies, and myopic mantras. They are un-assimilated hand-me-downs – neither forged from personal struggle nor tempered by encounters with reality.
949. The European Union overlooks the reality of man’s instinctive tribalism. People do not like to be ruled by those both distant and unaccountable.
948. In an era of political correctness -- where feelings are more important than facts -- it is not surprising that socialist regimes are not judged on facts and results, but on aims and intentions. As long as the aim is equality and brotherhood, murder and oppression are merely unfortunate but excusable inconveniences.
947. The "preferred narrative" of those on the left is the world not as it is, but as it "ought" to be. Thus fascism is the obvious and necessary response to any threatening reminders of a reality that has already been rejected.
946. Truth is like a skeleton in the closet -- it will rattle its way out eventually. (A shortened version of #659)
945. Multiculturalism works well on the Big Rock Candy Mountain. In the real world, not so much.
944. Islamophobia is an entirely reasonable response to a very frightening religion.
943. The remedy for Islamophobia will not be found by criminalizing fear, but by making Islam less frightening.
942. Uniformity and diversity are complementary opposites, not ends in themselves. One leads to stasis, the other to chaos.
941. The election of Donald Trump and the vote in favour of "Brexit" are simply tribal responses to the pretence that tribalism is irrelevant.
940. The idea that men are mere piano keys -- easily manipulated in the interests of harmony -- is the false assumption of multiculturalism. It overlooks two awkward realities: instinctive tribalism, and the fact that some tribal ideas are better than others.
939. Nations should compete -- and co-operate where it is advantageous -- in order to achieve the most agreeable lives for their citizens. Without competition, there can be no success, and no progress.
938. Nationalism is just a fancy name for tribalism.
937. Co-operation is often seen as the opposite of competition; in fact, it is simply a competitive tribal strategy.
936. People yearn for "certainty" -- but evidence is not, ironically, a prerequisite. The bleakly factual narratives of science are less attractive than the comforting illusions of religion.
935. Pretentious displays of virtue suggest either deception or atonement.
934. It's a bit unnerving to encounter intelligent people who are also religious -- one realizes how long and difficult is man's path to sanity.
933. Sometimes the road to hope runs through the valley of despair.
932. In a world yet to be discovered, the truth is seen without distortion -- and without despair.
931. Freedom of speech and blasphemy are conceptual matter and anti-matter: in collision -- one must destroy the other.
930. Those who believe that bad ideas can be overcome with silence and kindness have another bad idea.
929. When religion is used to justify oppression and cruelty, polite silence merely approves the evil.
928. Your rulers are those you fear to criticize. ( A re-statement of: "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize." Voltaire, 1694 - 1778)
927. When you refrain from criticizing a bad idea for fear of giving offense, the bad idea has won.
926. Euphemism is the renaming of unpleasantness; political correctness denies its existence entirely.
925. Socialism requires a great deal of coercion in order achieve the unnatural conditions of "brotherhood" and "equality." It is simply dictatorship pretending to benevolence.
924. In the long run, evidence trumps belief. (Sometimes the run is surprisingly long.)
923. "Hate speech" is a term which appeals to virtue, but paves the way to tyranny; it is the means through which opinion is transformed into blasphemy.
922. When words and ideas are made "illegal" in the name of tolerance – then tolerance gives up its name for another – totalitarianism.
921. The confidence of youth is a green shoot of optimism rooted in ignorance; the prudence of age is the fruit of experience -- an awareness that things often go wrong.
920. It appears that humankind requires both truth and illusion: the truth is necessary, but often harsh; illusion is protective and inspiring, but potentially dangerous. No easy recipe is available.
919. Christianity -- with its belief in virgin birth and final resurrection, its self-serving claim of a bizarre, unlikely "divine" decision to save the entirety of mankind by means of a local, temporal crucifixion -- is preposterous madness. That intelligent individuals profess belief is a testament to the desperate human need for an alternative to the truth: that man is merely one among many sentient creatures locked in a scheme of necessary murder, the product of a universe which gives no evidence of meaning or purpose which is consistent with human yearnings. The best thing that may be said for it is that -- unlike Islam -- it has lost much of its intolerant certainty; by choosing the sanest elements, it may be possible to respect the "Christian tradition" without standing in the way of the humane continuance of the human project.
918. Ingenuity is the child of challenge.
917. An obstacle is not a roadblock -- it is an inspiration for creative detours.
916. Civil servants -- including police officers -- should not wear religious symbols during working hours -- since they suggest that the state approves of a particular religion, or, indeed, of religion in general. Just as individuals should be free to express superstitious beliefs in private, so the state must be free to show -- to the public -- that it does not approve of or cater to unfounded hypotheses about the nature of Divinity. State and Church should remain in separate spheres; it is unwise to suggest that the ordinary stupidity of government might be exacerbated by the malign influence of religious folly.
915. When confronted with the choice between an attractive dream and a workable reality, people often choose the dream. The admirers of the Canadian health care system are an excellent example.
914. Competition these days is so ruthless you can only get decent recognition by being a victim.
913. Elitism survives only because of the inferior promotion of averagism.
912. Mr. Obama's intent has always been clear: to transform the lion of initiative and entrepreneurship into a pussy-cat of socialist mediocrity.
911. In the modern era, hurt feelings have become the ultimate tragedy. In the world of consistent compliments, however, there is still a distinction -- between genuine praise and that which is clearly a tactful exaggeration -- a charitable compensation for obvious inadequacies.
910. To hold that all cultures are equal is to abandon reason for fantasy.
909. As long as there is speech, feelings will be hurt.
908. The determination to find microaggressions represents a significant macroaggression: it is the prim-lipped attack of the holier-than-thou.
907. Merit gets things done; "Equality" makes us feel good. But ultimately, feelings are no substitute for facts.
906. Political correctness contemplates the sty of reality, but finds no trace of pig. Instead there is a gilded ballroom -- ethereal music and delicate perfume -- much lipstick -- and a wealth of silken purses woven from sows' ears.
905. We are thrilled at the progress being made in the proportional hiring of those from diverse groups in our society. It is clear that announcers with speech impediments, bus drivers with partial sight, and orchestra conductors with impaired hearing will mark the next level of success in the achievement of our egalitarian goals.
904. We are caught between the desire for security, stability, and equality -- and the reality: the inevitability of change and the necessity of competitive struggle.
903. Vague threats are always a sign of weakness: they are an admission that no believable specific threat is adequately intimidating.
902. Political correctness assumes that the world is essentially a nice place, and that if everyone says nice things, the nasty bits -- simply peculiar aberrations -- will magically disappear. In fact, the world is both nasty and nice -- with an awkward bias towards the nasty. If no one says nasty things about the nasty bits, they will simply go forth and multiply.
901. Socialism has a magnificent vision: a crystal palace of equality for all. Such edifices are doomed to fail -- since no one has found a way to construct the crystal people required to inhabit them.
900. Capitalism embodies freedom; socialism yearns for security. They are the cobra and mongoose found in battle within the body politic.
899. The universe is not an ethical machine, but a utilitarian one. That is one reason why successful dictators are not more reviled: the successful end overshadows the dictatorial means.
898. Fidel Castro illustrates the necessary link between socialism and dictatorship. Socialism is the genetic legacy of ants, but human beings still yearn for some degree of autonomy and some measure of freedom.
897. Fidel Castro did not "love the Cuban people." He loved his vision of the Cuban people. Between these two concepts there are worlds of cruelty, and light years of oppression. Nor should brainwashing and the Stockholm Syndrome be confused with genuine reverence.
896. Speaking the truth is often seen as subversive and revolutionary -- because it usually contradicts the cherished illusions: that equality and harmony are the birthright of mankind.
895. Men constantly aspire to build palaces of crystal -- never fully comprehending that only crystal people can live in them.
894. Ideals are for inspiration, not implementation.
893. "Safe spaces" -- the omnipresent symbol of modern academic fatuity.
892. Socialism always looks like a peach -- but it tastes like a lemon.
891. The modern university shows that we need less academic folly and more common sense.
890. "Thrift" and "government expenditure" are concepts not simply mutually exclusive -- or even mutually destructive. They occupy galaxies so distant that no light has ever travelled between them.
889. Political correctness: the pleasant primrose path to perdition.
888. If a tribe becomes too rational — perhaps it will always succumb to the tribe that has the determination that only blind belief can confer. (This Observation is derived from #616. It appeared in some correspondence with Terri Guillemets of the Quote Garden, and found its way to the "Belief" page on her site.)
887. By any objective standard, most aboriginal cultures have been adaptive failures: despite massive government assistance, they experience high rates of poverty, despair, and suicide. No doubt some may derive personal satisfaction from cultural traditions, language, and ways of thinking; but the costs seem excessive and unjustifiable.
886. Environments are sometimes stable and indulgent, but often changeable and cruel. Their message is the ultimate in tough love: adapt or die.
885. It is currently fashionable to wallow in the misery of hurt feelings, and to vie in delineating degrees of outrage and victimization. When equality claims it is in bad taste to succeed -- triumph can still be found -- in complaint, frustration, or failure. Perhaps there is some comfort to be taken from the fact that the competitive spirit has not been entirely extinguished.
884. The energy spent in whining is better directed at winning -- even if the attempt fails.
883. The best remedy for hurt feelings is not complaint, but accomplishment.
882. Appeasing a bully is like trying to douse a fire with lighter fluid.
881. In dealing with some claims for "equality," it is necessary to distinguish between reasonable accommodation and the tyranny of the minority. Sometimes "equality" looks like special treatment for those whose claim is based on subjective perceptions of oppression.
880. An ideal shimmers like sunlight on a distant, glorious peak. But any pinnacle of perfection is elusive -- it is a conjuring, a seductive shaping of mirage. The wise man knows when to stop climbing the mountain -- when the air is too austere -- too rarefied to support his only human breath.
879. A revulsion against the manifest inequities of the real world has led to extraordinary and draconian attempts to create an ideal world of equality. The oppression necessary to create the ideal is self-defeating; failure is assured.
878. The politically correct welcome all those at the gate, giving them shelter, cakes, and ale. The explanation is simple: they do not believe in barbarians. Only time will tell whether they are justly benevolent or naively foolish.
877. Just as evolution progresses by testing the environment with innovations, so societies explore possibilities for an improved continuance. Environments change, and with them, the viability of ideas. Unquestioning religious commitment has benefited tribal cultures in the past; it is uncertain whether such insular devotions will function in a world which, increasingly, seems to require global interaction and co-operation. We also question the viability of political correctness -- a modern religion which is more and more often exposed as a dogma at odds with the facts.
876. Fundamentalist Islam must be criticized with relentless determination, for it stands in stark opposition to any humane continuance of the human project.
875. It is possible to accept, philosophically, the ultimate futility of existence, while, at the same time, recognizing that existence is its own philosophy: it matters.
874. Some discriminations are evil and unfair; other, similar discriminations are virtuous expressions of sweetness and light. You will not obtain the diploma in political correctness until you can show proficiency in determining which is which.
873. Every human society blends the elements of co-operation and competition; they are forces opposite yet complementary -- the yin and yang of the body politic.
872. Reducing inequality is like extending lifespan -- very desirable, but subject to limitations, and not the sole purpose of existence.
871. The human tendency is to live by myth and illusion when possible, by facts when necessary.
870. The welcoming of immigrants with antithetical cultural values suggests a triumph of egalitarian ideals over common sense. No healthy body politic welcomes an inimical and destructive pathogen.
869. Everyone seems to agree that hatred is a terrible emotion; no one seems willing to admit that there are terrible things worthy of hatred.
868. "Legacy" should defer to the here and now: the judgments of history can bring neither comfort nor shame; they are based on the unforeseeable perceptions of strangers in a strange land.
867. "Safe spaces" are inherently flawed -- for they offer no protection from that state of stupidity implied by the belief that reality can be avoided in a "safe space."
866. The meek shall inherit the earth -- providing, of course, that their meekness is a clever ruse -- an artful ploy designed to outwit their more apparently aggressive rivals. Otherwise -- we're afraid -- they're toast!
865. Political correctness does a great disservice to the young studying at our institutions of higher learning and evanescent sanity. Eventually they must discover that the focus of the world at large is elsewhere: it has no interest in bolstering self-esteem, protecting feelings, or providing a safe space for stupidity.
864. All life flows in a sweeping deliberate curve -- in the inevitable arc of tragedy.
863. Every time you think we’ve touched bottom in the abyss of human stupidity, another deep crevasse seems – as if by magic -- to appear.
862. The removal of barriers to participation may be described as a passive approach to promoting equality. An active approach involves the use of quotas and reverse discrimination, which is a cure at least as troubling as the disease. The implicit assumption is that equality is in the natural order of things. It is not.
861. Religions often insist on the fiction that there is a divine being morbidly obsessed with expressions of human sexuality. Modern secular societies have decided that homosexuality -- found in many animal species -- is a morally neutral variation. This shift has been recent and rapid -- only time will tell whether the old fiction was crucially necessary -- or unhelpfully stupid. Our prediction is that, if and when a societal collapse occurs, it will not be traceable to the rejection of a "divine plan" for sexual mores.
860. "Racism" is a term inaccurately used to describe the negative stereotyping of any group seen as having a different culture or religion. Not all -- but much of what appears to be real "racism" is similarly not based on race, but arises from an unfortunate linkage between race and cultural and economic differences. As such disparities are lessened, so "racism" will decline. While we would like to predict that people will also cease to judge and be judged on the basis of money, possessions, culture, intelligence, and appearance -- we have no interest in winning the Nobel prize for stupidity.
859. The shortening days of fall are depressing enough; the acceleration of gloom with a switch to standard time is a peculiar perversity of outmoded tradition.
858. Political correctness -- the new religion -- sets itself a difficult task: the elimination of the "original sin" of inequality -- by pretending that it doesn't exist.
857. Inequality is the bite of the apple -- the original sin -- both necessary and deplorable -- at the heart of all existence.
856. Residual sin: you can take mankind out of the muck of its past -- but never the muck out of mankind.
855. A long life combined with eminent success is indeed desirable -- but when we read of the famous and accomplished dying young -- we find ourselves content with a long life of unremarkable obscurity.
854. The man unwilling to fight for his convictions will find himself at the mercy of those determined to impose their own. (cf. Chesterton: "Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.")
853. Those who proclaim the equality of cultures, and cherish the notion that everyone is as good as everyone else, still expect to be recognized and admired for their superior tolerance and extraordinary compassion.
852. In contemplating the variety and complexity of forms of life, one must marvel at the ingenuity of the evolutionary process -- but also be appalled with a recognition of its inherent cruelty.
851. There is an inherent contradiction in human affairs: no approach to society can be considered "rational" which does not take into account the essential irrationality of the species.
850. Man will always be unruly, for he is only partly rational: he is also dreamer, survivalist, and tribalist.
849. So desperate is the desire for "equality" that it is becoming common to find virtue and special status in every deficiency. The disabled proclaim the advantages of their unique perceptions; the deaf extol their world of silence; the transgendered seek a multiplicity of special validating pronouns. This is the compensatory celebration of misfortune.
848. Primitive religions and traditional cultural beliefs do not yield easily to fine and enlightened sentiments; it is the great folly of fine and enlightened sentiments to believe that they do.
November 1, 2016 -- concludes the seventh year of Observations.
847. Political correctness is the new religion. Unlike the old religions -- which placed heavenly perfection in the afterlife -- political correctness seeks to enforce it here, where it is significantly at odds with earthly realities.
846. At the root of political correctness is an idealistic fantasy: the world can, in fact, be transformed into a Rose Garden, where the thorns of inequality, failure, and hurt feelings are banished, and each perfect rose blooms in confident, untroubled harmony with the whole. But perfection is elusive: like all ideals, the Rose Garden is absolutist, unforgiving, and oppressive.
845. The sin of cultural appropriation is very selective. The fact that some cultures are considered vulnerable, while others are impervious to insult suggests -- contrary to the intention -- that some cultures are much superior to others.
844. Old age: haunted by the past, daunted by the future.
843. Political correctness places a high value on emotions, and a low value on truth. It fails to recognize that it is more important to criticize an idea for its deficiencies than to protect it because of the emotional cost of criticism. No society can thrive on a diet of agreeable delusions.
842. It is the folly of the politically correct to equate an attack on ideas with an attack on the "dignity and humanity" of those who hold them. When criticism is forbidden on the grounds of "hurt feelings," bad ideas are sanctioned and encouraged. In other words, stupidity triumphs.
841. The "preferred narrative" is that cultures and religions are equally worthy. In an effort to silence those who disagree, many newspapers now provide no opportunity for commentary on articles dealing with religion and culture. Whenever ideas seem to require the protection of censorship, you know they are dangerously flawed. Truth cannot be proclaimed by the well-intentioned; it is discovered through evidence, and from an exchange of competing views.
840. A superstition is a popular belief in a causal link which does not, in fact, exist. The belief that mankind is the chief influence on global temperatures is a modern example.
839. A scientific theory about the interactions of things -- how the world actually works -- can only be validated by facts which are in accord with a predicted outcome. The validation may come from a short term experiment, or from a long term unfolding of events. Those studying climate have been unable to make accurate predictions; this shows that their theories do not describe the interactions of things, and must be revised.
838. Some days, we think that the world has gone completely mad. On other days, we are absolutely sure of it.
837. As much as power corrupts -- it also seems to blind.
(The political class seems enamoured of the idea of anthropogenic global warming
-- despite failed predictions, and the fact that the behaviour of alarmists is
from that of the purveyors of snake oil.)
836. If only it were possible to determine the point at which an exaggeratedly optimistic view of reality -- a benign and encouraging hopefulness -- is tragically transformed into dangerous delusion!
835. It is necessary to distinguish between a legitimate claim for equal rights, and the self-indulgent desire for special treatment -- between reasonable accommodation and the tyranny of the minority. Political correctness is a pre-judgment -- the triumphant value is personal and self-determined: it is the right not to feel offended.
834. Political correctness proclaims the irrelevancy of facts and the vulnerability of freedom: speech and social custom must be altered to satisfy feelings -- individual desires for validation and self-esteem.
833. It may be legitimate for society to aim for "the greatest happiness of the greatest number." That is not the same as the hopeless, politically correct aim of making everyone equally happy.
832. Political correctness defers to individual perceptions, and assumes that it is the task of society to make everyone equally happy -- free from anxiety and hurt feelings. It is idealism taken to the point of insanity.
831. If it claims to be science, but looks, swims, and quacks like religion – it’s obviously a religious duck wearing a lab coat.
830. We are tempted to advocate for practical idealism -- but suspect that the concept may be an oxymoronic impossibility.
829. Ideals are necessary -- but can become dangerous traps of absolutism.
828. The open border is a sieve claiming to be a bucket.
827. The "open border" is a conceptual triumph of the oxymoronic mind. It should be welcomed with the restrictive abandon of enthusiastic reluctance. [We assume that borders have a protective function -- against invading armies and uncontrolled immigration. If security and cultural integrity are not issues, an "open border" is possible -- as in a provincial or state boundary line.]
826. Islamic free speech is like the thunder of unicorns racing across an imaginary plain.
825. Identity politics – which assumes that no man can see beyond the interests of his own minority group – combined with the fashionable focus on maximum diversity – would suggest that a return to tribal government ( preferably with no more than twenty individuals per tribe) should be instituted as soon as possible.
824. Writer's block arises from self-doubt -- the fear of inadequate result. But creative success -- like happiness -- is not a target to be captured by direct and determined assault. It arises, serendipitously, from a process unfettered by anxious and prejudicial supervision.
823. A religious view of the world is best adopted quickly, and without much subsequent reflection. With reflection, the constant need to explain away the awkward facts of existence is likely to become tiresome and dispiriting.
822. The real truth and the preferred truth are seldom in the same ballpark; often they are separated by whole galaxies of wishful thinking.
821. Freedom from religion is as important as freedom of religion.
820. To discriminate is to be human. The great difficulty is to classify discriminations: what is the capriciously personal and legitimate, what is the reasonably justifiable, and what is the capriciously personal, but illegitimate?
819. Life provides the possibility of euphoria and delight against a background of necessary murder and ultimate demise. We might be inclined to see it, remotely, as impossibly bizarre -- a mere drama of the absurd. But we are involved participants; as prisoners of our consciousness -- we are forced to take it seriously.
818. Tribalism -- the result of our evolutionary process -- can and should be made less dangerous; however, the extinguishing of tribal rivalries is not only impossible, but the attempt is foolish. Competition -- from which the best ideas survive and thrive -- is the life-blood of progress.
817. (a) When enough people share the same insanity, it is considered normal.
(b) Men -- tribal and conformist in nature -- prefer to bleat with the herd; in this manner, insanity becomes epidemic, triumphant, and normalized.
816. Breaking the rules of grammar is most profitably done by those who know what they are.
815. Political correctness is an intellectual arsenic in the body politic -- a slow, subversive, deadly poison.
814. Some pretend that use of the Oxford comma is "optional" – but this is nonsense. Those who fail to employ it regularly and consistently are, in some deplorable fashion, tainted – whether by laziness, by failure of aesthetic sensibility, or by sheer wretchedness and perversity of temperament. Indeed (as we often suspect of people who mount toilet paper the wrong way in the holder) it seems entirely likely that this sin of omission is the invariable marker of some deeper, quite troubling degree of moral turpitude.
813. In the end, human societies will reflect the nature of the creatures of which they are composed. Man is neither as independent as the jaguar nor as tribal as the ant. The view that humankind can out-tribalize the ants and become one giant colony is currently popular, but has no chance of being realized.
812. Each society must determine how much liberty should be sacrificed for security and equality.
811. Equality is no friend to liberty.
810. Schemes to promote equality invariably involve a loss of liberty.
809. The greater the freedom, the greater the inequality.
808. The truth is no pushover -- in exchange for each hard diamond light of reality -- you have to give up a soft pearl of illusion. At some point -- it's different for everyone -- people prefer pearls to diamonds.
807. Beware the progression of the sounds of aggression. There is little doubt microaggression aspires to nano-aggression; some will not be satisfied until all speech is silenced in the name of harmony.
806. Those aggrieved by "cultural appropriation" simply draw attention to their own insecurities. Headdresses are always sensitive; bowler hats don't give a damn.
805. Cultural appropriation is a sin devised by those anxious to proclaim cultural equality. The attempt is self-defeating: calmness is a mark of confidence; those quick to take offense wave the flag of their insecurities.
804. The active pursuit of microaggressions tumbles, perversely, down a rabbit hole of madness -- where paranoia engages in a limitless parsing for insult. The determination of the perpetually aggrieved must find in every light a shadow -- in every innocence an irredeemable corruption of malice.
803. There can be no innocence where a feeling is determined to be hurt.
802. Idealists seem to believe that tribalism is superficial – something which – if ignored -- will simply go away. But the fact is that tribalism has been an integral part of our evolutionary success. That it is instinctive and deep-rooted is shown in every aspect of society: in religion, in politics -- and in rooting for the home team.
801. Socialism is based on the premise that human beings would prefer to be ants.
800. Schemes to improve society will work only insofar as citizens can be convinced that the benefits outweigh the inevitable loss of liberty required.
799. There is no free lunch. The Canadian government funds the health care system, but the patient is required to donate his right to choose a more efficient and timely service.
798. The urge to organize and improve society is irresistible, but organization always demands a price in terms of individual freedom. Human beings are not ants.
797. Much is suggested about the nature of existence by observing the number and scope of the lies needed to make it bearable.
796. Diversity in a population can provide strength and resilience, but it is not an end in itself. The ultimate in diversity is simply chaos.
795. Those on the left usually follow a "preferred narrative" -- one from which any awkward, truthy bits have been excluded.
794. Equality is a fool's game; there's always someone richer, smarter, or better looking. It's better to try for your personal best.
793. Perfectionitis: a psychiatric affliction of modern western democracies. Measuring their societies against a standard of impossible perfection, they become filled with self-loathing, and eagerly embrace policies which seem likely to assure their own destruction.
792. People love to hear that unicorns gambol on the slopes of the Big Rock Candy Mountain, where the handouts grow on bushes, and the lemonade -- like the lunch -- is always free. Thus are they seduced into stupidity.
791. The universe is a great mystery -- but there seems to be an irresistible impulse to explain it in human terms -- with distinctly human Gods inordinately preoccupied with their precious human creations. Objectively, this inclination seems to betray an infantile self-absorption. Why should the universe care more about homo sapiens than elephants, or jaguars, or some other life form elsewhere in its undefined vastness? Isn't it about time we grew up?
790. Life -- the diagnosis is always terminal. Timing is everything.
789. The phrase "freedom of religion" has become, unjustifiably, the byword for a modern taboo against criticism of any religion. The taboo is recognized both by unbelievers -- who may regard criticism as bad manners --an unkind assault on cherished illusions -- and believers -- who doubtless see criticism of any religion as setting a precedent dangerous to their own assumptions. The power of superstition should never be underestimated.
788. The universe is a vast creative experiment.
787. Creativity is simply the willingness to experiment.
786. How does man's imagination arise? Surely it is but a reflection of the creative process of evolution itself -- which is constantly throwing out new ideas seeking the approval of the environment.
785. The Canadian healthcare system, in the guise of egalitarian benevolence, deliberately removes competition and reduces consumer choice. As with any benevolent monopoly, a culture of complacency and sanctimonious condescension is the result.
784. A benevolent monopoly is particularly odious; the usual monopolistic arrogance is wedded to an aura of sanctimonious self-satisfaction.
783. No monopolist is ever humble.
782. Arrogance is a necessary concomitant of monopoly.
781. Speculation about divinity is relatively harmless. The problems begin when speculation pretends that it is revelation, and assumes the mantle of absolute truth.
780. From the awkward fabric of existence – the threads of our human legacy of competition and co-operation – must be fashioned the best garment of civilization possible.
779. We recommend paying careful attention to the musings of the Pope. It is important to see how the other half believes, so that dangerous follies can be avoided.
778. Appeasement never deters -- but always encourages -- aggression.
777. Every government contains the seed of corruption. It is called power.
776. The United Nations is extremely useful: it ensures that -- this side of sanity -- the idea of world government will never be considered.
775. Every ideal conception should have a 'Plan B.'
774. No scheme of government benevolence should overlook the fact that some portion of humanity is crooked.
773. There is no cure for age.
772. Citizenship without commitment is the subversive legacy of multiculturalism.
771. Human speech should be reserved for the dignified and reasonable purpose of communicating with other sentient beings. It should not be demeaned and devalued in a charade of "conversation" with machines.
770. What does work is often disdained -- because it fails to support the idea of what should work.
769. Certainty -- when it is linked to grand conceptual schemes of human improvement and social virtue -- should be viewed with deepest suspicion.
768. Certainty -- so often a façade of rouge and perfume found in the embrace of stupidity.
767. Certainty -- the favourite disguise of falsehood.
766. Ice cream -- the great melter of all resolve.
765. Islam and freedom of speech cannot co-exist; the battle may, at great cost, be postponed, but it cannot be avoided.
764. The human condition is difficult. As a species we must journey between the Scylla of despair in contemplating the blind, destructive, indifference of the universe -- and the Charybdis of necessary, protective, but potentially dangerous hopeful illusions.
763. There is nothing like a little money to gladden the heart.
762. Illusions may be necessary -- but it is important to distinguish between the harmlessly comforting and the dangerously stupid.
761. Islam upholds the sensibilities of the seventh century as a source of all wisdom. This explains why the countries in which it dominates are primitive, oppressive, and unpleasant.
760. Islam is full of bad ideas -- one of the worst of which is that it is an infallible source of wisdom in all matters, and hence is beyond criticism. Thus it stands resolutely against the great constant reality of the universe: change.
759. Science, dealing with facts, makes no claim of knowledge with respect to ultimate intent, motivation, or meaning; religion, without a scintilla of evidence, does. Clearly, this is a case in which ignorance is preferable to arrogance.
758. The art of life lies in choosing the least dangerous illusions.
757. When someone says, "The science is settled" -- you know they are talking about religion.
756. There is no direct evidence for any religion. There are reports of self-proclaimed human intermediaries, accounts by gullible contemporaries, and exhortations by those with obvious self-interest. It's a wonderful example of the triumph of grand conceptual fiction over the plodding plainness of facts.
755. Multiculturalism and socialism -- look like peaches, taste like lemons.
754. Multiculturalism and socialism are conceptually attractive, but thoroughly impractical. One proclaims the equality of cultures, the other the equality of men. But to cherish equality is to reject what works -- merit, competence, and accomplishment.
753. Equality looks like a peach, tastes like a lemon.
752. Equality is a false God, but a true Devil. His worshippers never achieve the promise of his name, but effectively seek to destroy competence, excellence, and achievement.
751. These are the great unflattering truths that religion teaches us: big, absurd lies about imaginary deities represent a powerful force for cultural unity -- and blind irrational faith confers some competitive advantage in tribal conflicts.
750. If what we assert is true, it may be remembered; if what we say is in error, it will be rejected and forgotten -- but this, too, is an advance for the cause of truth.
749. Religion is a very special kind of insanity -- a kind that has conferred, historically, a competitive advantage in human tribal conflict, and hence has the sanction of the evolutionary process. Like tribalism itself, it represents an inherited human instinct. Now, when tribes possess nuclear weapons, the question arises: is that same insanity no longer an advantage, but a mortal threat to the species as a whole?
748. To claim an equivalency of virtue between the cultures of secular western democracies, and those under the influence of Islam, is a declaration of intellectual and moral bankruptcy.
747. Whenever people attack not the idea – but its source -- you know they’ve hit the brick wall of their intellectual limitations.
746. There is a fine line between helpfulness and intrusion.
(Not only do microwave ovens which beep nanny reminders cross that line -- they march several miles inland and set up encampments of permanent abrasive annoyance.)
745. The modern appliance reflects the temper of the age, which is driven by change and entranced by fashion. There is no point in making a durable product when the ultimate aim is to make the customer dissatisfied with it as quickly as possible.
744. Every compliment -- every encouragement -- is a treasure -- a welcome token of psychic currency saved into the piggy bank of self-esteem.
743. Every totalitarian – whether dictator, socialist, climate alarmist, religious leader, or upholder of political correctness – is an idealist: he attempts to make humanity fit – through force or persuasion -- the Procrustean bed of an ideal, conceptual world. The concept is always at odds with the facts or with the realities of the human condition, and is ultimately unattainable or unsustainable.
742. Real science: an understanding of how things actually work is revealed by consistent predictive success. Climate "science:" no evidence of consistent predictive success.
741. "Equality," "tolerance," "faith," ‘science" and "racism" are some of the most dangerous words in the English language – because they all encompass unjustified assumptions.
"Equality" is assumed to be the natural state of things, or a state towards which things should be -- virtuously -- manoeuvered. But while equality of opportunity and treatment are worthy aims, it is inequality -- not equality -- which is at the heart of all change, all life, and all progress. "Equality" is not attainable, except -- perhaps – in stasis, finality, and death. The true motive of those claiming to seek equality is generally improvement. Anyone who attains equality in some respect will not be satisfied; he will seek further improvement, even if that should result in inequality.
"Tolerance" and "faith" are assumed to be universally benign; but focus and direction are the determinants: tolerance of murder, or faith in a God who approves of human sacrifice, slavery, or cannibalism can hardly be considered virtuous.
"Science" suggests the authority of facts, and a reliability of prediction; but too often the term is applied to matters of mere hypothesis, to conclusions preliminary or premature, or to pronouncements made by those with expertise in a field labelled "scientific." Only a record of consistent predictive success gives evidence of a scientific understanding of how the world works.
"Racism" is used as a term of irrefutable opprobrium; it is often applied – not legitimately – to an irrational disapproval of race -- but illegitimately -- to simple criticisms of cultural ideas and practices.
740. Inequality is at the heart of change, life, and progress. Only dead things have a remote chance of being considered equal.
739. Illusion is the great conjurer: it transforms the past; it enhances the future. In the present, it often wears the disguise of truth.
738. There is an inevitability to nostalgia: the past is not burdened – as is the present – by apprehension -- the uncertainty of inconclusivity.
737. If you don't understand the cause of the problem -- your solution will become part of it.
736. Life challenges each of us with an enigmatic and unyielding alchemy -- making sense of the human experience.
735. Idealism -- so often the blind nursemaid to folly.
734. Wise and fortunate is the man versed in illusions -- who can distinguish between the blandly benign and the delusionally dangerous.
733. High ideals -- the most convenient cloak for low motives.
732. The most sinister evils are those committed in piety, and justified by reverence.
731. Religious certainty -- as illustrated by ancient human sacrifice, the Christian Inquisition, and Sharia Law -- is a profound vulnerability -- a source of great moral evil -- at the heart of the human enterprise.
730. The Rose Garden was never promised; nor should it be invoked or simulated by Human Rights Commissions.
729. Reality is always the dowdy sister to Fancy. [This is a part of Observation #5. It appears as an independent Observation in The Quote Garden -- and elsewhere. It seemed appropriate to give it a number of its own.]
728. To say that love is blind understates the case; surely only perverse incompetence can account for the fact that it so often chooses the hopelessly unattainable, the maddeningly unresponsive, or the manifestly unsuitable.
727. Celebrity status contributes greatly to confidence, while leaving cognitive abilities unchanged. That is why so many celebrities -- compelled by a sense of self-importance to pronounce on issues of the day -- sound like vacuous twits.
726. (a) Celebrity does not preclude stupidity.
(b) Celebrity does not preclude stupidity; it may even encourage its expression.
725. This is an age which cherishes not only hopeful illusions, but the self-esteem of those most foolishly entranced; thus, in all things, the truth becomes toxic: the destruction of fantasy is seen as a wanton, gratuitous cruelty.
724. Cultures are like complex melodies – full of nuance and rhythmic subtleties. Human beings, instinctively tribal, and correspondingly accepting of existing tribal mores, find comfort and reassurance in the familiarity and essential predictability of the "anthem" of their national identities. They can – and do -- cope with natural and gradual alterations to the melody over time. However, abrupt changes to the tune demanded by complete strangers who have not listened long enough to appreciate its complexities -- these are scarcely welcomed.
723. Truth disdains alike the sanctity of religion, the myth of equality, and the ideal of cultural fraternity. Thus it is inimical to peace, order, and security -- the raison d'être of all government.
722. Freedom of speech is attacked because, over time, it tends to lead to truth -- a destroyer of dreams and a threat to harmony.
721. Equality is the dream; competition is the reality.
720. Political correctness represents the intersection of timidity and stupidity.
719. Whenever anyone sets out to prove that equality and brotherhood are the central truths of the human condition, they are challenged by merit, and are overcome by competition.
718. Political correctness pretends that perfection is the natural state of humanity, and demands adherence to the myth as proof of virtue. Thus anxiety, guilt --and a concomitant cowering silence --become the zeitgeist of the age.
717. The Koran contains many barbaric ideas which are incompatible with modern Western secular precepts -- and, indeed, with any humane continuance of the human project. The politically correct, always desperate to find an affirming equality -- especially where it does not exist -- seem to think that this fact should not be mentioned. Perhaps they believe that ignored facts turn into pumpkins at midnight. But bad ideas, uncriticized, are neither transformed into jack-o'- lanterns nor neutralized as pies. It is important to give voice to passionate criticism of the unacceptable elements in the religion of Islam.
716. The ratio of dreaming to doing varies inversely with the rate of accomplishment.
715. There are few things more dangerous than a bad idea pretending to be a good idea -- and claiming special status and protection on that account.
714. When not giving offense becomes the chief good, dishonesty and stupidity share equally in the triumph.
713. It is important to be able to say nasty things about bad ideas; freedom and good ideas are the worthy beneficiaries.
712. You may not hit a home run -- but that's no reason to stop swinging.
711. Life is a triumph of utility, but a failure of perfection.
710. Aim high -- but recognize that life itself is a failure of perfection. (Cf. #349 Nature does not aim for perfection, but rather, a high degree of utility. This fact should temper much idealistic enthusiasm.)
709. It's better to be perfectly useful than uselessly perfect.
708. We are the temporary achievement of relentless change and ceaseless striving; yet, like the flower that disdains the supportive soil and forgets its roots, we yearn for unwitherable bloom, and a quiet, unhurried garden of equality.
707. The twentieth century provided adequate evidence of the destructive potential of competitive, aggressive tribalism. It is interesting that, in the twenty-first century, some of the more enlightened tribes have concluded that the appropriate remedy for tribal aggression is self-destruction -- in deference to less enlightened tribes.
706. A refusal to face reality allows it to stab you in the back.
705. Islam presents a difficult puzzle for the West. A literal reading of the Koran reveals ways of thinking absolutely incompatible with western government, secular freedoms, and egalitarian aspirations. At the same time, a portion of the Muslim population is religiously casual and capable of adaptation to western values; another portion is unlikely to appreciate the distinction between concepts religious and principles secular; yet another portion is fanatically committed to the triumph of the barbaric sensibilities of the seventh century. The western bias -- resolutely optimistic and egalitarian -- assumes the vast preponderance of the first portion. The realist -- a rare species in the West -- would insist on determining immigration policy based on an accurate discrimination among the adaptable, the likely resistant, and the clearly fanatical.
704. There have been attempts to equate the anti-Semitism of the last century with anti-Islamic sentiment of the present day. But there is a difference between discrimination based on race, and the rejection of those committed to a hostile religious ideology.
703. The term "multiculturalism" -- like the term "tolerance" -- is used to represent an unqualified, unassailable good, and to silence discussion of cultural differences. In fact, "multiculturalism" -- is simply not viable in the real world -- because some cultural values are directly antithetical. There is no compromise possible between the belief that religion should form the basis of government, and the conviction that it should not. It is not helpful to discuss "multiculturalism" -- in general; the focus should be on the desirability of specific cultural values.
702. The idea of human equality -- a hopeful gloss of lipstick on the snout of truth.
701. Political correctness: a gloss of lipstick on the snout of truth.
700. Multiculturalism is viable only at the superficial level of culinary preference and the odd quaint tradition. He who claims to welcome the cultural subversion of modernity -- which upholds the concept of freedom of speech, which denies the rôle of religion in government, which rejects adherence to cruel religious traditions, which claims gender equality and the moral neutrality of sexual orientation -- is a liar.
699. The next time you hear someone approving of "multiculturalism," ask whether the tolerance expressed extends to cannibalism, slavery, and stoning for adultery. The subsequent attempt to define "multiculturalism" should prove interesting.
698. Most multiculturalists are hypocritical liars; they favour "multiculturalism" in order to suggest their superior inclusive tolerance -- but only in a broad, vague, general way. They balk at specific cultural practices, such as cannibalism, slavery, beheadings, scalpings, appeasement of Gods with human sacrifice, laws against blasphemy, the death penalty for apostasy, stoning for adultery, amputation for theft, throwing gays from tall buildings, female genital mutilation, widow burning, and honour killings. Their "tolerance" is not all-embracing; it is quite selective. It is simply the scope of that selectivity -- not "multiculturalism"-- which is the legitimate subject of public debate.
697. It used to be that taking offense was an occasional surreptitious private indulgence -- but now -- especially at institutions of higher learning -- there is a virtual epidemic of quivering public angst. Can it be long before it finds broader manifestation -- as a nation-wide dangerous and de-stabilizing social addiction?
696. Roadblocks beget detours.
695. The well-worn path is the most likely to become a rut.
694. In the real world, no freedom can be absolute; but the freedom to criticize should come within an inch of infinity.
693. Certainty is saving grace or dangerous delusion -- depending on its foundation -- in fact -- or fantasy.
692. Just as the old, looking back, idealize the past, so the young, looking forward, idealize the future. Illusion is the stuff of memory -- and is at the heart of hope.
691. The globalist view is that national borders are anachronistic relics which should be destroyed. This ignores a certain obdurate reality: human beings are instinctively tribal, and territorial -- and tend to resist the incursion of foreign cultural values.
690. Borders make the nation. When borders are destroyed, the concept of nationhood is effectively obliterated.
689. "Equality" boasts of super-powers in a seductive and honeyed voice; but it is a poseur and charlatan -- always vulnerable to the kryptonite of truth.
687. The term "affirmative action" suggests that a re-naming of the Devil will alter the nature of his deeds.
686. The project of the European Union reflects a spirit more idealistic than scientific. It assumes – contrary to historical evidence -- that citizens are enamoured of central planning, and welcome the central plans of unelected elites; further – most recently – it has pretended that cultural – that is tribal -- differences are always minor, and will succumb to good intentions. It is significant that the first country to leave the Union is one which, by historical exceptionalism and through geographical isolation, has a strong sense of tribal identity.
685. Those who see equality as a legitimate goal are deluded; men seek not equality, but improvement. The bauble goal of equality -- be it reached or breached -- the desire for improvement remains.
684. Every thinking person seeks a coherent, rational, comprehensive philosophy of life -- something which will give meaning to the human condition, and solace to the human spirit. That is why thinking people are more frustrated and disappointed than the rest of us.
683. "Moderate" Muslims seem remarkably silent -- nor have they responded to the horrors committed in the name of Islam by seeking to establish a central interpretative authority to disavow the barbarous and aggressive supporting religious texts. This seems telling. By their silence, they give consent; by their inaction, they betray the absence of a functioning moral compass.
682. The West has decided to trade in its moral compass for a shiny bauble called "equality" -- and a smug, self-congratulatory sense of "tolerance." In the end, the bargain will prove to be both debilitating and impoverishing.
681. Globalism is theory; nationalism -- which has its roots in instinctive tribalism -- is practice.
680. Political correctness -- a cocktail of poisonous lies pretending to the sweetness of lemonade, and the virtue of carrot juice.
679. We have begun to believe that a certificate of intellectual bankruptcy must be one of the chief pre-requisites for those on the political left.
678. It would be great progress if belief in Sharia law could be replaced by a conviction that the earth is flat. Some follies are more dangerous than others.
677. Islam is a religion which lacks any redeeming element of humility.
676. Illusions are necessary, but dangerous. Commitment is best hedged with caution.
675. Happiness is the charlatan whose disguise is always perfect.
674. Happiness is always the serendipitous result of looking for something else.
673. The great dilemma of the age -- whether to be nice -- or speak the truth.
672. Pleasant illusions are best maintained by not thinking too much. That is why it is considered so important to restrict the expression of worrisome ideas.
671. God is the convenient answer -- a black box of silence resistant to supplementary questions or further discussion.
670. Religion -- an intellectual colouring book for adults.
669. Religion -- the refuge of those for whom thinking is too much of a challenge.
668. How Gods reflect their creators! The Gods of primitive, ignorant, and vulnerable societies seem immediate, arbitrary, and cruel -- requiring significant appeasement and sacrifice in return for a mitigation of their fury. In modern societies -- more knowledgeable and self-sufficient -- God is more like an elderly benevolent uncle living in a distant city; in the right mood, he might be good for a new red bicycle, or a crucial, reassuring win for the home team.
667. In restricting free speech, academic institutions claim the virtue of harmony, and the harm of hurt feelings; thus are pacts with the devil written in reverence, sealed in piety, and dusted with the gold of good intentions.
666. Usually free speech is restricted in order to protect a "preferred narrative" -- a view of the world which is known to be fatally vulnerable to facts.
665. It is admirable to maintain that tribalism is a barbaric element of our past, and that all cultures are equal; practical difficulties arise from the fact that some tribes are still more barbaric than others.
664. Equality, like a spoiled child, demands attention, recognition, and reward -- whether they are deserved or not.
663. A melody is not created by selecting notes on the basis of their diversity, but on the basis of their effectiveness.
662. Political correctness cherishes, above all, the subjective lens; further, no individual perception of reality is -- reassuringly -- better than any other. To suggest otherwise is to risk an unpleasant encounter with the truth.
661. Logic permits two explanations of our behaviour. First, our decisions are the inevitable result of the laws of cause and effect -- since only one effect can arise from a single set of causes (the brain in a particular state responding to the environment in a particular state) -- at any instant in time. Second, chance -- to a greater or lesser degree -- interferes with that inevitability, making our choices unpredictable, arbitrary, and meaningless. Sanity requires us to reject logic, and believe we are the masters of our fate.
660. Careful dreams begin the necessary voyage to improvement. Careless dreams disdain reality -- they end in wreckage -- a harsh testament to the perils of idealistic gullibility.
659. The lies of political correctness sound pleasant enough -- but the truth is like a restless skeleton in the closet – it will rattle its way out eventually.
658. It doesn't matter whether you are a fortune teller, a certified genius, or a highly-regarded scientist with peer-reviewed scientific papers emanating from every orifice: a failed prediction shows you don't know what you are talking about.
657. The greatest threat to freedom in the West is political correctness -- the despotism disguised as virtue.
656. Political correctness: despotism disguised as virtue.
655. The despotic impulse is a human constant. It often appears cloaked as virtue -- protecting the sanctity of religion, the fragility of feelings, or the ideal of equality. It even pretends to a saving of the planet.
654. Cultures are like melodies: simultaneous performances in a common hall make the jobs of lyricist -- and vocalist -- impossible.
653. Truth will always be ignored if it threatens the cherished ideal of equality.
652. A politician whose chief asset is charisma should avoid frittering it away with his elbows. (May 18, 2016)
651. Gazing at the stars will not save you from the abyss at your feet.
650. The enthusiasm of the Liberal government for deficit spending suggests they believe they have discovered a new magic -- an innovative incantation which will ensure their perennial popularity. In fact the new magic is simply an old trick -- one destined to be seen as a false "sleight of mind" when the money runs out, and there are bills to be paid.
649. The spiritual home of Left-Wingery is -- of course -- none other than the Big Rock Candy Mountain -- where the sun always shines, the handouts grow on bushes, and the bluebird, full of free lemonade, exults in perpetual song.
648. The notion that religions represent the word of "God" -- as discovered by self-proclaimed special human intermediaries -- is laughably absurd. Yet the belief has persisted even into modern times. A different idea -- that Gods and religions represent -- merely-- human theories and suppositions about reality -- satisfies the detached intellect, but does not feed, apparently, a deep emotional hunger. Is it too much to suggest that an early infantile illusion -- a perception of parental perfection, power, and benevolence -- is mirrored in the yearning for "God?"
647. It seems likely that the idea of "God" has its seeds in the infantile illusion of parental perfection that is gradually -- and reluctantly -- abandoned in the process of maturation. The need for that illusion persists: "God" provides a comforting, caressing circularity -- a womb of benevolent certainty to replace that which has been lost.
646. If man is instinctively tribal, and tribes are instinctively hierarchical, egalitarian and multicultural societies are at some distance beyond the horizon. He who would tame the lion of instinct must be ever-vigilant; nor should he belittle the magnitude of his task.
645. When tolerance must be paid for with the coin of traditional freedoms, it has become destructively expensive.
644. Tolerance is akin to enthusiasm -- admirable or not, depending upon its focus and direction.
643. Intelligence is the wide beam of light -- but determination is the narrow focus, the lens by which the darkness is transformed, and new trails are blazed.
642. Most people, confronted with pleasant nonsense, focus on the pleasant, and overlook the nonsense.
641. Mankind aspires to a perfection not permitted by his genetic legacy -- nor by the competitive necessities of his circumstance. He is condemned to endless aspiration -- a persistent purgatory of failed ideals.
640. Faith has a hypnotic fascination -- it is a light of promised permanence -- of certainty beyond fact and reason. But it can be beacon, or flame -- a saving grace, or a pact with the devil.
639. Religion requires a submission of the intellect in exchange for emotional reassurance. It pretends that the universe is not the vast indifference which it appears, but a benign contrivance reflecting an obsession with the human project, and each single member of the human race.
638. Religion: a cultural glue of mythic tradition, the adhesive strength of which relies on the claim that it is "above" reason, and exempt from rational analysis.
637. We long for "dangerous" spaces, where feelings are irrelevant, and all ideas are free to engage in a battle to the death.
636. Society will always be torn between the pretence of equality -- in order to make people feel good -- and the need for a hierarchy of competence -- in order to make things work.
635. Our Gods -- despite their supreme powers, remote abodes, and divine disdain for regular and effective communication -- are all quite recognizably human. This should give some clue as to who was created by whom.
634. In a forest of infinite tolerance, every path leads to the tiger's jaws.
633. One-sided tolerance is called appeasement. Either that, or stupidity.
632. Some western ideals -- the belief in cultural equality and an uncritical view of tolerance as an unqualified good -- lead to a self-destructive appeasement of those who are neither egalitarian nor tolerant. Complete destruction may not ensue, but the disruption of society occasioned should result in a better appreciation of reality.
631. Sometimes the ends do justify the means. A lot depends on whether the ends are mine, or yours.
630. Facts and reality have little chance against a narrative that has captured the public imagination.
629. Evolution no doubt selects for irrational optimism -- which explains why "hope and change" is the perennial promise of progressive politicians.
628. Laws against blasphemy provide the opportunity for private evil to strut and prance in the cloak of pious public outrage.
627. An evil impulse is most safely and conveniently disguised as the outrage of righteous piety.
626. It's a pity to see western democracies caught in the trap of their own idealistic but inappropriate tolerance.
625. God is the universe; we are but his transient, fleeting flashes of self-perception.
624. The inspirational value of religion as myth is far overshadowed by the harm and destruction caused when it is perceived as truth.
623. Insufficient similarity
Is the curse of analogy.
622. When faith needs so many suicide bombers to defend it, you know it's having serious mental health issues.
621. Saving mankind: most responsible manufacturers would just fix the design flaws; arranging for the crucifixion of a close relative would be near the bottom of the ideas list.
620. The "Brainy Quote" website accepts quotations only from the famous. This fact exposes a hypocrisy in the name which seems typically American: "Brainy Quote" is mere façade; the real importance -- the true fascination -- is not with brains -- or wisdom -- but celebrity.
619. Those who know the mind of God also converse agreeably with mermaids, dine on roasted unicorn, and drink the chocolate ambrosia of melted Easter Bunnies.
618. The impossible is so often desirable; the desirable, so often impossible.
617. Life's but a trial --
A bleak day-to-daybia
So vile is the style
In Saudi Arabia.
616. God -- of course -- is not real. He is just an idea, an illusion. But here is the troubling question: Is such an illusion essential to the success of the tribe? Is the competitive universe a place where a rational tribe must always succumb to one driven by a blind -- but determined -- collective insanity?
615. More blest would be the world by far --
Could we but see things as they are.
614. Why haven't we received radio messages from advanced civilizations elsewhere in the universe? The answer may be quite simple. At about the same time a species discovers radio waves, it acquires the technology for blowing itself up -- which it promptly does.
613. Fearing that the universe might wobble, and require a complete galactic re-ordering, political correctness attempts to prevent even a single triggering event of hurt feelings. It fails to contemplate the possibility that there are some feelings that deserve to be hurt.
612. The trouble with brains is -- they are so easily washed.
611. Bandwagons have no brakes; nor do they explode in a collision with fact. Rather, over a period of time, the enthusiasts leave quietly, one by one, until the seats are mostly empty. Then -- a puff of derision does the trick. The end comes with neither a screech nor a bang -- but with a whimper of embarrassed acquiescence.
610. The human brain is essentially tribal in nature: Ninety per cent imitation, ten per cent contemplation, and two percent initiation.
609. One thing is reliably certain -- my equality is a lot better than yours.
608. Caste and class systems represent the oppressive imposition of artificial inequality. The opposite -- the attempt to impose some degree of artificial equality -- is more laudable, but has limited scope. Equality before the law and equality of opportunity -- based on the the absence of discriminatory practices -- seem self-evidently worthy. The provision of one vote for each unequal citizen, or the taxing of the rich to provide for the poor may, on balance, be beneficial. But the idea of imposed artificial equality -- carried too far -- denies the bedrock realities of success and failure -- and becomes just as oppressive as artificial inequality.
607. "Equality of opportunity" refers to the attempt to remove artificial barriers -- but still permits the effects of natural inequalities revealed by competition. "Equal opportunity" refers to the attempt to create an artificial circumstance of equal access to opportunity. "Equality of result" refers to the attempt to deny, by artificial means, any effects of natural inequalities. The range is from the admirable to the unlikely to the perversely impossible.
606. Like some other animals, human beings are essentially tribal in nature. This means they readily absorb not merely the wisdom of their tribe, but also its follies, and irrational beliefs. This is the great problem posed by religion in all societies: it is the thread of irrational belief woven inextricably into the fabric of tribal thinking.
605. A signal deficiency of Islam is its lack of a central interpretive authority. Thus, the contradictions of the written record remain unresolved: Islam may reasonably be interpreted as a peaceful beacon of sweetness and light -- or as an aggressive call to cruelty and barbarism. A related difficulty arises from its failure to distinguish between the temporal and the spiritual. It may be seen as a religion assuming unimpeachable political expertise, or as a political movement claiming divine sanction. It represents that most dangerous of fusions known to mankind -- the melding of religious ideals with political power.
604. No world of rational civility can be achieved until all religions concede that their claimed truths are fallible, partial, and particular -- not perfect, universal, and all-encompassing. Islam, with its determined claims to universal infallibility, seems particularly resistant to rational civility.
603. "Preferred narrative:" A pleasant, left-wing version of reality designed to obscure the truth.
602. Ideals are absolutes – they are like round holes of perfection into which the square, rough-hewn pegs of reality can never be successfully fitted.
601. The Greater Carrot Theory of International Relations: Carrots, provided promptly, and in sufficient quantity, render the need for sticks obsolete.
600. Political correctness is the new, oppressive religion.
599. Societies seem to welcome -- perhaps they require -- oppressive religions. As Christianity ebbs, political correctness -- stern, uncompromising, and intolerant -- floods imperiously in.
598. Freedom of religion proclaims the right of citizens to hold foolish and irrational beliefs; it does not protect them from criticism of their irrationality, or the denunciation of their folly.
597. Reality is not pleasant -- but fantasy can be far more dangerous.
596. Religion is concerned with how the world should work; science with how the world does work.
595. Religion and science are indeed opposites: religion begins with conclusions hoping to find evidence; science begins with evidence hoping to find conclusions.
594. God is theory; the universe is practice.
593. Religion is similar to tradition, except that it claims not merely the sanction of ancient practice, but that of divine origin. Religion is similar to superstition in that both claim the existence of cause and effect relationships for which evidence is lacking.
592. When ideas seem to require the protection of censorship, it suggests they are burdened by some essential deficiency, they are afflicted by some fatal vulnerability to reason.
591. Criticism of Islam is the only choice for anyone with a moral compass.
590. All religions -- because of the assumption of divine sanction -- tend towards intolerance. A theocracy results when the intolerance is unrestricted, and pervades the spheres of politics, science, and economics.
589. When truth is labelled blasphemy, a new dark age of the mind has been proclaimed.
588. Religions are attempts to personalize the universe. A puzzle of "benevolence" mixed with "cruelty" -- no matter how absurd or irrational -- suggests intention -- and thus is preferred to unmotivated impersonality, or blind indifference.
587. After a period of ascendancy, and a period of decline, Islam is in the process of reform -- a return to the barbarism, intolerance, and cruelty of its seventh century roots.
586. It's a cruel world: idealistic dreams usually end up costing as much as regular stupidity.
585. Naiveté does not come cheap.
584. Only through competition in the marketplace of discourse can the best ideas emerge and triumph.
583. Government by grand gesture and untested hypothesis will proceed quite happily -- until the bills come in.
582. Political correctness values feelings over facts, fiction over freedom.
581. Political correctness is essentially totalitarian – it aims to suppress truth in favour of harmony.
580. Christianity seems to be moving from cruel certainty towards a more benign vagueness, a less dogmatic hopefulness. Islam seems resolutely stuck in the certitudes of the seventh century.
579. Religions are dangerous because they offer the comfort of respectability to those who wish to believe without evidence, and to act without compassion.
578. Perhaps the great triumph of Christianity is that it has been sufficiently deferential to evidence to allow for its decline into obsolescence.
577. Virtuous Exemption Syndrome: An affliction which leads the sufferer to believe that his clear and undeniable virtue exempts him from observing normal conventions and rules of behaviour.
576. Those who breathlessly praise 'cultural diversity' as an end in itself seem to forget that, in the natural world, diversity provides not only good ideas which triumph, but bad ideas which, deservedly, fail.
575. People should feel valued for their unique gifts and abilities. To seek validation in equality is to ensure disappointment.
574. There is a distinction between equality of opportunity and equal opportunity. One suggests a potential; the other assumes an unachievable circumstance.
573. Equality is not in the blueprint of natural things. Thus it will not be found among living creatures.
572. Herds may do much ill-considered and foolish trampling; the choice between being a trampling fool -- or a wise man trampled -- is not difficult to make.
571. Men think in herds, not because herds are right, but because they offer security, mutual respect, and a needed sense of certainty.
570. Facts require no special protection; it is only some beliefs that claim criticism is unfair and illegitimate.
569. Tolerance -- as a self-perceived virtue -- will brook no dissent.
568. The term "racist" is mistakenly -- and unfairly -- applied to those critical, not of race, but of cultural values and attitudes. A more accurate term might be "culturist." It would probably be difficult to find anyone who is not a "culturist."
567. Every instance of political correctness reflects the death of some degree of honesty, the snuffing out of some light of truth.
566. "Tolerance" becomes totalitarian when it denies the right to criticize.
565. The ideal is that all human beings are equal, and should not be judged on the basis of their culturally derived ideas and attitudes. The fact is that cultural gulfs can be wide, deep, and dangerous. Pretending that there is no abyss will not repeal the law of gravity.
564. Discrimination based on race is absurd; preference for one culture over another is entirely reasonable -- since some cultures create more freedom, opportunity, wealth, artistic accomplishment and scientific achievement than others. A difficulty arises when race and culture are closely intertwined.
563. Human beings are defiantly real, rather than conveniently conceptual. That is why attempts to create an ideal society invariably involve bullying and oppression -- and why they ultimately fail.
562. Prescriptions made for ideal societies may not cure the maladies afflicting our own.
561. The great weakness of tolerance is gullibility.
560. In the hotel of the human psyche, emotion owns and manages the building; science and reason are occasional guests.
559. Tolerance – being on the side of the angels – feels no need of caution. With untroubled righteousness, it welcomes the ominously ticking package, the stranger with cloven hooves, and the heavy wooden horse left at the city gate.
558. The miraculous – dazzling and fantastical – cannot be denied: the transformation of matter from inanimate to animate – the expanding labyrinthine complexity and the extraordinary variety of life forms – the mysterious development of consciousness. Yet the process itself seems automatic and reactive rather than planned and deliberate. And nowhere is there even a breath of benevolence – except in the yearning of the human imagination.
557. Even those philosophically committed to equality and the brotherhood of man tend to root for the home team.
556. The dreams most desirable are least attainable. This is the first axiom in the geometry of reality.
555. Pie-itis: Disease affecting cognition and perception. Characterized by specific hallucinations concerning edible desserts (they are usually round, and crusted) navigating in the earth’s atmosphere.
554. There are things people want to hear. And then there is the truth.
553. Appeasement of those proclaiming manifestly bad ideas will be taken as a mark of approval, and a sign of consent.
552. It is never wise to ignore a primary principle in human affairs: people like power. They like attaining it, retaining it, and exercising it.
551. Hope is essential; but it doesn't hurt to expect disappointment.
550. No mourning can heal the wound of neverness.
549. The fact that chimpanzees have a sense of fairness suggests that morality is not divinely inspired, but socially derived.
548. The dimensions of social reality: the height depends on the right length of competition, and an appropriate width of co-operation. No yardstick is available.
547. In every social bestiary, the mongoose of ideal conceptions battles with the cobra of practical necessities.
546. The contradiction at the atomic heart of human matter: electrons of comedy circling protons of tragedy.
545. The sweep of history reveals a gradual erosion – and submersion -- of the great banks of religious hypotheses in a rising tide of knowledge.
The idea that human and animal sacrifices will ensure a bountiful harvest has given way to the use of fertilizers and irrigation. The notion that the earth occupies a position of centrality in the universe has been superseded by the awareness that it is a small and peripheral planet in a universe of unimaginable size. The concept that man is a separately conceived creation -- half-beast, half-angel -- has succumbed to the theory of evolution and the discovery of universal genetic building blocks. The belief that torture and death are appropriate measures for ensuring religious conformity finds remnants only in Islamic countries where the study of science has been largely neglected.
Currently, it is still believed that "God" -- whose "creation" operates on a pitiless predatory principle, in which the survival of individuals and the species of which they are a part is determined by their fitness in a randomly changing environment -- is primly concerned with the sexual mores and conventions of one particular species: homo sapiens.
It does not seem unreasonable to suggest that this last hypothesis, will become simply more debris deposited on the submerged reefs of religious folly.
544. Doublethink is essential to human existence; we must remain inspired by ideals without being foolish enough to let them destroy us.
543. As worship of the Christian God has declined, the God of Equality has become more revered. This shows the need for comforting but unrealistic ideals.
542. It’s impossible to overestimate the capacity for stupidity engendered by religion.
541. No garden of equality is without its serpent of competition.
540. Life is absolutely wonderful -- but utterly ruthless.
539. The determined pretence that tribal -- that is cultural -- differences are unimportant is one of the chief follies of the age.
538. Blown from the pipe of hope, the shimmering, iridescent bubbles of equality eventually find their way to the uneven reality of earth.
537. The nature of reality is such that the prism of illusion is always necessary.
536. Religion is like an inefficient kaleidoscope: in order to present a pretty pattern -- many awkward bits of reality have to be left out.
535. If you want to silence a critic, the term "racist" is more effective than facts or logic.
534. The level path is easy, but it will not bring you to the mountaintop.
533. One day -- probably hundreds of years in the future -- it may be possible to say: "I don't care whether you are offended."
532. Pure virtue -- self-perceived -- seeks no compromise with reality. This explains the fascism of the Left.
531. Evil is most ruthless and untroubled when it has divine permission and holy sanction.
530. Hurt feelings are subjective, self-defined, and potentially limitless in scope. That is why they cannot be used to measure the inappropriateness of a comment or criticism.
529. The truth is seldom popular: it doesn't look good, it doesn't sound good, and it refuses to change.
528. Romanticism values the intangible over the tangible.
527. Equality offers ambrosia in a poisoned chalice -- but Merit has never acquired a taste for suicide.
526. Our opposition to religion might be moderately diminished were all Gods to be renamed as one entity: "Highly Unlikely."
525. Religions are human hypotheses about divine possibilities.
524. The more governments grow in power, the more people look to government to solve problems; the more governments are asked to solve problems, the more power they seek to solve them. Thus liberty defers to security.
523. Small, achievable dreams are worth considering; it's the grand, universal -- but unachievable -- conceptions that guarantee misery.
522. Climate "science:" The wolf of politics wearing grandma's lab coat.
521. All societies create, adopt, or adapt religions. This suggests the usefulness -- not the truthfulness -- of religions.
520. Religion is speculation pretending to be revelation.
519. The truth perplexes and challenges. It is little wonder that religion --which offers the comfort of ritual, the assurance of tradition, and the rewards of tribal conformity-- seems significantly more attractive.
518. Religion: people prefer the comfort of false certainty
to the perplexity of real mystery.
517. Religion survives as a most potent cohesive force for tribal unity: ideas claiming evidentiary justification are always subject to factual challenge; but unproven ideas, accepted on faith, are invulnerable to the demands of logic or the doubts of common sense.
516. Because Islam does not recognize the separation of mosque and state, it may be regarded as a political ideology with delusions of divine sanction -- or a religion with delusions of political infallibility. Delusions are always dangerous.
515. Xenophobia may be likened to paranoia: sometimes there are real threats, and sometimes fear is a reasonable response.
514. Climate alarmism benefits greatly from the human susceptibility – doubtless an instinctive one – to religious belief – an element of tribal culture in which the need for factual evidence is overwhelmed by the perceived advantages of enthusiastic participation. The existential threats presented are of death and extinction. The accusation of human responsibility – sin – preys upon that reservoir of guilt consistent with and attendant upon an awareness of inherent human frailty. The glories of salvation are offered in exchange for human sacrifice. It would appear that only a drastic decline in global temperatures is likely to result in apostasy on any significant scale.
513. The claim of a religion to represent universal and eternal truths is always betrayed by the particularities of its origin. Taking Christianity as an example – the God revealed --as opposed to the one proclaimed -- is willing to see his son tortured as a part of a propaganda event – an event as cheaply sensationalist as something which might be devised by the proprietor of a struggling travelling circus. God is also, evidently, a gambler – counting on the credulity of the age – for what were the chances that his 'one-shot miracle' would be believed on the basis of such limited and unlikely evidence? Finally, God makes salvation the equivalent of holding a lottery ticket – he cares nothing for the millions of souls born too soon, or the millions born into other cultures, in inconveniently distant locations. The God revealed – a cruel, unjust, capricious, speculator-promoter-publicist -- is scarcely fit to manage a corner convenience store, much less a universe.
512. It is the current fashion to expect truth to defer to feelings. It is, perhaps, unfortunate that the demands of feelings are limitless, and the truth has little reputation for generosity.
511. Political correctness is a refusal to make judgments about value – lest the ideal of equality be betrayed.
510. Islam is an ideology made more dangerous by its claim to a religious -- and therefore infallible -- origin.
509. Political correctness: Correctness sacrificed for political reasons.
508. Political correctness: Tact grows up confused, changes his name to Cowardice -- and marries Stupidity.
507. Tolerance is a two-way street. The one-way streets are called Provocative Arrogance and Spineless Submission.
506. Insecurity breeds a defensive hostility. "Cultural appropriation" is seen as a terrible insult, an appropriate compliment, or a matter of complete indifference -- according to the self-perceived level of cultural validity.
505. A wordsmith is a word worrier. He worries words and the positions of words. His aim is to worry meaning into a bell of sound that has the ring of truth.
504. The source of an idea does not determine its legitimacy.
503. Religions are human hypotheses about divine beginnings – ideas which gain power only insofar as their imaginative and speculative origins are forgotten, and the reality of the human element becomes lost in the divine ideal. They are like bogus currencies – which circulate as long as their lead coins can maintain a plated sheen of gold – a façade of truth and legitimacy.
502. The universe is a great mystery. You can make up as many happy and flattering stories about the mystery as you want. They are still just stories -- and the mystery is still a mystery.
501. The scientific method – with its annoying emphasis on evidence – finds neither a warm welcome nor a comfortable lodging in the human mind. That is because an agreeable concept can often be reassuringly maintained through the judicious selection of complementary evidence. Starting with a dispassionate look at the evidence too often leads to conclusions either inconsiderately impertinent or thoroughly disagreeable.
500. There are advantages to an umbrella of anticipatory gloom; at least – when the storm hits – there will be no washout of surprise.
499. The distinction between arrogance and confidence is determined by what happens next.
498. A religion is simply that element of tribalism which refers to origins. It creates cohesion by encouraging a shared mythic belief not vulnerable to rational analysis. It is nothing more nor less than tribal propaganda which claims the mantle of divine sanction, and postures with a halo of theistic infallibility.
497. Islam is, indeed, a religion of peace; it is that particular variety of peace attained when there is complete and unthinking submission to its precepts. (In the absence of complete submission, it is inclined to be grumpy, rather than peaceful.)
496. Hopeful illusions -- so necessary and comforting -- so dangerous when made compulsory.
495. Only from a free exchange and competition will the best ideas emerge and triumph; those with the worst ideas are the most anxious that freedom be suppressed and competition curtailed. This accounts for the confidence of science, and the defensiveness of religion.
494. Political correctness is a consequence of the egalitarian ideal: it protects bad ideas so that those holding them will not feel offended. Thus it assures that good and bad ideas may be held with equal confidence and certainty.
493. The truth is unpleasant; on the other hand, one should choose one's lies quite carefully.
492. Ideals are often like the Sirens of mythology – a seductively attractive lure to shipwreck.
491. Surely there can be no statement more antithetical, more hostile, or more blind to the essence and spirit of scientific enquiry than: "The science is settled."
490. The essence of science lies in the repeatability of experiment -- when the interactions of things are well understood -- accurate prediction becomes possible. The "science" of climate has progressed to the point of making confident predictions; but accuracy has remained elusive. It might best be termed "theoretical," "hypothetical," or "aspirational" science.
489. Life is inherently paradoxical: every dream has the potential for nightmare; every nightmare may reveal some truth.
488. Idealism is absolutism. The pristine version is toxic, and often fatal; to be beneficial, it requires the dilution of balance, and the filter of common sense.
487. Idealism is a rejection of reality. The difficulty is that reality is sometimes subject to alteration, sometimes not. The most productive idealism is tentative and hopeful; the most dangerous is that infused with absolute certainty.
486. In religious faith there is the seed of madness.
485. The victory -- or defeat -- of the home team is of infinitesimal consequence; what is significant is the passionate engagement of the crowd -- for it is that which suggests the rôle of tribal instinct in human affairs.
484. Of all tribalism, that based on religion is most dangerous. When faith -- the fever borne of factless fantasy -- unleashes, with aggressive certainty, its unreasoning, rabid dogs of war -- negotiation is not possible.
483. If tribalism is the natural state of mankind, we should not be surprised at the presence of great swaths of mindless conformity, and the scarcity of threads of independent thought.
482. The great virtue of tribalism -- co-operation -- contains the seed of its great vice -- unthinking conformity.
481. Religious tribalism is based on nonsense -- which is not necessarily a disadvantage -- for faith never defers to facts.
480. It remains to be seen whether, in the current conflict between religious and national tribalism, the tribalism most impervious to reason will triumph.
November 1, 2015 -- concludes the sixth year of observations.
479. Political correctness is concerned not with truth, but with pretense.
478. What an odd joke life is! After eons of competitive striving, matter achieves consciousness, renounces striving, and yearns, pathetically, for the stasis of equality.
477. Islam is the elephant in the room. No matter how aggressively it poops on the carpet, everyone pretends not to notice. Instead, the cat is excoriated for its carelessness, and the canary criticized for its thoughtless incontinence.
476. Leopards do not change their spots. The bleach of wishful thinking can never erase the stain of original deficiencies.
475. Conservatives are like the primly unaccommodating governess, constantly warning of what is permissible, what is reasonably consistent with the limitations of reality. Liberals are like the doting aunt, who never appears without a bag of candy, who holds out the promise of an easy trip to the Big Rock Candy Mountain, where the bluebird sings, and the sun always shines.
474. The gloomy notion of original sin has been replaced with the happy presumption of original goodness. During the process, human nature has remained unchanged.
473. Political correctness: tact trumps fact.
472. Political correctness assumes that when facts are ignored, they will go away.
471. Political correctness is wilful blindness.
470. The certainty of the righteous idealist is indeed dangerous. Once you have convinced yourself that you are saving the planet, advancing multiculturalism, or ensuring gender equality in the ranks of bicycle mechanics, the pillaging of evidence, the looting of common sense, and the burning of freedoms become mere necessary means blessedly sanctified by noble ends.
469. Certainty based on evidence is a weak and sickly thing compared to the robust assurance arising from unsubstantiated beliefs and impractical ideals.
468. That the universe is capable of sentience is extraordinary. It's a pity people wish to romanticize that miraculous fact by imagining a First Cause possessed of a sentience flatteringly similar to their own.
466. The love affair with central planning has its roots in religion: God -- omnipotent, omniscient, and holier than thou -- is the archetypical central planner.
465. We are not, essentially and intrinsically, rational. The difficulty is to find the least harmful expressions of superstition and primitive tribal emotions. Rooting for the home team and religions without fangs -- reduced to ritual cheering for the home God -- might be acceptable.
464. In a world so often chaotic and unpredictable, it is no surprise that order and certainty are highly prized. Doubtless this accounts for the success of dictators, and the popularity of Gods.
463. Truth can afford to be casual, and point to the evidence; belief -- lacking evidence -- tends to passion, and to extremes.
462. Certainty is most passionate in the absence of evidence.
461. The universe is real; "God" is a figment of the human imagination. We hope this clears up the confusion.
460. The roots of religions are in the societies which give them credence; that accounts for their differences -- and their similarities. One similarity -- that they are bequeathed from the heavens by a remote divinity is simply self-serving propaganda.
459. The ladder of progress contains the rungs of freedom, competition, wealth, and inequality. Apart from the ladder is equality -- the smooth, level, unchallenging plain. But for all its superficial attractiveness, it rejects wealth, eschews competition, and enforces conformity.
458. Compassionate government largesse, apparently unencumbered, may yet contain the seeds of dependency, and the tendrils of tentacles. It is not inconceivable that eventually, "free" health care may require behaviour, diet, and medication in conformity with government guidelines.
457. Political correctness is a dangerous, hypocritical idealism: it is a determined pretence that the world of competitive struggle, in which some things are inevitably better than others, is, at its core, an egalitarian utopia of sweetness and light. As Aldous Huxley so aptly observed, "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."
456. Inequality is the seed of progress.
455. Those who seek special treatment as members of a disadvantaged group ensure that they will never be judged on their merits.
454. The ideal is to see people as individuals; the current practice of political correctness is to see citizens solely as representatives of groups afflicted with various degrees of victimization.
453. Political correctness: freedom sacrificed at the altar of hypocrisy.
452. Equality is the desirable dream; inequality is the practical necessity.
451. Mr. Obama: the paragon of pusillanimity. When principle is sacrificed at the altar of legacy, weakness rises to virtue, and appeasement bears the palm and pride of statesmanship.
450. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so it eschews equality.
449. Some ideas – some accomplishments – are better than others. This landscape truth of mountain and abyss will always frustrate the prairie dreams of equality.
448. There are contradictions at the heart of human existence which ensure a restless dis-ease: sentient creatures can thrive only in the unreasonable expectation of their own permanence; uplifting, co-operative, egalitarian dreams are restrictively contained in a prevailing landscape of hostile competition. In short, religious and social ideals inevitably conflict with reality.
447. In the pigsty of reality -- always the cruel hope of a silk purse.
446. If there were a God, he would be appalled by the beliefs
and actions of those using him as an excuse.
445. That any adult could believe in Scientology is a testament to the tragic and dangerous gullibility of humankind.
444. The claim that religious ideas are beyond criticism is a provocation to the reasonable, and to the free. The silence of fear -- or the restraint of good manners -- both raise the same white flag: they are a surrender to the tyranny of religion.
443. The United Nations is doomed to dysfunction because it falsely assumes the equality of nations and the moral equivalence of cultures.
442 Ideals are theoretical; power is practical. The mixture of the two requires the same caution required when a gasoline can is opened in a match factory.
441. Religion is superstition made respectable by tradition.
440. Religion is superstition transformed by success: the same black magic -- but with a veneer of learning, some fancy robes, and a more respectable address.
439. The name of the "Hope not Hate" organization -- which opposes "Draw Muhammad" contests -- should be changed to "Capitulation, not Courage." Or, perhaps -- "Forfeit Freedom in Favour of Fanaticism."
438. Competition -- with its implications of inequality and injustice -- is much out of favour among those of the compassionate left. To them we would pose this question: Would you rather be the product of a competitively successful sperm, or one enabled to reach its destination with the aid of an auxiliary propeller -- installed at a government-sponsored after-school remedial swimming program -- and with the charitable provision -- from the International Sperm Workers' Co-operative Brotherhood -- of a taxi service for the difficult parts of the journey?
437. Every human society will reflect a conflict between bedrock truths of the natural world, and the tempering elements of civilized necessities and hopeful aspirations. All creatures are the products of a ceaseless competitive striving for survival: there are winners and losers; some things are, inevitably, better than others. At the same time, civilization requires co-operation -- which entrains an element of justice and a degree of compassion. Beyond those are the shimmering, attractive, but unattainable dreams of equality, harmony, and rest.
436. The persistence of religious beliefs suggests that men need myths to live by. The weakness of any myth is that it is not true, but, to be taken seriously, must pretend to be. Great assurance in the pretence inspires confidence in the believers -- but concomitantly fuels the fires of contemptuous piety, and provides holy sanction for the oppression of others.
(It may be observed that this applies to belief in catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, as well as to other, more conventional, myths.)
435. The more religion is necessary, the greater its power; that power which pretends to the mantle of divinity is no less corrupt or corrupting than any other kind.
434. If religion is necessary, then mankind is irredeemably in thrall to absurdity.
433. What is popular is seldom important; what is important, seldom popular. (American society often seems particularly obsessed with the the popular.)
432. And this alone the skeptic's daunting task:
Find pebble truth beneath the golden mask.
431. The causes of climate change are imperfectly understood, and inadequately delineated; climate alarmists have decided that leaping should precede looking.
430. Some cling to religion as the infallible source of morality; in fact, religions -- which are created by societies -- encapsulate the moral values already established and inherent in those societies. The appeal to religious values is simply an appeal to tradition dressed up as divinity.
429. No man is more dangerous than the idealist with power, for he will always seek to oppress or betray the people. The strong idealist sees citizens as square pegs who must be forced, ruthlessly, into the round holes of an imagined perfect behaviour. The weak idealist sees citizens as requiring no special care or protection: their power and advantages may be ceded, easily, to others -- because he believes in the essential goodness of mankind, and the kindness of strangers. Mao Tse-tung was a strong idealist; Mr. Obama is a weak one.
428. Religious myths are fine as long as they are seen for what they are -- a traditional entertainment like the songs shared and the familiar ghost stories told in the cosy warmth of a summer evening's campfire. They should not be seen as particularly relevant to fetching water, cooking breakfast, and taking down the tents the next morning.
427. By their works ye shall know them. In the unlikely event there is a causative intelligence behind the universe, it is clear that it has no concern with justice, mercy, the survival of individual creatures -- or even the species of which they are a part. The notion that it might have have the slightest interest in the functioning, beliefs, or values of human societies is, quite frankly, ludicrous.
426. Religious conviction is exceedingly dangerous because it is rooted in the air, founded on unsubstantial wisps of faith. It towers to the sky composed only of the weightless bricks of fancy. It is not subject to the logic of common discourse; it remains, inviolable, apart from the realm of facts. It is dangerous precisely because it pretends, falsely, to the immutability and infallibility of the divine.
425. Most men are part realist, part idealist. The ideals are usually chosen; realistic notions are generally compelled by circumstance.
424. Predictions should not prance; the tightrope of the future requires a humility of caution -- a carefulness of balance.
423. Life is not writ neatly with a steady hand between the prescriptive lines of a uniform, copy-book page; it is chaotic at the core -- full of false starts, cross-outs, misspellings, and unsightly blotches. It is inherently messy.
422. All banks are evil. Perhaps that is because they are at the root of all money.
421. Equality is motionless, bound to the level and unvarying plain; only the exceptional can touch the stars.
420. Equality is to be found locked in the abyss of stasis, mired in the paralysis of perfection. Some things are better than others; this truth is at the heart of all change, all creativity, and all progress.
419. Mr. Trudeau's endorsement of all ninety-four of the often unrealistic recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission shows -- once again -- that there is no opportunity for political pandering which he deems unworthy of seizing.
418. The path to progress is often blocked by the deference which reality is required to pay to fantasy.
417. The most popular sandwiches are short on reality, long on baloney. Alternate version: The tastiest sandwiches are short on reality, long on baloney.
416. The claim that something should be beyond criticism is a sure sign of its inadequacy.
415. Co-operation is much admired, and is helpful in getting things done; competition is cruel, and often despised -- but it works to get the best things done. There is a similar relationship between tolerance and intolerance.
414. To be in favour of multiculturalism, one must believe in the equality of cultures. To believe in the equality of cultures, one must hold that no idea about the conduct of life is better than any other – that differences between freedom and repression, church and state, gender equality and patriarchy-- between cruel traditions and the attempt to see things as they are – that all such distinctions are irrelevant. In other words, one has to be a complete idiot -- or perversely bent on cultural suicide.
413. It is impossible to be fully alive in the cold and dark of a Canadian winter.
412. Sometimes it is not worthwhile to articulate a scornful condemnation of others for their bad ideas; their own foolish remarks accomplish the task with admirable efficiency and satisfying immediacy.
411. Mankind -- and the other animals -- show that the universe is capable of consciousness, and wants to think. That makes the universe a very interesting place; it does not suggest benevolence, omnipotence, or life after death.
410. If man was made in the image of God, God must have started as a single-celled organism.
409. The self-importance of those in government is directly proportional to the GMQ -- the Government Meddling Quotient. This ensures that Government Meddling will always be extensive, intensive, persistent -- and expensive.
408. Failures of idealism: religion, socialism, multiculturalism, the United Nations, the compulsory universal healthcare system, concerted attempts to protect ideas or people from criticism, the committed belief that equality is a "natural" state – especially the notion that equality of result is either attainable or desirable.
407. A concerted attempt to shield people from experiencing hurt feelings may appear noble; but a price is paid in the coin of freedom, and in the currency of truth.
406. "Science" is one of the most dangerous words in the English language. It suggests the authority of facts, and the reliability of evidence. But too often "science" is a gloved puppet worn on the hand of human motive.
405. The central problem of mankind: How to satisfy the craving for meaning without succumbing to the addictive effects of nonsense: fervent certainty wedded to intellectual paralysis.
404. The necessity of illusion is the curse of mankind.
403. People tend to believe in the traditional Gods of the
societies of which they are a part -- Gods of a time and a place. The existence
of Gods temporal, geographical, and multiple carries the obvious implication
that they are created by groups of men, seeking to reassure themselves that they
are worthy of being created by a God.
402. Bandwagons have no brakes.
401. Tolerance is not, as some seem to think, a universal good. It is laudable in some cases, foolish in others.
400. Appeasement of those making unreasonable demands -- whether from fear or from a generous, empathetic sensitivity -- invariably leads to further unreasonable demands.
399. Tradition is habit: self-confirming, self-reverential, and self-perpetuating.
398. Admitted ignorance is better than a false certainty.
397. The "ideal" ideal is that which gives up something of its essence, and makes a compromise with reality.
396. Idealism is absolutism. That is why idealistic schemes for improvement, allowed their full scope, become coercive and oppressive.
395. Humour that requires explanation has failed. It is DOA. The humorist should not be expected to conduct the messy and embarrassing post mortem of a dead joke.
394. Were the notion of "God" to be retired, and human beings urged to act according to the best and noblest aspirations of mankind, we think there would be no diminution in human morality, or human worth.
393. Self-delusion: short term self-protection in exchange for longer term self-destruction.
392. The mind develops as does evolution--with an experimental playfulness: some results are rejected, while others are approved. We must assume that Google, by readily providing a multiplicity of facts with which to conjure, will enhance the function of the human brain.
391. Our judgments are visceral, immediate, and naked. Only later are they decently covered -- in the respectability of persuasive logic and the faultless tailoring of reasoned opinion.
390. The greatest threat to the immortality of "salvation" is neither sin nor wickedness, but plain thinking and rational analysis.
389. To refrain from mocking those with foolish ideas for
fear of giving offense is not wise. Hurt feelings are a small price to pay for
the erosion of stupidity. (cf. The ultimate result of shielding men from
the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. Herbert Spencer,
1820 - 1903)
388. It has been argued that atheism is also a faith, since no proof can be provided that God does not exist. If that is admitted, then it still seems that the faith most reasonable is that which postulates the fewest unlikely entities, and which engages in the least speculation about theistic capabilities, motives, desires, and benevolence.
387. The paradox of certainty: Certainty is asserted with
most assurance and confidence in the absence of facts.
386. In times of rapid change, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine what is real improvement, what is a mere bubble of affectation, and what represents an infection of dangerous stupidity.
385. It was an argument with the tenuousness of a gossamer thread floating in the mist, with the evanescence of a discontinuous filament drifting aimlessly in a pervasive, enveloping, fog of the intellect.
384. A certainty divine is what men crave --
That they, with conscience clear, may misbehave. (The Alexander Pope version of # 381)
383. Internationally, Mr. Obama shows a rare talent for imbecilic perversity: he spurns his friends, and appeases his enemies. Thus he is, quite legitimately, derided for betrayal and despised for weakness.
382. Almost everything wrong with religion could be cured with a massive injection of uncertainty, a giant dose of doubt.
381. Men crave certainty, since certainty encourages dashing, bold initiatives, and approves the ruthless confidence of the heroic quest. In the real world, certainty is rare, but it is provided in abundance by religion. Thus it is that religion sanctions awful absurdities and calculated cruelties which would otherwise -- in the real world – be fatally beset by a hesitant anxiety -- a troubled and reluctant doubt.
380. Some ideas are better than others; ideas should be judged according to the best evidence available. The danger of religious beliefs is that their claim for acceptance is based not on merit, but on a sacred -- and manifestly unverifiable -- origin.
379. True self esteem is earned -- and is rooted deep in the soil of accomplishment. Thus it can withstand the storm. "Esteem" bestowed -- without reason -- from above, is mere painting, the insubstantial decoration of a seed without roots. It engenders a superficial confidence most likely to be perceived as arrogance. In a light rain, the seed, the gloss, and the "esteem" are like to be washed away.
378. It is a sobering thought that madness – either of hope or despair -- may be a near necessity of the human condition. One either embraces the false hope offered by religion, or one despairs because life is only what it is –a short burst of meaningless sentience in an indifferent universe. The only escape would appear to be a mirroring indifference, the refuge – whether natural or deliberate – of a complacent mindlessness.
377. The Young Jihadist: Old dark beliefs besiege the unschooled
Which once in place, seep error like a stain;
And when the mind's with reckless folly filled --
Then madness gapes, and blood's in terror spilled.
376. Happy myths are more popular than bleak realities.
375. Fond faith thrives best in rich deceptive soil --
Where knaves sow dreams that witless fools embroil.
374. Laws Against Blasphemy: How
truth, and laws of science stand serene!
Their sole defence -- but facts in reason's theme.
Yet anxious faiths and Gods of priestly scheme --
'Gainst such deceits --'tis ruled -- shall none blaspheme!
373. Climate alarmism: When prediction in the face of reason
Then "science" yields to politics, and lies.
372. It is a common error to confuse equality of opportunity with equality of result. One is a worthy aspiration, the other an absurd fantasy -- cherished chiefly by those who have undergone voluntary intellectual spinectomies.
371. The price of security is always liberty.
370. In the secure interdependence of citizen and state, the savanna gives way to the hive; man becomes a mere "piano key" to be depressed and released in accordance with the melody: a contented, harmonious buzz.
369. Faith confuses hope with reality. The faithful become dangerous when they insist that others share their confusion. (Cf. Dr. Johnson: Hope is necessary in every condition. Mencken: Men get into trouble by taking their visions and hallucinations too seriously.)
368. Not all ideas are equal. In the real world, fact takes you farther than fancy.
367. To limit freedom of speech in the hope that none will ever be offended is a blighted seed – a precursor of decay. Its flower is a failure of honesty, its fruit -- the imprisonment of the mind .
366. If one devotes oneself, with some reasonable degree of
care and consideration, to the project of finding things at which to take
offense, a magnificent success is guaranteed.
365. Islam is a religion as yet untamed by reason.
364. Religion is essentially tribal in nature. It has little to do with individual rationality, and much to do with the emotional comfort provided by "groupthink."
364. "Groupthink" suggests certainty where there is none. (Cf. Voltaire: Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.)
363. The more absurd the tribal (or religious) myth, the
greater the sacrifice of rationality required for belief. The greater the
sacrifice of rationality, the greater appears the power of the tribe. Thus
absurdity begets not weakness, but strength.
362. The flower of absurd belief is usually rooted in the soil of fear, and fear is its chief means of propagation.
361. Religious commitment is a barometer of tribal power, and tribal control.
360. Often the greatest "certainty" seems to arise from the flimsiest evidence. Those with weak arguments "yell like hell." Those whose opinion is supported by fact can encounter contrary opinion with an even tone.
359. In a world roiled by doubt, one should choose one’s certainties with care. But this is seldom the case: certainty is characterized by a comeliness of aspect, an adroitness of style, and an all-embracing, comforting smile; thus it is often given pride of place in the House of Intellect, with no questions asked.
358. Those mired in ancient grievance are likely to ignore present opportunities, and thus forfeit future compensating rewards.
357. The road of righteous certainty has a powerful allure, but it usually ends at the cliff of comeuppance.
356. While science has shed considerable light on dark prejudices, and social views have altered accordingly, religion clings, like a rather desperate limpet, to a rock of 'certitudes' made untenable in the rising tide of knowledge.
355. The steed of idealism should never be given free "reign"
-- it invariably heads directly towards the abyss.
354. Some ideas are better than others. This simple truth strikes at the heart of many popular beliefs; multiculturalism and religion come quickly to mind.
353. Tolerance is not an absolute virtue; it is laudable -- or not -- in context. Tolerance of thievery suggests an intolerant hostility towards the robbed.
352. One of the chief problems of human existence is posed by this simple question: How much truth should be sacrificed into the maw of illusion?
(The depth of the problem may be illustrated by a restatement: How much warmth of illusion is needed to protect us from the cold winds of truth?)
351. (a) It is difficult to tell people the truth.
(b) So needed are the balms of illusion, it is difficult to tell people the truth.
350. Tolerance can be but a Trojan Horse of the mind: it
presents itself as unblemished virtue, offering the satisfaction of moral
superiority, and the reward of self-congratulatory smugness. Too late, it is
discovered that it works to erode the foundations, the very principles upon
which the city has been built. It delivers the keys to those who envision a
society measurably less tolerant, to those with inferior ideas, but superior
(Cf. #234. Tolerance extended to intolerance looks very much like stupidity.)
349. Nature does not aim for perfection, but rather, a high degree of utility. This fact should temper much idealistic enthusiasm.
348. Idealists have a penchant for prescribing cures worse than the disease.
November, 2014 -- concludes the fifth year of observations.
347. Cats manage to suggest some quiet, inner knowledge of the world -- a wisdom which lies beyond the powers of human articulation.
346. Some ideas are better than others. The refusal to face this simple fact lies at the heart of multiculturalism.
345. Where science advances, and gains ground, religion should make graceful retreat. (Cf. #139. Where there are gaps in knowledge, religion tends to seep in.)
344. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal... (The American Declaration of Independence) This, of course, is mere pious piffle, the empty puffery of platitudinous pretense. We must conclude that declarations of independence are meant to have the flavour of ceremonial occasions – in which the pomp of oratory is expected to vie with the facade of circumstance.
343. People are often wedded to their illusions; any petition for divorce is likely to be met with a degree of shock, and a measure of hostility.
342. Idealism is the problem: a little bit may lead to improvement; too much invariably leads to a Procrustean bed of cruelty and oppression, or the opposite, a refusal to confront evil. Sometimes it leads to both at the same time. Oh, for a reliable -- and universal -- recipe!
341. Climate change alarmism: it's always a pity when science enrolls in the seminary of ideology, and emerges with holy orders.
340. Faith is a belief lacking factual support. (This and the next nine observations are derived from # 330)
339. Faith is a loyalty in defiance of fact.
338. Faith transforms absurdity into virtue.
337. Faith is perversity by another name.
336. The longevity of an absurd belief is a measure of the
reverence in which it is held.
335. Perversity may be condemned as folly, or admired as loyalty.
334. The paradox of perversity is that it is as often admired as condemned.
333. Where religion is concerned, the reward for absurdity is reverence.
332. The persistence of unfounded beliefs shows the
inadequacy of facts in contention with reverence.
331. Loyalty and logic live in different parts of town.
330. The paradox of perversity is that it is as often admired as condemned. It may be seen as a folly in defiance of facts, but also as a virtue of loyalty in the face of adversity. In sports, the determined loyalty of the fan devoted to a consistently losing team is revered rather than ridiculed. In religion, the more absurd the belief, the greater the faith that is required; the greater the faith, the more virtuous the believer. (This observation gives rise to some of the more succinct expressions above.)
329. There is always a tendency to ignore those facts which contradict a favoured hypothesis. The price of complacency is often paid in the coin of absurdity.
328. Most people prefer simple clarity to accurate complexity. Doubtless this accounts for much of the appeal of religious explanations of the world.
327. The mainstream media seem determined to protect Mr. Trudeau from the natural consequences of his deficiencies. In this, perhaps, they simply reveal the persistence of a monarchist undercurrent beneath the democratic and egalitarian calm of Canadian society. For is not Mr. Trudeau the Hair Apparent and the Prince of Platitudes?
326. Those who stridently claim the moral high ground always risk a tumbling into the pit of self-righteousness, where the end always justifies the means.
325. Islam is a religion easy to fear, but very hard to love.
324. For the mindlessly compassionate, the road to equality is paved with the uneven stones of bias.
323. It may be pleasant to imagine every shoot in the garden a potential orchid; however, it does little to prepare for the threat of thistle, or the plague of poison ivy.
322. His intellect would feel lost in the vastness of a thimble. [Refers to a prominent Canadian political leader.]
321. Pretending there is no abyss will not repeal the law of gravity.
320. The promise of paradise is a rose with many thorns.
319. A politically correct pretence is like a tightrope over a volcano.
318. It's a delicate balance. A certain amount of humbug is necessary to keep the wheels of civilized society turning. Too much humbug -- as people pretend that sand is a lubricant and dynamite a promising alternative fuel -- and the bang and whimper of collapse loom near.
317. All Gods suffer from the same fatal flaw: they are created in the image of man. Thus they are invariably tainted with a human pettiness which renders them unworthy of worship.
316. Laughter is the cry of intellectual triumph which occurs when the "still sad music of humanity" is forgotten, and a surprising incongruity is suddenly perceived. The comedian focuses entirely on that superficial incongruity; the "laughter" of the humorist is less triumphant and less pure; it is a chuckle which suggests an awareness of the underlying melody.
315. When Mr. Trudeau speaks, it is as if a great muddle has been splashed
onto the calm surface of the sea of sanity.
314. An idealistic view is often as dangerous as it is attractive.
313. For the Left, being the underdog excuses sins mortal, moral and multitudinous.
312. Harmony on the cheap -- purchased by turning a blind eye to the transgressions of those claiming other cultural values -- may yet prove to be unacceptably costly.
311. An admission of ignorance is better than a false claim to understanding. Those with certain knowledge of God and his wishes are unlikely to disperse the oppressive mists of error, or blaze new trails to truth.
310. Too much of a good thing is always a bad thing.
309. With increasing age, the daily walk becomes a kind of religious ritual -- a bodily incantation against debility and death.
308. Where harmony is the greatest good, the notes of truth and justice are often deemed discordant -- harsh voices inadmissible in the reverential choir.
307. Every illusion has its price.
306. Mr. Obama is the great Sadim -- a Midas in reverse: everything he touches turns to lead.
305. In the interests of harmony, it is often considered appropriate to silence any discordant notes of truth.
304. The more irrational the belief, the more spirited and indignant defence it requires.
303. If you must have a God, then create one. Just don't take him too seriously: one man's dream is another man's nightmare.
302. There can be no honesty in politics: the realist must lie to get elected; the idealist, easily elected for his promises, must cede his beliefs to reality once in office.
300. The tall, impressive column of particular expertise is narrow, and of limited application; wisdom is often found in a broader vessel of general understanding.
299. Knowledge should never be confused with wisdom.
298. Beware of politics masquerading as science.
297. Some degree of certainty is a necessary prelude to all action and enterprise; but the notes of certainty are too often sought, found, and sung -- in the sanctimonious bleatings of the herd.
296. A bandwagon, fuelled by the opinion of the masses, runs swiftly and with confidence down an agreeable gradient. Few are bold enough to cry halt, or point out the jagged rocks of contrary fact in the road ahead.
295. Communal error is usually preferred to independent truth.
294. If a popular opinion is exposed as erroneous, the heavy burden of folly falls lightly on many shoulders, and is tossed aside with an easy shrug.
293. To oppose a popular opinion risks isolation and opprobrium. That is why so many bad ideas live into an old age of serenity and reverence.
292. Human Rights Commissions, with an alchemy perversely unjust, turn whines into gold.
291. Disappointment is as inevitable as hope is necessary.
290. Without dreams, we would remain in a stasis of content.
289. Reasonable dreams may lead to improvement; unreasonable ones to disaster. In the early stages, it is often difficult to make the distinction.
288. The biggest dreams can cause the most damage.
287. Of all dreams, those driven by government are the most dangerous; implementation is undeterred by a sense of personal responsibility, and negative effects are felt by entire communities.
286. All dreams must defer to an underlying paradoxical principle: too much of a good thing is always a bad thing.
285. While perfection may be desirable, it is never reasonable.
284. All virtues contain the seeds of vice.
283. The path of merit may scale the heights of progress; the even road of equality -- contained in an imaginary fixed point of stasis -- leads nowhere.
282. An exaggerated sensitivity is an invitation to the mischief of mockery.
281. Man prefers to see himself as the agreeable culmination of a grand plan. That he might be the chance result of persistent rolls of the dice in randomly varying circumstances gives insufficient scope for smugness and self-congratulatory preening.
280. Laughter and piety do not make good neighbours.
279. Most will give up an acre of freedom for a closet of security.
278. Free lunches are always expensive.
277. We look forward to that day of enlightenment when freedom from religion may contend on equal footing with the freedom of religion.
276. Human Rights Commissions show that the road of Bias can never lead to the city of Justice.
275. The propensity of porkers is to pan pearls. (Variation: 'Twas ever the propensity of porkers to pan pearls.)
274. Religion represents a transaction in which emotional comfort is purchased with the coin of intellectual dishonesty.
273. Propaganda is never more necessary than in a universe of disagreeable realities.
272. Hopefulness should never venture abroad but that it be attended by wariness as a helpful and faithful companion.
271. The construction of the crystal palace always involves some degree of enslavement of the benefiting citizens.
270. Angelic conceptions always founder on devilish details.
269. Man’s great gift is his ability to imagine better worlds; his curse is to be bound by the real one.
268. Entranced by the concepts of order and perfection, most see God as the original central planner, and must exercise a willful blindness to the imperfections of the result. In fact, life evolves by a blind striving, with a repetitive focus on what works. Some order is thereby achieved, but it is not always pretty.
267. An aggressive action to remedy a social ill should always wait upon the paramount preliminary consideration: Is the cure worse than the disease?
266. Magical Thinking is a steadfast belief in a cause and effect relationship, where the validity of that relationship has not been established. In scientific thinking, the absence of this validity is considered fatal; in Magical Thinking, it confers sanctity, and garners both respect and reverence.
265. Good is not achieved except through engagement with evil.
264. Gaffology: A field of study based on the fallout from Trudeaumania.
November, 2013 -- ends the fourth year of Observations.
263. The socialists’ ideal is a compulsory grand scheme to construct a shimmering palace of crystal for all; that all citizens should have the freedom to construct their own dwellings is as abhorrent to them as the hodge-podge of mud, wood, brick, and glass which must invariably result.
262. The ideal of the central planner is a Phoenix too frequent: from the ashes of any grand, universal scheme -- from the immolation of inefficiency, or the conflagration of collapse -- must rise again the same remedy -- improved central planning.
261. So many Gods -- so little time.
260. The less one knows about a subject, the easier it is to pronounce upon it with an air of assured confidence and untroubled authority.
259. There are plain fools, and fools who recognize the advantages of knavery in the commission of their folly.
258. The pusillanimous pooh-bahs of punditry have postured in paroxysms of outrage and moral superiority. (A reference to response in the media to Quebec's proposed Charter of Values.)
257. Diversity and uniformity represent ends of a spectrum. The most useful light is generated somewhere in the middle.
256. "Diversity" is not an end in itself. At the end, one must conclude that some ideas are better than others.
255. A collection of stupidities, though breathlessly praised for its "diversity," is yet unlikely to result in wisdom.
254. The waving of Legislative wands, hoping that human nature can thereby be magically transformed, is the remedy of fools. It will create only the knavery of a disease worse than that which cries out for cure.
253. Early Gods are likely to have power before they have wisdom, and fame before they have perspective.
252. Progress is achieved by evolution; evolution is the antithesis of equality. No one who wants progress wants equality.
251. True respect is earned, not wheedled, demanded, or coerced.
250. The red lips and rouged cheeks of certainty have more allure than the plain unvarnished face of doubt. (The tarted-up version of #249)
249. A false certainty may yet persuade the hesitation of reasonable doubt.
248. Much of what people proclaim is fraudulent; much of what they do, stupid. The price of sanity is a skeptical vigilance.
247. Beware of the word "sacred." It is the handmaiden of bamboozlement.
246. Cultural sensitivity-- expressed in cries of wounded outrage -- is a measure of cultural insecurity.
245. Mockery is the pin that bursts the bubble of pretension.
244. Appeasement of evil is seen as folly by the realist, as a stop-gap by the strategist, and as a solution by the fool.
243. Being on the side of the angels allows for many a pact with the devil. (A re-statement of # 242)
The Alexander Pope Version:
With angels some do take their public
Let noble ends approve their devil’s hands.
242. The nobler the ideal, the greater the evil which can be justified in its pursuit.
241. Most creatures are locked in a scheme of necessary murder; this reality tends to inhibit our expressions of gratitude to an infinitely wise and beneficent creator.
240. There are few easy answers; most "easy answers" invite more difficult questions.
239. Power, once possessed, is never relinquished except under delusion or necessity.
238. Religion is like the cheater’s response to a jigsaw puzzle of overwhelming size and daunting complexity. From the vast jumble of pieces, some few are selected, some trimmed with a hopeful eye, and others constructed anew and painted to match. These are then arranged to resemble a scene of tolerable order and comforting attractiveness. The myriad of unused elements -- and the tell-tale clippings -- are classified as superfluous or heretical, and are buried in the back lot of the pacified mind.
237. Religion represents a wonderful marriage of persistence and alchemy: lies, repeated often enough, acquire the lustre of truth.
236. Islamic terrorism is the noxious flower of a flawed seed.
235. Elephants, though unrecognized or unacknowledged, may yet continue to poop on the carpet, eventually rendering the room uninhabitable.
234. Tolerance extended to intolerance looks very much like stupidity.
232. The United Nations is a wonderful example of the failure which occurs when idealism is unchecked by pragmatism.
231. Every human being must make his own peace with reality.
230. Equality, that unexamined, almost universal desire, is inextricable from stasis -- and stasis is indistinguishable from death.
229. Capitalism can never be harnessed into the service of equality, for that is a blue-horned unicorn, a chimerical creature of the imagination run wild.
228. Man's imagination is enterprising, but not entirely trustworthy.
227. It has been oft observed that, while capitalism tends to create a disparity of wealth, the socialist alternative offers only a pretence -- a mask of equality slipped over the face of poverty.
226. There is little doubt that elephants believe in a God with large ears and a big trunk.
225. Beware those who claim to know the "mind" of "God;" they are deluded or evil, fools or liars.
224.The truth is not determined by popular vote; the
fact that an overwhelming majority of scientists, doctors, Baptist ministers, or
organ grinders believe in a proposition is irrelevant to its validity. At one
time, everyone believed
that the earth was flat.
223. Freedom is the freedom to find a doctor, and having found him, to choose another, just as one would engage and dismiss a veterinarian, a barber, or an auto mechanic. (Canada, 2013)
("Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows." Winston Smith, 1984)
222. When Goliath is slain, do not be surprised when David tries on his shoes.
221. The height of prosperity is not reached by traversing the even, level plain of equality; rather it is achieved by ascending the challenging and competitive slope of improvement.
220. Of all words, few are more dangerous than the word "equality."
219. Harsh truths are oft unearthed, but seldom embraced; rather they are re-buried or painted over with a more agreeable mask of illusion.
218. The fascism of the Left, though masked in compassionate smiles, is still oppressive, and still cruel: it is still fascism.
217. Bureaucratic domination without representation is a recipe for slavery.
216. Purity of intent does not guarantee purity of result.
215. Religion is so naked an emperor, that it is a wonder it continues to parade its hypothetical finery without near-universal derision; one must conclude that the streets are lined with crowds of foolish or fearful adults, and that there is a regrettable paucity of clear-sighted and unintimidated children.
214. The amount of worrying done by an individual is determined by a "worry quotient" fixed at the time of birth, and is independent of apparently causal circumstances.
213: The size of a bureaucracy is in inverse proportion to the efficiency and productivity of the organization of which it is a part.
212. Benevolence wary is like to lose both name and reputation; benevolence blind and pure in heart may yet nourish the seeds of evil.
211. Civilizations, like the sentient beings of which they are composed, contain the seeds of their own destruction.
210. One seldom knows one’s true opinion until one has expressed it.
209. Rational analysis is the camouflage for visceral response.
208. Opinion is informed by emotion, not logic.
207. Suppositions about "God" pose the greatest threat to human happiness – and human survival.
206."God" is a blank slate onto which varied human beliefs are inscribed; thus he is as multi-faceted as he is unreliable.
205. "God" represents the attempt to preserve the illusion of permanence.
204. Sentience can only thrive in the unreasonable expectation of its own permanence.
203. Creation and destruction are two sides of the same coin.
202. Illusion is at the heart of existence.
201. It is easier to punish evil than compel benevolence.
200. The little rituals of death serve to tame the chaos of our puzzlement, soothe the denial of our hopes.
199. How oft is the pursuit of an ideal found to end in a quicksand of folly! How oft is the road to stupidity paved with unreasonable kindness!
198. The human mind, too divine for death, flatters itself with expectations of immortality.
197. Life is not so much like a novel, in which each chapter informs the next, and the hero is wiser at the end; rather, it is like a series of echoing but enigmatic haiku, with the last no more revealing than the first.
November, 2012 -- ends year three.
All that glisters is not gold:
Let caution reign where freedom’s sold.
195. Western societies are engaged in a slow, determined march from liberty to security.
194. The pursuit of an impossible perfection can provide only a cure worse than the disease; the noble end is seen to justify all those reprehensible means needed to achieve it, but the final result is a degradation, not an improvement in circumstance.
193. Mankind cannot abide a mystery: it must be dispersed with a causal narrative. Many seem not to care whether the explanation is rational, and scientific, or imaginative and religious.
192. In general, it may be said that as the rôle of government increases, so liberty declines.
191. "God" represents a leaping to conclusions in the absence of facts.
190. Leaving difficult questions to God is a guaranteed method for perpetuating ignorance and misery.
189. Islam is a religion overtaken by politics.
188. Islam is a religion overtaken by politics. The lust for power -- wedded to holy sanction -- spawns the fanatical violence of unreason.
187. If the world of the realist is depressing, that of the idealist is dangerous. Happy is that state where the balloon of hope can lift us from the Slough of Despond, without taking us above those heights where breath must perish.
186. God is a construct of the human imagination – just like living within one’s means, grateful children, and happy birthdays after forty.
185. The pursuit of impossible ideals results in the destruction of achievable goods; a coerced harmony leads to the discord of discontent.
184. It is a mark of the peculiar perversity of mankind that most prefer to see the enormous random cruelty of existence – not as an arbitrary, capricious element intrinsic to the condition of sentience -- but as something within the purview of a deliberating consciousness – a circumstance ascribable to an omniscient, omnipotent, and beneficent creator.
183. Reality is Darwinian; man’s aspirations, egalitarian. From this obdurate dichotomy flows much disappointment, dissatisfaction, and despair.
182. In most things, money matters.
181. Israel tends to be held in high regard by those on the right, as it has achieved success through skill, competence, determination, and an element of hard-nosed realism in dealing with its neighbours. It is precisely for these reasons that Israel is anathema for those on the left, in whose ideal world rewards should accrue to the muddled, the inefficient, and the incompetent – or to those significantly encumbered by unrealizable dreams or old, self-defeating grievances.
180. Indications for success: aspiration, inspiration, and perspiration.
179. A modicum of idealism can be a good thing; but too much is enough.
178. Religion is just superstition wearing a better suit of clothes. Or: Religion is just superstition wearing a Sunday suit and ritual tie.
177. "God" is man’s attempt to construct an endpoint for infinity.
176. Be hesitant in accepting the claims of those who speak in the name of science; one must determine first whether that science is indeed the master, or merely the tool of self-interest, self- aggrandisement, or political agenda.
175. Scientists have not yet discovered the inoculation against hubris, or the effective incantation against self-interest; nor are they immune from the contamination of an ill-considered enthusiasm for a cause.
174. Belief in God is but a whistling in the dark; harmless enough, perhaps -- until it is wedded to the notion that all should carry the same tune.
173. Evolution trumps revolution. Great changes are achieved incrementally, each step building naturally on the last. It is the folly of government to believe in the efficacy of great leaps -- and its hubris the attempt to implement them.
172. The response to criticism of those in power is in direct proportion to their feelings of illegitimacy.
171. Great expectations bring inevitably in their train disappointments of equal magnitude.
170. Some truths are best glimpsed, then kept only in dim remembrance, as a salutary check on one’s accustomed devotion to illusion.
169. By all means seeks the truth – but do not expect it to be a satisfactory substitute for illusion
168. When equality is the aim, mediocrity is the result; when excellence is the aim, equality finds its true place.
167. Beneficial change is much desired; it is especially attractive when thought to be obtainable without altering established habit or custom.
166. Disappointment in life is assured, since necessary illusions are necessarily vulnerable to contradictory evidence.
165. The sacredness of religion, and the sanctity of tradition–these things–being beyond rational criticism–are what enable atrocity with an untroubled heart.
164. One man's deeply held conviction is another man's bigotry.
163. Exceptional aggressiveness is rooted in exceptional insecurity.
162. Ad hominem attacks
Betray an absence of facts.
161. The motto of the political class: Never displease; pretend and appease.
This may also be put in verse form: For wisdom it passes
'Mongst the political classes:
Pretend and appease.
160. Try to look on the bright side of things; if the bright side is not immediately evident, keep looking. It is better to be busy than depressed.
159. The important thing about an opinion is that it be dearly held; hence--of a comfortable weight, convenient configuration, and of a pattern with its fellows. Whether it be supported by the facts, or not--why, that, of course, is of no importance at all. (From The Fool’s Dictionary and Commonplace Book)
158. In the workings of government healthcare, a debilitating sclerosis slows the passage of vital fluid, hobbles the joints in movement, and fixes the organism to a hardened reef of unyielding stasis.
November, 2011 -- ends year two.
157. The terrain of life is so imperfect, the ascents and declines so precipitous and extreme, the rivers to be crossed so wide and possessed of such contrary currents, that he who would proceed in a straight and unvarying direction, adhering to principle alone, is likely to make little progress, or, indeed, find himself forced to surrender the entirety of his enterprise.
156. Grand schemes of improvement which ignore the primacy of self interest -- will always end badly.
155. Happiness is a temporary illusion.
154. Man is happiest when bleating with the herd; the herd is happiest when professing the pursuit of an agreeable ideal, a flattering illusion, or perceived safe haven.
153. Investment is the avenue to wealth; expenditure, the path to ruin.
152. In the vehicle of progress, the ideal is the accelerator, the practical is the brake. Finding the judicious application of each in differing terrains is fraught with difficulty: the ride will always be unsettling.
151. Religious belief is not so much a sign of inferior intelligence, as of vulnerable temperament.
150. Security by government intervention is always paid for in the dear coin of freedom.
149. The Canadian Universal Health Care System is unsatisfactory precisely because the chief and unremitting focus is not on health -- but on universality.
148. It is best that idealism be firmly yoked with impotence, for there are few men more dangerous than the idealist with power. What oppressions have been levied, what destructions have been wrought, what profound evils have been committed by those who would force mankind into the Procrustean bed of an imagined, ideal state!
147. Man’s idealistic reach often exceeds the reasonable capabilities of his grasp; in this disparity lie the seeds of misery.
146. The pursuit of the ideal is a blessing when it results in improvement, a curse when it requires the sacrifice of the reasonable.
145. There is no rational road to religion.
144. Surely religion must be the first and most striking example of what we now call the Stockholm Syndrome. Though held captive in a universe that is best characterized as profoundly indifferent--or easily seen as manifestly unfair, and demonstrably cruel--millions are infused with a spirit of gratitude and adoration; nor yet do they stint in their praise of the creator whom they imagine to be responsible for their unalterable fate.
143. The socialist’s advocacy of compassion, powerful and heartfelt though it may be, is matched by the staunchness of his belief that charitable works are best performed using other people’s money.
142. Power has no need of civility; thus it is seen much in the company of arrogance, provocation, and insult.
141. Some form of servitude is a condition of civilization.
140. What is larceny but an exaggerated perception of entitlement?
139. Where there are gaps in knowledge, religion tends to seep in.
138. Religion shows that the price of contentment is folly.
137. Religion is the great salesman of snake oil, the pious pitchman of healing nostrum, the pretending purveyor of chimerical panacea: it speaks of an oasis where, to the horizon, stretches only an unbroken sea of sand, of a voice where there is only silence, and of truth where there is only unfathomable mystery.
136. The silly hat syndrome is an unfortunate affliction specific to the political class; it is manifested by those politicians who adopt, on a temporary and expedient basis, the garb of that cultural group whose votes they wish to attract.
135. Deferring appropriately to the concerns of others may reap the gratitude of the favoured and garner general respect; changing course to the breeze of the moment gains neither; weathervanes do not make good leaders.
134. Flexibility can be an advantage, but not when it arises from an absence of backbone.
133. The man who sets out to please everyone is on a fool’s errand.
132. Fine words, married to a seductive cadence, and convincingly intoned-- often mask a great deal of nonsense.
131. Equality is admirable as one lamb in the fold of justice–an impartial gatekeeper to public benefit and private opportunity; worshiped blindly as an all-encompassing principle, it is transformed: the tiger is unleashed, the essential cruelty, the Procrustean essence, comes inevitably, relentlessly, to the fore.
130. Divinity is not enthroned above, in a heaven amid the stars, but in ourselves, the dust of stars which encodes and reflects the creativity and the imagination of the universe.
129. Reason is often used to justify--but seldom to contradict--a powerful emotion, or previously declared position. Compare:
passion, be what it will,
The ruling passion conquers reason still. (Alexander Pope, 1688-1744)
128. Of all words in our great English language, there is one which may be deemed most welcome in aspect, most sweet in sound, and most powerful in its incitement to immediate response. And that is the word "free."
127. Those who would be reluctant to subscribe to the general proposition that "the end justifies the means," may yet see no difficulty in instituting preferential treatment in order to advance equality.
126. The modern fool is a strange creature indeed; he will readily admit the observable variability of natural talent: that A runs faster than B, that B is wittier than C, and that C is more eloquent than D–and yet take great offense at the dismissing of the old canard: "All men are created equal." We can only assume that the price of contentment is high, and folly the only coin suitable in the effecting of its purchase.
125. To strive for--and in some cases achieve--equality of opportunity, or equality of treatment, is a welcome enhancement of the light of human progress; to expect–or demand--equality of result is to call forth doomed yet disruptive forces which lurk in the abyss, in the profound, dark craters of human ignorance.
124. The road to equality envisioned by the socialists passes through a valley of corrective fire, the flames of which are as unsurvivable as they are perceived to be purifying.
123. Banks are not exempt from the general rule: where money is concerned, expect piracy before probity.
122. Imagination is the fuel of man’s aspirations, and his greatest gift; it explores both the world of the possible–as in advances which are achievable because of their consonance with reality–and the world of the unreal as in fiction, superstition, and religion. A great danger arises when one is unable –or unwilling--to distinguish between these two worlds.
121. We always take comfort in opinions which echo our own; thus is achieved much harmonious bleating, and the happiness of herds.
120. An opinion agreeable to one’s own is always given safe harbour and an easy rest; a contrary view is left to founder on the jagged rocks of its perceived insufficiency.
119. Death marks our reluctant passage from vocal minority to silent majority.
118. He is a man of few opinions, but an infinite capacity for repeating them. (A self-reflection.)
117. The left has an admirable but single-eyed concern for mercy–the raising of the unfortunate to a state of equality; what is missing in its vision is a concern for merit, that element of justice which dismisses equality, and acknowledges the legitimacy of both failure and success.
116. Consider the beloved of the sappy, soppy-eyed left: the incompetent, the unsuccessful, and the unrealistic–all aspiring candidates for a Big Rock Candy Mountain world of sweetness and light. Is it any wonder that Israel–competent, successful, realistically self-defensive, and--horror of horrors!–unapologetic–is a target of their opprobrium?
115. Human Nature is neither inherently good, nor intrinsically evil. As with many things–it is a muddle of potentials.
114. In the grand scheme of things, there are a lot of things looking–rather anxiously, we suspect–for a grand scheme which might comfortably accommodate them.
113. A consistent gloominess is the best defence against reality.
112. We are conscious, but ignorantly so–like the sounds in an unheard melody, or the precise but meaningless hieroglyphs in an ancient enigmatic text.
111. Elevated language is the best means of expressing elevated ideas.
110. One of the great difficulties faced by society is the fitting of large, square pegs of truth into rather smaller, round holes of idealized perfection--the fond fashionings of human aspiration.
109. From the violent response to perceived insult, it is clear that many Muslims have no expectation that respect for their religion will arise freely, from admiration-- but rather must be compelled by threats, fear, and intimidation. Thus is shown the tyrannical nature of their belief.
108. The universe is just God, struggling to create Himself.
107. It is sometimes a thin line between contrarian and crackpot.
106. The insanity of religion–the delusion of life beyond death-- is often preferred to the futility implied by the finite--in consciousness, in the species, and in the solar system itself. It is unsettling to realize not only that the bulk of mankind is insane, but that it is likely to remain so.
105. In the interests of accuracy, Human Rights Commissions should be re-named: Victimhood Advocacy Commissions.
104. It is hard not see Human Rights Commissioners as tiny tin-pot O'Briens, intoxicated, blinded, and corrupted with their power to compel assent to the proposition that two plus two makes five, three, six, or sometimes all of them together. (The reference is to Orwell's 1984.)
Variant: Human Rights Commissioners are like tiny tin-pot O’Briens,* intoxicated, blinded, and corrupted by their power to compel assent to the propositions that ignorance is strength, and freedom, slavery.
103. The whole-hearted pursuit of any ideal requires the sacrifice of common sense.
102. Equality fascism is the authoritarian impulse directed at the creation of equality. Since equality is as unachievable as it is desirable, the impulse is both persistent and perilous; it inevitably involves the sacrifice of common sense notions of justice and freedom.
101. Tolerance is like alcohol: in moderate amounts, it softens hard edges, and lubricates the machinery of social interaction; in excess, it leads to foolishness, incoherence, the annihilation of principle, and the destruction of the essential self.
100. They weave not; nor do they spin. The fabric of their lives is less than a gossamer in the wind. (An observation on the television program Jersey Shore.)
99. After the striving, the fine talk, and the grandeur of dreams – all that remains is an elegance of bones.
98. If money is sufficient, principle will be deficient.
97. No principle
In the flow
Of big dough.
96. Money is like water: in sufficient volume, it erodes the bedrock of principle, and cuts its own channel.
95. In every human relationship, in every human interaction, there is suggestion of a balance, or imbalance of power. Those interactions suggesting balance are most congenial, but they are not nearly the most common.
94.Vigilance is the prerequisite for survival.
93. That life springs from inanimate matter is indeed miraculous; however, the marvels have their cost: life is opportunist, striving, voracious and unthinkingly cruel. Nor can man, as life’s most intelligent and creative form, deny the additional burden of cruelty that is deliberate.
92. The truth is never a match for politics, or ambition.
91. The ideal is the enemy of the possible. (Cf. Voltaire: "Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.")
90. We do not expect to be able to stamp out religion entirely; it would probably suffice to make believers sufficiently ashamed of their folly that they would refrain from admitting to it in public.
89. Being nice is not always a virtue. Rudeness may be the correct response to stupidity.
88. 'Smugitude’ is that certainty of moral superiority evinced by the politically correct. (The affliction is generally thought to be intrinsic, and incurable.)
87. It is a conceit of the modern liberal multicultural society that being nice to people with bad ideas and horrifying beliefs will result in harmony. On the contrary, such folly will end in the conflict which inevitably accompanies the unchecked spread of bad ideas and horrifying beliefs.
86. Many wonderful ideals–equality--religion--multiculturalism –are no more than convenient fictions. As such, they constitute a vulnerability at the heart of human affairs; for how are we to agree when to accept them as convenient, and when to deride them as fiction?
November, 2010...end of Year One.
85. Persistence is a virtue -- as long as you don't carry it too far.
84. In the fashioning of any government enterprise, efficacy is but a footnote to empire.
83. Money that is obtained without effort is spent without conscience.
82. Canada’s universal healthcare system is a triumph of theory over practice; it garners highest praise from those who have no need of its services.
81. At the heart of religion is deception; the range is from feel-good bamboozlement to wolf in sheep’s clothing.
80. The harmony of civilization rests in finding a balance between the Darwinian realities of competition and hierarchy--and the ideal of equality. This balance is a matter of individual perception and circumstance, and, like the perfect shade of green, will always elude a final determination.
79. It is not that lies are not dangerous--they certainly are. But, often, they are considered less dangerous than the truth. It is for this reason that many affirm the idea of equality of human beings, or the validity of religion.
78. A little power is never enough.
(b) A little money is like a little power; it is not enough.
77. The war in Afghanistan suffers from the modern weakness of unconsidered idealism. To take a society from the 14th century to the twenty-first probably requires fifty years of occupation and indoctrination. To commit to less than that, to be sensible, would mean to go home after a couple of weeks.
76. Belief in nonsense is as widespread as the emotions which fuel it: fear, greed, and hope.
75. There is a peculiar sense of self-loathing in societies which have achieved, by historical standards, almost paradisal circumstances; adults in the sixties with much mea culpa, deferred to ignorant and idealistic youth; today we defer to the practices of any culture that demands we do so.
74. The capitalist system is competitive--hence cruel and unfair– just as life is. We can mitigate the injustice in both, but never eradicate it. When, in dismay, we seek alternatives, we are confronted with socialism and death; no one has made a convincing argument for the attractiveness of either.
73. Hypocrisy is little more than a human mechanism for coping with reality.
72. It is true--but difficult to accept--that our highest ideals of peace, justice, and tolerance are not reflected in the universe at large. The most difficult task for mankind is to adjudicate the claims of the real and the ideal. The ideal of loving one’s neighbour is significantly impaired if, in fact, he is plotting to kill you.
71. Without the lubricant of agreeable lies, the machinery of civilization would grind to a halt.
70. Varied is that which lays claim to the title: "music;” but without melody, there is no delight.
69. It is tempting–but unjustifiable--to see a happy circumstance as the
result of divine manipulation rather than a statistical phenomenon or the blind
working of interacting elements. Thus, the man of ninety, who has survived fire
and flood, disease and misfortune to outlive his birth peers, may see himself
not merely as a fortunate point on the mortality Bell Curve, but as especially
protected by a kindly creator.
Similarly, the religious man may see himself as a creature thoughtfully provided with eyes to see, teeth to chew, and animals to eat, rather than one of many creatures who have evolved in a challenging environment in symbiotic relationships.
68. The amount of evidence needed to reverse a committed opinion exceeds by tenfold that on which the opinion was originally based.
67. The ideal of equality in human affairs will always be undermined by the persistence of variation and preference, and by the realities of failure and success.
66. The poor often remain so because they have not the slightest notion of how money is best spent, saved, accumulated or invested. An alteration to our educational practice could be of significant benefit, but our educators would rather feed the dangerous fires of cultural pride and personal self-esteem.
65. Most people prefer the comfort of espousing a popular error to the challenge of maintaining an unpopular truth.
64. No one is convinced by the arguments of old men; their convictions, their passions, are compromised by too prolonged an awareness of reality; it is youth that must lead the world, drawing from its bountiful ignorance, the requisite enthusiasm, the necessary certainty.
63. Adversity and failure are woven into the fabric of existence; without them, there can be neither test of mettle nor triumph of success.
62. Our eccentricities become more pronounced as we age–as if the veneer of blandness, the pale wash of conformity and accommodation are laved incrementally away–and the essence is liberated, the true colours revealed.
61. Muslims are as deluded as the followers of any other religion; what distinguishes them is the considerable faction which has acquired a rather tasteless penchant for blowing up those who disagree with them.
60. With the ring of truth, and a brevity that disdains the untidiness of debate, the aphorist compels assent.
59. Given the natural propensities of the human mind, it is doubtful that evidence-based decision making will ever trump decision-based evidence making.
58. Fear does not distinguish between threats irrational and threats legitimate.
57. Indolence is best entertained after a determined busyness has achieved its end, and the warm glow of achievement suffuses all.
56. If nothing else, The United Nations has a significant instructive purpose: it shows with what speed and to what extent idealism can be corrupted by reality.
55. An idea does not have to be valid to be respectable; all that is required is a sufficiency of fools.
54. Religion is the triumph of hope over reality.
53. Illusion, rather than truth, is the great necessity in life; religion is often part of that necessity.
52. We find it an amusing reflection of the limitations of human imagination that the Gods man creates are recognizably in his own image; we can only suppose that the dolphin God is a wonderful swimmer, the elephant God has a large trunk, and the alien God of the planet Hypothetica is nitrogen based with a just a soupçon of vermouth and a dollop of hydrochloric acid. Our own preferred view is that this universe is an early but rather uninspiring and forgotten experiment–-God has tired of creatures of carbon, and nitrogen, but finds the vermouth intriguing, and has, quite sensibly, moved on to more interesting challenges.
51. Frugality is preferable to lavish spending-- but only when compelled by necessity.
50. Civilization is built on lies; an untempered devotion to truth is neither politic nor sensible.
49. Generous dispensing of funds is a largesse of the spirit, and a balm to the soul; it is especially pleasant when you are a politician or civil servant, and the money is not your own.
48. Many a jest is an impolitic truth in disguise.
47. While it may not be appropriate in every venue, and on every occasion, mockery is the guardian of reason, the enemy of pretension, and the mirror to folly. No belief, no passion, no commitment should be considered immune from the acerbic test of ridicule.
46. The notion that cholesterol is a cause of heart disease is almost certainly in error; how pray, could it be otherwise when so many with high cholesterol remain unaffected, and so many with low cholesterol succumb? The avarice of the drug companies, and desire for esteem at any cost on the part of the medical profession--these lie at the root of the error; and the noxious plant of untruth is fed by intellectual inertia. The vigour with which an fallacy is defended is in direct proportion to the benefits perceived from its defense.
45. Idealistic notions may temper tribal emotions; but they will never overcome them.
44.We long to be rational; but stupidity, dreams, and emotion are at the core or our being.
43.Nice is admirable, but consistently nice is at a disadvantage when dealing with nasty. That is why we have arguments, prisons, and wars. Canada’s attempts to enforce niceness constitute an egregious folly.
42. Knowing the truth, holding it in high regard–yet, nonetheless, feeling the need to conceal it in favour of an agreeable lie–that is the darkness at the heart of the human condition which is the subject of Conrad’s famous novel, Heart of Darkness.
41. Equality of opportunity is difficult enough to achieve; equality of result is like the unicorn, a fanciful construct of the human imagination.
40. The desire for "equality" is the desire for improvement; no one seeks the equality which would involve a reduction in his circumstance. "Equality" once achieved--the desire for improvement remains--even if it should result in inequality.
39. Equality is as rare as the unicorn, and as possible as the seamless reconstruction of Humpty-Dumpty.
38. The “Messiness Principle” suggests that all grand schemes for the improvement of human affairs, carried far enough, and consistently enough, will eventually reveal the internal contradictions which make them ineffective, unworkable, and absurd.
37.“Self-esteem” acquired without accomplishment is nothing but a dangerous arrogance.
36. Love promises eternity, but can take its leave in the space of a Wednesday afternoon.
35. Beware the narrow focus of the medical specialist: the cardiologist is anxious that you not die of heart disease; should the drugs he prescribes cause you to die of cancer, he regards the outcome as unfortunate, but not an adverse reflection on his competence.
34. Religion is a construct of the imagination; it may provide the comfort of a familiar narrative, the absorption of a good film, or the communal fervour of a pop star fan club; it will not pay the rent, answer prayers, or provide life after death.
33. Human beings are animals, programmed to triumph and survive. Most living creatures survive at the expense of other living creatures. Ending war seems as likely as universal vegetarianism.
32. As to flattery--it is doubtless pleasant enough, but entirely foreign to our experience; any compliments we have received have been the result of sound observation, superior analysis, and unbiased judgement.
31. Life is a Rubik's cube with chameleon colours.
30. The trouble with bandwagons is that their engines are fuelled by untested and often deficient novelties.
29. We firmly believe that those opposed to euthanasia should be put out of their misery.
28. As to belief in God, definition is critical. If you say that God is the universe, I too, believe in God, for I have sensory experience of the universe. If you say God is an initiating force beyond the universe, I say that is an interesting but rather unhelpful speculation. If you think God has a “human” mind, and a benignly meddlesome preoccupation with the human race, or particular individuals, I say you are a victim of wishful thinking in the absence of evidence. If you go further, and govern your behaviour on what you imagine to be God’s wishes and intentions, I must pity you as a fool, or fear you as a lunatic.
27. Those who embrace the nonsense of religion must reject the sense of evidence, and the evidence of their senses.
26. No more credence should be given to late-life or 'death-bed' conversions, than to foxhole expressions of piety; both are motivated by fear, and are as believable as the abject confessions of the innocent made under duress.
25. There is a constant battle, in society, between realism and idealism. Idealism often wins out, since realism is much less flattering to our self-image; but the outcome is seldom to our advantage.
24. This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel, and a bit of a flop, a bad run, and an unsatisfactory theatrical experience to the majority–who do both. (Cf. Horace Walpole)
23. Religion–the belief in things which are manifestly not true–can be comforting in a universe that is less accommodating and more chaotic than we would wish. It is best, however, that the expression of such belief be kept as private as possible; nor should it ever influence behaviour except insofar as it promotes the golden rule and other traditional virtues.
22. Given the economic realities of the modern world, aboriginal cultures appear manifestly deficient in their capacity for creating prosperity. The size–and cost--of the ‘aboriginal industry’ which has been manufactured to mask this fact is proportional to the deficiency, and an interesting instance of the perverse but not uncommon desire to support the unsupportable.
21. Saturday Night Live would appear to have been gone significantly astray: its focus is not on making successful comedy, but on making a success out of comedy. These aims are completely different, and may explain why the show is seldom funny.
20. We can only be as tolerant and peaceful as our enemies will permit.
19. The fatwa is indeed a wonderful, albeit somewhat selective device, useful against novelists, but entirely inappropriate in dealing with mass murderers, suicide bombers, and those advocating the destruction of entire nations.
18. Some racial profiling is more acceptable than others: if security personnel at the airport were to be found paying excessive attention to bearded men speaking Arabic, as opposed to elderly couples returning from Florida, why that would be a very bad thing indeed. However, if the government decides to provide housing and other largesse to aboriginals, but not elderly couples living in Hamilton, that is a fine and noble enterprise to be lauded and applauded by all right-thinking citizens.
17. All religion is bunk; it may be helpful bunk, comforting bunk, or, in some cases, necessary bunk. It is still bunk, nonetheless.
16. There is, in human nature, a strong desire to control others; it is evident that, in modern societies, this control is achieved most successfully when it can be linked to some moral imperative. Thus the medical profession is hell-bent on lowering your cholesterol; the bicyclists want to disrupt traffic and take over the expressways; the Suzukiists want you to return to the cave, shiver in the dark.
15. It has often been observed that socialism is a system designed for man as he should be; capitalism has evolved from the practices of man as he is.
14. The belief that global warming is entirely the result of human activity betrays an extraordinary arrogance; Mars is also warming, without the benefit of an atmosphere, greenhouse gasses, or Cadillac Escalades.
13. Affirmative action is simply discrimination with a pretty face.
12. There is a move under way to ban criticism which the adherents of a religion find offensive, or “blasphemous;” it is unsurprising that that which is most vulnerable to common sense seek protection from its enlightening effects.
11. While utopia is not achievable, mankind has made progress; life in western democracies is significantly more comfortable and benign than it was a hundred years ago. What is unclear is the point at which the quest for an impossible perfection takes us definitively backwards. The existence of Human Rights Commissions may suggest an answer to this question.
10. Expense accounts tend to corrupt; Government expense accounts corrupt absolutely. (Cf. Lord Acton (1834-1902): Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.)
9. Deep down, liberals and socialists would prefer a populace that is not independent, competent, and wealthy; distributing government largesse to the poor, the incompetent, and the dependent plumps their self-esteem, and, indeed, provides their raison d’être.
8. If, in the interests of equality, single-celled organisms had adopted the governing philosophy of socialism, the present population of the world would consist entirely of single-celled organisms. Variation: If, in the interests of an ideal circumstance, single-celled organisms had chosen equality as the ultimate good, then the present population of the world would consist entirely of single-celled organisms.
7. Socialism places much store in the notion of equality, but all it can provide is equality of poverty.
6. Equality is the enemy of advancement, and of wealth.
5. Conservatives have more trouble getting elected, because they tend, on the whole, to have a more realistic view of human nature and its possibilities than the Liberals. Reality is always the dowdy sister to Fancy.
4. It is a matter of enduring wonder that modern western democratic societies, which have created environments so attractive to the rest of the world, seem eager to modify their cultures in favour of those which have created environments measurably less desirable.
3. “Crippled” becomes “disabled,” and “disabled” becomes “physically challenged”– as if new words could make up for no legs.
2. There is an immediate appeal to the notion that aboriginal peoples be subsidized in order to preserve their traditional ways of life. However, my neighbour, Mrs. Jones, notes that her ancestors made a living shearing sheep, but the government seems to have no interest in assisting her to earn a living in accordance with her ancestral traditions.
1. That hypocrisy is so widespread and persistent is a tribute to its utility.