Thursday, December 24, 2015

Losing the War

As more and more people fall victim to mass gun violence, the debate between whether there should be more or less gun laws heats up. For a large majority of people, they fall on either side of this debate. The problem is, to be on either side of this debate suggests an unwillingness to think about the problem’s origins. Whether the public has a right to bear arms has nothing to do with what is allowing for the U.S.’s staggering gun violence problem – Collectively speaking, the U.S. has a deep, severe mental problem that is based upon its very foundation.*

[* That is to say, The U.S. as a country was born out of violence and established a two-century old patriarchal, racist society not much better than the U.S.’s country of origin.]

But this deep, severe mental problem is merely indicative of a larger problem; what it means to be human. In the last year there has been an alarming rise of practically fascist, regressive leftism in America paralleled by the number of people who think Donald Trump should be the President of the U.S. On both these sides there is a very particular way in which these people’s brains operate, which is to say however good their intentions may be, they are not capable of critically thinking not because they lack the tools – self-reflection requires no tools – but because they are determined to believe what they want to believe.

If the number of people on the planet is any indication, this lack of self-analysis and moreover, reasoning ability, has preserved and perpetuated the species. This same ability is what puts people at odds, though, and has long made the world an unfriendly place to live. It appears as though we may have to settle for this state of affairs in order to preserve and perpetuate the species, which really is the point of life after all. Our genes don’t care how we treat each other; they just want to get themselves into the next generation. If this is the case, it is more likely that people are going to be less rational than rational despite how many generations come and go. In other words, it will always be the case that people will make dumb decisions, do dumb things and believe in dumb ideas. Despite absolutely zero evidence, particle physicists cling to string theory. Despite the overwhelming evidence that smoking is harmful to the body, people still smoke. Despite the health problems that come with being obese, people still overeat. Despite being as far from science as one can get, people still heed warnings from their horoscope. Despite the fact that wealthy socialites contribute nothing to society, people still worship them. For a human, being dumb is inescapable.

It is tempting, seeing how humans are capable of as much hope as they are capable of stupidity, to assume people can be rational especially when lives are at stake. For example, cooler heads prevailed in October, 1962 during the Cold War when Russia attempted to base missiles in Cuba aimed at the U.S. Ultimately, Russia withdrew their weapons from the U.S.’s backyard and a nuclear war was averted. This is because everyone involved came to see that for either side, the whole debacle was a lose-lose situation. At the same time, Russia acted irrationally and thought, “What the heck, the U.S. won’t mind if we put some missiles in their backyard. After all, they have missiles in Italy aimed at us.” Sadly, hope is often a result of humans acting or doing something stupid. We ‘hope’ as a hedge against a cruel world in which we would otherwise feel completely defeated. In this example, we hoped to avoid nuclear war and we did, but first, someone did something which required hope as a hedge against their action. That is to say, if we build a nuclear weapon, we have to hope that we never have to use it which indicates building the nuclear bomb in the first place is irrational. (Using nuclear fission to produce energy, yes. Using it to kill people, um…)

Acting or thinking rationally is a foreign practice for most people. There are many reasons for this, the foremost being that thinking requires the brain to use a lot of energy and it goes against people’s general desire to be placated as soon as possible (despite evidence that prolonging the reception of an award or desire appears to allow for more enjoyment of the award or desire). One cannot even rationalize with a teenager who will post damning pictures of themselves on social media despite how far their posts may travel around the world to say nothing of their local police force because a teenager, like people in general, needs to placate their ego immediately. As I alluded to earlier, it is not a part of human nature to be rational and this is why it is so rare. With human population closing in on 7.3 billion people as of 2015, it appears there is no particular reason for the human race to be any more rational than it is if being irrational perpetuates the species. Notice if you will that the people with the most offspring are usually the least educated and often the most ideologically radicalized.

There is no rationalizing with an irrational person when there is nothing in it for the irrational person. An irrational person will choose to believe in a heavenly afterlife over being atheistic because even if they see an atheistic lifestyle as potentially making their earthbound life more important, they know that one day their earthbound life will end. In other words, the atheistic principle as it may apply doesn’t offer the ultimate in hope. If there is no potentially bigger reward for changing sides in a debate, it is very unlikely that people on opposite sides of a debate will come around to a new way of thinking. Once a person is indoctrinated into thinking a particular way, it is very difficult to change their mind. It is often not worth the energy one spends trying to do that unless one’s survival is literally at stake. That is to say, it is irrational to continually engage irrational people when there is only a small chance of changing their minds ‘for the better.’ It does happen, on occasion, that people do think deeply about their ideas and beliefs, but it will always be the case that such people will be vastly outnumbered and ultimately always be at the mercy of the irrational.

This is in part why, here at the end of 2015, I am coming home from the war. Fighting stupidity, however noble, will forever be a losing battle. Over the course of years of debate and attempted discussions, I’ve had very few rational, much less civil, interactions with people on a myriad of issues. It’s not worth trying to get people become uncomfortable with their ideas or beliefs; I only become a villain so I suppose it is better to let sleeping dogs lie unless I am confronted myself. I will allow people their beliefs if there is no cost to me, but of course one should not expect to get off easy when trying to engage me with their irrational ideas or beliefs. I otherwise don’t have the time to waste and I don’t want to end up like Socrates (as if I were important enough to be so lucky).

I have plans for 2016 that include contributing to answering the question of time, exploring Genetic Philosophy (developed by yours truly) and solving problems within the Philosophy of Language (as far as any philosophy is concerned), committing more time to my tourism blog and spending more time writing fiction (something people seem to lap up as they apparently identify strongly with lives that are not real) and reading for enjoyment. I have enjoyed writing and posting my thoughts here as any good philosopher must mentally masturbate, but I suppose I have reached the point in my life when I want to do other things.

This blog will be maintained in 2016 by occasional ruminations and relevant re-posts, but other than that, there will be no commentaries on religion, atheism, politics or any other current events. I know, I know, what will you do with yourselves? You can always follow Kim Kardashian on Twitter. 

1 comment:

goran said...

Hello Mr. Parker: I agree with many of your comments in your blog. A huge percentage of people are irrational in their thinking and their actions; engaging in unhealthy lifestyles while ignoring their consequences. Many are influenced by the philosophies of the so called "rich and famous" as if having fame and fortune qualifies one to make assertions about issues they know little about. You are correct that in our violent society with so many murders, the issue is not between the right to bear arms and gun control. The issue is the mental condition of those who commit murders. Many homocides are committed over trivial matters; matters that would not provoke the average person to commit murder. The solution is not a simple one; why is there a disproportionate number of black on black murders? What are the characteristics of the black culture that lead to such high proportion of murders within their race?
The other major issue of our time is terrorism. The end game of terrorism is totally irrational. Destruction of governments, anarchy, butchery of any who oppose them. There is no clear solution to stop terrorism but to look at the root causes of why one would choose to be radicalized. What goes through the brains of people who join groups such as ISIS?
If you consider all these issues, it is easy for one to be pessimistic and discouraged because we seemingly have little control over such big problems.
what do you think?

Rudy Radulovich, retired professor of mathematics