Saturday, October 31, 2009

Truth: Evolution or Creationism?

The truth is that this teapot tempest is an effective way for creationists to distract attention from a far more important discussion, namely, about practicing the key moral precepts that make Christ a guy worth listening to, such as the golden rule, or judging ourselves rather than others.
I'm sure there are also advocates of the theory of evolution who would benefit from some consideration of ethics and civility, as suggested by Professor David Sloan Wilson.
He expressed heartfelt sympathy for those "fighting for the middle ground." It seems to me that one very important weapon in this fight is an awareness of the emotional tone of a discussion. Naming it, particularly when a fervent advocate believes that making his opponent wrong will make him right, is also essential.
Fighting one's own prejudices and habitual perceptions - the most challenging kind of jihad - is a far sharper weapon for cutting away falsity than is any fight against another person or idea.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Clueless on Wall Street

This morning in USA Today, Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware is quoted as saying, "It's true that salaries are out of control, but this is not the right approach - politics and business do not mix."
Does this mean the end of corporate lobbying and massive political contributions to the politicians that toady to corporate CEOs and their profiteering agendas? Don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Do Parents Believe Their Own Bullshit?

I read in the paper this morning some news about lying. According to a newly-released study, most parents want kids to do as they say, not as they do, when it comes to not saying what they think.
I, unlike most kids, was raised by parents who generally said what they thought, and what they meant. They expected me to do what they said, and they followed these prescriptions themselves. But that doesn't mean they told me that Santa or the Easter Bunny didn't exist before I had noticed on my own.
Not all lies are created equal. Some, such as great novels, express deeper truths about human emotions, about human nature. And others can be transformed into truth with a little editing. For example, a parent said, "Lying is for bad people and witches; good people and fairies never tell lies." It would be more accurate to say that lying can make people feel bad and even mean, while telling the truth in a fair-minded and cooperative way can make everyone feel good, even if it seems like only a perfect fairy can achieve this.
So it's very important to understand all the key kinds of lies, and the reasons for them, good, bad or forgivable. Lies of commission are usually judged worse than lies of omission. But often people lie because they don't know how to tell the truth in a kind, gentle, simple way. It can be uncomfortable to say things we think will be unwelcome, but with a little guidance and practice it's possible to remind yourself: "Don't Be Nice, Be Real."
The kind of nice we really don't need is telling white lies about things that aren't that important. Or flattery. Or advertising, which leads to telling lies to make money. Eventually, lying too much can lead to losing track of the truth.
Lying will continue to be a subject of moral and philosophical inquiry. It's worth noting that the government can only lie to us be means of individuals who choose to hide the truth and betray the transparency that democracy requires.
Of course, the most devious and stubborn untruths are the ones we believe in all conscious honesty.