677 comments posted · 22 followers · following 25

14 years ago @ - The Obama-... · 0 replies · +1 points

Yes, its' good to work through a process and think things through. So many people only focus on the what's but if no one discusses why, who, where, when, and how, we wind up with untenable goals and lots of wasted time and other resources. Focusing on one question without the others seems more about self-stimulation than about getting anything done. 

I haven't been visiting here very often lately. Since this section officially closed, it seems like much of the discussion has been just about venting or complaining. I want to focus my efforts on helping to develop ideas and solve problems. I commend you for your efforts.

14 years ago @ - The Obama-... · 0 replies · +1 points

There has been a failure of free market principles, so I'm not sure what your point is. For further info, see Alan Greenspan's comments on why he was wrong all these years. (Many of us knew that 20 years ago.) Also, think about the free market premises whose violation, over the past 25 years or so, has led to this predictable collapse:

1) Markets can only be free to the extent that all relevant information is available to buyers. Violations in transparency and available of information have led us into deep trouble. (Think credit default swaps, off-shoring of operations to prevent transparency, and so much more.)

2) Markets can only be free to the extent that undue concentrations of power do not exist. (Think of all the reversals in anti-trust laws that we are paying for now. Think of price-fixing, the Archer Daniels Midland case being one visible tip of a humongous iceberg.)

The reason the government absolutely has to jump in and play with the free market right now is because we have thrown away the basic principles of free market health in recent decades and as a result we are now in collapse. This analogy may help:  normally I want my body to do its own thing, and I don't want anyone going after my belly with knife. But if my appendix is about to rupture, I'd better let some stranger cut me open or that's the end. That's where our economy is right now. We've got to get to the ER for extraordinary measures, and quickly.


14 years ago @ - The Obama-... · 2 replies · +1 points

The difference in what? Are you referring to the difference between people who look for evidence to test their ideas and those who just stick to whatever ideas are convenient - without testing them?

I'll agree (if that's what you meant) with you regarding a large portion of people.  Many people's lives revolve around authority (conforming with it or rebelling against it). A large number of people live that way. It works differently for those who think things through by considering many forms of authority based on the merit of each in a particular situation. 

In the abortion example, people who focus on authority will take a side because it feels right and they may be easily influenced to accept false "facts."  They are not working through a process but rather accepting someone else's process. Or maybe they are choosing easy absolutes because they are easier to deal with.  People who use a logical process will gather information from a variety of sources and look for evidence to determine what is true. They accept ideas as truth based on a processes of evaluation.

So yes, some people look to authority to determine what is true, but others process information themselves and look for the relationships between opinions and observable evidence.

14 years ago @ - The Obama-... · 1 reply · +1 points

I'm adding a more basic explanation:

Opinions are debatable ideas someone believes to be true. 

Reasons support opinions. They explain why. 

Evidence is fact based on observation that make it more likely that our reasons are correct.

Simple example:

Opinion: Breakfast is an important meal.
Reason: Because it gives you the nutrients you need to be productive and healthy.
Evidence: Controlled studies show that people who skip breakfast gain more weight and perform more poorly on mental tasks.

Looking at your examples:  Books are usually collections of opinions. Only a few contain proofs. Expert opinions are just that, opinions, not evidence or proof. Expert opinions are often wrong. Look at the history of medicine or science if that is not clear. Logically, politicians don't stake their careers on something that is proven. Staking a career implies risk. There is no risk involved in something that is proven.

Humans live by judging the likelihood that something is true. Sometimes people are afraid of uncertainty, so they just pretend that their opinions are facts. That often gets them in a lot of trouble.

Hope this helps. 

14 years ago @ - The Obama-... · 0 replies · +1 points

"One form of proof is what you believe."

Okay. You get points for originality on that.

I believe that goat-like aliens live on the moon and survive by manufacturing chocolate and pencils. Therefore, I've proven that it is true. 

That was fun. Now let's get back to reality. Our nation needs us.

Even Greenspan,  the most "brilliant" expert who drove our economic decisions for two decades, turned out to be wrong. Greenspan himself said so. The observable evidence (the current global financial crisis) continues to say so.

Fran, America needs your thoughtfulness right now. Please learn to distinguish among, facts, feelings, interpretations, beliefs, desires, things that could be true, and thing that must be true.

14 years ago @ - The Obama-... · 10 replies · +2 points

Principles, values, and morals are a great foundation. How do you determine whether ideas and interpretations are authentically based in reality of your principles, morals, and values? Many people simply don't because they prefer the world they imagine.

For example, many people believe abortion should be illegal because they are morally opposed to abortion. But in reality, making abortion illegal is not the most effective way to reduce abortions. Some countries with the most restrictive abortion laws have abortion rates that among the highest while some countries where abortion is legal, safe, and rare have among the lowest abortion rates.

Yet, some people fail to check out the reasoning behind their assumption that restrictive laws necessarily reduce the rate of abortion. They imagine the laws they want would be effective, often because of wishful thinking or because of past hurts.

So, back to the original question: What processes do you use to determine whether ideas and interpretations are based in reality or just imagined because of wishful thinking or past hurts?

14 years ago @ - The Obama-... · 6 replies · +2 points

"There are all kinds of proofs in economics."

I'm not aware of any. My friend who is an economist says there are none. But, I am very interested in what you have. Would you mind citing a proof? 

Also, I don't think we've met. It seems like maybe you've confused me for someone else. I'm not someone who has power.

14 years ago @ - The Obama-... · 12 replies · +2 points


Please notice that I made no judgments "of reasoned logic, motivations, and unwarranted assumptions." I talked about the process of exploring ideas in order to avoid misperceptions. I would love to hear your ideas on this. What processes do you use to determine whether ideas and interpretations are based in reality or just imagined because of wishful thinking or past hurts?

14 years ago @ - The Obama-... · 14 replies · +2 points

Brenda, sounds like you been through some trouble.

The world is full of BS. The internet has everything that it is the world, the authentic, the inauthentic, the scholarly, the inflammatory. To have a reasoned approach, you have to look at information from different angles, think about motivations, and use logical reasoning to identify unwarranted assumptions.

If you are not interested in reason though, you will need to take care of emotions in very different ways. And yes, if you are interested in keeping up with what happens with a plan or bill, you actually do have to use the people who designed it as one of your sources, unless, of course, you are deliberately seeking bias.

If you are interested in reason, you also need to ask specific questions that will get you what you are looking for. It seems you are looking for something more specific than what you asked for. That approach is likely to bring you unnecessary frustrations.

Best to you and good luck with it all.

14 years ago @ - The Obama-... · 9 replies · +2 points

There's is a ton of ground to cover in your response. I'm not sure where to start. First off, there are no proofs in economics. Economists discuss theories and pick what they think will work best. Historically, that has been based on political beliefs rather than, and often in spite of, scientific research. The Randian Greenspan debacle is a prime example of this. 

My post doesn't imply forcing anything, so please be more specific about where you need clarification. Or you might want to read some of Thomas Friedman's work (readily available for free online). I have not read his work, but I am told he does a good job of explaining green economy incentives to a lay audience.

But I'm glad to help, too, if you have a specific area of interest.