My Karma ran over your Dogma

The Euthyphro dilemma is found in Plato‘s dialogue Euthyphro, in which Socrates asks Euthyphro, “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?

This has had major implications from a morality standpoint since this question posted by Plato can be reworded as follows – Is a deed a good deed because the deed itself is good or is it good because an external agency (i.e. GOD) says it is good. As stated by Plato,  this dilemma gives rise to TWO HORNS

a) FIRST HORN – A good deed is good because the deed ITSELF is good. In this case, God is NOT needed for morality since the deed’s goodness stands by itself. It does NOT need an external Agency. So this means limited Omnipotence i.e. Morality is possible WITHOUT God.

b) SECOND HORN – A good deed is good because GOD (external Agency) deemed it as good. In this case, Morality is arbitrary since any deed can be deemed as good by God. God can very well claim something like murder is a good deed. Omnibenevolence is compromised here.

Now I realize that there have been responses by Apologists like Dr. William Lane Craig to this which can be best described as weak. His claim is  – ” God simply is the ultimate Good and it is God’s nature to be the Ultimate Good”. This is weak since now we have pushed the problem from “good” to “nature”. Thanks to Dr. Craig’s line of argument we can restate this as:

  1. Does God have control over his Nature or
  2. Does He not have control over his Nature

If 1. it is Arbitrariness and if 2. it is Impotence! We are essentially back to where we started.

Having been brought up in the Hindu tradition I wondered if the Euthyphro Dilemma can also be applied to Karma? Karma is an important religious and philosophical concept in Hinduism. The Bhagavad Gita cites Karma Yoga or the Yoga of Action as one of the paths to Salvation. There are also other accounts of how “karmic balance” is used as the basis to explain the concept of Reincarnation i.e. Karmic Deeds from a prior life shape your current life. The explanation is if you are a child born into suffering and/or poverty it is because of your negative karmic action balance from a prior life.

Here is how I would like to pose the Euthyphro Argument:

a) Is a Karmic deed a good/ moral deed because the DEED ITSELF is good/moral?  OR

b) Is a Karmic deed a good/moral deed because an EXTERNAL Agent (i.e. GOD) deems so.

If a) then the Law of Karma does not have the necessity for an External Agent. If b) then the External Agent is arbitrary (like the Second Horn above).

While acting in a “selfless” manner and performing actions to improve the well being of others, as a concept is great, it can hardly constitute as a basis for religious morality and as a sufficient explanation for Reincarnation (in Hinduism). Here are my issues:

  • What is the standard for Karmic Actions? How does one determine selfless actions?
  • Who is keeping the “tally” or score for these actions? Remember if a Karmic Deed is good by itself then there is no GOD who is keeping this score. So how does this all work?
  • Where is the proof that performing Karmic Actions (by whichever definition) results in Salvation? What is the defined as Salvation here?
  • Where is the proof of Reincarnation? If negative Karmic balance from a prior life is a determinant for your experiences of your current life where is the proof?
  • And how do you explain force majeure events such as tsunamis; earthquakes etc.  from a karmic balance standpoint? Is there is different approach to “community karma”

You can see the issues are self-evident. At the risk of repeating myself  – living a life of good actions and altruistic deeds is a noble endeavor.

However one must be very careful not to conflate this with the promise of SALVATION!


From ID to IDK – God of the Gaps

A frequent argument from Apologists is, ” How did something come from nothing?” i.e. what caused the Big Bang. This argument takes various forms and usually gets inserted into the Cosmological Argument and/or Teleological Argument. From a historical perspective, there have been multiple versions of this, from the Kalaam Cosmological Argument to Thomas of Aquinas’s Five Ways.  There have been numerous debates between Atheists and Apologists on this topic and the crux of the question always comes to, “How did something come from nothing”?

To which I respond, “How did you know there was nothing”?. Let me explain. Assume you are driving in a remote area, late evening. All of a sudden you see a flying object in the sky. The object defies all normal description of planes and/or spacecrafts. You are pretty certain there is no military base close by. You see the spacecraft do maneuvers that are not within your understanding of what an aircraft would do. You have two potential options on how to assess this experience.

a) I think I saw something that probably defied explanation but I am not sure what it is i.e. IDK – I Don’t Know

b) OR I am very certain that I have witnessed a UFO sighting and I am pretty sure it was aliens from a different world

You see the problem? It is human nature to seek an explanation for everything. Our basic need is to find a reason why and if we cannot find a natural explanation we fix that with a supernatural explanation.

Let us further unpack the “Something from Nothing” Argument. Theists claim that there has to be an external powerful entity (i.e. God) that caused the Big Bang. This entity basically started from the conditions of Ex Nihilo and kick-started the Big Bang.  We have a few issues with this line of argument:

  1. There is the problem of Infinite Regress i.e. now we are left with the problem of trying to find who created God. Apologists try to make a deft move by stating that we don’t need to explain who created God since God exists outside of space and time but that typically does not sell since causality still needs to be addressed
  2. How do we know that an Agent created the Big Bang? There could have been multiple Big Bangs that could have started at the same time or there could have been a Big Chill or cool down prior to the big bang or there could have been a localized big bang. The fact that we currently do NOT understand what the cause, does not mean that we get to insert “divinity” into the equation
  3. Finally, we know that we are on a collision course with the Andromeda Galaxy (per Christopher Hitchens) and in the next million or so years there is a whole lot of nothingness coming to us! So the bigger question is why will there be nothing coming very very soon (in galactic timeline)

The broader point is why does the theist not have the humility to say – I DON’T KNOW! Science continues to break barriers and explain so much. To put this in perspective, we know more in the last 80 years that we have known ever since Neaderthal man. The pace and speed of how we understand the universe is changing at tremendous speed. There is no time or place for bronze age uneditable books or worldviews. (as Christopher Hitchens puts it):

The “something from nothing” argument is played out. It has been presented in so many different variations and forms but it always ends up in NOTHING!


The Swiss Army Knife or the Utility Argument for Religion & Faith

I have always wondered what basis people use for the Utility Argument for religion. I get this more from my Hindu and Buddist friends.  Here are a few examples of how this goes:

a) I do not profess to the dogmas of religion and religious practice. I consider religion a spiritual journey that gives me inner peace.

b) I belong to a mission/church/temple/sect etc. and it gives me a sense of belonging and community.

c) I perform religious ceremonies or practices more to bring my friends and family together and am not really doing it as part of any belief framework.

d) (My Favorite) – I pray since it gives me inner peace and hey it is not like I am asking you to do the same.

e) And finally look at all the charity and humanitarian work going on with the churches and temples. Wouldnt you want to be part of something noble that makes a difference in people’s lives.

So basically it is religion “lite”. I see a few interesting issues and let us unpack this. There need to be some basic guidelines we need to operate under. Everyone is entitled to believe in what they like and feel comfortable with as long as:

  • You are not proselytizing
  • You are not shaping public policy 
  • You are not shaping education policy in public schools
  • You are not providing charity with a precondition of acceptance into your religious worldview

As Sam Harris puts it, ” beliefs matter and individual beliefs matter”. There is a monumental difference between what “feels good” vs what is true. Remember the definition of Faith is acceptance of a proposition with LACK of evidence.  If your practices provide you “utility” and do not violate the above guidelines that is ok …..but it still does not make it TRUE!

There are a lot of institutions that are providing charitable programs and funding without the slant of religion (ex. OXFAM; Doctors without Borders).

Outcome-based prayer has been proven to be ineffective via multiple studies. If the answer is “I am praying to calm my mind and not really ask for any outcomes from a theistic deity” then all you are really doing is meditation!

There is a myriad of ways that you can foster a sense of community. It can be based on interests or it can be based on activities. My point is being part of a church or a temple is not the ONLY option to meaningfully participate in a community.

And by the way, most of these people who will tell you that their approach to religion is a benign, mild spiritual approach have their children in Sunday school/classes learning inane mythological stories and dogmatic practices. Apparently, the utility and spiritual approach that they profess is not germane for their children. This double standard is evident in the Hindu Missions where (in Sunday school) children are being fed this tripe while at the same time the adults are having a “spiritual” discussion on the meaning of life and religious concepts.

I only wish that people would understand that they can get all the utility value that they perceive is being provided by religion, without it.

But then this is wishful thinking……

Cognitive Dissonance – why beliefs are so hard to change

A few months ago I was speaking to a friend of mine, whom I first knew professionally and then became good friends. He was a computer programmer and a science major by training but deeply religious in his views. While I typically am not the type to debate points related to religious beliefs there was this one instance where he mentioned that he did not believe that the earth was 4.5 billion years old. I think one evening we were jumping topics from work to personal beliefs and somehow ended on this topic. Our conversation went like this:

Me: You do realize that the earth is older than 6000 years and we have various methods to prove this. The Genesis account is just not true.

Him: Well, the jury is really out on Radio Carbon dating. How can you date something that is millions of years and even billions of years old? The science does not compute. It has been shown that RC dating is unreliable (and he rattles off a few recent Creationists sources).

Me: Umm I am hoping that you also realize that age of the earth is not determined by RC dating only. There are a lot of other radioactive elements that are used for larger timescales that have proved with a relatively high consistency that the age of the earth is more than 4 billion years.

And then I read this to him – (Source: –Radiometric methods measure the time elapsed since the particular radiometric clock was reset. Radiocarbon dating, which is probably best known to the general public, works only on things that were once alive and are now dead. It measures the time elapsed since death but is limited in scale to no more than about 50,000 years ago. Other methods, such as Uranium/Lead, Potassium/Argon, Argon/Argon and others, are able to measure much longer time periods and are not restricted to things that were once alive. Generally applied to igneous rocks (those of volcanic origin), they measure the time since the molten rock solidified. If that happens to be longer than 10,000 years, then the idea of a young-Earth is called into question. If that happens to be billions of years, then the young-Earth is in big trouble.

Him – well all that is fine but “you” do realize that the Bible says the earth was created 6000 years ago and we HAVE proof of the places referenced in the Bible. The Old Testament was written around the 6th century B.C. and references places and events from 4000 B.C. and these can be historically verified.

Me – Well by that logic there are a couple of Indian Epics and Books (eg: Mahabharata and Vedas) that were written around the 1000 to 500 B.C. timeframe and reference events from more than 10,000 years ago that CAN ALSO be historically verified!

But that is where I lost him and I became painfully aware that I could not make him change his position. This got me thinking about beliefs and how people hold on to beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence. It could be the age of the earth; the age of the universe; climate change; evolution; superstitious belief; the healing power of prayer…it does not matter if you have the knockdown evidence or proof. It is very very hard to change beliefs.

Carol Tavris in her speech on “Why we believe  – Long after we shouldn’t”  attributes this to the DISSONANCE THEORY which has three major biases:

a) The bias we are unbiased is we feel that we have no biases in our beliefs and that our beliefs are solidly grounded on facts.

b) Better than Average Bias – also known as the “American Bias” i.e. we are better, smarter and more successful than most people.

c) Finally the Confirmation Bias –  we only seek information that confirms our beliefs. Also known as the consonance bias as it keeps our beliefs in harmony and does NOT allow any dissident information in.

We typically have two options:

Option-1 we accept new evidence and recalibrate our beliefs based on the new evidence OR

Option-2: we deny the evidence and preserve the belief

and as Carol Travis states in her talk, ” guess which one we choose”?

(Source –

Changing beliefs by viewing conflicting viewpoints and evidence takes time and it is a long drawn process. It is simply unreasonable to put together a 1 hr talk to the climate deniers and expect them to “convert” just based on the merits of the evidence. And this would be the case for a myriad of topics. Cause if it was that easy they would have already done so….right??

We would not have a large swath of our county simultaneously holding conflicting beliefs. But then how would you explain the 2016 elections?



Pour one for our surrogate homies

Last week Anderson Cooper made an interesting comment:

Jeffrey Lord (one of Trump’s Surrogates) was explaining why he doesn’t care that President Donald Trump called James Comey a “nut job,” and AC retorted back saying, “If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.”

It got me thinking about what it must be like to be a surrogate to a petulant child that changes his mind so much that it must be white noise inside that head. I really feel for them. It is like a 24/7 thankless “polish the turd” job that they have voluntarily accepted. Think about how the sequence typically plays out with the most recent news cycle example:

  • Trump fires Jim Comey, Director of the FBI and his surrogates are out defending the decision
  • Each one of them goes into the various news outlets stating that there is ZERO connection between Trump’s decision to fire Comey and the Russian Investigations. Some of them even get smug about it when they are pressed for information. To the point, they look at the anchors and go, “I really cannot believe that you are not believing this”
  • And then the next day…………..their boss comes on the air and completely contradicts everything. I mean literally everything (and says that he moves too fast for his staff).

Too fast? Too fast? having the attention span of a gnat; an ego that doesn’t fit the White House and a brain that is constantly changing is not the attributes of “moving too fast”. Our President is like the dog in the movie “Up”….Squirrel and he is gone. It is like trying to grab a wet bar of soap.

I really wonder how these surrogates feel. Do they go back home and sit in the shower in a fetal position and weep? Do they go home and take off their “optimism” mask and just let loose (a la Kate McKinnon in the SNL skit – LINK ).  At some basic level, I am assuming these are smart people who have “opted in” to get on board on the Crazy Train for some gains.

How does one become and get trained to be a surrogate? Is there is surrogate boot camp? Funny or Die speculated this in their hilarious bit here:

I realize most surrogates take these roles both on the Democratic and Republican sides so that they can get plum assignments after their candidate has won. Wonder if Chris Christie is thinking that he is always the bridesmaid and never the bride?  But this crop of Trump surrogates have their work cut out for them. Which makes me wonder whether it is really worth it? Day after day like mummified zombies to keep hitting the talking points even when (in real time) you boss is completely contradicting you. Who knows…maybe it is worth it.

Which brings me to the mother of all Surrogates for Trump…..Fox News and the Right Wing Media. They have had a “little bit” of difficulty in spinning all the crap that has hit the fan over the past few weeks. As AC noted it is “deny; deflect; downplay” on all things related to the Trump scandals. As Trevor Noah puts it – “They (FoxNews) are basically his Snapchat filter. Whatever the reality is they always make him look better than he is.”

So much for fair and balanced. Everything bad that has happened to the President is either:

  • Fake News
  • Liberal Media bias
  • Liberal Media witch hunt
  • Obama was worse than Trump
  • Trump won the elections – Dems are sore losers

Check this article – “Limbaugh on Comey Firing – “What An Epic Troll” Trump pulled on the Democrats”.  Wonder how it feels living inside a bubble 24/7:

Trump’s surrogates are thrown under the bus by him so frequently that they can start writing a new book called, “Memoirs from Under the Bus”. So on a somber note – Pour one for our surrogate homies!


Wow! The past week has been one of the craziest weeks in recent history. The 24 hr news cycle; comedy shows and late night shows cannot keep up with the series of events that have transpired. What is happening is surreal. It is unprecedented, unbelievable and plain uncouth.

Fareed Zakaria said it best on his show – GPS: ” It seems all checks and balances have been removed by this President, we have two remaining  – The Judiciary and The Free Press”. 

I agree with him to a point i.e. till the midterms. We, the people still matter. We have a President who is pretty much stating what he has done,  out in the open, no tact, no backroom dealings….  he is throwing it open and literally daring everyone to say or do anything:

  • He admitted to the fact that he wanted Comey gone since he felt that Comey was not right in pursuing the investigation on his campaign ties to Russia
  • He asked Comey to swear a loyalty to him and warned him that he “may have” wiretapped conversations with him and Comey in the Oval Office
  • And he invites the Russian ambassador to the White House, bans our press from covering it and we get the photo ops from the Russian state media

You can’t make this shit up folks. As at least two shows referenced it this past week (GPS and Real Time) – we have fast becoming a banana republic –  Nicaragua or Americagua.

We are a country of checks and balances. We have three forms of Government and two parties for precisely this reason. However, what do you do when one party which has the majority is sitting and watching and is COMPLICIT to what is going on. I am reminded of a Seinfeld episode where George Costanza in the need to quickly come up with a return zinger goes, “The Jerkstore called and they are out of you”.

To my fellow GOPers we need to modify this to,” The Spine store called and they are out of you”. You people are the worst hypocrites ever. Period end of story. Can you imagine of Hilary Clinton did even one of the 10,000 things that Trump has done since January? The nutjobs on the far right would be moving their chants from ‘Lock her up’ to ” Impeach her” to just plain “Get rid of her”.  The current GOP has the moral fortitude of pond scum. You folks sit there like little juveniles waiting for your little special interest handouts

  • Maybe if I look the other way I will get my tax package
  • Maybe if I look bury my head in the sand I will get my Supreme Court nominee
  • Maybe if I cover my head with a sandwich bag I will get my infrastructure package

Meanwhile, the foundations of our democracy is being shaken so hard that it feels that we are sitting on an old washer during spin cycle. What happened to you GOP? You were supposed to be the party of Reagan; the party of principles and conservative family values; the party that stood for the “Real America”…what happened? Do you even see your reflection in the mirror these days? do you have a friggin soul left or have you all collectively sold it to the Orange Crush?

Where are the GOP leaders that went up against Trump in the primaries? When they interviewed Ryan and Rubio after Comey’s firing they both said it was justified by the President. Again, I would love to hear them say this if the shoe was on the other foot and it was Hilary firing Comey for investigating her on her email scandal. This is what hypocrisy looks like today. A bunch of toadies, psychophants and yes men who have consciously and unconsciously given cover to what is the worst attack on our democratic values.

You guys are Giant Old Pussies. Your party symbol should be a picture of a human spine with a line across it. Or this:


You have the majority in both houses and yet he is playing you like a fiddle. You have had disagreements and dissension with the Democrats and even taken turns to screw each other. But come on, everyone knew there were lines that would not be crossed – cause country came first. It was country, then party and then the platform. But now you have let the mental patient take over and you are doing zilch to control anything. You are choosing impotence!

In his book – RatF**ed: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy, David Daley, The Editor-in-Chief of Salon reveals activities by Republicans—including Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie and Chris Jankowki—who organized the REDMAP to provide unofficial state-race funding to reshape districts and legislatures in favor of Republican interests. This was done via partisan gerrymandering.

David Daley, in his Salon Article (LINK) goes to say that “the Republicans have almost guaranteed the house till 2021 but it came with a price – Donald Trump and an empowered” base. This is the state of our GOP today!

We need to remind ourselves that while there are tumultuous events like the President firing the head of the FBI and cozying up to the Russians in the Oval office there are other events such as the President’s son in law’s sister literally selling American citizenship in China (yes! I realize it is legal but Trump actually rejected the bill to close this program and ended up extending it till August 2017). We cannot get complacent as this has now become a 24/7 vigil of this administration. They are counting on the fact that if there are 20 scandals, people will get sensitized to them

So yes Fareed Zakaria is right that only two checks are left – Free Press and the Judicial system. Both of whom have been attacked constantly and consistently by our President.

But don’t forget us. We can still make this matter in 2018, we need to flip one or both houses. We need to continue to resist and do our part to keep all these shenanigans front and center so that the next election matters.

Else we will be all be wearing babushkas and eating borscht!

100 days & the Dunning Kruger Effect

I had learned about the Dunning-Kruger Effect back in school strictly from an academic perspective. Time to time I would meet people or notice some behaviors and invoke this cognitive bias to see if I can actually spot it (fully aware of my own intellectual limitations). So let’s break this down. The basic definition of this cognitive bias, based on the work done by David Dunning and Justin Kruger at Cornell is as follows (LINK):

This effect occurs where people fail to adequately assess their level of competence — or specifically, their incompetence — at a task and thus consider themselves much more competent than everyone else. This lack of awareness is attributed to their lower level of competence robbing them of the ability to critically analyze their performance, leading to a significant overestimation of themselves. 

In simple words, it’s “people who are too stupid to know how stupid they are”.

As Charles Darwin said, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”.

I started to reflect more about the DK Effect over the past couple of days, especially since our newly minted Leader passed the important 100 days milestone.

Now having watched him in the primaries and seen him govern over the past 100 days I am convinced we have the first Dunning Kruger President elected by a mass of voters who gravitate to this bias and hence also suffer from it. Let’s look at a few examples:

During the Primaries: 

Example-1:“So we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is — it is a huge problem. I have a son. He’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it’s hardly doable.”


“That makes me smart”…wow! It is as if he is supremely confident that he is smarter than everyone else.

Quotes from the first 100 days (Reuters, Washington Examiner & AP Sources)

” The administration is running like a fine-tuned machine. Despite the fact that I can’t get my cabinet approved. And they’re outstanding people.

“I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.”

“I would say communication would be a little bit less than an A because I don’t think we’ve gotten the word out what we’ve done because I think we’re so busy getting it done that we’re not talking about it.”

“I think we’ve done more than perhaps any president in the first 100 days.”

“I’d give us an A.”

“I thought it would be easier.”

So what do you think? Classic case of Dunning-Kruger Effect right?. And by the way, this is not just the President but it extends to the people who STILL thinks he is doing a great job. He has an overwhelming majority of support amongst Republicans. He has given his audience every reason that he is supremely clueless – not knowing what is the nuclear triad; utterly confused about foreign policy; not understanding how the bond market works; consistently saying things that are misogynistic utterly clueless…..but for his supporters, the most important thing is – HE APPEARS CONFIDENT!.

The feedback in his rallies is always the same – he knows what he is doing and he is confident and he speaks for us. Even though facts directly contradict this AND he is directly saying things that are in direct contradiction with reality. How do you take him seriously when he proclaims to know more about our generals on ISIS?

So yes  – it is possible to be too clueless to realize that you ARE actually in fact clueless.

David Dunning penned an article in Politico (LINK): But why now? If voters can be so misinformed that they don’t know that they are misinformed, why only now has a candidate like Trump arisen? My take is that the conditions for the Trump phenomenon have been in place for a long time. At least as long as quantitative survey data have been collected, citizens have shown themselves to be relatively ill-informed and incoherent on political and historical matters. As way back as 1943, a survey revealed that only 25 percent of college freshmen knew that Abraham Lincoln was president during the Civil War.

All it took was a candidate to come along too inexperienced to avoid making policy gaffes, at least gaffes that violate received wisdom, with voters too uninformed to see the violations. Usually, those candidates make their mistakes off in some youthful election to their state legislature, or in small-town mayoral race or contest for class president. It’s not a surprise that someone trying out a brand new career at the presidential level would make gaffes that voters, in a rebellious mood, would forgive but more likely not even see.

We are now living in a DK Effect presidency spawned by hyper-partisanship, low information, and alternate facts. Buckle up folks…..going to be a fun ride and ….

and……………………………………………………………….thanks for nothing Fox News!


The Science of False Equivalency

The last couple of days has personally given me tremendous hope. #MarchforScience and collective mobilization of people marching for Science (LINK) is so encouraging to see. In addition to the usual slogans, I especially loved the ones that people held up impromptu, such as:

  • Fund Science because Science funds us
  • Hate Global Warming, at least Mar-a-Lago will be gone
  • The oceans are rising and so are we

and my personal favorite……………

I said it before and I will say it again, Trump has been really really good for Science. There has been a grassroots rejuvenation of protests for Science awareness in the recent past and we have to thank our resident Orange Crush for this. Let us do a quick summary of what he has accomplished in his nearly 100 days:

  • His Appointees – Not sure if these were meant to be ironic or just obtuse but his appointments to head the Department of Energy; EPA and Secretary of State are nothing short of incredulous. Pruitt went up against the EPA as Oklahoma Attorney General and has been said to view the agency with contempt and now he runs it. Perry wasn’t even aware that the DoE managed our country’s nuclear arsenal and Tillerson continues to deny that climate change research was not objectively presented to Exxon’s shareholders during his watch.
  • His Budget – his budget proposals are set to:
    • eliminate DoE’s cutting edge and high potential, ARPA-E research program
    • Double-digit cuts to the National Institute of Health (NIH) which needs the funds to study infectious diseases, cancers, and public health issues.
    • Chemical Safety Board – eliminated
    • Sea Grant Program – that supports study of ecology; coastal ecosystems and communities – eliminated
  • His Executive Orders (LINK):
    • An order initiating a review of the Clean Power Plan, which restricted greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants.
    • Two orders reviving the Keystone XL pipeline and Dakota Access pipelines.

And the list goes on and on. Also, add the fact that there are so many science-related positions in the Government that has not been staffed (or may never be). He is the most anti-scientific President period! case closed!

While it is easy to blame our Leader we must also look at the vast swath of our populace that actually shares a lot of these principles including the other branches of our government. Here are two examples to illustrate this:

Example – 1: In the 2012 primaries, Governor Rick Perry of Texas said this when asked whether climate change was man-made – (Link) “The science is not settled on this.  The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet to me is just nonsense,” Perry said.  “Just because you have a group of scientists who stood up and said here is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell,” he said.

Example – 2: Science journalism is being replaced by science blogs. This is an excerpt from the book The War on Science – From 1989 to 2005 the number of major newspapers with weekly science sections fell from 95 to 34. By 2005, just 7% of the approximately 2400 members of the US National Association of Science Writers had full-time positions at media outlets that reached the general public.

And as mentioned earlier, Perry is now in a position to make significant impacts to our Science and Technology policy.

Let us come to the crux of the issue – False Equivalency.

In my opinion that is what has dumbed down our country over the past 35-40 years. What do I mean by that? It is the ability to present a fact and an alternate fact together as SIMILAR VIEWS and let the consumer of the information consider both these with EQUAL merit.

Suppose I had an opinion news show and told the viewers – ‘yes folks gravity works as we can see outside but we must also keep in mind that there could be a possibility that gravity doesn’t work and hence it is still called ” the theory of gravity”……see the problem of false equivalency? -Creationism cannot be compared as an alternative to Evolution. What happens is you have people now thinking hmm….evolution is just a theory right????? And this extends to:

  • Climate Science
  • Reproductive Rights
  • Vaccinations
  • Stem cell research

400+ years ago Galileo had to fight against the Catholic Church (a point that was completely missed by Rick Perry in the above quote) and the reasons were that he had the evidence and facts to disprove truths that were held sacred for centuries.  Compare that today where evidence and facts are presented BUT any two-bit idiot with a “Reverend” title can simply say that the evidence merits more study and our media presents these two views as equal, to the consumer, for consideration.

We must STOP this false equivalency, else we are doomed:

  • No! Dinosaurs did not live together with early humans and they sure did not get to ride them like horses
  • No! Evolution is not a theory. It is a fact has been proved. There is scientific disagreement on some of the finer details but not Evolution in general
  • No! Climate change is not a hoax – the scientific evidence and consensus are overwhelming.
  • And Yes! as new evidence is presented Science has the humility to actually revise prior positions – We now know that there are 8 planets and we are all originally from Africa

And as I had stated in a previous post we must NOT have our eminent scientists debate religious nutjobs (I am referencing the Bill Nye vs Ken Hamm debate) cause that really is FALSE EQUIVALENCY. We are encouraging batshit ideas based on bronze age books, as having an equal standing to concepts and hypothesis that have been tested via the Scientific Method and that is simply not right!




#MASA? – Make America Smart Again?

Or I should really say #MADA – Make America Dumbassless Again. Cause I really want to know who these people are? The silent dumbority……….

Exhibit-1: Bill O’ Rielly’s new book “Old School” has become an instant bestseller selling almost 70,000 copies in the first week alone. The book is supposed to be a defense of traditional values with advice on how to respectfully treat women and not as sex objects.

Seriously? Who are these people buying these book? 

Exhibit-2: I never listen to right wing radio, but a friend of my pointed me to this doozy. According to Limbaugh most of the country does not understand Donald Trump. Apparently, Trump does not adhere to typical conservative or liberal norms. So when he changes a position (or completely lies) it is because he never created a “baseline”. Here is the link to the Limbaugh Show transcript – LINK

Direct Quote from the show – So the idea that one day he can be anti-NATO and then after certain things happen become pro-NATO, it doesn’t wash with people. “That doesn’t make sense. He is not being true to his principles.” Yes, he is, you just don’t know what they are. He lives and operates in a political world, but he’s not political. This is what people still don’t get”

Huh? Who are these people listening to this?

Exhibit-3: The number of Flip Flops our illustrious President has made over the past 3 weeks. Take this article from Huffington Post – LINK

6 Issues in 2 days!!! Now it is perfectly fine for him to change his mind as new facts are presented. However, he is changing his stance on a lot of key campaign promises. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary expectations in behavior. So, now a lot of Trump voters are having buyers remorse on their choice.

Everything, in the world of Trump, is a negotiation — up to and including facts. This quote, from “Art of the Deal,” is deeply revealing about that Trump philosophy:

“I never get too attached to one deal or one approach. For starters, I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first.” (LINK)

Really? Who are these people? He was literally telling you who he was and still…….

I always viewed this video (below) in the past…saying to myself  – “You know what! this is a small sampling of people” and there is no way it explains all the innovation, products and creativity that has come out of our country…but now maybe there is more to it:

Journalist Charles Pierce, author of Idiot America, wrote, “the rise of Idiot America today represents–for profit mainly, but also and more cynically, for political advantage in the pursuit of power–the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they are talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.” (Link)

Here is some Data Samples to ponder (from the same link above):

  • The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs commissioned a civic education poll among public school students. A surprising 77% didn’t know that George Washington was the first President; couldn’t name Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence, and only 2.8% of the students actually passed the citizenship test. Along similar lines, the Goldwater Institute of Phoenix did the same survey and only 3.5% of students passed the civics test.
  • Fox News, the most-watched news program in the U.S., has on numerous occasions recommended that school science classes be “fair and balanced,” meaning by the teaching of biblically-inspired creationism alongside Darwin’s’ scientific theory of evolution.
  • In a Newsweek poll, of U.S. citizens, 29% couldn’t identify Joe Biden as the Vice President, and 44% couldn’t describe the Bill of Rights.
  • According to another poll, the average American voter believes that U.S. foreign aid consumes 24% of the Federal budget when it is only 1%.
  • 18% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth, according to a Gallup poll.

These are people that are voting and electing leaders that are making policy changes that impact the rest of us.

 I did not sign up for teaching “creationism” as an alternative in schools or the revival of the coal industry.

And yes I get it! democracy won, the people have spoken and this is what they want. But seriously? if these are the people voting on squishy facts, low information and are easily manipulated, are we not having a DUMBOCRACY?


Maybe George Carlin was astute in saying – ” Selfish ignorant voters give rise to selfish ignorant leaders – garbage in, garbage out” this is the best we can do”


Eve Teasing

During the campaign cycle, there was example after example of our President’s peccadillos and perverted actions. As I had stated in a previous blog post, most of his voter base chose to ignore or “normalize” this behavior for other attributes or issues they felt were more pertinent. For example, women chose to ignore his misogyny stating that he speaks his mind; will drain the D.C. swamp and has done a great job at raising a family. Cognitive dissonance aside, now we are seeing an all-out attack on women’s issues and these people who voted for this President are COMPLICIT!

Take these quotes for example (link):

  • “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
  • “I would never buy her any decent jewels or pictures. Why give her negotiable assets?”
  • “Beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building, or a work of art, is not just superficial or something pretty to see.”
  • 26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?
  • all women hate prenups because they are gold diggers.

These are all from our current ‘Leader of the Free World”.

Just so that we do not fall into the confirmation bias hole, it is important to note that Bill Clinton was no picnic either. A helluva lot of his behavior was extremely egregious and should not be condoned. But he did not bring this behavior into policy. Yes, he was a hound dog and not a shining example of what the moral compass a President should have ..but come on..the equivalency is not even close!

For example, take a look at the above photo….I keep staring really hard at the photo above for some semblance of logic. This is the photo of Trump signing the anti-abortion bill called the Mexico Rule. Which  It prohibits giving U.S. funding to international nongovernmental organizations that offer or advise on a wide range of family planning and reproductive health options if they include abortion ― even if U.S. dollars are not specifically used for abortion-related services (Link). An issue that is so profoundly impacting women ..but not one in sight!

Then there was this cringeworthy headline from HuffPo – “Donald Trump Kicks off sexual assault awareness month by defending Bill O’Rieilly

And there was the story that Mike Pence does not dine alone with any woman unless his wife was present.

Finally, there was this – An executive order from President Trump, signed on the eve of Equal Pay Day, has canceled an Obama policy that directed companies with federal contracts to afford equal treatment to women in the workplace (link)

Not to paint with a broad brushstroke…what is the issue with Republican representatives and this insane war on women’s issues?

Let’s take the Pro-Life issue. Republicans would love to abolish Roe vs Wade and dance on its grave. They may actually get their wish if they continue to stack up activist right wing Supreme Court judges. How would these righteous men of the Congress and Senate react if a committee of women decided that all men over 30 must have mandatory vasectomies or mandatory removals of prostates?

My thought is should this not be a woman’s issue? I view this as …we all should be Pro Life for the woman which means should this not be her choice? See here is where the logic falls apart for me – for every issue (taxes; health care; guns etc.) the drumbeat from the right is – “Government cannot litigate my choice, I will decide what is good for me”. How come this is not applicable to abortion? For some reason, government intervention is OK on this issue. And yes the irony is not lost on me when progressives who support choice say they want a “single payer” health insurance system.

Another hot button issue is Planned Parenthood that has riled up the right ever since the (now debunked video) came out stating that they were selling baby parts for research.

Here are five myths that have been proven false (Link):

  • Abortion comprises most of Planned Parenthood’s services
  • The Planned Parenthood videos show a fetus being harvested for its brain
  • Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue for profit
  • Defunding Planned Parenthood is a guaranteed way to save taxpayer money
  • Planned Parenthood doesn’t really help advance women’s health

All proven wrong with clear data and facts to support. However, did it stop the mother of all overreactions? Nope!…this resulted in the aforementioned executive order on the Mexico Rule.

What is with Republicans and women’s issues? every election there is some new crap that comes up that makes you wonder what motivates these people? Personally,  I think it comes down to when you were brought up. They idealize a time in the past where the man went to work and the woman stayed at home and had dinner and a drink ready at the end of the day. It was a time the woman knew here place and her role in society. Your neighborhood had the “right” amount of ethnic representation. It was a glorious time for men. They controlled everything – media, wall street, businesses.

Bill Maher had a very interesting line in his recent show –And then the 60s came and screwed it all up! Bill Maher had a very interesting line in his recent show – If you loved the 60s there is a good chance you are progressive and if you hated the 60s there is a good chance you are a conservative. 

Obviously, we cannot paint everyone with a broad brush, but if you consider that these are no longer beliefs but are now getting made into policy it makes you wonder.

There is one bright spark  – Trump has single handedly done what NO Democratic President has done before…….piss off the entire women’s voting demographic. The silver lining is now we have more and more women actively engaged in the political process and a significant increase in candidates running for elected office. As Maher, puts it lets hope that this President is the LAST of the 50s Man!