Monday, October 22, 2007


Unless you live the Amish lifestyle, then you are well aware that the Presidential election is only a short time from now. Sadly, voter turnout is habitually low for elections. It is unfortunate and disturbing how so many Americans can take this right for granted after so many others fought and died throughout our nation’s history to provide us with this gift. People of new republics, most recently Iraq, who know first hand what it feels like to be forbidden from having a voice and a vote, revel in their newfound freedoms and privileges. Yet, look at us. It seems many of us have forgotten.

Sure, there are some valid arguments against participating in free elections: a single vote is unsubstantial, the candidates are practically indistinguishable, neither nominee is worthy of the Presidency, etc. Each of these can be countered and ultimately defeated, but this tends to be a futile endeavor. Some listeners may be affected and will possibly change their mind, but most will stubbornly cling to their beliefs at all costs because they have built an emotional attachment to them that no degree of reason can penetrate.

The aforementioned reasons for neglecting one’s responsibility as a citizen can all be categorized under one heading- laziness. Voting usually occurs at convenient locations, tends to be fairly quick, and is relatively easy (unless you live in Palm Beach). These sorry excuses pale in comparison to the obligation that an American ought to feel in fulfilling his or her duties as a citizen of this great republic. Uninspiring candidates are no reason to neglect this privilege.

No one will see eye to eye with any particular candidate on every issue. This may be a rather cynical way of looking at it, but voting is basically the choosing of the lesser of two evils. Also, it is fool-hearty to vote for someone on a single issue. Suppose your nominee stands with you on abortion, but has a far too lenient stance on crime, has a weak position on the war on terror, is apathetic about our failing public school system, unequivocally supports socialized medicine, turns a blind eye to illegal immigration…you get the point. It is also absurd to vote for a candidate based on how he or she looks, or how you feel about him or her. It is better to use your brain, not your gut.

There are some hard truths that we all must face about voting, in general. First, we must become interested and involved. Politics is generally perceived as “boring”, but it is something that affects us all. It is irresponsible not to educate ourselves about politicians, and various political issues. This involves hard work, and perceptibility. The work involves studying the issues. The perception means that we must face and accept the reality of media bias so that we can better discern between the truth and the bull-plop. Secondly, we must be more willing to engage one another in civil discourse. Far too many citizens today positively refuse to even acknowledge anyone who does not see the world in precisely the same way that they do. They speak only to those who will reinforce their skewed beliefs. If we are sincere in our convictions and confident in their verity, then we ought to be willing to indulge in the luxury of skepticism every so often. This is a great remedy for self-delusion. Lastly, listen to all sides. Read books written by liberals as well as conservatives, and vice versa. Beware of self-proclaimed independents; however, because every one of them leans closer to one side or the other. Whether or not a true independent exists is debatable. That is it. Good luck, and hope to see you at the polls!

Hollyweird's Bias

Much has been made of the political implications inherent in the latest Star Wars flick Revenge of the Sith. Vader says to Obi-Wan, “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy”- Bush State of the Union speech. Obi-Wan says to Vader, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes”- moral relativistic Bush slam. Padme exclaims that diplomacy is the answer to war- peacenik Bush slam. When the Chancellor is given more power from the Senate Padme laments, “So this is how democracy dies- to thunderous applause”- Patriot Act. The Chancellor, in pulling Anakin to the “dark side”, states that “good” depends on one’s perspective- moral realtivism. Obi-Wan tells Padme that Anakin, and all other Jedi’s, were “deceived by a lie”- WMDs. After using a blaster (gun), Obi-Wan states that they are “uncivilized”- anti-NRA. Those with only a rudimentary knowledge of politics can see what George Lucas is trying to convey. It is the same thing that Hollywood, and the entire entertainment industry in general, have been conveying for years- liberal philosophy. Moviemakers have been pushing their views on audiences for some time now. What follows are some liberal themes and only a few of the films that support them.

Southerners are semi-retarded: Judge Dredd, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Deliverance, Wrong Turn, Smokey and the Bandit, Men In Black, Vacation. Corporations, corporate executives, and capitalism in general are sources of evil: all Alien movies, Resident Evil I & II, Wall Street, Jurassic Park II, Batman Returns, Christmas Vacation, You’ve Got Mail. The military and police are corrupt and evil: First Blood, Dances with Wolves, Mars Attacks, L.A. Confidential, Spies Like Us, Dark Blue. The government and even the president are corrupt and pernicious: Clear and Present Danger, Brainstorm, Dave, E.T., The Dead Zone, Splash, Escape From L.A., Canadian Bacon, Total Recall. Christians are crazy and mean: most Stephen King or John Carpenter movies, Sleepy Hollow, Contact, The Mosquito Coast, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Fletch Lives.
Environmentalism (The Day After Tomorrow, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman Returns), animal rights (Ace Ventura When Nature Calls, Start Trek IV, Free Willy), the homosexual agenda (Alexander the Great, Shrek II, The Birdcage), and racism (Soul Man, X-Men II, Volcano) are also message mainstays in the movies.

Clarence Thomas, an innocent conservative, is portrayed as a sexual offender in Jerry McGuire. “Religion divides people,” was said by a man in Flight of the Phoenix. Pleasantville was, if nothing else, a statement about how prejudiced and oppressive the 50’s were. Suspect addressed homelessness. The Dead Poets Society portrayed the old school way of doing things as heartless, oppressive, and even deadly compared to the new school way, which is liberating and enlightening. Troy took several jabs at religion in general. Nuclear holocaust was the theme behind all of the Terminator movies, Wargames, and The Day After. In Scream II, the killer states that, “The Christian Coalition will pay my legal fees” and “Bob Dole will take the stand and testify [for me].” In Judge Dredd, the arch villain states that in order to curb the city’s escalating crime rate they must, “Expand execution for lesser crimes.” G.I. Jane, Alien Versus Predator, and Meet the Fockers are all replete with preachy liberal themes.

Hollywood films today are nothing more than glorified after school specials, and their bias continues to be more pronounced. They are being exposed due in part to the awakening of astute viewers, but also from the underestimation of them from brazen filmmakers who are losing their finesse and whose propaganda is becoming more and more transparent. Freedom of expression dictates the perfect right of moviemakers to incorporate their personal political, religious, and/or social views into their films. It also extends to those who wish to call them on it, and expose their personal biases for all who care to examine them. Movies influence people, especially kids who are heavily dosed with these stereotypes from a very early age. They are the most susceptible because these messages are imperceptible to them. This is why a watchful eye must be maintained. Now, “let’s all go to the movies.”

Who Is Really Using Scare Tactics?

An Honest Look At Political Fear Mongering

An unfortunate reality of politics is that negativism, smear campaigning, and the demonization of one’s opponent are often effective for attaining votes and winning elections. No one would deny that all political parties use these methods at one time or another. The question we must ask is, “Who crosses the line with boldfaced lies?”

It seems that election after election we hear about how Republicans want to implement policies that will “starve children”, “slash Social Security and take medication from the elderly”, “prohibit blacks from voting”, “destroy the environment”, “dissolve civil rights”, “cut education funding”, “abolish overtime pay”, “eradicate the middle class”, “lock up the homeless”, “wage fruitless wars”, “implement the draft”, etc., etc. Is any of it true? Has Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, or education spending ever been cut? Did anyone prevent a single black from voting in 2000 as John Kerry himself alleges? Are civil rights in this country regressing? Are pollution standards declining to dangerous levels? Are children starving? Is there a military draft in the works? It may be of interest to you to know that it was two Democrats who proposed reinstating the draft in Congress, and it was two Democrats who proposed cutting overtime pay- look it up.

Now let’s examine the other side. Democrats are often accused of wanting to raise taxes. Well, Democrats in Congress have fought tooth and nail against tax cuts for decades, Dukakis promised he would raise them in the 1988 election bid, Bill Clinton raised taxes astronomically (largest increase in history), and John Kerry said he would too if elected. Who is really hurting the middle class? So, this sounds like a fair criticism.

Democrats are often accused of being anti-military. After Bush Sr. left office, Clinton slashed military and intelligence funding to anemic levels. Anyone ever see Black Hawk Down? Ever hear of the Torricelli Principle? John Kerry’s 20-year record in Congress shows a consistent pattern of voting for military and intelligence cuts. Kerry voted against the $87 billion for funding the Iraq war, and promises to discontinue funding for bunker-busting bombs, which are basically the only way to destroy underground weapon stockpiles. Republicans, on the other hand, consistently increase spending on the military whenever in charge.

Dick Cheney was chastised for stating that the U.S. would be safer if he and Bush were reelected, but isn’t there a valid case to be made based on the Democrats’ history? Whose policies led to the Cuban Missile Crisis? Who dragged out Vietnam? Who won the Cold War? Was Cheney merely stating that he and Bush were the best guys for the job, or was this a scare tactic? When Kerry states that he will fight “a more sensitive war” in Iraq, and constantly vacillates on this critical issue, then does he not open himself up to criticism? After admitting that he was frozen for 40 minutes upon hearing of the 9-11 attacks, then does he not make Bush’s seven minutes seem miniscule? Ted Kennedy provides the best illustration of fear mongering when he claims that Bush’s policies will lead to a nuclear attack. So, it seems that this is another fair criticism.

Although much of the media are biased in favor of the Democratic Party, and make every attempt to portray Republicans as the masters of scare tactics, the American people are perceptive enough to see who has truly patented this sinister methodology. It is up to the average voter to make sure that it is understood that these despicable and hypocritical tactics have become ineffective and are no longer acceptable.

Theory Vs Reality

The United States is the most opulent nation in the history of the world. Along with that wealth comes comfort, leisure, and time. American’s spend a great deal of time worrying about things that are relatively inconsequential and mundane, and often dwell in the land of theory. How many people in poor countries, where survival is a daily fight, give a frog’s fat fanny about saving sea turtles or who Britney Spears is currently dating? Too often American’s are separated from the reality of the world and are clueless about how things truly are.

The United States is the most opulent nation in the history of the world, and along with that wealth comes comfort, leisure, and time. American’s spend a great deal of time worrying about things that are relatively inconsequential, and have trouble facing reality. How many people in other countries, where survival is a daily fight, concern themselves about saving sea turtles or what J Lo is currently wearing? This inability to focus on the true state of the world leaves far too many American clueless about things.

The vast majority of college professors are liberal Democrats. Academics perpetually linger in the land of pie-in-the-sky theory, and a lot of this can be traced back to the 60’s. Liberalism was a much-needed political and cultural philosophy at that time. The government was out of control with McCarthyism and other injustices, minorities and women were treated like dirt, and big business took advantage of workers. Their movement led to some very necessary changes, and things have drastically progressed in an amazingly swift manner since then. In fact, the pendulum has swung so far the other way that now liberalism and political correctness have become just the sort of grave injustices that those hippiecrits rose up against in the first place. Liberalism is an antiquated relic of a bygone era. Forty years of control in congress and over the media has not only not improved things, but has, in fact, made many of them worse.

Evolution and Creation are two theories about the origin of life. The main difference is that at least evolutionists have the sense to refer to Evolution as a theory. How many Creationists have the courage to admit that their perspective religious belief is only a theory? No, they feel as though they have cornered the market on truth. That alone is enough to discredit them. True scientists understand that no one has all of the answers, humans are fallible and capable of being programmed (despite how intelligent they are), and that the path to truth is an arduous and meticulous one. Religiosos all too often surrender their critical thinking skills and accept what the barking conman on the stage in front of them says based on faith alone. Who has a better chance of finding truth?

Peaceniks have a great philosophy- love is better than hate. Now who would argue with that? Who would be foolish enough to claim that they prefer violence to peace? In the real world, however, peace is not always possible. What these pimply faced, young college idealists, and libs who refuse to grow up do not seem to understand is that there are times when military action is needed. There comes a time when you have to dispose of malicious people who attack you. These idealists perpetually reside in Never-Never Land (just a few miles from Fantasy Land), and, to them, there is never a good enough reason to go to war. These soft and naïve dopes do not understand how the world works. Human beings are not separate from nature, we too must engage in the struggle for survival by fighting, when necessary. It is as simple as that. There is no reasoning with religious or political zealots, and their perspective brainwashed supporters.

Government assistance, based on socioeconomic status only, is good. A nation as rich as ours ought to help it’s less fortunate citizens. Once again, however, reality wavers somewhat from theory. Where is the incentive to work hard for minimum wage when you can sit home and have checks sent to you? By giving someone something for free, not only do they often not appreciate it, but they come to expect and demand it! It is unnerving as hell to have someone on Medicaid who is picking up 12 prescriptions worth hundreds of dollars screaming in your face because they have to pay a 50-cent co pay. Also, it creates dependency. If you are poor, then you should receive temporary help to get back on your feet, but you have to want to help yourself as well. There is no good reason why there are generational recipients of welfare. Also, if you break the law by committing a violent crime, then not only should you no longer receive any assistance, but no one in your family should then either. How is that for the incentive to be a law-abiding citizen? This may seem harsh, but we need to instill some accountability and responsibility in those who would benefit from the producers in this country.

Theory says that we ought to allow anyone to immigrate to this nation, and even if they come in illegally we should allow them to stay. President Bush has been considering amnesty for millions and millions of illegal immigrants. If he does this, then he will be rewarding criminal behavior! Reality dictates that we must be fair to all who wish to come here, that our immigration policy be orderly, and that we must have knowledge of exactly who is coming here and what they are doing once here. Where is the demand for criminal background checks on immigrants? What if they are coming here to escape the authorities of their country for some heinous crime that they committed? Just try to remember, as good as theories may sound, reality is inestimably more important. It may not be full of butterflies and dandelions, but it is sensible and necessary, especially these days.

The Dangers Of Political Correctness

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”…Voltaire

Political correctness is a new philosophy of sorts that was begun back in the 90’s. It stemmed from the over-sensitive nature of Americans and their fear of offending others. People today do not like to face reality and hear how things really are. They dislike it when someone talks in a straightforward manner, and they especially dislike it when opinions, contrary to their own, are expressed. If anyone says anything even remotely controversial with even a slim chance of offending someone else, then they are demonized and regarded as heartless, hateful, and inconsiderate. Yet, look at the response of those who get affronted! Often times these people will go to extreme lengths to silence their opposition, and act in ways so unethical that they would make Bill Clinton wince. Usually these overly sensitive types become so irate, and act so uncivilly that they ultimately end up proving the point of the person they are angered at and thus defeat him or herself. Their infantile behavior would embarrass the most classless and mindless buffoon.

Anytime an ‘opinion’ is expressed there is a chance of offense; this needs to be understood. So rather than promote this ludicrous philosophy of emotional tiptoeing, I intentionally do not make any special attempt to alter my true meaning for fear that it would become so bland that it would have no meaning.

We are not only overrun with a ‘politically correct’ way to speak, but also in which to think. Look at how an elderly person is described these days. They say that he or she is “eighty years young.” When the antonym is used to describe something, then an attempt is being made, by the user, to change the true nature of the definition, the way it is looked at and thought of, and reality itself. This entire new age philosophy is very dangerous because it masks truth and conceals reality. Sadly, more and more people are adopting this ‘politically correct’ way of doing things, and so are easily angered by those who have not and still ‘say it like it is’. It seems that these overly sensitive types want everything to be sugarcoated. Do not get me wrong. I am not condoning the act of being blunt and crude when speaking. Then we would all be like Howard Stern who is to class like Clinton is to morality. Tact must be used, of course.

It is very difficult to find someone plain speaking and who uses (or used) straightforward language. Socrates was a good example of this. He said controversial things in an attempt to get people to think. He never worried about offending anyone because that was a secondary concern to him. Once again, however, he was victimized because of his plainspoken attitude and was killed because of it. Try to look at it as ‘tough love’. Some comments may sting a bit, but it is only in an attempt to stimulate thought. Only the truly primal lose their temper, refuse to listen, and act immorally. By the way, if you think I am comparing myself in any way, shape, or form to Socrates, then you are mistaken.

I realize that I am probably perceived as a right wing conservative crackpot, but there are actually many aspects of the Republican Party, which I do not favor. As I have said before, neither party has all of the answers; I have merely chosen the lesser of two evils. I honestly believe that most democrats have their hearts in the right places and have only the best of intentions. Good intentions, however, can backfire. Democrats want to hand needy people a fish everyday and thereby create dependence. Republicans want to teach people how to fish for themselves and thereby allow for independence (once again, look at it as ‘tough love’). Which philosophy seems crueler? The democrat philosophy may initially sound better, but look at the long-term effects; dependency is at an all-time high and the entitlement mentality in this country is chilling.

Too often shameless tactics are employed in a woeful and desperate attempt to forward an agenda. When people’s ideals are inept and lack merit, then they often resort to being overly vociferous, making exaggerated claims and false accusations regarding their opponents, and even threats and violence! To these sad people I say use logic rather than threats, and attempt civil debate as opposed to childish name-calling, vulgar and threatening notes, and lying. Also, try to remember what country you live in, read the first amendment, and if you have strong feelings about something that has upset you, then handle it in a mature and dignified manner. When you act ridiculously idiotic you embarrass the entire human collective, and you may disprove Darwin by showing that we, as a species, are in fact devolving.

Race In The News

Has anyone noticed how many news stories revolve around race lately? It seems most stories I read, or hear, have something to do with race, or culture. Following are a few examples of the types of news stories that seem so common recently.

A New York City Councilman, named Charles Barron (D), has said that he wants to remove all pictures and names of the founding forefathers displayed at the City Hall there, and replace them with the likes of Malcolm X and other civil rights leaders. Bill O’Reilly, on his show The No Spin Zone on the Fox News Channel, interviewed this man on January 16th. Mr. Barron expressed mush contempt for our forefathers to say the least. Bill also asked him about the city of New Orleans, which in relation to this story, has removed the names of some forefathers at 26 different high schools and has renamed them. Mr. Barron supports this, and his argument is that the forefathers (Washington, Jefferson, etc.) were immoral, hypocritical slave owners, and ought not to be admired. Anyone educated in history could punch holes in these arguments the size of Nebraska. They may not have been perfect men, but they did set up a system of government that could evolve and allow for change, such as the eventual abolition of slavery. It is hard to convince people of Mr. Barron’s mindset, but one thing we must keep in mind is that the past cannot be judged based on current day values.

Another racial issue concerns an $180,000 statue created from the now famous photograph of three firemen holding up the American Flag at Ground Zero. In the picture it is three white men, but the statue shows one white, black, and Hispanic man. Guess what, political correctness strikes again! The argument is that it is supposed to showcase the diversity of those firefighters who lost their lives that day. If that is the case, then why use the pose in that particular picture? Why not express it in an original way? Kevin Horrigan, in the Post Dispatch, wrote an article titled “Heroes Aren’t Metaphors” in which he discusses the fact that out of the 343 firefighters who died only 24 were black and Hispanic. In other words, 93 percent of the firefighters that died on Sept. 11th were white. Sure, unity between diverse people is magnanimous and ought to be commemorated in some way, but it remains unclear as to why we should misrepresent history, and thus reality itself, for politically correct, nonsensical, mumbo-jumbo reasons.

In Orlando, Florida, of all places, a Saudi princess has been charged with beating her maid and pushing her down a flight of stairs. The Associated Press, over the holiday break, published an article about Princess Buniah al-Saud, and her arrest for aggravated battery. The next day she was charged with stealing $6,000 worth of electronic equipment from her chauffer! They say she could face up to 15 years in prison for the battery charge alone, if convicted. Apparently the Saudi Embassy is trying to get her off with the Diplomatic Immunity “Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free” card. Nice, eh?

At Harvard University there is controversy surrounding a dispute between Lawrence Summers, the President, and Cornel West, a professor. Mr. West is a black man who teaches Afro-American studies at Harvard. According to Post-Dispatch columnist Gerald Early in his article “The Public Rebuke of a Public Intellectual”, Mr. Summers, a white man, wanted to crack down on grade inflation and what is deemed improper behavior for a Harvard professor. Apparently Mr. West’s granting of A’s to his students was far above the norm. He has also participated in the making of a rap CD, which he admitted to on the O’Reilly No Spin Zone. There is no doubt that race will become an issue in this story, and does anyone want to guess how long will it be before litigation erupts and Mr. Cochran is spewing another lame rhyme in defense of his client? The race card is far too overused in this country, and people are being accused of racism in lieu of “wolf”. This needs to stop.

Illegal immigration has become a big issue again; it is all over the news. A group called United to Secure America has recently placed ads in the Saint Louis Post Dispatch urging citizens to become more involved in this problem. Pat Buchanan addresses this issue in his new book The Death of the West. There are many disturbing stats out there right now about illegal immigration, and its relation to drugs and crime. This is a very thorny issue indeed, and is presently one of the most heated being debated right now. So, what is the point you ask? It merely seems as though every other news story out there has something to do with race, ethnicity, culture, or what have you. We might ask ourselves why stories of this nature are seemingly becoming more common. Does it have something to do with September 11th? Also, what is the purpose of presenting news to us in this way? Is it to divide us amongst one another? Does this seem appropriate for a country that prides itself on being a melting pot, and preaches color-blindness? Or, is this just good, fair, and honest reporting? Perhaps these stories exist as they do specifically because we are a melting pot (tossed salad is more like it). The point is to keep your eyes open, stay informed, and then you can decide for yourself.

If you heard someone say something like, “ Asians sure are lazy,” or “A black heavy-weight fighter? Blacks can’t fight!” or “Hispanics can’t dance, why bother with a dance competition? Some white guy is just going to win anyway,” you would think that person was crazy, would you not? Why is that? Is it because, whether we care to admit it or not, there exists distinctive characteristics within people of different races, ethnicities, and cultures. This then begs a question- is racism really about a person’s appearance vis-a-vis skin pigmentation and hair texture, or is it more about particular behavior patterns within specific groups?

Racism is not all about skin pigmentation anymore. Some people simply do not like the behavior of other people, and let’s face it, people of distinctive races act in distinctive ways, generally speaking. So when a bank rejects a disproportionate number of black applicants for home mortgages, is it because of the amount of melanin the melanocytes in their bodies produce, or is it because people who just happen to fit into this group tend to be financially risky and unreliable?

How could anyone deny that there are distinct differences in behavior between people of different races or ethnicities? After all, how did the following stereotypes get started in the first place? Italians and Irish are hot tempered, Asians are cerebral and academic, Jewish people are frugal, Russians are drunks, the Polish are dumb, Brits are obtuse, etc., etc. When a white kid wears his hat sideways and speaks jive, don’t people accuse him of acting “black”? And when a black kids sits in the library studying all day, his friends accuse him of trying to act “white.”

The problem with stereotypes is that they are unchanging. Generalizations are a different matter. Everyone, despite how liberal (original definition) they think they are, generalizes. Blacks accuse whites of being racist, women accuse men of being sexist, liberals accuse Republicans of being white, wealthy, bigots, etc. Generalizations are not unyielding, however. Case in point, it is the liberal Democrats today who are the sexist racists.

Dealing With Difficult Personalities

“All psychologists are psychological, but some are more psycho than logical”...Chesterton

The sentiment expressed above was one that I held for a long time. I never really took the discipline of Psychology very seriously. In fact, I once had a friend who had a degree in it, but she was about as in tune with reality as Gary Condit during his run for re-election. However, I have recently become very interested in this field of study due to the fascinating personalities I have encountered as of late. Following are just a few of the more intriguing ones. Perhaps some of you have run into these quirky personality types yourselves.

Zealots are a taxing bunch. These are the people who will twist all facts in a way that supports their thinking. It doesn’t matter what the evidence says, they will spin everything in their favor. Often times they are political ideologues, who vote straight Democrat or Republican on every single issue at every single election, and completely refuse to listen to any dissenting viewpoints. Religious zealots will interject religion into every conversation, and cannot go eleven seconds without bringing up their messiah’s name. Every decision they make is run through their theological prism. I actually know people who look to the Bible for guidance on such things as to whom they ought to date, what kind of music to listen to, etc. Basically zealots, of all kinds, are sheep that have been brainwashed by their parents, politicians, or religious leaders. They have no critical thinking skills, and have lost any and all ability to reason for themselves. Nietzsche referred to these type of people as “herd animals”. You have about as good of a chance of getting through to these nuts as you are to having an audible conversation with Santa Claus.

The rebel is another tough one to tolerate. This is usually the person who, through practicing his or her “individuality”, effectively desecrates everything and everyone around them while espousing their demands for across the board respect from those same people and institutions that they defile. Imagine someone who adamantly refuses to properly pose for a GROUP photograph for an organization which he not only does not participate in, but doesn’t even belong to, and only attends meetings for the free food. “Respect” is the rebel’s favorite word, but in an egocentric way, the requirements inherent in the definition do not apply to him, but to others only. If you merely disagree with them, then they claim you are “disrespecting” them, yet they are free to disagree with you all they want. The true definition of the word eludes them. Respect is something that must be earned, not given automatically. It must also be reciprocal.

The most beguiling of all psychological profiles is the delusional egomaniac. Imagine someone who chronically says the most absurd and blatantly erroneous things about almost everything, and yet maintains an arrogant attitude about them self as though they are never incorrect about anything. Nothing is ever their fault, they are impervious to error, they have a very selective and often fanciful memory, and they disagree with almost everything anyone else says. It sort of reminds me of the Terminator- they can’t be reasoned with, they can’t face reality, and they absolutely will not stop, ever, until everyone else admits that they are wrong. Freud must have had a field day with these types. The unashamed hypocrisy inherent in this personality type can be blindingly irksome. Imagine Howard Stern bragging about how refined he is, Mike Tyson lecturing on anger management, Bill Clinton delivering a speech on morality, Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell sermonizing about tolerance, or Cardinal Law preaching about, well, anything. Picture a conceited pharmacist who acts with contempt for his or her technicians, and yet consistently demonstrates that their knowledge exceeds his or her own by claiming things that are stunningly erroneous, even concerning the most basic pharmaceutical principles. How do you possibly ever get through to someone like that when they have no sense of shame or sheepishness? My conclusion is that you cannot. Benjamin Franklin said that the hardest thing for a person to do is to accurately know and understand oneself. He must have come across several of these personality types in his day. No matter how many times they humiliate themselves in public by being strikingly incorrect about a plethora of simple things, they will most likely never be able to see themselves as they truly are.

There are a multitude of bizarre characters out there that we must contend with throughout the course of our lives. The extensive group work that many of us reluctantly participate in, and enjoy about as much as an extensive visit with a proctologist, is supposed to prepare us for just these sorts of encounters. The best thing to do is to talk it out (with mediators if possible), be reasonable and rational, contain your emotions the best you can, and realize that futility will set in eventually. It sounds easier than it is, but getting inflamed over the absurdity and hypocrisy will only add fuel to the fire. You’ll probably never get through to them, but if any of you ever figure out a way, then common decency dictates that you must share your revelation with all of humanity!

The Lure of Superstition

How is it in this age of rapidly advancing technological wonders and broadening scientific knowledge are we still clinging on to superfluous and absurd superstitious beliefs? Leon Trotsky once said, “Not only in peasant homes, but also in city skyscrapers, there lives along side the 20th century the 13th. What inexhaustible reserves (superstitious people) possess of darkness, ignorance, and savagery!” In Contact, Jodie Foster plays an atheist/agnostic who is ridiculed for her beliefs. In one scene she is asked how she can maintain her beliefs when 95% of the world believes in a ‘God’ of some kind? Does she honestly believe that 95% of the people of the world suffer from some sort of mass delusion? Well, the same point can be made of superstition. It is common practice all over the world. Does that make it credible and true? The answer is an emphatic “NO!” In his book The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan lists many examples of superstitious beliefs of different countries of the world. He states how psychic surgery flourishes in the Philippines, how ghosts are a national obsession in Britain, how many soothsayers and clairvoyants run rampant in Israel, the French Elf-Aquitaine scandal where they were looking for petroleum reserves from the air, the German concern about carcinogenic “Earth Rays” undetectable by science, etc. Do not even get me started on the Hmong people.

Many of these superstitious beliefs are held by accomplished people with advanced degrees in respectable fields. How can this be? There is one invaluable tool one can use to siphon through this sea of bologna- the tool of skepticism. Skepticism serves as a sword and shield that protect its user from being misled, bamboozled, and from their own naivete’. Hippocrates used the scientific method to discover truth; another indispensable tool. He wrote: “Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it, but if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end of divine things.” He knew then what many of us still have not realized. I cannot comprehend how this concept continues to elude so many. Of course, the usage of these tools requires patience, which is a rare virtue these days. Most people do not want to think for themselves. They count on the media, celebrities, professional athletes, and other figureheads to tell them what to think.

Another thing that we must do is to care about truth. Too many people are too willing to believe in something because it makes them feel good on an emotional level. They would rather live in a delusional dream world and be immersed in the bliss of ignorance rather than know how things really are and risk not being as happy. Edmund Way Teale in his 1950 book Circle of the Seasons stated, “It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it.” I, for one, chose to be entrenched with reality and risk not being as happy or comfortable, rather than be satisfied with not knowing what is really going on in the world.