Razor

Fake news, propaganda, and conspiracies seem more prevalent than ever. Our news feeds are rife with different sources offering widely varying accounts of the same event, with the explanations offered to us for the given event suspiciously aligning with the political bias of the source. This has had the effect of clouding my judgment. What is the real story? How can we know? Often, we can’t know.

I have stumbled across a three bladed razor that may help cut through the shit. This isn’t the overpriced Mach 3 razor developed by the obnoxiously “woke” Gillette company, rather, this three bladed razor is an amalgamation of three philosophical reality seeking razors; Occam’s, Hanlon’s, and the razor credited to the late, great Hitchens.

Occam’s razor suggests that when we are faced with two explanations for an occurrence, the explanation that requires the least speculation and least amount of assumptions is usually correct. The more elaborate the explanation, or the more speculation that goes in to explaining the occurrence, the less likely it’s correct. When in doubt, the simplest explanation is the best choice.

The conspiracies surrounding 9/11 are a good example. One explanation for 9/11 is that 19 religiously delusional hijackers flew airplanes in to buildings. Another explanation is that our government orchestrated an inside job that would require secrecy of quite a few people extended over a long period of time. It would also require explosives be placed in buildings without anybody noticing, and various other incredible logistical demands in order for the inside job to happen and remain secret for the last eighteen years. Both explanations are possible, but the “inside job” explanation requires more steps for it to occur.

Hanlon’s razor is the second blade, and it posits the idea, “When in doubt, never attribute malice to that which can be explained by stupidity.” A lot of the divide our country is experiencing politically is due to our tribal nature. Some people on the right wing are convinced anybody espousing left-wing ideas must be Stalin-incarnate, and in my perception, the left seems to be even more likely to condemn anybody right of center as Hitler 2.0. While there are certainly people alive today that are more than willing to throw their political opponent in the gulag or outright extirpate them from the Earth, I truly believe the vast majority of the people spouting off about their social policy du jour are simply stupid. Myself included! I would like to think my political opinions have been arduously forged in the belly of a University library; with each tenet of my beliefs having passed through a rigorous methodology derived from the scientific method. The reality, however, is I probably subconsciously downloaded my worldview from a 10 minute YouTube video a few years back. The quicker you realize that you, the reader, are just as dumb as me and misinformed, we can stop hating each other.

Hitchens razor rounds out our epistemological hat-trick, stating “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Have you received that email about your long-lost cousin of Nigerian royalty that needs you to Western Union them money to get them out of a jam, and that you would be repaid for your generosity to the tune of 25 million dollars once they are freed from the jam your loan provides? My dad and I used to mess around with those people rather than just deleting the email. Anytime we would ask them for proof, we got stonewalled, rebuffed, and redirected. If they generate as lofty a claim as being not only related to me, but also cut from the fine linens of royalty and in need of my help, then they better have some pretty fantastic clear-cut evidence to substantiate their claim if they expect me to wire them money.

Illegal immigrants steal American jobs? Prove it. Gender is a social construct? Prove it. God says man should marry women only? Prove God.

Look, maybe you can prove one of those things. That proof needs to be in the form of evidence, otherwise, you have nothing. Get to know these razors, and put them to use.

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Sumo!

Super_Honda

E. Honda and wide-leg deadlifts comprised the bulk of my Sumo knowledge until this past weekend at Fitcon 2019.  Katchie and I were killing time before I had to weigh in for a grappling tournament the next day, and decided to check out the Sumo wrestling exhibit.  Long story short, the event promoter talked me in to competing right then and there, and a reporter for a local news channel (Fox 13) overheard the invitation for me to compete and ran a story on my experience!

Lucky for me, they threw me in the “lightweight” category.  Unlucky for me, the Mawashi (the diaper looking thing) is basically a handle for my opponent to off balance me.  I laid a big, fat goose egg and came up 0-2 in the tournament.

There’s probably some connection I can make having to do with trying new things and challenging myself, but my true take away is that it is a pretty fun sport and more technical than it looks.

Cultural appropriation accusations be damned, I have my Halloween costume for 2019!

Killer J’s Loose Thoughts Compendium

Calvin-Brain-Dump

Inspiration for blog posts hits me at inconvenient times, but if I don’t get the gist of it down somewhere, I’ll lose it before I get around to writing a blog about it.  The problem is I rarely get around to it, therefore, I have a junk list of ideas written in a haphazard format.

Rather than creating a separate post for each idea like I usually do, I’ll just post the unrefined blurb that zipped through my head while driving to work, or in a meeting, or whatever.

  1. Calligraphy and Kimuras.  Fancy handwriting and attacking somebody’s shoulder joint with a submission hold are worlds apart, but if you want to get good at something, repetition is critical no matter what the endeavor is.
  2. Staying in shape is a series of choices extended over time.  As long as the ratio of good choices far outweighs bad choices, you will probably be in decent shape.  That allows you to continually make choices in any given moment to decide if you want to have a little fun or buckle down and crush it.  If you crush it most of the time, you will probably be pretty happy with the outcome.
  3. Dunbar number  (150 people “close” to us), social media friends list, and the idea that our relationships might be more diffuse and shallow now that we live in a world that is decidedly different than the way people lived for the bulk of civilization.
  4. Teach “zooming out” as a coping technique.  We get too myopic with belief systems, religions, toxic relationships, and addiction-based choices.  Like with religion, when you grow up in a culture that drives the myths and fables home as truth from a young age and that is all you are surrounded by, you can end up holding on to some pretty crazy beliefs when, in other areas of your life, you are logical and rational.  You don’t really realize you hold on to crazy beliefs because of that myopic/near sighted view.  “Zoom out” and examine your beliefs as though you were a scientist discovering a new species.
  5. Fat is flavor and taste.  Aversion to that is based on the repression based mindset, when we should really be listening to our bodies telling us what to eat.  This goes hand-in-hand with ignoring other biological drives like waking up, going to bed, eating past satiation point, and inhibition of sexual drives.
  6. American universities unwittingly give advanced degrees for endorsing psychologically unhealthy concepts.  Hard left politics in our universities preach safe spaces, micro aggression, hate speech legislation, and a focus on the intersectionality of identity politics (race, gender, sexual orientation).  These concepts drive a psychologically unhealthy mindset (external locus of control).  Cognitive behavioral therapy would label most thoughts within that mindset as “cognitive distortions,” also known as thinking errors.  “You offended me!” is not an argument.

Steel Man Your Relationships

Colossus

not my image

Have you ever been in an argument with somebody that doesn’t play fair?  Perhaps they don’t even address the point you’re trying to make, and instead, they twist your words in to something you don’t even mean, and in so doing, they make it look like you’re the jerk?  Of course you have.  We all have.

People use cheap tactics during arguments because they want to win.  You do it and so do I.  Have you ever had somebody argue that you hold a view that is not actually your view?   Instead, they are taking a distorted view of what you believe, twisting your belief in to something bad,  and then arguing that point to show that you’re wrong.

strawman

not my image

For example, John and Dave are debating whether nutrition or exercise is more important for getting in to shape.  When reviewing this example, don’t get caught up in who is actually right or wrong, rather, pay attention to the argument technique Dave uses.

John states, “Nutrition and exercise are both important, but exercise is more important because it actually burns fat and adds muscle.”

Dave states, “Six packs are made in the kitchen, John.  You can’t just dump buckets of grease down your throat all day every day and expect to get in shape because you did a jumping jack.  Clearly you’re wrong.”

So, even though Dave might have a good point about nutrition, he attacked a position that John doesn’t actually hold.  John never said he could get lean by dumping buckets of grease down his throat and doing one jumping jack.  Dave fabricated and exaggerated John’s actual position to make himself right. Dave, therefore, created Straw Man out of John’s argument. Not a good tactic.

We see Straw Man arguments all the time in politics, and it’s destructive when in pursuit of truth.  This can be seen in intimate relationships as well.  If you Straw Man your wife’s argument, you are essentially sacrificing her trust and respect in favor of winning the argument.  Straw Man works well for political enemies if you are clever about it, but is a dick move when it comes to people you love.

Try to Steel Man your next argument with your significant other.  Steel Man, as opposed to Straw Man, is when you state your opponent’s (or wife’s) argument to the best of your ability before you offer up your counter-argument.  When using the Steel Man tactic, you have to actually take her perspective, verbally state her position accurately and to the best of your ability, and then ask her if you are representing her position accurately.  Once you get the affirmative nod from her, then you can proceed to make your argument.

The Steel Man tactic is about as fair as it gets, and is much more likely to lower the defenses of the person you’re arguing with.  When your opponent knows you understand their position and aren’t trying to twist words via Straw Man tactics, they’re much more likely to listen to your point and potentially change their mind.  If they don’t change their mind, then you have at least demonstrated you care enough about their perspective that your relationship survives the disagreement.

Become Colossus, my friends.

 

Treadmills: Proof of Intelligent Design

hamsterI’ve heard human beings described as Pleasure Monkeys; primitive, reward-seeking primates that will gladly climb a tree IF there is promise of bananas a few branches up. We, like all animals, seek pleasure and avoid pain.  The way we speak, with whom we associate, what we do, where we work, what we wear; all of it can be viewed through the evolutionary lens of putting in effort to achieve a reward.  The banana in the tree.

I really like weight lifting.  It improves my strength, and the aesthetics my efforts produce seem to be appreciated by my wife.  Putting myself through the grinder of a hard work out is well worth it. However, there are other components to lifting weights that are important to me.

Suppose a sadist of the worst kind devises a highly effective, resistance training contraption that allows the user to perceive what pulling hundreds of pounds off the floor might feel like, as well as all the accompanying performance gains.   The downside to this contraption is all of the benefit would occur without the glorious payoff of  moving the actual weight that was previously unattainable.

There is something beautiful about achieving a personal record.  Loading the bar with weight, and then hitting a clean repetition with that weight for the first time is a payoff! Hearing the metallic clang of the plates as they settle against one another during each repetition is a reward. Feeling the knurling on the bar dig in to my chalked hands, and watching the bar bow gently under the tension I  generate are bananas in the tree for which this pleasure monkey will climb.

Why, then, do treadmills exist? Where the hell is the banana?  If I hop on the treadmill for thirty minutes and jog at a ten minute pace, I have gone exactly nowhere.  Did I run three miles?  I guess so.  I didn’t feel any breeze, though. I didn’t catch the scent of blooming flowers on the side of the road, either.  Just the cloud of Axe Body Spray the guy next to me doused himself with.  I don’t get to see the ever changing, beautiful, Utah landscape.  Just the gaggle of women standing in a crowd four feet from me yammering on about when to switch from breast milk to formula.

Obviously I’m missing something, as treadmills are clearly popular, but who are you people?  …and, why?  So, in short, evolutionary theory holds that maladaptive behaviors will be selected out of the gene pool, and yet, treadmills abound.   Darwin was wrong, guys.  There is a God, and he wants us to do cardio.

 

 

Civilize The Mind, But Make Savage The Body (part 2)

Tiger

“Civilize the mind but make Savage the body.”
Pretty dope quote from a pretty bad dude. Dope enough for me to write twice about it.  I’m sure Chairman Mao was likely talking about how to make an ideal soldier, or leader, or generate some type of military might. I have no idea, as I did zero research for this post.

The way I look at it, “civilizing the mind” means developing a cultured, educated view of the world. Achieving a civil mind would involve familiarity with a history book coupled with awareness of current events. One would need the skill of learning how to think, as in the ability to maintain a view of the world that is reasonable and based on evidence. A civilized mind implies the capacity for keeping your shit together during stressful events, and acting in a manner that increases the chances of being accepted and admired by your social group. It also involves the wherewithal to know how to navigate complex hierarchies within business and culture, while maintaining personal integrity and not compromising personal values.

thinking
To make the body savage, one must be able to navigate their physical environment, and be able to adapt to the ever-changing situations that might, in one moment, call for the ability to pick something enormously heavy off the ground, and the next moment,  sprint for a short burst. Or run much longer if the situation calls for it. One would also need some general flexibility, agility, and of course, in order to make the body truly savage, one must have a general sense of how to choke a fool.
Some might call this approach “toxic masculinity.”  If so, please understand I am not calling for, or advocating aggression. The opposite, in fact. Rather, I’m suggesting we collectively expand and evolve the way we interface with the world. #lovewins, and stuff like that. In so doing, we simply need to recognize that we must also develop the capacity for savagery. That is, after all, what keeps us civil.

Scouts

Scouts

Boys and girls should have the same opportunities in life. In fact, I really don’t think there is a viable counter argument. Equality of opportunity between the sexes firmly belongs in the “no shit” category.  I’m posting this because the Boy Scouts will soon be the Scouts; meaning boys and girls are both admitted.  Before jumping to conclusions about my position here, please read on…  🙂

There are obvious benefits to boys and girls flying under the same Scouting banner, in that girls now get a chance to do all the cool stuff I got to do when I was a Boy Scout. Girls should absolutely be exposed to camping, fishing, tying knots, lighting the forest on fire, blowing up outhouses, and learning the vital skill of taking out swarms of mosquitoes with a cigarette lighter and a can of Off! The concept behind merit badges and attaining higher rank based on output is pretty cool too, I guess.
I’m speaking only from my personal experience and not trying to make broad claims here, but I think a lot of skills that I learned in scouting are better learned separately, unencumbered by the persistent distraction of trying to impress the opposite sex.  Johnny has a chance to learn some useful skills like finding a campsite and starting a fire.  Johnny will probably learn this stuff way more effectively if he’s not distracted; checking to see if Jenny noticed his pitched tent.  Furthermore, Jenny should be able to learn how to bait a hook without Johnny leering over her shoulder.  Most boys aren’t creeps.  Johnny, though?  Creep.

Here’s the deal… Johnny and Jenny get to see each other every day at school, go to the same parties, football games, dances, and ultimately, will have plenty of opportunity to work out the intricacies of male/female relations for the duration of their life. There is value in allowing boys and girls the option to develop along separate paths, knowing full well that those paths will eventually converge. So, in short, I’m all for equality of opportunity, and I’d up-vote an analogous, additional coed program. I simply think The Scouts meant well, but missed the mark for gender parity.

 

 

Inspiration for this blog came from The Joe Rogan Experience with guest Tim Kennedy.