Are Voters' Decisions Rational?

Are Voters' Decisions Rational?
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How rational are the decisions voters make? Are they really based on accurate information on the candidates’ positions and competency to lead in the direction voters want to go? Ned Resnikoff states in his blog, “…weigh the opportunity cost of driving all the way to a polling place and standing in line to vote against the infinitesimally small impact made by a single ballot. The conclusion: voting is irrational. And if that’s the case, imagine how much more irrational it is to do a ton of research beforehand to make sure you make a well-informed decision in the voting booth. For most people, it’s actually more rational to vote irrationally.”

Further reinforcing this democratic dilemma, a study titled Are Voters Irrational? by Andrew J. Healy at Loyola Marymount University, looks at voting in earlier times when moderate drought sometimes affected income substantially in certain rural areas. The study showed that incumbents, no matter what their party affiliation, were at a disadvantage in holding onto office if there had been financially significant years of moderate droughts during their administrations. The study further showed that this was most evident among those with one or both of two characteristics: a high school education or less and a strongly partisan political orientation.

Statistics say nothing about individuals, of course, since there are always those who are exceptions to the rule. Long ago I read that the average U.S. family had two and a half children, but I have never seen such a family. The major take-away from this is that while nothing could be more irrelevant to the job performance of a politician than the weather, there are those who let such clearly unrelated factors irrationally influence their voting preferences. We can be sure that this is not confined to a few farmers in rural areas with low education and strong partisan views. This study was just a scientifically convenient way to show that such tendencies exist in human populations and what kinds of personal parameters generally tend to correlate with them. We can also be certain that there is everything in between, from very rational to this kind of totally irrational influence.

But before we buy these issues as the whole explanation for political dysfunction, let’s look at a few other issues that affect who wins elections and among whom we get to choose. In reference to my articles Practical Reality Check I and II, the first proposes that we live in an increasingly extractive economy. My other articles and my comments on them as well as on articles by others have also indicated that we are far more extractive in our foreign policies, especially with regard to less developed countries, than we are domestically.

Let us add to this that a substantial contributor to the quality of life we as U.S. citizens enjoy has been the unfair extraction of wealth and valuable natural resources from weaker sovereign powers. This has been of little to no benefit to their general population, but of great personal benefit to the corrupt leadership in these countries as well as both the international and U.S. corporate interests that exploit them. These weaker countries effectively operate as neo-colonies. Essentially without our knowledge, historically the U.S. government has strongly supported this status quo and continues to do so. An international corporate elite with a massive U.S. component and help from our allies accomplishes this with political, economic, and military interventions.

Hiding this from us is relatively easy, since any major magazine publisher knows very well that a cover story that is international instead of domestic will dump their sales way down unless the subject is war. Add behind-the-scenes diplomatic and economic pressure, backroom deals, black ops, and classified information and the picture is more complete. To fully flesh out the picture, just add that any news medium reporting on these darker deeds is easily marginalized as politically radical by politicians, the principal news outlets, and conservative talk show hosts.

Nevertheless, even “respected”major publications sometimes publish such articles on page Z-13 near the bottom right so they can technically claim “balanced” reporting. Despite the current flowing against public awareness of these issues, these realities are a matter of public record for anyone who sincerely wishes to understand the truth of what is and has been going on globally for a long time. Of significant importance also, the Internet has provided some very highly respected journalists with an alternative outlet for the truth they would otherwise have to swallow because of their inability to get certain articles published in the medium for which they work.

Those who do not wish to understand will naturally fail to, and so will remain in a stubborn denial posing falsely as patriotism, blind to reality, and therefore impotent to correct the corruption within. Most of these certainly believe our government has been corrupted, but with no understanding of how long this has been true. They ironically remain blindly guided by information sources serving the very corrupt elite responsible for our misdeeds. They therefore completely misdirect their disgust and fervor to politically play into the hands of the corrupt.

Many of us, however, have become keenly aware of the reality. This intense political polarity has resulted in this extractive machinery turning on our own U.S. population with a large minority of gravely misinformed zealots as unwitting allies in ours and their own economic destruction and the destruction of our freedoms. In brief, these ultra-conservative zealots have it all exactly backwards.

Those who accuse us of promoting leftist ideas simply because we expose the truth ignore something crucially important. These revelations are either true or not. That has absolutely no relevance to any association with political ideologies of any kind that the minds of our accusers invent. Our accusers base their labeling as leftist, socialist, or Marxist propaganda strictly on a blind, knee-jerk association conditioned in them by the natural and quite predictable inclusion historically of the nasty side of the truth in leftist propaganda. Even so, there is no more intrinsic relationship between these facts of political life and leftist politics than there is between ringing bells and salivation in Pavlov’s dogs. The powerful financial elite, nonetheless, take full advantage of this easy sell with the red scare tactics that abound in their own propaganda machine.

Our government, in cooperation with a corporate elite, acts in our name without informing us or worse, by misinforming us, and so acts without any accountability to us. We as a people need to admit to ourselves that communist and strongly left-leaning regimes in other countries, including Russia, China, the former Soviet Union, and our other political enemies around the world have had absolutely no reason to refrain from telling the truth about these misdeeds. On the contrary, our enemies have obvious political motivations to reveal them, mixing in lies with the truth, of course. They naturally cover up their own misdeeds just as those responsible for ours also have every reason to cover them up as effectively as possible. Nevertheless, this does nothing to subtract from what is true, but only its credibility in the eyes of the uninformed and the sadly misinformed.

The second article, Practical Reality Check II, cites an unprecedented, only recently possible Swiss study titled The Network of Global Corporate Control by Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder, and Stefano Battiston involving complex network theory and advanced supercomputer technology working with a new international database to expose who the real power brokers are. A tight nexus emerges from this study that controls most of the wealth of the world and that consists of relatively few players. Practical Reality Check II proposes this as a modern equivalent of the “Great Pirates” in R. Buckminster Fuller’s theory of history.

This modern version of the “Great Pirates” dictates policy in the entire western world, including western-like countries such as Australia as well as those less developed countries that operate essentially as their neo-colonies. Quite a few of the corporations most central to this nexus of power are the very global financial entities identified by the same household names associated with the financial collapse of 2008. Some of them profited enormously from the same economic phenomenon that took others’ jobs away and made still others homeless.

Now we come to a crucial question. If all this is really so, how has the greatest and apparently most successful democracy within the scope of historical memory come to such a sad state of affairs? Economist Bryan Caplan puts it succinctly, “…political genius is nothing other than the masterful manipulation of voter irrationality.” This is a brilliant summary of political reality, perfectly clear and right on target!

However, in all fairness and in the interest of full disclosure, Caplan is a conservative economist whose work completely ignores the international financial cartel this article discusses. He argues, quite probably correctly, that people are more rational in the marketplace than in the voting booth. He therefore proposes less government and more market economics as a solution to what he views as the voter irrationality intrinsic to and inevitable in any democracy. He supports this hypothesis with arguments based on economic theory.

But Caplan’s view is highly problematic simply because it wrongly assumes market forces and small government exist free from the influence of the international financial cartel under discussion. This is indeed also currently the case with most other modern conservatives and liberals, too, for that matter. Very few across the entire political spectrum really understand the global reality. Worse, some of those who do are liberals who propose cures that are full of Marxist idealism and consequently much worse than impractical.

What Caplan misses is that this global cartel renders the whole idea of free market forces relevant only in relatively local economic scenarios. By the same token, it remains essentially irrelevant in the global scenario. Put another way, current reality demotes the natural market forces Caplan idealistically assumes to a strictly microeconomic consideration that is relatively moot in the macroeconomics of global markets and the broader impact that has even on local markets. This results in the subversion of our democracy and fundamental elements of our economic system, most notably energy and the impact of human-caused global warming on related policy. (See my articles
Hedging Our Climate Change Bets and Take Heart! (New Energy & Climate).)

Another of my articles, Humankind's Ancient and Eternal Political Tendencies, discusses certain human tendencies universally manifest in a large portion of the population in any political system. It makes no difference whether the ideology is left or right, communist, capitalist, or fascist, there is always a large subpopulation that exhibits a strong tendency toward conformity and a desire to maintain the status quo within that political context. A set of specific psychological traits correlate with this tendency in those who manifest it, once again independent of political philosophy. This set of traits forms a generalized definition of conservatism applicable to all political systems and social ideologies. For example, those in Russia who long to return to life as it was in the former Soviet Union are by this definition conservative despite their communist ideology and how differently we would define them here in the United States…certainly as anything but conservative.

Interestingly, U.S. conservatives commenting on that article invariably took great offense at the traits that form this generalized definition of conservatism, with which they clearly identified of their own accord. They seem to have completely missed that the article was not referring to them unless they fit the definition. Somewhat amusingly, they demonstrated in their comments, glaringly and apparently unwittingly, precisely those traits that define this more generalized notion of conservatism. They strongly confirmed Caplan in practical form when he said, quoting once again, “…political genius is nothing other than the masterful manipulation of voter irrationality.”

Copyright September 2013 © Robert P. Wendell

Redistribution freely permitted contingent on the unmodified inclusion of this copyright notice. 


Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 11:38am
@ Joy -
"To start, you attribute irrational voting behavior only to conservatives who are led by some vast international elite."
How so? I clearly state that very few U.S. citizens understand that this international cartel even exists. That covers the whole political spectrum. I also state that our government works for them and not for us. "Us" includes everyone except those who are part of the power elite. What I don't like about the hard right is that they are not only ignorant of all this (as are most liberals), but that they zealously defend them as the heroic defenders of free-market capitalism when in fact they corrupt it.
"...most Americans cannot care less about any elite but are merely looters that only care which politician or party will give them more of someone else's wealth?  This applies to the welfare moochers as well as the crony capitalists in expensive suits looting their competition and the people at large."
First, I'm not interested in defending Obama. He is in the same pockets as the rest of the government. In the article, I'm addressing the fundamental forces underlying the corruption of what is supposed to be our democracy. The poor aren't doing that. Yes, there is fraud, but much of the poverty is a direct result of the corruption introduced by the financially powerful. That's truer now than ever before.
I lost a good job recruiting engineers for the commercial avionics industry because of a severe industry slump even before 9/11, which literally sank the company I worked for in a small town. I was good at that and won an award as the highest producer because I'm technically knowledgeable and understood the resumes and project manager requirements. I was the last one recruiting when the company went belly up. I had to take food stamps and supplementary income after my unemployment ran out. I did menial odd jobs, anything I could get. I finally went back to school with a graduate assistantship at a major university after failing to get a job even outside the town I had lived in for 22 years.
When I graduated two years later with a 3.95/4.0 GPA, I still couldn't get a full time job in my field because of my age. I retired early, took a part time job, and started my own business. So thanks for calling me a moocher.
"Third, only capitalist systems have benefitted [sic] in lying and deceiving their people?  Did I miss the Stalinist Purge, or Mao's Cultural Revolution,  or Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge?  Will you really try to defend the idea that none of them engaged in propaganda against their own people?"
Where in Sam's Hill did I ever even remotely imply that? You read a lot into what I actually say that doesn't even begin to fit. In fact, your "understanding" of my article baldly contradicts some of what it actually says. Could you please read the parts about the communist and left-leaning governments again without your commie-hunting glasses on and explain to me how you ever got that kind of "stuff" out of it?
You seem to think you already know what I think and just retro-fit it into everything I say. That is so typical of so many of my critics and I'm getting very tired of it. Do everyone around you a great big favor and try to be a little more objective about how you process information.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 11:47am
@ Emperor -
"It’s impossible to unfairly extract wealth and resources from a sovereign power because if they are truly sovereign they would just say 'no'."

Good point, but I refer to the international legal status rather than the political reality.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 11:49am
@ Joy -
"Were it not for oil, either they would be throwing rocks at each other as they have for centuries, or America's involvement there would be truly limited to matters affecting our security."
Exactly so. Excellent post. Wish you could be more objective in reading what I say.
Contractor Added Sep 20, 2013 - 11:52am
JOF: "Because no one can run against Santa Claus."
Right on point and both parties have gone to great lengths to foster a pronounced sense of dependency on government. Government entitlement programs are often times crippling ... the cure is worse than the disease.
We now have entire generations of people who think, feel and believe they are owed something when they have done nothing. The fostering of government dependence is the new opiate of the masses in America and government has a lock on the supply end.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 2:27pm
@ Nathan - Again, who's talking?
Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 2:58pm
@ Joy - 
"I read your remarks about communist and leftist governments repeatedly, including your warning/admonition about knee-jerk reactions, but it still remains that mass exterminations of the domestic opposition have been part of communist and leftist revolutions.  I guess one doesn't need propaganda once your opponents have been eliminated."
You just keep acting as if I had somehow defended these communist political criminals in my article. Again I ask, where do you possibly imagine yourself to be getting that? Your replies virtually corner me into believing you're just positive I'm a defender of communism. I'm just saying neither we nor they have any reason to hide the bad truth about the other. Just because I didn't jump on communists with both feet and list all the atrocities you mention doesn't in any way indicate I'm not aware of them or fail to be disgusted by them. You write as if I were making some kind of negative comparison of us with them. Specifically where do you think I'm doing that?
I merely point out that Jake's enemy Rick has no problem with saying bad things about Jake that happen to be true. Now Rick happens to be an absolute scoundrel, but his blatant hypocrisy in telling the nasty truth about Jake doesn't make what he says about Jake untrue. Neither does it cleanse him of his own wrongs.
My point was simple and easy to understand if you go in without colored lenses on. Rick not only has no motivation to withhold the nasty things he knows to be true about Rick, but as his archenemy, he has strong motivation to loudly declare any of Jake's wrongs that he can possibly dig up. Simple! How does that imply that Rick is a good guy? Why should I have to tell anybody who knows Rick that he's not a good guy? They all know that already and I even said in my article that Rick (Soviets, etc.) lies about us. They mix negative truth about us with outright lies.
The whole point is that those who think all talk about an international financial cartel controlling our government is exclusively leftist are conditioned to think that. They reflexively, thoughtlessly associate that kind of talk with leftists simply because the left, including Soviets, Maoists, etc. have always said that. So, many conservatives conclude that if you repeat the same NEGATIVE TRUTH about the U.S. that the Soviets, etc. have, then you must be one of them. I just pointed out what BAD REASONING that is. It seems to me that maybe you think that way. You sure are misreading everything as if you do.
You sure haven't given any indication at all that you got the point even a slightly. If you read it without prejudice, it's actually quite clear and all this redundant explanation would be unnecessary. Whew!
Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 3:04pm
@ Joy - Maybe I need to write in a way that makes that clear even for people who read my stuff like you do, but I really have to admit that I don't know how to do that without being ridiculously redundant with no guarantee of success despite my efforts.
Contractor Added Sep 20, 2013 - 3:08pm
Robert: "The whole point is that those who think all talk about an international financial cartel controlling our government is exclusively leftist are conditioned to think that."
Wrong answer, they think that way because that is the way it really is. The socialist vehicle best suits the agenda of NWO and globalism, obviously.
That you evade this simple truth speaks to your reasoning abilities, namely, you are blinded by political considerations rather than informed by facts.
Brevity, Robert, work on paring down your posts to the essentials. That will reduce the incidents of your being misunderstood. 
Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 4:42pm
@ ForcePro -
"Wrong answer, they think that way because that is the way it really is. The socialist vehicle best suits the agenda of NWO and globalism, obviously."
That's a hypothesis. There is no logic there at all. You merely make an assertion and say that's it. I can't argue with someone who presents a false hypothesis and simply swears, "It's true...end story."
Do you think we're perfect. We have committed no international sins? We've not helped any international corporate interests take natural resources from poor or underdeveloped nations on the cheap by paying off corrupt politicians in that country? If we have done anything at all like that, do you think the Soviets would not have called us on it? Why would they not shout that to the world if it ever happened. Does that fact that they were communists and told on us to the world make what we did untrue? If I tell the truth about what happened then make me a communist because they told on us first?
Does your idea that it serves only NWO interests to reveal such things make sense when in fact what I'm talking about is all about those who have been working to create their own brand of New World Order? Do you not recall that Bush the FirstI used to talk about establishing a NWO? Where's your memory if you're not so young you wouldn't have heard or noticed that?
So are you calling me a socialist? Why do you call someone who thinks Marxism is a pile of stuff a socialist? Why do you call someone who thinks truly free markets in an economic rather than political sense are the way to go and that Marxism makes idealistic assumptions about human nature that not only don't work, but drive heinous political consequences. Why do you call a socialist someone who believes Marxism ignores what really drives the economic engine to the downfall of any Marxist regime? Why do you eliminate the possibility that unbridled greed and unfair exploitation of others can drive bad policy and harm people, too? Why do you ignore the Swiss study that I referenced in this article? Why do you think that vast economic power in the hands of a very few is not corrupting while political power in the hands of a few Marxists is?
Your statement makes no sense. What you've said is, "It's so because it's so!" Truly dumb non-argument.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 5:10pm
@ Joy and ForcePro - At least Joy has a much more balanced perspective. In case either of you sincerely wants to know the essence of what I think instead of telling me what I think I will indulge you now.
I believe the international financial oligarchy the Swiss study flags wants to make us all dependent. Whatever parts of our current political tools work toward that end are deliberate and not coming from Marxists, but from predatory capitalists who wish to consolidate their power by keeping us financially weak and dependent. The Marxists have been essentially neutered in the long haul. In arguments with leftists in the late 70s I predicted that the Soviets would collapse of their own weight over a decade before it happened.
The socialist tendencies you fear are actually part of the agenda of the very people at the top who want to cover their tracks by accusing those who are onto them of being socialists. That misdirects your attention and keeps you in the dark. You make their job easy. They take advantage of the simple fact that communists were the first to yell about their dirty tricks. That was all part of a huge battle between two huge power centers.
The communists were political power centers who essentially controlled economic policy. The international financial oligarchy represents financial power that essentially controls political policy. They choose who we get to vote for. They've subverted our democracy and use suckers like you to get away with it by getting you to see commies in every shadow. They sucker you into giving life and limb for their greed in the name of protecting a non-existent democracy they're responsible for having taken down. It's no longer capitalism versus communism. It's a financial/political power elite in the west versus a political/financial power elite in the east. They're even starting to cooperate in order to subjugate us to their will. That's what the NWO you fear really is all about!
Contractor Added Sep 20, 2013 - 5:27pm
Robert: "Do you not recall that Bush the FirstI used to talk about establishing a NWO?"
Once again, a distortion of, if not a complete disregard for, documented historical facts in your ongoing attempts to authenticate the left and demonize the right. Woodrow Wilson, the left winger who also brought the Federal Reserve into existence, and Winston Churchill are credited by many historians as being the first leaders to use the term NWO and the meaning has remained constant. Your mention of Bush reflects both your deep seated bias and distinct lack of historical perspective. Perhaps your memory is failing.
Robert: "I can't argue with someone who presents a false hypothesis and simply swears, "It's true...end story."
That explains why your posts are mostly dead ends ... you post distortions and falsehoods and then declare them legitimate ... end of story.
Robert: "Your statement makes no sense. What you've said is, "It's so because it's so!" Truly dumb non-argument."
Just another in a long list of "Robert says it's dumb so it must be so." with follow on ad hominem attack. 
Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 5:33pm
I want you to know that despite all this, I think too many people are onto the western financial oligarchy now for them to stay in power. Just as I predicted the fall of the Soviets in arguments with leftists (despite that you are now calling me one), I boldly predict that China will continue to privatize the economy and the political elite and their corruption will also fall of their own weight.
I also believe that the Internet and other factors are spreading information that will out a lot of the nasty strategies of the financial elitists in the west. There are too many smart people who know what's going down on the international street now and they will become increasingly believable by the masses as time marches on. I believe a lot of dirty linen in western political machination is about to become public.

I also think that raw economic pressure from the reality of AGW as it closes in hard in the next few years will out a lot of the stupid lies that are currently accepted by so many, including some of the people in your court who deny it (in case you're smart enough not to...don't remember). The sheer rawness of obvious circumstances will force the international financial oligarchy to collapse. The younger generation among them are less cynical as well. Their children, the heirs of the power, will behave very differently.

Bottom line, they can't lie forever because nature and smart people with amazing technology innovations are about to slap them down with a new economic paradigm that will take over withing the next decade. When all this happens, remember who told you so, just like my leftist opponents in the late 70s got to witness the truth of what I said way back then.

So get off my case with the "leftist" crap. I'm about as leftist as a one-armed, right-handed baseball pitcher.
Contractor Added Sep 20, 2013 - 6:32pm
Robert, I see where, once again, you rely on tangents in order to evade responsibility for your error plagued post.
So, you have no rebuttal to your Bush comment being a transparent falsehood and therefore concede the matter ... got it.
Robert: " I boldly predict that China will continue to privatize the economy ..."
Nothing bold about belaboring the obvious. China has been communist in name only for quite some time. Private enterprise has been in place for many years as well. 
Robert: "So get off my case with the "leftist" crap."
Better for you to get off the soap box with your self-aggrandizing proclamations and irrelevant, long winded, spleen vents. 
Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 9:06pm
Bush the First was fond of talking about the NWO. If you think that's a falsehood, you simply don't know what you're talking about. I was 45 years old the year he took office as president. I lived it and remember it. You've just descended into exactly that of which you accuse me, ad hominem attacks. What you call ad hominem are merely disagreements with your premises and your arguments. I said "dumb  non-argument". I simply called a spade a spade. If you want to feel dumb because you tendered a dumb non-argument, that's your business. I didn't say you were dumb, but that you simply made an assertion with no argument to justify it or any corroborating evidence to support it. That is a dumb non-argument...period, end of story. Since things have descended to this ridiculous level, I'm bowing out of further discussions with you on this article. Intelligent, objective readers will not be fooled by your silly obfuscations. (By the way, "silly obfuscations" does not qualify as an ad hominem attack, since that phrase refers strictly to what you've said and not you. Draw whatever conclusions about yourself you like from that.
Contractor Added Sep 20, 2013 - 9:26pm
Robert: "Bush the First was fond of talking about the NWO."
Wholly irrelevant as he was predated on the topic by decades. Your leftist agenda neglects Wilson's open declaration and pursuit of NWO.
Robert: "If you think that's a falsehood, you simply don't know what you're talking about."
Lack of balance cancels you out which is just as well in that you scramble about madly attempting to save face.
Robert: "What you call ad hominem are merely disagreements with your premises and your arguments."
Negative, they are ad hominem attacks reflective of a lack of supportive evidence on your part. Seems you cannot gather any agreement with readers of your posts, period. 
Robert: "Intelligent, objective readers will not be fooled by your silly obfuscations."
Indeed they will not and have not as evidenced by the lack of reader support for your posts.
Robert: " ... I'm bowing out of further discussions with you on this article."
Good idea as your continually outing yourself as misinformed, ill-informed, and opinionated absent facts relegates your responses to the irrelevant category.  
Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 10:57pm
@ ForcePro - Uh, duh, yeah, OK!
Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 11:04pm
Anyone who wonders whether readers of my articles fail to support can click on "Since Inception" in the menu and see what single person you can find who has as many articles with approval ratings as high as mine. It's the naysayers who seem to have the vitriol that motivates them to comment, so what does that prove? My articles stir up hornets nests and that makes my ranking by comments high as well. All this shows is that I make more serious dents in some people's political cocoons. Try looking by page views, too.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 11:15pm
As another general note to all passersby, I've copied this from one of my comments to another article and edited it to apply more broadly:
What I find ridiculous in many of my critics' arguments is the labeling of anything they disagree with as coming from a lib-tard or whatever other silly liberal label of the moment. If I think ice cubes melt at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter whether I'm wrong or right about that (wrong in that case, of course), it doesn't make me a liberal because it's different from what some critic believes. But that's exactly the kind of goofball "logic" so many on this site pretend is legitimate. The only difference between my ice cube example and many such arguments is the political content. The "logic" is identical.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 20, 2013 - 11:50pm
For example, although this used not to be true of conservatives, AGW is criticized by many if not most conservatives these days as liberal simply because they don't believe it and have a conspiracy theory that sees it as a socialist plot. They fail to understand that whether AGW is real or not is a scientific issue that is either true or not on its own merits and absolutely unrelated to politics. Of course, they don't believe the science supports it, but they don't go to primary scientific sources to vet that, but simply buy political theories regarding it.
For example, a creationist might think that declaring our own galaxy, the Milky Way, to be one in hundreds of billions of observable galaxies and 100,00 light years across is a political statement, too. They might claim that acknowledging that light we see now from its nearest side started out 30,000 years ago is a fabrication of atheistic scientists, since bible chronology clearly indicates the world was created about 6,000 to 7,000 years ago and Genesis states that the firmament (dome of the sky) was created after the earth.
That makes a scientific fact an argument of Godless, socialist scientists and turns the whole issue into a political one. However, it is a scientific conclusion that is either true or not, independent of any political ideology. What temperature ice cubes melt at is not a political issue and the size of our galaxy and the speed of light are not either. These arguments against science are transparently invalid to anyone who knows any science and doesn't already have an agenda that motivates such false assessments. The inability to separate reason from the mere desire to believe something is very dangerous when it prejudices important issues that affect us all. A lot of this is motivated by the same factors responsible for people raised in Catholic families tending to be Catholic and those raised in Baptist families tending to be Baptist. It has more to do with fitting into social environments than it does with truth. There is plenty of research to back this up, not to mention observation and common sense. But then research is done in universities and we all know that means it's all motivated by socialism, don't we?   ;  )
Contractor Added Sep 21, 2013 - 9:55am
Robert on the Cross ... too funny!!!
Robert Wendell Added Sep 21, 2013 - 12:31pm
@ Star - I'm not interested in defending Obama. There are a lot of things I don't like about him, but Romney was a two-faced idiot who played radical for the Pee Party people and then did an "about fa-a-a-ace...harch" in the general election. I'd rather have an indecisive pawn of the international financial oligarchy than another one who is a two-faced hypocrite who, despite his personal believe to the contrary, denies AGW against a 97.4% scientific consensus in peer-reviewed research and overwhelming evidence for it (despite hard right liars saying the opposite with nothing to back that up). Remember what Caplan says,  “…political genius is nothing other than the masterful manipulation of voter irrationality.” Both sides are utterly guilty. Our system reinforces it. We, the voters, are ultimately responsible for it.
Contractor Added Sep 21, 2013 - 1:10pm
Robert: " ... but Romney was a two-faced idiot who played radical for the Pee Party people ..."
Just more "and these are not ad hominem attacks" by he who would be sage. 
Detlev: "Anyway: I hope you continue to write your articles and get a good readership for them."
That makes a club of one, therefore, you can be club president.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 21, 2013 - 1:27pm
Thank you very much, Detlev. I very fortunately get lots of recommendations, but few bother to make positive comments. I surmise that it's perhaps because my topics tend to be strongly charged politically against the powers that be. Some may feel hesitant to reveal their identity as approving of the content considering how little privacy we have these days on the Internet. The other side of the argument naturally feels no such inhibitions. At first there was a strong political movement to control the Internet, and although that's not gone by a long shot, it was very politically unpopular. Massive clandestine surveillance was the only other option and now that's public and getting political opposition. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I'm an optimist, as you probably already know. I think the days of the current political games are coming to an end in the next decade or so and possibly sooner. I think when it happens, it will happen fast. It won't be a linear process, but more analogous to a phase transition from one physical (not political) state to another, like that between steam and water or when a laser begins to lase, changing from random to coherent radiation.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 21, 2013 - 1:34pm
@ Detlev -
On the "too academic" for popular ingestion, I think it's also politically too outside the box for popular ingestion. The point is that i don't think the first matters because the second would have the same effect anyway. I'm aiming at those who can and want to understand. The others are a lost cause until there are finally enough of those who get it to trigger change. I debate those who are closed for the sake of those who are somewhere in between and to deepen my own understanding and occasionally modify it when I get solid, valid feedback from another perspective.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 21, 2013 - 1:39pm
On my comment " deepen my own understanding and occasionally modify it when I get solid, valid feedback from another perspective", that's how I changed from the understanding I inherited from a very fundamentalist, politically conservative home environment to my current view, along with having been outside the country a fair amount, speaking with people in their own language who were not subject to the same news blackouts regarding what has happened in their countries. They were there, after all. We weren't. Most U.S. citizens don't have the slightest inkling about the nasty things corporate hegemony has done with U.S. government support all the way.
Contractor Added Sep 21, 2013 - 1:57pm
Detlev: "I notice, I wonder if the reason you get so much criticism is because most of the readership comes from the US?"
No, he gets so much criticism because he employs circularity and ad hominem attacks when anyone dares question his frequently long winded, meandering posts that are heavy on irrelevant side tracks.
Basically, he;'s been repeatedly called out on his statements and prefers to tap dance rather than respond.
Glad you like his rants ... I think it's good for his mental health to have a follower.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 21, 2013 - 2:18pm
That's because that's precisely how they arrived at their views in the first place: social conditioning. No thinking...just blind absorption because they fit in socially that way into whatever their peer group happens to be. So when your ideas were never vetted by any reasonable means in the first place and you therefore don't admit or even know the truth about why you believe them, how can you defend them? Not with reason, that's for sure.
Haven't you ever noticed how they imply in some of their comments that they want you to label yourself so they can either slap you on the back and welcome you into their happy little club or spit on you for being foreign to their exclusive, myopic culture?
The bottom line is this: it has nothing to do with truth .
Contractor Added Sep 22, 2013 - 4:05pm
Detlev: "Actually, Robert does not dance around a topic but clearly lays out his argument - one just has to read it."
Like I posted, I think it's good for his mental health to have a fan and you can be president of the club no less. If Lewis buys in the 3 of you can dance in circles at will. Win - win situation.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 23, 2013 - 1:01am
@ Lewis - Look at my article Declaration of Economic Independence/ Interdependence for a sense of my ideas with regard to practical economic principles. It's lengthy, but succinct in terms of specific issues. It doesn't really address voting, but it does outline a political viewpoint that is comprehensive. It also doesn't specify any particular form of government, but economic policy does imply a lot about that in a general sense.
With regard to fairness in the voting process itself, I recommend a look at this site:
I would add to their ideas that the main problems underlying voter irrationality are in the efficiency of achieving voter awareness of actual performance of incumbents and the experience and past performance of challengers. We have to make voting both fair and efficiently informed by standardized, objective means. We can use modern communications technology and science-based means to simplify, objectify, and optimize over time with rigorous research our means of informing citizens and politicians. This is vital for candidate and elected politician accountability to citizens and organizations, including businesses. We must find the means to do this free from influence peddling of any kind.
We need to eliminate rhetoric and verbal manipulation and substitute objective methods of communicating information regarding positions and past performance. Modern digital-electronic communication makes this feasible. The communications methods need to be in a clear, simple, standardized format free from political tampering.
Campaigns should be run strictly on taxpayer funds with no fundraising at all to corrupt the process. Lobbying should be outlawed, replaced with the previously stated means and divorced from financial incentives or political favor exchanges. Term limits should ideally be empirically optimized with provisions for a limited set of reasonable options as test input for a rigorous study. In other words, we need science-based democracy based on empirical optimization of results that makes political representatives of the citizenry fully accountable to the public by simplified, standardized forms of communicating performance that are easily and efficiently assimilated by voters and very importantly, political tampering-proof.
Steve Borsher Added Sep 23, 2013 - 11:21am
“…political genius is nothing other than the masterful manipulation of voter irrationality.”?  I don't think there is such a thing a voter irrationality; or irrational behavior of any kind.  What may be irrational is what individuals find important, but who is anyone to judge that?  "Political genius" is the same as "marketing genius"; it is pandering to what the majority of people, or a targetted demographic find important. And that has more to do with herd mentality than irrationality.  This is a democracy (still, I think), and the majority still rule; be there motivations irrational or not.  As long as emotion is the driver of human decisions, all such dcisions will appear irrational to those who think they are in control of their emotions.  But those "more in control" will always appear to be irrational to someone else.  0bama's team was better at selecting and targetting their desired demographics, and pandered to them appropriately.  As far as I am concerned, both the politicians and the voters acted irrationally in that case.  But others will find my position to be irrational. That doesn't mean I am wrong; it just means that certain things are more important to those others, like food stamps.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 23, 2013 - 12:41pm
Well, you've certainly bent the definition of "irrational" to your personal taste. "Rational" means "based on or in accordance with reason or logic". "Irrational" means the opposite. If you vote on the basis of misinformation and bad reasoning, your vote is irrational and if you vote on the basis of accurate information and valid reasoning, your vote is rational. I'm using the standard definition of "rational". I choose to define it the standard way. If you want to redefine it to suit your purposes, that's fine as long as everyone know what you mean by it. That doesn't, however, invalidate the definition I'm using or anything I intend to communicate by using it as long as people understand what I mean by it.
Steve Borsher Added Sep 23, 2013 - 2:28pm
What percentage of the voting public do you think are irrational then? And how many appear to be irrational because they vote on misinformation in a rational manner?  How exactly can you tell the difference?  It's more a garbage in, garbage out world than ever.  Was it a rational decision to invade Iraq or not?
Robert Wendell Added Sep 23, 2013 - 6:01pm
@ Borsher - You're not one of those who thinks the right to an opinion makes your opinion right, are you? I hope you're not. Some people have so little sense of what reasoning even is that they think literally everything is a matter of opinion. If everyone thought that way, we would have very little science or technology. The true value of opinions varies enormously. It is not for the person with the opinion to believe it merely on the basis of the desire to believe it, It has to be supported by solid evidence and valid logic that yields conclusions the accuracy of which is testable.
Admittedly, the "irrationality" of spending a lot a time researching who is the best candidate when the weight of single vote is so small is irrational in an economic rather than a strictly logical sense, so the first quote in the article also bends the definition of "irrational" a bit. However, the thrust of my article deals with a deeper, underlying problem: the lack of understanding regarding the reality of who is actually running the whole show. Most people, whether liberal or conservative, have virtually no clue regarding the truth of that for reasons clearly explained in my article  Practical Reality Check II,.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 23, 2013 - 10:12pm
@ Roy 
"...I don't vote for liberals...." 
Well, if you're like most of the others who don't vote for "liberals", you define as liberals anyone who disagrees with your view no matter what else they believe. In practice, most who use this label these days have turned "I don't like what you said" into a politically meaningless operational definition for "liberal".
Steve Borsher Added Sep 24, 2013 - 9:10am
I think you are confusing rational thinking with intelligence.  A person of little intelligence can, and does, mostly think rationally, but they don't have the depth of thought that"more intelligent" people have.  I think of it as stack; same as in computer terms.  How much a person can hold on their mental stack at one time is a measurement of the depth of their ability to think. A person with a "short stack" can still think rationally, but probably will not reach the same conclusion as one who can weigh more information simultaneously.  Self-preservation, built into every one of us, almost guarantees that a person will think rationally, if only in terms of their own well-being; and I think that everyone tries to vote in terms of what they think is best for themselves.  Even people who shoot others for no apparent reason, may have reached that decision through rational thinking with a severely impaired brain. So, enough of that. Who is running the show, based upon your rational conclusions?
Robert Wendell Added Sep 24, 2013 - 3:08pm
@ Roy -
"What makes you a liberal, Robert, is your arrogance in believing you can interpret what others have said."
So this is the new definition of "liberal"? No one but liberals exhibits these characteristics you allege I have? You just confirmed one of the things I've repeated many times about the strange new brand of conservative critics. Merely disagreeing with anything one of you says triggers a knee-jerk label as "liberal" in your mind. That automatically invalidates everything I say after that, and in your mind also assigns to me a ton of characteristics you associate with that label that I don't have. 
You use this on anyone you disagree with and that guarantees by its nature that you will always look right to yourself. You people have trouble with reasoning, and this transparently ridiculous, irrational ploy on the part of all who indulge in it is proof positive of that.
Worse, you're harping about a speck YOU perceive in another's eye without removing the mote (OE for log, plank) in yours. The critics of my article invariably misread what I've actually said in the same way you just called me a liberal and impute all kinds of things to me with that label that utterly fail to describe me. That is an extreme example of reading ideas into something that are simply absent in the target of your criticism. I could be an avid neo-Nazi or KKK member and still acknowledge the reality of AGW, for example, yet many of you have accused me of being liberal based on that one issue before you knew anything else about my positions on anything.  So who was accusing me of "arrogance in believing you can interpret what others have said".
"You don't seem to play well with those who don't agree with you."
I trounce all invalid logic and empty rhetoric. Call this not "playing well with those who disagree" with me if you like. I'm powerless to change that. Only you can, but I suspect you lack any motivation to do so. You might have to change your mind about something that you arrogantly assert as truth based on nothing valid.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 24, 2013 - 3:18pm
@ Steve -
There is most certainly a real distinction between intelligence and reason. Regarding the angle of your distinction between intelligence and reason, though, you neglect a very simple point. No matter how much information is stacked or not according to the level of intelligence involved, if one piece of evidence is missing that is essential to the validity of the argument, there is insufficient evidence for a valid conclusion no matter how great the ability to think rationally. (I'm using "thinking rationally" as synonymous with the ability to use valid reasoning processes.) 

So the more deeply stacked the evidence needs to be in order to have sufficient evidence for a valid conclusion, the more intelligence must be employed to arrive at one. You need both reason and intelligence if resolution of the problem is complex enough to require deeply stacked evidence. The problem with most of my critics is that they blatantly cherry-pick, which of course means that they leave out essential evidence to falsely create insufficient evidence. Worse, they try to invalidate strong, clear reasoning without attacking the premises or demonstrating any logical flaws, but instead by finding some irrelevant side issue to pick on, often wrongly, and then pretend to themselves they've invalidated the whole argument without even addressing any of its essential points.
Often though, this takes the form of the previous point, cherry picking or picking on one point out of context and showing that it doesn't prove anything. Of course, by taking it out of context, they have created a situation in their own minds that leaves us with insufficient evidence, but only because they've left all the other essential pieces of the argument out of the picture. I do think this is indeed often a result of inability to stack information deeply, which is one of the things you use to define intelligence. So I'll let you draw your own conclusions about what that implies regarding the intelligence of most of my critics here on this site.
Steve Borsher Added Sep 24, 2013 - 3:31pm
Yes, I think we agree on what it ultimately takes to reach a logical, intelligent, well informed decision.  Any chance our gumment will do that in the future?  And I hardly ever draw any conclusions about someone else's intelligence from what they write, I draw those inferences from what people do.  How someone drives a car, for instance, speaks volumes about how organized their mind is.  What people say in a thread like this is highly affected by their feeling of anonymity.  I almost never read anything from someone without a "real" name, and often tend to make fun of them if they criticize me.
Steve Borsher Added Sep 24, 2013 - 4:32pm
I have been saying for a while now, post Big Dig, that man can no longer maintain what he can design.  That goes for government as well. We reached our "level of incompetence" when we elected Bill Clinton, IMO, and we have been sliding downhill ever since; politically, morally, and intellectually. There's a joke that Clinton was the first black President. Why did we elect a second one?
Robert Wendell Added Sep 24, 2013 - 9:21pm
Charles, I let Steve, who stated that the ability to stack information deeply is part of what defines intelligence, decide for himself what the inability to do that says about the intelligence of my critics. I personally don't think intelligence can be defined so narrowly.
One can be very intelligent and extremely unwise at the same time.
I see a lot of that here on this site. These extremely closed minds very predictably project the only way to function they know onto others and so accuse me of being as closed as they refuse to admit they are. You cannot understand your own lack of reason without the personal experience of reason with which to contrast it. 
I've changed my world view radically multiple times in my life, but that usually happened slowly, a step at a time, and only when the evidence was clear and the logic clean and very compelling. One can see everything through narrow blinders, not stack information deeply at all, and still be intelligent in myriad ways that allow impressive accomplishments in some areas of life. The world is full of such people. 
Most of what I'm addressing in the sharper ripostes is the lack of anything but a restatement of opinions without any attempt to support them. When there is any attempt, it usually consists of nothing more than assumed "facts" that amount to no more than other opinions. In the rare attempts to reason at all, there are blatant logical fallacies or simply attention to one narrow piece of the picture that represents absurdly insufficient evidence either for their argument or against yours.
To answer your comment of a few days ago, you stated:
"The thing about people is that we do not resolve all contradictions and inconsistencies in our thoughts.  If we did this, we would be robotically controlled by the information available.  Instead, we can continue to work in a world without the need to resolve all in our heads."
I have no interest in living with lots of unresolved contradictions in my head and inconsistencies in my thoughts. I've had to change my thinking in a lot of areas to comply with this. For example, I have spent a lifetime modifying my spiritual understanding to accommodate the absolute physical certainty that evolution is real, never mind the inevitable flaws in, and scientific disagreements over the details of evolutionary theory.
Theory is usually misunderstood by laypeople, as I've pointed out elsewhere, as what is actually hypothesis. Evolution is not hypothesis nor is it a theory. It's existence is an unquestionably and clearly proven fact of life. The evidence for it is overwhelming. Theory, on the other hand, is a comprehensive intellectual framework as opposed to a single hypothesis. It is an intellectual tool that ties all the available data together into a conceptual whole that is practical and internally consistent. It is valued only because of its explanatory power rather than because anyone who truly understands what theory is thinks it's "true". It is under continual modification as new evidence becomes available. It is therefore absurd to say any theory is either true or untrue. If it doesn't work as a practical framework to unify the data we have accumulated so far, it is clearly not a good theory, but the good theory that may replace it is not "true" either. We cannot legitimately label something that is by definition constantly revised "true". This is ignorant hogwash from the scientifically illiterate.
As to contradictory thoughts, if we have them, any minimal understanding of intellectual integrity implies we must work until we either reject one of them. There are exceptions, however. Zen koans are examples. If contradictions are sufficiently comprehensive, their only possible resolution is to recognize their ultimate equivalence. An example of the latter is time. That's a concept so comprehensive it is manifest in whatever subject we wish to consider.
No one can touch time. It, like consciousness, is beyond direct sensory access. It is conceptually abstracted from our conscience experience. It's only measure is that of comparison against another phenomenon that occurs in parallel. We cannot measure time itself, but only compare one phenomenon we perceive as manifesting a chronological sequence with another and from that extrapolate the concept of time. Yet the single moment of time we perceive as perpetually real, with a past that has disappeared and a future that has not yet appeared, we also conceive as an infinite continuum.
Physicists call time the ultimate paradox, since by any kind of locally applicable logic, the same reality cannot be both a single point and an infinite continuum. Only a reality that is so comprehensive that it embr
Robert Wendell Added Sep 24, 2013 - 9:27pm
@ Charles (continued) -
Only a reality that is so comprehensive that it embraces opposite polarities within itself can be accepted as a legitimate component of a wholeness that retains its intellectual integrity. Otherwise, inconsistency and contradictory thoughts are by definition the antithesis of intellectual integrity.
Consciousness, time, and space are intimately related, and they are all so cosmically comprehensive that they embrace the whole. Only at that level can their apparent self-contradictory nature find its resolution as a reconciliation of opposites in their equivalence within our empirical experience . However, we cannot take this kind of globally comprehensive exception as an excuse for poor logic applied at the local level. It sounds to me is if that might be the basis for your argument. If it is, I must respectfully disagree, but with a certain admiration that your thinking was deep enough to have even brought the issue up.
Steve Borsher Added Sep 25, 2013 - 8:17am
Touchy, touchy.  I'll get around to writing eventually.  Autumn and I had been discussing what he would like to see out of me on this site, and he suggested that I do some commenting.  What he posted of mine was something I wrote just after the Gulf spill. In responde to your ranting about my commenting, let me suggest that if you don't want comments you can;t respond to intelligently, then you shouldn;t be writing. Go aheand and have this comment removed.  It will speak volumes about who you really are.
Steve Borsher Added Sep 25, 2013 - 9:21am
Not to go off topic again, but I disagree.  Opinions are everything;  they are what drives the world.  I state my opinion, and you attempt to rebut it, just as we are doing.  Listing paragraphs of unsupported "facts" is a waste of time to me.  In order to have a concise logical (rational) discussion (argument), both sides must agree upon verifiable facts first; otherwise the two parties are arguing from different directions about different things, and I refuse to do that.  I commented on your article originally because your mention of rationality caught my eye.  Discussions about what logic is are always of interest to me, and I have some very strong opinions about that.  Are there any "facts" about logic that we could argue about? I doubt it.  You can rattle off the blatherings of the ancients, but I put no stock in any of that.  I trust my instincts and senses, not those of people I never met from the past.  So, if you want to have a rational discussion about logic, I am all up for that.  Just don't expect me to read line after line of unsupported "facts" which I will ultimately ignore.
As far as my previous "off topic' comment, I was replying to Charles' original comment.  I have no control over where interesting discussions begin.  He made some good points that I thought I would bolster.  Is there some other way I could have messaged him?  This site does not, yet, have the versatility of WSJ, for instance, where you can reply directly to a comment, and message people directly outside the thread.  So, please don't take off topic conversations within your article personally.  Just ignore them.  You are also welcome to ignore any and all that I write.  I don't expect replies.  I just state my thoughts and move on.  If someone cares to continue the discussion, then I am always available for that; but I am not very tolerant of those who put themselves above common civility.
Steve Borsher Added Sep 25, 2013 - 10:08am
Public email?  I haven't been able to find anything like that.
Steve Borsher Added Sep 25, 2013 - 10:25am  How does one pick that up?  If you are talking about something on social media, then I am at a complete loss.  I don't don't participate, and only opened a Facebook account recently to get access to commenting on local news stories, where that is the only access.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 25, 2013 - 10:50am
Who's now complaining about rants? That was the whole point. You were way off topic and did nothing but rant on with your opinions.. Opinions are fine in articles, but they don't contribute a darn thing to discussions unless you support them with some kind of valid argument based on supportable premises.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 25, 2013 - 10:57am
@ Steve (previous post to Steve also)
" Opinions are everything;  they are what drives the world.  ...Listing paragraphs of unsupported "facts" is a waste of time to me."
So you do resolve the glaring self-contradiction above? I guess one applies to me and the other to you? Double standards are symptomatic of the same mindset that indulges in unsupported rants revealing only opinions and nothing more while projecting that on others,, falsely accusing them of exactly what you just did.
Steve Borsher Added Sep 25, 2013 - 11:02am
How about some specific citings on all that.  I'll be glad to respond one by one.  If I responded now I would only be guessing at what you are referring to.  Specificity is next to Godliness.
Steve Borsher Added Sep 25, 2013 - 3:25pm
The stock market is totally rational. Why it does something can always be explained logically. That no one can predict what it is about to do does not not make it irrational. I don't know what you are going to do in the next minute, but you probably have made a rational choice. And just because there are millions of people driving the stock market does not make it irrational either.  It merely moves based upon the amalgam of rational choices made by each individual.  What may be irrational are the choices that computerized trading makes in the market, if it is not rationally programmed.  Still, the movement in the market is rational, even if it is caused by an irrational computer decision, because the computer can be blamed as the exceptional cause.
Steve Borsher Added Sep 25, 2013 - 3:37pm
Why is the decision to vote along party/family lines not rational or democratic.  It is a rational decision to make a choice based upon input from friends/family/politicians.  You, and I, may think that voting based upon what a politician says not rational; but it is, in the strictly logical sense.  It is also a free will choice. The only cases I can think quickly of where a voting choice is irrational is if the voter is clynically hypnotised or is throwing darts.  If the choice is made based upon any information, good or bad, the choice is logical.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 25, 2013 - 6:41pm
So what I see happening here is that one side of this issue has taken the prerogative to redefine "rational" so broadly that no matter how stupid a voter's decision and no matter how badly it may ultimately go against his/her personal, family, community, and national interests it is still a "rational" vote. Well, I can prove just about anything I want to believe that way. That is precisely the strategy, if we can legitimately call it that, that pretty much every critic of anything I write uses.
So congratulations on always being "right" about everything you want to believe, no matter how ridiculous!
Steve Borsher Added Sep 26, 2013 - 7:46am
The first step in solving a problem is to define it properly.  Why are you writing about voting here? I would hope it was to try to effect some change; that is why I write anything.  If you don't characterize the problem correctly, you are only adding to it, IMO. The problem is not illogical thinking, it is bad choices based upon bad input.  That input also includes education.  I just had an argument with my daughter-in-law over the interpretation of a seat belt law, because I insisted that my now 11 year old grandson was developed enough to no longer need a booster seat in my truck in RI. The RI booster seat rule is written as 3 conditions ANDed together defining when a child has to be IN a booster seat.  She could not understand how to reverse that logic to determine when a child could get out of the booster seat. I had to get a person from RI DOT to email me exactly the inverse of the IN conditions to convince her.  And she is not a "stupid" person, just not well educated, like most people; but she is very concerned about her childrens' safety.  And she is the only person I have ever known who can turn a cracker box recipe into a gourmet meal.  So, what kind of voter is she, rational or irrational?  My bottom line is: education is the key.  If you want people to match your expected level of logical thinking, they must be educated to do so; otherwise, they will think as logically as they can at their level.  Descates should have said: "I think, therefore I am logical."  I say: "I am, therefore I think." 
Let's test YOUR logical thinking ability. This is exactly how the RI booster seat law is worded, dictating when a child MUST be IN a booster seat. When is the booster seat no longer required?  The clock is ticking.
Less than 8 years of age
at least 40 pounds, but less than 80 pounds
less than 54 inches
Steve Borsher Added Sep 26, 2013 - 9:33am
So nice he said it twice.
I am responding to the immediate topic, and still discussing what rationality and logic mean to me.  Robert keeps coming back with his side, so I keep coming back with mine.  I previously asked him for specifics points to discuss, be he failed to respond.  I deal in specifics.  He claims that my definition of rational has become too broad; I claim his use of rational as applied to voters is too broad.  Where am I stretching something.  If you cite a specific, I will be only too glad to discuss it.  You just saying that I have gone off on a tangent and stretched some definitions is merely your opinion.  You are welcome to that opinion, but if you ever want me too accept it then we must discuss your specific challenges.
And I am a retired programming and database professional, and I dealt in mathematical logic regularly.  I still see logic as math, and expect any logical argument to be proven with mathematical precision.
Steve Borsher Added Sep 26, 2013 - 10:04am
Here, I'll get back to the original topic; sort of.  This article details 5 things that should not, but do affect voters.  Robert would probably, prior to our discussion, and even now, call these irrational.  I think they are quite rational and logical, but also show how robotic we can be.  The last one I think shows it best: not thinking about death, vote for Kerry; thinking about death, vote for Bush. Rational or irrational?  I say it is rational, especially because it is repeatable among a large number of people.  Is irrationality so predictable?
Robert Wendell Added Sep 26, 2013 - 11:06am
Quoting Steve:
"How about some specific citings on all that.  I'll be glad to respond one by one.  If I responded now I would only be guessing at what you are referring to.  Specificity is next to Godliness."
Uh, yeah, duh, OK...(such a "brilliant" cop-out on such a complicated couple of little points)
Steve Borsher Added Sep 26, 2013 - 11:13am
All unsupported "facts".  If I were trapped in a fire in a tunnel I would not follow the herd because I would be likely to be trampled.  Their decision to go to the air is rational, as is mine to go elsewhere if possible.  You and Robert keep using yourselves as the gauge of rationality. Anyone who does not do what you would do, and probably a large number of people who think like you, are irrational. To me, that is a very narrow view; and very egotistical.  That someone votes like their family is not an illogical choice. It may be a poor choice, and/or a lazy choice; but it is still a rational choice.  I'm sure you do things that you have done since a child and never reviewed them in later life to see if they are still relevant to you as an adult.  Does doing them then make you irrational?  My claim is that even a purely emotional decision is still a logical and rational decision, because there are always other choices.  It is not your place to judge whether a persons choice is rational or not.  If they can explain why the made it, then that person is rational, IMO.  The recent DC shooter heard voices and thought he was being manipulated by low frequency waves.  By some very strange logic and with a very defective brain, he nevertheless made a logical choice to shoot people in order to ease his pain.  I suffer from an incurable chronic terminal disease that I am holding at bay through logical choices.  However, when I get tired, which I do unexpectedly at times due to the disease, I get very self protective and can be easily angered.  It took me a while to recognize the connections involved in my lashing out at times. I now rest as soon as I feel like I am approaching exhaustion.  I would allow that when I reached exhaustion and my brain began to shut down, probably due to low oxygen, that I began acting irrationally, because I made absolutely no choice in being angry or in how I expressed it.  I was absolutely not thinking at all. So, if you and Robert are talking about people who vote in a state of no thought at all, then I would agree that they are irrational.  However, that they could get to the voting booth completely negates that possibility.  People in comas would qualify as well.
I have gotten very logical about monitoring my exhaustion status.  I even timed myself and produced a work schedule that tells me how long to work and rest, work and rest, etc.  My wife is much happier with me now; and so am I.  I recommend that everyone take the time to review their status on a regular basis, and make tweaks to improve yourself.  That is what being human is all about; and it is very rational.
I'm singing off from this thread.  We are getting nowhere and I have a lot of outside projects to finish before it gets much colder.  If any of you respond I will get an alert, but I will not reply unless you ask me to address one specific question.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 26, 2013 - 11:43am
I will now indulge Steve by answering his little logical challenge:
Here are the conditions under which Steve says the law requires a seat booster to be used:
Less than 8 years of age
at least 40 pounds, but less than 80 pounds
less than 54 inches"
Steve's challenge to me is to specify under what circumstances a booster seat is NOT required.
If the child's characteristics are such that any one of the conditions specified in the law does not hold, the child is not legally required to be in a booster seat. That means:
If the child is older than eight, no matter what other conditions the law specified that apply to that child, the child is nevertheless NOT required to be in a booster seat.
If the child either ways less than 40 pounds or over 80 pounds, the the requirement does not apply.
If the child is over 54 inches tall, the requirement also fails to apply, no matter what other of the specified conditions the child fulfills.
Now Steve, you've been interacting with me on comments for a while. If you seriously thought that this extremely trivial kind of logic represented any kind of significant challenge at all to my ability to use valid logic, you have a really big problem.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 26, 2013 - 11:59am
A person is rational. That person's line of reasoning is logical. Rational is broader than logical. Logic requires rigorous adherence to rules of logic. A person cannot use flawed logic and still qualify as rational. However, a person can be rational and go beyond logic, but "beyond logic" does NOT include emotional influence that violates rigorous logical principles. However, "rational" is broader, more inclusive, in that it can make intuitive leaps that do NOT violate logical principles while going beyond strictly logical principles in doing so. Many if not most big scientific breakthroughs occur in this latter way.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 26, 2013 - 12:20pm
For example, Resnikoff stated, “…weigh the opportunity cost of driving all the way to a polling place and standing in line to vote against the infinitesimally small impact made by a single ballot. The conclusion: voting is irrational." It would have been incorrect to have used the word "illogical", since this example does not include any kind of logic. It is basically an economic issue of whether one's time and effort are compensated adequately by the weight of a single vote out of millions. That is a judgment call that each person might make differently and still remain rational. So there is not a solid case here that it is truly irrational, but ironically one can rationally claim that expending so much effort for something with so little weight is economically irrational even if not logically so.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 26, 2013 - 12:47pm
A specific example of irrational voting is the recent Egyptian election of Morsi. The Muslim brotherhood later complained of the unfairness in deposing a democratically elected president. The irrationality of this complaint is clear. They democratically elected a man who then immediately proceeded to consolidate power by rolling back democratic institutions with a new constitution. To vote democratically to elect a president whose purpose is to undo the very institutions that got him elected is indeed irrational unless you didn't really want a democracy. In the latter case, to invoke democracy in complaining that it is unfair to unseat a democratically elected president for rolling back democracy is irrational.
Too many who debate here likewise let their emotional commitment to their opinions similarly undo whatever capacity for valid reasoning they may have. They naturally and very predictably project this tendency on those with whom they debate, since most people tend to subconsciously assume that everyone functions basically the same way they do, even when they fail to recognize such functioning in themselves. That is the operational definition of classical projection: an inability to see in yourself the functional flaws of your interaction with others, and so others remain the only available target upon which to pin your flaws.
Steve Borsher Added Sep 26, 2013 - 1:08pm
I do agree that as voting is performed, in this country, it is irrational, because it rarely leads to a good choice.  We get unacceptable choices foist on us because it is all driven by money.  It is irrational to even vote, because it is a waste of otherwise valuable time. Of course, the politicians convince people to vote by invoking the Constitution; which they do only when convenient.  Your piece was about the manipulation of voters. I would like to see that ended. I don't blame that on the irrationality of the voters, I blame it on the irrationality of the system.  The voters are barely given a choice to make a rational or irrational decision with.  The entire "democratic" system needs an overhaul. Maybe I will write some of my ideas down about that in the future.
Robert Wendell Added Sep 26, 2013 - 5:49pm
Well, finally we agree on a lot of things you just said in this post, Steve. However, I believe the way we got ourselves in this mess in the first place is letting power brokers manipulate us into voting for their lackeys in congress. If we were all rational voters, this control of who we get to elect would not have existed in the first place. We, bit by bit, as citizens, have let a powerful few slowly take our freedoms away while they con us into fighting their wars in the name of protecting our freedoms. Such irony!
Steve Borsher Added Sep 27, 2013 - 8:19am
Yes, Robert, we, who are not part of the grand corruption, have been time and again lulled into a false sense of security; that illusion now being shattered before our very eyes.  But with the corrupt ones in charge of a mindless military, there is nothing much to be done.  Term limits on all politicians would be one small step, but they control those laws too. I justed watched "Gangs of New York" again last night and was reminded that the corruption goes way back in time; even beyond Tammany Hall.  And when the Irish immigrants rebelled against the draft the government sent in the military and gunships and ended that. America, the great experiment in Democracy; emphasis on the "mock".
Robert Wendell Added Oct 12, 2013 - 9:34pm
@ Steve Borsher - You say you worked in mathematical logic and IT, so I'm curious to know why you didn't participate in the logical challenge I posed in an article. I even mention you in the beginning in reference to your statement about skill in logic and intelligence aren't synonymous, with which I state in the article introduction that I agree. It should have been a trivial matter for you to come up with the right answer, having worked in the field of mathematical logic. I am very disappointed in the response, since only three did. Only one got it right while believing there was ambiguity in the logic, which if true would have made 5 the right answer. So nobody really got it right by reasoning correctly. I'm truly amazed and disappointed that so few tried and no one got it right for the right reasons. Any ideas as to why? Autumn speculated that people didn't want to risk an unavoidably public answer and be wrong. However, I thought there would be more people like you who have experience with logic and rigorous, mathematical thought in general who would eagerly take the challenge and find the correct answer. A penny for your thoughts.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 13, 2013 - 10:06am
If you want me to respond you have to invite me specifically.  I don't read everything in a thread. Yes, that is probably hypocritical of me, but in my case it is a necessary shortcut.  I have a very active life outside of these threads, including several grandchildren and a new house. which suck up most of my time.  Basically, if someone can't get their entire point across in the first two sentences, or, at most, the first paragraph, they have lost me.  I only read an entire article if it has flow that I find interesting, and keeps providing new insights to me.  Therefore, as I may have said before, I am not much of a reader. I don't even understand why anyone reads fiction. I find life so much more interesting.
As far as your logic test, point me to it or restate it.  You already gave the answer (maybe), but I will comment on it if you want.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 13, 2013 - 12:42pm
All you have to do to read any article by any author is click on their name, for example, "by Robert Wendell" above just after the title to this article. That will give you their profile and the default tab is a list of their articles. The two articles at the top of my list are the answer preceded by the article to which the top one is the answer. But for your convenience, here's the direct link:
By the way, this article ranked near the top of the "past hour" default page quite a few times, so it was pretty hard to miss.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 13, 2013 - 1:14pm
You are making the assumption that I operate like people you are more familiar with.  How I got here in the first place is, at Autumn's request, I went out to look for an article to comment on.  I saw this title on the front page and decided to see what you had to say about irrational voting.  I immediately disagreed with your premise and commented upon that.  Everything else followed as the night, the dayl with me responding, in my own way, to further comments.  That I may go "off topic" is a value judgment in others' minds.  What I say is exactly what comes to mind in response to what other people say.  It's kind of "stream of consciousness".  But, IME, it leads to interesting discussion that lead to interesting conclusions; but only if interesting people are involved.
I'll read the other article and comment later.  Right now I'm in the middle of building a frame around my septic tank turrets to keep the pea stones around them from falling in.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 13, 2013 - 1:25pm
Dedicated to me, no less.  I'll take that as a compliment and a complement.  I read it quickly to see if I could do it quickly. I can't.  I will have to write down the conditions to solve it; my stack is not deep.
I am a "master" of the game Mastermind; which is similar in form to your problem. I even programmed a Monroe? calculator to play it back in the late 70s.  My 10 year old grandson was given the game last Xmas, and he tried it on me shortly thereafter, having me solve his puzzle.  I went about 3 steps and told him that something was wrong with his clues.  He did have a piece out of place.  So, it would be a great temptation of synergy for me to guess that #5 is the answer.  However, I will work it out later and give you a "final answer".  If using pencil and paper is cheating, well, I don;t really care.  That is how I work some things out.  Mastermind has it's own pencil and paper built in.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 13, 2013 - 4:46pm
OK, so the "puzzle" is sort of like a magic trick, full of too much useless information and misdirection. It is also a short stack problem, requiring no butter, syrup, pencil, paper, or pegs. It does, however, require careful reading; not of the puzzle information given, but of the possible answers.  My answer is #6.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 13, 2013 - 8:31pm
@ Steve - I don't care how anyone solves it, pencil and paper or what. Well, you need to read the "Answer to" article here:
Steve Borsher Added Oct 14, 2013 - 7:22am
I concluded that the correct answer was that all 4 went to the party. Mostly because real world actions crept into my solution.  Would Jack really skip his friends birthday party? Suppose the friend was Ron?  Here is a real logic problem I dug up on the Web.  It does not involve people:
Q1. Which is the first question where c) is the correct answer

a) Q3
b) Q4
c) Q1
d) Q2

Q2. Which is the first question where a) is the correct answer

a) Q4
b) Q2
c) Q3
d) Q1

Q3. Which is the first question where d) is the correct answer

a) Q1
b) Q2
c) Q4
d) Q3

Q4. Which is the first question where b) is the correct answer

a) Q2
b) Q4
c) Q3
d) Q1
Robert Wendell Added Oct 14, 2013 - 3:13pm
I will work on this one. It's much more difficult than mine. Mine is logically airtight, too, and relatively trivial. The preferences of the people are clearly stated, as well as to whom they would be communicated, and that the latter would respect those preferences. There was nothing left to subjective guesswork about human behavior. Letting that prejudice your answer is the very thing that introduces noise into real-life judgments and makes them wrong. It's why juries send innocent people to jail or their deaths.
This problem you pose looks like fun. I'm going to work on it until I arrive at the correct answer.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 14, 2013 - 5:04pm
No comment on my conclusion? Let me explain it to you in case you think I am joking.  You make a point of saying that the 4 are humans, and that it is a birthday party for a friend.  So, let me tell you a story.  I missed a good friends 30th birthday because I was chasing a woman up and down the east coast.  We were both womanizers, so I thought he would understand.  He hasn't forgiven me in 37 years.  So, in my experience, humans should not miss friends birthdays; especially not to just go fishing.  When I said there was too much information, I wasn't kidding.  Experience figures strongly into the deductive process.  I would say that if you took a survey, at least 80% would say they would not miss a friend's birthday party to go fishing or shopping.  Your personal experience may be different, but that does not validate the puzzle.  Basically, it is a bad puzzle.  That's why I said the one I just presented is better: because there are no people in it, and no such ambiguity as in yours.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 14, 2013 - 6:52pm
But my presentation of the problem preempts that interpretation. Your argument here is nothing short of absolutely bananas. It allows you to restate the problem any way you like in terms of your feelings about what people would do in a given situation while ignoring what the problem states as their preferences, their communication of them, and their stated respect for these preferences. 
As to excess information, real life is full of excess information, and the ability to reason includes the ability to exclude what is irrelevant to a solution. Your problem, thank you, is not "real logic", because what you regard as fitting that definition is abstract only as long is there is no input to it. It's only useful when we put some information into it and get an answer. You have to deal with it abstractly in a computer program because you can't know ahead what future users are going to have for input.
You would do better in solving a real-life problem if you could be equally detached from the extraneous judgments you put into the picture that not only ignore the problem as stated, but directly contradicts some of the information. For example, when the problem states that Jack would rather go fishing instead of to the party if Ron can go with him, your solution violates that right up front. You can't solve a problem correctly if you make up your own problem instead and solve it. That is the same as the straw man arguments I see people using right and left, up a down on this site.
By the way, why don't you tell me exactly what information you find excessive? I don't deny that there is any, but I would like to see if you can even tell which information, if any, is excessive.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 14, 2013 - 7:43pm
@ Steve - Also please show me specifically any logical ambiguities you claim are in the problem as stated in the article and not in your inventive sequel to it.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 14, 2013 - 11:08pm
I put asterisks beside the correct answers below. Although Q1 taken alone would look to be correct if you chose c, it makes Q2 and Q3 not work. The only one for which that kind of logic makes sense is Q4, since all the other answers I give work together up through Q3, so the answer to Q4 becomes independent of the rest. Although the logic for Q1 and Q4 looks independently identical, the first three questions constrain each other so they only work with the answers I've given. Here are my answers:
Q1. Which is the first question where c) is the correct answer

a) Q3
b) Q4
c) Q1
d) *Q2

Q2. Which is the first question where a) is the correct answer

a) Q4
b) Q2
c) *Q3
d) Q1

Q3. Which is the first question where d) is the correct answer

a) *Q1
b) Q2
c) Q4
d) Q3

Q4. Which is the first question where b) is the correct answer

a) Q2
b) *Q4
c) Q3
d) Q1
That was fun! Thanks!
Robert Wendell Added Oct 15, 2013 - 8:03am
Oh, by the way, actually all the questions except Q2 would work the same way as Q1, fulfilling independently their own answers. Q2 is the worm in the apple, since if you answer the other questions in the most obvious way, Q2 is stuck with no possible right answer. It is the interdependence of the first three questions that is the only way out of that mess, leaving only Q4 to work independently from the rest.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 15, 2013 - 9:21am
You mean Q4, not Q1.  And here are more puzzles because you enjoyed this one.  This one is BrainBashers Entry Exam Section D.  They explain the solution much like you did.
As far as your initial puzzle, if your solution is to be interpreted as correct, saying the people are humans, and that the party is a friend's bithday party is too much information.  But because you said that initially, everything else was too much information.  If you had said that the people were emotionless robots, or that the party was not a friend's birthday party, then I would have opted for your solution. I chose to disregard the rest of your information because your initial statements precluded them; in my world.  You gave me the option to use my real world experience to interpret your puzzle as I saw fit, by providing "too much information".  My world, and the experience gained from it, work very well for me.  I don't make exceptions in how I deal with things; even for puzzles.  That said, I solved this problem correctly my way, but it was not the correct approach.  Still, it worked.  Let's see how you do. I even left the hint there for you.
This is a problem, which can be easily solved by children before entering elementary school. If you want to give it a try, please forget everything you have ever studied. Here it comes:

8809 = 6
7111 = 0
2172 = 0
6666 = 4
1111 = 0
3213 = 0
7662 = 2
9312 = 1
0000 = 4
2222 = 0
3333 = 0
5555 = 0
8193 = 3
8096 = 5
7777 = 0
9999 = 4
7756 = 1
6855 = 3
9881 = 5
5531 = 0

2581 = ?
Robert Wendell Added Oct 15, 2013 - 12:17pm
Problems in real life are loaded with what YOU call "too much information". That information was just explaining options and giving something concrete as a real-life explanation instead of leaving it abstract. So are you implying that professional programmers can't deal with real-world problems; only abstractions and if-then loops? People are not robots. I gave what their preferences were and you need to learn to accept the information as given. So why don't you just come clean and admit your excuses are completely bogus and you blew it. I'd have a lot more respect for you if you did that.
You remind me of some engineering project managers who would reject a contract engineer's resume from me because they didn't understand it correctly and then not hire the guy to save face even though the guy was a God-send for the job. That's not a good way to live.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 15, 2013 - 1:09pm
I'm just pointing out how precision plays an important part in deductive reasoning.  You gave a number of pieces of information, and left the reader with a choice of what to follow.  As a programmer I never had support contracts with my clients because I did not let excess information, especially from the client, make me approach a project in any way other than what I knew was the "right" way. Ultimately, I ended up with two clients that refused to cooperate.  That led to a very stressful situation that precipitate my illness.  When I went into remission the first time, I tried to go back to work with them, but the same stress built up, so I wrote their pecs the best I could, handed the projects over to another consultant, and retired.
As far as resumes go, and I was first a VP of software, and then a VP of product development at my last place of employment before I became an independent consultant, I rarely relied on resumes because they were usually full of half truths.  Now, since the SCOTUS has sanctioned lying, along with the lead of most politicians, I wouldn't even bother to read any resumes. I would do the interviewing and I would hire people more on the basis of their interest and general nerdiness, than I would on their supposed past performance.  When I took over the software department there were about a dozen programmers.  Most of them left because they couldn't work with me.  That was fine, because I hired two young programmers who were very hungry, and the 3 of us did the same work as the previous 12.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 15, 2013 - 7:09pm
Quoting Steve: " You gave a number of pieces of information, and left the reader with a choice of what to follow."
You've got to be kidding! If you're going to make statements like that, back them up. There is absolutely zero logical ambiguity in the problem as presented. If all four went to the party, then the statement in the problem is violated that Jack would rather go fishing instead of to the party if Ron could go with him.

It doesn't matter one whit whether you think that's not what a real person would do. You don't know Jack or what he would do. The problem tells you what he would do. You don't get to reinvent the problem because you happen to think no one would ever have those preferences.
YOU decided what YOU wanted to about who was motivated to do what in direct contradiction to the problem as stated. You gave an answer to a problem you made up instead of mine. It's that simple. Why in the whatsit does somebody with your credentials think that is in the least legitimate? It's just downright silly and I think you know it. As best I can tell, you're just doing your best to throw up smoke screens to save face, unless you're much less capable of clear headed thought than I think you are.
I already challenged you to pick out exactly those pieces of "excess information" you claim to see. Please also show me how anything at all, excessive or not, allows you the ambiguity you claim. I already shot one down. So try another or simply slink out, since that's the only option you have left other than complying with my requests to back your claims up.
Cullen Kehoe Added Oct 15, 2013 - 7:32pm
Do people make rational business decisions either? Clearly no because agreeing to buy a house you can't afford (after lying about your income) doesn't make financial sense. But millions of Americans did exactly that. 
Human beings aren't entirely rational creatures.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 15, 2013 - 9:14pm
Never did I say they were. But the ability to reason is a highly valuable skill in dealing intelligently with nature and constructing practical models that describe the way natural structure behaves with a very high degree of accuracy. That accuracy is responsible for the modern technology that surrounds us and that we use and depend on every day. Even people who think they don't use much of it have no idea how completely their supply of food, electricity, transportation, and communication depends on it.
But the thinking mind is indeed a very small part of who we are. Our brains do all kinds of things for us we have no clue about. It aims basketballs and billiard balls and rides bicycles without our having to do any calculations to do these things. We don't even know exactly what we're doing to maintain our balance on a bike. We accumulate experience and our brains figure out from that what to do with our muscles. We don't calculate the relationship between the radius of curvature, velocity, and vector angle with the ground to stay balanced on a bike, even though we effectively acts physically as if we did. Unlike robots, our brains reduce very complex tasks to a single, simple feel for whatever task and it works every time we get on a bike, for example, and feel it again. And so it is with most of what we do.
But that's no good reason to draw wrong conclusions based on bad logic for those tasks for which our thinking mind is quite capable if we learn how to use it right.  On the other hand, it is capable of doing a lot of damage when we use the thinking mind carelessly or even irrationally.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 16, 2013 - 12:13am
Of course, intellectually astute people can come to wrong conclusions. No one is perfect. That is not the point of the article. The point is we need to do better at being rational, learn how read and gather information more objectively, and practice critical thinking. There is a huge poverty of that on this site among many.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 16, 2013 - 9:24am
What we need is more clarity.  You can say what you want about what I did or didn't do with your puzzle, but that does not change my basic premise that there was too much information.  At the core, it is a good puzzle, but you should remove the "human" reference, and just say "party".  And if you do choose to clean it up, you should change option #5 to read "one and only one" instead of definitive.  In my world, there can be more than one definitive solution if there is not enough information.  When you use terms like that, you must provide your definition. And that is all the more I have to say about your puzzle.  Remember, I originally said I would read it and comment on it; and that is what I did.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 16, 2013 - 10:44am
@ Steve - "Your world" redefines words and reinvents puzzles to suit your personal ends. Intelligent, perceptive readers will recognize the truth.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 16, 2013 - 12:03pm
The truth is that you are intolerant of anyone who does not agree with your viewpoint.  Now we have come full circle and back to my original comment.  You think that anyone who does not vote the way you do is "irrational". You are also intolerant of any kind of criticism, unless it somehow fits into your "world".  We all have our own worlds (read: space) which we protect, and yours is no better than anyone else's.  All "intelligent, perceptive readers" now know a lot about yours, but you know nothing about ours.  How intelligent and perceptive does that make you?
Robert Wendell Added Oct 16, 2013 - 2:44pm
Because I don't agree with your bad reasoning, your bogus defenses for them, and inability to back up your statements about me, that proves all these other things you say about me? That logic is just about as good as the logic you applied to my logic problem. Apparently you can only do logic as long as it remains abstract in a computer programming language. Real world information seems to get you utterly confused with all kinds of subjective reactions you apparently are powerless to prevent from overriding your knowledge of abstract logic. Too bad for you, not me.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 16, 2013 - 3:08pm
As I have said several times before: give me one thing to concentrate on and I will go into great detail.  Pick just one thing I said about you and I will point out line by line what you said to support it.  All I know about you is from what you have written, and I don't make things up. Also, no response to the last child-simple logic puzzle I gave you? Are you diverting attention from it the way you accused me of doing with your puzzle?  I guess you don't get it that what you accuse other people of says much more about you than it does about them.  Apparently, you are the type of person who lies to cover up their shortcomings.  And I back that statement up with your "As best I can tell, you're just doing your best to throw up smoke screens to save face". If you can think it about someone else then you probably have done it yourself. That sort of underhanded behavior never even occurs to me to do to someone else.
BTW, I just edited this comment and noticed a number a thumbs down on several of my past comments here.  Was that you?  It would never occur to me to deride someone else's comment no matter what it said about me.  What others think or say about me is strictly their opinion; and they are welcome to it.  Sure, I don;t like to be misunderstood, but there are plenty of people out there who will never understand me, because I react on a situation by situation basis.  I can sound like I am a Republican sometimes, and other times a Democrat because I do all my thinking for myself.  So, I often get it from both sides at the same time, being accused of waffling when I try to fully explain my position; basically the same as is going on with you. The only difference with you is that you do have a modicum of decorum.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 16, 2013 - 5:14pm
You're full of bluster and no substance and that's obvious to anyone with a grain of common sense. I solved two of your little logical problems, which are abstract and apparently the only kind of impractical problems with no real-world content you're able to deal outside of computer programs. I'm not interested in participating in an endless series of logical tests from you, so flake off, pal. I'm through with you and your blatantly idiotic accusations and transparently stupid conclusions about me. Bye!
Robert Wendell Added Oct 16, 2013 - 5:17pm
I didn't vote down one comment of yours. I effectively vote them down by pointing out their intensely vapid character, so I don't do it anonymously and you get to understand why if you can read and have any comprehension of anything at all, about which you have sewn severe doubts in my mind.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 17, 2013 - 7:13am
Bye. I'll let you go now, lest you lose that last filament of decorum.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 26, 2013 - 11:25am
@ The Emperor - You seem to be confusing the meaning of "rationalize" and "reason". Reasoning is rational. Rationalizing is not. "Rationalize" is a psychological term which means to BEND reason to suit your emotional need to make something you're NOT doing right LOOK right to yourself. I see an awful lot of that in comments on this site.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 27, 2013 - 7:03am
So you didn't look at the Swiss study? Here's the link again:
Quoting from my article Practical Reality Check II  (
"Look especially at the names on page 4, in Figure 2-D…names like Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Deutschebank, Credit Suisse, etc. The study states on page 5:
" 'The core is also very densely connected, with members having, on average, ties to 20 other members (Fig. 2 C, D). As a result, about 3/4 of the ownership of firms in the core remains in the hands of firms of the core itself. In other words, this is a tightly-knit group of corporations that cumulatively hold the majority share of each other.' "
"Then consider what Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said, '...the banks, hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created, are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.' Is it not quite clear that such powerful, centralized financial control of a kind against which our government was specifically designed to protect us from is NOT just another nutty conspiracy theory? Can we really afford to risk even more complete subversion of our democracy merely because our current world view is more comfortable for us? Do we wish to remain faithful to those who cleverly exploit our fears and biases to misdirect of our attention and so hide their centralized control?"
So the banking crisis didn't happen?...or if it did, the bad guys got prosecuted?..or the bad guys weren't really bad, but just doing business and seeking profit in legitimate ways, and that's why they didn't get prosecuted? Dream on, pal! Who's being hypocrtiical now?
Robert Wendell Added Oct 27, 2013 - 9:38am
Who's being illogical? You look at one part of the study and ignore the significant part and demonstrate you don't know how to interpret any kind of graphical display of information, not to mention it is only part of a larger context. Those aren't even locations on any globe, which you seem to think has something to do with the earth.
For your information, as if this will do any good at all, this is just a geometrical display of financial interrelations. You are so out of it I can't begin to conceive of what your little mind sees about much of anything. I can't discuss anything with someone who can look at important, well-ordered data intelligently displayed and find it not only impossible for him to understand, but pretend it doesn't really say anything.
Durbin isn't the only one who has said or who knows that, either. If you don't know that, you don't know much. Oh, but you already proved that with your ignorant non-interpretation of the data in that study. And you have the nerve to talk about thinking logically. You don't even understand why I would ask you the question about the banking crisis. So if your "logical" little mind doesn't get any of this, I give up. I'm reminded of the famous Heinlein quote, "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes time and annoys the pig"
Robert Wendell Added Nov 12, 2013 - 11:00am
I should probably reply that until you answer my questions, I won't bother to answer yours. Your thinking is so off-base, though, that you probably think you already did. I'll answer your questions anyway, even though I find them extremely silly.
Quoting "The Emperor":
"You really need to think about things logically. If the banks controlled everything why are they always being sued? Have you seen the fines they’ve had to pay to make Government extortion go away? Did you happen to notice their stock price during the heart of the financial collapse?"
First, I fail to find any "logic" implied in your questions. Why should their being in control eliminate any possibility they would be sued? Your question assumes a black-and-white situation with either such absolute power that no laws apply to them ever, or they have no control at all. Such an assumption is absurd on its face.

Your next questions assumes that fines, a very light penalty considering their blatant crimes, are government extortion. That's a point of view, an opinion...far from being a fact. In the earlier Savings and Loan crisis of 80s and 90s, many went to jail. This time they got off without any prosecutions except for a very few local, minor players.

Their stock prices went way down because the top leaders screwed their institutions into the ground and got rich doing it, received millions apiece in bonuses, and never had to serve a day in prison for ripping off millions of people around the world for their personal benefit.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 12, 2013 - 11:32am
By the way, "Emperor", I had already answered that last question with the Swiss study that you didn't even look at deeply enough to even notice what the graphic representations represented. Your response provokes a suspicion that perhaps you are unable to interpret information in graphic form.
Steve Borsher Added Jun 10, 2016 - 4:09pm
If a choice is made by making a "decision" then the choice is not irrational. Wendell recently explained what he meant by saying that the voters step in the booth and pull levers or make marks randomly. I suppose that is true for a few people; and that is the only true form of irrational voting. No matter what sort of "reason" a person has to vote for a candidate, when reason is involved the choice is totally rational. The choice may not be an educated one, but it is a rational one. People on welfare vote for Democrats. That is a rational choice handed down from generation to generation. It may be automatic now, but it still has its basis in a rational choice.
Steve Borsher Added Jun 11, 2016 - 10:33am
Speaking of marriage, I think more people get married irrationally than vote irrationally. Getting a marriage license should require passing at least a minimum standard of rational testing. Voting would benefit from that too; as would running for public office.
And the writers of the Constitution hated slavery?
George N Romey Added Jun 11, 2016 - 11:42am
Given that most owned slaves I tend to doubt they did. Some of them may have treated them reasonably well, however, it's stil like a pimp that treats his girls reasonably well.
Steve Borsher Added Jun 11, 2016 - 6:30pm
"All men are created equal". That's when men were men, and all others were beasts of burden; including all women.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 11, 2016 - 9:15pm
Ryan said, "Those values should be predicated on those the writers of our Constitution had, who hated slavery too." 
Thomas Jefferson had slaves and had children by one of them. His modern descendants proved it with DNA testing. Voters in that time had to own land. No one else could vote. It was a landed gentry oligarchy just as it is a corporate oligarchy today. Conservatives are blind to these things. Too bad for us all, because they get to vote with their self-blinding attitudes and resulting abysmal ignorance.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 11, 2016 - 9:19pm
Voters can be rational only when their habits of thought are rational and they bother to inform themselves with well-vetted sources. Truth has a liberal bias. That means the truth looks liberal to today's conservatives.
George N Romey Added Jun 11, 2016 - 9:27pm
Robert you originally wrote this fine article in 2013.  HRC was considered a shoe in for the Democratic side but who would have guessed this white hair 74 year old "Democratic Socialist" would have given her a hard run (and if the system had not been previously rigged would have likely won).  And by an stretch of the imagination who would have picked Donald Trump as the Republican nominee.  If you want to realize how so many things have gone wrong over the past three years, or not resolved and covered up (like no economic recovery) this election is Evidence Exhibit Number One.  
Robert Wendell Added Jun 11, 2016 - 9:42pm
Yes, George. Note the irrational ignoring of the simple, irrefutable fact that there are black descendants of Thomas Jefferson living today. It just disappears around the corners of their heads before it gets to their ears, never mind making into their brains.
Steve Borsher Added Jun 12, 2016 - 2:12pm
It is the irrationality of politics that makes irrational voters. This time it's more like "pin the tail on the Donkey"; or the Elephant.
Mike Haluska Added Jun 12, 2016 - 8:36pm
Wendell -
It's a lot to expect of voters to be "rational" when the process that produces "candidates" is completely irrational.  I remember watching the first Republican debate a year ago and thinking:
"We have 300 million people in the United States - these guys are the best we can do?" 
I never expected a rational candidate to come from the Democrat Party so I wasn't disappointed by their coronation of Hillary Clinton.
When you think about it, why would want to run for political office against a Democrat?  The Democrats have total control of the mainstream media, NPR, Public TV, every major newspaper in every major city, almost all college and university campuses, the entertainment industry (movies and TV).  Trump has 20 full time Washington Post reporters digging into every aspect of his life while Hillary Clinton could be caught on videotape butchering someone and the mainstream media would look the other way.
With all of the advantages the Democrat Party has, it's astounding that they ever lose an election.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 12, 2016 - 10:03pm
Haluska, thank you for making nice for once, but I'm sorry. How in the hey would you know what rational is?
Steve Borsher Added Jun 13, 2016 - 1:21pm
A rat is as rational as a dog is dogmatic.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 13, 2016 - 4:34pm
I like the joke, Steve. Pretty funny! One can be rational without being dogmatic. In fact, rational people have no need to be dogmatic.
On the other hand, one can be very irrational and totally dogmatic. In fact, these traits tend to go together. Rational people, though, need good, solid reasons to change their minds. Irrational people see that as dogmatic.
Irrational people have to be dogmatic or change their views randomly for no good reason. Of course, by definition they acquired their views for no good reason in the first place. So dogma is all they've got for any kind of stability. They naturally think that's what everybody who doesn't agree with them is doing. It's called classical projection.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 13, 2016 - 8:10pm
Where do you get this cow poop, Ryan? I go to church every Sunday and pray to the true God every day. You reveal that you have no real knowledge of or even about God.
You have a paper and ink god and a twisted belief system based on absurd misinterpretations of that ink that has nothing to do with God's witness to Himself within us. You make absurd assumptions about me and preach them as if it were all absolute gospel. You make statements both about me and about your idea of "truth" that you fail to do anything more than repeat more loudly and pretend the bible supports you. Yet only your own twisted interpretation of the bible supports you.
So if you're only going to spout you severely distorted ideology here without any rhyme or reason other than what you already deem to be "truth", you're no longer welcome to do that here. I welcome all comments from you, or anyone else, whether I agree with them or not, as long as they represent other than endlessly repetitious regurgitation of your or their particular brand of pure dogma. Any return to that kind of worthless pontification will disappear from this thread.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 14, 2016 - 1:45am
You have no idea how a true Christian or Jesus Himself would think, write, talk, or act. Get off your high horse and get a dose of genuine spirituality. In the meantime, don't try to sell me on the fake, literal-minded, fundamentalist (i.e., materialistic) religion you espouse.
I quoted Luke 17:20-21 to you. Jesus clearly says there that heaven is not a place. A place is material. Heaven is spiritual; NOT material. Jesus clearly meant that. Yet literal interpreters of the bible are deluded by materialistic mindsets pretending that spiritual matters are somehow actually material.
Their fake spirituality is materialism lamely attempting to  clothe itself in spiritual garb. They ignore Luke 17:20-21 or twist it to make it mean something Jesus never said. They turn that completely around, accusing of twisting those same words those of us who actually understand them by the grace granted by our being made in God's image, which bears witness within us if we ever experience enough inner silence to notice (e.g., "Be still and know that I an God").
Without that, the genuine spiritual meaning of scripture can never reveal itself. That's in the bible, too, or don't you pay any attention to those parts? "Spiritual" materialists substitute the cultural and historical trappings (superficial, materialistic, and anything but truly fundamental) for the really profound truths embedded in them. They consider any talk of allegory as liberal, "revisionist" religious heresy despite Jesus' repeated use of parables.
They delude themselves that the superficial, material aspects of scripture are "fundamental" while they ignore the truly deep, spiritual truths embedded in them. Worse, they kill each other over their superficial differences. That, of course, completely ignores the Golden Rule, the very basis of all genuine morality.
Genuine morality is not obsessed with defining as abstinence from sex so nearly exclusively as the intensity of your focus on that seems to indicate. Rather, it is a genuine, compassionate, Christ-like compassion and mercy manifest in the recognition of others as sharing our status as children of God. It is a deep, heartfelt recognition (not merely intellectual) of all those created in the image* of God (spiritual image; NOT material image).
*Please note that "image" here is metaphorical and not literal except in the deluded minds of those who think this means God is something like a white-bearded sage sitting on a shining throne in a place called heaven somewhere out there in space. That is pure materialism. It would be laughable if it weren't so pathetic.
Steve Borsher Added Jun 14, 2016 - 10:21am
Well there is something we DO agree on: dogma is totally irrational, as its basis is fear, mostly of being an outsider, which is emotional and, therefore, irrational. The expression "think outside the box" should be changed to "think outside the dogma"; or "think outside the political party line". All that said, I guess I have to change my view or irrational voting: those that vote the party line are also irrational, and zombie, voters.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 14, 2016 - 8:20pm
The problem is the two-party duopoly. They make it almost impossible for a third party to ever make inroads into our politics in any significant way. The media play along with this game. They always act like any third party candidate, irrespective of whether on the right or left, is some kind of interloper with wild ideas.
Well, now we have that happening within the two parties that dominate. That's a logical consequence of prolonged lockout on the part of establishment politics while they bilk us all. Sanders was an independent until he became a Democratic candidate. He did that for the reasons already mentioned above.
Yet media and other politicians in the main parties still made a big deal of this and treated him as if he weren't a legitimate candidate. They treated him pretty much the same way they've always treated third party candidates.The media would have ended up with egg on their faces if they were the least bit honest.
The media act as if Clinton won the pledged candidates by a large enough margin to justify their initial and in some cases continued marginalization of Sanders as an impossible wild card candidate. They fail to admit how strong a role the media coverage played in making it that way. Even in Argentina, which is not exactly known for its political stability, to put it mildly, the media are prohibited from commenting on politics or providing political opinions on the same day people vote.
There may be something to that, since research shows that most people haven't decided how to vote until they pull the lever. But one thing is clear. The media are strongly biased toward traditional establishment politics while the voters are wanting to chuck it all and do something different. Of course, we have wildly different ideas about what something different should be. I think, though, that all of this is just a phase transition to a better future.
It's shakeout time. This is something that always happens before any significant transformation takes place or even can take place. I remain optimistic about the future. Time will tell. 
Steve Borsher Added Jun 15, 2016 - 9:09am
The media panders to the politicians; if they didn't they wouldn't get any interviews. As much as I like Meet The Press, and Chuck Todd hitting harder than any former moderator, they just can't afford to totally alienate the politicians.
Also, I want to elaborate a bit more on "zombie voters". I woke up thinking about what I had written, and realized that the zombie voters are a third class of behavior: non-rational. Dogmatic zealots are irrational, but dogmatic zombies are non-rational: there is absolutely NO thought in what they do.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 15, 2016 - 4:16pm
Makes sense to me. They just let life push them around. They're on autopilot, but the automation doesn't work right.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 15, 2016 - 4:17pm
Bad code.
Steve Borsher Added Jun 15, 2016 - 4:37pm
They were programmed by their parents, and their parents were bad programmers; like the ones at Microsoft. And I'm sure many badly programmed children have suffered their own version of the "Blue Screen of Death". I advocate parents being required to pass a competency exam before being allowed to have children.
Speaking of auto-pilot, my daughter came up with an interesting take on the ISIS murder sprees in the USA. She thinks those "terrorists" are being brainwashed some way. If so, I think that maybe there are subliminal messages being posted on ISIS websites and in videos, and that is corrupting the weak minded. I sent an email to the FBI suggesting they look into that.
Mike Haluska Added Jun 17, 2016 - 2:52pm
Wendell - maybe you should try "making nice" once in a while?  Blowing off someone trying to extend a hand of friendship isn't exactly very Christian of you, is it? 
Robert Wendell Added Jun 17, 2016 - 3:07pm
Well now, aren't you one to talk, Haluska? I just called a spade a spade. I have a low tolerance for pretending to critique who is rational or not from one of the most irrational people I've ever tried to deal with. Worse, you're not even sincere or the least bit honest in your attempts to debate. (You don't really debate, do you? You apparently have no clue how to do so.) 
You're not just abysmally ignorant of the most elementary science outside your specific discipline and likely little real understanding of the science within it. You are not even honest about how you debate. You use underhanded rhetorical tricks in feckless attempts to make your vapid points. I'm sick of it, thank you! 
Mike Haluska Added Jun 20, 2016 - 11:45am
Let me add another term to the Wendell Glossary:
"Underhanded Rhetorical Tricks" = any point made by Haluska that Wendell can't rationally refute. 
Robert Wendell Added Jun 20, 2016 - 4:51pm
Show me one. No, don't. You'll show me some stupid horse poop and pretend it's rational and refutes everything I've said without ever addressing a hair's worth of my allegedly "irrational" science that you have no way of understanding. You will consequently call it "pseudo-scientific babble". You'll do that despite the ease with which anyone with a modicum of scientific knowledge can see that it makes perfect sense. and never realize how ridiculous you look to anyone with a little sense and some understanding of basic scientific concepts.
Steve Borsher Added Jun 20, 2016 - 5:28pm
You will consequently call it "pseudo-scientific babble", etc. That's my job.
Where do you stand on the Higg's boson and colliding black holes? Anyone with an opinion should chime in.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 20, 2016 - 7:03pm
Try hard to make sense, Borsher. What's your job? This looks like a non sequitur. Cern found the Higgs boson. It's real. It gives mass to matter. Colliding black holes become bigger black holes. Since it's virtually impossible that they have an orientation that would cause them to slam straight as a die right into each other, they spiral around each other and then merge. This causes huge ripples in gravity called gravity waves. Einstein predicted this. The LIGO detections showed that not only do they exist, but they conform exactly to General Relativity.
Haluska probably thinks I had to google this stuff. Nope. I already knew it and typed this right after I read your comment.
Steve Borsher Added Jun 20, 2016 - 7:18pm
I'm sure you knew all a about. I just wanted to see where you stood on what I consider made up science for fund raising purposes. "Publish or perish", or at least drive around in a Yugo.
I would certainly like to know what convinces you that that science is valid. I think anyone who believes in it is dogmatic about science; either irrationally or zombiatically.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 20, 2016 - 7:39pm
So you think the whole theoretical physics community around the world is at least complicit in a conspiracy involving false science, if not heading it, to raise funds? Well, in my opinion you're competing with Haluska for first prize at the International Championship for Irrational Thought. I'd say you're right up there with the Flat Earth Society and the ones who believe the moon shot was faked in Hollywood with special effects..
Steve Borsher Added Jun 21, 2016 - 9:53am
And I don't think we should be spending money on trying to get to Mars either. It's just another planet we will destroy; after we spend a ton of money creating it. But neither of us will live long enough for me to tell you: "I told you so".
Mike Haluska Added Jun 21, 2016 - 4:41pm
Wendell - what did you do to set Borsher off?  By the way, if you have Netflix they have an excellent documentary called "Particle Fever" about the weeks leading up to the Higgs Boson experiment at CERN.
Steve Borsher Added Jun 21, 2016 - 5:29pm
Particle Fever, a very appropriate name. Why does there have to be a set of particles, when there only needs to be one particle. Of course, the amount of power necessary to isolate it would rip the entire Universe apart. But they may accomplish a smaller version of such destruction as they keep upping the power to find the unfindable. Nice to see you two agreeing over me. You can thank me later. BTW, I don't make this stuff up; it just comes to me, and I present it unedited "for your approval"; or not.
Mike Haluska Added Jun 21, 2016 - 7:10pm
Steve - love your twisted sense of humor.  Go check out my latest article comparing the scientists involved with the Higgs - Boson experiment with the "Climate Change" pseudo-scientists.
Steve Borsher Added Jun 21, 2016 - 7:45pm
What's to compare? It's all pseudo science today. Prove to me that the Hugh's Boston is real, such that there is absolutely no doubt. And while you're at it, prove  to me that the speed of light is a constant and a maximum over all space and time. If someone can do the latter I will retract all my derogatory comments about asstrophysics.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 21, 2016 - 8:24pm
I'm an asstrologer. How's Uranus?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 21, 2016 - 11:52pm
Yeah, it's all pseudo-science. That's why none of our modern technology actually works. It's all based on pseudo-science, so it's an illusion when we use technology that seems to actually work.
Forget your cell phone and the quantum physics in semiconductors, LEDs, lasers, etc. Forget the Special and General Relativity that allows your GPS navigator to be even a little accurate, not to mention the fractal antenna in your cell phone.
Uh-uh! None of it actually works because the science underlying it all is false. So don't let reality fool you. No! Please resist the temptation to believe any of it's real because Borsher and Haluska know better.
Steve Borsher Added Jun 22, 2016 - 10:14am
I would like to see the calculation that shows that the time dilation on the GPS satellites exactly matches, to a minimum of 4 decimal places, what Einstein predicted. And when I was in school we learned there was only time dilation by speed, not also by gravity. There is no denying there are such effects, just as there is no denying there is climate change, I just KNOW that many of the explanations are wrong; just as was the Ptolemaic solar system for 1500 years. But we are way off topic now.
But since we are off topic, haluska might be interested in this. My son sells cars, and he brought one he took in on trade for me to drive on Father's Day: a 2014 CTS with a Corvette engine and manual shift; a totally insanely fast sleeper car. I took it out to where I regularly test my modified F150, but could only get it up to 80 in 3rd gear before catching up to the beach traffic.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 6, 2016 - 8:30pm
NONE of my decisions are emotional. If I am in an emotional state I do not make decisions until I calm down; but it is rare that I get emotional about anything. I've drummed that worthless human trait out of my psychological makeup, and I think that human evolution will require that of everyone eventually. Think that will make life not worth living? Then you are filling yourself, just as you do with "I'm only human".
Steve Borsher Added Oct 7, 2016 - 9:27am
Yes, I do, because those decisions are rational decisions. And it does not take me long to return to a low level emotional state, if I even get into a higher one: I have the ability to "clamp epi", which allows me to operate in a high emotional state temporarily without the adrenalin rush.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 7, 2016 - 5:29pm
I can only relate to you my experiences; I can't make you believe them. I spent 40 years undoing a early dishonest life, and I am not about to backtrack now.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 7, 2016 - 9:05pm
Steve: "And when I was in school we learned there was only time dilation by speed, not also by gravity."
That's Special Relativity they were teaching. General Relativity equates gravity with acceleration. It's called the equivalence principle. It assumes that gravity is an acceleration field, meaning that space time is curved in four dimensions, three of space and one of time. It assumes gravity corresponds to shifts in what Special Relatively calls inertial frames, which differ with speed.
Gravity, as an acceleration field, shifts its inertial frame as you move toward or away from its source mass. So the inertial frame of a satellite at a high altitude, even if it were possible for it not to move, would have a different inertial frame than that on the earth's surface merely because of its different position in the gravitational field. The General theory predicts phenomena that are very different from what Newtonian gravity could produce. It has so far proved accurate in multiple empirical tests no matter how good modern technology makes more stringent tests possible.
For example, it predicts the earth's spin produces a sideways drag on satellites as gravity spins with it. Newtonian gravity would not do any such thing. The General theory predicts the amount of drag perfectly. It also predicts gravity waves, which were also only recently detected by technology that did not exist previously.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 7, 2016 - 9:09pm
Steve: "And when I was in school we learned there was only time dilation by speed, not also by gravity."
That's Special Relativity they were teaching. General Relativity equates gravity with acceleration. It's called the equivalence principle. It assumes that gravity is an acceleration field, meaning that space time is curved in four dimensions, three of space and one of time. It assumes gravity corresponds to shifts in what Special Relatively calls inertial frames, which differ with speed.
Gravity, as an acceleration field, shifts its inertial frame as you move toward or away from its source mass. Acceleration is a constantly increasing speed, so inertial frames are constantly shifting as you move up or down within it to correspond to the acceleration it produces when something falls.
So the inertial frame of a satellite at a high altitude, even if it were possible for it not to move, would have a different inertial frame than that on the earth's surface merely because of its different position in the gravitational field. The General theory predicts phenomena that are very different from what Newtonian gravity could produce. It has so far proved accurate in multiple empirical tests over the many decades since the theory was published no matter how good modern technology makes more stringent tests possible.
For example, it predicts the earth's spin produces a sideways drag on satellites as gravity spins with it. Newtonian gravity would not do any such thing. The General theory predicts the amount of drag perfectly. It also predicts gravity waves, which were also only recently detected by technology that did not exist previously.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 7, 2016 - 9:24pm
The changing inertial frames as an object is accelerated by a gravitational field correspond precisely to the differences in the inertial frames that the field structure represents even with nothing falling within it. A ball dropped from a stationary point at the satellite's position would accelerate enormously by the time it reached the ground if there were no atmosphere.
The differences in speed as the ball accelerates downward are precisely the same as the differences in the inertial frames at every static point in the field as you move toward the surface. The difference in the speed of a falling ball at its starting point from that at its end point at the surface represents precisely the difference in inertial frames corresponding to gravity at the satellite altitude and that at the surface of the earth.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 7, 2016 - 11:11pm
Andrew, you said, "Even the urge to be rational is emotional."
Yes, the heart drives the intellect. That's why if the heart is not pure, we can rationalize anything (i.e., pretend to ourselves it's actually rational). But as the quote of you here implies, we can have very strong motivations to ferret out the truth. We can have a strong motivation to deliberately cultivate critical thought. We can habitually cherish truth no matter what the immediate consequences for us emotionally.
On the other hand, if the heart is heavily biased, especially if you were raised in an environment that was full of rationalizations of thought and actions that were actually very irrational, you may have developed a strong habit of subverting the truth. Rationalizing behaviors and actions that are irrational doesn't want to know the truth, so it avoids critical thought.
It subverts logic and twists it. It has very bad habits of thought that are the opposite extreme of critical thought. That's what I keep running into with the people who attack those who use solid, well supported facts and reasoning here in WB to support their positions. Such detractors of solid, well supported critical thought are not even competent to recognize valid thinking processes and so project all their own subterfuge onto you.
They naturally think what they're doing is what everyone does, too. That's partly what's behind the de facto attitude that "my right to an opinion makes my opinion right" (but not yours). They never admit they have this attitude. They just demonstrate it every time they comment.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 8, 2016 - 10:04am
Not for me. I have engine coolant in my veins: I never overheat, and I never freeze up. Uncontrolled emotions is what makes losers of humans: it causes fear, which leads to bias and dishonesty. I agree that most people suffer from that condition, but I am not one of them.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 8, 2016 - 11:56am
Your severely twisted arguments and readings of what others say strongly testify otherwise, Steve.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 8, 2016 - 12:58pm
Show examples and I will refute each one. Maybe we will finally have that debate; instead of a debait.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 8, 2016 - 1:19pm
Try just about everything you ever write, Steve. But no, I'm wrong. You do say something here and there that I can actually agree with. However, every time you say something I don't agree with I do exactly what you just requested. So what should I repeat here what I've done countless times already. You never recognize it when I do that anyway. Why should another time be any more successful? 
Here's an example in reply to your comment just above it from the past in this thread (on this page) of my debunking of your irrational anti-science dogma:
Jun 21, 2016 - 11:52pm
(Just do a page search on this string.)
A lot of good it did, huh? Changed your mind completely, didn't you?
Steve Borsher Added Oct 8, 2016 - 1:27pm
I'm not sure what you are citing. I thought you were going to bring up some emotional response I made to someone else's comment, and I was going to explain how that was not emotional.
However, I will say something about the comment you cited. Can you show me that the time shift in the GPS satellites precisely matches, to 5 decimal places, what is scientifically predicted by science?
Steve Borsher Added Oct 8, 2016 - 3:06pm
You are projecting yourself on to me. I may sound passionate, but I merely believe strongly in what I say. I don't care whether other people believe what I say, I only insult people when they insult me first; and there is no emotion behind that either: is merely a robotic response. I suppose you could say I have strong (emotional) response to bullies, but I never respond to them emotionally. And I always try to give better than I get, so the taunting descends as low as the other person takes it; when they stop I stop. And you are further not going to believe this, but I never think of the attacks as personal; it is more of just a game to me.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 8, 2016 - 3:41pm
That's exactly what I wrote to the National Organization for Woman in 2008. And they accuse men of thinking with their dicks!!! How about a qualified Black Woman President like Condoleezza Rice. She's got some cools too: her favorite rock group is Led Zeppelin.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 8, 2016 - 8:58pm
Steve, you said, "Can you show me that the time shift in the GPS satellites precisely matches, to 5 decimal places, what is scientifically predicted by science?"
After the lengthy but very clear explanation I responded to you with, this is an irrational question. I've provided you a clear answer in terms of precise principle. What I described has been validated zillions of times by now.
To compute to five decimal places the result of calculations for the difference in inertial frames at satellite altitude and the surface of the earth is an absurd question, since both the surface of the earth and the altitude of orbiting satellites vary. I don't happen to have the algorithms used, but if you disbelieve that they exist, do a little research. These algorithms also take into account the speed of the satellites in accord with Special Relativity, of course. I don't notice you asking me for that. 
So here's a reference for gravitational time shift in General Relativity, the accuracy of which and all it's implications has been confirmed repeatedly throughout the history of science since it Einstein's formulation of if:
So I did your research for you. Wonder whether you'll thank me for that, not that I care very much considering your condescending tone.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 8, 2016 - 9:13pm
Steve, you said, "Can you show me that the time shift in the GPS satellites precisely matches, to 5 decimal places, what is scientifically predicted by science?"
After the lengthy but very clear explanation I responded to you with, this is an irrational question. I've provided you a clear answer in terms of precise principle. What I described has been validated zillions of times by now.
To compute to five decimal places the result of calculations for the difference in inertial frames at satellite altitude and the surface of the earth is an absurd question, since both the surface of the earth and the altitude of orbiting satellites vary. I don't happen to have the algorithms used, but if you disbelieve that they exist, do a little research. These algorithms also take into account the speed of the satellites in accord with Special Relativity, of course. I don't notice you asking me for that. 
So here's a reference for gravitational time shift in General Relativity, the accuracy of which and all it's implications have been confirmed repeatedly throughout the history of science since Einstein's formulation of if:
So I did your research for you. Wonder whether you'll thank me for that...not that I care very much considering your condescending tone.
Since Special Relativity says time slows down as we approach the speed of light, note that the clocks run faster upstairs at satellite altitude. The initial velocity there at t=0 of a ball dropped from a stationary platform is zero and increases as the ball accelerates toward the earth's surface (assuming no atmospheric friction). Since time slows down with increased velocity in Special Relativity, the inertial frame at each lower altitude in the gravitational field will have a slower time with respect to those above it.
So Einstein's principle of the equivalence of acceleration and the field of of gravity that apparently "causes" it inspired a brilliant extension of Special Relativity to General Relativity, so called because one is a special case of the other. The Special theory is only valid for Euclidean space. When four-dimensional space-time "curves", the nature of the shifting in the relationship of space and time IS the acceleration. There is no cause and effect, but equivalence instead. Gravity becomes the geometry of space-time.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 8, 2016 - 9:21pm
I will have to read that later on my PC. If the there are changes between the satellite and the Earth, then they must be tinkering with the clock continually. I wonder if they expected the shift a priori of made adjustments later; which would be a fudge, IMO. It is GPS that made me believe in time dilation, but I still don't think that Einstein's explanation is completely correct. While the Ptolemaic model held sway for 1500 years, they were able to very precisely calculate the positions of the planets with formula that were based upon wrong assumptions, and I assume that the same is true now.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 8, 2016 - 11:00pm
Your right on this, Steve:
"While the Ptolemaic model held sway for 1500 years, they were able to very precisely calculate the positions of the planets with formula that were based upon wrong assumptions, and I assume that the same is true now."
The term theory in scientific use is nothing like a detective's "theory" for who committed a crime or how they did it. Those are hypotheses, but in common street usage, people call them theories. Then when they hear the word in a scientific discussion, they wrongly think it means the same thing, as in "just a theory".
Theory in science is much more substantial than hypothesis. Theories are proposed before they are tested, of course. At that stage they may look good on paper but fail empirical testing. The highest quality test is to predict phenomena that were not known or even necessarily expected before the theory was proposed. Einstein's Special and General theories have passed with flying colors many different such tests with incredible precision.
Once a theory has this status, that doesn't change the term. It's still a theory, but a theory that works and is accepted as a valid theory by the general community of scientists. Haluska likes to call this "consensus science" as if it were just scientists irresponsibly deciding by vote that the theory is valid. Of course, that's just ridiculous.
It is important to understand, however, that theory is not to be equated with some kind of absolute truth value. Good theories successfully model reality, at least that part of reality that has practical importance for us at the time. So the Ptolemaic model worked well enough to earn this status in it's time. However, it broke down badly as soon as anyone looked for subtler or more comprehensive planetary behaviors.
Copernicus came up with a vastly more successful theory in that it was much more comprehensive in its explanatory power. It successfully modeled much more of reality. The same is true of Kepler and then of Newton's theories over all those that preceded them.
Now Einstein's theories are much more elegant and have vastly more comprehensive explanatory power. Newton's theory of motion and gravity break down at speeds a significant fraction of the speed of light and in the vastness of astronomical distances. Nevertheless, we used Newton's theories to get to the moon.
Why?...because there was nothing going fast enough or that was vast enough to make the much greater complexity of Einstein's theories worth the trouble. Newton turns out to be a special case of Einstein's more general-case theories. But what does this mean?
It means that if you limit the conditions to those in which Newton's theories work, the difference between the general-case and special-case theories is negligible for any practical purpose. If you plug Newton's assumptions into Einstein's calculations, you get Newton's equations. Yet Newton's theories, so practical and so much simpler under limited conditions, are based on assumptions that are completely contradicted by the assumptions Einstein based his theories on.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 8, 2016 - 11:29pm
So that implies something most convention-minded folks (i.e., that are psychologically conservative, regardless of ideology) have trouble wrapping their heads around, namely:
Something can be true to an astounding degree of precision everywhere locally (Newtonian mechanics) while remaining nowhere true globally (at which point we have to switch to Einstein). 
So we needed a more comprehensively valid theory to replace Newton's (Einstein's). The standard model of quantum theory is incomplete and partially flawed, yet it is the most powerful theory in terms of the phenomena it explains and predicts than any other so far. However, as we've seen, theories evolve and theories with more comprehensive explanatory power replace them.
So scientific theory does not pretend to be true. In fact, the most extreme test is falsifiability (still controversial, since it is virtually impossible to implement in the case of many aspects of the softer sciences or past a certain point even in the hard sciences, such as string theory). If there is no test that could even theoretically prove a theory false, then the theory is not considered as strong as a theory that is falsifiable.
That doesn't mean a theory has to be false. It means it has to be subject to testing that could in principle prove it false. Rigorous testing that fails to provide a falsifying result when it could have if the theory were less viable lends greater reliability to the theory and so greater confidence in it as a useful model of reality. That doesn't make it true, however. We don't understand dark matter and dark energy, for example. Our current theories don't explain or predict it. The big conundrum now is that the most successful theory for large scale physics (Einstein's) and the standard model, the most successful theory at the microscopic level, are mutually incompatible.
That implies that some more comprehensive theory should by all rights some day make them special cases of itself, just as Einstein's did to Newton's. Einstein's theories successfully falsified Newton's theories, which nevertheless remain the most practical in the limited domains for which they work. Some more comprehensive theory is due someday to falsify Einstein's.
In this light, to claim that science is all false makes no sense. Theoretical physics models matter and energy, fields, waves, and particles. Models are not the reality they attempt to model, but they work. They will never be the reality. The only perfect model of reality is reality itself. So attempts to debunk modern science, implying that it's no good, are based on a false premise: that theoretical models pretend to the status of absolute truth.
They don't, but they work in all but the most remote domains in terms of our everyday existence. Vast areas within our technology were and are completely dependent on these theories. Our current best theories are incredibly precise predictors of real phenomena despite not representing any kind of absolute truth. That says a lot about the nature of reality itself. This last point is something that too few people understand at all.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 9, 2016 - 11:13am
"Theory in science is much more substantial than hypothesis." And that is exactly where we disagree. So we should just agree to disagree with this and save both of ourselves our fingerprints.
You've already met him, but because of your inherent biases you are unable to recognize it. Open your mind to all possibilities, instead of discounting them out of hand. Here is a test for you, and Wendell if he wants to participate: close your eyes and tell me what you immediately perceive.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 9, 2016 - 2:03pm
Steve, you said, " 'Theory in science is much more substantial than hypothesis.' And that is exactly where we disagree. So we should just agree to disagree with this and save both of ourselves our fingerprints."
Theory in science, Steve, is by definition much more substantial than hypothesis. Individuals don't get to change the definition at their personal whim. The common usage on the street of the word theory is nothing like the scientific definition, but is instead a popular corruption of the word. When most people say theory, they actually mean hypothesis. So your disagreement on this point is totally irrational. Could it be emotional attachment to your positions?
Theory and hypothesis are NOT synonyms is science...not even close. Theory has to work to a high degree of precision in the domain for which it is applicable or it is rejected. That's why we use Newton's theories most of the time in the local, practical world in which nothing is moving anywhere near the speed of light.
Einstein's theories, however, work in much more comprehensive environments while nevertheless exonerating Newton's as a special case within Einstein's theories. In fact, Special Relativity is a special case of General Relativity. Einstein's also work so much better in the bigger picture that they prove that Newton's theories are not "true", but neither are Einstein's.
I've already pointed out the weaknesses of the latter. That's why theoretical physicists continue to look for a "theory of everything". Someday, assuming we survive that long, a new theory will prove Einstein's wrong. This aspect of the nature of theory is responsible for Karl Popper's criterion of falsifiability.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 9, 2016 - 3:01pm
The Scientific Method
However, the next to last line conflicts with itself, as there are MANY things after the Big Bang, if that even happened, that cannot be properly observed and/or measured. Most of particle physics and astrophysics IS hypothesis, IMO.
"The scientific method is limited to those phenomena which can be observed or measured.  For example, what existed prior to the Big Bang and the known universe is outside of the realm of science to investigate. "
Robert Wendell Added Oct 9, 2016 - 3:24pm
So? How does that change or debunk anything I've said, Steve? Your whole approach to thinking is emotional. No intellection to be found anywhere.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 9, 2016 - 7:15pm
I was just showing that even the description of "scientific method" is as flawed as the method itself. But I understand how a wallower in  mediocracy, such as your self, doesn't get that. I suppose you also think that Bill Gates deserves his wealth; the greatest purveyor of mediocre products in the history of mediocre products.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 9, 2016 - 8:20pm
"Ignorance is bliss".
Robert Wendell Added Oct 9, 2016 - 11:32pm
Steve and Ryan, both of you have an extraordinary capacity for describing your own flaws as you pretend to find them in others.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 10, 2016 - 9:13am
Maybe we are ALL psychopaths here. Earth is a penal colony, after all.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 10, 2016 - 12:25pm
A small sample of a few on WB doesn't yield a very high confidence level that your statement is true. However, there are places like the Middle East that seem corroborate your thesis with a very high level of confidence. Oh, and I forgot about Trump voters who think he's a "baby Christian". He's a grown up spoiled brat, fake Christian. There are plenty of evangelical, literal-minded, extremely provincial, black-and-white thinking bible thumpers who are just as fake, too. Many of them are so fake they will vote for him.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 10, 2016 - 12:56pm
Then you will be tickled purple to hear that I have totally given up on Trump. I was always borderline voting for him, but his extremely poor performance at last night's debate ended ANY chance of me voting for him. He had not on substantive thing to say. So, I'm writing in Condoleezza Rice.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 10, 2016 - 12:59pm
Good for you.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 10, 2016 - 3:22pm
"It is not necessary to know the explanation of a phenomenon to take advantage of it." Yes, that is why engineering rules, and science drools. Science does not have to be as precise as engineering. That, in a nutshell, is all I am saying: I don't need to believe the science is correct to enjoy the many engineering marvels that have come from it; no matter how wrong the theories may be.
"I believe the scientific method is limited by our senses and the instruments we use for observation. However, within these limitations, science can be reliable." You don't see those two sentences as conflicting? Nothing can be fully reliable until proven and repeatable; many, many times. I refer you to this which I just learned of this morning:
 Propensity probability
Try to wrap your head around that one.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 10, 2016 - 10:49pm
I understand it easily. It is difficult to defend rigorously, though, as the article clearly states. No one has met the challenge so far. The whole notion of probability is a highly intuitive but extremely useful concept. When you say that a coin has a 50/50 chance of coming up heads or tails, however, you are invoking this definition of probability, but I doubt most people are aware of that.
The same thing goes for the so-called inherent probability of a single quantum event, such as the decay of an element to another element or isotope of the same element. The whole idea of half-life in carbon-14 decay to carbon-12 is based on it. However, it is empirically totally reliable because of the vast numbers of atoms involved despite extremely small sample sizes.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 10, 2016 - 11:08pm

Steve, most engineering of things like smart phones, digital storage on disks by laser burning, etc. are based on extremely precise theories that have been proven in practice to work zillions of times. Not all engineering is the rule of thumb stuff to which you refer. In fact, the latter is enormously in the minority in most high technology.


Robert Wendell Added Oct 10, 2016 - 11:16pm
Andrew, you're exactly right, of course. Thanks for the breath of fresh, rational air. To pretend all our modern technology is based on theories that don't work or are very imprecise is absurd and completely out of touch with the real world.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 11, 2016 - 1:09am
Steve, you said, "Then you will be tickled purple to hear that I have totally given up on Trump. I was always borderline voting for him, but his extremely poor performance at last night's debate ended ANY chance of me voting for him."
Anyone who didn't already know much worse about Trump than you saw in that debate, Steve, hasn't been keeping up. What do you do? Just read what the media say? Why don't you watch him say and do the foul things he's been doing and saying all along?
"Baby Christian!!!" That would be the comedy in this thread if it weren't so twisted and sick. How can anyone believe they're a Christian when they can't recognize what it is to be one, not to mention actually believing Trump is one? You've got to have a lot of hair growing on the inside of your skull to believe that.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 11, 2016 - 11:13am
He could do that but he hasn't..period. Have you been keeping up? All during the campaign he has behaved in a manner worse than that tape. I amazed at how people complain more about what he said 11 years ago, bad as it is, than his current behavior during his campaign, bragging about his private parts, depreciating women and whole ethnic groups for no rational purpose, talking about proliferating nuclear weapons, asking why we have nukes if we're not going to use them, etc. 
What do you go by, Ryan? Do actually watch the guy and listen to what he says or do you just read hard right news sources to find out about him or worse, just notice a few sound bites here and there? Or maybe you just became his hero worshiper during his time in "reality" TV (what a misnomer!)?
Warning: Your "contributions", Ryan, are so stupid, bizarre, and utterly irrational that if you continue in that mode, you're no longer welcome and I will delete any more of your comments.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 11, 2016 - 11:17am
As I just posted elsewhere on WB, there is a new case against Trump, run by a very high profile lawyer, accusing Trump of raping a 13 year old, sometime in the past. My hope all along with Trump is that he would shake things up and bring some much needed change to WDC, and I gave him a lot of money to propagate that. But I am not giving worse money after bad; I know when I have made a mistake; and I admit it.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 11, 2016 - 11:19am
Where did I say, or allude to, this: "Not all engineering is the rule of thumb stuff to which you refer." I said that about science; not engineering.
Robert Wendell Added Oct 11, 2016 - 1:47pm
Then you have it precisely backward, Steve. You said, "Science does not have to be as precise as engineering. That, in a nutshell, is all I am saying: I don't need to believe the science is correct to enjoy the many engineering marvels that have come from it; no matter how wrong the theories may be."
Much engineering is rule of thumb approximation. In many applications this makes good since. It works. However, scientific theory in the hard sciences has to be extremely precise or it's thrown out. Newton's theories are extremely precise in local environment in which speeds that are not significant fractions of the speed of light (186,000 mi/sec).
However, the precision breaks down as speed becomes significant compared to the speed of light and gravity behaves differently, changes planetary precession, etc. If the theoretical predictions are not extremely precise, it's not acceptable as an established theory. But again, theories are used for the precision of their explanatory power and not proposed as representing absolute truth value.
Robert Wendell Added Dec 25, 2016 - 6:55pm
Messano said, "Our Founders realized science was phenomenal, but God was the supreme Creator."
It is unarguably correct that science is phenomenal and not ultimate. Perhaps our founders knew this. I don't know that they all did, but I would bet some did.
"You don't get that, you worship science as a Creator, and think God is some kind of interesting diversion, thus your flawed conclusions."
Uh, this conclusion is based on what evidence I've supplied in my comments or my article? I assert that I don't believe what you say I do, don't worship science as a Creator, and don't think God is merely some kind of interesting diversion. I also assert that nothing I've ever said here warrants these "conclusions" (i.e., baseless assumptions) about what I think and believe.
Robert Wendell Added Dec 25, 2016 - 8:29pm
Springer said in his comment of Sep 21, 2013 - 1:57pm, "No, he gets so much criticism because he employs circularity and ad hominem attacks when anyone dares question his frequently long winded, meandering posts that are heavy on irrelevant side tracks."
Please note that Springer simply makes broad accusations with nothing at all about where I ever specifically do anything he accuses me of. He does this repeatedly and then accuses me of exactly what he's doing. This is completely obvious to anyone but the densest imaginable observer except those who oppose my positions for absolutely no rhyme or reason other than blind emotional and social motivations. They accuse me of exactly the same, but all anyone has to do is look at what they say for proof that they are simply lying about what I do and doing exactly that of which they accuse me.

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