The irony of Belief.

The fabric of our society is held together by belief in fictions.

God, Government, Monarchy/Presidency, Nation and Money.

None of them are real. They are all fictions that are imbued in power by us. They were invented by people and provide the cohesion that holds society together.

The only reason they have any power is because we believe in them.


A large number of people no longer believe in them.


They do not believe in God.

They believe that our President and Queen are parasites. That their views and what they stand for are disgusting elitist inequality.


They believe that our governments are self-serving, lying, corrupt and incompetent.


They believe that all people are one species and that countries are artificial constructs that have no intrinsic worth. They have no desire to fight for the hierarchy of their own country against people of another nation that they have more in common with than they do with the elite that wants them to fight.


They are even losing faith in money. They see the grotesque inequalities and unfairness, the corruption and lust, and they are sickened by it.


The cohesion is falling apart. Society is dividing. The will to hold it together is evaporating.


We either crumble and allow the idiots with strong cohesion (the religious and political nutters) to prevail and become replaced by a new bunch of fanatics or we invent some better fictions to believe in.


opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 6:42am
A few new fictions like:
Respecting nature
All one people - one planet
Awe and wonder
might be a hell of a lot better than God King and country.
Ken Added Dec 4, 2018 - 6:53am
Yawn.  you are a one trick pony opher.  you have absolutely no concept of reality and when it is presented to you, you ignore it and continue your talking points.
Steel Breeze Added Dec 4, 2018 - 8:19am
as big a fan of sci-fi/fantasy as i am.......its still surprises me to see someone over 20 that actually lives it....
Thomas Sutrina Added Dec 4, 2018 - 8:32am
Dino Manalis Added Dec 4, 2018 - 8:50am
 Nonfiction is equally important.
goldminor Added Dec 4, 2018 - 8:52am
What Ken said.
George N Romey Added Dec 4, 2018 - 9:07am
Of course I don't believe in 90% of politicians.  What gets me is that you post this article seemingly to complain about politicians and government but think the answer is to give more power to politicians and government on a global scale.  Really your're beginning to rival Ryan the Mess in the absurdity department.  
Stephen Hunter Added Dec 4, 2018 - 9:13am
Or on the positive side, we could say that the world is awakening to a higher level of consciousness? Beliefs in artificial constructs are dissolving, as you point out. More people are realizing that the fighting and bickering only causes distress and suffering in the end, that we are all ONE, and are all part of the universal consciousness. The importance of striving to get ahead from a resources or power perspective i.e striving for the American Dream, is not as important to Millennials as it was to many(not all) baby boomers. But the baby boomers started it back in the 60's- all you need is LOVE! 
Ryan Messano Added Dec 4, 2018 - 11:09am
Badlose, with another post truth post. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 11:25am
That rich Ken - coming from you who recites right-wing doctrine like a constant stream of diarrhoea. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 11:25am
Steel - you need to get out in the real world more mate.
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 11:26am
Yes Thomas - They - a sizeable group of people.
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 11:27am
Gold - you too.
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 11:27am
No George - you just don't get it.
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 11:41am
Stephen - unlike the other commenters you got it. Yes. That is a good way of looking at it. We are losing faith in the limited fictions and could be about to embrace a more universal consciousness. It's a fiction with some substance and the opportunity to both grow and develop a better way of life.
As can be seen from the above many find it impossible to let go of the old fictions and go forward. They cling like limpets to the wreckage of dying fictions.
Yes - I think it took off in the 60s. That is when a lot of people started realising that the establishment was a hypocritical self-serving institution committed to preserving the status quo and paying lip-service to religion and the law. It was empty. All it cared about was making money, and money neither bought happiness or fulfillment. 
Many young people took Kerouac's dream and were looking for something more substantial with more meaning. They lost their respect for organised religion, the President and the idea of nation. They had a broader dream. It wasn't superficially about making money and having power. It was more about getting back to nature and respecting everyone and the planet. Life should be fun. People should communicate. Race, gender, social standing and nationality no longer held any significance or status.
That's a good fiction to buy into.
Stephen Hunter Added Dec 4, 2018 - 12:03pm
Opher are you into stuff by Deepak Chopra or Eckhart Tolle? These what I call spiritual masters, embrace the ONENESS of consciousness, which is a tough concept to get your head wrapped around. However the more you become aware, the more you see the absurdity of the physical constructs of our ego. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 12:19pm
Stephen I have certainly heard of Deepak. Indeed a friend gave me one of his book I believe. I haven't got around to reading it yet though.
Troll Hunter Added Dec 4, 2018 - 12:44pm
As my brother Stephen said, "embrace the oneness".
The entire physical universe is fake, but our connection to each other is not.
TreeParty Added Dec 4, 2018 - 1:09pm
That Republican shown in the accompanying photo is completely gross and profane. I could have done without that all year.
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 1:11pm
Troll - indeed we should embrace the oneness - one people - one planet. That is real.
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 1:13pm
Tree - that's no Republican - that is a doctored photo of our Prime Minister Theresa May. I think they've put her head on another body. It reflects how sick we all are with this Brexit shit. She's made a complete dog's breakfast of it and it's all beginning to unravel.
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 1:54pm
Lol Mogg - thanks for that. I'm not sure it's accurate though.
Recent surveys have found that only about one in 10 Americans report that they do not believe in God, and only about 3 percent identify as atheist. But a new study suggests that the true number of atheists could be much larger, perhaps even 10 times larger than previously estimated.
Who knows? My perception is that belief in politicians, the President, religion and blind patriotism is waning substantially.
It's certainly true here in the UK. 53% say they have no religion.
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 1:56pm
Mogg - BTW - I'm not a Liberal Left Democrat subversive. I'm a Labour voting, Green leaning UK citizen. 
Thomas Sutrina Added Dec 4, 2018 - 2:20pm
Opher please define who the they are.  It is far to open a group.  Be specific.
Ian Thorpe Added Dec 4, 2018 - 2:22pm
Here's Opher once again preaching the bigest fiction of all, socialism, a hierarchic, elitist, authoritarian system that proposes stripping humans of their individualism, free will and right to act independently. Socialism is the most brutally tyrannical of any political system yet its preachers continue to tell us we would all be happier and better off if we sacrifice our lives to the service of the state (i.e. the tiny and fabulously privileged elite who end up running the state.
Amazingly a lot of people continue, in the face of ALL empirical evidence, to believe this verbal arse dribble.
If you think you are in danger of being seduced by this vile quasi - religion I suggest you read "1984" or "Animal Farm" by George Orwell, "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley, or if your tastes are a little more esoteric, try "Utopia" by Thomas More who depicts a perfect world where every family has two slaves and pre - marital sex is punishable by a lifetime of enforced celibacy, or maybe John Milton's Paradise Lost, an epic poem in which Milton sets out to justify the ways of God to men, but in which Satan emerges as the hero, while God comes across as a cuXXXX oops, tyrant. 

Socialism is for dreamers who believe a perfect world is attainable if everything is controlled by a meritocratic elite. Such a thing is impossible as we have all seen from the abject failures of socialist societies. When socialists argue that such attempt have failed because "it wan't proper socialism" remind them that Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result."

More assigned reading (in the order they occur to me):
The Time Machine by H G Wells,
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep by Phillip K Dick
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
A Clockwork Orance by Anthony Burgess
Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Neuromancer by Willian Gibson
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Ghost Written by David Mitchell

If you get through a few of these I will guarantee you will never again entertain the idea that life in the kind of planned and micromanaged society socialism proposes could ever be anything but banal and dehumanizing.
What is truly ironic is that the people who believe in socialism and see fit to mock the beliefs of others, continue to present themselves as intellectually superior to people smart enough to see through their schtick.
TreeParty Added Dec 4, 2018 - 3:08pm
Isn't Theresa May what passes for a Republican in the U.K.?
Stone-Eater Added Dec 4, 2018 - 6:00pm
You repeat yourself, although I agree. You give too much ammo to assholes like Ryboy.
Stone-Eater Added Dec 4, 2018 - 6:04pm
Americans like their shorthand as if facilitates getting on with things.
Thanks for admitting that. But don't you think that's dangerous ? It's narrowing the mind to the extreme.
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:11pm
Thomas - a group of politically disaffected people who are diverse and numerous. What more can I say.
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:24pm
Ian - I can't quite make the jump to understanding how you can possibly make the leap from my article on the breakdown of the fictions that hold society together to some treatise on socialism. I think you have made some giant leap there. It reveals a tendency to prejudge. The article had not the slightest bit to do with Socialism.
Having said that I am, of course, a democratic socialist. It works absolutely fine and is not to be conflated with communism or any totalitarian tyranny as you suggest. I am not stupid enough to go anywhere near that. The model I favour is that of the Post-war Labour government which introduced the NHS and Welfare State or the more modern Scandinavian models. All greatly different to the scenario you put forward. Democratic Socialism is a great marriage of fairness, justice and democracy a million miles from dystopian tyranny or totalitarian communism.
I perused your list of books and was interested to discover that I have read every last one of them. I think you will have to go a long way to catch up with me on the reading front. I am an avid reader of good literature and Sci-fi. I spent an evening with Philip K Dick discussing literature and his writing and have written more than a dozen Sci-Fi novels and fifty other books myself. Literature is something I've been obsessed with throughout my adult life - writing and reading. I hardly think any of the books you have recommended describe anything like the reality of Social Democracy.
John Minehan Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:28pm
People are all one species.
Unfortunately, it is a species that has an extraordinary facility for slaughtering its own members an a multi-continental basis.. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:30pm
Lol Mogg - yes I have noticed this tendency of Americans to label and stereotype people as if everyone perfects fits into some little pigeon-hole. I think it is a lazy way of doing things. It's a way of labelling them so that you do not have to engage with anything they say or consider their ideas. Very few people fit into these narrow labels. On WB there are a couple that do - the child and Lindsay. Anyone who has swallowed a doctrine that they recite verbatim is a victim of indoctrination unable to think for themselves. Sad characters.
I don't fit into any pigeon-hole. I do not agree with any political party 100%. I would broadly support Democratic Socialism which is a million miles away from Communism.
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:31pm
Tree - the Tories are similar to the Republicans but not quite as nuts.
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:33pm
Stone - it is a variation and one that I have referred to from time to time. 
Mindless assholes like the child have nothing but their indoctrinated memorised ideological drivel with which to speak. It is facile, mindless garbage. It isn't ammunition. It is too vacuous.
Flying Junior Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:33pm
It's more than one in ten.  People are just afraid to admit it.  When you think about it, it's pretty easy to pretend that you believe in God, right?

opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:35pm
Stone - I agree with you about this stereotyping that Americans do. It is narrowing and stifles debate. It is also extremely wrong. People can't be reduced to such restricted sets of parameters. I think it is a defence mechanism so that they don't have to engage with views that don't fit the mindset they have adopted.
opher goodwin Added Dec 4, 2018 - 7:43pm
Ian - while we are exchanging books to expand minds I would suggest that you try reading the following:
Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro (a much better book that Never Let Me Go)
Chavs and The Establishment - by Owen Jones
Homo Deus and Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari (best books I've read for a long time)
The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake, After the Flood and Maddaddam - Margaret Atwood.
They might open your mind to the dangers of religion and right-wing politics.
Cullen Writes Added Dec 4, 2018 - 11:21pm
Opher, you've got a pretty depressing post there. 
The most depressing part was your conclusion: We have to invent some new fictions to believe in. 
Fiction, by definition, isn't true. So although you see through the apparently phoniness of the current fiction of life, you want to invent something new (which you know is untrue) to "believe in". 
You could search for something that's true and real. 
Doug Plumb Added Dec 5, 2018 - 5:38am
The queen was respected and revered for very good reasons. She maintained the common law.
Neil Lock Added Dec 5, 2018 - 5:38am
Opher: As usual, I'm mainly with you on the diagnosis, but totally opposed to your desired solution.
Yes, a Gahd that no-one can prove exists isn't a sane centre around which to bring people together. And forcing people to worship someone's concept of such a Gahd is worse than useless.
Yes, those in power (titular or real) don't care in the slightest about the people they are supposed to be serving. And the system that keeps them in power ensures that that disregard continues.
Yes, political governments are self-serving, lying and corrupt. And the very few in them, that aren't those three things, are incompetent to change anything for the better.
Yes, I agree that "countries are artificial constructs that have no intrinsic worth." It's obvious to me that, because they are political constructs, their borders are quite arbitrary - no more than accidents of history. Those who dispute this should try to name three countries in existence today, whose borders and political status have been unchanged since before 1815.
As to money, it is real, and it is necessary to a civilization. To allow one group of individuals to control the money that others are forced to use, however, isn't a sustainable way to run a civilization.
But I don't agree that "people are all one species." I don't think Tony Blair is the same species as me, for example. Nor Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, David Cameron, Theresa May or Hillary Clinton. (Donald Trump I as yet reserve judgement on). The way I see it, today there is an honest and productive species, the true humans, and a corrupt and self-serving one, that includes the above-named and their cronies. A bit like Cro-Magnons versus Neanderthals, perhaps. (Interestingly, I've noticed the "why did the Neanderthals die out?" meme surfacing in lots of different places in recent months).
Today, it seems to me, there are three sets of political forces. There are globalists like most of the current elites (and you!), who want a big, active, totalitarian world government, under which both politics and the economy are controlled by themselves and their buddies. There are nationalists, who are basically happy with the current failed system; that's where Trump seems to get most of his support.
The third group - which includes myself - are the cosmopolitans. We don't like political governments or arbitrary borders, and we don't like the nation state any more than the globalists do. But we recognize that people are different, and that given a suitable framework, people of different cultures can live together without one lot taking over the others. But this needs much smaller political units, not bigger ones. (That's why Brexit is so important, and why the elites all want to stop it). So, we look for a way forward, in which all those who behave up to human standards can have a peaceful world, and all the economic rewards they fairly earn. Radical? Yes. Practical? I hope we can make it so.
Doug Plumb Added Dec 5, 2018 - 5:42am
re "A few new fictions like:
Respecting nature
All one people - one planet
Awe and wonder
might be a hell of a lot better than God King and country. "
..or not. Perhaps if you understood the other side of the argument you would see it differently. Your side is a categorical rejection of everything, the nihilist viewpoint, one people often grow out of and that is simple to understand.
Webmaster Added Dec 5, 2018 - 6:53am
There are some more examples of common fictions which are used in everyday life. For example, even at school in English class they say that although the Queen lives in the palace, she does not rule the UK. Some time ago one immigrant living in US told that in fact Reps and Dems are the same political party, I guess because their board members have some common businesses or for some other reason. Surely borders, passports and customs are fiction as there are ways to cross borders through forests and mountains without documents and smugglers can easily carry anything across borders by bribing customs officers.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 8:13am
Cullen - nothing depressing about it that I can see. I think it is quite easy to see that the things people believe in are human constructs that have no reality; they are fictions we create:
God - a superbeing that there is no evidence for but believed in by people;
A country - an artificially created area of land arbitrarily agreed on by people;
A Monarch/President - an ordinary human being elevated by birth or election into a position of power by people;
Money - pieces of worthless paper given value to by people.
These are indeed fictions that only possess power because they are believed in.
My contention is that many people no longer believe in these things like they used to. Hence the cohesion of society is failing and we are becoming divided.
I think people can find things that they can collectively believe in such as:
The protection of nature
The worth of all human beings
And while these beliefs are indeed fictions created by man they do have the power if people believe in them. It's the Tinkerbell effect.
I see nothing depressing about it. We just need better fictions for a secular 21st century.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 8:16am
Mogg - nothing duplicitous about being real complex people with a range of views rather than a paper-thin stereotyped cypher.
You might fit into a pigeon-hole. I don't. I'm much too complex and varied in my views for that and I never ascribe myself to any doctrine.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 8:17am
Mogg - I do not say life is a fiction. I said we believe in things that are fictions.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 8:20am
Doug - there were very good reasons for respecting those fictional beliefs. The common law that was enabled through those beliefs did indeed provide the cohesion that makes society work. But even a cursory glance through WB will show you that many people no longer hold these things in reverence. Many do not believe in God, they ridicule both Monarchs and Presidents, they see all people of all nationalities as equally important, they recognise countries as artificial.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 8:34am
Lol Neil - yes that is a repeat of the usual.
At least we are in agreement on some things and can argue with respect for each others views. That's what it's all about.
Why do you say we are not of one species when we are? Surely what you really mean is that you do not share much in common with some people with other views?
I too despise the same groups of people - the Hitlers, Maos and Pol Pots - though I'm a lot kinder to Tony Blair than you. The war was a big mistake and he was a disappointment but he also did a lot of good things.
But I would suggest that as human beings we all have a bit of them (or the potential to be them) in us. The torturers, gunrunners, religious fanatics and warlords are not greatly different to us. They have their reasons and are driven by human urges. We have to make sure we do not succumb to the same tendencies.
You make the same repeated mistake of calling me a globalist. I am indeed the very opposite. I want a system to control the globalists. I think a democratic UN could do that job. If you have any other ideas on how to stop the globalists destroying the planet and exploiting everyone I'd be interested to hear them.
I too would describe myself as a cosmopolitan who wants no borders and all one people, individuals coexisting in tolerance and respect for nature.
You see we want the same end point with different views on how we get there. I oppose Brexit - which wants to make us insular and create borders - and I want a body to control the rampaging globalists.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 8:35am
Doug - I'm not rejecting everything. I am saying that the old beliefs are failing and need replacing by beliefs that will hold common law together in the 21st century.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 8:39am
Web - you point out the flaws in the fictions we believe. 
I agree with you. The monarch is powerless, the political parties all support the same elite, countries are arbitrarily produced by historical events - wars, treaties and conquest.
I think we need some better fictions more suited to the 21st century.
Stone-Eater Added Dec 5, 2018 - 9:44am
This is getting real good. Mogg is a really clever guy, Oph. And I'm pretty sure he smiles behind his keyboard about the comments. Be careful. He's tricky in a positive sense IMO.
Stone-Eater Added Dec 5, 2018 - 9:48am
Life is not a fiction for those who don't know that fiction exists. WE are the ones who gotta be careful about our minds. Not the one who walks for ten miles to get a gallon of fresh water...
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 10:00am
Stone - yes I think Mogg has a wicked mischievous side.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 10:02am
Hey Mogg - I reckon polio is far better than cancer. My wife had polio when a child and became a dancer. My Mum had cancer and she died.
Cullen Writes Added Dec 5, 2018 - 1:06pm
You don't have to believe in fictions (which by definition aren't true).
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 2:10pm
Cullen - a fiction is something that is made up - that doesn't mean it's not true.
Neil Lock Added Dec 5, 2018 - 2:19pm
But Opher, you support the EU. And the EU are globalists. They have their hearts set on being a major political player in the globalists' new world. Just as economic globalists want bigger economic units (and less of them - that's why they hate small companies so much), so the EU want bigger political units, and less of them. That's exactly the wrong way to go. And that's why anti-globalists should also be anti-EU. Small communities, without any impediments to free movement between them except in emergency; that's the way forward for me.
As to Tony Blair, it was Blair - along with Gordon Brown - that initiated the bad tax "law" that has ruined my career and left me in danger of poverty in my old age. There can be no possible forgiveness for such an action.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 2:39pm
Mogg - my wife says I wear a lot of things that don't suit me.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 2:44pm
Neil - you see one side of the EU - but I see the other. Things are not as black and white as you make out. There are many elements to the EU that I despise but there are many aspects that I like a lot. The balance is that I think we benefit (not just economically but psychologically) more than we suffer. There is much to be changed. Better in than out.
Yes I know you have a personal gripe with Blair - I can see and understand that. I have a similar gripe with the Tories. Their policies kept me in poverty for many years.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 2:48pm
Mogg - yes - sometimes polio is worth than death but things are never black and white are they?
We all see what we want to see. I am reminded of Paul Simon and the Boxer - 'A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.' We all do it.
Jim Stoner Added Dec 5, 2018 - 3:26pm
Good discussion, thanks.  opher, I recommend (again) the recent nonfiction work "Sapiens" by Yuval Noah Harari that opher mentions above in a comment, who goes into some depth on the importance and power of "shared fictions".   Opher's values are not nihilistic, though, as his first comment shows. 
That all humans today are of one species is consistent with science.  Though the definition of species is somewhat fuzzy in some cases, the species unity of homo sapiens is clear as that is defined.   That the fate of humanity is important (in a cosmic sense) is a fiction upon which I depend heavily. 
I like Neil's outline of a third group, the "cosmopolitans", and flatter myself that I am one of those.  On the question of the size of political units, though, I do not agree:  we need to have a good distribution of authority between the larger and smaller units.  The EU is a new organization and needs some refinement (the US went through its failed "Articles of Confederation" period before the Constitution).  It could eventually get the balance right if those who would destroy it do not have their way.
I liked Ian Thorpe's listing of science fiction classics.  I have read all except the one by Zamyatin.  I would say they don't point to any single political philosophy; perhaps only how essential it is to be humane. 
As for socialism vs. capitalism, I am "agnostic"--I am in favor of the system that works best for each sector of the economy and the culture of the nation or state.  It's not always central direction or laissez-faire market economics (especially in "natural monopoly" industries or services) .  "Works best" means providing sustainable benefit to the maximum number of people. 
Jim Stoner Added Dec 5, 2018 - 3:47pm
It would be.  Again, it depends on the definition of "species", and it is not without ambiguity.  For example, Neanderthals are considered a separate species from sapiens, yet the genetic evidence shows there was mixing between the two (which goes against one aspect of the definition). 
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 6:54pm
Mogg - I read all the Castenada books a long time ago. Fascinating stuff but I don't go for it.
Doesn't everybody follow fiction over fact?
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 7:03pm
Jim - the definition of a species is of organisms that can mate to produce viable offspring. Clearly humans are one species. We are so new that even though groups have been separated the genetic differences are minimal. We are all one.
That did not use to be the case. In the past there were probably as many as five different species of humans walking the earth at the same time. We probably wiped out the others.
The strange case of Neanderthals is worth considering. We Europeans have all a percentage of Neanderthal genes - we interbred. That should not be possible if we were different species.
I like Neil's Cosmopolitans as well. I want to see all humans intermingling in tolerant affable hybridisation.
I think the EU is a step towards that. I think the UN is another.
I too like Ian's set of books. They are all excellent - though they do not do what he suggests they would. I want democratic socialism to control capitalism, control the globalists and elite and bring fairness, prosperity and greater equality.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 7:05pm
Mogg - the definition of a species is very clear - a group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding.
We are all one species. There are greater differences within any one race than there are between races.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 7:06pm
Jim - the mixing of genes of Neanderthals and sapiens casts doubts on whether they were different species.
opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 7:07pm
Mogg - scientists have not changed any definition to suit anything. The definition of a species has always been the same. The interbreeding with Neanderthals needs explaining. At the moment it would suggest that we were close enough to still be one species.
The Owl Added Dec 5, 2018 - 7:09pm
Opher, you are such a cynic.  
A sick cynic, but a cynic nonetheless.
I invite you to come to one of the town meetings that are held in many New England towns.
You might actually see government of the people, by the people, and for the people in actual operation.
They are humorously called "Town Beatings" for a reason.  They sometimes raucous and historically very effective.
And while I agree that many of our state and the federal governments have been hijacked by the professional lay-about, that has more to do with how election systems are cast and the "easy road" taken by "the electorate", aka sheep, that call our low-income urban ghettos home.
Perhaps, sir, it is wiser and more effective for you to become active in your local political scene if you are not already participating.  
I would expect, however, that your bullying style and your rant-like presentations that contain naught be grievances, often petty ones, would quickly get you labeled as one of the perennial troublemakers.
The Owl Added Dec 5, 2018 - 10:02pm
I have little patience with tyrants, Mogg, and I get the sense that Ohpher might just turn into a tyrant if given the power.  He seems long on his views and logic and short on the views and logic of others.
In a typical New England town, there are plenty willing to step forward to help "govern" our communities, noting that "governing" and "administering" communities are intentionally separate functions.  The Town Meeting is where the citizens and taxpayer's pass judgement on the propsed policies and expenditures necessary for the community's functioning.  And, while it can be rankerous at times, the will of The People, a curious but effective political force, settles the argument if not the insult.
I am confident that Opher's voice would be heard at Town Meeting, as much because for its volume as for it's constructive offerings.  Town Meeting is democracy in action and possibly democracy at its finest.
As for Opher, it would perhaps be interesting to ask him just exactly what he thinks the voters had in mind when they passed the Brexit measure.  His answer might be amusing.
The follow-on questions could be to get him to explain just what he sees "democracy" to be and just how HIS "democracy" is to be implemented.
Come on, Opher, give it a shot....
Ward Tipton Added Dec 6, 2018 - 1:17am
Gee, good thing you are not a political nutter Opher. Government good. People bad. Never mind that the government is comprised of bad people. Narcissistic Sociopaths who have the ability to win popularity contests do not indicate strong, effective leadership for the benefit of the people within the State. 
Nobody's Sweetheart Added Dec 6, 2018 - 2:27am
Opher, when H.L. Mencken said an idealist is somebody who thinks that because roses smell better than cabbages, roses must also be more nourishing, I have no doubt he had people like you in mind, lol.
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 3:38am
Owl - it is true that I am cynical about a number of things but I am not a cynic; I am an idealist who is looking for a way of putting right what is wrong and improving peoples' lives, improve the protection of nature and give us all a better future.
Local politics is fine and can achieve a lot, however it is completely powerless and ineffective at preventing the big boys on the global stage from creating wars, trashing the environment and controlling the laws that are being made that affect us all.
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 3:44am
Mogg - thank you.
Yes we do have a sparsity of good candidates. That is indeed because they are held in such disrespect but all too often they have earned that disrespect - corruption, bad decisions, self-serving greed and partisan behaviour.
Having said that it is clear to me that there are still a number of politicians who are there out of conviction and who do want to make the world a better place.
Unfortunately psychopaths and sociopaths have the personalities that enable them to appear plausible and the ruthlessness to get to the top.
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 3:49am
Mogg - back in the day, in the throes of my youthful spiritual effervescence. I thought Castenada was an insight into reality. Then I became more cynical. 
The more I learnt about religion the more cynical I became. I concluded that all organised religion is man-made bollocks.
Likewise with spirituality. The nature of reality is speculative. I keep an open mind on that.
The more I look at what Castenada describes and what physicists are coming up with the greater they seem to move together.
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 3:55am
Owl - I have already had my turn at power. As a Headteacher I had power. I did not become a tyrant. Far from it. I opened up power to include all the staff, the unions and students.
I have participated in many meetings and am far from the raucous trouble-maker you hint at. (I think you are confusing me with the troublesome child). I work on consensus through rational debate. I prepare thoroughly and proved that my ideas work. I do not browbeat or force things through.
My methods made my school one of the most successful in Britain - recognised three times by being summoned to meet the Minister of Education.
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 4:07am
Owl - Brexit is a complex issue. I have spent the last two years immersed in its stupidity. To do justice to it requires an extensive hundred page analysis. I will truncate this to headlines.
The extreme right-wing nationalists of the Tories have pushed for Brexit for decades. They brought down governments.
Cameron offered them a referendum in order to keep them onside for an election. He thought he could renege and blame it on his coalition partners. Unfortunately he narrowly won a majority and had to go through with it.
Cameron was complacent and lost the referendum.
People voted for Brexit for very different reasons:
a. They were nationalists who want control of borders and laws- sovereignty
b. They thought that it made economic sense
c. They were afraid of immigration
d. They were afraid of Muslims and terrorism
e. They were pissed off with all politicians and were making a protest
f. They were suffering from austerity and needed things to change
g. They hated the EU - its bureaucracy and undemocratic nature
h. They feared the EU was moving towards a superstate and was a right-wing totalitarian state.
There was scaremongering, lies and misrepresentation.
Steel Breeze Added Dec 6, 2018 - 9:01am
"...we are all mostly water"......actually we're mostly empty space.......if the space between atoms were removed, the entire human race would be about the sze of 2 sugar cubes....
Ward Tipton Added Dec 6, 2018 - 11:17am
Steel Breeze - I believe the percentage of empty space in an atom is roughly ninety percent ... meaning that we are mostly non-existent, making all aspects of life rather akin to much ado about nothing ... a whole lot of nothing ... but still nothing. 
Interesting trivial fact ... the word "Nothing" by the very fact that it can be quantified and defined, makes it something ... which also makes it the only single word that is an oxymoron in and of itself. 
Ian Thorpe Added Dec 6, 2018 - 11:59am
Opher, I'm surprised you are unaware that the 'fictions' you list and recommend we should not believe in are the things The Frankfurt School (originators of Cultural Marxism) tell us must be destroyed in order that we can create the authoritarian, tyrannical global regime they dream of.
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 12:41pm
Democracy? That is easy - one person one vote.
But not quite as easy. What we have is representative democracy. Instead of all of us being able to vote on every issue (which we could do with the technology we have) we elect representatives to do the voting for us.
This is quite good if we elect the right people. Those people can check everything out in a way that most of us can't - because we don't have access to all the information and do not have the time - and vote wisely.
I used to like democracy but I've lost a lot of faith in it.
We never seem to have candidates who represent my views to choose from.
Those candidates are not what they seem.
There is too much corruption.
The representatives are bought off by vested interest - the rich and wealthy.
Power goes to the head.
To put the power directly in the hands of the public is also fraught:
It puts power in the hands of the ill-informed.
The stupid have as much influence as the intelligent.
The media misinforms people.
The media is controlled by the rich and wealthy.
Having said all that I do believe that we do have many politicians who are dedicated and honest. There is not any other system that is better.
What I would like is complete transparency, a way of taking money and lobbying out of the system, and an unbiased, objective media.
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 12:47pm
Ian - once again you are misrepresenting me. I am not encouraging people not to believe in those fictions. I am saying that many people now do not believe in them. I am saying that the loss of belief is causing a breakdown of cohesion and that could be disastrous. We need to believe in fictions in order to be a functioning society.
I personally do not believe in God, King or Country. I think these old fictions have had their day. They are archaic and no longer viable in the 21st century. I advocate that they should be replaced with a higher order of fictions.
I think we need to believe in something. We cannot exist in a society without.
I do not really care what other institutions have said or their motives. Marxist aims are totally different to mine. You cannot conflate my views with theirs. I am diametrically opposed to totalitarianism.
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 12:50pm
Mogg - I would broadly agree with your summary. I think his first book was based on sound research of the Yaqui shamen and their philosophy. When it was a big hit he milked it.
As for reality and the spiritual reality, the drug revelations - I have some personal experience - I retain an open mind. Certainly the cavalier use of drugs has resulted in a dire situation. 
Ward Tipton Added Dec 6, 2018 - 12:50pm
Honest politicians ... if and when they do come along, lose party support if they do not toe the party line ... which means losing funding and not getting reelected. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 12:56pm
Ward - yes our election system has a propensity to elect psychopaths and sociopaths - but I don't think they are all as bad as that! One has to retain some hope.
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 12:57pm
Ward/Steel - I think that we have much more space than that. A neutron star would collapse us to a miniscule speck. We are mainly space.
they’re somewhere around 12 to 17 miles across, just about the length of Manhattan. Despite that, they have about 1.5 times the mass of our sun
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 1:00pm
Michael - yes I am a unrepentant idealist. I think roses are quite nutritious - a bit like Turkish Delight.
Without dreamers and idealists we never solve problems. Most Sci-Fi writers are optimistic idealists. They look into the future and imagine humans are still there and prospering. The reality might be a lot different.
Wendy Bugliari Added Dec 6, 2018 - 2:59pm
OG opher,
"That the national slogan of Oceania is equally contradictory is an important testament to the power of the Party’s mass campaign of psychological control. In theory, the Party is able to maintain that “War Is Peace” because having a common enemy keeps the people of Oceania united. “Freedom Is Slavery” because, according to the Party, the man who is independent is doomed to fail. By the same token, “Slavery Is Freedom,” because the man subjected to the collective will is free from danger and want. “Ignorance Is Strength” because the inability of the people to recognize these contradictions cements the power of the authoritarian regime.
"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." CONTROL BELIEF, CONTROL MASSES OF SHEEP
"THE PARTY HAS complete political power in the present, enabling it to control the way in which its subjects think about and interpret the past: every history book reflects Party ideology, and individuals are forbidden from keeping mementos of their own pasts, such as photographs and documents. As a result, the citizens of Oceania have a very short, fuzzy memory, and are willing to believe anything that the Party tells them. In the second appearance of this quote, O’Brien tells Winston that the past has no concrete existence and that it is real only in the minds of human beings. O’Brien is essentially arguing that because the Party’s version of the past is what people believe, that past, though it has no basis in real events, has become the truth."
              ~George Orwell 1984~
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 4:10pm
Mogg - The age of majority is a moot point. I would suggest sixteen but it's open to debate.
Yes- the whole idea of democracy is flawed. Allowing stupid people to vote is daft. To allow a biased media, representing the elite, to brainwash the gullible is an undermining of democracy.
But it' is still probably the best we have. 
As for electronic voting - I am sure there is a way that is foolproof. Signing in with credit cards?
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 4:12pm
Wendy - a very relevant comment.
opher goodwin Added Dec 6, 2018 - 6:52pm
Mogg - it's funny you should say that. I was on a jury and came to the same conclusion. We found an innocent man guilty and my friend sat on a jury and they let a murderer, who had been caught bang to rights, free. We both lamented the intelligence of our fellow jurors.
I do not know what you do about the vote. I do not have a solution other than to have some overseeing objective body to check the authenticity of the media, to greatly improve education, to educate in politics and critical thinking and to gripe and moan a lot.
It is a far from perfect system. But I can't think of a better one. 
Even more worrying is that these people are having children and being allowed to bring them up.
Wendy Bugliari Added Dec 6, 2018 - 10:33pm
OG and hello Mogg,
We have Direct Democracy effort in our California State.
As noted there are excellent benefits for people to propose or ballot ideas requiring majority VOTE,
Some referendums are QUITE fruity but allowed daylight just the same. Here is a recent article for examining as I just grabbed ONE highlight
"Some of the dire warnings have fallen by the wayside. In 2009, The Economist pointed to states such as California that “face daunting budget deficits because the recession has exposed the cumulative legacy of past voter initiatives. Voters loves schools, hospitals, prisons and trains. They also hate the taxes that pay for them.” It argued that “ballot-box budgeting” leads to “fiscal chaos.” Yet in 2012, voters (regrettably) approved Proposition 30, which raised taxes and helped eliminate the state’s budget deficit. So much for chaos. The real problem remains a state government that can’t stop spending, not direct democracy.
Some of the criticisms are silly. In 2015, someone introduced the “Sodomite Suppression Act,” a nefarious initiative that called for the execution of gays. Anyone with $200 can submit an initiative, but it takes millions of dollars to circulate petitions and really get the matter before voters. This was not a serious measure. The fix here is easy: Raise the cost of filing cost,"
NOW my POV sways to the accepted "Three Strikes You're Out" rule chosen with little insight to weight of criminal charging in USA.
Young man given LIFE prison sentence for stealing a candy bar was unforeseen because majority weighed three separate convictions equaled the severe punishment which lacks TOO many variables.
I LOVE the possibilities with MORE required study for measured societal response without need of a PHD darlings!
~The Bug~
Jim Stoner Added Dec 6, 2018 - 10:38pm
opher's British, no?  What county? 
opher, I have been expecting Scotland to come back a little more forcefully against Brexit.  Is that just "not yet", or have they reconciled? 
Mogg, I've served on criminal juries twice in NYC; they had a desperate need for jurors.  Probably still do. 
I saw what kind of cases go to trial; we jurors are essentially arbitrators between career criminals who got bad busts and the forces of order, who probably had the perp right but missed something procedurally.  Or the DA's strategy was wrong and had to back off giving the plea.  
That's about all the cops-and-robbers I need to see these days--way too much of that stuff on TV.   The judge for one of the cases did one of the movies of the genre.  I would say Cost of Bad Quality but it's more a question of jobs, jobs, jobs. 
Wendy Bugliari Added Dec 6, 2018 - 10:39pm
This was adopted by Bill Clinton as well but here is California's
target="_blank">The Amendment of the Three Strikes Sentencing Law (May 2017) by J. Richard Couzens, Judge of the Superior Court of Placer County(Ret.) and Presiding Justice Tricia A. Bigelow, Court of Appeal, 2nd Appellate District, Div. 8
Jim Stoner Added Dec 6, 2018 - 10:40pm
The other stuff about not discussing our public business with "strangers" is strange in the extreme.  Why, you think we have spies here in WB?  Are there any secrets?  We have a head of state who basically persists in mooning the rest of the world.  I would've thought they noticed, if they cared. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 7, 2018 - 4:42am
Mogg - I am English. I lived in the States on two occasions for a total of a year and a half. 
I personally have no problem discussing anything with anyone from anywhere. Often a bit of objectivity provides a useful perspective. Sometimes in a family squabble it takes an outsider to step in and help resolve it.
opher goodwin Added Dec 7, 2018 - 4:45am
Wendy - I look at all these political possibilities with some degree of scepticism. I don't think there is a perfect system for a society of the size of our modern day societies.
opher goodwin Added Dec 7, 2018 - 4:52am
Jim - the who Brexit business is now coming to a head. It has been an unmitigated disaster from the start. It has hit the economy and allowed the government to carry out its present destructive policies without opposition.
Nobody is reconciled to it. It has divided the country and caused huge bad feeling. It has empowered racists and fascists and racism and hate crime has gone through the ceiling.
A stupid business from the beginning. The referendum was initiated in order to placate the extreme nationalistic right-wing of the Tories. It was a huge mistake. It has been bungled from there on in. Now it is coming to a head. I expect Scotland to raise its head a lot more but I suspect they will use this as a tool to go for independence again. So they are biding their time. The break up of the UK is a real danger.
opher goodwin Added Dec 7, 2018 - 4:53am
Jim/Mogg - the justice system is a lottery. The more I became involved (via jury service) the more I recognised that it is a game to be played, a charade.
opher goodwin Added Dec 7, 2018 - 6:32am
Mogg - I think I saw enough to form a view and, of course, we are immersed in American culture.
Of course justice is a lottery. Who can doubt that? Did you not see the way that OJ was dealt with or the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner? Justice is more related to race, social class and luck. If you have the money you can get away with murder. You are subject to the vagaries of the system, the quality of the briefs, the judge and the prejudices of the jury. It's a wonder any justice is ever meted out.
I think the portrayal of Brits described is slightly out of date.
Ward Tipton Added Dec 7, 2018 - 8:04am
Arbitrary Enforcement, yes. A lottery? No. In the lottery, the poor guy has a chance of winning. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 7, 2018 - 8:39am
Lol Ward!!
The Owl Added Dec 7, 2018 - 8:56pm
Opher, if you sat on a jury and allowed an innocent man to be convicted, then you should, yourself,  be convicted of something.  At the very least, you are guilty of being a total wimp.
In the four trials that I have been called on to serve as a juror, I can assure you that every member of those juries, with one exception, did his or her job intelligently and diligently.  The one exception was a person who caved to the pressure of the others for the sole reason that he had things to do that afternoon.  (I changed my vote to avoid a unanimous finding...a condition for conviction...until dunderhead realized it was going to be a long afternoon unless he started to act reasonably and responsibly.)
For all your bluster, sir, you are a fraud.  You are, perhaps, worse than the jurors that you are accusing of being ill-educated and ill-informed; you convicted an innocent man.
Jim Stoner Added Dec 8, 2018 - 1:18am
With regard to opher's jury experience, I think your judgment is too harsh.  You do not know the circumstances which led to his admission that he was part of a jury that convicted someone who was innocent. Juries have no choice but to consider the evidence they are permitted to see.  It is not unusual for someone to be convicted who is later understood to be innocent.  (And, I would point out that case must not have been under US law--opher is no US citizen.) 
I do like the reference to Unforgiven and English Bob, even though I'm sure your intention was to taunt poor opher.  What a great movie!
opher goodwin Added Dec 8, 2018 - 3:05pm
Owl - Firstly - it did not require a unanimous decision. Secondly the problem lay with the defence lawyer. His defence was that he had not had sex with the girl. The forensic evidence was conclusive. He had. The judge instructed us that if we thought he had had sex he was guilty. The evidence was overwhelming. He was guilty. If he had the defence of consent he would have probably walked. 
It was a complicated case.
opher goodwin Added Dec 8, 2018 - 3:06pm
Lol Mogg - well at least I am English.
opher goodwin Added Dec 8, 2018 - 3:07pm
Jim - it would take a long time to explain the intricacies of that case. Me thinks Owl is jumping to conclusions.
opher goodwin Added Dec 8, 2018 - 3:10pm
Gosh Owl - I wouldn't like you sitting on a jury convicting me - you jump to conclusions without knowing the details - smacks of prejudice to me!
Don Added Dec 8, 2018 - 4:06pm
Flying Junior
Stone Eater
Jeff Mitchka
Opher Goodwin
My muse just suddenly abandoned me. So, I had to take a hiatus. You may not believe this, but I honestly missed you guys. Anyway, just when you thought it was safe to go into the water, I am back for at least for a little while.
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 6:33pm
Welcome back Don.
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 6:34pm
Mogg - he is one of all of us.
Don Added Dec 9, 2018 - 8:32pm
Ophra, please don’t tell me you have forgotten me.  I never forgot you.  I have come to do loving battle with you guys.
Don Added Dec 9, 2018 - 8:34pm
My spell checker has forgotten you and keeps changing it to one it likes better—so far orphelia and ophra.
The Owl Added Dec 9, 2018 - 9:07pm
Opher, I think you would be happy to have me on a jury for your criminal trial.  Just tell me when it is, and I'll fly over to pass judgement.
First, I firmly believe that it is the prosecution's job to prove it case beyond reasonable doubt.  And as for witness both for and against, I am more than willing to discount evidence offered if the witness is engaging in hearsay, even if the attorneys aren't willing to call it.
The judge, of course, has the ebiligation to inform the jury asvtonthe law and how it is to be applied, butbhe is  not entitled to make up the jury's mind unless he is directing the verdict.  In the United States, that is a rare occurrence and square on the shoulders of the judge to justify if challenged.
My experience with witnesses is that they engage in speculation and hearsay, and the lawyers let them get away with it.  Th worst offenders arebthe police reading from their notebooks telling us what happened when they weren't even there
Rest assured, Opher, if I thought you were innocent at trial, I would be a squeakier than you are here on WB.
I'd also and you up the river in a heartbeat and without qualm if you were proven guilty.
The Owl Added Dec 9, 2018 - 9:33pm
Jim, Opher was the one who declared that he was on a jury that convicted an innocent man.  No equivocation!
If taking the man at his word is jumping to conclusions in your view, we're going to be butting heads often.
Opher issa master of the declarative statement.  It is the way he plays the game.  No too for misnterpretaion   If he is now complaining about unfair assessments of his positions, perhaps he should more circmspct in placing them before us.
His complaint raises questions as to when he discovered the defendant's innocence.  His statement says that the least he...knew the guy was "innocent".  
It sounds as if the only fact that theb jury was decide wasv whether or not a sexual act occurred.  This would lead me to believe that the case was a statutory rape case.   And there, theere the applicable laws allow for little gray, just black and white.
Y'all need to remember that laws in this country tell you what is prohibited.  That which isn't so declared is fair play.
Opher has to wiggle off the hook he serving himself with this one.  It is part of the cost of his interest in being the Bolviater-in-Chief of WB.
The Owl Added Dec 9, 2018 - 9:34pm
I hate auto complete!
opher goodwin Added Dec 10, 2018 - 4:26am
Don - you are not forgotten. You seem to have reinvented me!
opher goodwin Added Dec 10, 2018 - 4:39am
Owl - let me explain more completely. 
I am sure we convicted an innocent man.
In order to understand why you have to understand an intricate trial. 
In a nutshell - these girls went out on the town drinking heavily. At around two in the morning they had a pizza and met up with some squaddies. At 3 in the morning she invited the soldier back to her flat, a mile away, for a 'coffee'. Her friends called out that they'd better have a condom. Back at her place she claimed she passed out and came round to find him raping her.
Now it would seem to me that this was an open and shut case. All the soldier needed to have stated was that they'd had sex but it was consensual.
Unfortunately he and his defence made the whole of his defence on the fact that he had not had sex with her. He had the opportunity during the trial to change his defence to one of consent but did not.
The forensic evidence was overwhelming that he had sex with the girl. It was beyond dispute.
The judge directed us to find him guilty if he had had sex with her. There was no evidence put forward for consensual sex.
If the soldier and his legal team had presented a different case he would have walked. On the evidence we were presented with we had no choice but to find him guilty. We did not hear that evidence. I, and the rest of the juror, thought he was innocent but we lacked the evidence.
opher goodwin Added Dec 10, 2018 - 4:48am
Owl - I think you will find I am no Bloviator. My writing is always imbued with substance - even if you might not agree with the thrust of my argument. Declaring that those with contrary views to that of your own is a transparent ploy. Denigrating your foes by attempting to undermine them by declaring they have no substance is rather shallow. I suggest that it might be better to engage and attempt to win through rational intelligence rather than merely discredit through such disingenuous means.
Perhaps you should read more of my writing before putting forward such spurious claims.