RANGER AGAINST WAR: Truth or Consequences <

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Truth or Consequences

They dreamed that Americans would break
the traditional link between the religious impulse,
the impulse to stand in awe of something greater than oneself,
and the in­fantile need for security,
the childish hope of escaping from time and chance.
--Achieving our Country:
Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America,
Richard Rorty

The concept of "truth" frequently pops into my mind and it seems passe and frivolous to discuss the topic. If lies are the basis of our democracy, then obviously, democracy is a lie.

How have we come to such a condition that our politicians and leaders can lie to us and we accept this as the natural course of events? This by the way is a criticism of our way of life as well as our political situation.

Everything in our society is based upon the Big Lie. Read the small print very carefully. It's not that our leaders lie but rather that we expect them to lie.  We are  uncomfortable and disengaged from the truth. Factually, the truth is past the point that we can even recognize it.

We lie to ourselves which is worse than lying to others. Is it any wonder that conspiracy theories are abundant and popular? If we believe the small lies then we'll swallow the big ones.

Propaganda and demagoguery require this crossover. It often crosses my mind that if a person can believe the bible then you can feed them any bit of drivel. The bible is the basis of all conspiracy theories.

We are in the age of insincerity and self-doubt in the centers of democracy. Self doubt is healthy if conducted with the goal of improvement but is destructive if bound over to insincerity.

Machiavelli's work "The Prince" clearly expects the Prince to lie and be deceitful but that was 500 years before we had Constitutions and coded agreements. The Reformation and Enlightenment supposedly ushered in a search for truth and benign leadership.

English common law was based on codes that theoretically protected the citizenry from verbal maneuverings by the "Prince". But now we once again allow and expect the Prince to lie, We have come full circle.

In the age of Machiavelli the world was ruled by fear. We do the same thing now except we electrify the fear and call it "Twitter", and call the lies "fake news".

What have we benefited by the last 500 years if our political thought remains dominated by fear that is based upon lies?

[pt. II tomorrow]

--by Jim

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Anonymous David said...

Maybe I'm reading this wrong but I don't know if there ever truly was an era of "truth and benign leadership." There was a period when we were largely dependent on a few central information sources for "truth" about the outside world, and those sources, whether accurate or otherwise, effectively passed as "truth." Now we've passed beyond that.

I don't know whether I'm just too cynical about this, but I think people find conspiracy theories comforting. For one, it makes them feel like they have a superior take on the world: they haven't been fooled like the sheep-like masses. For another, it provides an easy explanation for their problems.

For instance: Trump won the election in 2016? Well, it cannot be because he campaigned well and offered tens of millions of ignored and forgotten people a chance to rebuild an America they fear is dying. No, this can only be because there was some sort of secret plot run out of the Kremlin with Trump as a modern Manchurian candidate.

Or alternatively: Trump can't seem to govern effectively? Well, this cannot be because of Trump's own failings. It must be because the secret state is conspiring against him.

Maybe conspiracy theories are simply more fun than the truth, and nowadays, what people really crave is entertainment, not truth.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 12:53:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naked reality is a howling raging dragon bitch that feeds upon itself. All life - all perception itself - that grows from that base reality is an attempt to use will and imagination to create a new reality more amenable to the perceiver. Call it all a lie if you will.

Somewhere lines have to be drawn between creating a system that works and no good lies.

A society populated by monks meditating on their navels and sworn to silence could come close to being lie free. Once you move beyond that to more normal human affairs, lies become unavoidable. Because in order to be dedicated to doing something - anything - in a cohesive manner mandates subverting the truth of the individual - which was a lie anyhow - to the greater lie of the collective.

The real questions should be "is the myth functioning and creating the greatest good for the most citizens and is it sustainable". Not, "is it true in an absolute sense".

Unfortunately, some people - like The Prince - having realized this, use deception for personal gain at the expense of others. I think that is the variety of lie that you are writing about.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 1:42:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more. At least the Bible has a moral component. In attempting to understand the vicious mania that has seized many anti-Trumpers, I see that one issue they have is that Trump doesn't believe in 'global warming" and he's pulling out of the Paris climate talks.

The global warming cult is going insane. Why Trump threatens the very continuation of the human species. He's a monster that will kill us all!!!!!!

So take away religion and believe replace it with utter lunacy like the belief that humans can effect the climate to the extent that our survival depends on what decisions we make. Even though we know that the climate has changed radically before there were even humans.

I can't think of anything more absurd than the global warming movement/cult, but there you have it. Pick your poison. Morality based in ancient understanding of human behavior and mindset or flash in the pan trendy sciencey causes without established foundation.


Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 10:35:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

"... like the belief that humans can effect the climate to the extent that our survival depends on what decisions we make."

Don't worry, I'm sure it's just a coincidence that the last three years each set records for being the warmest years on record.

Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 11:31:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But not warmer than when the dinosaurs were here.


Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 11:42:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

We weren't here then, though, and the current trajectory is for warming much more quickly than either warming or cooling at that time. Care to guess how deep underwater our major ports will be if you want dinosaur era-type temperatures?

I don't know where you draw the boundaries of this "cult," but I doubt I'm in it. I view the Paris-style stuff mostly along the lines as the Democrats' attempt to "fix" healthcare with Obamacare, i.e. taking a real problem but ultimately just being an excuse to funnel more resources to bureaucrats and a few privileged corporations. Just one more reason to be pessimistic about humanity, to me.

Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 11:52:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We weren't here then" Exactly. So maybe the climate is gonna do what it's gonna do.

Then again, I know a guy who prayed to God for something to happen and then it did. So God is real and answers prayers too?

The weather man can't even accurately predict what it's going to be like tomorrow, but he knows all about the weather a six hundred million years ago and a hundred years in the future? Come on man, this is blind faith in bullshit.

And ports have been rising and sinking into the sea since man began constructing them. Only a deluded fool would think that a coastal development is something that could last into perpetuity.

I found fish fossils on a mountain top in the middle of the Nevada desert. I am told that there are aquatic fossils on Mount Everest.

I guess one man's lies are another's reality.


Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 12:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

There is a distinction between weather and climate. If you've overlooked something that basic, you've probably overlooked more important matters.

As someone who claims to analyze information professionally, perhaps you might reflect on the gaps in your knowledge before labeling others as cults.

There are documented fossils on Everest. What's your point? That has more to do with geology than climate.

Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 12:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You doth protest too much.

"When we talk about climate change, we talk about changes in long-term averages of daily weather." NASA

Split hairs all you want to. If the weatherman can't get the short term right, he is highly unlikely to get the long term right.

I don't "claim" to work in big data, I do work in analyzing big data. I have probably forgotten more about statistical modeling, econometric and systems modeling than you will ever know. I know how modeling works and I know how it can be tweaked to result in anything you want it to. I also know what religious belief looks like.

The point of fossils on Everest should be obvious. The only constant in the natural world is change. It is the pinnacle of hubris to think that man can change that. As I initially said, reality doesn't give a damn about your beliefs, your honesty or dishonesty, your valor or your cowardice, your righteousness or your corruption. You and all else will be atomized and the atoms recycled to build something totally new. All that other stuff is just something you cling to in order to avoid the truth.


Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 1:40:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and the more afraid you are, the more all that other stuff becomes important to you. You think it has to do with enlightenment and education versus ignorance. It doesn't. Only fear versus acceptance.


Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 1:47:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

On the weather versus climate thing, this isn't hair-splitting at all: there is a vast difference between projecting general ranges over multi-year periods and predicting the chaotic movements within those ranges on a day-to-day basis. You ought to know that, really. You also don't know the day to day sea level records from 100 million years ago, yet you claim to know that the oceans were once in different locations when the dinosaurs were alive. How is that, exactly?

The point about the fossils on Everest seems completely unrelated. They are there because Everest was formed out of rock that used to be on the sea floor. Surely that is obvious.

As for your vision of our future, well yes, that is certainly true. Human beings have been around for a few hundred thousand years. We've had a decent run. Something's going to do us in, at which point none of this business about corrupt politicians, empires, economics, history, art, culture, anything will matter much. That's the way of things.

You may, of course, devise whatever rationalization for living in ignorance that you wish.

Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 2:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are an incredibly literal person.

Maybe we should be worried more about geological upheavals. What if New York City or Toronto were propelled to an elevation of 26,000 feet? My God!!!

Re; Climate - Can any of the models that confidently predict future warming, floods and hurricanes explain the Younger Dryas, Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation, Cryogenian period or anything else about the Earth’s past history? Of course not.

But your comment that the last three years were the warmest since we began recording temperatures says it all. We began recording temperatures in the Victorian period, which was the tail of the "little ice age" - of course the climate has been getting warmer. The baseline was colder than normal. A miniscule and biased sample and therefore not statistically significant.

Worse, you are committing one of the more deadly mistakes. You assume that someone that disagrees with you is stupid and unsophisticated. They must be! You are educated and smart and anyone who is likewise would hold the same positions. In war, underestimating the enemy is a huge error. Why, I can't really be someone who analyzes big data because I am so primitive and rightwing in my views. I must actually be a caveman, grunting and hitting things with stone tools; incapable of comprehending enlightened perspectives. This is great. I love it. Like I say, what we think is true is just about boasting our poor little egos, giving them meaning lest we be forced to stare into the abyss.


Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 2:47:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Do you have any evidence that such upheavals are remotely likely to occur in the next one thousand years, and if so, that there is anything we could do about them?

I kind of doubt it.

So stop being foolish.

I do not assume anyone who disagrees with me is stupid and unsophisticated. However, when someone claims that one cannot project climate trends because one cannot predict the weather, they betray a fundamental ignorance of that particular topic. Ignorance of one topic doesn't make someone stupid. There are many, many topics about which I freely admit I know little. That is why I read this blog, because Jim educates me on military affairs.

Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 5:06:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you know that Jim was once called into question by his brothers in arms because he speaks the Ranger simple truth as he sees it? Yep, a special forces only site hunted him down and accused him of being a fraud. It was quite a little ordeal. He had to be a fraud because of the things he says, which seem foolish, to many others with his background. I understand he has had personal friends, also Rangers or other special forces, un-friend him for the same reason.

I think is Jim makes sense and is a great guy. But then I'm a simple guy too.

If you can't predict the weather because it is a highly complex system with many variables, then how in the hell are you going to predict the climate out 50 or a 100 years? This is a simple question. It matters not that "weather" and "climate" are not perfectly synonymous. The modeling of both involves similar challenges. Actually, I would think that the modeling of the weather would be considerably easier. You know what the weather is today and you know which way the wind is blowing. So, tomorrow, the weather down wind should be what it is today up wind +/- some other variables that need to be factored in.

I am not debating you about that because I want to "win" an argument or because I really even care about global warming, beyond the potentiality that government and believers trying to do something about it is going to result in a lot of costs and will fail b/c man cannot control the weather or climate. Nor because I think I am expert in climatology. I'm not.

Rather, attempting to stay somewhat in line with Jim's post, I am saying that 1. Ideas people hold as "truth" are usually not so clear cut. 2. If you take away religion you still have the same psychological needs, just fulfilled by some other, usually amoral, ideology (in this case global warming cultishness). 3. People are usually unaware that what they think is true is open to reasonable dispute. 4. People will resort to all kinds of spurious arguments to defend their positions (climate has warmed up by 1 degree +/- since the little ice age circa 1880 therefore global warming is true!). 5. People are believers and preachers, not fact processing robots. 6. Even if they want to be fact processing robots, they will fail b/c a) no one knows all the facts b) reality is highly subjective and c)There is much deliberate deception in the world for various reasons.



Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 6:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One last from me, David.

If you are interested in war and tactics, etc. Then, IMO, this is an important topic. War is not just ambushed and assaults and shooting.

It also very much involves information and control of information. It involves motivating people via controlled targeted information released and deception via the same.

It wouldn't work if people were as cognizant of objective truth versus not truth as you think they are.

Control of "Truth" is more awesome a weapon than control of a gun.


Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 6:21:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

On Jim's background, yes, in fact I did do my due diligence. I read a lengthy thread on a special forces veterans site somewhere, though I can't recall where now, where they seemed to think he must be a fraud for political reasons. That said more about them than it did him, to be honest.

You freely admit you are not an expert in climatology, but earlier, you labeled people who accept current scientific work in this area as a foolish cult. Then you pose a question that you really ought to know the answer to, if indeed you knew enough about the topic to be able to determine which side was the cultish fools.

The answer is a fairly simple one. Climate is general long-term patterns. Within those broad parameters, there is an immense amount of short-term variation up and down. Chaos theory predicts that the computing power necessary to gather and account for all the variables grows exponentially with the amount of time you're trying to predict. Based on climate knowledge, though, I can still tell you that it is vanishingly likely it will be 90 degrees at the South Pole three weeks from now, even if I couldn't tell you with any certainty what the actual temperature will be within the narrower band of probability predicted by climate models.

I would be interested to know where your first point of disagreement with modern climate science lies. Do you, for instance, reject the observation that carbon dioxide, water vapor, and certain other gases absorb and re-emit infrared radiation?

Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 7:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You insist on missing the point.

Name for me a single model, based on uncertain data, that reliably predicts the future?

There isn't one. If there was, it would be the equivalent of a crystal ball and we'd all be rich and life would be trouble free.

But you want to tell me that this climate model that involves tens of thousands of known interacting variables and who knows how many unknown interacting variables (for example, the models can't tell us why floods and hurricanes explain the Younger Dryas, Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation, Cryogenian period, the last ice age happened) is correct. That is illogical irrational blind faith. Not truth.

1 degree +/- since the "mini ice age" circa 1880. 1 degree. That and some model. That's it. All because people want to believe that they can stop New York City from sinking beneath the sea some day.


Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 8:00:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

I'm not missing the point at all. I'm asking a sincere question of curiosity. If you're not sure of the answer to that question then frankly it wouldn't make sense to skip ahead to questions about specific models.

Anyhow, as I mentioned before, the actual science is a sideshow. Peruse the Post and the Times and see what has upset the mainstream press about Trump leaving Paris. So far as I can tell it is: (a) American empire will take a hit to its reputation, and (b) American businesses will lose out on some investment opportunities.

Must not do anything to disadvantage the empire!

Friday, June 2, 2017 at 8:46:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The stock market disagrees with the dour assessment of the Paris withdrawal.

Market investors use complex computer models to make investment decisions.


Friday, June 2, 2017 at 10:36:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Well sure. I didn't suggest you get your financial news from them, just the pulse of the liberal commentariat.

Friday, June 2, 2017 at 11:07:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

David & avedis,

I always love your point-counterpoint discussions.

Being a lit-philosophy person myself, I'll have Goethe settle the question:

avedis says,

So take away religion and believe replace it with utter lunacy like the belief that humans can effect the climate to the extent that our survival depends on what decisions we make.

Goethe (being New Age before it was a Thing) said:

I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.

... so cue up a little Bobby McFerrin. We'll keep Ranger happy and all should be well, no?

Friday, June 2, 2017 at 2:37:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Goethe had it right.

Jimi Hendrix is, perhaps, a nice add-on, "If the sun refuse to shine...I don't mind....if the mountains, fell in the sea...let it be, it ain't me.....got my own world to live through and I ain't gonna copy you...."


Friday, June 2, 2017 at 3:40:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But I can't resist with one last simple example of why the models are usually very bad at predicting and get worse as they get more complicated/contain more variables. This is simple.

Each variable included the model is of less than 100% certainty. Does CO2 in the atmosphere cause temperature to rise? David thinks it is a sure thing. Yet even professional climatologists do not agree that is a certainty....because CO2 becomes saturated quickly and no longer has the same heat increasing effect that it did when originally released. Furthermore, there is uncertainty as to the source of CO2 found in the atmosphere. Man made? Or natural? Or both? BTW, termites create a lot of CO2.

So many uncertain variables. So many feedback loops of uncertain strength. So many unknown variables.

I'm picking on global warming, but this is true of any systems modeling.

Let's say you have a relatively simple system with 5 uncertain variables. The first you are 60% certain of it having an impact *and* the strength of the impact and the ability to control the variable. The next 80% certain. The next 25% certain. the next 35% certain. The next 90% certain.

This means that when all of the variables are combined in the model, the result is a model that is only 3.78% certain (we had to multiply the certainty % of all 5 variables).

Now imagine a model with hundreds or thousands of uncertain variables.

This is why pro-warming scientists like to latch onto something simple and with a higher probability of being correct - like CO2 levels. But there is far more to the climate than CO2 (which only makes up about .04% of the atmosphere). It's easy and it brings in the funding. It's the one variable that just maybe could be controlled/do something about. And it has become politically expedient.

I fell off the turnip truck and bumped my head and came up with this. Carry on.


Friday, June 2, 2017 at 3:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...


"Being a lit-philosophy person myself..."

This explains why you always have the right word and the right philosopher name to drop.

On Avedis's point, there really is no point having a discussion about the specifics of modeling when you are confused on other specific points. I didn't claim CO2 was the only contributor to climate change or that there was a direct correlation between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the change in temperatures. I didn't claim that there was 100% certainty. I asked you a fairly simple question which you avoided answering.

In any case, what it leads me to is the conclusion that climate science is probably strong enough at this point to predict a strong likelihood of unusually rapid climate change as a result of human industrial activities, but that schemes like Paris were extremely expensive ways of not doing much about it. I think if I had to attach my name to someone's view I'd be closer to Bjorn Lomborg, whose name pops up in this discussion from time to time.

Friday, June 2, 2017 at 6:07:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hendrix is a fine addition, avedis.

And David, what thinking person could not like Bjorn? The thing I fond most unsettling and divisive between me and the lock-step liberals is that for them, one must ALWAYS protest against the powers that be. Power = "bad men". (They are like the simple Dersu Uzala, but with none of the excuses.)

They love to fancy themselves, "Change agents", with change always presumed to be a good, and en avance of progress. Of course if this were so, then it would have been liberal thought that ushered in the industrial revolution and the use of carbon fuels.

Thus, the true liberal would live in contradiction. Unless one could reconcile romanticism with the Enlightenment.

(It's moments like these when one sees the pleasure in being "Ranger-simple.")

Friday, June 2, 2017 at 9:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

"Change agent" is a fancy postmodern buzzword, like "synergy" and "disrupter." I guess it's supposed to sound impressive in a job interview maybe.

On the history point, how times change. Yes, liberals were the original free market party and they still reap its benefits. But of course they are not responsible for the carbon-based economy. No, that is entirely the fault of oil companies and Trump supporters and other deplorables.

Here's a contradiction for you: if they were serious about eliminating carbon-based power, then instead of demanding that we invest exorbitant sums of money researching novel new "alternative power" systems and investing creative taxes on people's consumption, they would just want more nuclear power plants using existing technology. Yet they don't want that either.

Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 10:10:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

We have two nuclear plants in our general area. Maybe people are frightened by the big failures: Chernobyl, Fukushima, Three Mile Island. Usually caused by human error, but we haven't found a way to fix that bug.

ISTM petro power is here until we deplete it. Provides a nice agenda over which candidates may battle and acolytes may argue.

While it seems, with our paltry records on our paltry lifetimes, we are going through a general climate shift. But as avedis and others note, change is the given. Are we affecting our environment? No doubt, and in every possible way, being the rapacious predators that we are.

The interplay between every aspect our impact is not a simple one to understand. It's probably not even possible for us to know, as we would have no precedent for that sort of tabulation.

Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 11:38:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...


I'm not happy with nuclear power either, but that wasn't my point.

Suppose you don't go the Bjorn Lomborg route I mentioned. Suppose you believe it's do or die, right now, for human civilization. Paris is so important that Donald Trump has just doomed humanity. Pile on whatever more hyperbole is needed at this point.

In that scenario, would you be willing to roll the dice on an expansion of nuclear power?

I know I would. Yet they are not. Curious.

Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 11:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger NaRong said...

Here's a contradiction for you: if they were serious about eliminating carbon-based power, then instead of demanding that we invest exorbitant sums of money researching novel new "alternative power" systems and investing creative taxes on people's consumption, they would just want more nuclear power plants using existing technology. Yet they don't want that either.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at 7:32:00 AM GMT-5  

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