Ignorance is not bliss. It is the food of slaves.
Judging from some of the letters I get, many readers are curious about why I do this, who I am and where I get my ideas from. An explanation is due.
At this writing in 2007, I'm 65. My formal education is in engineering. I still work and I intend to keep working for as long as practically possible. This website is a hobby that started to evolve ten years ago at a stage of life when I foresaw decades of free time ahead of me. It gives me a practical purpose to employ the knowledge and thinking skills that took a lifetime to develop. I like doing this kind of stuff, and in the Bible I found a goldmine.
While this website concentrates on the Bible, that is not my entire objective. That objective is encompassed succinctly on the home page masthead: "In defense of reality and liberty." Let's break it down.
- Defensive behavior comes from natural instinct in matters large and small. The purpose of this website is to defend principles which I believe have proven to be beneficial to our well being. By living our lives in accordance with those principles, we contribute to the betterment of society.
- Reality is an absolute. It is from a poor understanding of reality that so many things go badly in our personal lives and in society at large. Conversely, the better we understand reality, the better we become at reducing the wasted effort and errors in our lives.
- Liberty is fundamental to our well being because it is the antithesis to a self-destructive society. While almost everybody praises liberty, few understand its essentials. We can't be free unless we allow others to be free. It is to the degree we initiate or condone the initiation of aggression towards other individuals do we restrict liberty. This is the universal essence of moral behavior.
There is an awful amount of disinformation, bad logic, propaganda, useless information, misleading information and self-serving information in human society. I hope that through this website, I can guide you to the art of recognizing those negativities.
Like all children, I was born into a world I did not understand. I had the benefit of being born to honest and peaceful parents who gave me a lot of freedom to grow and learn, and I was an adventurous tyke. I saw in my father, a man who had to quit high school to help support his parents working as a machinist. When he became a family man, he studied hard and worked his way out of the machine shop to a better paying profession. I was fortunate to have a stable family life and a father who was an excellent role model.
It was out of my youthful insecurities that I developed a passion for learning. I reasoned that fear stems from ignorance. I've always been the type who, if I could find a practical purpose for something, I would work it until I mastered it.
I was born into a Protestant household. My parents didn't talk about God in the household, but they did send me to Sunday school. I came out of that experience with a fear of God. Most choose to rationalize that fear because they like the feeling of being attached to the highest power in the universe. Some give in to it because they overwhelmed by it all. I didn't.
There were many things in the Bible that didn't make sense to me. In my teens I went through an agnostic stage. I was never persuaded to live a life founded on faith, nor was I dissuaded by a fear of offending God. All I wanted to know is if it was true or not. There were many questions for which I couldn't find satisfactory answers, especially the idea of an afterlife and the concept of a supernatural deity who took an interest in human affairs.
I was about 21 when I came across a book called "The Passover Plot." When the author explained that the New Testament was written decades after the time of Jesus from oral testimony, and considering the time it was written and the state of ignorance 2,000 years ago, it was enough to convince me that there was no truth to it and the fear left me.
In the decades following, my disregard for the manipulating aspect of religion strengthened. Beyond that I didn't give much thought to religion and my attention turned to more important interests like advancing in my career and raising a family.
Once I abandoned religion, I ventured into the world of ideas. "The Story of Philosophy" by Will Durant excited my passion for classical philosophy for many years. I read extensively and played with their ideas from every angle. My breakthrough came through Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism. It was from her, that I learned that most philosophers were overly abstract, authoritarian and divorced from reality.
I've always believed that no one knows what is best for me than me. In every social subject I studied, I found the same patterns that I found in religion. Much of what passes for conventional wisdom is designed to benefit the self interests of some faction, be they religious, political, commercial or individual. It fortified my mistrust for authority, popular opinion and anyone who tried to tell me how to live my life.
You might ask how do I know what is true and what is not? I applied this test. If a writer was too abstract and hard to understand, my confusion left an itch of doubt. But if the writer could offer me evidence that I could relate to what I was sure was true, I was persuaded. It wasn't as easy as it may sound. Government schooling and media propaganda have a strong influence in making social institutions seem like paragons of virtue. It took decades to weed out the disinformation instilled in me during early those years.
There were many detours and dead ends. The art is to follow the path of logic. If the path led to dependence on some authority, I rejected it. If it led away from dependence on authority I accepted it. This can't be done mechanically. Sometimes I accepted something when I wasn't completely comfortable with it. Sometimes I found ideas that completely refuted what I thought were true. It's a life long self correcting process.
Thinking I could become an engineer through work experience, I didn't go to college immediately after high school. By 21, I realized that wasn't going to happen, so I entered college nights to become a mechanical engineer. Even at that young age, I didn't have the energy to work and keep up my studies.
Looking to increase my energy levels, found a book called "Food is Your Best Medicine. It got me into reading every book on food and nutrition I could find. I took up running and weight lifting during those years too. It worked. By changing my diet and exercising, I found the energy to get through those grueling eight years. I still keep up with changes in the field. At 65, I don't have a single health problem.
Lessons learned: (1) be wary about taking pharmaceutical medicines because they are all toxic and do nothing to get at the root causes of illness. (2) Much of our food supply is stripped of important nutrients. I'm a strong proponent of capitalism, but the downside is that the responsibility falls on the buyer to determine the worth of what he is getting. Whether drugs are legal or illegal, harmful or safe, if there are willing buyers, there will be willing sellers.
The study of science is invaluable for teaching the forces of nature and basics of theory and experiment that lead to the understanding of those forces. The world is full of ideas, but few of them work when put to the test. One problem I found with college is that many liberal arts subjects are required except for Logic 101, so I had to take it as an elective. It really opened my eyes to the methodology of discriminating between valid and invalid ideas.
In science, I noticed that every field of study meshes with every other field. That got me into the habit of applying the mesh test to social matters.
After college, my study of Ayn Rand led to libertarian philosophy by other authors, notably von Mises, Rothbard and Hayek. It is through them where the principle of non-aggression became a part of my personal philosophy. These writers were also economists, defenders of free market capitalism.
In what they call the Austrian School of Economics, the theory is founded on the psychology of human behavior as opposed to the mathematical theories of the Keynesian and Monetarist schools. In Austrian theory, the creation of wealth starts with individuals aiming to improve their lives through spontaneous market processes. It is too complex to be mathematically quantified.
Conversely, the other schools empower bureaucrats to manipulate the market economy according to the goals of government policy. This is a large topic on its own. Suffice to say that the politically popular theories of economics are based on intervention in the market process. By intervention, they distort the pricing mechanism and create volatile business cycles. If you wonder why the economy has been doing so badly, they are the cause.
I don't know how I found it. I think it was referenced in something I read. "The Tyranny of Words" by Stuart Chase led to the study of General Semantics and its founder, Alfred Korzybski. General Semantics teaches the logic of words, words we use that have no meaning in reality, yet people act on them as if they represented real things. This is where religion is at its worst and politics is not far behind. Ideology is the theology of politics.
I've always had an interest in history from early school days. My knowledge ranges from prehistory to modern history. What always stands out to me is a continuous string of wars for religious and political reasons. Since the time of the early kingdoms of Sumer and Egypt, every form of government is by nature a violent institution that attracts people attracted to aggression.
I've been reading news and opinion every day since high school; socialism, a.k.a. liberalism, always repulsed me. My politics went from Barry Goldwater Republican, to Republican conservatism, to Libertarianism to anarchism. Not that I see anarchism as an ideal, or that any ideal exists, but because it's the strongest stand I can take to detach myself from the snare of government aggression.
Basically, there are two systems of what people accept as truth. The most common is to accept the beliefs of others when they are appealing, because they are popularly accepted. I took the minority road, to base my thinking on reality and moral non-aggression. I can tell you from experience that it is such a great pleasure to be conscious of the signs and events around me and to be able to compensate for them with a minimum of error.
I don't claim my IQ is anything special; thinking logically when grounded in reality is a learned skill. It would not have been so difficult and taken me so long. If I lived in a social environment where the skill was widely practiced, I would have absorbed it in my youth. My two children did. Tip: teaching children reality based logic makes parenting so much easier. They'll respect you and be your friends for life.
For you reader, it is up to you to decide if I am a disagreeable egoist or a rationalist realist.