Of mice and men

.. without women, because I’d rather not sleep on a couch for the next month, again, thank you very much.

               Stupidity isn’t that widespread, apparently. Yes, I’m talking about true stupidity, not the other type. I need to revisit my word choices, since there’s a few more types. Dumb, idiots, morons, stupid folks, oh, so many types. There are people who are dumb because their brains can’t do more than that. Thankfully, there’s not that many of them around. Unfortunately, stupidity is also learned – this type is much more widespread. So there’s dumb folks, plain vanilla like me, people who understand they’re limited and actually know where their limits are, and then there’s the idiots who don’t know their limits. Them’s really annoying but also really destructive. Why? Well…

               I know I can’t go head-on against a good engineer, doctor or even a fellow scientist working in a different field. Hell, math, physics, those are sciences so big chances are a dark matter specialist can’t understand some papers written by somebody working with superconductors, and it’s actually a good thing. The more I learn, the more questions I have. Answers? Not so much. See, we’re not that smart. We don’t know everything. We use inductive or deductive processes. We experiment and extrapolate theories from our experiments. All it takes is one experiment that contradicts our theories and poof!, theory is dead. It’s a loop – we look at things, we write a theory that should explain what we saw, we look at things again to see if the theory still holds. Rinse, repeat until we die. Once in a while we stumble upon something, a flash of insight or whatever, and it looks right – but might not be. Some of the theories have been disproven after those who made them died, or have been likewise proven. We might get lucky, but we’re quite aware how fragile luck can be, all it takes is a beer at the wrong time and that flash of insight may never appear. Or it may appear, precisely because of that bloody beer. We’re painfully aware of our limitations – this is the reason I am bloody steaming when some overconfident schmuck who thinks he’s god’s gift to humanity says I’m wrong because of something he believes in. Yup. Like disproving quantum entanglement because teleportation can’t exist and Schrodinger’s cat was shot by Martin Luther King’s assassin in an accident of quantum tunneling.

               The worst combination of all is a confident idiot. Ever meet those? I have. Look, I don’t mind people saying I’m wrong – I might even be wrong – but those people have to do it the right way, using the same tools I used (or at the very least question the tools). Disprove my work by actually demonstrating why it’s wrong, if I can’t do it. I may not even see my errors, it’s like a bias or something, so pointing out something that ain’t right you’re also supposed to back your thing with facts. I think that’s how it works, right? I mean, I make a statement and I provide a demonstration, you should also do that. Each one of us is responsible for whatever we said and it’s our job to provide the arguments supporting our statement. In theory, that is.

               You can’t disprove anything unless you use the same language and principles, otherwise there’d never be a theory of evolution, astronomy, physics, math, or other scientific innovations like the bloody toilet we’re browsing 9gag from. You can’t disprove astronomical theories by virtue of astrology anymore than you can disprove physics by reading the bible or the quran. Unless you’re an idiot.

               Now the thing that’s been bugging me is this quite novel theory that reality is whatever we want it to be, like we’re the ones at the center of mankind. Let me explain before getting puffy and threatening to put a fist right through the monitor – it’s about believing everything has to be classified and its use determined by way of the law, or simply generalized. One size fits all. I don’t like cheese because I’m allergic to it, so it should be banned. Stuff like that. Laws prevent child abuse by punishing parents who let their kids play outside unsupervised. Heaven forbid we tackle the issue of actually preventing child abuse by punishing the abusers, because they, the abusers, have rights. But police picking up kids coming from school and holding them without telling the parents where they are for hours, then jailing the parents for letting that happen, that’s quite normal. Am I going crazy here? Perhaps.

              We’re allowing idiots to make the laws. We’re allowing idiots to voice every stupid thing they can in the name of free speech. Does that seem like a dumb thing to do? It might, but we’d be wrong because it really ain’t.

I’m looking at exceptions. Those are actually exceptions, taking democracy to extremes. Extremism is … well… extreme. It’s not right, these kind of situations shouldn’t exist but democracy isn’t perfect. It’s better than the alternatives, though. Democracy is a framework we can build on, but what we build can and will be sometimes faulty. Just like life. Democracy isn’t the problem, it’s the people. We are the problem, you, me, everybody else. Think of christianity for instance – supposedly Moses received a few tablets with a few dozen commandments from god, but after breaking some of them in a fit of anger we’re here, a couple millennia after that, looking at 10 big-ass unbreakable commandments. But the average christian still breaks them, and still considers him/herself a good christian worthy of heaven and 40 virgins (I may confuse things a bit here, but whatever). Really? And those are supposed to be the actual god’s gift to humanity, not something we created like democracy. So what chance are we betting on for democracy to fail even in the best of circumstances? Yeah, think about it. We’re breaking what we’ve been taught it’s god’s law and we expect democracy to be perfect? Must be a running gag in heaven, or maybe god’s version of hidden camera.

               It doesn’t matter what everybody says, even what I say. We, the bloody people, screwed up. Yes, there are rights and there are privileges, and the difference between the two is rights can’t be taken away from you. Unless they are, in which case either those aren’t rights or somebody’s breaking the law. There is no goddamn reason, no bloody explanation that can satisfy this situation – this is really black or white, true or false, yes or no situation. There is no “and”. This is true democracy – just like islam, christianity or other religions. You get rules and you have to follow them but the difference between a religion and democracy is not their morality but who makes the rules. In any religion, rules are unchangeable, immovable, unbreakable, all-encompassing. In democracy, rules are created by us and we’re expected to create them. Rules exist for the greater good, just like in any religion, but unlike the religious belief you’re not actually expected to believe in them to follow them – that follows from the “made up” part. You can trash everything in a newspaper and nobody ought to mind, because you might have a point there, something everybody missed. But you can also trash everything in a newspaper because art and freedom of speech, which is bullshit but it’s legal. Or should be, since nobody knows if you actually used reason to write that stuff or paid a couple million monkeys to hit random keys on the typewriter. Democracy is for those who actually use their neurons, religion is for the rest. However, the reality is a bit murky. Hell, it’s downright idiotic.

               You see, democracy – the freedom thing – is a team game. Everybody has to do their part, like communism or corporate finances, or things go south quickly. You don’t have it just for Nobel prize winners, you have it for whole countries where even those fellows who can’t grasp the concepts of personal hygiene or reading (yes, I’ve heard of people who can’t read but have a driver’s license, it’s a thing really) are expected to vote. Even scarier is the thought of geniuses in various scientific fields being required to vote on issues like global finances and psychiatrists voting on various educational programs designed for children. It happens, you know. Genius doesn’t mean all-knowing. I’ve met brilliant folks who had trouble understanding social interactions or belt buckles. So we get ignorance making laws for science. People with no children voting on laws for child education. Religious people voting for religious tolerance laws. Democratic countries have laws against gay marriage, even if it’s not a religious ceremony. Odd, ain’t it? It’s not, because it’s by way of analogy, sort of like a wolf and a sheep voting what to have for dinner. Why? Because there’s no law against it. You can’t make laws for it, because we’re constantly changing. I might hate the idea of minimum wage now, but if I’m suddenly unemployed and desperate for a job I might find that thing preventing my future employer from abusing this one-sided power shift. Or I might vote to remove music from the curriculum now, if I had no children but if in the future my kid actually wanted to learn music… You get the idea.

               Democracy can be quite good, if we design it that way. It could be designed to only prevent abuse and help those that can’t help themselves, if we wanted to. Give rights, prevent abuse, protect and serve. Protect the weak, punish abusers, prevent harm, facilitate learning. But we don’t make it that way. We add layers and layers of laws and rules and regulations over that, until we’re unable to move – all in the name of freedom, safety, security and free speech. You want to know why progress appears only confined to the realm of science? This is exactly why we haven’t made much civic progress in the past 100 years. Yes, there have been a few steps forward but also a few steps back. We’re freer than ever to act within the confines of the law, but the law is getting more restrictive by the minute.

               There is a reason for that – it’s called entitlement, expectation, the “me” revolution. We expect the government to protect us from harm, each and every one of us, because we deserve it. We kind of forget the fact that each and every one of us is different, in mind and body. Protection, prevention, those are noble and correct ideals, but only if we are allowed to learn and make mistakes. Freedom also means the ability to make mistakes, really. We also forgot that democracy should be about preventing abuse on others, limiting the ability of people to harm others not themselves. If I wanted to, I could decide to dance naked in my living room – which could mean my neighbors could be scratching their eyes out, so by prevention I mean making a law to close my drapes before I do that and not making naked dancing illegal. Well, that sort of thing. Prevention means not allowing me to harm my children, by refusing blood transfusions on religious grounds, for instance. But I could still refuse them for myself. This ought to be the framework, actually. Any more will just lead to abuse from those who are supposed to protect us from abuse. If we educate ourselves and our children well, if we make fringe-legal abusive behavior socially unacceptable, we might not need so many laws. You think bullying is fun? No? Well you’re wrong, because it is fun to the bully and a good part of the audience. You can’t make it disappear by deeming it illegal. But you can provide the education and the support to change the fun part from it, like creating an identity for the bully. Make the abuser and the abused unite against a common foe, make that bully choose the identity of protector and you get rid of the problem. Well, mostly, because there are people who just want to watch the world burn, though I’m more of a Sunday-driver kind of psychologist.

               Do you really think restricting everything is the key? Then why not actually restrict thinking, it’s not like there’d be that many who would complain…


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