Thoughts on Thinking

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes

"If you're unhappy with your life, change your thinking." Charles Fillmore

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." Eckhart Tolle

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them." Epictetus

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

"Consciousness is a terrible thing to waste." PunditGeorge

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Thought That Has Haunted Many Nights...

...and I don't understand why.  There is a remarkable resistance to learning about ancient civilizations.  I don't get it.  This video presents what I suspect is a much truer analysis of the purpose of the great Pyramid.  The "accepted" tomb theory has never, ever, gotten even face validity.  Our predecessors weren't stupid and in many arenas, we are the ignorant.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Discussions That Go Bump in the Night

Some folks have never engaged in a genuine discussion.  Many may recall a time when such discourse was more common.  Enjoy this clip with Jordan Peterson and Bill Maher.  Take-away phrase:  "Moral posturing."

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Field Guide for Philosophy

There is a marvelous philosophy for thinking, speaking, and doing  encapsuled in four simple questions:

Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

That’s the 4-Way Test that is the guiding philosophy of Rotary.  You don’t have to be a Rotarian to apply this test in your daily routine.

If you don’t automatically apply the Four Way Test to just about every situation, then you’re missing out on a practical tool for improving not only your situation, but for others.  The Four Way Test holds a powerful philosophy for creating win-win relationships.  It is, your personal Field Guide!

Is it the truth?

            This is the first challenge to Rotarians regarding how we think, speak, and act.  Right off the bat we ask about the veracity of the situation.   Perhaps, a century ago in Chicago, Paul Harris recognized that any gathering of businessmen should be based on a common assumption of truthfulness.
            Truth, at the founding of Rotary, probably had less celestial concern with Pilate’s question than the more human question of honesty.  It would be difficult in deed to complete a transaction without confidence in the honesty of the other party.
            “Is it the truth?” is the logical first question.  If the truth, honesty, is not present, the other questions in the four way test are automatically negative (and time to cancel the meeting!)
            Avoidance of deception is the crucial point and the foundation of trust.  Can you trust someone unless there is some measure of honesty in the relationship?  To be honest is to be true.
            Can you recall any business, professional, or personal relationship that flourished in the absence of trust?  Perhaps only short-term or a variation of “deceive me once, shame on you!  Deceive me twice, shame on me!”  Successful relationships are built on trust and honesty.  That’s not wishful thinking, or fanciful desire – it’s the way we operate.
            Is it the truth?  What other question would better serve you at the beginning of any situation?  The next logical step is to ask:

Is it fair to all concerned?

Your Field Guide now looks at the playing field, bargaining table, or wherever it is that people are gathered.
Fair is defined as “just and honest.”  When we think of something as just we mean that it is equitable and impartial.  Put another way, “does everyone have an equal opportunity, or potential, for success?”  Have you ever come across anyone who willingly or knowingly wanted to play against a stacked deck, so to speak?  Casino’s aside.
            So, before we engage in an exchange with others, ask if all involved are offering a “just and honest, equitable, impartial, potential for each to succeed?”  This is a good way to seek the desired win-win situation.
            However, it is important to recognize that fair is not synonymous with equal.  Fair is not the same as Equal.  Fair is, however, the opportunity for results.  In every transaction the attitude, skill, and energy of the participant determines the potential for successful outcome.
            An essential factor in our personal and collective success, and marvelous standard of living in the United States, is the core philosophy of the “inalienable rights” of each person.  As elucidated by Jefferson, the Creator has bestowed to all inalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  These are true Rights and are not favors or privileges granted from a government, monarch, or ruling party.  So, from creation, it could be said all is fair.
            To be fair for all concerned, then, means that no one is deliberately cheating or making a deception that lessens, or prevents, the potential for success of another.  If the situation is true and honest it will be fair to all concerned.
Will it build goodwill and friendships?

Do you know anyone who would prefer to enter a contract, agreement, or association if the result was a loss of goodwill and a loss of friendship?  Of course not.  (For any who might ponder a “yes” then the first two questions were ignored.)
            Goodwill  is one of the most valuable possessions of a business, organization, or individual.  Goodwill may be considered “benevolent intention” – the best outcome for all is desired.  A brand name is Goodwill in logo form – the product or service is known to be satisfying each and every time for those purchasing and using it.
            Years ago a professor of marketing from Louisiana State University in Shreveport was studying the manufacture of brand name products in China.  There was consternation at the factory regarding the rejects which did not conform to the product standard.  “These could be sold immediately” was the consensus.  It was difficult to convey the concept of brand name goodwill to the workers and management.  Shoddy products sold under the brand name would quickly destroy consumer confidence in the product – the loss of goodwill.
            Goodwill is the ethereal quality that creates much of the value of any exchange.  The price tag for purchasing goodwill can be significant.  The purchaser has the challenge of maintaining the quality and expectations of the customer.
            What about better friendships?  The question presumes that a degree of friendship exists.  If the first two questions are affirmed, a measure of friendship is already present.  Who are friends?
            It is absolutely wonderful and desirable to associate with people you regard as friends.  Friends are those folk you choose to associate with personally, socially, for business, or philanthropically – such as your Rotary Club.  Friendships are based on the first two questions of the Four Way Test.
            You probably do not have a friendship with someone you believe is untruthful, or who does not share your standards of fairness (granted, you may be required to associate with them, but that’s a different situation.)  Once again the Four Way Test supports the win-win concept of relationships.
            The question “will it build goodwill and better friendships” is a natural progression.  It is likely that you instinctively move away from any engagement that does not build goodwill and would not create a better friendship.

Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

            When using the Four Way Test for all transactions, Rotarians first determine if it’s the truth, then insure that the situation is fair to all, and then check for the ability of the transaction to build goodwill and friendships.  Now it’s time for the final, and lasting question:  Will this activity, agreement, contract, purchase, association benefit all concerned?
            Good question.  It’s a different question than asking if it is fair.  Fair is the equal opportunity.  Beneficial implies that all parties will gain, in some measure, from the activity.  That is the win-win situation Rotarians seek and promote.
            The final question may challenge some deeply held philosophies.  The challenge is in the phrase “will it be beneficial to all concerned?”   All is emphasized.  It is a surprisingly common belief that in order for one person to gain, or benefit, someone else must lose, or be harmed.  This is a position derived from a belief that the universe is static, unchanging.  Another way of looking at it would be that every thing is finite and limited.  There is only X amount of benefit in the universe, and for anyone to have a piece of benefit, it is at the expense of someone else.
            Although we are racing through the 21st century, this medieval philosophy persists.  During the 20th century the universe was discovered to be ever expanding  and consisting of immeasurable force.  In effect, hardly static, and about the closest we can conceive to infinity.  This cosmology affects philosophy.  There appears to be no limit to benefit in the universe, only a matter of making use of it.  Benefit acquired by anyone does not naturally lessen the benefit possessed or available to someone else.  Therefore, it is possible, that agreements, contracts, relationships, associations, etc., can be beneficial to all concerned.
            The eloquent sequence of the Four Way Test is a Field Guide to create win-win situations, where all benefit.  Is it the truth?  Is It fair?  Will is build goodwill and friendships?  The first three conditions affirmed produce benefit.  To gain goodwill and friendship is beneficial.
            At heart, you want what is best for everyone.  Being of service to another results in a good feeling.  Feeling good is a worthy goal.    It just might be that the most effective way to feel good is to apply the Four Way Test to every situation, every time, and keep at it, until all four questions are affirmative.  Then your world will change.  One agreement, one contract, one relationship at a time.  You’ll know it.  You feel good!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Desert, A Monastery, and Me

Okay, an olive grove amidst Saguaro cactus.  Where are you?

Arizona.  Arizona desert.  Smack in the middle of the desert is an unlikely oasis, or, more likely, Shangri-La.  St. Anthony Monastery.  Yes, there is a Greek Orthodox Monastery in the Arizona desert.

Visitors are welcome and may take a self-guided tour of the lovely grounds and chapels.  Aroma.  Did I mention aroma?  Each chapel has a distinct fragrance.  Even the gardens emitted the sweet aroma of orange blossoms. 

Very quiet (it is a monastery) and the St. Anthony Church and other chapels inspire a quiet moment of mediation.

Who knew?  Certainly visuals and impressions that induce thoughts that go bump in the night.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

“Carrots kill! – study shows eating carrots linked to death!”

So much for your mom’s efforts to get you to eat carrots.  She probably wasn’t attempting to kill you, but if the above headline is true, that could be the result.  The headline is a fiction, as is the study it draws its fervor.

Several years ago while teaching a public speaking course, I was discussing the importance of citing valid, verifiable, and appropriate support for a persuasive speech.  A few students were less than rigorous and cited some noisy headlines and claims from “research” that proved to be, well, not research.  A study might note a correlation of X with Y, and note associations of X with Y, and the findings would state such.  But correlation and association are not causes.  Sloppy journalists, lazy students, agenda driven interest groups, and political groups tend to “mis-represent” studies and research to further their aims.  Duh.  Yet unless one asks some basic questions, such mis-representations can enter lore as a “fact.”   Take the following illustration.

I cited a study (fictitious) from the mid-2000’s that sampled men and women in 12 states who were known to eat carrots as a part of their diet in 1885.  The demographic profiles and measures of carrot consumption were presented (fictitious.)  What was disturbing was that 100%  of those sampled adults who ate carrots, died.  All of them.  None spared.

Who knew that one of the greatest killers of the late 19th and early 20th century were carrots?
Mass Killer identified in study
Mark Twain reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once remarked that there are three kinds of lies:  “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.”  I’m sure he would have included “polls” had they been more fashionable in the guilded age.  Indeed, what to make of the telephone poll that asks if the person would “support” the President if he did X, or, would the person “support” the President if he did Y?  (You can imagine the mischief already!)

No matter how one responds to such a calculated poll, those polled supported the President.  Or change “support” to “oppose.”  To coin a phrase, fake news.

Sadly, the rapid dissemination of information in our times permits selected headlines and correlations to be derived from “research” to modify public thinking to support some mischief, usually clothed in fear.  Lies, damn lies, and statistics are legion among those forces seeking to restrict your freedom “for your protection” or safety.  I mean, really, who on earth designed those goofy bicycle helmets?  And what fears of catastrophe drive a municipality to mandate their wearing?  Or digital cameras watching a road 24/7 for miscreants not wearing seat belts...or peering through house windows in search of  _______ (fill in the blank.)

Never forget that one evening several years ago millions of people went to sleep content with themselves only to wake up diagnosable as “obese.”  Did they spend the night in a blackout raid on the pantry and refrigerator?  Nope.  The next day adjusted federal formulas for determining “over weight” and obesity went in force.  New problems arose!  New fears!  A new need for food labels!  A new need for a war on fat!  Tax calories! (aka soft drinks)

Did I mention lies, damn lies, and statistics?

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Digital Resurrection (of sorts)

Not long ago, while rearranging a closet, I came across a video copy of a :30 second television commercial for the then new Saturn SL1 - a car which I had recently purchased.  After buying the Saturn, I was contacted by their customer satisfaction crew.  I was satisfied, and remarked that I "chased UFO's" in my Saturn.  Which was true, in a sense.  At that time I was affiliated with MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) as an assistant state director and thus had opportunities to visit with many fine folks who had witnessed curious things or, in some cases, encounters with unknown craft, etc.  Saturn found that amusing and promptly produced the commercial below.  I had the second generation VHS copy converted to mp4 to preserve it.  (Not sure where the disruptive background noise came from in the digital.)

Production note:  To maintain the integrity of the commercial, an exact model of the Saturn I had was used in the spot - except for the drivers seat, the interior was gutted to allow for camera, microphones, crew, and gear.  A long night shoot in south Louisiana (haven't figured that one out, but 'twas fun).

Hated to see Saturn fold.  Bought four models from them - good time all.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Galactic Perspective

Wrapping one's head around something as vast as a galaxy is a feat.  When a galaxy turns out to be an itsy-bitsy, teeny-tiny bit of the Cosmos, then some serious head knocking may result.  Fortunately, there are folks who dare to track the movements of the galaxies, large and small, and pay attention to what is revealed.

Laniakea: Our home supercluster