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Thread: Political Science

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    By NICHOLAS WADE

    It was the standard political interview, about ambition and the right size for government. Then came the curveball question to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida from Michael Hainey of GQ magazine: “How old do you think the earth is?”

    Senator Rubio, a possible contender in the 2016 Republican presidential race, gave the following answer: “I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians.”

    He went on: “At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created, and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says.

    “Whether the earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”

    It may have been a mystery back in the 17th century, when Archbishop James Ussher calculated from the age of the patriarchs and other sources that Earth was created on Oct. 22, 4004 B.C. Today’s best estimate for the age of Earth, based on the radiometric dating of meteorites, is 4.54 billion years. The real mystery is how a highly intelligent politician got himself into the position of suggesting that the two estimates are of equal value, or that theologians are still the best interpreters of the physical world.

    Catholics and Jews have always emphasized their priests’ interpretations of the Bible, not the text itself; Protestants, starting with Martin Luther, insisted the Bible was the literal truth and the sole dependable source of divine knowledge, a belief the Puritans implanted firmly in American soil. Then, in the 19th century, German textual critics like Julius Wellhausen showed that the Bible was not the inerrant product of divine inspiration but had been cobbled together by many hands whose editing was all too evident.

    At that point most Protestants decided to join Catholics in interpreting the Bible metaphorically and avoiding embarrassing public spats with science. But after discussions in the early 20th century, the conservative wing of the Protestant movement elected to double down their bet and insist that every word in the Bible was true.

    The inevitable clash with science, particularly in the teaching of evolution, has continued to this day. Militant atheists like the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins beat the believers about the head, accomplishing nothing; fundamentalist Christians naturally defend their religion and values to the hilt, whatever science may say.

    A scientific statesman, if there were such a person, would try to defuse the situation by professing respect for all religions and making a grand yet also trivial concession about the status of evolution.

    Like those electrons that can be waves or particles, evolution is both a theory and a fact. In historical terms, evolution has certainly occurred and no fact is better attested. But in terms of the intellectual structure of science, evolution is a theory; no one talks about Darwin’s “fact of evolution.”

    Unlike a fact, a theory cannot be absolutely true. All scientific theories are subject to change and replacement, just as Newton’s theory of gravitation was replaced by Einstein’s. The theory of evolution, though it has no present rivals, is still under substantial construction.

    Evolutionary biologists are furiously debating whether or not natural selection can operate on groups of individuals, as Darwin thought was likely but most modern evolutionists doubt. So which version of evolution is the true one?

    By allowing that evolution is a theory, scientists would hand fundamentalists the fig leaf they need to insist, at least among themselves, that the majestic words of the first chapter of Genesis are literal, not metaphorical, truths. They in return should make no objection to the teaching of evolution in science classes as a theory, which indeed it is.

    And rudderless politicians like Senator Rubio wouldn’t have to throw 15 back flips and a hissy fit when asked a simple question like how old is the earth.

    Nicholas Wade, a longtime science writer for The New York Times, is the author of “The Faith Instinct,” about the evolutionary basis of religion.

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    The Canon of Sacred Scripture came into being over a period of almost three-hundred years and the first complete Orthodox list was given by St. Athanasius the Great in his Easter Address of 367 A.D.

    The Eastern Church has never regarded the Canon as a scientific document; yet it recognizes the truths that wise men everywhere should see:

    nothing we know of that even approaches the intricacy and irreducible complexity of life has ever occured by mere chance.

    It requires quite a bit of faith to insist that such order emerged from chaos without any external force brought to bear by a designer/creator/ sustainer.

    The odds of evolution being completely random are not good. (And I don't believe Antony Flew lost his mind six years before his death.)

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    and the campaign to take down rubio continues to pick up the pace.

    one begins to wonder if only a log cabin republican will be acceptable to the lamestream media...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raz View Post
    T
    nothing we know of that even approaches the intricacy and irreducible complexity of life has ever occured by mere chance.


    False. There are literally thousands of well-documented examples of complex structures evolving. See, e.g., the evolution of the eye. Scientists have even witnessed the evolution of complex metabolic pathways in the lab over the course of a few decades.

    To the extent you argue that these examples fail because they are not as "intricate" or "complex" as "life," then your argument is really that we have not witnessed life evolve. To which I would point to the fossil record. To the extent you deem this unsatisfactory, I would ask what exactly would satisfy you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Munger View Post


    False. There are literally thousands of well-documented examples of complex structures evolving. See, e.g., the evolution of the eye. Scientists have even witnessed the evolution of complex metabolic pathways in the lab over the course of a few decades.

    To the extent you argue that these examples fail because they are not as "intricate" or "complex" as "life," then your argument is really that we have not witnessed life evolve. To which I would point to the fossil record. To the extent you deem this unsatisfactory, I would ask what exactly would satisfy you.
    +1

    Faith based, baby, needs nothing more . . .

    You can never disprove a belief based on faith . . . .

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    When did the world begin? People have been arguing about this forever.

    Excerpt from the 21st Pauri of Japji, the morning prayer of the Sikhs, composed in the late 1400's:

    "What was that time, and what was that moment? What was that day, and what was that date?

    What was that season, and what was that month, when the Universe was created?

    The Pandits, the religious scholars, cannot find that time, even if it is written in the Puraanas.

    That time is not known to the Qazis, who study the Koran.

    The day and the date are not known to the Yogis, nor is the month or the season.

    The Creator who creates this world, alone knows this time."

    Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Munger View Post


    False. There are literally thousands of well-documented examples of complex structures evolving. See, e.g., the evolution of the eye. Scientists have even witnessed the evolution of complex metabolic pathways in the lab over the course of a few decades.

    To the extent you argue that these examples fail because they are not as "intricate" or "complex" as "life," then your argument is really that we have not witnessed life evolve. To which I would point to the fossil record. To the extent you deem this unsatisfactory, I would ask what exactly would satisfy you.
    I did not state that evolution was totally false. Nor did I say there was no truth to the theory of evolution.

    I only stated that I do not believe that such a complex perfection of order appeared randomly out of utter chaos.
    Just because someone "observed" evolution in a laboratory doesn't preclude the unseen force of a designer/creator.

    "In a December 2004 interview with American journalist Bill Moyers, Dawkins said that "among the things that science does know, evolution is about as certain as anything we know." When Moyers questioned him on the use of the word theory, Dawkins stated that "evolution has been observed. It's just that it hasn't been observed while it's happening." He added that "it is rather like a detective coming on a murder after the scene... the detective hasn't actually seen the murder take place, of course. But what you do see is a massive clue... Huge quantities of circumstantial evidence. It might as well be spelled out in words of English."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Dawkins#Criticism_of_creationism


    Perhaps I didn't understand the point you were making - or you didn't understand mine.




    Last edited by Raz; 11-28-12 at 10:21 PM. Reason: left out a quote!

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    Default Re: Political Science

    Quote Originally Posted by Munger View Post


    ..., I would ask what exactly would satisfy you.
    Present archeological, scientific proof that the Resurrection never happened.


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    Quote Originally Posted by don View Post
    +1

    Faith based, baby, needs nothing more . . .

    You can never disprove a belief based on faith . . . .

    You're right, you know; likely not to disprove atheism to one of the materialist faith.

    The faith of orthodox Christianity is not "blind faith" as is the scientistic atheistic view of types like Dawkins who assume/hypothesize the non-existence of God and then cobble together half-baked conjecture and speculation of "social" genes among other ideas to explain human virtue/vice unpresent in the animal kingdom for instance. Even though a new idea may be plausible (because empirical data does not directly contradict the idea) it is still nothing more than a hypothesis.
    Last edited by vinoveri; 11-30-12 at 02:19 PM.

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    Growing up Catholic, we were never taught to see an inherent incompatibility between evolution and intelligent design. Since Pope Pius in 1950 it has been broadly accepted that a Creator certainly could set events into motion such that the rules of evolution play out. The Catholic church has had a lot of issues in the past with being anti-science. But the insistance that evolution is impossible theologically does not seem to be a necessary pilar of Christian faith. At least it doesn't seem to be so for a billion or so Catholics. I'm not quite sure why it's such a sticking point in some denominations. I'm fairly certain that doing the cosmological equivalent of writing a software program is not above an Omnipotent being. I don't believe that one has to argue about the existence of God in discourses of Evolution. Evolution no more disproves God than it disproves General Relativity, and visa-versa. Ditto for the age of the Earth. I think it's ultimately counterproductive to dig in one's heals and become indignant about such things. It simply politicizes both religion and science unnecessarily. There are real issues of morality and ethics and philosophy and theology that arise from time to time, and which must be resolved politically. But these issues are not among them. Best to let sleeping dogs lie.

    And yet there are those who seek to politicize the issue. And they have made it so toxic as to divide folk. And so you get statements like Mr. Rubio's. This is not surprising. But it is somewhat sad. If 50% of the effort spent by atheists laughing at the 4,000 B.C. earth-origin theory and 50% of the effort spent by Evangelicals at punishing politicians for disagreeing with the 4,000 B.C. earth-origin theory were spent on something productive and friendly, the world be a much better place. Prosthelytizing should never take preference over cordiality. At least that's how I see it.
    Last edited by dcarrigg; 11-29-12 at 01:06 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcarrigg View Post
    Growing up Catholic, we were never taught to see an inherent incompatibility between evolution and intelligent design. Since Pope Pius in 1950 it has been broadly accepted that a Creator certainly could set events into motion such that the rules of evolution play out. The Catholic church has had a lot of issues in the past with being anti-science. But the insistance that evolution is impossible theologically does not seem to be a necessary pilar of Christian faith. At least it doesn't seem to be so for a billion or so Catholics. I'm not quite sure why it's such a sticking point in some denominations. I'm fairly certain that doing the cosmological equivalent of writing a software program is not above an Omnipotent being. I don't believe that one has to argue about the existence of God in discourses of Evolution. Evolution no more disproves God than it disproves General Relativity, and visa-versa. Ditto for the age of the Earth. I think it's ultimately counterproductive to dig in one's heals and become indignant about such things. It simply politicizes both religion and science unnecessarily. There are real issues of morality and ethics and philosophy and theology that arise from time to time, and which must be resolved politically. But these issues are not among them. Best to let sleeping dogs lie.

    And yet there are those who seek to politicize the issue. And they have made it so toxic as to divide folk. And so you get statements like Mr. Rubio's. This is not surprising. But it is somewhat sad. If 50% of the effort spent by atheists laughing at the 4,000 B.C. earth-origin theory and 50% of the effort spent by Evangelicals at punishing politicians for disagreeing with the 4,000 B.C. earth-origin theory were spent on something productive and friendly, the world be a much better place. Prosthelytizing should never take preference over cordiality. At least that's how I see it.
    +1. Great Summary.

    One of the attractions of the Catholic faith is its emphasis that faith and reason are not at all imcompatible ... something which if one thinks about it is evident with respect to Orthodoxy. The Catholic church appears comfortable with the general theory of evolution (and it does not in the least contradict or conflict with the Faith). It is the jump to materialism, atheism, etc, which the church takes issue with (and I don't know why this is so difficult for folks to see, and what logic allows a thinking person to make this jump).

    The problem though is that the fad of the atheism is becoming more popular because it is being promulgated in academia and under this bait and switch cognitive/logical fallacy: evolution is true so ..... we can in principle explain away God; we don't need a first cause and we can show man's conception of God and religions were just social adaptations that resulted in increased survival fitness and gene propogation. If these folks would stick to the hard science and refrain from weaving in their own dogmatic views into the mix, we'd be better off. We reap what we sow after all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raz View Post
    I did not state that evolution was totally false. Nor did I say there was no truth to the theory of evolution.

    I only stated that I do not believe that such a complex perfection of order appeared randomly out of utter chaos.
    Just because someone "observed" evolution in a laboratory doesn't preclude the unseen force of a designer/creator.

    "In a December 2004 interview with American journalist Bill Moyers, Dawkins said that "among the things that science does know, evolution is about as certain as anything we know." When Moyers questioned him on the use of the word theory, Dawkins stated that "evolution has been observed. It's just that it hasn't been observed while it's happening." He added that "it is rather like a detective coming on a murder after the scene... the detective hasn't actually seen the murder take place, of course. But what you do see is a massive clue... Huge quantities of circumstantial evidence. It might as well be spelled out in words of English."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Dawkins#Criticism_of_creationism


    Perhaps I didn't understand the point you were making - or you didn't understand mine.




    I think I understand. Essentially you do not dispute evolution, or the evolution of life. You simply posit that there is a divine hand that set it in motion.

    If so, that's fine. But it certainly doesn't disprove that life evolved. It is simply a belief that cannot be proved or disproved, and that has no bearing on reality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raz View Post
    Present archeological, scientific proof that the Resurrection never happened.

    Present archaeological, scientific proof that I didn't go to the moon last night and hold a big party with my friends.

    Argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or "appeal to ignorance" (where "ignorance" stands for: "lack of evidence to the contrary"), is a fallacy in informal logic. It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false, it is "generally accepted" (or vice versa). This represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes a third option, which is that there is insufficient investigation and therefore insufficient information to prove the proposition satisfactorily to be either true or false. Nor does it allow the admission that the choices may in fact not be two (true or false), but may be as many as four, (1) true, (2) false, (3) unknown between true or false, and (4) being unknowable (among the first three).[1] In debates, appeals to ignorance are sometimes used to shift the burden of proof.
    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If I claim I went to the moon, and you claim you were resurrected, the burden of proof is on us to prove our claims, not up to everyone else to disprove our claims.

    dcarrigg
    And yet there are those who seek to politicize the issue. And they have made it so toxic as to divide folk. And so you get statements like Mr. Rubio's. This is not surprising. But it is somewhat sad. If 50% of the effort spent by atheists laughing at the 4,000 B.C. earth-origin theory and 50% of the effort spent by Evangelicals at punishing politicians for disagreeing with the 4,000 B.C. earth-origin theory were spent on something productive and friendly, the world be a much better place. Prosthelytizing should never take preference over cordiality. At least that's how I see it.
    I believe you have incorrectly phrased the situation. This is not about Atheists VS Evangelicals, this is about Science VS anti-science. Science is about gaining knowledge and understanding of the world and universe around us. It uses the scientific method to gather and build on previous knowledge to achieve this goal. I have yet to see another method that can remotely come close to building an accurate knowledge base of the universe around us.

    Without the benefits that science has given us, the civilization that we now live in would not be possible. The science denialists have offered no reasonable alternatives to accumulate accurate knowledge, and have at times reverted to claims that are factually wrong and have been debunked decades ago. While there is no movement by scientists to force theologians, priests, ministers... to teach science in churches, synagogues etc, there has been a large movement from the anti-science people to teach false, anti-science information in science classes in our schools. Trying to build a future nation and civilization from a base of non-knowledge that was gathered through irrationality and has infiltrated the schools to be passed on to future generations, will be impossible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by we_are_toast View Post
    I believe you have incorrectly phrased the situation. This is not about Atheists VS Evangelicals, this is about Science VS anti-science. Science is about gaining knowledge and understanding of the world and universe around us. It uses the scientific method to gather and build on previous knowledge to achieve this goal. I have yet to see another method that can remotely come close to building an accurate knowledge base of the universe around us.

    Without the benefits that science has given us, the civilization that we now live in would not be possible. The science denialists have offered no reasonable alternatives to accumulate accurate knowledge, and have at times reverted to claims that are factually wrong and have been debunked decades ago. While there is no movement by scientists to force theologians, priests, ministers... to teach science in churches, synagogues etc, there has been a large movement from the anti-science people to teach false, anti-science information in science classes in our schools. Trying to build a future nation and civilization from a base of non-knowledge that was gathered through irrationality and has infiltrated the schools to be passed on to future generations, will be impossible.
    Perhaps I have incorrectly phrased the situation.

    But often I wonder what the acolytes of Richard Dawkins think they're accomplishing, other than generating anger and animosity among those they despise.

    The knowledge of evolution is still out there. Every single biologist is aware of the theory. No respected university biological sciences program denies it.

    So, I see the "future civilization from a base of non-knowledge" argument to be mostly moot. Human knowledge doesn't require every single individual be well versed in every theory. If it did, we'd have so much work to do on our education system to move forward that the problem would likely be insurmountable.

    Evangelicals can no more change facts on the ground in the academy than the academy can change the beliefs of evangelicals.

    A sharp mind interested in biological science from an evangelical upbringing should come to natural truth about the world just like a sharp mind from anywhere else. So long as information is freely available (and it still is), this is an issue of manufactured contention. If a student is so dim as to never question her teachers, the student is likely not meant to amount to much anyhow. I had teachers that taught factually incorrect information consistently. I think if we all think back on it, many of us did. I went to Catholic High School. They taught me that using condoms was a sin. I thought about that one for about five seconds and decided to violate it on my own volition. Free will. Thought.

    You illustrate a dire issue. Indeed, it may be from the vantage point of separation of church and state. But from the vantage point of a nation of automatons arising from being taught BS in schools, I don't buy it. A nation of children dumb enough to take everything they're told at face value, is a nation of children to whom it does not matter what you teach.

    For in that scenario, we are already doomed.

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    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If I claim I went to the moon, and you claim you were resurrected, the burden of proof is on us to prove our claims, not up to everyone else to disprove our claims.
    Pure Essence of Faith Based, where nothing needs to be proven.

    While there is no movement by scientists to force theologians, priests, ministers... to teach science in churches, synagogues etc, there has been a large movement from the anti-science people to teach false, anti-science information in science classes in our schools.
    As well as supporting in a myriad of ways attempts to legislate their agenda on the rest of us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Munger View Post
    I think I understand. Essentially you do not dispute evolution, or the evolution of life. You simply posit that there is a divine hand that set it in motion.

    If so, that's fine. But it certainly doesn't disprove that life evolved. It is simply a belief that cannot be proved or disproved, and that has no bearing on reality.
    We agree - and disagree. A theistic creation is very different from an atheistic "creation". The difference is not so much of evolution as of origin.

    If life is nothing more than a cosmic accident I fail to see how it has any meaning. And I'm at a loss to explain the origin of thought - especially of those creatures of higher sentience, not to mention man - apart from the existence and impartation of a Creator. Synapses and neural pathways aren't enough.
    There is no doubt that Richard Dawkins is a brilliant man but the idea of memetics seems a bit much for me, and possibly even Dawkins himself.

    It is one thing to observe life and the evidence for evolution, powerful though it may be, and yet believe that it originated, i.e., came into existence completely by accident through unplanned, undesigned, unasisted abiogenesis. I'm not aware that any scientific endeavor has yet produced life from inorganic molecules.


    As to "bearing on reality": you and I have very different views of reality. In my view the existence of God has every bearing on reality as Dostoyevsky's maxim implies.


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    Quote Originally Posted by we_are_toast View Post
    Present archaeological, scientific proof that I didn't go to the moon last night and hold a big party with my friends.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If I claim I went to the moon, and you claim you were resurrected, the burden of proof is on us to prove our claims, not up to everyone else to disprove our claims.
    I make no claim that I was resurrected. I do indeed, however, make a claim that Jesus of Nazareth was Resurrected. It is a claim that has been passed down through two milleniums from those who were eyewitnesses of His Resurrection.

    This claim is not at all scientific; it is faith based. But it is based upon a reasonable faith - not blind faith. It is similar to twelve of your peers judging your guilt of a crime through accumulated evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Lets do an analogy to your "moon party" last night.

    Give me absolute power of life and death as that possesed by an ancient autocrat and I'll issue a bench warrant for your partygoing friends.
    I'll ask each one of them if your story is true - that you held a party with them on the moon last night.

    If they agree and back up your story I'll then ask them if they were willing to bet their lives on it because I don't accept it or believe it.
    After I have the first one stripped naked and thrown to be eaten by lions I'll bet everything I own that the rest of your friends will rat you out.

    That's what the apostles faced - yet not one of them ever denied the Resurrection, even facing death - sometimes a horrible, torturous death.



    Quote Originally Posted by we_are_toast View Post
    I believe you have incorrectly phrased the situation. This is not about Atheists VS Evangelicals, this is about Science VS anti-science. Science is about gaining knowledge and understanding of the world and universe around us. It uses the scientific method to gather and build on previous knowledge to achieve this goal. I have yet to see another method that can remotely come close to building an accurate knowledge base of the universe around us.

    Without the benefits that science has given us, the civilization that we now live in would not be possible. The science denialists have offered no reasonable alternatives to accumulate accurate knowledge, and have at times reverted to claims that are factually wrong and have been debunked decades ago. While there is no movement by scientists to force theologians, priests, ministers... to teach science in churches, synagogues etc, there has been a large movement from the anti-science people to teach false, anti-science information in science classes in our schools. Trying to build a future nation and civilization from a base of non-knowledge that was gathered through irrationality and has infiltrated the schools to be passed on to future generations, will be impossible.
    I'm not in any way anti-science so I find little or nothing you wrote here to disagree with. And being Orthodox I'm not at all sure I want Christianity or Creationism offered even as an elective. I'm certain that neither should be a required course in any public school.

    But there is another side to this issue.

    If you can get a majority of the voters in my state to condone procured abortion and homosexualist marriage then I can live within such laws or move to another place. The problem for me becomes acute when you seek to force me to be a participant through either (a) paying one of the bottom-feeders of the medical profession to kill a preborn child, or (b) jail me or sue me for violating the "civil rights" of a homosexualist couple when I refuse to rent an apartment to them because I cannot recognize their "marriage".

    Most of these "rights" have been obtained through an activist judiciary that has circumvented and usurped the legislative power of our republic, or rather, what's left of it.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Raz View Post
    If life is nothing more than a cosmic accident I fail to see how it has any meaning.
    Life without meaning can still be meaningful:

    "In the greater scheme, in the big picture, nothing we do matters. There's no grand plan, no big win....

    ... If there's no great glorious end to all this, if ... nothing we do matters ... then all that matters is what we do. 'Cause that's all there is. What we do. Now. Today...

    ... All I want to do is help. I want to help because I don't think people should suffer as they do, because if there's no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world."


    (from Angel, episode "Epiphany", written by Tim Minear)

    Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by don View Post
    The real mystery is how a highly intelligent politician got himself into the position of suggesting that the two estimates are of equal value, or that theologians are still the best interpreters of the physical world.
    No mystery to me. Intelligence has nothing to do with it. It was the gradual process of reshaping the American 99% to look the other way and focus on none issues as though they were a matter of life and death issues. End result is politicians like him. Now that the 99% are fleeced the issue he is commenting on is as mute as if one were to ask why do we need water to exist.

    If there was even an ounce of attention and energy spent on why it is that this country is being dragged into the debt hell decade after decade, one could argue that the American experiment succeeded. Listening to this politician I realize that far too many of the politicians (at least publicly) don't have the brains or the will to cut through the bull because they know that the crowd will simply run them over if they try. This reminds me of the crowd gathering at Victoria's Secret on Black Friday to buy what "They must have." The politician would be the one trying to tell them that they don't need half the junk they are about to buy. The experiment succeeded, for the 1%.

    "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnu6yZKo7u8"

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...11/how-run-con

    The grifter class is the 1% and they are damn good at it despite all the info to expose them. I suspect it is exactly BECAUSE so much information is available that they get away with it.

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    Yeah, it just seems to me that politicians like Rubio try to play both sides of the fence and not offend anyone. "I don't know" would have been a better answer. Not many blunt and fully honest politicians out there for a reason. It doesn't work.

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