Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Popular NeoCon Falsification Practices

A friend sent this to me as an example of some of the NeoCon bullshit going around to "explain" what's wrong with the values expressed in those who voted for Al Gore and other “liberals.” My comments concerning both the logical fallacies and the blatant falsification of facts are in brackets after each point

[SIGH The quotation below has been attributed to Tyler, most notably as part of a longer piece which began circulating on the Internet shortly after the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election. However, it actually consists of two quotes (the 1st paragraph being one, and the 2nd paragraph and list, known as the Tyler cycle, being the other). Both can be traced back to the 1950s, and they began to appear together in the 1970s. No original author can reliably be determined for either quote. Based on this, I'd have to conclude it was concocted to contradict "godless communism" just as I'm sure most of you know that "In God we Trust" didn't go on our money until the 1950s as a suggestion from a private citizen to distinguish the US from “godless” communism and provide a "rallying cry" during the McCarthy era. This is on the US treasury site.]


About the time our original thirteen states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier: 'A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.'

[SIGH. Here we have a supposed list taken from history that shows the inevitable fall of democracy in order to justify demolishing it. The standard concept that I am sure you are all familiar with is not that “History always repeats itself” but rather that “If we do not learn from or know our history, it will repeat itself.”]


'A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.' 'From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.' 'The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years'

[SIGH. Note the lack of defining “great” and “civilization.” This ignores all the democracies among the Native Americans, other tribal societies documented by cultural anthropologists, and currently thriving democracies around the world. This also disregards the fact that a republic is not the same as a democracy as well as that democracy in Athens under such different cultural circumstances is not comparable. Most historians think it failed for 2 reasons: 1. Those that viewed themselves as the “elite” refused to give up their elite status—sound familiar?, and 2. The Peloponnesian war destabilized any chance of success.]


“During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence: 1. From bondage to spiritual faith; 2. From spiritual faith to great courage; 3. From courage to liberty; 4. From liberty to abundance ; 5. From abundance to complacency; 6. From complacency to apathy; 7. From apathy to dependence; 8. From dependence back into bondage'

[SIGH. There are so many problems with this litany, I think anyone who can think can see the flaws. Just one point: in the past, and since no examples are provided, I’m at a loss, despite all the ancient civilizations I’ve studied to fill in the blank, of all the ones I know that started in bondage and went to spiritual faith ended up as theocracies—not the same thing as a democracy. And of course, “all” can never be proved, thus invalidating the quote.]


Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St . Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning the 2000 Presidential election:

Number of States won by: Gore: 19 Bush: 29

[SIGH. Bush didn't win the states this email says he won: we know this for a fact according to Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and so many other sources too numerous to list].


Square miles of land won by: Gore: 580,000 Bush: 2,427,000

Population of counties won by: Gore: 127 million Bush: 143 million

Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Gore: 13.2 Bush: 2.1

[SIGH The murder and theft rate were down around in 2000.]


Professor Olson adds: 'In aggregate, the map of the territory Bush won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of this great country. Gore's territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off various forms of government welfare...'

[SIGH See: http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/tyler.asp, which corrects the "facts" circulated with this piece. Snopes.com aims to debunk or confirm widely spread urban legends. The site is often referenced by news media and other sites, including CNN,[7] FOX news,[8] and MSNBC.[9] The site is so comprehensive that leading folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand has cited it as a reason why he has never created a website of his own.[6] Its popular standing is such that some chain e-mail hoaxes claim to have been "checked out on 'Snopes.com'" in an attempt to discourage readers from seeking verification. And if this supports anything, it supports the statement that those with money support those who will reward them with money—as Bush has done.]


Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the 'complacency and apathy' phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the 'governmental dependency' phase.

[SIGH Obviously, Olson, like the oligarchy news outlets, has been able to ignore the protests that have taken place, including the inauguration in 2004 when protestors outnumbered Bush supporters and numbered more than at any protest at any time during the Vietnam War era. Documented everywhere online, including Billionairesforbush.org. Apathy? No. Dependence? No, oppressed and repressed by multi-million dollar contributors to the Bush administration through policies destroying the middle class, high prices, and government subsidies to corporations. Who is dependent here? Companies getting tax cuts and incentives to build while raking exorbitant profits as their employees get laid off, denied healthcare, and so on.]


If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal invaders called illegal and they vote, then we can say goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years.

[SIGH. Surely I don’t have to go through all the facts already amassed that show immigrants are here to work, not commit crimes, and that our jails are full of citizens for petty drug crimes under the 3 strikes you’re out law so that in actual brute numbers, not by percent of the population, we have more people in jail than China. And really, how many of us legally belong here? Unless you’re Indian, you don’t.]


Further Observations/Reminders:

We revolted in the 1700s mainly for being taxed without representation, i.e., inequality, oppression, and loss of liberty. This email makes no distinction between social democracies (flourishing with the highest health, education, home ownership numbers, and quality of life statistics in the world) and capitalist democracy (such as ours, in which indeed, politicians are bought by the rich for the rich, and we rank at the bottom of the industrialized nations in education, health, and so on and so forth.). The revolutions around the world from monarchies to democracies (social/capitalist) have been fought and led by philosophies of equality for the under-classes, who have consistently been left out by those in power and typically sabotaged by those seeking power.


One thing you should especially remind your conservative friends of is that our government was based on the ideals of the Enlightenment and the Iroquois Confederacy, not on spiritual faith. Of our founding fathers, only one was Christian: one (the elitist, Hamilton). Jefferson, Madison, Washington, and Franklin were Deists ; Adams, a Unitarian; and Payne, an outspoken Atheist.


Remind them of the 1st Amendment (written in 1791): Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, which means protecting speech whether you are offended by what is said or not and protesting the government as our just right given by law!


Trying to put faith into politics is one of the things that I believe is bringing our democracy down. To repeat: a government based on faith is not a democracy; it is a theocracy, just like the brutal regimes right now imposing one distorted view of Islam upon their people, just like the England we fled from that imposed one form of religion upon its dissenters, and no, I don’t meant the Puritans, for they are NOT our founding fathers. Our founding fathers dissented from the distorted, religion-run government that Puritans attempted to impose—as did the rest of those who came here seeking religious freedom, not FOR a Christian government, but FROM a Christian government.


As John Adams, our second president wrote and the major contributors agreed with, “It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service [forming the U.S. government] had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. …Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery… are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind” (A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787–88).


So next time you get some bullshit Neocon email, go to snopes.com, then copy and paste the info back to the person who sent it. Or even better, if there were other people on the list, do a reply all. I don’t know that it will do much good since those passing this around have succumbed to irrationalism, but at least you will have fought back. :)


Because while I do wholeheartedly believe apathy can indeed destroy democracy, ignorance—and the greed of the powerful—play just as much a role. Now those examples are much easier to find than the ones not mentioned in the email. Witness: England, France, Germany, Denmark, the Scandinavian countries, and Canada: social democracies that rebelled against the brutality of power mongers, who typically used religion as a tool to keep people from rebelling, just as Southern slave owners did in converting their slaves to Christianity and teaching them to wait for their reward in heaven.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Art, Education, and the Body

Amazing: scientific studies recently published in “Scientific American” are just beginning to acknowledge the importance of the body, in particular, body memory that prompts cognition. DUH. CRINGE. Obviously, these brain researchers have no background in the arts and never bothered to give any credence to either child development studies or to the amount of literature and art research concerning the role of movement in therapy, education, articulation, etc. I’m sure any artist still working in 3 dimensions could have instructed them on the role between body memory and the mind.

  • As children, our primary mode of learning is to touch, crawl, stick objects in our mouths, and—in other words—use our bodies to learn about our world. Nor did it stop when we learned language. Play, movement in space, trying postures, movement, expression, and so on, simply continued the education. Many a parent, observer of children, artist, educator, thinker, etc., has already make this deduction—supported by evidence from biology, brain development, education studies, studies of dancers and athletes, and on and on.

Only those trained in disregarding any evidence other than that gathered in strict trials or sanctioned by “hard science” would have to wait for these studies to acknowledge this and not have given credence sooner. Not that I am against the scientific method—not at all.

  • What I am against is the insular arrogance that keeps many scientists from seeing what is right in front of them. Having pursued a degree in curriculum development and instruction, researched how humans learn, having been a dancer for many years and taught for over 30 years, including at-risk students, I can clearly see the consequences from denying the kinesthetic component in our education of “sit quietly and shut up”; “Don’t move.”

We are breaking the crucial bond between mind and body working together in absorbing information, storing concepts, and retrieving them. In other words, we have been retarding the minds and bodies of our children and ourselves. Unfortunately, given how often research is either ignored or how long it takes to be heeded by bureaucratic institutions and ignorant legislators determined to “teacher proof” classrooms and promulgate ideology as opposed to logic and research, I doubt we will see any changes in education that will reflect this knowledge.

  • No, the prevailing morality is that the body and flesh are evil, the arts are a waste, and we must exercise control over any need to move. What a pity: our potential will continue to be deliberately enslaved—along with untold damage contracted emotionally and psychologically. Working with students who cannot conform, who cannot give up their kinesthetic knowledge no matter the punishment, I’ve seen the damage—to them and society in general. Those of us from the ‘60s had wisdom in song to “teach our children well.”

As far as I can see, for the most part, that knowledge has been lost, and, yes, suppressed. Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of the latest parenting books written by ministers and self-proclaimed Christian preachers; they advocate beating the child, for we are born evil and must have obedience beaten into us since to tame our animalistic, irrational natures marked by original sin. Disregard the evidence that beating a child creates an adult that abuses. Ignore the studies that demonstrate the psychological damage. Throw it all out and follow—what—pre-Christian customs from a brutal time that no longer exists and didn’t work.