Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Our Two/Four Brains

An interesting post popped up at a site named Think, a Case Western Reserve University site in Cleveland, Ohio, of all places.  It is about how we have two brains, and how these two brains affect our religious belief.  Brains and religious belief: who could ask for a more blog worthy post?

The article states that we have two brains: analytical and empathy.  Then it goes into great detail about how that affects peoples’ switching between the two brains to come up with their religious philosophy.

This brought up my problem with those Christians who desperately need a factual basis for their belief in God.  Of the three major Middle Easter based religious, Christian, Judaism, and Muslim, Christianity is the only one whose founder, Jesus Christ, was martyred because of religious intolerance – and yet, no one will past judgement on you quicker than a Christian.

Anyway, the article goes on and on about the problem people have going between their analytical brain and empathic brain trying to resolve their religious belief.

As for my beliefs here goes:  Belief in science is a matter of fact, it can be proven or disproven.  Belief in God is a matter of faith, it can neither be proven nor disproven.  There can be no facts in faith.  If so, then it is no longer faith.  It is something else entirely.

To me that is the beauty of belief in God:  One of our greatest blessings is understanding the universe around us.  It is one of God’s greatest gifts.  However, you cannot use the gift to know the Giver.  For that, you can only have faith.

It is as if the whole world was blind and no creature on this planet could see.  And God gave humans a set of eyewear glasses with which they could see, and with it the blessing that everything we could see we could come to know and understand.  And not only that, we could see how to grind glass so we could see even further into the universe or lens to see the smallest of objects on earth, and the promise held: everything we could see we could come to know and understand.  However, no matter how far into the universe we could see or microscopic an object we could see, we could never see God.  To do that we must take off the glasses, go blind again, and see God through faith – only.

Enough about the preaching.  One area about our consciousness the article did not cover in this two brained world is the left brain/right brain controversy.  I was going to supply link but you would be better to Google it up for the latest in such exotic topics as lateralization of brain function or functional specialization, and that is just Wikipedia.  It all has to do with that Y chromosome.  The chromosome that contains the genes that makes a male.  If those genes are not present in the womb during pregnancy, the offspring will be female.

And as part of becoming male, the male genes in the Y chromosome rewire the right brain of the developing male child.  Supposedly (theoretically?), males can visualize and turn a 3D object in their heads more so than females.  Because of this rewiring, males can throw an object at a moving target more accurately than females.  That is why males are perceived as the hunter in our culture.

This last argument (theory) seems to be begging the question since in most species hunting is done by females.  Maybe the rewiring only occurs in humans.

The flip side of this special rewiring of the male brain and in relation to the article in Think on our two brains is that females are more empathic than males.  This reminds me of an old saying by Lyndon Johnson that if you can’t walk into a room and tell who is on your side and who isn’t, you shouldn’t be in politics.  Given that females have more brain power for empathy, they should make the better politician.  Go figure.

And LBJ’s saying doesn’t just apply to politicians.  Police detectives and reporters need that trait, also.  You don’t have to watch too many of today’s real life crime stories on TV to see this in action.  A really good detective will comment that the person they are questioning is holding something back or not.  Same is true for a reporter interviewing someone for a potential news story.  If you can’t sense whether you are getting the whole story or not, you should get out of the news business.

What the rewiring of the right half of the brain has to do with the arguments in the Think piece, I'm not sure.  Males have a brain lobe set up to be more analytical and females don't so they should be more empathic, so how this affects the sexes religious philosophy may be ever more so than the Think piece indicates.

So it goes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spin on the Trump Phenomenon

I’ve been waiting to comment on the Trump Phenomenon for more returns from primaries which are closed and only card carrying Republicans are allowed to vote.  This will answer the question of whether the Trump Phenomenon is the result of crossover Democrats, independent voters, and infrequent voters who are fired up by Trump choosing to vote Republican in open primaries or die heart Republicans are supporting the Trump Phenomenon. 

The pontification has it that working class Republicans have had enough of the type of politics exemplified by Cruz and Rubio.  However, the results of the closed primaries do not fully support this pontificate.  While Trump has won some closed primaries – Cruz has won most and came in a close second where Trump did win.  Of the 11 that have occurred so far, Trump has won 5 -- and Surprise! Surprise! (to me) Cruz has won 6.

Cruz’s returns tell me the old Tea Party – so far right that the center looks liberal – is still supporting its extreme right wing politics that currently dominates the House of Reps.    And although Trump has done well in closed primaries, there no mass flight of disillusioned rank and file Republicans to his cause.

It’s the open primaries that are driving the Trump Phenomenon.  Some recent reports on voter turnout support the argument that it is infrequent voters who can vote Republican in open primaries may be a big part of the Trump bump.  Add to that Democratic crossovers and independence and that explains where Trump is getting his numbers.  This does not bode well for Hillary.  Trump could give her a run in the general election.

Trump is using our mass news media as though it was a paid advertiser for one of his programs.  Why buy time on TV when you can say something outlandish and the 24-hr news program will suck it up and run with for hours – and I do mean hours – as though that was the major news story of the moment.

What is going on between Saudi Arabia and Iran is way more significant that what Trump just said.  What is going on in the Middle East – especially between those two countries – could lead to WW III.  Also, let’s not forget our current unrest in the House of Reps.  They turned on Boehner, currently will not pass a budget, and the clock is ticking on when they turn on Ryan.  But you have to dig into the back pages of newspaper or Google it to find anything about those stories.

And Yet!  The 24-hour new program run with the latest Trump hype.  And the most galling aspect of the coverage is the latest Trump supposedly news hysteria becomes old news, forgotten and replace by something entirely new.  The NYTimes had a recent article on this subject that nail it.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Cuba Libre Economy

Opening up relations with Cuba continues the smartest strategy we’ve formulated for those that believe capitalism is the best economy we’ve come with for providing the most people with the highest standard of living.  It’s not perfect but it’s the best one yet.

And one of the keys to making it work is peace.  Our economy is what won the Cold War.   Military confinement of the spread of Communism was key, important, and necessary.  Commies took over by force.  People didn’t have a choice, so stopping the spread was necessary, but it was peace that won the war.  From the Berlin airlift in ’48-’49 to Détente in the late ‘70’s, peaceful accords did way more for free market economies than the planned economies of the communist world.  No matter how many 5-year plans they came up with, they just could not keep up.

I never understood why those planned economies with no capitalist exploiting the working class and removing profits did not outperform the capitalists driven free market economies, and here is the kicker, they had absolute control.   If a change was needed to increase production, they could do it without the interference of owners, investors, or shareholders.

And yet, the free market economies literally kick the planned economies ass.  Whether you compare Russia to the U.S., East and West Europe, the two Germanys or Berlin, China and Hong Kong and Taiwan, the working class had a higher standard of living – even with the boom and bust cycles of free market economies.  You could see it from space at night.  The West was all lit up while the East was in the dark.  You can still that effect in North and South Korea.

So!!!!  Our opening the door to Cuba on peaceful terms is the way to go.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The MoDo Affect

Maureen Dowd showed her bad self in an opinion piece in March 20’s NYTimes.  She seemed soft on Trump.  If every talking heads are against something, MoDo is for it and vice versa.  Of course, if like me, you follow MoDo, this should have been anticipated, but I did not see it coming.

I hope to offer my spin on the Trump Phenomenon after this Tuesday’s primaries, but MoDo’s piece got me typing.  She seems to cover a lot politicos denouncing and criticizing what they see as his behavior, even Elizabeth Warren in a news bit in the Washington Times (of all places – but that’s a sign of the times) although it was quoting from her appearance on MSNBC – so the world has not gone completely wacko – yet.

Of course she also mentions Mitt, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan, but it is Trump’s comebacks that seem of more interest to her.  She even sites his criticism of Fox’s Megyn Kelly, whom MoDo says she respects.

Her closing comment is what really caught my eye.  She quotes Joe Scarborough’s line “…that just as F.D.R. was the master of radio and J.F.K. of television, D.J.T. is the titan of Twitter.”  Now ain’t that a kick in the head, but once again, it’s a sign of times.

However, missed in the above attribution to mastery of mass media is Roger Ailes' strategy for the comeback of Nixon, his helping Reagan get elected, and let us not forget the rating dynamo Fox News. 

Back to Trump.  His campaign has shot down the catchphrase that has been banging around the internet: Fox News used to work for the Republican Party, now the Republican Party works for Fox News.  That has gone extinct unless the media master Ailes can reconstitute it, which might just happen if the Republican controllers can win back the party.

Trump has been using the mass media whether it is what he said or tweeted like his own tool of political advertisement.  And like a lot of really effective advertisement, what is delivered is not always what advertised.  The politicos and a lot of news pundits compare him to the world’s worst, Hitler, Mussolini, Idi Amin, or George Wallace.  Perhaps they are right, but given their track record for predicting the future, I doubt it.

The future President – no matter who he or she is – will have to deal with our current right wingnut House of Representatives, and to a slightly lesser extent, our living in fear of the Tea Party Senate.  That is going to be the big story in 2017.

Hitler had a whole gang of well organized groups, including the army, to back him up.  That describes Cruz more so than Trump.  The Teabagger Congress is already there to do his hidden agenda, and like the infamous Nazi, it is what you don’t see coming that gets you the worse.  Trump has an unorganized crowd of voters so far.  What good is that against the Tea Party Congress.

The Tea Party is America’s ISIS.  If you don’t agree with their view, they cut your political throat.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Internet Science

The NYTimes ran a story Wednesday, March 16th, on scientists not waiting for peer review to publish their work.  Bad idea.  The article goes a long way in detailing the angst researchers feel in trying to get their work published in accepted peer review publications, sometimes it takes years for it to happen.

While the modernization of the peer review process is something to seriously consider, scientists publishing their research on the internet portends ominous consequences.  The article mentions that even with peer review science can screw up: “Others note that plenty of peer-reviewed papers in high-profile journals have proved to be wrong…”

Although it seems what infuses most of science stories is new discoveries and findings, science is also responsible for telling us what we don’t know.  That seems to get lost in all the hoopla over what some young scientist has gone and found.

Piltdown, cold fusion, and vaccines causes autism are examples of science-hype that is all wrong.  Will it take some scientist publishing their work on the internet, getting pickup by Facebook, and going viral, but to be “tragically” wrong to prove this argument?  

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Females Rule

March 8 was International Women's Day, originally called International Working Women's Day, and it is celebrated on this day every year.  I would not have noticed but the NYTimes had a bunch of stories regarding women’s rights and history and I could not miss it.

Being a true believing American, I support women’s rights to the fullest.  This may be because I grew up with a professional, working mother.

And so here it goes:

I looked back through my previous post because I thought I had discussed this before, but I could not find it.  I posted it all over the internet in comments sections but for some reason not in my own blog – go figure.  Basically, if you look at life on this planet as a whole: Females Rules!

This observation came about because some Fox News pundit was commenting on a feminist rights story in which he mentioned the role of the lion as the “king of beast”.  Well, I know enough about the natural world to know that the lion is not only not the king of beast, he is not even the ruler in his own family group.  Female lions rule the localized family or pride.

The male sits off to the side, looking all important, but females run the local family.  The male may help with protection and sometimes a good kill, but females decide when and where the family move, eats, and everything else.  The males supply sperm – when the females want it.

And lions are not alone in their way of life.  If you look at all animal species in the world as a whole, from bugs to the higher life forms such as lions and the grazing herbivores they prey on, all family groups are run by females.  While our species in not unique, we are a notable exception because of the dominance of male rule and the subjection of females in societies all through history.

Imagine if you will:

A world in which like most animal species on this planet, females ruled.  The leaders of all countries would be female.  I wonder if we would have as many dictators as we do or is that a male thing?  Females would hold all administrative positions, own and run all businesses.  The military would be all female as well as the local police and fire departments.

What would that world be like?  As for men in this world, they would supply sperm – when a female wanted it.