Archive for February, 2011

Why Do We Believe what We Believe?

If you do not know why you believe what you believe, then your beliefs are opinions grounded in emotion.  And one person’s opinion grounded in emotion is just as good as the next person’s.  And if everybody’s opinion is just as good as the next, then you can’t really say things like, “This is the way the world should work,” or, “This is what you ought to be doing,” or, “You should not be doing that.”.

Almost everybody argues with other people over the things that they believe, whether or not they know why they believe those things. If you think you do know why you believe what you believe, please play the How-Why-What game and make sure. Once you know what you believe and why you believe that it is true, you can actually make a case to other people who also want to believe what is true.

But if you don’t take the time to understand why you believe what you believe yourself, it doesn’t make much sense to try to get other people to believe what you believe—that is just being bossy and intrusive.

Furthermore, if you use your beliefs to advocate the use of force on other people, and you don’t know why you believe what you believe, then you flirt with evil.

Their Threat Is Your Threat

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.

– Thomas Paine

We Ally with the Different, yet Closely Related…

As I’ve discussed previously, people tend to form collective groups and then campaign only for the interests of those groups.  But an interesting thing happens when these groups, though separate, recognize a common threat.  They ally.

Consider all of the people who attend a gay rights parade who are not actually gay. At these gatherings you will find practitioners of all kinds of unconventional sexual behavior: polyamory, transvestitism, BDSM, and fetishism.  We see different groups of people united out of the recognition of a common threat: people who would forcefully limit the sexual behavior of consenting adults.  They correctly recognize that successful forceful action against any of these groups sets a precedent.  That precedent says that it is okay to use force to limit private consensual behavior that some people do not like.  And once that precedent is set, these different groups know that they could be targeted next.
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