Some Musing About Different Concept Styles

This is a bit speculative, and maybe not as precise as I’d like it to be, but I think there’s really something here to be aware of.  For example, what I’m going to say here might help people avoid needless conflict.

There seem to be these two major styles of thinking and conceptualizing and such.  Different ways of looking at things?

  • One, is to see things sort of all together, at once, a big continuous whole.  “Holistic“.  Certainly, this is how reality is, and I think people who use this method believe this to be a strength.  “Reality is complicated!”  they will shout (I think I’ve seen PZ Myers and/or others say such things over at Pharyngula).  See also this advocacy for “lawless science”.
  • The other is to identify precise variables.  “Analytic“.  This is a method that is nicer for analysis.  It in no way fails to account for the complicatedness of reality.

I think a lot of difficulty arises when there is a dispute between parties that use a different one of these styles. First, I think, because the two sides have difficulty understanding the other.  Second, I think, because they believe only their own thinking is correct, so surely the other must be wrong.

Yet I suspect that both can be used to describe reality with equal accuracy.  And it might be advantageous to use both, rather than just one.  Obviously I’m sold on the utility of the more analytic approach.  But I’m also writing a blog post which (on retrospect?) looks strikingly like advocacy for the holistic way of thinking.  If I had to guess right now, I’d say each is more efficient at different tasks, even though theoretically both will end up with equally accurate descriptions of reality.

Other possibly related things to check out:

Quickly Killing An Anti-Tolerance Meme

There’s that meme that says it’s hypocritical to be intolerant of intolerance.

I suspect that meme can be countered by a similar short and sweet meme:  no one says it’s hypocritical to shoot someone who is on a shooting spree.

(In fact I suspect a large percentage of people who repeat that anti-tolerance meme are highly in favor of being able to shoot such shooters.  Thus, they are the ones being hypocritical, because the situations are actually analogous)

Epic Humanism For Calgary

My mind is starting to frequently wander into dreamer territory again.  So I might as well write it all down!

Keep in mind these are daydreams that aren’t yet totally well informed (especially the more extravagant parts).  As such they are filed into a subset of my “Art” category.

So I’ve been thinking that I really want to focus on improving my local city.  There’s a lot of reasons for that.  It’s an important city in the world, it’s where I live and thus have the most access to and influence over, I suspect it would be easier and more effective than focusing on a wider area, and if my efforts are successful, people should be able to copy them into a different city, like a sort of movement.

I’m really annoyed that the people who should already be doing this are not doing it.  The University of Calgary Freethinkers and CFI Calgary don’t seem to care much about issues in Calgary or Alberta.  Why the hell isn’t the local Freethinkers club dedicated to thinking through local problems?  I scroll through their twitter and don’t see anything that identifies them as Albertan or Calgarian or Canadian except for the name.  It’s all a bunch of talk about Trump and ISIS and Gamergate, all this really far away stuff.  They are totally generic.  What is the point of their existence?  Everyone can follow Pharyngula and get all of that stuff already.

While trying to find more like-minded people, I recently found Resolve, which is a thing in Calgary that aims to eliminate homelessness completely.  It takes donations from rich people and makes affordable housing for poorer people, and I’m sure that helps a lot but I don’t think it’s complete enough.  I think completely eliminating homelessness would require an economically self-sustaining system (which means requiring basically no charity at all once it gets started.  This could involve worker owned businesses,  an organized community, and might require lots of other stuff).  Still, I’d like to learn more about them and get involved with them.

Also Calgary as a whole needs an infusion of critical thinking skills, Humanist values, and stuff like that (this is another bare-minimum thing you’d think the local Humanist groups should be doing.  The U of C freethinkers twitter could maybe be categorized as a small dose of this, but I don’t see any effort directed to change Calgarians, they’re lucky if any locals outside their bubble even know they exist).  Instead of just trying to be the “most affordable” city in the world or the “nicest place to live” in the world, how about we try to be the wisest place in the world?  And the most well organized, socially connected, and civically engaged?


A system that may work when abusers aren’t yet at the threshold to be charged for major crimes:

The system works in no small part because it turns the logic of an abusive relationship on its head. The abuser works by making the victim feel like she will never be free of him, his violence, and his surveillance. If she tries to leave, he escalates. If she gets a new boyfriend, he escalates. The idea is to make her feel like her choices are to submit or to live in terror. The high-risk teams shift the burden of being surveilled from the victim to the abuser. Now, if he makes a threat, Massachusetts has the power to escalate. If he uses visitation time to attack her or her children, Massachusetts restricts visitation. Now he’s the one who has to make his decisions with the understanding that someone with power can further restrict his movements and his ability to live freely. Abusers often victimize for years before taking things to the level of a serious beating or murder. By restricting movements in the early stages, it appears that the program helps keep abusers from getting to that point.