My Purpose: The Quest for Purpose

I am by no means an extraordinary person, relatively speaking, I have an average life, with an average means of income.  I have had average problems and deal with them in average ways yet I have always wanted more out of the life I have previously led.  I did not seek employment that would make me wealthy, I did not seek fame or surrounded myself with possessions.  Since I could not sustain that kind of lifestyle even if I could have achieved those kinds of pursuits; I was too preoccupied in just trying to manage what I was allowed to hold on to since much of my material assets were calculated and taken from me by a court order in the aftermath of my divorce.  The want for more in life was not about the pursuits listed above in as much as they were about bringing me some peace of mind.

To rise above the monotonous everyday routines and to question what is truly of value, I must search within myself to find out these answers.  This thought has visited me within different periods through-out my entire life; knowing that I wanted more out of life than what I had seen growing up.  The world is full of wonders and is very beautiful, but it can also be very grotesque.  I do not speak of being a monk, or speak of negating what is pleasurable in life; I only find that for me, some of these pursuits do not provide me with satisfaction, they do not quench my thirst and do not sustain my attention for whatever seems to be holding my soul in captivity.

If you have been witness to a multitude of circumstances, then you have a better perspective than the many with whom only share a smaller limited perspective.  I wanted to align my life in agreement to some of the teachings I had gravitated toward early on as a young adolescent and as a young adult.  I set out to find answers so instead of preparing for a job quest in college, I went on a wisdom quest.  It was by no means an easy path to pursue, and I for the most part only saw latent rewards for this pursuit.  Obviously one must work to sustain themselves, one must navigate the social realms and live amongst others, and do much of what society dictates, because that is the expectation we have grown up with.  For many this may just be fine, and they seem to be content, but unfortunately it is not the case for me.

I do not differ from others in many ways, I do not pretend that I am that much different from them as well, but I do see differences in how people have treated one another for as long as I can remember.  Why this happens to be the case is beyond my imagining.  It seems to be the essential core of my perplexity.

In retrospect I have given immensely of myself to those who probably did not deserve it.  My naiveté did not diminish until I was much older.  When you give of yourself, and are taken advantage of, though it is painful, it is also a great teacher of the human condition.  When you get beyond the paltriness of human interactions, you see into a fragility of the human heart and the social decay of an inferior person.  Why moral turpitude is such a prevalent factor in life is only a testament to the condition of our social inequity and the lack of educated citizens that fail to learn the lessons from its etiquette.  This human plight has been around for millennium.  This is precisely why the Zhou Dynasty in China adopted the Confucian teachings to subdue the existent rifts of social decline in China in the Spring and Autumn period of that dynasty (roughly between 771-479 BCE).
A time when the established system could not meet the demand of development as the ruling classes of China experienced the transition from a slave to feudalistic society the powers that be actively sought out a school of thought to adopt as a cultural unification.  It was a time of “the collapse of etiquette and the deterioration of music”, which implies the ethics and moralities of society were in decline.  The intellectuals of the day were concerned about the future mode of society, hence the most brilliant contention of a hundred schools of thought, such as Legalist, Taoist, and Confucian schools would be considered for the task.

Confucianism is an ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (孔夫子 Kǒng Fūzǐ, or K’ung-fu-tzu, literally: “Master Kong”, 551–479 BCE).   Confucianism originated as an “ethical-sociopolitical teaching”, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han Dynasty.   Following the official abandonment of Legalism in China after the Qin Dynasty, Confucianism became the official state ideology of the Han.  Nonetheless, since the Han period on, most Chinese emperors used a mix of Legalism and Confucianism as their ruling doctrine, often with the latter embellishing the former.  In other words, Confucian values were used to sugarcoat the harsh Legalist ideas that underlie the Imperial system.  The disintegration of the Han in the second century CE opened the way for the spiritual and otherworldly doctrines of Buddhism and Taoism to dominate intellectual life at that time.

The experience of injustice is not something new in human history as we have seen.  In my experience in providing for others, the toil of my labors, and the financial sacrifices I made to make a better life is something I am proud of, yet the devil is in the details of this story.  After the divorce, my life ensued a series of challenges with child custody, lawyers and legal fees, and sadly parental alienation.  I again dreamed of aligning my intellectual and spiritual self  trying to educate myself in accordance.  I have reached some goals I have set out for in my life, and I have yet to meet some of them.

I built a life around my values, and I am proud of what I have accomplished yet I have only scratched  the surface on what I would like to achieve in my lifetime.  After working so many hours in my life I have come to realize that though work is good, it is not the end goal in one’s life.  Work teaches us many disciplines, but one cannot be happy unless they make the work they do matter, or put another way, if they enjoy the work they do, then they will lead a happier life, and if their work is meaningful to them, then in this way our work can be an appropriate end.

I have fallen in the traps that many others have succumbed to along the paths we take.  The Muse’s of my day have chanted their sirens song, and their melody’s have left me in bewilderment until I awoke from the daze.  I have taken the advise of those oracles which of whom I should not have listened to and thus have learned alternative ways to manage my time, efforts, and affairs.  I have believed in a career choice that turned out to be less than what was promised, and sacrificed much of my health, wealth, and leisure to fund my families needs.  The children are now grown and have only obligations to find a life that I can become excited about.  This makes me envision that now is the time for me to project me closer to my new-found dream.  This is a time for me to follow another road.

I have learned that people are good when the least you expect it, as well as bad when the least you expect it.  Some of the greatest joys come from fatherhood, as well as some of the most painful heartaches.  I have come close to death several times in my life, but I’ve somehow managed to survive which leads me to ask why am I here?  Is it that I have a purpose yet unfulfilled on this earth?  Is there some destiny that I have not yet realized?  Have I not perished because there is some undone work I am to do?

I may never know, yet I continue my journey for discovery.  Is it that I quest for a purpose not yet realized?  Am I trying to fill some empty void within myself?  The hunger for knowledge, and wisdom has always been with me.  Maybe because I come from very modest means, and that I wanted to climb higher to new plateaus of understanding.

Whichever the reasons my so-called soul-searching is a part of me.  It is as much of me as my devotion to those with whom I love.  So I guess I am destined to seek.  I do not know when I may find that moment of peace, or that pearl of wisdom that will set my mind at ease, but I can certainly say I look forward to the journey.  I want to never loose my curiosity, and never to have my mind become anesthetized by boredom or folly.

Endurance of Dreams and the Dream to Endure

Tragedy of the Ross Sea Party

When I was a child of the sixties and seventies, we enjoyed much our time outside of the house playing with the other neighborhood children when possible during our leisure.  We did not have the benefits of what today’s kids can partake in, the electronic activities that can now entertain them; we on the other hand had to make it up as we went along using whatever inspiration we could draw upon.  Not having the assortment and variety of today’s markets for playtime fun, we had to create, invent, and use our own imaginations for filling in the time at hand.  Much of our imaginations were filled up with the stories we had heard as children about exploration from Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, to other historical figures which fueled our pioneering appetites.  On occasion we also had to play indoors when it rained or just because we wanted to use materials inside the house to create our own forts, the very infamous bed sheet fort that so many other kids imagined as well.

Much of my time I spent outside in the neighborhood canyons creating elaborate outdoor tree forts, climbing dangerous cliffs, having dirt-clod fights, carving tree wood into walking staffs and other wood weapons such as spears, and exploring the terrain as if I were a great explorer.  Countless times I would find myself in the canyons of my home and play for endless hours in the acres and acres of untouched hilly canyon wilderness of the California landscape.  Much of this desire was to challenge the landscapes obstructions and Tera-formed it to my own needs.  Day-dreams of a boy being out in the wilderness comprised much of my thoughts as I explored the outdoors and the inner dreams of my childhood.

Amazed at the stories I would learn about as a boy, I often dreamed of the real hardships people have faced for many years, and for many years to come.

Robert Falcon Scott led the Ill-famed Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–13.  During this venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, only to find that they had been preceded by Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian expedition. On their return journey, Scott and his four comrades all died from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold.

Negative of the Ross Sea Party found 100 years later frozen in the Ice

Much of the expedition was surrounded by bad weather, miscalculations and failures to provide contingency plans for events that could likely befall the team on their race to the South Pole.

The expedition itself suffered a series of early misfortunes, which hampered the first season’s work and impaired preparations for the main polar march. On its journey from New Zealand to the Antarctic, Terra Nova was trapped in pack ice for 20 days, far longer than other ships had experienced, which meant a late-season arrival and less time for preparatory work before the Antarctic winter. One of the motor sledges was lost during its unloading from the ship, breaking through the sea ice and sinking.  Deteriorating weather and weak, acclimatised ponies affected the first depot-laying journey, so that the expedition’s main supply point, One Ton Depot, was laid 35 miles (56 km) north of its planned location at 80° S. Lawrence Oates, in charge of the ponies, advised Scott to kill ponies for food and advance the depot to 80° S, which Scott refused to do. Oates is reported as saying to Scott, “Sir, I’m afraid you’ll come to regret not taking my advice.”  Six ponies died during this journey either from the cold or because they slowed the team down so they were shot. On its return to base, the expedition learned of the presence of Amundsen, camped with his crew and a large contingent of dogs in the Bay of Whales, 200 miles (320 km) to their east.

Scott refused to amend his schedule to deal with the Amundsen threat, writing, “The proper, as well as the wiser course, is for us to proceed exactly as though this had not happened”.  While acknowledging that the Norwegian’s base was closer to the pole and that his experience as a dog driver was formidable, Scott had the advantage of traveling over a known route pioneered by Shackleton.  During the 1911 winter his confidence increased; on 2 August, after the return of a three-man party from their winter journey to Cape Crozier, Scott wrote, “I feel sure we are as near perfection as experience can direct”.

Scott outlined his plans for the southern journey to the entire shore party,but left open who would form the final polar team.  Eleven days before Scott’s teams set off towards the pole, Scott gave the dog driver Meares the following written orders at Cape Evans dated 20 October 1911 to secure Scott’s speedy return from the pole using dogs:

About the first week of February I should like you to start your third journey to the South, the object being to hasten the return of the third Southern unit [the polar party] and give it a chance to catch the ship. The date of your departure must depend on news received from returning units, the extent of the depot of dog food you have been able to leave at One Ton Camp, the state of the dogs, etc … It looks at present as though you should aim at meeting the returning party about March 1 in Latitude 82 or 82.30

The march south began on 1 November 1911, a caravan of mixed transport groups (motors, dogs, horses), with loaded sledges, travelling at different rates, all designed to support a last group of four men who would make a dash for the Pole.  The southbound party steadily reduced in size as successive support teams turned back. Scott reminded the returning Atkinson of the order “to take the two dog-teams south in the event of Meares having to return home, as seemed likely”.  By 4 January 1912, the last two four-man groups had reached 87° 34′ S.  Scott announced his decision: five men (Scott, Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers, Lawrence Oates and Edgar Evans) would go forward, the other three (Teddy Evans, William Lashly and Tom Crean) would return.  The chosen group marched on, reaching the Pole on 17 January 1912, only to find that Amundsen had preceded them by five weeks. Scott’s anguish is indicated in his diary: “The worst has happened”; “All the day dreams must go”; “Great God! This is an awful place”.

Scott's party at the South Pole.jpg
Robert Falcon Scott and Party at the South Pole
C. 1/17/1912

The deflated party began the 800-mile (1,300 km) return journey on 19 January. “I’m afraid the return journey is going to be dreadfully tiring and monotonous”, wrote Scott on the next day.  However, the party made good progress despite poor weather, and had completed the Polar Plateau stage of their journey, about 300 miles (500 km), by 7 February. In the following days, as the party made the 100-mile (160 km) descent of the Beardmore Glacier, the physical condition of Edgar Evans, which Scott had noted with concern as early as 23 January, declined sharply.  A fall on 4 February had left Evans “dull and incapable”,and on 17 February, after a further fall, he died near the glacier foot.

Meanwhile back at Cape Evans, the Terra Nova arrived at the beginning of February, and Atkinson decided to unload the supplies from the ship with his own men and not set out south with the dogs to meet Scott as ordered.  When Atkinson finally did leave south for the planned rendezvous with Scott, he met the scurvy-ridden Edward (“Teddy”) Evans who needed his urgent medical attention.  Atkinson therefore tried to send the experienced navigator Wright south to meet Scott, but chief meteorologist Simpson declared he needed Wright for scientific work.  Atkinson then decided to send the short-sighted Cherry-Garrard on 25 February, who was not able to navigate, only as far as One Ton depot (which is within sight of Mount Erebus), effectively cancelling Scott’s orders for meeting him at latitude 82 or 82.30 on 1 March.

With 400 miles (670 km) still to travel across the Ross Ice Shelf, Scott’s party’s prospects steadily worsened as, with deteriorating weather, frostbite, snow blindness, hunger and exhaustion, and no sign of the dog-teams, they struggled northward.  On 16 March, Oates, whose condition was aggravated by an old war-wound to the extent that he was barely able to walk,voluntarily left the tent and walked to his death.  Scott wrote that Oates’ last words were “I am just going outside and may be some time”.

After walking a further 20 miles, the three remaining men made their final camp on 19 March, 11 miles (18 km) short of One Ton Depot, but 24 miles (38 km) beyond the original intended place of the depot.  The next day a fierce blizzard prevented their making any progress.  During the next nine days, as their supplies ran out, with frozen fingers, little light, and storms still raging outside the tent, Scott wrote his last words, although he gave up his diary after 23 March, save for a last entry on 29 March, with its concluding words: “Last entry. For God’s sake look after our people”.  He left letters to Wilson’s mother, Bowers’ mother, a string of notables including his former commander Sir George Egerton, his own mother and his wife.  He also wrote his “Message To The Public”, primarily a defense of the expedition’s organization and conduct in which the party’s failure is attributed to weather and other misfortunes, but ending on an inspirational note, with these words:

“We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of Providence,determined still to do our best to the last … Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale, but surely, surely, a great rich country like ours will see that those who are dependent on us are properly provided for.”  — Robert Falcon Scott

Ross Sea Party Negative found buried in the Ice 100 years later

The challenges in life are often endured and beaten on the terms of those whose dreams go answered.  There are those who dare to dream and in doing so sometimes do not foretell the risk and danger of these dreams that go unanswered, and ensue an untimely end.  There is something very profound in the human spirit that compels us from an early age to seek adventures, challenge nature, and ourselves.  From the modest dreams of a Southern California boy to the Antarctic British explorer there lies a fundamental wanton provocation to go beyond the unknown.  The endurance of dreams and the dream to endure seems to be rooted deeply within us, no matter what part of the world we live in, or what part of the world we affront.

Negative of the Scott Party found 100 years later frozen in Ice
Antarctic expedition map (Amundsen - Scott)-en.svg
The South Pole Race of Amundsen and Scott

Wei Wu Wei

The decision to make changes in our life is a very powerful tool when considering that most of us at times continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.  Even when our intention is good, it still seems that we behave in ways that often repeat prior conduct that may not have been very successful.  We are creatures of habit and unless we are able to see through this, we may continue to follow a similar path not quite advancing our cause.  Whether we know it or not, it may be that our awareness of this is a key part to understanding our place in this equation.  Mindfulness of the foreseeability of our conduct is a crucial factor.  If we are unaware of the intention, the desired result, and the possibility for alternative outcomes, then we may fail to meet that ambition, in like manner we may indeed have varying degrees of success or quite possibly experience just blind luck if things go well.

In contrast it is proper to consider the Taoist principle of Wei Wu Wei, or “Action through Non-action!  An example of this principle is the attainment of happiness.  One does not necessarily realize happiness without any activity or analytic comparative perspective.  Happiness is not something you actively seek, but rather it is the byproduct of doing things that make you happy.

Several chapters of the most important Taoist text, the Tao Te Ching, attributed to Lao Tzu, allude to “diminishing doing” or “diminishing will” as the key aspect of the sage’s success.  Taoist philosophy recognizes that the Universe already works harmoniously according to its own ways; as a person exerts their will against or upon the world they disrupt the harmony that already exists.  This is not to say that a person should not exert agency and will.  Rather, it is how one acts to the natural processes already existent.  The how, the Tao of intention and motivation, that is key.

Wu Wei has also been translated as “creative quietude,” or the art of letting-be.  This does not mean a dulling of the mind; rather, it is an activity undertaken to be the Tao within all things and to cultivate oneself to its “way.”

As one diminishes doing—here ‘doing’ means those intentional actions taken to help us or actions taken to change the world from its natural state and evolution—one diminishes all those actions committed against the Tao, the already present natural harmony.  As such one begins to cultivate Tao, one also becomes more in harmony with Tao; and, according to another great ancient Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu, attains a state of Ming, or ‘clear seeing’.  It is in the state of Ming that the Taoist is in full harmony with Tao, and ‘having arrived at this pointless point of non-action, there is nothing that is left undone.’  It is upon achievement of this Chinese equivalent to ‘enlightenment’ that a sage begins to practice wei wu wei, or ‘action without action.’ Thus the sage will be able to work in harmony with Tao to carry out what is needed, and, working in perfect harmony with the Tao, leave no trace of having done it.

An example of active non-action using wu wei, would be to teach in such a way that no course of action is modeled to a student (they are just told raw facts for use, and left to their own creative devices), so they assume that they have been taught nothing, that is, until their learning’s have been integrated in their lived experience.

The concept of wu wei is often described as performing acts bereft of self.  In Taoist teaching, however, “good” is unknowable.  An act bereft of self can only be performed by someone in an ego-less state.  Every act performed by someone in the usual way of things has a reward attached whether it is financial, power, love, status or just feeling good about oneself.  All these things are ego re-enforcing.  To do an act bereft of self one must let go of one’s ego and pass into an enlightened state of consciousness.  This is called wu wei – the state of doing without doing.  Here every act is without self for the ego has ceased to exist.  There is no making decisions and the outcome is always perfect.

“The mind of the perfect man is like a mirror.  It does not lean forward or backward in response to things.  It responds to things but conceals nothing of its own.  Therefore it is able to deal with things without injury to [its reality].”

The understanding of one’s connectivity to the Tao, the understanding of one’s proper relation to the world can lead one into a life that is not void of fulfillment.  By pursuing the wrong things, or looking at things in the wrong way and asking the wrong questions, one may be apt to miss out on what is truly the fulfilling life.  The trappings of material possession, ego, and bodily pleasures are illusory.  Knowing the proper mediation and negotiation of and between them will make vast differences in the way we live.  Imposition of the will upon the nature of things is futile, and may lead to pointless pursuits that surely will end in a being that is unfulfilled.

“Once I, Chuang Tzu, dreamed I was a butterfly and was happy as a butterfly.  I was conscious that I was quite pleased with myself, but I did not know that I was Chuang Tzu.  Suddenly I awoke, and there was I, visibly Chuang Tzu.  I do not know whether it was Chuang Tzu dreaming that he was a butterfly or the butterfly dreaming that he was Chuang Tzu.  Between Chuang Tzu and the butterfly there must be some distinction.  [But one may be the other.] This is called the transformation of things.”

Logical Fallacies and False Syllogisms

A logical fallacy is a flaw in reasoning. Strong arguments are void of logical fallacies, whilst arguments that are weak tend to use logical fallacies to appear stronger than they are. They’re like tricks or illusions of thought, and they’re often very sneakily used by politicians, the media, and others to fool people.
Don’t be fooled!

STRAWMAN

Misrepresenting someone’s argument to
make it easier to attack.
By exaggerating, misrepresenting, or just completely fabricating someone’s argument, it’s easier to present your own position as being reasonable, but this kind of dishonesty serves to undermine honest rational debate.
After Will said that we should put more money into
health and education, Warren responded by saying that
he was surprised that Will hates our country so much
that he wants to leave it defenseless by cutting
military spending.

THE TEXAS SHARPSHOOTER

Cherry-picking data clusters to suit an
argument, or finding a pattern to fit a
presumption.
This ‘false cause’ fallacy is coined after a marksman shooting randomly at barns and then painting bullseye targets around the spot where the most bullet holes appear, making it appear as if he’s a really good shot. Clusters naturally appear by chance, but don’t necessarily show that there is a causal relationship.
The makers of Sugarette Candy Drinks point to
research showing that of the five countries where
Sugarette drinks sell the most units, three of them are in
the top ten healthiest countries on Earth, therefore
Sugarette drinks are healthy.

AD HOMINEM

Attacking your opponent’s character
or personal traits in an attempt to
undermine their argument.
Ad hominem attacks can take the form of overtly attacking somebody, or more subtly casting doubt on their character or personal attributes as a way to discredit their argument. The result of an ad hom attack can be to undermine someone’s case without actually having to engage with it.
After Sally presents an eloquent and compelling case
for a more equitable taxation system, Sam asks the
audience whether we should believe anything from a
woman who isn’t married, was once arrested, and
smells a bit weird.

LOADED QUESTION

Asking a question that has an
assumption built into it so that it can’t be
answered without appearing guilty.
Loaded question fallacies are particularly effective at derailing rational debates because of their inflammatory nature – the recipient of the loaded question is compelled to defend themselves and may appear flustered or on the back foot.
Grace and Helen were both romantically interested in
Brad. One day, with Brad sitting within earshot, Grace
asked in an inquisitive tone whether Helen was having
any problems with a fungal infection.

THE GAMBLERS FALLACY

Believing that ‘runs’ occur to statistically
independent phenomena such as roulette
wheel spins.
This commonly believed fallacy can be said to have helped create an entire city in the desert of Nevada USA. Though the overall odds of a ‘big run’ happening may be low, each spin of the wheel is itself entirely independent from the last. So whilst there may be a very small chance that heads will come up 20 times in a row if you flip a coin, the chances of heads coming up on each individual flip remain 50/50, and aren’t influenced by what happened before.
Red had come up six times in a row on the roulette
wheel, so Greg knew that it was close to certain that
black would be next up.  Suffering an economic form of
natural selection with this thinking, he soon lost all of
his savings.

BANDWAGON

Appealing to popularity or the fact that
many people do something as an
attempted form of validation.
The flaw in this argument is that the popularity of an idea has absolutely no bearing on its validity.  If it did, then the Earth would have made itself flat for most of history to accommodate this popular belief.
Shamus pointed a drunken finger at Sean and asked
him to explain how so many people could believe in
leprechauns if they’re only a silly old superstition.
Sean, however, had had a few too many Guinness
himself and fell off of his chair.

BLACK OR WHITE

Where two alternative states are
presented as the only possibilities, when
in fact more possibilities exist.
Also known as the false dilemma, this insidious tactic has the appearance of forming a logical argument, but under closer scrutiny it becomes evident that there are more possibilities than the either/or choice that is presented. Binary, black-or-white thinking doesn’t allow for the many different variables, conditions, and contexts in which there would exist more than just the two possibilities put forth. It frames the argument misleadingly and obscures rational, honest debate.
Whilst rallying support for his plan to fundamentally
undermine citizens’ rights, the Supreme Leader told
the people they were either on his side, or on the side
of the enemy.

BEGGING THE QUESTION

A circular argument in which the
conclusion is included in the premise.
This logically incoherent argument often arises in situations where people have an assumption that is very ingrained, and therefore taken in their minds as a given. Circular reasoning is bad mostly because it’s not very good.
The word of Zorbo the Great is flawless and perfect. We
know this because it says so in The Great and Infallible
Book of Zorbo’s Best and Most Truest Things that are
Definitely True and Should Not Ever Be Questioned.

APPEAL TO AUTHORITY

Using the opinion or position of an
authority figure, or institution of
authority, in place of an actual argument.
It’s important to note that this fallacy should not be used to dismiss the claims of experts, or scientific consensus. Appeals to authority are not valid arguments, but nor is it reasonable to disregard the claims of experts who have a demonstrated depth of knowledge unless one has a similar level of understanding and/or access to empirical evidence. However it is, entirely possible that the opinion of a person or institution of authority is wrong; therefore the authority that such a person or institution holds does not have any intrinsic bearing upon whether their claims are true or not.
Not able to defend his position that evolution ‘isn’t true’
Bob says that he knows a scientist who also questions
evolution (and presumably isn’t a primate).

APPEAL TO NATURE

Making the argument that because
something is ‘natural’ it is therefore valid,
justified, inevitable, good, or ideal.
Many ‘natural’ things are also considered ‘good’, and this can bias our thinking; but naturalness itself doesn’t make something good or bad. For instance murder could be seen as very natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s good or justifiable.
The medicine man rolled into town on his bandwagon
offering various natural remedies, such as very special
plain water. He said that it was only natural that
people should be wary of ‘artificial’ medicines such
as antibiotics.

COMPOSITION/DIVISION

Assuming that what’s true about one part
of something has to be applied to all, or
other, parts of it.
Often when something is true for the part it does also apply to the whole, or vice versa, but the crucial difference is whether there exists good evidence to show that this is the case. Because we observe consistencies in things, our thinking can become biased so that we presume consistency to exist where it does not.
Daniel was a precocious child and had a liking for logic.
He reasoned that atoms are invisible, and that he was
made of atoms and therefore invisible too.
Unfortunately, despite his thinky skills, he lost the game
of hide and go seek.

ANECDOTAL

Using personal experience or an isolated
example instead of a valid argument,
especially to dismiss statistics.
It’s often much easier for people to believe someone’s testimony as opposed to understanding complex data and variation across a continuum. Quantitative scientific measures are almost always more accurate than personal perceptions and experiences, but our inclination is to believe that which is tangible to us, and/or the word of someone we trust over a more ‘abstract’ statistical reality.
Jason said that that was all cool and everything, but his
grandfather smoked, like, 30 cigarettes a day and lived
until 97 – so don’t believe everything you read about
meta analyses of sound studies showing proven
causal relationships.

NO TRUE SCOTSMAN

Making what could be called an appeal to
purity as a way to dismiss relevant
criticisms or flaws of an argument.
In this form of faulty reasoning one’s belief is rendered unfalsifiable because no matter how compelling the evidence is, one simply shifts the goalposts so that it wouldn’t apply to a supposedly ‘true’ example. This kind of post-rationalization is a way of avoiding valid criticisms of one’s argument.
Angus declares that Scotsmen do not put sugar on
their porridge, to which Lachlan points out that he is a
Scotsman and puts sugar on his porridge. Furious, like a
true Scot, Angus yells that no
true Scotsman sugars his porridge.

MIDDLE GROUND

Saying that a compromise, or middle
point, between two extremes is the truth.
Much of the time the truth does indeed lie between two extreme points, but this can bias our thinking: sometimes a thing is simply untrue and a compromise of it is also untrue. Half way between truth and a lie, is still a lie.
Holly said that vaccinations caused autism in children,
but her scientifically well-read friend Caleb said that this
claim had been debunked and proven false. Their friend
Alice ooffered a compromise that vaccinations cause
some autism.

GENETIC

Judging something good or bad on the
basis of where it comes from, or from
whom it comes.
This fallacy avoids the argument by shifting focus onto something’s or someone’s origins. It’s similar to an ad hominem fallacy in that it leverages existing negative perceptions to make someone’s argument look bad, without actually presenting a case for why the argument itself lacks merit.
Accused on the 6 o’clock news of corruption and taking
bribes, the senator said that we should all be very wary
of the things we hear in the media, because we all
know how very unreliable the media can be.

AMBIGUITY

Using double meanings or ambiguities of
language to mislead or misrepresent the
truth.
Politicians are often guilty of using ambiguity to mislead and will later point to how they were technically not outright lying if they come under scrutiny. The reason that it qualifies as a fallacy is that it is intrinsically misleading.
When the judge asked the defendant why he hadn’t
paid his parking fines, he said that he shouldn’t have to
pay them because the sign said ‘Fine for parking here’
and so he naturally presumed that it would be fine to
park there.

FALSE CAUSE

Presuming that a real or perceived
relationship between things means that
one is the cause of the other.
Many people confuse correlation (things happening together or in sequence) for causation (that one thing actually causes the other to happen). Sometimes correlation is coincidental, or it may be attributable to a common cause.
Pointing to a fancy chart, Roger shows how
temperatures have been rising over the past few
centuries, whilst at the same time the numbers of
pirates have been decreasing; thus pirates cool the
world and global warming is a hoax.

THE FALLACY FALLACY

Presuming that because a claim has been
poorly argued, or a fallacy has been made,
that it is necessarily wrong.
It is entirely possible to make a claim that is false yet argue with logical coherency for that claim, just as is possible to make a claim that is true and justify it with various fallacies and poor arguments.
Recognizing that Amanda had committed a fallacy in
arguing that we should eat healthy food because a
nutritionist said it was popular, Alyse said we should
therefore eat bacon double cheeseburgers every day.

APPEAL TO EMOTION

Manipulating an emotional response in
place of a valid or compelling argument.
Appeals to emotion include appeals to fear, envy, hatred, pity, pride, and more. It’s important to note that sometimes a logically coherent argument may inspire emotion or have an emotional aspect, but the problem and fallacy occurs when emotion is used instead of a logical argument, or to obscure the fact that no compelling rational reason exists for one’s position. Everyone, bar sociopaths, is affected by emotion, and so appeals to emotion are a very common and effective argument tactic, but they’re ultimately flawed, dishonest, and tend to make one’s opponents justifiably emotional.
Luke didn’t want to eat his sheep’s brains with chopped
liver and brussel sprouts, but his father told him to
think about the poor, starving children in a third world
country who weren’t fortunate enough to have any
food at all.

TU QUOQUE

Avoiding having to engage with criticism
by turning it back on the accuser –
answering criticism with criticism.
Pronounced too-kwo-kwee. Literally translating as ‘you too’ this fallacy is also known as the appeal to hypocrisy. It is commonly employed as an effective red herring because it takes the heat off someone having to defend their argument, and instead shifts the focus back on to the person making the criticism.
The blue candidate accused the red candidate of
committing the tu quoque fallacy. The red candidate
responded by accusing the blue candidate of the same,
after which ensued an hour of back and forth criticism
with not much progress.

BURDEN OF PROOF

Saying that the burden of proof lies not
with the person making the claim, but
with someone else to disprove.
The burden of proof lies with someone who is making a claim, and is not upon anyone else to disprove. The inability, or disinclination, to disprove a claim does not render that claim valid, nor give it any credence whatsoever. However it is important to note that we can never be certain of anything, and so we must assign value to any claim based on the available evidence, and to dismiss something on the basis that it hasn’t been proven beyond all doubt is also fallacious reasoning.
Bertrand declares that a teapot is, at this very moment,
in orbit around the Sun between the Earth and Mars,
and that because no one can prove him wrong his
claim is therefore a valid one.

PERSONAL INCREDULITY

Saying that because one finds something
diffcult to understand that it’s therefore
not true.
Complex subjects like biological evolution through natural selection require some amount of understanding before one is able to make an informed judgement about the subject at hand; this fallacy is usually used in place of that understanding.
Kirk drew a picture of a fish and a human and with
effusive disdain asked Richard if he really thought we
were stupid enough to believe that a fish somehow
turned into a human through just, like, random things
happening over time.

SPECIAL PLEADING

Moving the goalposts to create exceptions
when a claim is shown to be false.
Humans are funny creatures and have a foolish aversion to being wrong. Rather than appreciate the benefits of being able to change one’s mind through better understanding, many will invent ways to cling to old beliefs. One of the most common ways that people do this is to post-rationalize a reason why what they thought to be true must remain to be true. It’s usually very easy to find a reason to believe something that suits us, and it requires integrity and genuine honesty with oneself to examine one’s own beliefs and motivations without falling into the trap of justifying our existing ways of seeing ourselves and the world around us.
Edward Johns claimed to be psychic, but when his
‘abilities’ were tested under proper scientific conditions,
they magically disappeared. Edward explained this
saying that one had to have faith in his abilities for
them to work.

SLIPPERY SLOPE

Asserting that if we allow A to happen,
then Z will consequently happen too,
therefore A should not happen.
The problem with this reasoning is that it avoids engaging with the issue at hand, and instead shifts attention to extreme hypothetical’s.  Because no proof is presented to show that such extreme hypothetical’s will in fact occur, this fallacy has the form of an appeal to emotion fallacy by leveraging fear. In effect the argument at hand is unfairly tainted by unsubstantiated conjecture.
Colin Closet asserts that if we allow same-sex couples
to marry, then the next thing we know we’ll be
allowing people to marry their parents, their cars and even monkeys

The Specious Habits of Perception

When you don’t share the same reality of experience with another person, you can become lost in the haze and fog of perception.  Perception is a precursor to the reality you see.  The way you see the world is dependent on your beliefs, and your beliefs are dependent on your perceptions.  So how is it that we ever manage to share a reality that we can together identify and discuss intelligently if our perceptions of the world are completely different?

One of the hardest things for me to deal with as a person is when you are in a disagreement with another person, (especially a family member), and it is almost impossible to come to any sort of cooperative resolution, because the reality of what was experienced is widely different, and thus only non-significant minor affirmations are the only remnants to agree upon.  When there is no shared reality of the events which are in question, then a distortion of our perceptions of what has taken place is convoluted and smeared with prejudice; and this can be frustrating and defeating in attempts to establish any mutual starting points.

I have struggled with such matters very close to my heart due to the estranged relationships I have experienced in my life.  When one loses any presence or continuity in a relationship, when one looses confidence, trust or credibility in another’s eyes, then it is an uphill battle to regain a reconciliation.  Why many relationships that have reached this point are so easily dismissed by those that do not think otherwise due to the disintegration of the emotional connections is self-evident.

The most hurtful is when a distortion of perception takes another away from what was once a shared experience, but with time, changes in age, and opposing influence outside of your control, other perceptions will also shape the beliefs of a person, and thus shape their reality of the world around them.  There are so many messages from the media that try to shape our perceptions about what we should buy, drink, eat, consume, wear, ad infinitum.  This technique is also very common in our schools and what our teachers instruct to our children.  A lesson to learn is that one should never take for granted the shared experience, because it can vanish before your eyes.  Those who do not study history, are susceptible to failing to learn from past accounts and this begets frequent examples of such lessons not learned; namely those who denied the Holocaust, going to war because of the threat of weapons of mass destruction, believing in global warming due to human interaction with the environment, or even nine out of ten dentists prefer a certain toothpaste, etc.

I ask the readers to ponder about such circumstances, what have you experienced?  What was your resolution?  I have spent my share of time thinking on such matters and have felt an immense amount of disheartenment.  The details of these matters are very personal and astonishingly painful.  I do not speak of delusional ego defenses, or patterns of poor judgements that have held me beholden to a servitude of denial.  The pain comes from the understanding that life can be a pernicious series of episodes that may never see their karmic end, and may continue to further echo a perception of the world that does not agree with my core vision.  If judgements are rendered before the trial has even begun allowing for all evidence to be examined, then the likelihood of justice served is next to nonexistent.  “Judge not that ye be not judged” (Mathew 7:1-3 KJV) might be the mantra spoken here.

When Mother Teresa was asked if she needed help with money or fundraising in a town she was visiting to see the opening of a shelter, she replied, no thanks, that there was nothing anyone could do for her since her cause was not about money, or publicity. When asked again if they could somehow do something to help, she replied….“If you really want to do something, wake up at 4am and go out on the streets and find someone living there that believes they are alone, and convince them they are not!

So the question now becomes how to make reparations despite the circumstances.  I believe it has something to do with manifestation.  Manifesting is not about getting things that are not here.  It is about attracting what is already here and is a part of you.  The deck may be stacked against you, but it is precisely on how you play that hand, that will determine the vibe and vibrato of the energy you posit into the world despite the past inequities of the world that you have experienced.  I refer the readers to the works by Dr. Wayne Dyer.

All of us have within us this amazing capacity to manifest and attract anything we want into our lives,” Dr. Dyer states. “In [the book] ‘The Secret,’ they say you get what you want, what is missing… What has come to me… is that you say, ‘I will attract into my life what I am.’… That’s the difference: You get what you are rather than what you want.”

To do this, Dr. Dyer says that you must be in alignment with your source, with a divine source.  This doesn’t mean simply wishing for something and expecting it to appear. “You can’t go around and ask these divine beings — angels, whatever you want to call them — to ‘help me out,'” Dr. Dyer says. “You have to become like they are.”

Instead, Dr. Dyer encourages people to become “angelic” — to give, to serve, to be completely free of judgment and criticism toward all other beings.

But we’re human, and human emotions fall across a wide spectrum. So, what should you do when the negative thoughts inevitably creep up?

“Even if your senses tell you that you’re depressed… you don’t say, ‘I am depressed,'” Dr. Dyer says. “If you say, ‘I am depressed,’ you connect with depression and the universal source — God or whatever you want to call it — will align in such a way to offer you… more depression.”

Dr. Dyer advises that people take a different approach. “By placing into your imagination what you want and assuming the feeling of that wish as already fulfilled, you go through your life feeling that,” he says. “When enough of us do that, we will transform this planet.”

My own personal encounters with inequity, resistance and strife have sent me on a journey that rarely circumvented my obstacles since they were right in front of me, I choose to acknowledge them on their own terms head on.  I found this not to be a very successful tactic and eventually found other resources to deal with these problematic scenarios.  If you become angry, you live with the energy that anger creates.  This may be necessary and helpful at times, but the end result is that you do not ultimately overcome resistance by fighting it in this way in the long run.  A prime example is Mahatma Gandhi’s use of civil disobedience through nonviolence in that his ethical thinking was heavily influenced by a handful of books, which he repeatedly meditated upon.  They included especially Plato‘s Apology and John Ruskin‘s Unto this Last (1862) (both of which he translated into his native Gujarati); William Salter’s Ethical Religion (1889); Henry David Thoreau‘s On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (1849); and Leo Tolstoy‘s The Kingdom of God Is Within You (1894).  Ruskin inspired his decision to live an austere life on a commune, at first on the Phoenix Farm in Natal and then on the Tolstoy Farm just outside Johannesburg, South Africa.

So embrace the positive, deflect the negative.  Like energies attract like energies.  Again quoting Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world!”  Attract what you have within you by engaging the world in this way.  This will be a very hard thing to do if you are caught up in the negative aspects of ego-related issues, but being mindful of this will help you break free of these traps.

Rabindranath Tagore

“Most people believe the mind to be a mirror, more or less accurately reflecting the world outside them, not realizing on the contrary that the mind is itself the principal element of creation.”
Rabindranath Tagore

William James “Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit.”

William James

“The waking have one world in common; sleepers have each a private world of his own.”
Heraclitus

Mother Teresa

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”
Mother Teresa

⚖⚖⚖

You can look at the menu, but you just can’t eat
You can feel the cushion, but you can’t have a seat
You can dip your foot in the pool, but you can’t have a swim
You can feel the punishment, but you can’t commit the sin
And you want her, and she wants you
We want everyone
And you want her and she wants you
No one, no one, no one ever is to blame

You can build a mansion, but you just can’t live in it
You’re the fastest runner but you’re not allowed to win
Some break the rules, and live to count the cost
The insecurity is the thing that won’t get lost
And you want her, and she wants you
We want everyone
And you want her, and she wants you
No one, no one, no one ever is to blame

You can see the summit but you can’t reach it
Its the last piece of the puzzle but you just can’t make it fit
Doctor says you’re cured but you still feel the pain
Aspirations in the clouds but your hopes go down the drain
And you want her, and she wants you
We want everyone
And you want her, and she wants you
No one, no one, no one ever is to blame
No one ever is to blame
No one ever is to blame

No One Is To Blame
–Howard Jones —