The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Catching Up and Clearing the Air

halloween
halloween (Photo credit: BEE FREE - PGrandicelli [the social bee])

First of all:   Happy Halloween!  A little over three years ago this blog started out as a Halloween blog so this day holds special significance in Tossing It Out history.   It didn't take long for me to change the direction of my thematic content and I'm glad I did.  Yet I must acknowledge the season and give credit to the inspiration that initially got me underway in blogging.

Bye George, By George:   As many of you are aware, I took a brief hiatus from blogging over the last couple of weeks.due to the illness and eventual passing of my stepfather George Lechelt.  I had attempted to make it back to East Tennessee in order to say my good-byes, but sadly he passed on October 13th, the day before I arrived.  He will be missed and I plan to pay a tribute to him either here on this blog or more probably on my memoir blog Wrote By Rote.

       During my stay at my mother's house I had the pleasure of sharing time with family members including my daughters and my granddaughters.   We had a good time, but there was also plenty of time for introspection and reflection on my current status of life and my future.  Many of us probably go into a similar state of mind in times of mourning.  Indeed, I've been doing much thinking and evaluating over the past year. I'm continuing to make some life changes--a good thing, eh?   If we don't change, we can get stuck in a rut and I'm trying to avoid that.

        For one thing there will be no NaNo for me this year.   I've got too many other things going on and I don't need to add writing a novel to all that I currently am trying to sort out.   I wish all the best to those of you who are taking the NaNo challenge this year.

Misunderstanding Due to Misrepresentation?:   I wanted to clear up something about the direction I had indicated my blog would be taking in the future.   It became evident to me as I read some of your comments in some of the preceding posts that some of you might be turned off by the fact that I might be dipping into the realms of controversy in some of my posts.  I may have misrepresented my intent in my explanations along the way.

         Rather than emphasizing the concept of stirring controversy, I probably should have been sticking more to the idea that my intent is to make readers think about certain issues, react to them, and add their opinions. Dissension is welcomed.  I'm not looking for heated exchange, but friendly debate.  As I mentioned somewhere along the way, I just want to figure certain things out and toss out ideas that are bouncing around my head to see what you think.  

         Don't be scared.  Don't avoid my blog because you think things might get too ugly.  I just want to have some conversations, so I hope many of you will join in.

This Ain't No Bag Of Feathers:  Sometimes I wonder if I'm trying to get too heavy in my thinking.  Maybe I'm dishing out a weighty chest of treasure when what readers really want is some light reading.  Then again some of you may think I'm laying a paper bag full of dog doo on your doorstep and setting fire to it.   If that's the case, I can understand your getting irked with my blog and avoiding the crap.  I hope that's not the case and I hope any readers who think this will honestly let me know.

           I've noticed that sometimes the topics on my blogs get very few comments.  In some cases it could be because some of my blogs are read by fewer readers, like my dream blog A Faraway View.  A recent guest post by Stephen T McCarthy--a post that I thought was beautifully written--received only three comments.  I wonder if readers found the topic too difficult or perhaps--dare I say it--too controversial?  I invite you to read the post in question, Goldenshadow, and let us know your thoughts.

           Whether you like Stephen T McCarthy's writing or not, there will be more coming on A Faraway View as Stephen has stepped up to offer me some more guest posts to help me in my time of sorting things out.  Read his stuff while you can since he has announced his plans to shut down his blog Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends after already shutting down his Stuffs blog several months ago.  This is the guy that started me blogging and I think he deserves more readers.

We Can Always Talk About the Weather:   My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by the monster storms in the eastern United States.  Three of my daughters live right in the heart of things in New Jersey.   My daughter Ada and her daughter Lillee were evacuated by bulldozer due to flooding.  Her husband stayed in their house with his father.   All three girls are now tucked away in my middle daughter Emilee's house.  With all the power out they say they are whiling away the time eating all the food in the refrigerator.   They have a houseful of people and it probably won't be long before they finish all of the food  Hopefully, the power will be on soon and the stores will be open.

            What are your Halloween plans?   Have you done a life assessment lately?   Do deep topics steer you away from blogs?   Has Frankenstorm affected you?



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Monday, October 29, 2012

Monstrous Monday

          I'm back and will have more to say about my absence in my next post.  Today I'm participating in Tim Brannan's Monstrous Monday Blog Fest.   The list of participants can be found below and the event host is The Other Side.   


MONSTROUS MONDAY!

Monsters Everywhere

        I've been plagued by real life monsters over the past few years.    Actually all of my life.   I'm sure you have too.  The real life monsters of disease, death, unemployment, and financial hardship have affected us all at one time or another.  Perhaps right now you might be dealing with the effects of some of these.

        As we near election time in the United States, we may wonder who are the monsters in disguise and which monsters are scarier than others.  A large part of the U.S. is dealing with a weather situation that poses such a fearful threat as to be named after a popular monster--Frankenstorm!   Crime, war, natural disaster?  Pick a monster.  They all loom on the horizon.

Give Me a Monster to Love

        The monsters of real life have always been there throughout history.  It's no wonder that we look toward the monsters of metaphor and allegory to comfort, entertain, or even cheer us.  Goosebumps and chills titillate and thrill while the stories and images of monsters might give us the creeps long after we reach "The End".   

          The point is we can outgrow the story monsters, but the monsters of reality are always with us.  Give me an escape.   Something fun and make believe.   Give me a monster to love and remember with fondness. I want to escape from some of the terrors of this real life.

My Monstrous Childhood

         I fell in love with movie monsters at an early age when I first saw Godzilla in the theater when I was about four or five years old.  After that I was hooked.  Never scared, but always fascinated, I welcomed any new monster movie my mother would take me to.  And she took me to a lot of them.  She must have liked them too.

         In my tween years during the 1960's, the Aurora Plastics Company came out with a series of monster model kits.  I became a huge fan and collected them all.  I also built car, ship, and plane models, but the monsters were by far my favorites.

          My greatest monster model achievements were The Mummy, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Phantom of the Opera.  I think my paint jobs on these were pretty darn incredible.  King Kong and Godzilla were unfulfilled monster projects.  I dreamed of creating massive dioramas depicting havoc and urban destruction complete with smashed buildings, mangled humans, and crushed vehicles.   I never made it that far with those giants of horror and only ended up with measly monsters on a plastic stand.  Not all that bad, but not grandiose like I imagined they could be.

We Are All Monsters

          Alas, I have no photos of my monsters.  After a couple years with my monster models I guess I got kind of bored.   I was fourteen and did what fourteen year old boys do best.  I burned them.  Watching the burning plastic contort and exude a probably toxic black smoke seemed cool.  I completely disregarded the work I had put into making and painting the models.   Stupid me.   I wish I still had those models, but the monster inside of me did not allow it.

           Perhaps the lure of monsters is that we see part of ourselves in certain ones.  We all have our day or days playing monster.  I don't like being mean, but I've done it.   I've done some crass and stupid things that I have regretted.  Don't tell me you haven't.  The monster legends come from within us.  We project our monster selves into hideous made up creatures.  They are the scapegoats for our own evil thoughts and bad behaviors.

          Next time you are frightened by a fantasy monster, look closely and you may see yourself.

            What monsters do you identify with?    Which monsters do you find most frightening?    



Here is the list of other participants:


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Friday, October 19, 2012

Nancy Thompson book release

        Due to an illness in my family I am away from my blog this week.  Fortunately Nancy Thompson is here to stand in for me.  She's got a new book out.  For the buy links be sure to go to her blog.




Thank you, Arlee, for allowing me to ‘jack your blog.  You’ve given me the perfect opportunity to share with all your peeps and bird watchers something I’ve wanted for many months but didn’t have the tech skills to pull off myself.  All the credit for this little production goes to Carrie Butler.  She impressed me with her own book trailer, and, after some major sucking up on my part, offered to make me one of my own.  I provided the script, the music, and an idea for the background and Carrie did her magic like only she can do. 

So without further ado, I give you the book trailer for my debut novel. THE MISTAKEN, a psychological thriller released October 18, 2012 from Sapphire Star Publishing…


Visit Nancy’s blog, follow, and leave a comment during her book tour for a chance to win an ARC of The Mistaken.  Plus, 5 runner-up winners will each receive an ebook.  See Nancy’s blog for current buy links.  

You can also find her on her publisher’s website, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook

Early praise for The Mistaken:

“A deliciously slow burn that builds to a ferocious crescendo, Nancy S. Thompson's THE MISTAKEN kept me riveted until the very last page. Tyler Karras is a complex and flawed protagonist, and his redemptive journey makes him the perfect anti-hero. This psychological suspense is a standout, and I can't wait for Thompson's next book.”
~ Jennifer Hillier, author of CREEP and FREAK

“Nancy S. Thompson's debut novel, The Mistaken, is a first-rate thriller full of hair-raising twists and turns.  Pursued by the police and the Russian mafia in San Francisco, brothers Tyler and Nick Karras are fascinating, fully-drawn, desperate characters.  The action is non-stop.  Thompson's taut, intriguing tale of revenge, mistaken identity, kidnapping and murder will keep you enthralled and entertained.” 
~Kevin O’Brien, New York Times Bestselling Author of DISTURBED and TERRIFIED

“Fast-paced and emotionally gripping - once the ride begins, you won't stop reading until it ends."  ~Alex J. Cavanaugh, author of CASSAFIRE and CASSASTAR

The Mistaken Blog tour:
10/23:  Julie Musil
10/25:  Matthew MacNish
10/26:  LG Smith
10/27: Aimee Jodoin
10/30:  Lisa Regan
11/19:  Arlee Bird




Wednesday, October 17, 2012

No Controversy from Carol Kilgore (a guest post)

Photos and maps related to Padre Island. Padre...
Photos and maps related to Padre Island. Padre Island National Seashore - sand dunes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         I'm away from my desk due to an illness in my family.  Thankfully Carol Kilgore is here to fill in for me and perhaps bring a touch of sanity back to my blog page.  You probably need a bit of a breather after my recent rantings.  Carol will brighten your day a bit.

If you've visited my blog, Under the Tiki Hut, you spotted the differences between it and Arlee's Tossing It Out right off. All the same, I love visiting here. Opposites attract.

True to its name, a lot of controversy has been tossed out on this blog recently, but I promised Arlee I wouldn't go down that path. If anyone wants to be a contrarian over my little bit of fluff here, go right ahead. I'll just smile and say something I hope is funny enough to defuse the issue.

If you couldn't tell from the Tiki Hut, I totally hate controversy. I don't like debates, arguments, tension between disagreeing people and groups, or clashes of any sort. I do enjoy discussion among participants with differing viewpoints as long as the discussion doesn't escalate and no one employs bullying tactics.
I inherited my love of harmony from my mother. My dad, however, loved a good argument.

That said, I have no problem heaping trouble, misunderstandings, arguments, and conflict on my characters. But it hasn't always been that way for misunderstandings and arguments.

Hailing from the overall mystery/suspense genre, I learned early how to create suspense, tension, and conflict. But those don't necessarily stem from controversy. I like crawling into the criminal's creepy little mind and learning the why.

My first published short story several years ago was from the POV of the chairman of the largest bank in London … who was kidnapped by a gang of hoodlums. The bank chairman had plenty of problems, and they didn't all come from the thugs. There was much tension, but no real controversy. No debate that a phone call couldn't settle. The story even won an award.

In my recent novel, In Name Only, there are two honest-to-goodness arguments between Gabe Duran and his father, Charlie. Each character believes he is correct, of course, and is the hero of his own story. I tried my best to cut the arguments short, but my critique partners said no way. I was sure I had worked the arguments into great clashes until I got the manuscript back from my editor. She said I made it way too easy on the characters. I needed to flesh it out, make it last longer, make them angrier, dig more deeply into their emotions.

She was right.

As I worked on following my editor's suggestions, I learned that angry exchanges are almost as fun to write as the scenes from the bad guy's head.

But controversy in real life about real things is still not for me. Life's too short to spend it being angry or upset about something you can't control. I'll take Bobby McFerrin's words any day – "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

In Name Only--a synopsis


No home. No family. No place to hide. For Summer Newcombe, that's only the beginning.

The night Summer escapes from a burning Padre Island eatery and discovers the arsonist is stalking her, is the same night she meets Fire Captain Gabriel Duran. As much as she's attracted to Gabe, five years in the Federal Witness Security Program because of her father’s testimony against a mob boss have taught her the importance of being alone and invisible.

No matter how much she yearns for a real home, Summer relinquished that option the night she killed the man who murdered her father. But Gabe breaks down her guard and places both of them in danger. Summer has vowed never to kill again, but she's frantic she'll cost Gabe his life unless she stops running and fights for the future she wants with the man she loves.


Author Bio:

Carol Kilgore is a Texas native who has lived in locations across the U.S. as the wife of a Coast Guard officer. Back under the hot Texas sun in San Antonio, Carol writes a blend of mystery, suspense, and romance she calls Crime Fiction with a Kiss. She and her husband share their home and patio with two active herding dogs, and every so often the dogs let them sit on the sofa.

Learn more about Carol and follow her here:
Blog:   
http://www.underthetikihut.blogspot.com





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Monday, October 15, 2012

Hold The Controversy For Today

Picture a Day June 2, 2011 - 36-Star Flag at H...
 Flag at Half-Staff (Photo credit: mlhradio)
              I want to thank all of you who have contributed to the discussions so far in the beginning posts of my controversy series.  The real controversies have not exactly begun yet, but we've gotten some good exchanges going so far on the posts that have been laying the groundwork for controversies to come.  And please keep in mind that I'm not trying to turn any readers off with my discussions.  I am merely attempting to stimulate our brains.

            These controversial posts will be starting up in the next couple of weeks.  However, I am currently in mourning as I take a trip to Tennessee for a short while to be with family after the passing of my stepfather, George Lechelt, on Saturday October 13th.  This is a sad time, but I look forward to spending time with my mother, daughters, granddaughters, and the rest of my immediate family.   I will probably be away from blogging much of the next couple of weeks.

           I do have some back up who will be covering for me.   On Wednesday I'll be joined by Carol Kilgore of Tiki Hut fame.  I wonder how controversial she will get?  Then on Friday Nancy S. Thompson will be celebrating the release of her new book The Mistaken.  I want to thank both of these fine ladies for standing in for me during my time away.

             Next week we'll have to see what happens.  If nothing happens on this space, bear with me--I'll be back soon.  Then again maybe I'll get something up by that time.

            In the meantime, watch the presidential debates if you can so you can get ready for the topics to come on Tossing It Out.


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Friday, October 12, 2012

Is the World Becoming Less Logical?


 


      This post is one that's been slow cooking in my mind since the beginning of August.  In fact, the topic of this post is part of the reason I have been drawn back to contemplating items of controversy on Tossing It Out.  I probably should have started writing this post when the passion for the topic was burning inside me, but instead I decided to wait until the last minute after I had presented the foundation posts that will act as guides for the discussion posts yet to come.  And in a sense, this current post, though possibly a matter of controversy to some, is further groundwork that will underlie the posts still to come.

          Here is my conjecture based on my observations and interpretations of some of the social and political issues of recent times:

When it comes to making decisions about governance and legislation, there is a growing inclination in the modern world to reject logic, reason, or rational thinking  in favor of allowing emotions and feelings to establish what is acceptable to society as a whole and what is to be considered the standard of normalcy.

           Let me explain using a general example rather than pointing to anything specific.  Think of any issue that has been in the spotlight of national debate which has been carried into the halls of justice and legislation.   This can be a cause that you believe strongly in or something that you feel has been wrongly passed as law or that appears as though may become law in the future.  Now consider whether there is an objectively practical reason for any particular law or commonly accepted attitude to exist other than to make us feel better or absolve us from any personal responsibility for our own actions.

          To put this in pop terms, our world has been tainted by the "Me Generation" philosophy of living and has further passed into an age of "Hyper Ego" where self and community identity is the most important thing and anyone who cannot integrate into this system is ostracized, condemned, boycotted,  and in some cases even killed.

         As I was mulling over this topic of the feelings-based society, an amazing thing happened that really expanded my view.    There was the incident of the violent actions of radical Muslim mobs who supposedly were incensed about the now infamous anti-Islam film that had appeared on YouTube a few months ago.  The film was used as a diversionary tactic to excuse the rioting, property destruction, protests, and murder.   Several statements were made pardoning these actions as the result of "having hurt the religious feelings" of certain groups.   The hurt "religious feelings" of a group of people justified evil acts?   Where is the logic in that statement or in those actions?

         We have been seeing related type thinking on an ongoing basis for several decades now.   Laws have been passed in consideration of the feelings of certain people.   Language is reconstructed so that we don't make certain groups feel bad.  Morality is abandoned because it rejects some folks and they feel badly about being apart from society.

           Maybe this deference to feelings has been the pervasive force for longer than I realize, but it seems to have become stronger in the last forty years.   I don't want to see anyone downtrodden, shunned, or punished for their beliefs, but I'm not sure to what extent it is practical to think we can include all opinions, belief systems, and desires into a workable society.   Someone always has to bend, but are we caving in the wrong direction much of the time?

           I'm certainly not alone in these observations.   Do a web search of  "feelings" or "emotion" versus "logic" or "reason" and you'll find pages of various topics that culminate in similar conclusions.  And again I encourage you to do your own litmus test.  Pick a cause you believe in and list some reasons why you believe in that cause.  Are those reasons more related to personal feelings or is your defense based empirical data that amounts essentially to an objectivity that would be difficult for someone else to dispute?

           My apologies if this post seems incoherent or incomplete, but for the sake of keeping the post short I'm providing my overview to present a general idea.  In future posts I may refer to this post or expound on the topic presented here.  There will be more examples presented to illustrate my point and some that may amount to absurdity.   I'm going to play around with the topic, hoping at all times to keep things thoughtful and as entertaining as something like this can be.  For now I'll be avoiding the more touchy topics and only enter into the more volatile realms of controversy if I feel like there are those who want to discuss them here.

           My intent is not to incite incendiary comments or alienate any readers from this blog.  I've been getting the sense from some comments in my most recent posts that some of you are thinking I'm trying to enter into provocative religious or political discussions.  I assure you, not yet if ever.   I'll emphasize what I've been alluding to in my previous posts:  I merely want us to think about the roots of controversies and why people make the decisions they do.  We can discuss specifics, but hopefully not fight about them.

            Do you typically make decisions based more on reasoning or emotions?   Would you agree that many political and social agendas tend to appeal more to feelings than practicality?   Is society becoming more based on self love and gratification?  


       
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What Is the True Truth?

SIOUX CITY, IA - DECEMBER 15:  Republican pres...
SIOUX CITY, IA - DECEMBER 15: Republican presidential candidates U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) (L), gets into a heated exchange with U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
         Right now we're still examining the mechanics of dealing with controversy so I hope you'll bear with me.  I can almost see the readers of this blog falling away from these posts like heart patients trying to run a marathon.  Sorry if this isn't interesting to some of you, but I hope a few faithful will hang in there.  I've got the first real controversy coming on Friday and that should tell us who has the heart, mind, and will to deal with what I'm doing.

Not the Real Truth

         In last Wednesday's post we looked at the question "Would You Rather Hear the Truth or Flattery?".  The consensus, and I don't know if it was the real truth or not, was that we would in most cases rather hear the truth.  The context of the question primarily dealt with subjective truth, which more appropriately should probably be referred to as opinion or preference.

          Although evaluation or criticism may incorporate some elements of fact and truth, an opinion or preference may be true to the beholder, but it may not be universally true or even a widely held truth.  Since there are so many variables in this type of judgement, subjective truth would almost always be an invalid evidence to use as a debate strategy.  For this reason I'll let this introduction suffice in laying aside any considerations of subjective truth.  Some future debate day topics will certainly include topics such as "favorites" but there is probably little reason to establish a rigid definition of subjective truth.

 What Is The Truth?

           For the purpose of attempting to resolve or at least have greater understanding of controversy we would hope to uncover the truth with a fact based approach as mentioned in the list from my previous post. Am I going to tell you in totality what truth is and go into the entirety of theories about truth and how to uncover the truth?  No way--unless you want to read a lot of text about the topic and I don't intend to write this at present.  There are books written on the topic.  If you're interested in reading a fairly comprehensive summary you can check out the overview presented at Wikipedia.  Let's face it, the concept of "truth" is itself a controversy.

Some Basic Considerations

           I for one, and I would hope most intelligent people considering a controversial issue, believe that the fact based argument is the most effective one to use in a general debate.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with the fact based argument:

 1)   Consider the source--Is the argument being presented by a trustworthy source?    Is your own personal bias concerning that source skewing what you believe about what you hear or read?

2)  Consider the source the presenter is using-- Are they using a credible source or is their source prejudiced toward some particular agenda?   Data from something like the census or an unbiased scholarly source can probably be trusted to a certain extent whereas the internet or mainstream media could be suspect.

3)  Facts can be misrepresented to work in the favor of the argument or against the other side.

4)  Statistics can be very useful, but they can also lie depending on how they have been collected or processed.   If alternate statistical data is available it might be wise to make some comparisons.

5)  Polls can provide some great information, but they can also be dramatically skewed.   Similar polls administered by Fox News, MSNBC, Gallup, or the Pew Research Center could show very different results.

6)  Stay informed!  Having a good knowledge of many issues attained from reading a variety of reputable resources can be a big help in separating truth and fiction.   It's a good thing to be educated.

7)  Ask questions--If the item that has been presented as truth seems dubious, ask the presenter questions to see how well they understand the claim they've made.   If possible ask someone else who might know--ask an expert if you can.

8)   Follow your gut--Fall back on your experience.  Resort to critical thinking.  If an important point has been offered as truth, put it to your own test to see if it makes sense.

            This is a start and following this procedure might help you from getting duped by a charlatan.  Granted most of us just accept much of what we hear.  Who wants to go to all this hassle of sorting out the facts?  Then again some things might be worth the trouble.  If it's a matter of your health, a major purchase, entering a new relationship, or electing a president, fact-checking might be a wise thing to take the time to do.  Start with the next few presidential debates.   The Biden--Ryan debate could be great fun.

           How readily do you accept things that people present to you as fact?   Do you consider yourself to be somewhat gullible?   What is the most important truth test that you use?

               


         

      
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Monday, October 8, 2012

8 Types of Disagreement That Can Fuel Controversy

Map of the Square and Stationary Earth, by Orl...
Map of the Square and Stationary Earth, by Orlando Ferguson (1893) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
           Before I delve into any individual controversies as outlined in my previous post, I want to spend a few posts setting the parameters that define disagreement and controversy as I see them.   Since I am not an expert in this study anyone is welcomed to correct me, dispute what I say, or express any opinion that differs from mine.  After all, that's part of my objective in presenting the topics I will be offering in upcoming posts--for me to toss out my ideas to you and for you to provide some feedback, whether it be agreeing or disagreeing.  Hopefully we can learn something and have some fun doing  it.

Types of Disagreement

         This is something that could be looked at in many ways and perhaps you'll have your own breakdown in the comment section.   Here are some primary approaches to disagreement as I would describe them and examples to illustrate them (For each disagreement type I will use the generally debunked theory that the Earth is flat):

Fact based --- Sometimes scientific or historic in nature, but strictly based on proven observations and irrefutable statistics.  On my next post I will discuss this type of disagreement in greater depth.

Example:  The preponderance of evidence would tell most reasonable people that the Earth is round, but there are some who might argue otherwise, using actual facts to defend their side of the argument.

Fantasy based -- Nonfactual "proofs" may be intentionally fabricated in order to defend an argument; they could be the result of misinterpretation of existing data; or any other offering of evidence that often can sound completely credible but is untrue.   If unchallenged, an argument based on fantasy can win against facts that sound questionable or undesirable.  The arguer resorting to this tactic may not even realize the proof is fantasy, but when they are aware that their proof is not true then they are lying

Example:  If a Flat Earther presents anecdotal evidence of an explorer who actually has seen the edge of the flat Earth and offers authentic looking documentation that seems to be true, the non-discerning believer could be fooled into believing the story, and, in fact, the presenter might actually believe the evidence being presented.

Pick and choose blend --This is commonly used in political arguments or in other cases where so-called life stories might be presented.  The convenient truths will provide a foundation to make the contrived additions of evidence fit the structure of the argument.  This approach might also be used when the arguer has hard factual data, but made-up facts are added into the mix because that arguer is relying on memory, hearsay, or commonly accepted fallacies.

Example:    The Flat Earther might use actual mathematical calculations and scientific observations to give their argument the heft of credibility and substance and then add false evidence that would be difficult to use as proof when presented on its own.

Outside influenced --This can be what a friend or someone else who is trusted has said.  It can be the perception within a community, group, or organization.  Many outside sources including media, books, and internet can present things as fact thereby leading many to believe them to be true whether or not they are actually true.

Example:   "My best friend, who is an honor student and a science major working on his PhD, told me the Earth is flat and because it came from him, I believe him."  Or, "I read it on the internet."

Tradition based --A belief that is part of the culture or social group that has always been accepted as true and continued to be presented as true by generations that follow.

Example:   If a tribal community living on an island in the Pacific had always held the belief that the Earth is flat and it was a part of their legends, art, songs, and everything that had been passed generationally, then they would be subscribing to a tradition based belief system if this is what was used to argue the point with one who suggested the Earth is round.

Faith based-- This would primarily relate to scriptural references and their interpretations.  A religious institution or group might even use a proof as part of their doctrine and credo. This type of argument is rarely effective among non-believers or those of a different belief system.

Example:  Both sides of the Flat Earth argument can offer Bible scripture that appears to support either argument.  Some will argue that a number of verses state that there are "four corners of the Earth" or "ends of the Earth".  There are also verses that describe the Earth as a circle or an orb.   Similar references can be found in the scriptures of other religions.

Educated manipulation -- Many accusations have been directed toward educational institutions for disseminating bias, untruth, or convenient fact-bending.  This can be the result of faulty textbooks, poorly designed curricula, or teachers on a mission to shape the minds of their students.  Certain college professors have particularly been singled out as having some special agenda that they are trying to promote.

Example:   The science teacher or professor who is teaching that the Earth is flat (let's hope this isn't happening anywhere!) and shaping the belief systems of their students.

Politically affiliated-- This is especially relevant at this time of year.  Adherents of a party line are often persuaded about what to believe because this is the party platform.   Committees and others probably have devised this platform using one or more of the previous methods, but in many cases a party follower believes what the party believes and does not question anything beyond that.

Example:  Let's say that a government party takes hold in a less sophisticated part of the world and after taking power effectively convinces that populace that the Earth is flat.  All travel is banned due to the danger involved.  Those who dispute the new policy are killed or imprisoned.  After a while there is general acceptance that the Earth is flat and the population is under that absolute control of the government.  After all, some governments strive for complete control.  Isolating the people can work.   The Flat Earth is now true because the government says it is.

Some Final Words

            As you might have noticed, there are a number of ways these points can cross over and interconnect. This breakdown I hope provides a starting point which you can use to examine your own personal views about various issues and those of other people.  Once you have determined where your belief is coming from it will give you a better opportunity to clean up the weak points of your argument and look for ways to discredit your opponent's views.  Or it might make you realize your beliefs are incorrect.

           At this time of the year especially many facts and fallacies will be bantered about from many quarters.  It's a good idea to be informed in order to have a better idea of what the real truth is--especially for those who are planning to vote in the upcoming U.S. elections or elections in other parts of the world.  Also, big issues loom on many horizons throughout the world.   To be informed helps put all of these things in better perspective.

            And what I'm discussing in these introductory posts doesn't only apply to big issues of nations and the world.  Clear rational thinking is important in solving interpersonal conflict, making good choices in ones own life, and even making wise decisions in personal business such as finding employment, deciding on a educational path, or buying a product you've seen advertised.  Controversy involves deciding and decision making is something we all do on a daily basis.

            I hope this hasn't been overly dry or obvious.   If we are going to debate--if we can call it that--we want to establish ground rules to make the experience more fruitful and enjoyable for all of us.  Please give me your feedback in the comments and come back on Wednesday for "The Truth".

           Does the above outline seem right to you?     Would you add anything else to this list?    Do you have a different approach as to what constitutes the roots of disagreement?    Which of these approaches do you find yourself using most often?    Which approach do you dislike the most?






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Friday, October 5, 2012

What Makes a Blog More Relevant?

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris
The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I've Been Thinking

            Did you watch the presidential debate?  Do plan on watching the upcoming debates?  If you are keeping up with the political campaigns then I'm sure you have a few opinions about the issues.   I'm not a foaming at the mouth politico, but I do tend to keep up with the activities in the political arena as well as world affairs and social issues.  I have a lot of opinions about many issues, but I have had a tendency to keep mum on most of these on my blog site.

            I won't say that any change is coming that will include disclosing many of my opinions and actively promoting any agendas, but as I have been hinting in my previous posts a change of sorts is coming.   Actually it might be more of a reversion to some of my earlier blogging tactics.  I'll explain shortly, but let me first tell you about my decision to tweak the blog.

Where'd This Come From?

            During the Hijack This Blog! project there were two standout posts for me--that is, posts that were particularly dear to my heart so to speak.  One of the posts that generated some of the most active commenting activity was that of Andrew Leon--Is It Better To Be "Nice" or Honest?.  Not only did Andrew's post generate a healthy dose of comments, but they were comments of substance.  It was a true discussion, which is something I like to strive for on Tossing It Out.  I want to see more of this type of activity.

           The second guest post that I thought had exciting prospects was from Stephen T. McCarthy--Become An "Educated" American Patriot.  On his blog, Stephen is capable of successfully pulling off extreme controversy to an extent that I never could because I just don't consider myself that educated when it comes to politics and American ideology.  And also I'm hesitant to alienate too many readers with radical (by some standards) thought.   I did, however, appreciate the challenge that Stephen brought to the table with his post and the response it generated in the comment section.

           Inspired by those two posts I have decided to return to a certain element of introducing controversial topics in my blog posts.  I'd like to see more relevance and some deeper thinking inspired by my blog posts.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm no brilliant intellectual guy who is steeped in the issues of the day.  There are just some things I wonder about sometimes and I like to hear what others think about those thoughts.  I have come to a conclusion that there are many things I don't understand and I'd like to clarify them in my mind.  Maybe some of you are the same way.  It doesn't hurt to gauge our own opinions against those of others to come to a greater understanding of the ways of the world or the world beyond this one for that matter.

Some Backstory

       In the earlier days of Tossing It Out I had a forum day called "Thursday Debate" where I would present a controversial topic and either pick a side or just present different sides.   I would then ask what the readers thought.  This was frequently not my most popular day for comments, but it was often the most fun and most interesting.   I've not totally strayed from controversial topics, but I feel like I've generally lightened up on the issues.  Could it be time for me to return to this concept?

          I think so.  I will not be striving for complete change.  Content will continue to be eclectic and often random.   There will still be the occasional guest post and the on-going nuttiness that I dredge from my old brain.  But I will also be sometimes tossing out an idea, an opinion, or a pondering and hoping that you will have something to toss back to me.  After all that is what this blog was originally intended to be.

           If you're interested you might want to go back to my early post "Mission Statement" to get a better idea of where I like to be coming from (and some of you might say I've never strayed from that).   But if you don't have time to go back let me quote the Mission Statement that I made at that time:

The "Tossing It Out" blog is here to entertain, stimulate, and inform whenever possible. The author will make every attempt to be accurate and fair at all times and will be open to the input of any readership the blog may develop. There is no set course, no absolute purpose, and the content, though at times random, will strive for cohesion and clarity.

         Let me emphasize "stimulate" in the context of this current post.  I want to think and I hope I can find others who want to do the same.  And lest there be any fears of over-politicizing or focusing on American politics be assured that though I may bring up issues that are related to the politics, I don't plan to get into the current campaign to try to sway votes or focus on the current election. 

        I don't want to toss out the spirit of this blog, I just want to toss in a few ingredients that will make for a more savory stew.

         Will controversial issues scare you away from this blog?   Do you ever feel the need for more mental stimulation?    What are some topics that you think might be interesting to discuss?



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