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12. The Anatomy of Contradictory Ideas, from Alternative Economics 101 -Tax Your Imagination

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Triplethink breakout by Steve Consilvio

You may be surprised to see Spiritual listed under the social heading, rather than under the abstract or religious heading. The spirit refers to social connections, whether it is between God and man, a married couple, family, friends or co-workers. It is the lack of spirit that brings on a social crisis. God is a person, just like everyone else. Atheists reject a spiritual connection with God that believers accept. When a spiritual connection is lacking, a member of one political party can easily scorn another party, or one religion another religion. Love and hate are spiritual conditions based upon emotions.

Similarly, you may be surprised to see reason and logic under religion. People tend to think of science one-dimensionally. Science has ideas, emotional and action components. Science can be divided into scientific method, scientific goals, and scientific practice. All reason and logic fall under abstract thinking. Science follows the abstract, social and physical paradigm.

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There is no natural conflict between religion and reason. Atheists reason that God does not exist; believers reason that He does exist. The history of what certain individuals do with political power notwithstanding, religion is of the abstract realm along with scientific inquiry. 

Reason explores cause and effect. The theories of evolution and the Big Bang are studies of cause and effect. If you believe that life was created by a lightening bolt hitting a primordial pool, there is still the question of what created the lightening bolt. What was before the Big Bang? What is at the edge of the universe? Questions never end, like the question, "Who created God?' Are two events related or not? All big questions involving cause and effect eventually meet an unsolvable mystery. We can learn a lot during the process. 

We know more than our ancestors, but knowledge makes the mystery larger, not smaller. We use reason to form a hypotheses, formulate experiments and search for evidence to support our logic. Reason is scientific method, regardless of the conclusion. The abstract category refers to thinking.

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Emotions, in contrast, deal with the result. Is what we have good or bad? Politics is the social category and refers to feelings. Emotions do not ask how something arrived, but only register pleasure or pain. Is it something to keep and cultivate, or something to avoid and prevent? The political realm is where those goals are debated and determined. The social realm is subjective and problematic, because what one person enjoys may be suffering for another person. If people are at emotional opposites, then they can be working for an opposing result. Should the government conduct stem cell research? Should the government defend or abolish slavery? Emotions determine the scientific goal. Hitler, for example, wanted to use genetics to prove that whites were superior to satisfy his emotional need. 

Action falls under the physical category. This is scientific practice. Applied science tests the causality that reason develops, and discovery is then applied for its best impact: to bring pleasure and avoid pain. Unity and consensus are important for scientific goals, but scientific action tests for accuracy. Is something true or false? Can we build a machine that works as intended? 

Balance and accuracy are critical in all areas. If we mistakenly believe a falsehood, then good can result only by accident. The best choices are balanced and will result in more balance. Balance is understanding cause and effect, choosing good over bad, and true over false.

When Jesse Owens won the 1936 Olympics, it shattered Hitler's claim that non-whites were inferior. Not only did Germany fail, but all aryans failed, too. Hitler twisted scientific reasoning and goals. In the death camps, he would go on to twist scientific action. It was absurd to tattoo numbers onto people that you intended to kill. What was the purpose of all the record-keeping? His distorted spiritual connection, an extreme self-love and hatred of others, led to many distorted scientific practices, including where humans were cruelly used as test subjects. He was unique because of his success in leading a nation into an extreme misdirection, but the paths he traveled to get there are well worn. Scapegoats are created by false reasoning and emotional separation. Every realm also has a matching virtue and vice. In politics, they are humility and pride.  The results speak for themselves.

Ideas (abstract realm) and emotions (social realm) are both self-centered phenomenons. Science cannot "prove' what is right or good. It can only test for true or false. Many questions are beyond the boundaries for science to test. In the hierarchy of the human condition, religion should be at the top. If we fail to respect cause and effect, then we believe a lie. Unfortunately, how we feel effects what we reason. This is a subtle but important condition when it comes to recognizing dissonance in ourselves. When our emotions mis-register reality, there is an opportunity for error. The error can be as huge as World War II, or as local as a disagreement with a friend.

Theories, empires and organizations are just like the people that created them. Ideas, emotions and actions are inseparable. Balance can only be achieved through consistency. The world is a reflection of humanity's success or failure to think, feel and act in harmony. Balance is in everyone's interest. 

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Heroes and Villains

The myriad of personal choices and opportunities are overwhelming. A hierarchy of priority is developed based on the role we occupy. For a parent it may be family; for the breadwinner, their job; for a student, their studies; for a church, the services; for government, the laws; for a business, sales. We are all familiar with these roles. The only way to fully understand any choice is to make it. Once we do, we are able to define heroes and villains based on how they interact with our roles. We enjoy our supporters and are displeased by our detractors. Cause and effect, good and bad, true and false all combine when we make a judgement.

Our choices are our ambition, and ambition is a double-edged sword. People discover that it is lonely at the top, if they manage to make it. Others lose their desire, want to get off the path they chose, but are stuck. Whatever next choice we make has all the same issues. We cannot escape the human condition. Life is too brief to experiment with many choices. What people need most is balance, but that is difficult to achieve in a system that is structurally imbalanced. Economic volatility intrudes upon everyone, and sets off many conflicts.

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Steve grew up in a family business, was a history major in college, and has owned a small business for 25 years. Practical experience (mistakes) have led him to recognize that political rhetoric and educated analysis often falls short of reality. (more...)

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