Here’s another great op-ed from Aaron Cowan, who apparently never sleeps. You’ll need to put on your big brain hat and concentrate on this one. It’s not a short or simple read but it is important. The Mad Duo
Vox Populi. The fickle beast that is the mass of citizenry, visibly and audibly driven to decisions predicated on the reported opinions of the public. Never stopping to think that if they don’t share this opinion and they are part of the public in which this opinion is supposedly held, is that opinion truth? And what of facts? What of bias on the part of the reporter, or omission on the part of the writer? At what point does the collection of personal feelings of the masses end and the creation of public opinion through conditioning begin? How liable is the average citizen for failing to think critically of a reported fact? How rational is it for the common man to believe he is the common man? How is it that any knowledge within reach , such as the fact that we live in a Representative Republic and not a Democracy, is discarded or simply never believed simply because someone with a louder voice professes it to be so?
We are pushed into acceptance or agreement through the guise of democracy because a statistically irrelevant number is higher or lower than some other statistically irrelevant number.
This is not an idle question. It is a critically important example of the fostering of group thinking that is the basis for what can only be described as a crime of thought. Should you accept the fallacy on its face merits as the starting point for your understanding and opinion, then each thought and opinion that materializes or is formed from that fallacy is intrinsically wrong.
Not simple confusion of terms, it is intentional direction. We are pushed into acceptance or agreement through the guise of democracy because a statistically irrelevant number is higher or lower than some other statistically irrelevant number. Our views, opinions and talking points in conversations have been engineered to cite the math of the statistic as a guarantee of being right even when most of us can freely admit that the numbers we parrot are of no real consequence to how we feel about an issue, they just let us hide or reinforce our opinion under a reported fact. We know, admitted or not, that a feeling requires support whereas a fact can stand on its own. I feel is opinion, I know is fact. The fact need not have a majority, it requires no “public support” and to say “public opinion” regarding a fact is a dangerous sort of ridiculous.
A fact stands as it is. You can either agree or disagree with it, but you do so based on feelings. A fact cannot simultaneously be for and against itself, whereas an opinion is a choice of a side and ignores other issues that can and are affected by the opinion. How can one hold two opposing facts in their mind? Yet opposing opinions considered by the same intellect are quite common.
A fact stands as it is. You can either agree or disagree with it, but you do so based on feelings.
Zero or one. On or off. Up or down. These are facts. Green or blue. Left or right. Beautiful or ugly. These are opinions. I certainly can support my choice of an opinion with facts, but how is anyone able to support their choice of a fact with opinions? I cannot feel the world to be flat any more so than I can be moved by arguments to believe the sun does not rise in the east. How I feel about something does not change its fact. I can choose to disagree but I cannot choose something out of reality. No matter the empirical compilation of polled individuals represented by an anecdotal number, 70% against a fact does not change its truth any more than 83% for it. Implicit facts cannot be altered. They can be misunderstood or studied incorrectly but they always are as they are. A equals A. In the time when man believed the sun to orbit the earth, the earth continued to orbit the sun despite his beliefs. In the age where science was convinced that a pile of grain amidst discarded rags would give spontaneous creation to mice, the rodents mated with each other with blatant disregard for this belief.
But there is an exception. This is the exception of the person. I may alter any feeling within myself at will to become fact. If I convince myself that I wish to live when faced with a pack of wolves, it becomes fact. It is only a fact to me, and one I will act on to see held true. I can convince myself I can fly through the flapping of my own arms, though gravity will surely show me that I cannot. These are personal “facts” that require action or mental conditioning to make real. They are individual opinions of self that we choose to view as an implicit truth. Anything we choose to internalize, true or not, we can make true to ourselves. The danger of course with personal facts is that one can believe something to be true and work to make it so in the world, even against reality.
Our Representative Republic is built of, among other things, the word and rule of law as an objective reason. Be it minority or majority, law is fact. Truths held self-evident are the amalgamation of conscious and careful thought. The laws of man that lend themselves to reason because they are from their inception, facts known to reasonable men. Murder, theft, suppression of speech. All are illegal not because we simply made them so; they are illegal because we recognized that man has a right to not face the risk of these injuries based on the facts of our own nature. These are implicit laws, requiring only reasonable acknowledgement. There can be no murder, not taking of a life for the sake of one’s opinion. There can be no theft, the removal of property for personal betterment or profit at the sake of another. There can be no silencing of a voice or body of voices that speak their truth or opinion simply because one does not want to hear it. There can be no law, save for the facts of man. Explicit laws, those based on the opinions of others, seek to do well in many cases though they may only serve to advance or secure a specific way of thinking. Should man pass laws governing the personal actions of others? Should one man have any control over what another man puts in his body…or his ability to protect it?
The facts of nature are timeless and immobile. They are deep structure programming this is the result of thousands of years of evolution. Those who did not evolve were not able to continue passing their inferior genes along while those who evolved and survived did. Opinion, however, is fluid, impressionable and conscious. Opinion is the result of personal preference and often the selective belief in certain facts. It is choice sampling of knowledge or favor/disfavor of a subject based on personal experiences. There is nothing at origin we know through opinion. Our opinions on facts shape who we are, what we do and where we go in life. We choose our food, clothes, homes and cars based on our opinions, hopefully because of or supported by facts. The emotional opinion drives our life in ways that strict, unemotional facts could not. Though often our opinions, our preferences become so ingrained in our consciousness that we run the risk of them becoming personal facts. Our perception becomes personal reality. Our feelings on a topic or situation become our overriding philosophy, shaping how we interact with the world and wish to change the world to fit our view of how it should be. This is how ideology is formed. Throughout history this is how governments, empires, monarchies and atrocities begin. Social recruitment through the appeal of opinion, the power of the meme, the creation of explicit idioms and opinions disguised as axioms that are agreed to by likeminded individuals who will carry the banner of the meme in social interaction to others and multiply recruitment. Should this meme, this axiom of opinion be covered in the cloak of a solution to a social problem, its strength can be great. The cure for poverty, taxing the rich because of their greed, classism, social healthcare, social welfare, entitlement; all are social opinions turned memes. At the root of their ideology, the facts that support them are scarce if not non-existent. Laws are created in the name of these noble memes, though these laws serve opinion far more than they do fact. Any law not based on irrefutable fact, not based on the recognition of man’s right to be free from undue servitude or compliance via force is no law. This statement is not itself an opinion, it is fact.
Our Constitution…Let me take a second here…now stop and think of how reading the word “Constitution” made you feel. What images it put in your head, what thoughts you had of both it and the writer. Did you take on the feeling of “not this again” or an intangible feeling that, best described, is akin to a mild disgust? Do you view the mention of the Constitution, the feelings it invokes, as you would if I used the words “greed,” “selfish” or “outdated?” Can you explain to yourself where these feelings come from? Why do you disagree with the idea and action of the only respected formation of words in the history of mankind to provide you with the rights at birth to choose your own destiny, desires, occupation and exercise of freedoms? Do you disagree with this document because it stands in the way of your opinions? Do you wish you could set it aside in part or in whole to allow yourself and those who share your ideals to further your social memes, your social axioms, and your knowledge of knowing what is best for the whole based on your opinions? Why? Why would you want to replace or circumvent the natural facts of the Constitution for opinion? Furthermore, what social right do you have to deny the exercise of facts for some, no matter how few, simply because you don’t feel that those facts are right? Even with a majority opinion, say 51% who share your opinion, you cannot remove from me the facts supported by the Constitution…even with 99% you cannot. This is not a democracy where majority rules. This is a Republic where all views, majority and minority are protected alike by a collection of words carefully, excruciatingly balanced to recognize the facts of intelligent nature. The Constitution is fact.
Even with a majority opinion, say 51% who share your opinion, you cannot remove from me the facts supported by the Constitution…even with 99% you cannot. This is not a democracy where majority rules. This is a Republic where all views, majority and minority are protected alike by a collection of words carefully, excruciatingly balanced to recognize the facts of intelligent nature. The Constitution is fact.
I am free, so long as I do not violate the laws of man. These laws, so long ignored, repressed or rationed by governments past, recognize and reinforce that which is instinctual. I speak, therefore my speech is free so long as it injures no one without cause. I breathe and can protect that right against any predator, be they man or beast. My property, my privacy are my own and I can enjoy these facts against any violation that does not carry factual cause. I am human, American by birth, regardless of my skin color and shall suffer no mistreatment, no segregation, bondage or persecution as protected by fact recognized as law. I cannot be tortured, my will violated to speak against myself, im due articulate defense under accusations of any crimes; these are my factual rights. I can and do protect them as I would my own life, for that is what they represent.
No one has the right to violate or refuse lawful rights based on their opinion. Even under a real or manufactured majority of opinion, you cannot remove from me that which is mine by nature and codified by law. At the crux of this factual statement is my instinctual right of self defense. No one has the right, within reason, to limit my means of defending all my natural rights. You may not decide the tool, the configuration, the lethality, the adaptation or the capacity of that which I defend my life with. Your opinion, based on feeling, speculation and influence from like-minded persons has no place in the decision of how I may exercise the natural right of defending my life and way of life. I cannot enjoy any other right without first being secure in my ability to protect them. If you are willing to accept that those rights of speech, worship, press, freedom from unlawful searches, freedom from torture, freedom to address grievances and the recognition as an equal person regardless of race, sex or creed are the natural, factual rights of all sentient beings, then you must also recognize my right to protect them.
You must also, having agreed with the previous statement, recognize that there is now way for you to know when I may have to defend myself. You cannot know what form my attacker(s) may take, what weapons they will possess, or what will bring them to wish me harm. We humans developed tools to confront naturally superior predators. Despite thousands of years of evolution and technological advancement since then, I am still just as disadvantaged against four and two legged predators without the aid of tools. I face a blatant disadvantage in defending my natural rights with the removal or opinion-based regulation of that one right which gives me the active ability to protect my factual rights. You do not have the right to censure any mans speech because you assume he has nothing to say. You have no right to regulate which tools I may defend myself with, based on your emotional aversion to these tools, just as you have no right to rule a minority simply because you are part of a majority. My life is the representation and the vehicle of all factual laws. It recognizes that which is mine by birth and maintained by decent behavior.
You have no right to regulate, restrict, impede or endanger my life. It is mine to defend. This is genetic, recognized as fact, written to law that no opinion may remove from me. Defending my rights is defending my life. They are one and the same. I do not recognize anyone’s ability to remove this from me. I do not recognize opinion over fact.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang-CLEAR!