Burying inconvenient truths.

Helen Raleigh was born in China. Her father was 9 years old when the Communists took over. When Helen reached college age, her father managed to get the money together to help her get to the U.S. for college. The reason she is really interesting is that she looks at the Mao period (and the period she lived through) with the eyes of complete skeptic.

helenraleigh-300x232I’ll just put a few quotes from her book here:

Chairman Mao, who ruled China, had to be respected. So:

…my mother told me when she went to the grocery store, the store clerk would say:“ Chairman Mao said ‘People of the world, unite and defeat the U.S. aggressors and all their running dogs!’ What can I get for you?” My mother would answer: “Chairman Mao said ‘never to forget class struggle.’ Can you give me a bottle of soy sauce, please?” My parents told me these crazy-sounding practices took place all over China.

She says of Mao’s policies:

Millions of people perished and their voices were never heard; it is difficult to find any traces of them inside the government-sanctioned history books.

You may remember the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. I remember that the young people there raised a Chinese version of Statue of Liberty, but I did not know that:

They also read out a translated version of America’s Declaration of Independence. Like millions of Chinese people, it was my first time hearing those magnificent words of the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The Chinese government saw this whole protest as a threat, because it was an ideological challenge, among other things. So, according to History.com:

Chinese troops and security police stormed through Tiananmen Square, firing indiscriminately into the crowds of protesters. Turmoil ensued, as tens of thousands of the young students tried to escape the rampaging Chinese forces. Other protesters fought back, stoning the attacking troops and overturning and setting fire to military vehicles.

IMG 0001.JPGMany Chinese today don’t even know what happened, because the ruling party prohibits public discussion and 1989 is banned from textbooks and Chinese websites.

So its down the memory hole, just like the untold stories of the millions who died previously.

And that is one problem with totalitarian systems of government. The masses of people are denied knowledge of major inconvenient truths.

Helen notes something else:

Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, once explained the totalitarian worldview this way: “We recognize nothing private.” Mao certainly implemented this view to its fullest extent. Why do the communists hate privacy? Because they want to have absolute control of people, and the only way to gain that is to control people’s intimate thoughts and behaviors.

I include that quote because in my experience, American criminals don’t see privacy as a barrier either. My story is horrible, and ongoing, but I’ll skip it here. My point is that this is an interesting link between ideologues and criminals.

To continue: Helen also goes into some gripes she has about the USA:

It concerns me deeply that one of the most obvious unintended consequences of the welfare policies in the U.S. is the collapse of marriages and families. A single woman with a child receives more welfare benefits than if she gets married. How could a low-income young man compete against the all powerful state? Is it any wonder that back in 1963 (before LBJ initiated the Great Society program), only six percent of children in the U.S. were born out of wedlock; yet today, that number has increased to 41 percent— and 53 percent for children born to women under thirty?

That strikes me as very correct. Two examples: My brother told me about a Jewish woman he knew, who was single, not able to attract men, and who wanted a baby. So, she found a male to sleep with, and voila – she was a single mother. Her child will be brought up by herself and the state.  Selfish, no?

A male friend of my brother complained to him that he can only afford one child, but when he goes to the local McDonalds, he sees single-mothers with their many children, all paid for by welfare. And, he adds, “they are MEAN to their children!”

Helen gripes again:

While people in other parts of the world shed blood for individual rights, some people here in the United States have lost the kind of convictions the Declaration instilled, and they blame others for their misfortunes. They turn needs into demands, demands into rights, and rights into entitlements.

I would add that the Western countries have plenty of problems. So there is a valid question which type of system will do better in this century –  Democratic – or ideologically authoritarian. Say what you will about the dictatorships of the Muslim world, but they do have children, and unlike the USA, 40 percent of those are not born to single mothers.

An authoritarian country like China does not have problems with terrorism, at least not the way we do. It is also a powerhouse of engineering, and a “factory to the world.” Its military gets more powerful by the day.

So who will survive – China – or Europe, which to quote one statistic, in total has less missiles than Hezbollah in Lebanon (an Islamic army)?

I’m not saying Helen Raleigh is wrong about the plusses of democracy and free-enterprise I’m just saying the jury is out on which system will survive.


Raleigh, Helen. Confucius Never Said (pp. 198-199).   Kindle Edition.

9 Impossible Things Before Breakfast

In Alice in Wonderland, there is a character (the Queen) who recommends believing six impossible things before breakfast.
Indeed life can be stranger than fiction, there are many developments in real life that no novelist would have thought of, or if he did, he would not have thought them plausible enough to submit to an editor.

Now I’m going to tell you of a real big social force in your environment that you have never heard of.     I will challenge your ability to even read through this post, since my assertions are so far out.  I do not know anyone, including me, who could believe them.

Here they are:
1. Criminals, using a perverted science, have put drugs in my body  for most of the past 23 years.   Now right here, readers will say – “paranoia alert!”.   First of all, if criminals want to hurt you, they don’t spend 23 years doing it.  And so forth.

But read on:
What do I mean by chemicals? Am I talking about too much lead in the paint in my room? Or maybe DDT? Of course not. – Bear with me:

2. Now how were these chemicals delivered into my body and brain? Did I eat and drink them?
Yes and no. There are various ways to get drugs and chemicals into a person. If you are a criminal, one way could be having your date drink something laced with Rohypnol in a bar.
There are non-standard ways: For instance, as just one example, I remember once reading of terrorists who discussed smearing cyanide paste on doorknobs. So one touch is enough to kill the victim.
For a more recent example, there is Syria’s use of poison gas on big outdoor areas.
So if you think about it, where there is a will to do something like this, there is a way.  And one thing I’ve learned about these criminals, they have a huge will to do mischief.  So they pursue avenues that we might think of as petty, and they come out as hugely powerful.

I can tell you, from experience that:
Drugs can be sprayed from cars that have been modified for that purpose.
Drugs can be sprayed by individuals, close up.
Drugs and poisons can be put in a water bottle of a bicycle that has been left outside while the owner went into a store. Or smeared as a paste on the handlebars.
And so forth.   The drugs would have to be very potent in small doses, but nerve drugs often are.

3. The drugs I’ve been hit with included a sex drug.   You might think there are no such drugs.  But why not?  If our urges are mediated by our brain, and our brain cells have receptors for various and sundry hormones, neurotransmitters, etc., and if we know of other urges (like thirst) that can be turned on with peptides, then it can’t be dismissed out of hand that the sex urge can also be turned on (and maybe off).

It gets better: They don’t use just one type of sex-drug. They seem to have researched various aspects of reproduction of the species or maybe of mammals in general. There’s the
tear off the clothes” drug,
the “hug anybody of the opposite gender drug“,
the “expand drastically the relevant anatomy” drug,
and so forth.
They have sleep drugs, — and not just sleep drugs, but “put you into a daze while they do various nasty things” drug. I would surmise that this might be the way they first got my keys.
They have heart damaging drugs.
And these are only the drugs I’m sure of.   There is a possibility they have a “suggestibility” hypnotic drug and the retroactive amnesia drug (any evidence for this is indirect)

I have not yet reached Lewis Carroll’s six impossible things quota, but I’m just getting started.

4. I used to be handsome, according to some people, while others did not notice anything particularly out of the ordinary.

Why is this interesting? Beauty, after all, is skin deep, though Groucho Marx did say that this was “deep enough for him.”
Well first of all, my family members did not ever notice any particular pizazz as far as I was concerned. (One brother did notice, but I’m simplifying). I certainly wasn’t good looking for most of my life. But there was a window of a few years where I was.  And that leads to:.

5. Another interesting aspect. Back in 1994, when the Mafia (I’m guessing its a Mafia, whatever it is, its got a large membership) started with the aphrodisiacs, and other drugs, and sometimes poisons, mixed in, I felt sicker and sicker and looked as bad as I felt. After about a year, the scintillatingly good looks were all gone.

(I no longer saw James Bond when I looked into the mirror.   Nor Cary Grant.  Not Marlon Brando.   Just an ordinary weak looking guy with a bloated nose and big glasses and an increasingly large bald spot and drooping cheeks.    Sob…)
Of course looks may be superficial, but this is almost mystical. Apparently, if you bathe a person in drugs for the purpose of showing him up to be a sex-crazed hypocrite (if that was the reason), you also make something fade that can never come back.
Now why would anyone do all this?
I don’t have all the pieces.  I haven’t interviewed the bad guys.  Neither has CNN.
But if you want to get ready for another impossible thing before breakfast, there is this:

6. a compromising movie of me is loose – that has not only spread across the nation, but to other countries.
As one woman said, (she proceeded to get together with some friends and poison me at one job I had, as well as sabotaging my work in hilarious ways) “He totally GROSSED ME OUT!”.

As another woman said (not at work, this was elsewhere) “He MUST BE KEPT DOWN!” (This one puzzles me – am I ideologically not correct in some way?)

7. Also involved in this story was a young woman who I treated rudely, but never was confronted face to face by her, or anybody else, with what I had supposedly done.  (I would have explained it.) Perhaps that story added fuel to the fire.  As a funny aside, one of the reactions to my saga was a young man who sang at me in an exaggerated sissified way the song “She drives me CRAZY, that long blond hair, she drives me crazy, and I can’t help myself…

8. Other people believed that I had some attractive power over women, in fact one MD-PhD theorized that I didn’t wash enough, so I was giving off pheromones that attracted women like flies. Oddly enough, my impression when I smelled bad was that people made unflattering remarks about my ethnicity.  Maybe I have reverse-pheromones and the MD-PhD had it backwards.

The truth, from what I can see, is that “people”, not just “women”, liked the idea of me to some extent. The idea of some ordinary shmoe who is good-looking and walks in the scenic parts of the nation and seems to be well intentioned does appeal to some people.

It is amazing what a smile from a pretty woman can do. A few such smiles start a myth.  In my experience before this started, people who I hiked with did not find me particularly interesting or even noticeable.   One woman at one of my jobs even said I was a lousy conversationalist.

But the brief bubble of fame also attracts negative attention. Including attention from busy-bodies who feel they have to set the record straight. And guess what they have to set the record straight – a movie!  A disgusting movie!

If I was a psychologist listening to all this, I would write down “the patient presents with paranoid schizophrenia, mixed with delusions of grandiosity, and hallucinations and delusions. Moreover, the patient has sexual compulsions which may make me have to consult with my Freudian colleagues.”

And indeed, just for believing in the movie, I was put in a mental hospital for two months, given ECT, and so forth.
That was not fun at all.   The ECT was tolerable, but the restrictions on my freedom were not.

I remember they had a TV in the mental ward, and one of the patients felt that it should be adjusted to have all the wrong colors.

Another patient, a woman, suddenly shrieked when she looked at me “There’s a fairy on your foot!”

Another patient, a woman, told me I was a Jew! in an unflattering tone.   I spontaneously clipped her on the nose before realizing what I had done, and was later pulled in to explain myself.  After explaining myself, the nurse said sympathetically that this lady had an unpleasant personality.  But a fellow patient, a black man, said to me with disgust “You hit a WOMAN!”.    I guess that’s the only time I’d dare hit anyone – a mentally ill woman.   Courage is not my defining feature.

What about rights?  I once recommended on a forum in a political website that people not take marijuana, which does damage to your lungs, your brain, etc. Opposing responses included one from a person who dug up an article showing that Marijuana actually increases stem cells in one part of the brain, and another who said he had taken the stuff for a few years, and now was a competent computer programmer, so what was the problem, and finally a response from another who said I was just like the many oppressors of mankind – people who they think they know how others should live, and then impose their beliefs.

Be that as it may, my body has been subjected to all sorts of psycho-active and other drugs for years, without any consent of mine at all. Criminals can be quite authoritarian. They don’t look at the world the way others do.  The idea of “rights” doesn’t make much sense to them.   Nor the idea of boundaries.   But they can have their nice side too.  In my case, some of them did not feel I was the type of victim who should be attacked.  However, I was still a danger for them, and a nuisance.

Since they were able to get into my house, they could get at my computer, and could tap the phones.

9. So they controlled my means of communication, which made it easy for them to frame me, when it was necessary, as it became necessary with the woman about whom I shipwrecked my life (Ms. Shipwreck, if you are there, I hope you feel very guilty!). Actually, I didn’t know this woman at all well, in fact, I don’t think in my entire life she said more than 5 words to me.
If there is an afterlife, and Lewis Carroll has access to the internet, and is reading all citations of his book, then he must be holding his head there and wishing he had never written that quote in Alice in Wonderland.  Six impossible things may be OK before breakfast, but my list is worse than impossible.
Now how do we make sense of all of this? I think the best way to look at it is that when you swim among the sharks, its a mistake to cut your finger. There are sharks out there, for instance criminals of various types, ideological fanatics, and so forth. Its best not to have them notice you.
Secondly, I’ve read that such people constantly look for technological tools to give themselves an advantage. They are early adopters of technology, and very creative.
Thirdly, there are totalitarian countries that have the resources to research anything that will give them an advantage over their own people or over other countries. And some of these governments work with criminals. In fact the dividing line between the two may not be all that clear-cut.

So that may be how it happened.

And finally, my movie, and the strange occurrences that occurred around my woman of mystery (no offense, woman-of-infinite-allure, I don’t blame you for this), made me a magnet for the sharks. It was as if I went through the landscape with a sign painted on my back “Kick me!”  (though come to think of it, sharks can’t kick).

So why am I writing all this now? Well I thought I had reached a modus-vivendi with the bad guys, but they hit me again. This was with a different reproductive drug they used, a very annoying one. I kept begging them to stop, they would not stop.   This was a drug that expanded the anatomy, among other things.  I think they wanted to get rid of my hangups.

There is something horrible, but also hilarious about this.  These bad guys see me as someone to take seriously, to take down.  I certainly don’t take myself seriously.  And the whole reproductive thing (I remember one woman saying to another when they ran into me, after both looked straight at me: ‘she wants to sexually compromise  him!!!  I don’t like it!!! I don’t like it!!!!)- strikes me as a barrel of laughs too.  But seriously  I would think that the bad guys could give me up as a bad job and let me finish the last 2 decades of my life in peace.    Given current global trends, their own freedom may be in danger sooner than they think.   The psychopath can have the attributes of a bully – he does not want to let his prey get away with…. well with being left alone.

There is the Gideon who could have been – a chastened, well-meaning computer programmer somewhere who would be taking bike rides on weekends, reading a lot and hopefully minding his own business and remembering the unhappy lessons of “the movie” that he had to learn.

Then there is the Gideon who really was – a vessel for whatever nasty concoction a crew of criminals wanted to put into him. A person who stood by helplessly while the same crew got into his house, with access to his parents. A person who could not, from the criminals point of view, been allowed to get out of their sight. A person who could not, from their point of view, be allowed to have a job.

I’ll conclude by making one point about sanity.  Years ago, I saw a woman approaching who was talking to herself.  It was an animated conversation, and I thought she was eccentric, though harmless.  Then I noticed a cord going from her hair to her pocket.   Closer yet, I noticed there was some kind of headset on her head.   This was in the early days of cellphones.   So a person who seemed to be mildly weird turned out to be normal.  In fact, she was at a tech frontier.   My point is, if you have a missing piece of a puzzle, as the cord was in this case, it can flip your entire interpretation around.   Pretty much everyone I’ve spoken with cannot build a big edifice of explanation to account for the experiences I’ve had.  So they don’t believe ANY of them.   It’s been interesting.

Positive Feedback and the eruption of violence

In general the idea of positive feedback and negative feedback is applied to science, and not to society, but I will indulge in speculation about its role in society.

I remember reading that Western suicide bombers often live in a small world of like-minded types.  They reinforce each other, and suddenly you get enough positive feedback (and no negative feedback), and something extremely nasty ensues.

I’m not sure this self-imposed echo chamber idea is always true, but in the case of Islamic suicide bombers, they will travel thousands of miles from America or the West to join likeminded believers in Jihad, or they will spend time on Islamic State websites.

Positive feedback generally means that some cause causes an effect that then increases the cause.  For example, if you depolarize a neuron, ions rush in that further depolarize it, which in turn lets more ions rush in.  This feedback cannot go on forever, and can be terminated by an increasing negative feedback.

Another example is Climate Change models.  They assume a positive feedback – the increasing CO2 in the atmosphere causes enough warming to evaporate water, which is also a greenhouse gas, which causes more warming, which evaporates more water – until doom approaches.  But there are also negative feedbacks in climate, for instance, if you increase the temperature of the atmosphere, it radiates away the heat into space proportional to the 4th power of the new temperature.

When a chemical explosive is heated sufficiently, some of its molecules will combust, increasing the temperature of the substance, so if the combustion of one molecule releases enough heat to combust ten more molecules, then one single molecule combustion will result in ten, which will result in a hundred, which will result in a thousand, which will result in ten thousand combustions, and so on.   That’s more of a cascade than the mutual reinforcement that I’m suggesting fanatics have.

This is also why a country like North Korea, or Cuba, or Iran, or Nazi Germany, can become so dangerous.  The rulers have an ideology that they want to impart, and they try to remove all obstacles to the acceptance of the doctrine.

  • They may see the family unit as a possible obstacle, and indoctrinate or even remove the children as soon as possible.
  • They will generally censor outside sources of news and opinion.
  • They imprison or kill people who disagree.

So they create an echo chamber, and (for example) suddenly North Korean missiles are available that can reach the United States,  Iranian meetings are started with chants of “Death to America”, and surprised “subhumans” end up in gas chambers or having fiendish medical experiments done on them by Nazi doctors and, more recently, astonished Americans who knew little about radical Islam see passenger jets fly into skyscrapers in downtown Manhattan.

You don’t need to live in a hermetically sealed society though to believe things radically at odds with most of your fellow citizens.  There are many movements that are exposed to the outside world, and yet their adherents still are true believers.   One of the leading Islamic theorists, Sayyid Qutb, was exposed to the Western lifestyle in America, and he rejected it completely.   In America, we also had the Nazi Bund marching in New York and elsewhere before World War II started.  They were marching for a non-democratic system even though their members probably had learned more about Democracy in high school than most students do today in college.


Recently, most Americans were surprised at the election of Trump, including myself.  One reason liberals were surprised was that they often do not read the conservative press.  If they had, they would have seen a volcano building of dissatisfaction with the Obama administration.    There was also a backlash by people, even nonpolitical types, against the censorship by “political correctness” .   Trump somehow connected better with these people than the other Republicans did.   Or at least, he connected with Americans who were uneasy at the excesses of the left, even if they had originally voted  for Obama.
I’ve was surprised by the new habit of shouting people down who should not be controversial at all.  The most recent example I read was of California and the push for single-payer health care in that state – a very lavish package that would include dubious treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic and cost hundreds of billions of dollars.  The surprising part was when a few people raised the reasonable question “How will we pay for this”, they were shouted down!

I was even more surprised when my mother told me a friend of hers had a son at medical school who told his father “please cancel the gift subscription of the Wall Street Journal you gave me.  It appears outside my dorm door and it has made me a pariah here!”


One technique people use to shut out other opinions is to label them as beyond the pale – extremist, hateful, etc.  “Don’t take his opinions too seriously – he’s a ‘trump-hater'” or “Don’t read that book, its published by an extremist publishing house” or “She’s a racist, because she says ‘all lives matter’, not just ‘black lives matter'”   “Antifa” (shown above) seems to feel anyone to the right of Hillary Clinton is a fascist.

People in the United States are creating their own echo chambers.  They talk to similarly minded people, they ignore what the opposition is saying, and they get a positive feedback.   There is negative feedback available to damp down their beliefs, but they avoid the negative feedback.

Thomas Sowell, a black conservative, was asked by Larry Elder (a black conservative with a radio show), whether he was optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future.  He said “pessimistic”, because the schools were not teaching children to think critically.

Consider the following sermon by a Palestinian cleric.  If you are the type who gets news from some American news site, chances are you miss this type of rhetoric.

..Servants of Allah, the White House Satan Trump, who lacks minimal human and moral values, is about to meet the rulers of the wicked mini-states,…

The Muslim prisoners in the prisons of the occupation are on a hunger strike, yet the rulers of Saudi Arabia spend millions on welcoming the head of heresy, Trump. Oh servants of Allah, this is indeed a Crusader war against Islam and the Muslims. Oh servants of Allah, oh nation of Islam, your rulers have taken action, but not in order to support you. Instead, they have conspired against you.

The Traitor of Jordan [King Abdullah] has mobilized his army, not to liberate the place from where the Prophet Muhammad ascended the heaven, but to kill the Muslims in Syria, in order to please his masters.

Oh Allah, bestow upon us a rightly-guided Caliphate in the path of the Prophet soon. Oh Allah, annihilate Trump and the conspirators. Oh Allah, annihilate all the Jews.

This cleric was preaching in the Al Aqsa mosque, only a short walk away from the Western Wall, where Jews often go to pray.  The mosque is right in the middle of Jerusalem, not far from scenes such as this:


So far, readers who I showed this post to have told me it tells them nothing new.  But we could conclude that we do have to be aware of what people who oppose us say among themselves.  The above quote by the cleric (Ali Abu Ahmad) was gathered by MEMRI, which does scan such statements, but only for the Middle East.  We should be aware of the anti-American propaganda in other countries, and in movements in our own country.   What exactly are they saying about us?  If an explosion is building, we have to try to defuse it.

We also have to be aware that some people do not have the moral brakes that the rest of us do, and in some circumstances, they can go down a path through doors that we could not think of opening, faster and faster until a terrible end is reached.



Taking the doubt out of Skepticism

Skepticism and a desire for real proof was essential for the progress of our science and technology. But from my life experience skepticism can go right off the rails.  This inspired me to write an article for “skeptic.com”, but their editor told me that though it was good, it wasn’t suited for them.  My father then joked that I should make a site called “rejectionist.com” where I would be the editor and would accept good but rejected articles from elsewhere.  Anyway, in the cause of saving this worthless 🙂 rejected article, I put it here in this blog.  I don’t include my life experience in it, but instead some lessons of that experience that I thought about for a while. So here (drumroll…) it is.

Imagine you live in 1860, and someone tries to convince you that one day there will be flying machines weighing over a million pounds, and carrying more than 300 people over the ocean and beyond. Chances are you would not believe it, and for good reasons. You will see that birds have to be light to fly (an Ostrich is earthbound), so anything as heavy as an airplane could not fly.
But you would be wrong, and that would be because there would be advances in the science of aerodynamics, plus new manufacturing abilities in the 20th century.

A recent example of misplaced skepticism in science was after Daniel Shechtman’s discovery of “quasi-crystals”. Dr Shechtman had to fight a fierce battle against established science to convince others of what he had first seen in his lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology – formerly the National Bureau of Standards – on an April morning in 1982.

Under the microscope he observed that the new crystal was made up of perfectly ordered, but never repeating, units – a structure that is at odds with all other crystals that are regular and precisely repeating.
Dr Shechtman himself is said to have cried “Eyn chaya kazo”, which translates from the Hebrew as “there can be no such creature”.

…For years, Dr. Shechtman reports, he was “ridiculed” and “treated badly” by his peers.

In fact, he was later told that he was a disgrace to his research group and asked to leave.

He now has a Nobel Prize, but we should consider the basic point here. Something that seems impossible, can become possible.

In a prior article on the Skeptic site, (What Would It Take to Change Your Mind? by Peter Boghossian) the author gives an example of a related point. He writes that “a student insisted Obama was a Muslim. When I displayed a series of pictures of Obama drinking beer on the projector, he instantly and emphatically responded, ‘Those pictures are photoshopped!'”

The logic that the student is using is this. He starts from a strong belief that Obama is a religious Muslim. Any contrary evidence must then be false. Therefore, since religious Muslims cannot drink alcohol, and the picture shows Obama drinking alcohol, that picture must be fake, and the way to fake a picture is via “photoshop”. It’s logical, if you accept the premise (though if the student had more imagination, he could keep his premise and find other explanations such as: “the beer is really ‘near-beer’, which is sold in many pubs for people who don’t want alcohol”, or “Obama may have had a questioning period where he tried out a weakened form of his religion, only to return to it full force later.”)


You should be able to consider alternate explanations, whether your starting premise is right or wrong. If you are skeptical of some assertion, and can come up with three incorrect alternate explanations, when the fourth one that you did not think of is correct, then you will come to the wrong conclusion as well.  So oddly enough imagination becomes important when deciding something is true or not.

And there is also the question of information dismissed as fringe and extreme.  Our current president, Donald Trump, called into question Obama’s birth certificate, and then backtracked and said it was valid. In general, the media did not take the birth certificate story seriously. However, there is this mystery:

David Solway, a Canadian writer, writes that “All Obama’s vital documents are sequestered: his name change, baptism and adoption records, Noelani Elementary School records, Punahou School financial aid or school records, Occidental College financial aid records, Harvard Law School records, Columbia senior thesis, record with Illinois State Bar Association, and his law client list, medical records and passport records, among others. He has also suppressed the marriage license of his parents. His backdated Selective Service form remains unexplained and his Massachusetts Social Security Number appears to be invalid.”

So there are circles within circles here – just when you thought it was safe to be humorously skeptical of this whole episode, some questions do get raised. Life is short, and we don’t have the time to run after stories that sound extreme, and yet….

Let’s try another thought experiment.
You live in the 1950s in California, a reliably Republican state at a time when social mores were very different. Would you believe that within your lifetime, there would be a ballot initiative to say that marriage cannot be between two men, or two women, but only between a man and a woman? My mother was born in the 30’s, and she tells me that she would never have believed the culture could have change so radically so quickly.

In fact, “in California, left-wing activists targeted donors to the state’s Prop 8 ballot initiative, which supported traditional marriage. They combed through campaign finance records, and put the names and addresses of Prop 8’s donors on a searchable map. Citizens on this list had their cars keyed, their windows broken, their small businesses flash-mobbed, and their voicemails and emails flooded with threats and insults. Some of them even lost their jobs…”

My point here is not whether gay marriage is good or bad. My point is that since we know the cultural change took place, there must be facts about cultural malleability that few would have recognized just a few decades ago.

An example that combines lack of imagination with fringe scenarios is this one:
There were two genuinely concerning outbreaks of anti-Semitism in the past presidential campaign between D. Trump and H. Clinton. The first involved anti-Semitic e-mail and Internet attacks against Jewish journalists critical of the Trump campaign.
The second was a series of bomb threats called into JCCs around the country.
Naturally some Jews drew some dramatic and alarmed conclusions.
But then there was an investigation.
The JCC threats were the work of a demented Jewish Israeli/American teenager.
Even weirder, the Internet attacks originated from fewer than 2000 sources, half of them in Ukraine or Russia.

So, people who were beginning to convince themselves that there was a new and rising threat to them in the United States, based on what seemed to be strong evidence, had not thought of these wild scenarios that happened to be true.

Remember, we are talking what is real, not what is plausible.  The two are not always  the same.


The problem with elitism

I am a believer in letting people make their own choices as much as possible, but that is not a universal belief.  I once had a internet conversation with a veteran of the mainland Chinese military.  Among other topics, he told me that “too much human rights” is a bad thing.  I was reminded of this when I read a letter by a former Soviet citizen, Victor Mishkevich (in the Wall Street Journal) who said this about today’s Russia
True enough, many people in cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg want democratic institutions to be established, but the majority of the people do not want democracy. They consider it weak and uncertain. They want and understand “a strong hand.”
A commenter on this letter (on the internet) said this:
Different cultures have different values.  Their members have different desires. If you actually know real Russians, Russians that live outside Moscow, Russians that are not part of the westernized order of talking heads, you will understand that Putin is the perfect leader for them.  He not only promises, but delivers physical security, enough to eat and a motherland that is both feared and respected.  For Russians, that is enough.  They have their own measuring stick, as does every  other divergent culture around the globe.
Another letter appeared in the WSJ a few days later (12/29/2016), replying to Mishkevich:
…everyone wants social and economic freedom. They want to be able to live their life as they choose, speak their mind without fear, and exert full control over their property.
What they often do not want is for their neighbors to have the same freedom. And that’s where the trouble starts.
An implication of all  this is that Russians believe a strong leader like Putin knows what is best for the country more than many of their fellow citizens.  This is a kind of paternalistic attitude.  No doubt we all feel that way to some extent.
Paternalism does sometimes make sense.   I can see the need to lock some people up for their own good, if their minds don’t work correctly.  (Many mentally ill people have “died with their rights on”, because they became homeless and attracted predators or themselves engaged in fatal behavior.)
Obviously this idea is not the kind of clear-cut principle we would like to have such as “never lock a human being up who  hasn’t hurt another human being” or “never force a person to take drugs who has not agreed to it”, but there is a time when principles have fuzzy boundaries.
With children, the same applies.  Parents should give their children the freedom to make some mistakes, but not all avoidable mistakes.
If you believe a class of people is inferior to you, you may take a paternalistic attitude toward them.   Slavery provided one example.
One argument made for slavery by slave-owners in the south was that they were providing better living conditions than their slave would have working in a factory in the north.  These slave-owners thought they knew how to tell a slave to raise his children, or manage his property.
Many Americans also believed that freed slaves would undermine the social structure of the South.  In other words, they did not trust the black to be able to take care of himself, or to have a civilized society.
So that is one source of paternalism – not respecting a class or group of people.
Cliven Bundy is a rancher who got into trouble with the law because he let his cattle graze on public land.  He did get support by some other ranchers for his stand, and  he attracted a lot of attention and was interviewed.
One statement he made, on slavery,  did not go over well:
Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.
“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.
There are various things wrong with this statement, including the fact that many black Americans are not on welfare, and many whites are on welfare, but the interesting twist in his statement is that he contrasts two types of paternalism.  Slavery by people who see themselves as benevolent (not all did, of course) can be one, but being depending on the government (which really means being dependent on the taxpayer)  for your food and shelter and healthcare and childcare can be another.  In the latter case, the implication is that you can’t provide for yourself on your own.
Cliven Bundy and supporters
An elitist may decide he knows what is best for you personally, better than you know yourself.  Or, he may decide he knows what is best for society, and that your selfish goals conflict with that.
Eugenics is an interesting example of how elitists decide what is good for society.  There have been compulsory sterilization programs in many countries of the world, sometimes on the basis that the person being sterilized was having many children without being able to provide for them, sometimes on the grounds that the person was disabled or crazy or belonged to the wrong ethnic/racial group.
In that case, an individual may want to have children, but an elitist decides that in the interest of society, he  must be kept from having children.
So we have two problems with elitism as far as the individual is concerned.  First is the elitist who knows what is best for you.  In that regard, Henry David  Thoreau, (1817 – 1862) known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay “Civil Disobedience” once remarked:  “[If] . . . a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.”
The other type of elitist is willing to sacrifice you for the greater good of society.  David Horowitz, a former leftist who I probably overly quote in this blog, once said that progressives commit great crimes because:
 If you thought that you could, you know, return us to Eden or create a world in which there’s no racism, no sexism, no homophobia, no poverty, no war, what lie would you not tell and what crime would you not commit to get there? And that’s why the greatest criminals of the 20th century were communists, were progressives. And they will be in this century as well.
[ To readers of my blog – this will be my last post for this psychology of evil blog.  Its been  enlightening to read for it, and to write it, but my next mission is to escape all this earthly evil by joining a mission to Mars.  (The last part (about Mars) is a joke).  Thanks for reading, and sometimes commenting.]

When close relatives believe totally different histories

Suppose you are a teacher, and you break up a fight in your schoolyard.  Both boys claim the other started it.  You don’t know who is right, so you suspend both of them.  But the person who started it should not be treated the same as the person who defended himself.  The problem with much of the world is that their total ‘story’ of whatever conflict they are in is wrong.
This could be because of their government. Cathy Buckle is a white woman in the country of Zimbabwe, which was ruled by Englishmen for a short time.  Then power was handed over to a radical, Robert Mugabe, a member of the majority Shona tribe who initially said all sorts of reassuring things.  However, words are not deeds.  His first order of business was to turn a North Korean-trained part of his new army loose on the Ndebele tribe, the Shonas’ main rival. Slaughter ensued.  Gradually he also wrecked the economy.  Cathy recently listened to Mugabe address parliament and tells us what she thought:

Perhaps Mr Mugabe was going to talk about the collapsed economy, the chronic shortage of US dollars in the country and the recent introduction of Bond notes, a surrogate currency forced upon us by Presidential decree. Perhaps he would say something about a year filled with demonstrations and protests which were squashed by horrific police beatings, the images captured on mobile phones for the world to see. Perhaps he’d say something about 90% unemployment or continued company closures, about 80 % of our food still being imported 16 years after farm takeovers, or about our crippled health care system or rampant corruption in government departments. So much to talk about; this was surely going to be a very long speech.

As President Mugabe made his way slowly through his speech you couldn’t help but wonder if we live in the same country. Apparently, everything’s fine in Zimbabwe at the end of 2016.

bucklebookOf course the reader could say – what do we really expect from an ideologue like Mugabe  – an admission of failure?
But even in democracies, there are completely different histories believed by people who can be very similar in other respects.  For instance, I have talked with people who believed our most recent housing collapse, with the large attendant damage to the economy, was due to greedy bankers, or the removal of regulations.   On the other side of the political spectrum, the belief is that the government created the situation by mandating loans to poor people and bad credit risks, and indirectly suggesting that the feds would underwrite those risks.
So the villains are completely different, and the conclusions are completely different.
Likewise, I’ve been told I’m a “bloody fool” for saying the economy under President Obama has been poor, and the person who called me this then provided me with an article full of charts that indeed seems to prove I am a fool.  However, I repaired the damage to my ego by reading the following.by Seth Lipsky in the New York Post:
After eight years of blaming America’s problems on George W. Bush, the press that got the election wrong is rolling out a new line — that President Obama is handing President-elect Donald Trump a booming economy.
That takes some brass…. The truth is that the Obama years have been among America’s worst for the economy. His eight years will go down in history as the Great Recession, even though for much, even most, of the span, we weren’t technically in a recession.
It just felt that way. And no wonder. Obama’s is the only modern presidency that failed to show a single year of growth above 3 percent, a point Trump stressed during the campaign (and that was conceded even by the website Politifact).
Plus, the Obama economy failed to prosper even though the Federal Reserve had its pedal to the metal. Its quantitative easing, $2 trillion balance-sheet expansion and zero-interest-rate policy all produced zilch.
My point here is not who is correct and who isn’t.  The point is that at many junctures in recent history, we see the history differently, and that affects our future behavior.
Prager University is a YouTube channel that has a video by a Muslim Englishman who tells us that he believed that the Jews were aliens, living in stolen Muslim land.  The Jews were occupiers who were engaged in genocide against the Palestinian people.  This belief, he said made him and his friends vulnerable to the arguments of Muslim extremists.  He almost went to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, but fate intervened.  In a bookstore he saw a book titled “The Case for Israel”.  The title made him furious.  He picked it up, and read a very different version of history than he had previously believed.  Eventually he decided to go to Israel and see what was going on first hand.  That trip changed him – from a potential terrorist to a friend of the West.
So what you believe really matters.  He obviously is a decent person – you can see the video – but beliefs could have made him a killer.
Kasim Hafeez – dodged becoming a terrorist
So how do these totally different narratives arise?  Is it due to lies?  Misunderstandings?  Paranoia?  Ideology?
I don’t really know, but certainly deliberate untruths play a part, as shown by this final story:
According to the New York Times, in 1980 Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, had a Lebanese imam (a holy man roughly equivalent to a pastor) shot in the head for refusing to preach the propaganda of the PLO. Then Arafat visited the imam’s Lebanese home, took his ten-year-old son aside, explained to the little boy that his father had been murdered by the Israelis, handed the lad a gun, and said, “When you grow up, use this to take revenge.”
Isn’t that incredible!
wall painting of Arafat
Anyway, from my own experience, people are intellectually lazy about subjects which they may have very strong opinions about.  The idea of individual initiative to find the truth (which much to his credit, the British Muslim in the video had), is rare.  Personally, I have .been the subject of wildly varying opinions, most of them quite wrong.  I have been thought insane (see prior post), I have been told I was a sex maniac, that I’m gay, that I’m nasty, that I’m very nice, that I’m a pig, that I impress women etc.  The truthful narrative is that I’m someone who likes such evil occupations as going on bike trips or hikes in scenic spots, am not more insane than – lets say – Donald Trump or Barack Obama – not any more a sex maniac than Mother Teresa (at this point), have a very slow brain – too slow and too empty to have a good conversation with – and I hope that I am well intentioned.  I would be more than happy to be ignored and mildly despised.
“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” as   William Shakespeare has written.
In my case, there is an incentive by angry criminals to make me look as crazy as possible – and the criminal world, as I have concluded, is quite irrational is some respects, but very rational in the method and low level goals.  They may yet write the history.  Or change it.  I never know if I will wake tomorrow the same person as who went to bed the previous night – not physically, not mentally.

The Mob that got away – a fable

When I took over the Soprano crime family, I was shocked at their general sloppiness, inefficiency, and lack of discipline.  I kicked out the low performers, brought in some enforcers from the Russian and Cuban mobs, and reorganized the management.  Despite their decentralized organization, the Soprano family was a prize, because they had a technology based on the borrachero tree of Columbia.  This tree is a source of the drug Scopolamine, which criminal amateurs in Columbia blow into the faces of victims, or spike drinks with.  It puts victims in a daze of some sort, so that they can be robbed.  The victims do not collapse, they just lose an aspect of will or consciousness.
The Sopranos were smart enough to refine Scopolamine into an aerosol, not just a powder, and they were even smarter in how they weaponized it.  They could modify a smart phone to be a Scopolamine gun, or they could put a pipe under the chassis of a car to envelop pedestrians.   Victims did not know what hit them, or even whether they had been hit.
It was a great money maker for the guys, and they could get past any security with it.
The Sopranos also got hold of some expert hackers on the “dark web” as well as the most advanced electronic bugging equipment – such as microphones that could be implanted in a wall and which only send messages in coded bursts once an hour.  They even found some Russian scientists who had worked on a top secret project on drugs that affect behavior.
So they had a great thing going – except:
One day a trusted lieutenant of mine named Corleone came into my house and asked: “can we talk- we have a problem”?
I invited him in, and he told his story.
He said that an individual with little money and nothing worth having had been targeted by a loose cannon in our organization.  The loose cannon was a woman named Berta, from Lower Slobovia, who had immigrated recently to Connecticut, and had used the drug, without permission, on this individual.
“This is expressly against our policy!” I said.  “We can’t have our technology exposed by it being used massively and randomly!”
“Yes” said Corleone.  “Her assumption was that nobody would believe this guy.  She used the drug “libidamine” which had been brought here from Russia.  It raises the libido.  The guy himself was a real piece of work, really disgusting.  But he posed as a puritan.  So she thought she’d teach him a lesson.  Its a powerful drug she used, most guys after a few days of it start looking for ‘women of the night'”.
“Continue.  I am intrigued”. I said.
Corleone looked glum.  “She and her friends gained access to his apartment.  They drugged him, but it didn’t work as planned.  Sure, it raised his libido, and he did strange things like trying to change what he ate, or putting in huge vats of spring water in his apartment.  But it did not get him to act as desired.  Our scientists back in Columbia were first astonished, then challenged.”
“It doesn’t sound too serious so far,” I said.
Corleone looked impatient.  “You don’t get it.  — They got so challenged that one day, they poured ten times the normal dose into a bottle of water in his fridge.  Berta and Pierre did it at night, while the target was sleeping.  Next morning, he got up, drank the water, and got hit with libidamine’s effects like a ton of bricks.  He realized he was drugged.  He went to the FBI.  He went to the police.”
I was getting alarmed.  “And they believed him?”
Corleone looked tired.  “No, they did not.”
“So what’s the problem?”
Corleone took a breath.  “The problem is that this guy is famous.  Here’s a photo of him.”
Corleone offered me a photo. I looked at it.  It was a of a slight, skinny man with big glasses, and a large balding head, and drooping cheeks and a bloated nose.  He had a depressed expression.
“You are worried about this guy?” I asked.  “He’s pathetic.  You are pathetic.  Get out of here!”
Corleone refused to leave.  “No, you have to listen.  This guy was known as being very handsome – and that kind of reputation spread – and spread.”
I looked at the photo.  Handsome?
Corleone continued.  “And, he attracted the attention of the fair sex, which apparently sent him off his rocker, and a couple of his dorm-mates managed to get his behavior on film. It was so gross, and so disgusting, that it gained a cult following.  People would gather in a room and throw rice at the screen.  You see also, he is Jewish, and he was drooling over the idea of getting hold of a blonde girl, and people see this behavior and think they’ve exposed a hidden part of reality – what Jews are like!”
“I’m confused”, I said.  “which is it – is this guy a handsome heartthrob – a disgusting pervert – or a bald nerd who we should never have tangled with?”
“All three,” he said.
I looked at the photo.  “I don’t get the attraction” I said.
Corleone started theorizing.  “Ever hear the term “metrosexual”?  I think some women don’t like the idea of real men.  They like nerdy weak guys with friendly personalities.  And his current looks are deceptive.  He was good looking at one point.  He was a big fish in a small pond.”
I was getting a headache.  “Look Corleone, I think you are overdoing this.  Its a very strange story you are telling me, and I really don’t think we have to worry about it.  Just in future, keep a better leash on our foot-soldiers.”
Corleone shook his head.  “This guy is a wild man.  He has made speeches about what we did to him on trains – on public trains.  He has posted posters, distributed cassette tapes, and so forth.”
“So what?  Anyone going to believe a lunatic who talks about his libido on trains?  Or in mysterious Mafiosi who are targeting him for no reason?”
Corleone showed me another photo.  It was of a short blonde woman.  “This woman fouled us up.”
“She’s the original woman the movie was about.  She decided to contact him.  We had to stop it.”
“So did you kill her?”
“No, we drugged him.  She sat next to him on the train, and we drugged him the previous night, and it gives anyone a massive headache.  We also tried some suggestion, with our hypnotic drug.”
“And then?”
“It worked.  We prevented communication.  She decided he was a loser.  Which of course he is.”
But then, our guys felt he had to be watched constantly.  They already had a back door into his house, and even a compartment we built behind a wall near his room.  They gassed him with the latest drugs we have.  Interrogation drugs and poisons of various sorts.  They got into his room one time, after he was safely anesthetized, and damaged his spine.  When he showed signs of going too far afield, they warped his feet.  And then the worst possible thing happened.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Was I the head of serious money-making outfit. or of a three-ring circus?
“Continue please.” I said.  “Who is in charge of this operation?”
Corleone explained that Velasquez and Cohen were the soldiers assigned to this case.  I remembered Velasquez.  He had lost his father at an early age, and his mother was an alcoholic who beat him.  He spoke like a wounded angry animal, and that was on a good day.  Cohen spoke more like a robot, an idealistic robot.  They were good soldiers, ruthless when they had to be and maliciously sadistic when possible.
I leaned forward.  “What is the worst possible thing that you say happened”?
Corleone said “They went squishy.  They felt sorry for the guy.  They had been spraying his pants with kidney poison, and he was nearly exploding.  He tried to make a deal.  He spoke aloud, promising that he would not talk about us any more.  He wrote it on his computer, which we had bugged.  Velasquez and Cohen decided to give him a break.  They put their reputation on the line, trying to persuade us to let up.  And I, like a fool, let myself be persuaded.”
“You did!!!!”
Corleone looked scared.  “Yes, I said they could let up on the poisoning, they just should watch him, and threaten him when he went out of line. – But you see, one thing went wrong after another.  He interpreted our threats as imminent doom, and went to the police.  And he was paranoid, so he thought we attacked him when we didn’t and he started speaking on trains again.  So Velasquez went after his spine again, and Cohen and Harvey the Hulk bent his feet again.  Then we sprayed a nasty poison that made him bleed – affects the intestines, you know.”
“I see.” I said.  “So he started squealing.  Did anyone believe him?”
“Yes!  he appealed on the train for help – he asked anyone who knew anything to tell his town police.  And lo and behold, phone calls started coming in to the bewildered local police department.  Previously they thought he was insane, and were collaborating with other departments in the area to keep an eye on him.”
“Beautiful” I said sarcastically.  “Beautiful!.  You screwed things up with this clown.  Let me tell you what has to be done.  We have to discredit him.  Keep the pressure on.  Be outrageous.  Be audacious.  Use the Interrogation drug – he will talk endlessly at night and during the day.  Use the aphrodisiac.  Use the Viagra mist.  He will sound crazy – and the story is so crazy, that he will go down in history as a major lunatic!   And in future, Corleone, tell any Member of our mob that if they free-lance like this we will use drug X99 on them!”
Corleone paled.  “Not X99!”
“its gotta be done” I said.  “Starting with Berta from Lower Slobovia!”
I ushered Corleone out.  “Oh,” I added – “That movie you talked about – that will discredit him too.  Show it!”
The approach worked.
Our organization continued to thrive and go from strength to strength.
We of course had a special fate planned for the metrosexual who broke the deal with us.  It was drug Y88 – even worse than drug X99.
The moral of the story is: sometimes you gotta do, what you gotta do.  And don’t hire people from Lower Slobovia.  Ever.