Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Midas Touch

"Everybody lies" said Hugh Laurie as House.  Everything goes to shit, says the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or "entropy increases" which is the same thing without the smell.

You can't trust anything and no matter how good a thing, a quality, a group of  people out to do good may be, lies and exaggerations and hyperbole creep in, things fall apart and the jerks, the zealots, the fanatics, the self righteous take over. That's how we got where we are, but never mind. As bad as it is, it's always going to get worse. Entropy increases. Religions and causes and principles become atrocities -- always -- and the best of intentions become heresy, error, treason and sin.  If you're not one of us you're one of them and because we're right, nobody else can be. Truth is tribal. Some truth is more true than other truth and some truths are lies.

So it is with humanistic principles, like the sanctity of human life.  If it gets in the way of a group fighting police brutality, the noblest of principle becomes heresy, becomes racism. Truth is only a tactical position. If it serves your position in some battle, it's true enough even if it isn't.  If it does not it can't be true if it shows we're wrong and we can't be wrong because truth is only a tactical position , a fortification, a weapon that serves our group, our tribe.   Good becomes bad, humanism becomes racism. Everything turns to shit.

Entropy increases: disorder, dispute, disrespect and thus defeat.  Good intentions are self destructive.  Preach peace and and start a war, preach love and engender hate, preach respect for all and it all shatters into warring states, groups, tribes, faiths, races, The end justifies the means, the rhetoric, the damage done.

Found the first secular democracy in the world to affirm that legitimacy in government comes from people not from gods and before you know it, the people are interpreting that to mean Theocracy.  Freedom to persecute becomes freedom of religion. Freedom of religion becomes freedom to believe only what we tell you to believe and so any self-contradiction, any forgery, fallacy of invented fact is permissible in the fight for freedom and so freedom is slavery and vice versa.

On the Animal Farm, four legs good - two legs bad becomes Four legs good, two legs better.  Preach love for one group and you offend another that's out to improve only their own lot.  Numbers are never convincing enough so you tune them up, you gerrymander comparisons, add irrelevant numbers and false analogies and you add real fallacies to real data to make it all seem better and soon enough you've polarized instead of convinced and it all breaks down into insult and strife - forever.

You want to improve the atmosphere by mandating smaller cars and we wind up with huge trucks instead.  We want to improve driving safety so we reduce speed limits on the safest roads and when it doesn't work, we lapse into denialism and accusation and draconian enforcement, just as we did with the Volstead act. That it doesn't do what it was supposed to do means only that someone must be blamed, not that we were wrong or naive or stubborn.  You say the cause of accidents is mostly bad drivers and not bad cars?  You'll be run over by righteousness, a victim of the inertia of zeal.

We want to make cars safer in collisions and we mandate one technology and ignore better technology and accuse the inventor of being against safety.

 Alcohol is bad for society say the righteous. it ruins lives and spurs crime, so we ruin even more lives and create vastly more crime.

When it doesn't work, we look for scapegoats and we increase punishment. Cannibis is bad for society and that must be true since the police tell us and there's a powerful group of civic minded citizens to back them up.  The war on drugs doesn't work, vastly increases crime, vastly increases incarceration, ruining lives, destroying families and communities and when it doesn't work?  we try harder. We create numbers to scare people and when the numbers aren't scary enough we tune them up, we shuffle the shells, we deal from the bottom of the deck and if anyone notices or questions, we cry heresy, we call names, we polarize we feel good about it, because it's all in a good cause and the nobility of the cause justifies all tactics, sanctifies the lies, vilifies objectivity, stifles creativity and again the high minded becomes teh simple minded, becomes denialism, becomes persecution.

We want to protect children so the kid who takes a naked picture of another kid goes to jail and becomes a pariah for life and if you say "wait a minute" why, you must be a pervert too!  Everything turns to shit because the notion that something must be done gets reshuffled and twisted to support any solution, any approach, any law or bill or policy and if you question, you're a spokesman for the devil, the bogeyman, the NRA, the KKK , ISIL or worse.

Everything turns to shit, because everyone lies, misrepresents, exaggerates, redacts, edits and feels good about it and why not, because good causes make for good outcomes, don't they?

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