Science vs. The Scientific Method

I frequently see people believe that something is “a science” just because scientists have engaged in the scientific method to perform a study on that subject. That’s not true, though, and I think it involves a confusion between “science” and “the scientific method.”


Science is essentially the philosophy that the most important statements are ones that accurately predict the future.

“What, wait,” you say, “I thought science was about doing experiments and wearing lab coats, or something.” No. Science is in fact a philosophy that was developed at various different times on this planet depending on what part of the world you’re in. The core of this philosophy is the thing that I wrote above. But what does that really mean?

Continue reading “Science vs. The Scientific Method”

Addiction and Propaganda

There are some facts that are worth knowing about addicts and addiction, because these facts have started to broadly affect the world. Not just that there are a lot of addicts, but that some aspects of their behavior have started to influence the culture. But first, let’s talk about those facts about addicts.

The first and most important thing to know about a person with an addiction is:


As the addiction increases, they will also start to do anything in order to get their fix. Essentially, they will use every power at their disposal in order to be able to do or have the thing they want to do or have. If they are smart, they will use the whole of their intelligence to manipulate others. If they are charming, they will use the full power of their charm to deceive you. At first they will attempt to limit themselves, but as time goes on, their ability to control themselves will lessen and they will take actions that are more and more destructive in order to accomplish their goals.

This is not me talking theoretically. This is me talking from personal experience with myself, with personally counseling addicts, extensive reviews of case histories of addicts, and much more. The reason addicts behave this way is:

Continue reading “Addiction and Propaganda”


In the world today, there is a lot of celebration of the completion of work, but not as much celebration of the effectiveness of work.

You see this in all industries and in all subjects.

It is very common to see a news article celebrating the fact that some project has been done, and then operating on the assumption that it was successful because it was expensive, or beautiful, or done by some famous person/company. Rarely do you see actual numbers demonstrating the effectiveness of that work.

I see this often in my field, where some company in Silicon Valley will publish an article (or a research paper) about its own technology that it developed. It will celebrate the existence of the technology, how complex it is, how difficult it was to get it right. But it will rarely talk about the important things: Do its users love it? Did it make some measurable impact on the business? Are significant numbers of people within the company actually using it?

Continue reading “Effectiveness”

Things that are Obviously Untrue

How can people believe things that are obviously untrue? Well, I can demonstrate it to you.

Everybody knows that people have five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell.

Except that this is obviously untrue. Like, so obviously untrue that I can easily prove it to you in this post.

Have you ever experienced an emotion? How did you know? How did you know what emotion you were experiencing? How do you know if you’re sad or angry? It isn’t any of those five senses.

Hold out your hand in the air, touching nothing. Close your eyes and ask yourself, “Where is my hand?” Don’t do it by memory, just sense where your hand is.

Have you ever been hungry? How did you know?

How awake do you feel right now? How do you know that?

Now if you want to understand why people believe things that are obviously untrue, ask yourself—if you ever believed that people have only five senses, why did you believe that? How did you get the idea in the first place?

Sort of an interesting exercise; hopefully it helps you understand other people who you had a hard time understanding, before.

People want to live their lives, not your agenda

Most politicians seem to have some vast idea of these huge groups of people that need to have “something done about/for them.” As a result, they take these actions that are vast generalities that end up harming as many people (or more people) than they help.

In fact, most human rights disasters throughout history are the result of this sort of generality. A politician (or author) says, “This whole group of people needs to be helped by harming this other whole group of people.” It wasn’t true that the first group all had a single problem, and it wasn’t true that the second group was the source of that problem, even if that problem did exist!

The truth is that most people are living normal lives and they don’t want to have some vast complexity enforced on them by inflation, war, threats of violence, propaganda, lawsuits, punishment, extreme taxes, loss of their property, etc. Most importantly, they’re living individual lives, each different from each other. Some people are experiencing oppression. Some people are in danger. Some people are out to harm others for their own profit. But most people just want to be free to live the lives they want to live. They want to finish that book they are reading, start that painting they wanted to make, go see their friends, go to the movies, get that piece of clothing they were thinking about, ride their bike, post memes on Facebook, throw rocks at the pond, spend time with their kids—an infinite variety of individual normal things that make people happy.

Governments around the world have a historical tendency to destroy those things in the name of some “vast and important” political crusade, usually based on an ideology written by somebody who lives in an ivory tower and has rarely ever interacted with much of actual humanity. It’s not just governments, too—large financial institutions have done the same thing, since they have power over currency and the economies of whole countries. In some totally blind attempt to “save” some semi-imaginary group of people (or perhaps, to increase the money in their own bank account) they end up destroying the normal, daily happiness of millions of people.

It’s not always evil people who are doing it, either. Very often, it’s well-intentioned people whose education didn’t cover the consequences of applying vast generalities to a population of different individuals.

Continue reading “People want to live their lives, not your agenda”

What is truth?

A lot of people (and a lot of philosophers throughout history) have been confused about the subject of truth.

Some people believe that if somebody has done “a study” that means that the data produced by that “study” is true. Others believe that if something is written in a book by an authority, then that is true. Some believe that only the scientific method can produce truth. And some have completely given up and decided that nothing is true and nothing can be known.

None of these are accurate.

I have a suggestion on this subject. First off, what is true is what is true for you. But what does “true” even mean?

The dictionary says that “true” means that something agrees with facts or reality. That sounds very black and white to me, as though things could be absolutely true or absolutely false. Also, it’s not very helpful if you’re attempting to deal with a lot of metaphysical or philosophical concepts about your own life, your own ideas, people’s opinions, or anything where there might be shades of gray (which is everything).

First off, it’s important to understand that there is a scale of truth–things can be more or less true. There’s no absolute truth, that’s nonsense. But there is truth. (This is the error that people who believe in “relative truth” make–they tend to take the concept of “relative” as meaning “nothing is really true or false and we all just make it up as we go.” Perhaps this helps them feel better about something bad they did once upon a time.)

So now, let me tell you an idea I have, and you can tell me if it works or not:

In order to understand truth, one must understand the purpose one wishes to accomplish. Any data is true to the degree that it helps you effectively accomplish that purpose.

Let’s look at some examples.

Continue reading “What is truth?”


I’ve had a few people say to me, “Wow, you’re good at everything.” That’s not really true, but there are some things I’ve become pretty good at. I get the impression that some people feel like it’s magical or that I have some special ability that others don’t have. But that’s not true.

To explain this, let me tell you something that my mother told me.

I’m a songwriter, and I remember when I was about 16, listening to a particular song that I really loved and saying out loud, “Wow, I could never do that.” My mother, who was in the car with me, said, “You experience that song in three minutes, but it took a lot longer than that to put it together, maybe 100 hours. So to you it seems magical when you see it, because you couldn’t have made it in three minutes.”

This is true of almost everything that I’m good at. I’ve been singing since I was four years old. I’ve been acting since I was about eight years old. I’ve been actively writing since I was about 12. I’ve spent decades looking up thousands of words in the dictionary, carefully going over each definition to make sure I fully understood each one. I’ve been working with computers since I was eight years old, and actually started my professional career in IT when I was 14 years old.

So when I show up and sing a song in three minutes and it sounds nice, or when I come to a meeting at work and I say something in 5 minutes that seems profound, it’s because there’s literally decades of experience behind those things.

The reason that I’m good at these things is because I was interested in them and I planned for the future. I’ve always believed that I would have to have a job some day. It seemed like computers would provide a good job. Plus, I liked computers and it was hard to get me to stay away from them, even when I was a kid. I worked toward that career one way or another, taking the opportunities that I found when they were available. Now I have a career as a software engineer.

There’s nothing especially magical about me except that I was aware of the future, and willing to do something for however long it took to get to that future. The most frequent issue I see with people is either (a) having no plan or (b) not working at the plan no matter how long it takes.

There are no “overnight successes.” Every single time you look into one of these “overnight successes,” they always had some huge dedication behind them. If you insist on instant gratification, or even gratification after just a few months, you’re going to live a disappointing life. Huge goals require huge work to get there. It doesn’t have to be extreme, grinding, physical labor or something. It doesn’t even have to be unpleasant. It just has to be done, however long it takes to do it.


A lot of people have been tricked into “fighting” things in a way that actually reduces their own freedom and perpetuates the thing that they are trying to eliminate.

I’ve had some trouble expressing this, because it’s hard to explain, but I think I’ve found a way to explain it adequately.

There are three types of fighting: bad fighting, good fighting, and fun fighting.

Continue reading “Fighting”

Hate Speech

I’m all for stopping people from spreading hateful messages that attack people for their race, religion, country of origin, etc. It’s foul and harmful. But when you support laws against hate speech, you’re essentially trusting the government to make a decision about what is and isn’t okay to communicate about.

Okay, you say, maybe that’s fine. I mean, that’s a pretty simple decision, maybe it will be made correctly. And you know what, I bet in many cases it will be.

But let’s look at this generally. Do you think the government is an efficient system which makes logical decisions always? Do you think that the legal system is totally workable and always results in fair justice?

See, the problem isn’t that hate speech is good, or hate speech is bad, or whatever. The problem is rationality. You’re trusting one group which has a history of behaving irrationally in many circumstances (the government) to regulate another set of people who are irrational (racists, bigots, etc). Basically, imagine the situation was reversed, and you trusted the racists and the bigots to regulate the government. Would that make sense? I mean, some people argue that some politicians are racists and bigots, but I don’t really have a stake in that argument. What I’m saying is, take a group of people that you think are crazy or harmful, and ask yourself, “Would you trust them to say what the government can and can’t communicate about?” Okay. So now reverse it. Maybe the government isn’t as crazy as that group of people you were thinking of. It’s probably not. But do you fully trust that the government will behave rationally?

I would have no problem giving the government the power to regulate certain aspects of communication if I expected the government to always use that power rationally. But, from my perspective, the reason that we have human rights encoded into laws is that the government does not always behave rationally. I do believe that many people who work in the government are good people who have good intentions. And some parts of the government do a good job. But, historically, governments do not do a good job in the area of choosing what speech is okay and what speech is not okay. They have certain restrictions even now in the USA, but those are very limited and usually very specifically defined so that it’s hard to behave irrationally with them. Mostly, the courts uphold free speech. But even so, sometimes irrational results come even from the narrow restrictions that we have now.

But look, even if you did think that the government was rational, remember that it could change completely tomorrow. Some of you thought the previous President of the USA was bad, crazy, etc. and some of you think the current President of the USA is bad, crazy, etc. So would you trust the government that you don’t like with the power to decide what speech is okay and what speech isn’t okay? Because when you pass a law, you are giving every possible future version of the government that power.

If I had my way, it would be a crime to engage in extensive verbal harassment of another person’s race, religion, etc. in a public setting. I would expel every Nazi, racist, etc. from America and make their groups illegal, or at least create a focused re-education program that slowly dissolves their groups. Those sorts of groups are a scourge against humanity.

In fact, there are many web sites and companies where spouting Nazi or racist rhetoric would get you banned or fired. I’m fine with that—I trust those web sites and companies to make that decision. But even if I didn’t trust them or they messed up really badly and censored me inappropriately, I could go somewhere else and not experience that injustice, because I have other options. But with the government, I don’t really have other options. I can’t just “go somewhere else.” And I don’t believe that they will always make good judgments or that the legal system will always result in a fair trial. So I would never support a law that made it illegal to communicate some belief or ideal—not because I think all communication is fine (I don’t), but because I simply can’t imagine a government of Earth that would always get that right.