I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

August 28, 2012 - 1:31 p.m.

Hello ello ello ello ...

I updated last night and haven't done anything since then. That's good, it is forcing me to write about something that's been in the hopper since the early spring or maybe even late winter the echo chamber.

Fighting the echo chamber has become my online crusade. What is the echo chamber? It's what you get when people with the same beliefs talk mainly among themselves. It reinforces all the conformed opinions and discourages the rest. People start to feel that everybody normal believe the same things they do and that there is something wrong with everybody who doesn't. It's easy to see when the opposition falls into that trap. For most of you think "Obama is a socialist who hates business." You know that it's wrong and you know many people take it as gospel.

Now comes the hard part; realizing that the people that agree with you do the same thing. I see it all the time, not so much lies as distortions of the truth. I see it all the time on Facebooks articles designed not to shed light on a subject but to inflame contempt. Think of the Todd Akin fiasco. Akin said something that deserves contempt. He said something that is not only untrue and incredibly stupid but hateful. By saying that a raped woman could not get pregnant he called all women that said they were pregnant from rape liars. He said he misspoke but that was on the word legitimate. That was not the problem. He seems to think the issue was that people thought he was saying there were rapes that were legal. We knew better than that. What he was saying and there is no other interpretation is that you can't get pregnant from a rape.

So I'm deploring what he said. What does that have to do with the echo chamber? It's what people did with it afterward. Akin was denounced by just about everybody, Romney, Ryan, and the Republican and Pro Life establishments. Then what did I read the next week? Tarring Romney, Ryan, and the pro Life establishments with Akin's sins. "Ryan coauthored an anti-abortion bill with Akin so he's just as bad as Akin." "Romney picked a running mate who coauthored a bill with Akin so he's just as bad as Akin. I read this over and over again in posts from friends and organizations and FB pages. Yes Ryan is against the rape exception to abortion restrictions. Yes I find that deplorable. But it isn't the same thing as what Akin said. He did that way before Akin said anything. It's a position I totally disagree with but it won't generate the visceral repugnance of what Akin said. That's exactly why people confounded the two, to generate that repugnance. If everyone who disagrees with you is a monster how are compromises ever to be made? That attitude is dangerous in and of itself. It isn't about winning at any price. It's about doing what's best. I think those anti-abortion policies are wrong and I'll attack them with vigor and more importantly with reason. I won't make ad hominem attacks on the people who support them.

Even worse is when people repeat "facts" that aren't facts. When people see them enough times they forget that they aren't true or never even hear that they aren't.

This is one I saw today, New law in Arizona states 'pregnancy begins two weeks before conception'

You read that and say, "The pro lifers are total idiots." The thing is that isn't what the law says. If you read the article you see that it uses for gestational age of a fetus the time since the mother's last menstruation. So yes that isn't the moment of conception, it's a bound on the earliest possible date for the moment of conception. As often the exact date is not known that isn't totally unreasonable. It isn't good policy and its purpose IS to make it more difficult to get an abortion, but it isn't the totally absurd thing asserted in the headline. I didn't trust the article and I did what I always do when getting news from partisan sources, I looked for an independent source. I read the actual bill and this is what it actually says:

That the physician is responsible for estimating the gestational
age of the fetus based on the ultrasound examination and obstetric standards in keeping with established standards of care regarding the estimation of fetal age as defined in rule and shall write the estimate in the patient's
medical history.

There is nothing in there about the date of the last menstruation. You can read the entire bill here: House Bill 2306.

Im tired of reading about every small town sheriff or official that says something outrageous which is then used to contaminate everyone in his her or her party. There are plenty of legitimate things to blame on them. There is no need to make things up.

You have to be extra careful when reading "facts" that reinforce your opinions. You have to realize that you'll be prejudiced so you need the evidence to be strong. It's like what I said about the Space Program in my last entry. It has my deep emotional support, that means I have to be extra skeptical about arguments for it..

I never read the Huffington Post or other partisan news sources. I don't want my views warped. I don't want to be the left wing counterpart to those that believe everything they hear on Fox News. When someone links to an article in a place that that is partisan I always fact check it. What you'll usually find is not that they are lying but using weasel words. They put things in the worse light possible.

It upset me when Harry Reid made the unsubstantiated claim that Romney paid no taxes for 12 years. It upset me even more when I read comments from people that commended him for it. I don't want people with no respect for the truth to be on my side. What makes it worse is that it is totally unnecessary. As Paul Krugman says, "The facts have a well known liberal bias." If the facts are not with you then perhaps you should be changing your opinions, not changing the facts.

Paul Krugman is the kind of person that I'll read and quote and link to. Yes he has strong opinions but he always backs up what he says with evidence which he will not distort. He has a professional reputation to maintain. That's the difference.

It's time for me to make lunch and get out of the house. This has not been an easy entry to write. I hope it came out OK.

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Horvendile August 28, 2012
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