Friday, August 5, 2022

Influence, The Psychology Of Persuatioin

 I looked around for a review that I thought would just "stick to the facts" rather than be an introduction to the book as a marketing training tool. (which it certainly can be). I failed, so I could not avoid doing some work as much as I hate it! 

In the introduction, Cialdini presents himself has the "perpetual patsy",  so he decided to become  an experimental social psychologist, to understand how "the compliance professionals" -- the marketers, salesmen, politicians, store clerks, etc were getting him to do what they wanted, vs what he wanted.

There are thousands of variations, but they are categorized in this book under six: 

  1. Consistency -- If we just agreed to one proposition as correct, how can we claim that this same/similar one is incorrect? Don't you go to the doctor? If you do, how can you not "follow the science" on Covid? 

  2. Reciprocity -- I scratched your back, certainly you will scratch mine. We have all seen the "free" mailing labels arrive, with a request for a donation. It is against human nature not to donate. 

  3. Social Proof - "Everyone's doing it". "A majority of people say" ... etc, etc. From time immemorial, "following the crowd" has generally been an adaptive shortcut. That tendency is often used against us, and modern mass media and the internet only make it easier to apply. 

  4. Authority - You have got to follow "the experts", or "the science", don't you? If they say that two weeks of shutdown will put Covid behind us, or if you take the vaccine, you won't get Covid, you would be a FOOL to not agree! From listening to your parents as a child, or the teacher in school, the urge to believe authority is strong, and VERY dangerous! 

    Consider the "Milgram Experiment" where all of the people that were "teachers" were willing to give the subjects lethal or potentially lethal shocks under the direction of "authority". 

    A little remembrance of Jonestown where 900 people "followed the leader" may be of interest as well,

    We all know the most popular cigarette with doctors is Camel! 




    Doctors nearly never get things wrong: https://bilber99.blogspot.com/2006/04/elbow-ec.html 

  5. Liking - Look at that pretty girl next to that car! I think I really like that car! As one woman said about a referendum "It's a real tough decision. They've got big stars speaking  for it, and they've got big stars speaking against it, You don't know how to vote!!" If the person I like on TV, the star of my sports team, or my friend at the club is voting for hio, how can I go wrong? 

  6. Scarcity - This is the last Cutlass Ciera in the country! The production line is stopped! You have GOT to buy this one RIGHT NOW! Sadly, we often put a very high value on something that we had always had plenty of, but is now scarce (or higher priced). 
As I said, there are thousands of variations on these, We have met the enemy, and the enemy is human nature. We are limited creatures, so when certain "programs" are triggered in our brains, we tend to operate on autopilot like mama turkey. Cialdini uses the example of a certain "cheap" made by a healthy baby turkey that the mother responds to and provides care. Sick/deformed chicks don't make the cheap, and are ignored. If the researcher puts a stuffed skunk in the nest that makes the cheap, it gets care. 

Humans are loaded with the same sort of "program triggers" ... we require them in order to deal with our complex world. If we can avoid thinking, we do -- and modern marketing, media, politicians, and human predators of all types use them to great advantage. 

You have been warned. 

Monday, July 25, 2022

The Complete Personal Memoirs Of Ulysses S Grant

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1387894897?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_dt_b_product_details

The link is to the edition I read, there are a bunch out there. My complaint with this edition was that the maps were WAY too compressed to be useful. 

Grant is such a towering figure in history that multiple biographies need to be read to get a glimpse of the man. I would say that starting your journey here is a better way to place Grant in US history. 

What this book provides is an interior view of a brilliant general and what goes into the craft of war. 

Logistics, logistics, logistics is a good start. The intricate dance between moving armies of tens of thousands of men (and horses in those days), plus food, ammo, medical services, communications (telegraph back then), and countless other factors loom large. 

Understanding the personalities of your subordinates and your adversaries is also key. Some generals are overly cautious, others are overly aggressive. Some need to be given strict and very detailed orders, since they really don't want to take responsibility for anything but success. If the battle is won, they love to report their brilliant moves ... if it fails, they will produce your detailed orders to show that "they were only following orders". 

The influence of media was strong factor even then. The media tended to idolize the brilliance of the dashing Lee, while poking fun at the apparently hapless Northern generals. Grant says nearly nothing about the problems of the Army of the Potomac. He does point out the criticality of the victory at Gettysburg, and Vicksburg happening on the same 4th of July as likely saving the Union. Yet another book I'd like to read ... "The Most Glorious 4th". 

In the press, Lee was portrayed as a brilliant tactician, with nothing of his strategic advantages being pointed out. Grant was portrayed as a "butcher" ... a man of little intelligence and poor character. The mostly apocryphal stories of him as a "drunk", are crafted by his competitors and detractors from his time alone in California, when he did drink to excess, or from injuries sustained that were attributed to him being drunk by his enemies, but not supported by evidence. Neither alcohol or cigars are discussed in the book ... the cigars likely because he was dying of painful throat cancer as he struggled to write the book.

 When he was writing this, he was virtually penniless, and the sales of the book were his only option to provide something for his family after he passed. He finished the manuscript on July 18, 1885.  He died five days later on July 23.  Mark Twain was a huge factor in his writing of the book and it's promotion (also not mentioned in the book). 

The South was fighting on their home turf, defending their entire way of life. They were on defense. Clausewitz said that as a general rule of thumb, attacking forces have to be at least three times stronger than defending forces.

Given these facts ... largely ignored in reporting at the time, and even in history, the North was at grave disadvantage because their strength rarely if ever approached those ratios, In fact, the South often brought greater force. When Lee went on offense at Gettysburg, he lost. 

The North was fighting for a "principle" ... something along the lines of "a house divided cannot stand". Certainly, "slavery is a terrible evil" was always a factor, and it was increasingly so as the war wore on. Principles are very important, however the willingness to die for your principles is not as common in human nature than we like to believe it to be. Willingness to die for your culture and property tend to be a stronger motivation. As in athletic competition, "heart" matters. Something well covered in the book.

The book is highly detailed relative to the conception and execution of many battles ... not just the famous ones. It was originally published in two volumes (my version is a single volume), There is far more attention paid to the Western campaign than is typical of Civil War books. The importance of the rivers and gunboats being used in battle was something I was aware of, but sadly lacking detailed knowledge of. 

On page 93, Grant states what is fairly obvious to people with a passing of knowledge of the Constitution: 
"The fact is the Constitution did not apply to such contingency as the one existing from.1861 to 1865. Its framers never dreamed of such a contingency occurring. If they had forseen it, the probabilities are they would have sanctioned the right of a State or States withdraw rather than that there should be war between brothers."

There are many ironies of the Civil War, but one of the big ones is that the Democrats were the "conservatives", concerned with the Constitution, and tradition. The Republicans were the "radicals", willing to risk life and treasure for an idea, and their view of "righteousness". 

Whole books are written on the issue of whether the Civil War effectively killed the Constitution and initiated the idea of "progressivism" in the US ... a subject to long and complicated to go into here. 

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Message To Christian Church (Jordan Peterson)

This just needs to be watched! 







 

Working While Sick Epitomizes White Supremacy

This twitter post from Dr Kim Sue opened my eyes to subtle ways whites signal their belief in their supremacy, 

When you consider that Biden is fighting cancer, dementia, and now Covid, yet continues to pursue his brutal work schedule that was optimized during the time he spent campaigning from his basement, and a few rallys with sometimes "tens" of well disanced, masked, and Covid tested supporters. Supporters were enthralled by gripping tales of his friendship with Corn Pop, driving semi truck. and his sadness that if he and been president, nobody would have died of Covid. No doubt the greater number of Covid deaths since Biden took office are due to something Trump did, or possibly the nefarious Putin. 

The whole concept of urgency is a white supremacist creation. As an anti racist,  I maintain a strict regimen of  rising late in the morning, frequent naps and scrupulously  avoiding all forms of work, 

I consider myself a top candidate for the coveted Tanishi Coates Anti Racist of the year award,



Monday, July 11, 2022

Watergate, Disinformation Hoax Primer

 I listened to the linked two podcasts, and of course I lived through the time of Watergate and the Russia Hoax against Trump. 

The common factor is the left HATED Nixon and hates Trump. While Watergate had more basis in reality than Russiagate, both were merely made for media smears with the Deep/Administrative state and media playing them for all the hatred mileage they could get ... as per usual in the Deep State and media, truth or the good of the nation be damned. 

We are now living through the January 6th Show "Trial" ... it isn't a "trial",  it is a "hearing", a little explanation:

These sessions do not resemble other formal legal proceedings in any way because they are tightly scripted with the goal of making certain key points established by the committee chairman along with the staff and asking relevant questions.

Very often, the media are briefed and given pertinent materials prior to the hearing, and advance press reports describe what will be revealed when it begins. In addition, once the hearing starts, committee members usually plan to make comments or issue statements that will be used as quotes in subsequent news reports.

If the Deep / media state really hates their target, they will televise this made for media attempt to demonize the hated party ... under the pretext that they are doing something that has something to do with "law", or anything of benefit to the country. They certainly hope it will damage their target, give them political points with their supporters, or possibly even convince gullible members of the public that this is something other than a spectacle that is no more meaningful than a movie or TV show.  

This is covered quite well in these two linked Podcasts. They aren't really necessary to listen to if you understand what I've explained above, but a lot of it is sadly humorous ... G Gordon Liddy is a character that makes me think of Hunter S Thompson. Yes, Nixon was paranoid, but as in the old saw; "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they are NOT out to get you"! 

In Nixon's case they definitely were! 

https://ricochet.com/podcast/powerline/everything-you-know-about-watergate-is-wrong-part-1/

https://ricochet.com/podcast/powerline/everything-you-know-about-watergate-is-wrong-part-2/

Live Not By Lies, Jordan Peterson

A discussion of Rod Dreher's  "Live Not By Lies" with Jordan Peterson. 






Batteries Not Included

 Yes, SNL is rarely funny these days, but there are exceptions!

https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/new-mercedes/3021121


Sunday, June 26, 2022

Hegoland

 https://www.npr.org/2021/05/27/1000444659/helgoland-offers-a-new-way-to-understand-the-world-and-our-place-in-it

This is one of those books that I can read  to my wife at bedtime and she will certainly fall asleep ... although I'd argue that since the theme of this book is that "reality is relationships" .... not matter, not quarks, gluons, cats in boxes with poison, or many worlds, but RELATIONSHIPS, it ought to be very interesting to women  ... if either we or they knew what a woman is. 

To get a feeling for Rovelli's perspective, imagine of a blue bowling ball that's 10 in. across and weighs 25 lbs. We think those properties — the ball's color, weight and size — are real in and of themselves. If the bowling ball were the only thing in the whole universe, it would still be blue, 10 in. across and weigh 25 lbs. But the lesson Rovelli wants us to learn is that nothing has any properties at all until it interacts with something else. And between those interactions there are no properties at all. What quantum mechanics is teaching us, Rovelli says, is that reality is a vast net of interactions where there are no things, only relationships. "This is the radical leap," he writes, that "... everything exists solely in the way it affects something else."

As a Christian this is quite appealing. Why is God three persons and one person at the same time? Relationship. What makes me spiritually real? My relationship to Christ.  

If you do go and read the book, you need to understand that the ψ symbol means "wave function".
In naming his wave, Schrödinger uses the Greek letter psi: ψ. The quantity ψ is also called the “wave function.”18 His fabulous calculation seems to show clearly that the microscopic world is not made up of particles: it is made up of ψ waves. Around the nuclei of atoms there are not orbiting specks of matter but the continuous undulation of Schrödinger’s waves, like the waves that ruffle the surface of a small lake as the wind blows.

My definition of wave function is likely totally wrong, but hopefully like the "where are we"? With the answer : "we're in a plane". So the wave function is all the places "something" (usually an electron) might be, and even how fast it might be going. If we measure one of those aspects, the function collapses. 

QBism abandons a realistic image of the world, beyond what we can see or measure. The theory gives us the probability that we will see something, and this is all that it is legitimate to say. It is not legitimate to say anything about the cat or the photon when we are not actually observing them.
In the preceding, "the cat" is Schrodinger's cat that in one interpretation of quantum theory is alive and dead at the same time. 
The weakness of QBism, in my opinion—and this is the turning point in this whole discussion—is that QBism anchors reality to a subject of knowledge, an “I” that knows, as if it stood outside nature. Instead of seeing the observer as a part of the world, QBism sees the world reflected in the observer. In so doing, it leaves behind naive materialism but ends up falling into an implicit form of idealism. The crucial point that QBism disregards, I believe, is that the observer himself can be observed. We have no reason to doubt that every real observer is himself described by quantum theory.

There are many books on idealism. Plato is at least one of the originators ... it being the thought that ideas are really all that are "really real" what we "see" is just a projection of a "perfect form" ... our existence, if you will, is "through a lens darkly".  

On 188, we get down to a bit of the "brass tacks" for apparently sentient beings wondering about "Where am I going"? 

Objections to the possibility of understanding our mental life in terms of known natural laws, on closer inspection, come down to a generic repetition of “It seems implausible to me,” based on intuitions without supporting arguments.*131 Unless it is the sad hope of being constituted by some vaporous supernatural substance that remains alive after death: a prospect that, apart from being utterly implausible, strikes me as ghastly

Ergo, we don't have  any real answers to consciousness, but it MUST be some kind of materialistic, quantum, relational "something" ... that is the only answer that "reasonable people" (a mass of poorly understood quantum relations) can accept! Anything else is "ghastly" (in scientific terms), and we certainly can't have THAT! 

If this book sells very well, I'd guess the list of those who read it is much smaller than those who buy it. The list of those that understand it, likely borders on absolute zero ... I don't claim to understand it, but I don't understand that much of Shakespeare either, but I see having tried and failed as superior to never having tried! 



Winston Churchill, Thoughts and Adventures

 https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2013/08/a-kind-of-dignity-and-even-nobility-winston-churchills-thoughts-and-adventures.html

The linked review is on the longlish side .... it certainly covers the book, so much so that you may as well read the book! It is a collection of articles he wrote before, during and after WWI. 

One of the reasons for picking this one out is that it gives a reasonably brief introduction to Churchill's entertaining, informative, and concise exploration of his life and history. 

An interesting quote, from page 71;

"The longer one lives, the more one realizes that everything depends upon chance, and the harder it is to believe that this omnipotent factor in human affairs arises simply from the blind interplay of events. Chance, fortune, luck, destiny, fate, providence seem to me only different ways of expressing the same thing, to wit, that a man's only contribution to his life story is continually dominated by an exterior superior power."

I know that "superior power", and the more I read Churchill, I believe he does as well ... my guess is that he realized that if he was open about his faith, he would be less effective as a world leader, but of course I really have no idea. 

One of the key articles covered in the book is "Fifty Years Hence", Which I believe is completely included from the web here..

I quote the last paragraph:

After all, this material progress, in itself so splendid, does not meet any of the real needs of the human race. I read a book the other day which traced the history of mankind from the birth of the solar system to its extinction. There were fifteen or sixteen races of men which in succession rose and fell over periods measured by tens of millions of years. In the end a race of beings was evolved which had mastered nature. A state was created whose citizens lived as long as they chose, enjoyed pleasures and sympathies incomparably wider than our own, navigated the interplanetary spaces, could recall the panorama of the past and foresee the future. But what was the good of all that to them? What did they know more than we know about the answers to the simple questions which man has asked since the earliest dawn of reason—’Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? Whither are we going?’ No material progress, even though it takes shapes we cannot now conceive, or however it may expand the faculties of man, can bring comfort to his soul. It is this fact, more wonderful than any that Science can reveal, which gives the best hope that all will be well. Projects undreamed-of by past generations will absorb our immediate descendants; forces terrific and devastating will be in their hands; comforts, activities, amenities, pleasures will crowd upon them, but their hearts will ache, their lives will be barren, if they have not a vision above material things. And with the hopes and powers will come dangers out of all proportion to the growth of man’s intellect, to the strength of his character or to the efficacy of his institutions. Once more the choice is offered between Blessing and Cursing. Never was the answer that will be given harder to foretell.

From the temptation and original sin to eat of the forbidden fruit, man has always been plagued  by an unquiet soul. He was created to live forever,  and deep down he realizes it, though he fears it, and often denies it. He is faced with the eternal choiced of "blessing and cursing" -- and without submitting (something he is often too proud to do) to the Grace of God, these are choices beyond his ability. 

For me, the big message of the book, shown by Churchill's many scrapes with death, and from this perspective of the then future, we know MANY more, hs is one of the representatives of "is there a divine purpose and plan"? The whole Bible screams YES! One barely needs to scratch the surface of reading history to see the countless examples of "what are the odds of that happening (or not happening)?"

Incalculable ... but for the atheist, all is random chance and coincidence. The cosmic roulette table of chance is their object of worship. If they ponder the science/probability of what they believe, the only valid conclusion is that they do not in fact exist.  

I've read a lot about Churchill, and a decent amount of his own writings. I could spend the rest of my life focused only on studying Churchill, even if my life is a long one! 

Among the many jewels in this book, I was struck by the chapter on Moses. Churchill is often claimed to be "close to an atheist" by historians, and he was  certainly not a "practicing" Christian. However God doesn't really say much about how one "practices" Christianity. He does talk of fulfilling the Law, which is not possible without the Holy Spirit. Luke 26-27 explains how to follow the Law: 

26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

We all know John 3:16 ...

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It doesn't say much about church at all. 

For ME, church is critical, since belief is not easy for me, I need a lot of help. The only unforgivable sin is unbelief. One of my frequent prayers is Mark 9:24  ... “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 

On page 214; "We believe that the most scientific view, the most up to date and rationalistic conception, will find its fullest satisfaction in in taking the Bible story literally, and in identifying one of the greatest human beings, with the most decisive leap forward ever discernable in the human story." 

He is referring to Moses, the "law giver", who is just the earthly voice of God. Christ is THE greatest fully human and fully God being who defines eternity  ... through Him, all things were made. 

A worthy read. 


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Proving A Negative ... Guns This Time

 https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2022/06/re-the-do-something-bill.php

As in sexual harassment law, the the new "do something" gun law puts the burden of proof is on the accused, not the accuser. 

While common law forever has put the burden of proof on the accuser rather than the accused because proving a negative is nigh on impossible, we continue to slip into the insanity of "prove to me that we have not been visited by space aliens",.

On federal red flag law funding, perhaps the most controversial provision, the bill makes a big show of demanding protections for “due process rights” and against “infringement of the Constitution.” It demands there be penalties against “abuse of the program.” All of this is unenforceable, as Republicans know. A number of blue states have already passed red flag laws that nullify gun rights on the word of third-party accusations—sometimes, ex parte—and not only demand the accused prove their innocence before having their rights reinstated but allow for property searches without the usual evidentiary standards. Until the Supreme Court undoes these laws, highly unlikely, states will receive funding. But it’s one thing for California or Rhode Island to do so, and it’s another for national Republicans to fund their efforts.

"Ex-parte" done with respect to or in the interests of one side only ... in this case, only the accuser. 

So a disgruntled spouse, ex lover, neighbor, someone in your community that doesn't like you, just doesn't like guns, etc can have your house searched with no due process, and if your guns are found, remove them with no due process. 

Marvelous. 

As in all totalitarian states, removal of rights, and even locking them up without due process is an important government principle. The US used to be a real champion of "innocent until PROVEN guilty", and if you were a "protected group" (any minority), that proof had to be really airtight.