Monday, February 20, 2006


A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.
-Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen; by Frederic Bastiat

That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen; by Frederic Bastiat: "Let us accustom ourselves, then, to avoid judging of things by what is seen only, but to judge of them by that which is not seen."

I'm never quite sure how to feel about libertarian economists like Frederic Bastiat. Perhaps I just need to read more, but I find his thinking interesting and his conclusions uncomfortable. This quote is one I find particularly appealing, however, as it seems to anticipate the "organism-as-a-whole-in-its-environment" concept of gs.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

One Study, Many Headlines

Today, papers across the country reported on a new study of hormone replacement therapy. Most noted that the researchers found "no overall difference in heart attack risk among women who took the hormone and those who did not. " The headlines, however, provide an interesting study on the vagaries of interpretation and the limitations of abstraction.

All of the following appeared on Google at the same time:

Final estrogen report finds no heart disease benefit
Heart benefit in hormone therapy: study
Study: Estrogen-Only Hormone Therapy Is Safe
Study: No Beneficial Link Between Estrogen And Heart Disease
Comforting News for Women Taking Estrogen
Little Evidence Estrogen Lowers Heart Disease Risk
Estrogen Might Help Prevent Heart Disease
Estrogen Therapy of No Value to Heart Health
Estrogen Might Help Prevent Heart Disease
Estrogen iffy in lowering heart risk

How can all these headlines refer to the same story? Well, of course, they don't, exactly. The negative ones focus on the overall finding across all age groups, which show no correlation between HRT and heart attack risk. The positive ones focus on the particular finding that
HRT may reduce risk of heart attack for premenopausal women between 50 and 59.

An object lesson in the need to dig a little deeper and not just rely on headlines for one's definitive news.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
-Voltaire, philosopher (1694-1778)

Voltaire may not have known about the idea that people don't "make" us do anything--we choose our reactions, whether consciously or unconsciously.

But his point still rings true. If you place your belief in someone whose words make "non-sense", you may very well act in ways you would never have otherwise.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Why should I give them my mind as well?
-Dalai Lama (1935-)

The Dalai Lama was asked if he was angry at the Chinese for taking over his country. His response, above, demonstrates a critical lesson that many may see but not everyone will understand.

When someone imprisons us or takes away our possessions or our homelands, we may have little or no power to stop them,

When we react in anger or become despondent, we hand over control of the one thing they cannot control without our complicity--our emotional/rational response to our situation.

Insight on Language Manipulation

This article in the Central Daily (copyrighted by the Philadelphia Inquirer), by two writers from American University's Center for Global Peace, presents a surgically sharp insight into the "cartoon crisis" raging across the globe right now. Most of us see this as a clash of cultures. These writers see this as an orchestrated and opportunistic manipulation of human emotions for protection of a controlling elite.

I wish I'd written it.