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How We Might Conquer Myths And Save Our Government From GridlockDonald Steward5/16/2013

Much of what we believe is wrong. We canít always afford to check the facts and reasoning to verify every one of our beliefs. Usually we donít have to because most of what we believe has no bearing on what we or others do. Does it make any difference that we may think that Ghana is in South America rather than in Africa? (Guiana is in South America.) But when it affects our voting, myths can lead to the failure of government to solve the peopleís problems.

To distinguish truth from myth requires disciplined analysis involving Facts, Relations, and logical Reasoning, which we abbreviate as FRR. We can only afford to submit a very few of the things we are told to such FRR analysis.

When we canít distinguish truth from myth, the door is swung wide open to anyone saying anything he wishes, whether he himself wants to believe it, or whether itís what he wants us to believe either to manipulate us, or to seek comfort by his inclusion in a group of others who also accept the myth.

In a world where extremism and conspiracy theories flourish, itís hard to get anything accomplished.

We usually get our beliefs from groups we are comfortable with, whether they be political parties or religious groups. And we tend to defend most of the views of these groups. Memberships in these groups saves us the effort of doing our own FRR analysis.

In Congress, we are seeing a display of fighting over myths with the intent of gaining competitive power and self-satisfaction for one party or the other. Itís mostly an ego and power contest, but itís causing chaos and preventing problems from being solved. Itís a game they are playing, but itís not in our interest to be part of it. As citizens, we should prefer solutions rather than an opportunity to be spectators to a dangerous sport.

Some have proposed that the internet can help bring the views of the people to the attention of others and this will contribute to enhancing democracy. However, the internet is only a means of communication. It can also be a conduit of myths as well truths. What is needed is a way of using internet conversations to extend our powers to solve complex problems. We will consider that here.

A proper reference for our beliefs should be based on good facts, good relations, and good logical reasoning, i.e. FRR.

When we donít have a reference such as FRR for our beliefs, we tend to argue without much chance of coming to any agreed upon conclusion. Frustrations develop. As we argue, we become more hostile toward different views and those who hold them. Animosities grow. Nothing gets accomplished and chaos reigns..

This is a fairly good explanation for what we see in our gridlocked Congress, and the frustrations that are causing uprisings and governmental chaos all over the world.

We must ask before we make assertions whether we have looked at the facts, the relations between those facts (such as cause-and-effect), and the logical reasoning drawn from them.

Without this we have entered an era of extremism and conspiracy theories.

Recently, gains in technology and its wide reach have created problems that involve more interrelated considerations and thus are more complex and have greater consequences than we can fathom. We frequently donít understand the consequences of what we do.

Even though we donít understand the enormous consequences of what we might do, people can still create great wealth for themselves even if they unwittingly make gambles with uncertain outcomes provided they can keep the gains and have someone else cover their loses.

This is exactly the game that people with money can play and are playing today. They can create self-serving myths and propagate them by secretly financing Congressional campaigns. The candidates being financed are likely to be persuaded by the myths their contributors wish to propagate. When these candidates are sought after by the media to express their opinions, these myths have their influence over the voters. So we have a path from the myths of the money to the myths of the voters. Sometime money can even be used to directly buy the media attention they need to spread their myths. The voter is relatively defenseless against the power of this money. Thus we end up with government by money rather than government by citizens. What ever happened to democracy?

An example of a statement widely circulated that needs more careful FRR analysis is that the greater the wealth of the wealthy, the more prosperous is the economy. There have been a number of studies of this assumption. But who would want to consult these studies if they would profit from others believing the assumption, whether or not it is true. .

When problems have a great many aspects that are highly interconnected and have far reaching influences, it becomes beyond our capacity to use what reasoning capacity we have to determine their implications. What might have been solutions if the problems could have been solved are instead replaced by myths and arguments.

A complexity gap is growing between the greatest complexity we are able to deal with by our own wits and the even greater complexity of the problems we are facing today.

Ideally, we assume that if the analysis can be done to distinguish between truth and myth, people who are unable to do that analysis themselves will be persuaded by those they trust who can do the analysis. Unfortunately, this assumption may be very naÔve. But it shouldnít dissuade us from trying.

A computer program could help us handle all the many aspects of a complex problem that we are not able to handle without the computerís help. But unfortunately, it is not being considered because people are hesitant to believe that such a program would be possible.

Today, we are failing to gain insight into many important but complex social problems. This failure of insight is leading our government and our society into chaos. But we could approach these problems by expanding our insights using such a computer program as one that already exists.

Then why arenít we using it?

It can take decades between when something becomes possible and when it is accepted for publication and thus made known to those who could critique and use it. Itís a new idea that hasnít been known before. People are inclined to think that it is not possible to do this, inhibiting their willingness to make the substantial effort to look at it carefully enough to realize that it is possible. This is a Catch-Twenty-Two.

It may take several decades before it is recognized by journalís referees of so it would be published for others to critique it and put it to use. This process is proceeding very, very slowly.

But can we afford to wait before it becomes known to a wide enough audience where someone will be prepared to consider it carefully to use it to gain insight into the complex problems that are baffling us today? You may be the one to pick it up and carry it on. That could occur tomorrow. Or it might take decades before someone else does.

In the meanwhile, if someone would be willing to work with me using an early but sufficient version of the program, we could start today to resolve some of the social problems that are causing Congressional gridlock.

It has already been possible to demonstrate how this program has been used to gain insight into several important but complex social problems such as exploring the causes of the economic crisis and widening wealth gap. But if people feel that it cannot be done, they are likely not to be willing to even look at examples of what has been done.

It would certainly help to start solving these complex problems now rather than waiting for several decades before someone has the curiosity and fortitude to look at this method carefully enough to see how it works, and has the courage to persuade others to use it.

Until we can cross that gap, the method will be effectively useless and we will continue to be perplexed by the problems we face, and thus remain in our state of exasperation.

If we can get enough people to understand how this works and petition journal referees to publish it, we could go a long way toward solving these complex social-political problems. Will you join me? I can supply more information.  

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