Hello From a Conservative Skeptic

I’ve been an avid reader of Skeptical Inquirer for some years now. While I don’t always agree with the views expressed, I always find food for thought. A few personal characteristics:

  • Occupation: Information Technology Program Manager
  • Profession: Marine (retired)
  • Education: MSEE
  • Religion: Christian
  • Politics: Conservative
  • Hobbies: Family genealogy, history, science
  • Core beliefs: God, family, country, conservative values, skepticism, and the scientific method
  • Core disbeliefs: Leftism/socialism, CAM, paranormal, extraterrestrial UFOs, and anti-vaxers
Perhaps a bit different from most skeptics, and some might even say I'm disqualified in claiming to be one, given some of my views - their problem, not mine.

Should be fun. Jump right in. We have a couple well fed trolls.

That’s OK. My grandfather was an avid reader of science and often said, “I cannot see God creating only one planet, one solar system, with life on it. There has to be other people on other planets in other solar systems.” He also said, “God gave us doctors so he could heal through them.” He believed in medicine, vaccinations, was a right wing Evangelical Xian, etc. Go figure. He appreciated science and religion (although not so much Evolution), so I guess a person could be a skeptic and a Xian too. It’s amazing I came out of all that as a non-believing skeptic or humanist.

Welcome aboard Gene, I was one of Uncle Sams Misguided Children also.

You’re in the snake pit here with your stance but sometimes it’s fun to butt heads… although I find the other person always ends up on the ground.

FWIW I’m an atheist – but not a secular humanist – who is conservative on most issues, so I got your back.

Gene can u expand on your conservative values? What exactly are they?

thatoneguy, thanks! As I expect you well understand, we jarheads aren’t shy for a good exchange.

Player, easier said than done, but I’ll try. I’m not saying these are ironclad or that I’ve never broken these, or even that they always apply, but here are my thoughts:

  1. While much influences who you are and what you accomplish in life, you are fundamentally responsible for who you are and what you do.
  2. Governments may exist for good reasons, but none are perfect, and all must be closely watched, tightly bounded, and periodically pruned.
  3. Social experiments should be proved in the general populace rather than conducted on our military or children.
  4. When we see something that needs doing, our first reaction should not be to increase taxes.
  5. You have a right to your opinion, but if you expect me to change mine, bring proof.
  6. Set the example, expect more of yourself than you expect from, or of, others.
  7. Cruel and unusual punishment depends on the crime committed.
  8. Take the long view, and a world view of history and events.
  9. Professional politicians are poison to the body politic.
  10. Life is unfair. Get over it, and get on with it.
 

Before discussing these “values”, just noting you would have to question a persons intelligence when they list God as a belief while the paranormal gets a disbelief and using right wing buzz words like leftism, a go to term to conceal a lack of political and ecomonic understanding and honest thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So these “values”. I would say more Liberterian than conservative and neo classical in the economic sense.

So Gene, these values form the basis of your epistemology. How are they applied to the complex challenges of our times especially those that threaten humanity itself?? Or maybe your epistemology say these are not problems and do not require our immediate attention.

 

Issues such.

 

  1. Climate Change ( is there a bigger threat to mankind and other species today 0r ever for that matter?).

  2. Military industrial complex and imperialist wars ( leading us to nuclear war).

  3. Debt (private rather than public and the knock on effects).

  4. Corporate welfare, lobbyocracy and money in politics ( antithesis of real democracy)

  5. automation of the means of production, distribution and exchange ( 100s of millions will be rendered useless).

  6. The increasing wealth gap in society ( the system is rigged towards the minority class).

  7. The rise of fascism and right wing religious terrorists ( from white supremacists to the funding and spreading of Wahhabism ideology)

  8. Finance capital and the rise of speculation, monopoly capitalism and the rentier economy.

  9. Peak oil ( the ultimate energy source is slipping through our hands before we can use it to transition to new sources)

  10. Population, resources and waste ( all on a finite planet).

 

looking forward to your response Gene.

 

 

Player, regarding your questioning my intelligence or my alleged use of what I consider very appropriate “buzz words.” Clearly, you’ve very closed minded views on those subjects, and likely base most of your views on a very selective view of life.

As for your ten “issues” (not that I expect any of my answers to satisfy you):

  1. Climate Change - first, mankind has faced several more serious challenges and managed to survive. Climate change, however, is serious, but, even if we bankrupted our country (US), we won’t stop what’s coming - other nations have a larger impact, and aren’t going to stop. Rather, instead of wasting funds trying to turn things around, we need to start preparing for the impact - in a controlled manner, encouraging/moving people out of exposed areas, hardening/moving critical infrastructure, and, yes, doing what we can afford to do to minimize our climate impact.

  2. Military industrial complex and imperialist wars. Can you say “leftist propaganda?” This is a complex subject that you obviously do not have a clue on. Weak leaders and an unprepared defense are much more likely to bring war than your boogymen.

  3. Debt. Credit is the problem, not debt. People need to relearn how to live within their means.

  4. Corporate welfare, lobbyocracy and money in politics ( antithesis of real democracy). First, we are a representative republic, not a democracy. Do abuses go on, yes. Do we need to do something about them, yes. But its been far worse before, and we somehow came out okay.

  5. automation of the means of production, distribution and exchange ( 100s of millions will be rendered useless). You fit right in with the luddites. I expect your intellectual forbearers made very similar comments about the industrial revolution and the wheel. Changes in tech always bring disruption, we will adjust and move forward. Instead of complaining about these supposed “losses” we need to be planning how to update people’s skill sets, etc., to better weather these disruptions.

  6. The increasing wealth gap in society ( the system is rigged towards the minority class). Been far worse before, and not nearly as bad as the left (darn, there I go again) makes it out to be.

  7. The rise of fascism and right wing religious terrorists. Again with the leftist propaganda. Such notions have always been there. Their “rise” is largely a result of the left forcing more middle of the road people to take stands against liberal/leftist power moves that only they think is a good idea. In turn, extreme right groups have taken the opportunity to make more noise.

  8. Finance capital and the rise of speculation, monopoly capitalism and the rentier economy. Again, not really anything new.

  9. Peak oil ( the ultimate energy source is slipping through our hands before we can use it to transition to new sources). We’ve rejected the only truly affordable alternative source through fear and politics. What’s left can’t support a real transition - only nibble at it while destroying our economy.

  10. Population, resources and waste ( all on a finite planet). Population - talk to the countries and peoples with huge reproductive population growth (Middle East and Africa). Slower population growth makes resource solutions possible.

Just one disagreement. You said we are a representative republic, not a democracy. A representative republic is a form of democracy. It is not a direct democracy, but it is still considered a democracy. It would be impossible for almost any country to be a direct democracy. Direct democracy can exist only in small populations. Direct democracy requires the public to vote on every issue. Can you imagine every qualified voter in the US voting on every issue brought up in Congress when we can’t even get most people to vote for president? We’d hardly have any time to do anything else. The vast majority of voters are also not well-informed on the issues. In my opinion, voting on every issue would be an administrative impossibility in a country the size of the United States. The country that comes closest to direct democracy is Switzerland, but its population is about the same as the state of New Jersey. There are no US states or cities that have direct democracy.

“A democratic republic is a form of government operating on principles adopted from a republic and a democracy. Rather than being a cross between two entirely separate systems, democratic republics may function on principles shared by both republics and democracies… . .

“In the US, the notion that a republic was a form of democracy was common from the time of its founding, and the concepts associated with representative democracy (and hence with a democratic republic) are suggested by John Adams (writing in 1784):

“No determinations are carried, it is true, in a simple representative democracy, but by consent of the majority or their representatives.”

“Most western countries have representative systems. Switzerland is a rare example of a country with instruments of direct democracy (at the levels of the municipalities, cantons, and federal state). Citizens have more power than in a representative democracy.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_democracy#Switzerland

 

 

 

 

LoisL, you are, of course, absolutely correct. I mispoke. My intent was to counter the apparent intent of some that want to move toward direct democracy, which, as you explain quite well, would be a disaster for most countries, to include the US.

You mention Switzerland - a very interesting example as regards, not only democracy, but, also, their approach to political education of their young. Whether their methods and extent work may be subject to debate, but their goals are, I think, quite worthy. I addition to an expected education in their country’s form of government, etc., their goal is to also educate their students in:

  • How to read political information,
  • Critical analysis,
  • Cooperation and communication,
  • Problem solving,
  • How to think about and critique issues/stances,
  • How to reach consensus, and
  • How to defend an argument.
As I think is obvious, such skills as valuable far beyond their use in political discourse. We've done a lousy job in basic civics education in this country for years, much less those other skills, and this is likely part of the reason we find ourselves in our current predicament. I can't help but wonder what things would be like if (1) our basic civics education was up to par, and (2) we taught those other truly life-essential skills as well - all beginning in K-12.

strawman- not very issue. The community puts forward the policies it would like to see and elects a persons to ensure these are acted on and effectively implemented. If the elected official goes against the wishes of the community, a recall of the position can be initiated if enough community numbers agree and replaced by an official would will.

 

Other issues that occur can be voted on by the community if there are enough concerned individuals on that matter

Gene - I note every one of your responses lacks context, objective facts, historical consideration and general lack of knowledge, education and understanding of why these are of great concern. My comment about your position on God vs the paranormal seems to have gone beyond your head - a contradictory position you obviously dont see.

 

So lets go through this slowly. And lets use your own words in what you claim are your beliefs, disbeliefs and valves. Its often what right wingers hang themselves on.

  1. Climate change -

 

You say one of your beliefs is in the scientific method.

The science on climate change say that for as atm conc of CO2 increases the certainty of specific temperature rises also increases and if emissions are left unabated, the temperature rise will be so significant to make the earth uninhabitable. For someone who only champions preparing for impact in addressing climate change, it shows their fundamental lack of understanding in climate science, the scientific method, and an unadulterated loyalty to their ideology whatever the reality

.

Player, since I’ve neither the time nor the inclination to teach you all you clearly do not know or understand, I’ll, instead, offer you the opportunity to enlighten me.

Since you started with climate change, let’s go there. Okay, you say my symptomatic approach is inadequate. Fine. Let’s have your’s. What’s your plan for turning things around? And please don’t provide me rhetoric, or a childishly naive plan that depends on unenforceable, politically motivated international agreements. To be valid, your plan must be solidly based on scientific, economic, social, historical, and political data clearly demonstrating, in detail, the development and critical analysis of alternatives, the climatic, economic, social, and political effects the selected alternative, and, in detail, how, in practice, it would be internationally and implemented and enforced.

First accept what the science is telling you like a true skeptic in that atm co2 reduced from 400 + ppm to 300ppm.

 

Then introduce policies that are consistent with this reality. The GND puts us on the pathway to zero emmissions by eliminating fossil fuels in 10 years.

Next is putting energy production and decision making into the hands of the public not private interests

Next reduce our global emmisions fairly and equitably across the world through contraction and convergence

 

https://climatechangeconnection.org/solutions/international-solutions/contraction-convergence/.

 

Of course all this will not happen without address my point 4 and rejecting todays mindless mantra of economic growth

So lets move onto point 2.

 

You say

“Military industrial complex and imperialist wars. Can you say “leftist propaganda?” This is a complex subject that you obviously do not have a clue on. Weak leaders and an unprepared defense are much more likely to bring war than your boogymen”

You say that it is not true that war is the business model for weapons manufacturers and the revolving door between govt and these corporation doesnt facilitate this?

Can you name me a war in the name of defence?

 

 

Player, this isn’t a plan - its not even a concept. Maybe just the beginning of one. As I said before, to be valid, your plan must be solidly based on scientific, economic, social, historical, and political data clearly demonstrating, in detail, the development and critical analysis of alternatives, the climatic, economic, social, and political effects the selected alternative, and, in detail, how, in practice, it would be internationally and implemented and enforced.

It ain’t that.