Feb 19

Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’

Undoubted statistics show that there is a plummeting of the numbers of insects. Does this sound appealing to you? Are you, “Bugs–good riddance”? Get over it. Insects, as The Guardian reminds us, “…are essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients.” Without them we’re at risk of a catastrophic failure of nature. You know where you get your food from? Nature.

So how did this happen? Runaway agriculture and development. Industrial agriculture has razed the natural habitat of the world’s insects. And of course insecticides kills them off in enormous masses. Those that survive have no one to mate with.

What can we do about it? Much. But the real question is, what will we do about it? Little, if humanity’s persistent short-sightedness is any indication.

If we had the social will, we could radically cut down on the construction of housing projects, big box malls, parking lots, everything that squanders land. America’s vast belts of of strip malls and toxic fast-food franchises; the more unnecessary factories–even big amusement parks…It’s all garbage. We could throw it out. We could work harder on reducing landfills too.

And most importantly, we could go to smaller scale sustainable agriculture. We don’t really need pesticides or herbicides to raise food. If we just outlaw pesticides–that’ll start to make a difference right away.

We don’t need all that beef and pork either–it takes up an inordinate amount of land, leaving little room for ecological complexity.

We can organize a better world without all the sheer greed-based crap we surround ourselves with, and we’ll save not only insects but the remaining wild animal life out there. Insects and the surviving animal species will bounce back.

We could do it. But we probably won’t. Because we have the attention spans of insects–namely, gnats.


Jan 19


First, let’s quickly review the scale of the thing: In excess of a billion people are active on Facebook. Every month a hundred million use Instagram. There are three hundred twenty eight million plus monthly users of Twitter. More than half the world’s population is online in some way. Eighty percent of Americans go online. For years now, public school classes have given homework requiring online activity to complete it (indifferent to the fact that some of the poor don’t have steady access to a browser.)

There are more than a billion websites.

That’s not a system, it’s a series of randomly interlocked systems; it’s not a grand network of self expression. Envisioned in cyberspace, it may look like an endless stochastic city, like a megalopolis of data. But it’s really a kind of wilderness. In any wilderness is beauty and fruitfulness and vicious predators and wandering madmen and disease and flooding and fires and regeneration… Chaos is beautiful, chaos is necessary, chaos also destroys if it’s not modulated.

The American experiment in democracy is compromised by Citizens United, lobbyists, the Koch Brothers, congressionally-connected Big Oil interests, gerrymandering, voter suppression, the recent congressional blockading of the Supreme Court, and the electoral college — yet our representative democracy still manages to sputter along. Every so often the creaking, smoke-streaming car of this democracy sputters to a halt, and people get out and push to get it started again. People like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Al Franken, Barack Obama, Maxine Waters, even a rare few decent Republicans — all fallible people, not omniscient gods. When the car stalls they push the thing a bit and jump back in. They hope to get to the repair shop. If we want to extend this admittedly creaky metaphor just a little more, the oil that keeps the engine running is media, news coverage, literacy, access to facts.

That particular lubricant for democracy is burning up, leaking away — the news media was always imperfect, biased, but on the whole fairly sound. But now it’s hugely overshadowed. We can’t see for the glare of information, false or irrelevant. In March, Huffington Post and other reputable sources reported, “1,000 Paid Russian Trolls Spread Fake News On Hillary Clinton, Senate Intelligence Heads Told… A former FBI agent testified that President Donald Trump helped spread fake news by embracing the stories against his opponents.”

It’s well established that, last year, Russia used thousands of operatives and bots to spread disinformation about Hillary Clinton and her campaign, often targeting Sanders-supporting social media pages, to drive a wedge that couldn’t be overcome if Clinton got the nomination. It seems to have worked.

splatters disinfo on supposed “voter fraud”; convinces astounding numbers of people that Michelle Obama is secretly male (the numbers of youtube videos for that one is mindbending);

We don’t need the Russians, however, to fuck up our democracy. We have “astroturfing” websites working for coal and oil companies to cover up the cause of climate change. right-wing, alt-right, “Sovereign Citizen” cranks, and outright neo-nazis slandered Barack Obama over and over again, during his administration — and even now. The same motley crew spreads lies and grotesque exaggerations about black-on-white violence; deliberately misinterprets Black Lives Matter; splatters disinfo on supposed “voter fraud”; convinces astounding numbers of people that Michelle Obama is secretly male (the numbers of youtube videos for that one is mindbending); claims that a shadow government is planning to take away their guns and herd them into a concentration camp; argues that the Constitution itself is Unconstitutional; and so on. Voices once marginalized by their obvious paranoia and crankery to a tiny squeak at the sidelines — the John Birch Society, for example — have been given gigantic megaphones that boom out over the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. Alex Jones and friends have surprising numbers of people still claiming, even now, that the Clintons and friends were running a child sex ring out of a pizza shop in DC. The alt-reich marchers in Charlottesville are motivated by waves of fake stories spread by internet sources including some elaborate youtube videos. There are an amazing number of flagrantly pro-Nazi videos and “channels” on youtube.

Per the BBC News August 13: “As a predominantly online movement, the alt-right does not officially have membership, therefore exact numbers are hard to come by… The presence of this ‘amorphous’ movement is online and its popularity is said to be increasing nationwide.” The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is currently tracking more than 1,600 extremist groups in the country.

From The Atlantic, a few days ago: “Today, each of us is freer than ever to custom-make reality, to believe whatever and pretend to be whoever we wish. Which makes all the lines between actual and fictional blur and disappear more easily. Truth in general becomes flexible, personal, subjective. And we like this new ultra-freedom, insist on it, even as we fear and loathe the ways so many of our wrongheaded fellow Americans use it.” It is a dilemma. The good of free, gloriously uncontrolled expression, turned by our passivity to a bad.

We cannot continue with a society where lies have as much currency as facts. It’s like a gigantic extreme-weather flood, carrying wilderness settlements away, sweeping buildings and cars and people before it…

Fictional news spread on sufficiently realistic-looking yet utterly scurrilous “news sites” — with hundreds of thousands of shares before anyone sharing realizes it’s false — can install the far-right into power; can see that the alt-right nationalists keep that power for good. Alternate facts, fabricated “news”; sheer disinformation on a vast scale, promulgated by a mindless, kneejerk use of Twitter and other social media… it’s overwhelming to people. We cannot reasonably expect them to research all this, to separate it all out. Most of them haven’t worked in media and haven’t got the skills to engage in needed research. Additionally, we’ve noticed Trump, and conspiracy theorists and birthers and “sovereign citizens” and climate-change deniers and alt-right types using the term “fake news”. So the consumers of right-wing, or conspiracy-fixated false news will assume our facts are not their facts; our identification of fake news is instantly to be regarded as suspect, since it contradicts their comfortably xenophobic views of the world.

There are websites that offer to sort out real from unreal news, but you have to know about them, then be willing to give them a shot, and most people won’t trouble themselves. They are going to passively take in what’s given them through social media and click-bait links.

Worse, we now have something called “DEEPFAKE”. Programs which make photoshop look primitive; which can create a totally realistic video of a person doing something they never did. Practical everyman CGI has reached a new plateau, from which it can make anything appear real. It’s only going to get more realistic. It’s already being used to create fake porn to extort people with. The internet will be used to spread and perpetuate the lies perpetrated by Deepfake.

Suggesting some kind of intelligent, widely-based moderation of the internet, where we have systems to weed out most disinformation, click-bait news, is subject to the criticism that such a moderation might be based on purely subjective standards. But is science subjective? Are verifiable facts subjective? Is overwhelming probability subjective?

Worried about threats to Net Neutrality? You should be. Gigantic corporations, and their corporatist cronies will use all this disinformation — even they don’t take Alex Jones seriously — as a cover, a smokescreen, to “edit” the internet their way. Let them decide all this, and they’ll control access and information opportunistically, with only self-interest in mind.

Yet those of us who want a free media don’t want lunatics shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, either; don’t want shady operatives controlling the electorate.

It should be remembered that many disinformation sites exist purely to service greed. They’re about clicks, views, which they translate into cash via advertising, subscribers, and selling paraphernalia and videos and so on. Sometimes they’re simply paid by political and espionage operatives to spread disinformation. Some of the sites known to have been making up stories about Hillary Clinton were paid to do it by people they knew nothing about except that they wired real money through PayPal. Some of the writers were located, confronted, and admitted as much. But hey, first amendment — right? Not in this case. These people are not working to express themselves. They’re purely in the business of lying for money.

Some will react in sheer revulsion to the suggestion of specialized filters, expert systems say, for filtering the real from the fake, because they assume it risks a loss of net neutrality — but they probably don’t object to blocking, say, child porn, or websites for pedophiles. There are limits to everyone’s tolerance. Is the promulgation of identifiable Big Lies something we should tolerate? I don’t think it is. We could allow full-on net neutrality within certain fairly generous strictures.

But who can we trust to construct reasonable strictures? Comcast? Viacom? Congress? Certainly not.

Two alternative means of filtering the internet come to mind. One would a system whereby a consensus is reached on a daily basis — sort of like Wikipedia, but more universal, more active — arising from internet users as a whole. They’ll have points, call them reality points, they can attach to their votes as to sources excluded. This method could be enforced via negotiation with major independent browsers, to start with. When it’s shown to work, it would grow enough to attract other browsers and systems.

Another could be concerted attacks by volunteers on disinformation sources. Hacking and related methods would be employed. It would be something like Anonymous, but much larger, and would be undergirded by a new study of internet connectivity and access.
Something has to be done and maybe these rather spare thoughts will at least spark a discussion on some acceptable means of protecting the internet from these viciously corrosive surges of disinformation.

Re “DEEPFAKE”: https://www.engadget.com/2018/09/14/lawmakers-concerned-deepfake-technology/


Dec 18

Why Trump wants to spend 21 Billion Dollars For Something that Cannot Work

Trump now claims his border wall might cost as much as 12 billion dollars (he initially said 4 billion).  Bernstein Research puts it at  15 to 25 billion. Estimates from Democrats go as high as 70 billion. The Department of Homeland Security puts it at 21 Billion. Let’s go with 21 Billion for now.

Even some Republicans in Congress are reluctant to fund the wall because it may end up costing far more than estimated and likely would not actually prevent illegal entry. There’s always a way around a wall. Think of the seagoing refugees in Europe. Think of tunnels. Think of the fact that he’s not actually going to build wall along every last inch of border. Intact existing fences will be retained, and he plans to continue to use rivers, alone, as barriers in some places. The wall would perhaps reduce illegal immigration somewhat but it wouldn’t stop it, which means not only a big cost–but also a wasted cost.

Trump may well use executive authority to move money around in the budget and pay for the wall–or at least part of the wall, if it turns out it costs far more than estimated. So look for it to be at least partly built. Even if funded the wall may not  be completed, given historical variances–political changes,  or emergency circumstances–or simply a more mature sense of priorities.

While he’s doubtless xenophobic and some variety of racist, Trump’s real reason for this gigantic boondoggle is simply political. It’s the calculation of a demagogue. Yes, 62% of Americans are opposed to the border wall project–but those people aren’t Trump’s base. He’s gambling that his base, both the MAGA hat wearing supporters and the anti-regulatory far-right, can be turned out in sufficient numbers to keep him in office in 2020–if he gives them his symbolic wall. Their own racist xenophobia will recharge their enthusiasm for him. His symbolic construction project, gerrymandering, and just plain voter suppression, would together give him a chance of re-election despite the fact that most Americans now despise him. Remember, too, the vagaries of the Electoral College.

Trump doesn’t care about protecting the American people–he doesn’t care about anything but himself. He’s demonstrated that fact again and again. He is a pathological narcissist who can’t think beyond his own small-fingered grasp. The only thing he does care about is his own safety and comfort. He’s afraid that his money-laundering and the true extent of his Russia connections will come out. He’s afraid of going to jail. If he’s re-elected President, he’s unlikely to be indicted and he’ll have four more years to work on a cover up.

He’s only insisting on the wall for political purposes. Only that, nothing else. And the curious thing is, we all know that. I’m just saying what you already suspect. What really matters here, is that we as a people seem to be okay with a multibillion dollar boondoggle taking place simply for the sake of an election–for barenaked political reasons alone. No one seems to be pointing this out.  There should be millions of us standing up and shouting, “This is just wasting at least 21 billion dollars of US taxpayer money purely for one man’s vote-getting!”

Dec 18

Hate is Intoxicating

Hate is intoxicating. You may say, “no it’s just toxic”. But that isn’t all there is to hatred. People genuinely get a powerful tension release from outbursts of hatred. They ride a gush of hormones and other stimulating neurological chemicals, and they feel good for awhile. As with being very drunk or very stoned, the IQ drops for a time. Cognition becomes truncated, it becomes constricted by the tunnel vision of a desire to perpetuate the release, the excitement.

It’s a kind of structured rage; the structure requires fuel, which is provided by rhetoric, cherry-picked factoids, outright fabrications, a Rube Goldberg machine of rationales that requires the hater to narrow focus, to filter out what doesn’t feed the fire of bigotry and conspiracy-theory induced rage. That requirement includes not just the exclusion of facts, but also the exclusion of certain feelings. How else do people–who love their own children–feel empowered to say, over and over, “Those children were separated from their parents because their parents broke the law.” Within the framework of structured rage, they’re able to filter out empathy for those particular children; they can block away the obvious realization that these children are being punished for a crime they themselves did not commit.

We’ve always known this, just not quite consciously. It’s the theme of endless movies and plays and tv episodes. “I was blinded by my feelings,” Roger says. …”You, Helen, can’t see what your anger has done to you–to you and to your family…”… “Jim, put down that rope, this town won’t be ruled by mob mentality…” The warnings are there, all through our culture. We do know, on some level. We need to see it on a more conscious level. If we could look at our basest feelings squarely we could get some kind of leverage to control them. We could push back against that inner sumo wrestler that keeps shoving us out of the ring. That pushback starts with philosophy’s most ancient maxim: Know thyself. And that requires a level of self honesty that has to be worked at.

It’s tough to see your own emotional intoxication, especially considering the feedback loop. If you’re seething inside and need a release, need a scapegoat to target–immigrants, for example, or just “liberals”–and you go to a rally, or simply talk to other people with the same addiction to this intoxication, perhaps in a bar or at a football game,  you and they will unconsciously conspire to sustain the flow of intoxication provided by structured rage. You bounce it off one another, faster and faster, more and more narrowly, each confirming the other, in an intoxicating feedback loop. The more people who surround you, repeating the same biases, the more firmly self-serving lies take root inside you.

Demagogues like our current President and the new, neo-fascist leader of Brazil, instinctively know how to foment this feedback loop of bias and rage. So do schoolyard bullies. They all know instinctively how to feed the fire. Why is that? Trump isn’t smart enough to have analyzed the process. It seems to be in his nature to know. The word instinct might be more than just an expression, when it comes back to stoking structured rage. Ancient proto-humans might have had to work up their own feedback loop of anger to survive predation from other tribes. Some obsolete primeval wiring could have gotten Trump elected president; it might be making Alex Jones and his ilk wealthy. Some of our ugliest impulses might well be instinctive.

The core meaning of civilization could the imperative to separate from “lizard-brain” guidance; to recenter ourselves in something higher: in  conscious wisdom, restraint, empathy, and a drive to real justice…

Nov 18

Has Humanity Become Too Vile to Deserve Survival?

“An animal rescue group is outraged after its president said he recovered a dolphin shot to death at a beach in Southern California. Peter Wallerstein, president of Marine Animal Rescue based out of El Segundo, California, told ABC News he spotted the freshly-killed dolphin in the surf on Manhattan Beach on Nov. 8.Wallerstein said he pulled the animal -– known as a common dolphin — out of the water. When he saw the hole in its side, he brought the animal to an animal rehab center where the bullet was removed.

“Usually officials with the Los Angeles Natural History Museum will pick up a dead animal for a necropsy, according to Wallerstein. But since this seemed to be case in which the dolphin was purposefully killed, he wanted it to be analyzed immediately.” Wallerstein called the incident “barbaric” and a “senseless act of aggression.” He noted that he’s seen sea lions who have been shot over the years, but this is the first dolphin killing he has come across. It’s possible other dolphins in the area have been shot, but if they float further out to sea instead of towards shore, they wouldn’t be noticed.

“We don’t know if it’s the only one,” said Wallerstein. “There could be others being shot out there, too.”


Nov 18

What have they done to the Earth?

“What have they done to the earth? What have they done to our fair sister? Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn

“And tied her with fences and dragged her down

“I hear a very gentle sound …With your ear down to the ground

“We want the world and we want it… We want the world and we want it… Now” –Jim Morrison

Nov 18

Or they might eat your Children

My son, who works with a company that helps people who’ve been scammed online, tells me that the scammer’s favorite target is: “…old people with dementia and write or say things that sound techy but make zero sense. They just empty their accounts and use their credit and name for all sorts of shit and then send them emails explaining that there is nothing to worry about because ‘a double opt in crypto CD has been initiated and the account is in the process of receiving a gold level business upgrade, after which funds will be reinstated with 150% interest regarding opsec’ and other nonsense.”

My son, people who rip off elderly people who are naive or who suffer from early dementia might as well be breaking in their house and beating them to get their money. It does as much harm in the long run.

There is, in the human brain, an area which–if not supervised by a conscience–switches on, and dehumanizes select people. This exists because of primeval survival instinct. You are less likely to kill an enemy who wants to club you and take your food and possibly eat your children, if you do not dehumanize them first. So we have this thing. Most people are not aware that it switches on. So they become psychopaths for the time this dehumanization thing is switched on. Nazis at concentration camps would feed the poor starving birds as little children starved right behind them. Selective repression of empathy. With some scammers– they’re real psychopaths. Others fall into psychopathy conveniently.

Until human being 1.0 is gone, and 2.0 takes over, we have to stop these people falling into the dehumanization state and be tough about it.

Or they might eat your children.

Nov 18

Why Aliens WOULDN’T Invade Earth…

As a science-fiction writer, a guy who’s written–mostly from a skeptical viewpoint–about UFOs, and a person with a general interest in the cosmos, I sometimes wonder how things would play out if we were visited by extraterrestrials. Would they be benevolent? Or would it be like the pre-Columbian tribes facing sickness and enslavement from Columbus and Cortez? Would it be like “Independence Day”–an all out war? An invasion?

For the first time, it occurred to me today that they probably would not invade us. Invasion presumably takes a great deal of energy and commitment of resources. If they use some form of money, it’d take that too. It might take a punishingly large amount of energy, personnel, resources, and sheer risk to cross the vast stretch of interstellar light years with the aim of prosecuting an invasion of Earth. Even if they have some faster-than-light or wormhole traversing system, some subspace warpdrive that can get them and their resources here rather handily, they’d still be taking a major risk. They’d have to think about our bacteria, or viruses, which might be enough to defeat them unless they have some universal immunity biotech developed. Even if they have sufficient protection–invasion condoms, so to speak–they would have to have a lot of confidence that their weapons outstripped ours. Maybe they would be more powerfully weaponized, but a race that’s gotten to the moon and back is pretty flexible and resourceful and quick-witted. We might come up with something effective. And nuclear weapons, while crude, might actually be powerful enough to be an interstellar deterrent.

But there’s another consideration–do we have anything they want that badly? The chances are, their own biology is singular to their world. Probably our atmosphere would not suit them; probably our (rather damaged) biosphere would not be suitable either. They would likely have a whole different set of biological needs. They’d be better served to alter some suitable raw lifeless planet to fit their needs. If they flourish in methane, they’d seek a methane rich planet and modify it for their purposes. So much easier than an invasion.

The final consideration is, if they’re smart enough to get here they’re intelligent enough to know that we are worthy of study; they’d know that–even if we’re more primitive than they in some respects–we may have something to offer that would repay them more than an invasion would…

Finally, we come to the conclusion–it just wouldn’t pay to invade Earth…

Nov 18

Am I Treasonous for Suggesting USA Should be Sanctioned?

Does it sound treasonous? That I think it may be necessary for the EU and Canada and Australia and Mexico, say, to levy sanctions against the USA because of Trump’s policies? Financial sanctions will hurt us all, me too. Prices will go up, our economy may founder. His dropping out of the Paris Climate Agreement, his trashing the agreement with Iran, which puts our allies in danger, his plan to drop the Nuclear treaty, his failure to support NATO, his willingness to kowtow to Russia’s needs–all of that puts our allies at risk.

If financial pressure is put on the Trump administration, he may well be forced to back off. One thing Trump understands…is losing money. The financial fallout for America might well make even more Americans feel that the Trump era needs to be over with. Some, of course, will only dig in their heels. But when bankers and oil companies start to lose money, pressure is brought to bear. And Trump could be forced by the big money people to moderate, to backtrack on some things, even to resign.

Is it treasonous for me to take that tack? I’m loyal to the USA. But I’m also loyal to the planet Earth. I think that if Trump is thwarted, this way, then both the USA and the Earth end up winning.

Nov 18

Ah, the Complexity of Stupidity

Stupidity, especially considered as a factor in politics, is surprisingly complex. Note these simple statistics, from CNBC, regarding the states which score the lowest in education:

41. New Mexico Total score: 36.11
42. Oklahoma Total score: 35.58
43. Tennessee Total score: 35.52
44. Nevada Total score: 32.84
45. Kentucky Total score: 31.80
46. Alabama Total score: 31.33
47. Arkansas Total score: 27.18
48. Louisiana Total score: 22.96
49. West Virginia Total score: 21.71
50. Mississippi Total score: 21.06

These states are known for their racism and their support of right wing extremism and…Donald Trump. The people of Kentucky are on the least educated list and they keep re-electing Mitch McConnell despite his willingness to take away services that help them enormously. You’ll see many a MAGA hat in those states. So theoretically, the explanation for much of the support for people like Trump and McConnell, is raw ignorance. And of course we associate ignorance with stupidity. But here’s the first complexity–sometimes stupidity vanishes if the real facts are impressed on the apparently stupid. Were they to become educated to the fact that they’ll get more services, more help getting their kids into college, from progressives, and that history shows that government investment in subsidizing, in infrastructure, in schools, ends up driving the economy–many of them would change their minds. “We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated,” Trump said during his campaign. From USAToday: “Trump did well across the board in Nevada, garnering 45.9% of the vote, but he did even better among voters with a high school education or less. Fifty-seven percent of those voters supported him, according to entrance polls…”

There’s another factor that affects intelligence, or the lack of it, in political choices. Emotion. Less educated people haven’t learned critical thinking, haven’t had a chance to exercise the moderation of emotion that education supports, and many of them tend to fall headlong under the sway of irrational emotion-based reactions. Demagogues like Trump and Newt Gingrich and the congressional right-wing extremists in the GOP know all about the emotional factor, and they exploit it. I myself have felt my ability to think undermined by moments of high emotion. Everyone reasonably educated knows this, just as they know your IQ will plummet while you’re sucking down four or five alcoholic beverages. (That I have personally experienced, too.)

What a demagogue also instinctively knows, is that in evocation of fear of foreigners, in evocation of race-based anger, in painting terrifying pictures of crime, they’re inducing in their excited listeners a kind of catharsis, a good feeling that comes from bringing anger to quench fear; that feeling is amplified by the us-against-them illusion,  otherwise known as the mob mentality. What results is a sort of high. Look at Hitler’s followers; look at the followers of Mussolini. Look at Trump rallies. The demagogue knows that people brought to that excited, angry, us-against-them state are easier to manipulate. Because, for awhile, they’re stupider. Ideology imprinted into them in these suggestive states tends to linger–the brain supports whatever induces pleasure.

More specifically, Trump followers were already misled into thinking that Planned Parenthood clinics exist to kill children, that gays want to turn their children into homosexual whores, that an evil Satanic conspiracy controls “big government”, that immigrants have taken the best jobs–and these treasured fantasies have made them quietly, bubblingly angry all the time. Trigger the release of that anger and they feel that pleasurable rush–and that good feeling is not something these folks want to give up. So they’re motivated to be selective about the information they’ll accept. Despite evidences that Trump, for example, is brutal with women, despite evidence that he’s incompetent and he cheats people in business, despite evidence that he’s a liar–lately they’ve been saying “we don’t care” if he lies–and despite evidence that he’s broken the laws of the land. Emotion blurs the import of all that negative data about Trump. Obviously emotion can be good–empathy is emotionally based. And there is even a time for directed anger. But often, blind emotion simply makes us stupid.

Then there’s another complexity–simple mental laziness. It’s so much more comfortable to be mentally lazy, to go for that big, fat, simple explanation–”Jews caused all our problems”–rather than do the work needed to get and confirm the facts that would debunk that monstrous lie. Mental laziness can feel good just as taking a nap does. It’s so easy to follow a link to some clickbait website–maybe it’ll be called The Eagle’s Angry Scream  or simply Infowars–to shore up your comfortable biases by gorging on every possible aspersion against Democrats and gays and Muslims and people of color. Or where you can simply get endless endorsement of that old saw, the trickle-down theory.

There is, you see, such a thing as selective intelligence. People unconsciously or even deliberately ignore data that doesn’t fit into their comfortable worldview. They “select it out”. Even clever people do it: Silicon Valley, awash with clever people, cultivates a deliberate mental blind spot, they cling to the idea that technology has no responsibility attached to it.

I really suspect that if education in the United States was fairly high across the board, Trump would not have been elected, and conscienceless  puppets of the oil industry like McConnell would not be elected either. But–there are complexities. And it’s all one mesh, that holds people in place, like a Chinese finger trap, clasping them, gripping them…made up of  many different strands.

There are so many ways to be stupid.