Friday, May 31, 2013

Being Alone

When I was 12 and started to be seriously interested in boys, I knew it was something I would never talk about with others.  I had no fear of diminished love from my parents -- I knew they would love me the same no matter what.  I was more worried about how they would show that love.  I didn't want to have to see a psychiatrist to delve into what in my past made me this way, try to change my orientation, or (even worse, in my view) possibly tell me I should start seeking relationships with guys.  I worried that my parents might want me to go to such counselling.  Or perhaps they would be disappointed or worried about it.  I didn't want to deal with that kind of thing.  I still don't, so my parents don't know.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hidden Statistics

Back in the 1950s, Darrell Huff wrote a little book entitled How to Lie with Statistics that is still in print today.  While the context of the book is rather outdated (annual salaries of $2000 and the like), the mathematical principles in it are still quite relevant.  It is still quite easy to support a cause by playing with statistics.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cause or Effect

I've got a theory.  It seems like a surprisingly high percentage of the gay-oriented Mormons who gather in these online communities have suffered bouts of depression -- the clinically diagnosable kind.  Many have been abused at some time in their past, or at least been bullied at school.  A lot of people look at these facts and conclude that there is a causative relationship -- the idea that the bullying or the abuse or depression causes the gay orientation.  That would mean if we could somehow keep our kids from these dangers they wouldn't be gay.  But I defy that logic.  I was not that kid.  I wasn't the kid with a distant dad or the abusive neighbor, but somehow I ended up gay, anyway.  So here's my counter-argument.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Logical Fallacies - Appeal to Emotion

This is the logical fallacy that advertisers use the most.  The basic structure of the argument is that because I invoke a certain emotion, what I say must be true (or my point must be valid).  If you watched the presidential debates, I think both candidates made more appeals to emotion than actual logical statements.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Perfect Salad

From a very Platonic logical view, there can only be one perfection.  Any variation from that perfection would be different, and therefore flawed.  I don't believe in that view of perfection.

It would be like saying that there is a perfect salad ingredient.  Therefore, the perfect salad would consist entirely of that perfect ingredient.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Stereotypes and the Freedom to Ignore Them

As humans, we tend to overclassify everything.  I think we are somewhat hardwired to do so.  It's in our nature.  I think it has to do with how we recognize images.  We have a hard time getting computers to recognize cloud types, for instance, but our brains find pictures in the clouds (that one looks like a turtle sitting on a scooter -- with a music stand in his hand) which is something we could never get a computer to do.  We classify and categorize the shapes of clouds very naturally.  Sorting people into stereotypes is just another manifestation of this amazing trait of our minds.  It's very natural, and we have to fight it.  Learning to overcome these natural instincts is simply a part of being free to make choices.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Building a Home

Everybody begins life with a very different set of starting circumstances.  We are born in different areas, to different parents, at different times, with different predilections, strengths, weaknesses, etc.  These circumstances of our births form the foundations of our lives.  Because everyone gets a different setup for life, a different foundation, so to speak, we should take care not to judge others based on our own limited experiences.  If we want to build two homes on very different foundations, we can't expect the buildings to be identical.  But at the same time, the principles of building remain the same, and both buildings are guided by the same end goal (which is providing shelter in the case of home-building).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Being Sifted

In Luke 22 we are told of Christ's warning to Simon Peter: "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat."  This one is an interesting passage that I have a hard time understanding.  I've heard many interpretations of this passage, but I'm searching for something that makes sense in context.  The Savior follows with "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not."  So it seems that the antidote to being sifted as wheat is to have faith.  So what does wheat have to do with faithlessness?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Logical Fallacies - False Cause

Culturally, this is one of the most common fallacies there are.  It's not used in arguments so much as misunderstanding the world around us.  In Latin, the Fallacy of False Cause is known as "post hoc ergo propter hoc," or "it happened after, so it happened because."  You go to a restaurant for dinner, and shortly thereafter get a stomach ache.  The obvious conclusion is that the restaurant must have had some bad food, but that is logically fallacious.  If it is food poisoning, the symptoms can occur immediately, but often occur a day or two later.  And it might be a virus or something else.  Nevertheless, we humans tend to be particularly prone to drawing these kinds of fallacious conclusions.