Friday, November 29, 2013

Logical Fallacies - The Ecological Fallacy

It's been a while since I've had a fallacy post, so I though it would be a good time to investigate another one.  This one is fascinating to me.  It stems from the fact that many people do not understand how aggregate statistics and individuals relate.  Suppose you find out that the average income in a neighborhood is higher than the national average.  You know someone who lives in that neighborhood.  Does that mean that it is likely that the person has a higher than average income?  If you think it does, you're the victim of an ecological fallacy.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Don't Forget the Lion

One of the first hymns I memorized as a child was "The Spirit of God."  The final verse begins with a very memorable line: "How blessed the day when the lamb and the lion shall lie down together without any ire."  I didn't really understand it as a child, but I though it was talking about the peace during the millennial reign.  Now I understand it to be talking about the mercy and justice of God.  But I think, as humans, we still don't get it.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Communication is an interesting process.  I sometimes hear the opinion that "I'm only responsible for what I say, not what you understand."  It's true that some people read things into others' words that were not intended, and this can lead to problems in communication.  A person who takes offence at everything others say is the usual example that comes to mind.

But there is also a responsibility on the part of the speaker to use language that others are likely to understand.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


This morning I saw a beautiful rainbow, so bright and clear that my cellphone camera could have caught it.  I was in the swimming pool, so I didn't have my cell phone with me, but it was beautiful.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Two Different Freedoms

I think that I interact with the idea of freedom in two different ways.  So for me, it is as if there were two totally different forms of freedom.  The first is "freedom from" in that I can be free from some influence or power.  I would like to be free from pain.  This kind of freedom is like safety.  If there is a safety net below a tightrope walker, an acrobat on the tightrope is free from some of the consequences of falling.  This is an important kind of freedom.  We want to be free from the judgments of others, to be free from discrimination, to be free from restrictions.

On the other hand, a more difficult form of freedom is "freedom to" in the sense of freedom to act or be.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

An Expert at Fence Sitting

I think of it as balance, but some people would call it fence sitting.

As a young child, I developed an interesting skill.  I could defer or redirect animosity around.  I could avoid making enemies by not positioning myself in opposition to anyone.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Losing the Spirit

When I was growing up, I was repeatedly taught about how disobeying the commandments caused us to lose the spirit.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

High School

I've heard many stories about gay oriented Mormon who were bullied in high school, or otherwise have had terrible experiences during that period of their lives.  I so feel for these folks, and want to go back in time and be their friends, support them through that period of their lives.  It was so different for me.

Friday, November 1, 2013


"That company?  They were awful.  It was the worst experience.  I'll never use their services again."  Suppose this thing was said about a company which you have patronized for years, and has a perfect service record with you, truly a pleasure to work with.  As humans, we tend to pass judgment so quickly based on a small set of experiences.  What one person experiences, others may not.