Is This the Veeblefetzer?

I knew a young man who sobbed that he had nothing to contribute to the world: his entire life was a failure. A pat on the back and some sincere sounding sympathy got him talking about a wild drunken weekend he and his friends spent racing around the Pennsylvania outback, only to have their euphoria crushed when their old car bottomed out in the mountains, far from any mechanic or town of any size.

The engine was shot.

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Beliefs Kill People

Guns Don’t Kill People, Beliefs Kill People

BY MICHAEL SHERMER

f80c8e709e50ffa7c7697affd18fedb8If by fiat I had to draw one core generalization from a quarter century spent studying the psychology of beliefs, it is that almost everyone thinks that their beliefs are right, both ontologically and ethically. For the most part, people think that their beliefs are true, moral, or both. No one joins a cult—they join a group that they believe is going to help them and/or society. No one thinks they’re practicing pseudoscience—they believe they’ve discovered a new truth that mainstream science has yet to recognize. And very few believe their actions are immoral—at the time they had perfectly rational and moral reasons for acting as they did.

You do not have to give people reasons to be violent, because they already have plenty of reasons. All you have to do is take away their reasons to restrain themselves.

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Greetings From Apalachicola

images.jpgIt has been about ten months since my daughter moved me down to Florida to make her family unit multigenerational: her two kids at one end and me at the other. Most of the construction is now completed and I am very comfortable in my two rooms with all my books, my T-shirts, and my dog Ricky (we miss Luci).

This last weekend the more active members of the family spent a few days cavorting at the beaches of the gulf and I stayed behind to enjoy cold-brewed coffee and read poems by Allen Ginsberg. It was only two days but the peacefulness of being alone with my thoughts was refreshing. When the family returned, my precocious little granddaughter brought me a cowry shell with Apalachicola engraved on its top and a gold sticker announcing Made in the Philippines on the bottom.

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