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A Unified Theory for the Reunification of America

What if...?

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.....or at least an interesting tool for examining issues that are just too hot to touch, but REALLY need to be!

Hi, My name is Tom. I'm sitting here completely mentally exhausted, cautiously optimistic, and mildly annoyed. Annoyed because something that could actually, realistically make a difference is also the punchline to a really corny universal joke at my expense. Because I spent the past 30 or so years, searching everywhere to find the tree of knowledge, so that I would finally know how to fix the madness that was everywhere around me. Where everyone is constantly at each others' throats, raging over who knows the right solution to a problem that isn't the actual problem they have, so won't work, ever, and just gets worse, faster. And it is becoming more and more apparent, hard as it is to accept, that it was, indeed, the forest all along that was the problem.(ouch)

So here we go! First of all, bear with me, stay for the whole show, jump to no conclusions for the remainder of the following revelation:

A single element exists, which is common to all of the arguments of all of the sides of all of the issues being discussed right now on this forum. Further, it is also apparently the actual source of many of the arguments and problems themselves, at least to an appreciable extent. The one factor running through our entire national zeitgeist and national discourse, and is, apparently, much of our problem is this:

"Much of our current predicament can be directly attributed to the fact that our entire national zeitgeist is completely infested by Gremlins."

What are Gremlins? Gremlins, to use a computer analogy, are errors, the cumulative errors that have muddled our understanding of the world, like web surfing and downloading muddle a Windows installation. Accumulated as an unexpected and unprecedented consequence as we hurtle, from horse and buggy to space, and the amount of information we have to process continues to increase. Gremlins are the difference between what you saw and what actually happened. Any time anyone comes to believe something other than the objective truth a gremlin is created, and this one phenomenon is so obviously responsible for so much of everything we're all so upset about, that simply correcting these errors, and the errors resulting from the original errors would actually make things enormously better without even having to fight about how to do it. And because most of the really intractable polar positions appear to be the result of gremlins entirely, we might even be able to have a pleasant discourse about the future of our country.

I chose the term "Gremlins" to refer to this phenomenon for a couple of reasons. The original term when it came to me was "lies", but that's so negatively weighted, and accusatory it just seemed counter productive, and even though the "cumulative errors" analogy is excellent to give a quick "example" of what I'm talking about to some computer people, it also is negatively weighted. Gremlin is not only unoffensive, illustrative rather than confrontational, but perfect to describe the role as everybody knows that gremlins are the things you never see that are screwing everything up. This model also allows for more than one type of gremlin to be considered, innocent, negligent, deliberate, manufactured, etc. To illustrate the gremlin phenomenon and how it can cause harm and continue to do harm in the future I offer this truly sublime example:

Fonzie catches a Gremlin

I'm just gonna give you the synopsis of this delightfully appropriate episode.

Fonzie (Oh yeah, from "Happy Days", God, I'm getting old) has jury duty. A man on a motorcycle wearing a helmet rode by an old lady and snatched her purse. A short distance away, a man matching the description, riding a motorcycle, was arrested in possession of the purse, which he claimed he was returning. Right. Open and shut, home for dinner...but Fonzie won't find him guilty because something just doesn't seem right. This continues and escalates to the point where people are not only beginning to doubt Fonzie's omniscience, but even suspect that maybe Fonzie's just helping out another street tough like himself. But Fonzie won't budge, not till he's sure. Then, reading over the transcript one more time... Eureka! He runs out of the jury room and uses his Fonzie powers to set up the reveal. The accused is brought into the courtroom one more time, just too make sure, and indeed they all are sure, certain even, and...the accused removes his helmet and it's...Fonzie! Then, while they realize they might have been wrong, he prepares his finale: a reenactment of the crime. he puts the witness on one side. puts the old lady up front, and gives her her purse. He asks everyone if this is how it was and they say "Yes!, just like that". Then he sits on the motorcycle and walks it past the old lady, asking,"He went by you like this?', and she said "Yes", and Fonzie asks, "And then he grabbed your purse with his left hand?", and she said "Yes, and then he sped away with it." Fonzie turns to the witnesses and asks, "Is that what you saw?" and the witnesses chorused "yes, just exactly like that!". At which Fonzie turns to the judge and declares "Based on this reenactment the accused is NOT GUILTY!" Gasps everywhere. "The accused was arrested riding a BSA motorcycle. And just like they drive on the left side of the road, the throttle on their motorcycles is also on the left, making it impossible for him to operate the throttle and steal the purse at the same time!" Yay!, Fonzie saves the day again, and we learned to be wary of certainty, and that you can do a bad thing believing you're doing a good thing, and that sometimes innocent men go to prison.
As he surely would have if Fonzie had not caught the gremlin. So you see, a gremlin can indeed cause harm, all by itself. What's more, that same gremlin would keep causing him harm the rest of his life. It could even be used to hurt him again if many years later, after his release from prison, an old lady was robbed in his building and he's the only one with a record, and it was for robbing an old lady.....

And there you go, Gremlins 101.

Much more to come, and I want to try applying the idea to discussions on the forums, see how people react.
 

Manc Skipper

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That's lovely, but my BSA's throttle is on the right, just like every other British motorcycle.
 

What if...?

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Thanks for the gremlin alert! How awesome is that! So the gremlin in the story used to illustrate the concept of gremlins was actually a gremlin itself. Or was it...? Because I wondered about that when I was writing the above post. I worked at an antique and classic m/c shop for a couple of years, and while I do recall seeing a bike with a left throttle, I don't remember if it came that way or was custom for a disabled person or whatever. I do know I can't recall ever seeing a left throttle on any of the British bikes I've seen, but also don't know if I've ever seen a BSA of the vintage in the story. Further, I don't remember for sure what make of m/c was in the episode, or if they referred to a make at all, or just said it was from England. So here's the proper "gremlin theory" response to your post: do you know if ANY British motorcycles of the vintage to have been available in the fifties were built, even if they were never shipped to the states that way? This is what must be known to put an end to this gremlin once and for all!
Imagine if this was the tone and perspective of our national discourse, if we made sure exactly what the problem we intend to debate is before we start, if we agreed on the best, most objective understanding of the problem at hand before we started discussing it, imagine what the world would be like. Of course this would have a negative effect on the PR industry, but to adopt the position of business: "Sorry your job no longer exists, but business is business". (I apologize in advance if you work in the PR industry, as the previous statement would be pretty offensive if you do, and I'm really trying to restore civility). Now, back into the fray!
 

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You're giving a perfect description of the paradigm shift....the Aha! moment. When one makes a paradigm shift, it is a joy to behold and a joy to experience. We seldom have all the facts. Ferretting them out is the fun part.

Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all
activities.

Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing of the bridge reported, “Light, bearing on the starboard bow.”

“Is it steady or moving astern?” the captain called out.

Lookout replied, “Steady, captain,” which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.

The captain then called to the signal man, “Signal that ship: We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees.”

Back came a signal, “Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees.”

The captain said, “Send, I’m a captain, change course 20 degrees.”

“I’m a seaman second class,” came the reply. “You had better change course 20 degrees.”

By that time, the captain was furious. He spat out, “Send, I’m a battleship. Change course 20 degrees.”

Back came the flashing light, “I’m a lighthouse.”

We changed course
 

What if...?

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And it's really hard for anyone to argue against the idea of discovering what's actually true. And how much fun would it be to discuss issues from a position of rational self interest, and know we're actually talking about the same thing instead of trying to shout over each others gremlins. Have a great day!
 

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And it's really hard for anyone to argue against the idea of discovering what's actually true. And how much fun would it be to discuss issues from a position of rational self interest, and know we're actually talking about the same thing instead of trying to shout over each others gremlins. Have a great day!
I think I would rather read about the Time Cube than read anything you've contributed to this forum so far.
 

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Maybe when it comes to how human beings live their lives, there is more than one way to do it. Maybe there is no single universal truth of how humans should live their lives and maybe humans are free to decide for themselves, for better or for worse, how to live their own lives.
 

What if...?

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Again, would ya mind explaining why instead of just expressing your disgust? Do you think I'm imagining things? That what I'm talking about is wrong? That basing decisions on bad information is a good thing? What? I really would like to know. That's twice I've been told I suck, and 0 times I've been told why I suck. Is it scary, pointless, sacrilegious, unprofitable, what? C'mon, it's not even an opinion, just an observation. I may overlay my opinions, and I would expect you to overlay yours, but to critique an observation requires refutation, some evidence that what has been observed is actually not existent or has no bearing on what it has been posited have an effect on. "I know you are, but what am I?" is not a response to "Gee, it looks like rain". You took the time to tell me it's not worth your time to talk to me.
 

What if...?

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Aaaah. maybe see now. Hello Critical Thought. honestly I think I'm not doing this right. I'm kinda new to the forums thing, so I might not even be replying correctly, but in response to your post, I really wasn't espousing any truth, or calling anyone a liar. My original post was simply pointing something I have observed. Not that one side or the other is right or wrong, but that little observational errors, misunderstandings, lies of every color and size, may be causing some of our problems. Human beings are dealing with processing more information everyday than humans ever did before the turn of the last century. no human being was biologically prepared, no political or business entity was equipped to cope when this began, so no one ever had to examine the question of the effect of having a such a massive volume of information making up our understanding of what has occurred during our lives, or the effect of small errors in our understanding of these occurrences as they accumulate, because it never could have been an issue before. So, again, just an observation of something and a way of looking at it. Not an opinion, not a judgement, just an interesting "toy" for people who I thought enjoyed playing with ideas, to see if they thought it was interesting as well. Thank you for your post.
 

washunut

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.....or at least an interesting tool for examining issues that are just too hot to touch, but REALLY need to be!

Hi, My name is Tom. I'm sitting here completely mentally exhausted, cautiously optimistic, and mildly annoyed. Annoyed because something that could actually, realistically make a difference is also the punchline to a really corny universal joke at my expense. Because I spent the past 30 or so years, searching everywhere to find the tree of knowledge, so that I would finally know how to fix the madness that was everywhere around me. Where everyone is constantly at each others' throats, raging over who knows the right solution to a problem that isn't the actual problem they have, so won't work, ever, and just gets worse, faster. And it is becoming more and more apparent, hard as it is to accept, that it was, indeed, the forest all along that was the problem.(ouch)

So here we go! First of all, bear with me, stay for the whole show, jump to no conclusions for the remainder of the following revelation:

A single element exists, which is common to all of the arguments of all of the sides of all of the issues being discussed right now on this forum. Further, it is also apparently the actual source of many of the arguments and problems themselves, at least to an appreciable extent. The one factor running through our entire national zeitgeist and national discourse, and is, apparently, much of our problem is this:

"Much of our current predicament can be directly attributed to the fact that our entire national zeitgeist is completely infested by Gremlins."

What are Gremlins? Gremlins, to use a computer analogy, are errors, the cumulative errors that have muddled our understanding of the world, like web surfing and downloading muddle a Windows installation. Accumulated as an unexpected and unprecedented consequence as we hurtle, from horse and buggy to space, and the amount of information we have to process continues to increase. Gremlins are the difference between what you saw and what actually happened. Any time anyone comes to believe something other than the objective truth a gremlin is created, and this one phenomenon is so obviously responsible for so much of everything we're all so upset about, that simply correcting these errors, and the errors resulting from the original errors would actually make things enormously better without even having to fight about how to do it. And because most of the really intractable polar positions appear to be the result of gremlins entirely, we might even be able to have a pleasant discourse about the future of our country.

I chose the term "Gremlins" to refer to this phenomenon for a couple of reasons. The original term when it came to me was "lies", but that's so negatively weighted, and accusatory it just seemed counter productive, and even though the "cumulative errors" analogy is excellent to give a quick "example" of what I'm talking about to some computer people, it also is negatively weighted. Gremlin is not only unoffensive, illustrative rather than confrontational, but perfect to describe the role as everybody knows that gremlins are the things you never see that are screwing everything up. This model also allows for more than one type of gremlin to be considered, innocent, negligent, deliberate, manufactured, etc. To illustrate the gremlin phenomenon and how it can cause harm and continue to do harm in the future I offer this truly sublime example:

Fonzie catches a Gremlin

I'm just gonna give you the synopsis of this delightfully appropriate episode.

Fonzie (Oh yeah, from "Happy Days", God, I'm getting old) has jury duty. A man on a motorcycle wearing a helmet rode by an old lady and snatched her purse. A short distance away, a man matching the description, riding a motorcycle, was arrested in possession of the purse, which he claimed he was returning. Right. Open and shut, home for dinner...but Fonzie won't find him guilty because something just doesn't seem right. This continues and escalates to the point where people are not only beginning to doubt Fonzie's omniscience, but even suspect that maybe Fonzie's just helping out another street tough like himself. But Fonzie won't budge, not till he's sure. Then, reading over the transcript one more time... Eureka! He runs out of the jury room and uses his Fonzie powers to set up the reveal. The accused is brought into the courtroom one more time, just too make sure, and indeed they all are sure, certain even, and...the accused removes his helmet and it's...Fonzie! Then, while they realize they might have been wrong, he prepares his finale: a reenactment of the crime. he puts the witness on one side. puts the old lady up front, and gives her her purse. He asks everyone if this is how it was and they say "Yes!, just like that". Then he sits on the motorcycle and walks it past the old lady, asking,"He went by you like this?', and she said "Yes", and Fonzie asks, "And then he grabbed your purse with his left hand?", and she said "Yes, and then he sped away with it." Fonzie turns to the witnesses and asks, "Is that what you saw?" and the witnesses chorused "yes, just exactly like that!". At which Fonzie turns to the judge and declares "Based on this reenactment the accused is NOT GUILTY!" Gasps everywhere. "The accused was arrested riding a BSA motorcycle. And just like they drive on the left side of the road, the throttle on their motorcycles is also on the left, making it impossible for him to operate the throttle and steal the purse at the same time!" Yay!, Fonzie saves the day again, and we learned to be wary of certainty, and that you can do a bad thing believing you're doing a good thing, and that sometimes innocent men go to prison.
As he surely would have if Fonzie had not caught the gremlin. So you see, a gremlin can indeed cause harm, all by itself. What's more, that same gremlin would keep causing him harm the rest of his life. It could even be used to hurt him again if many years later, after his release from prison, an old lady was robbed in his building and he's the only one with a record, and it was for robbing an old lady.....

And there you go, Gremlins 101.

Much more to come, and I want to try applying the idea to discussions on the forums, see how people react.
It seems that your story is trying to show that people on the left or right stop their analysis at the door of their ideology. For example some might believe that in a country of great properity no one should be poor. So anything that redistributes wealth is good and people who disagree are evil and greedy.

There is little in our complex society that is black and white. Yet people on both sides of an arguement think the other side is either dumb or liars. That is why there is always shouting both here on this site and with our political "leaders" whose job it is to make the other side look bad. I like to call this moving up the ladder not by going up steps but by pulling down your opponent. If you say, we are probably both right and try to work to a middle ground then you are not devout enough to your ideology and tossed to the side.
 

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Again, would ya mind explaining why instead of just expressing your disgust? Do you think I'm imagining things? That what I'm talking about is wrong? That basing decisions on bad information is a good thing? What? I really would like to know. That's twice I've been told I suck, and 0 times I've been told why I suck. Is it scary, pointless, sacrilegious, unprofitable, what? C'mon, it's not even an opinion, just an observation. I may overlay my opinions, and I would expect you to overlay yours, but to critique an observation requires refutation, some evidence that what has been observed is actually not existent or has no bearing on what it has been posited have an effect on. "I know you are, but what am I?" is not a response to "Gee, it looks like rain". You took the time to tell me it's not worth your time to talk to me.
Hi What if...?!

Thank you very much for sharing your theory. I don't think you suck at all, on the contrary, your observation is spot on. At worst, you could say that you could have said it with fewer words and in a simpler way, but I believe your choice of attitude and presentation of this problem is well suited to get the attention of a larger number of people. At any rate, I found this story interesting and entertaining.

But I'm not sure I've entirely grasped the entire scale of the problem you describe. So please correct mistakes, when I now repeat what I think I've drawn from your story, and I'm looking forward to your replies to questions that arise on my side: So people usually don't have all necessary information when it comes to a particular event (in your story, the purge robbery), which is why they, often unconsciously and with the best intentions, fill the gaps with assumptions (for example that chances are high that a guy on a motorbike fitting the description in possession of the robbed purge not far from the crime scene, actually is the robber) which don't have the status of proven facts, but are based on probability estimations and generalizations. Often, this strategy of filling gaps is successful, and some are probably better in it than others (for example, people who have a better grasp for probabilities than others), but there always remains the possibility of an error, regardless if the gap-filling gremlin is probable or not (because sometimes, improbable events may take place). That is how gremlins are created. Are they called "gremlins" only when they are factually wrong, or are they gremlins even when they are true?

As time goes by, and the more we collect experiences, the more gremlins will accumulate, because we base our gap-filling on previous gremlins, even create an entire ideology based on them: For example, Charlie may have made the experience that whenever he was fired, he quickly found a new job with a little effort, so he starts believing people who don't have a job don't try hard enough. Unless he is confronted with empirical data or logical conclusions based on proven facts that suggest otherwise, for example that there are simply fewer jobs available than unemployed people looking for jobs, he will hold this gremlin opinion. Charlie generalizes and puts more emphasis on individual effort, than being concerned of external factors for failure, and this generalization shapes his view on other fields too. Is this about what you have in mind?

Malcolm, on the other hand, has made the opposite experience: He applies for several jobs every week, but even after the greatest efforts, he didn't get one. That makes him think society doesn't give him a chance, and he believes unemployed should get lots of welfare money, because it's not their fault when they are jobless. Also, he's black, and this makes him think the problem is racism among employers against blacks. Like Charlie, he generalizes, fills the gaps with assumptions that may be probable, but not necessarily true, and basis his political opinions on it.

Then, Charlie and Malcolm meet on an internet debate forum and shout at each other: -- "That nanny state socialism is despicable! These pathetic welfare queens don't want to work, and I should even pay for them? Down with socialism! Long live the Tea Party!" -- "You're heartless racist scum! Ever tried to get a job as a black guy from a bad neighborhood? It's white people like you who tried to keep us down for centuries, and now you don't give us the chance we want. We need Hope and Change!"

That's what the two do, while you say they instead should make clear the facts before they start debating: First, they should get statistics about unemployment, and base their arguments on the facts. Both should mutually agree that they both agree people should work to make a living and that everybody who wants to work, should have a chance to work, and if that isn't the case, there is a problem (or something to that extent). When they then make assumptions, they should be able to back that up with empirical evidence or logical conclusions based on established facts.

If they did that, there would be a lot less misunderstanding, disagreement and aggression, which is based on different, incompatible gremlins both have acquired over time and take as granted, and instead, both would respectfully be capable of solving the problem.

What I wonder now, though, is how we can solve the problem of insufficient information. I mean sure, it is certainly helpful when we explain our rationales in the beginning of a debate and establish goals, transparently, for everybody to chime in -- but I doubt that you'll always be able to find sufficient information that can entirely terminate the need for filling the gap with (good or less good) estimations. What about inconclusive information, or contradicting information? When it comes to hot political topics, you often find different studies reaching entirely opposite conclusions. And you don't always have the resources to estimate their validity.

So what do you propose in those cases?

Anyway, thanks for these interesting ideas.
 
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