Constitutions of the world

Comparing the different constitutions of the world

Comparing the different constitutions of the world

I like the US constitution and the bill of rights right up to amendment 12. Its a pretty easy read and not that long. There is a profound difference between the US constitution and other constitutions I have read.

The people who emigrated to what was to become the US were fleeing persecution from Europe. Many saw this as an opportunity for freedom from the tyranny they endured where they had come from. For this reason the the people running the states valued autonomy. The states to agreed to the federation on the condition that federal powers were limited and the US constitution and bill of rights represents an explicit attempt to limits the power of government.

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Fluoride in the water

Does fluoride in the water reduce cavities?

Is fluoride dangerous?

I was listening to an interview with Dr Russell Blayblock and it got me thinking about flouride in the water. Is it a useful additive? Or is it bad for me? I’d heard allegations about some of the alleged problems with fluoride before but did not know whether to believe them. The allegations about potential health issues in the interview were significant so for this reason I decided it was time to do some significant research and and get to the bottom of this. I was actually surprised at how easy it was to lay this matter to rest, below is a summary of what I found out. [Read more…]

Bitcoins

What are Bitcoins?

Bitcoins are a new currency making a huge impact. BitCoins are an electronic currency that has no bank and allows anonymous ,low cost transactions.

I was listening to  two beers with steve where he interviewed Brian Newgen (a bit coins expert) from Dublin Ireland. What makes Bitcoins different to other currencies is

  • They are are a finite amount in circulation and rules that limit thier distribution (so no systemic inflation),
  • There are no central banks therefore very low transaction costs
  • All transactions are 100% anonymous

[Read more…]

Intellectual Self Defence & Developing Critical Thinking Skills

Developing Critical Thinking Skills

This is not something our educational system or cuture seems to value. However nowadays we have access to more information than ever before, but at the same time we are more confused. This make developing critical thinking skills a higher priority for everyone. I covered problems and the causes of this problem in a previous blog post called “Education or Instruction?”. Poor critical thinking skills are so endemic that many people have lost confidence in their own ability to make decisions. Most people outsource the majority of their most important thinking to other people believing themselves incapable. I believe there’s huge room for improvement in most people , including myself and for this reason I was very excited when I came accross the Trivium and the Peace Revolution Podcast. Lacking in the ability and confidence to scrutinize information makes a person an easy target for scoundrels.  The Peace Revolution Podcast aims to provide information and tools to develop skills needed for  “intellectual self defence” by developing critical thinking skills.

 

The Trivium is one of those tools . Today the trivium is taught only in a small group of elite educational establishments.  The fundamentals  of the trivium are ancient, they were developed by  Aristotle. The Latin word “Trivium” means “from the three ways”

1. General Grammar (Answers the question of the Who, What, Where, and the When of a subject.) Discovering and ordering facts of reality comprises basic, systematic Knowledge

2. Formal Logic (Answers the Why of a subject.) Developing the faculty of reason in establishing valid [i.e., non-contradictory] relationships among facts, systematic Understanding

3. Classical Rhetoric (Provides the How of a subject.) Applying knowledge and understanding expressively comprises Wisdom or, in other words, it is systematically useable knowledge and understanding

Reference http://www.triviumeducation.com/

The mastery of the Trivium allows for an individual to quickly assimilate information, judge its quality and turn this information into wisdom. Wisdom being knowledge that has useful application. In studying the trivium Formal Logic is a good place to start as it deals with the identification of lies, which is something we are bombarded daily. Using Formal Logic to Identify fallacies   The study of Formal Logic helps understanding by rooting out contradictions and fallacies. Fallacies are not the same as lies they are information that is either deliberately or unknowingly misleading.  With the trivium you can you identify fallacies and also name the type of fallacy that is being perpetrated. For a list common fallacies that you could pop in your wallet see this Mental Antivirus checklist. To see some fallacies in action see below

I currently have the Mental Antivirus checklist in my wallet and have already brought some logical rigour to some pub conversations. I provided some friends a copy of the Mental Antivirus Checklist and found that using the common approach meant we had much more meaningful dialogue than normal.

Final thought

The word trivia is derived from  singular for the Trivium.  It is interesting how something so important has come stand for something so…………….trivial. I’d love know how you get on with the Trivium – Drop me line in the comments! Paul

Intellectual Self Defence & Developing Critical Thinking Skills

Developing Critical Thinking Skills

This is not something our educational system or cuture seems to value. However nowadays we have access to more information than ever before, but at the same time we are more confused. This make developing critical thinking skills a higher priority for everyone. I covered problems and the causes of this problem in a previous blog post called “Education or Instruction?”. Poor critical thinking skills are so endemic that many people have lost confidence in their own ability to make decisions. Most people outsource the majority of their most important thinking to other people believing themselves incapable. I believe there’s huge room for improvement in most people , including myself and for this reason I was very excited when I came accross the Trivium and the Peace Revolution Podcast. Lacking in the ability and confidence to scrutinize information makes a person an easy target for scoundrels.  The Peace Revolution Podcast aims to provide information and tools to develop skills needed for  “intellectual self defence” by developing critical thinking skills.

 

The Trivium is one of those tools . Today the trivium is taught only in a small group of elite educational establishments.  The fundamentals  of the trivium are ancient, they were developed by  Aristotle. The Latin word “Trivium” means “from the three ways”

1. General Grammar (Answers the question of the Who, What, Where, and the When of a subject.) Discovering and ordering facts of reality comprises basic, systematic Knowledge

2. Formal Logic (Answers the Why of a subject.) Developing the faculty of reason in establishing valid [i.e., non-contradictory] relationships among facts, systematic Understanding

3. Classical Rhetoric (Provides the How of a subject.) Applying knowledge and understanding expressively comprises Wisdom or, in other words, it is systematically useable knowledge and understanding

Reference http://www.triviumeducation.com/

The mastery of the Trivium allows for an individual to quickly assimilate information, judge its quality and turn this information into wisdom. Wisdom being knowledge that has useful application. In studying the trivium Formal Logic is a good place to start as it deals with the identification of lies, which is something we are bombarded daily. Using Formal Logic to Identify fallacies   The study of Formal Logic helps understanding by rooting out contradictions and fallacies. Fallacies are not the same as lies they are information that is either deliberately or unknowingly misleading.  With the trivium you can you identify fallacies and also name the type of fallacy that is being perpetrated. For a list common fallacies that you could pop in your wallet see this Mental Antivirus checklist. To see some fallacies in action see below

I currently have the Mental Antivirus checklist in my wallet and have already brought some logical rigour to some pub conversations. I provided some friends a copy of the Mental Antivirus Checklist and found that using the common approach meant we had much more meaningful dialogue than normal.

Final thought

The word trivia is derived from  singular for the Trivium.  It is interesting how something so important has come stand for something so…………….trivial. I’d love know how you get on with the Trivium – Drop me line in the comments! Paul

Carbon Footprint Nonsense

  • Carbon Offset
  • Carbon Footprint
  • Carbon Trading
  • Carbon nonsense

I am getting increasingly irritated by the fuss about carbon. If you assuming global warming is the biggest problem the world currently faces I do not agree that reducing carbon is the solution. I believe a focus on reducing pollution and clean efficient technologies is a good idea to help the environment but to blindly just to to reduce you “carbon footprint”

Global Problems

  • Potable water shortage
  • Food shortage
  • War
  • Destruction of the natural world (you kill this we all die)
    • 95% reduction in all food crops genetic diversity in the last 100 years.
    • x acres of farmland turned to dessert
    • Genetic modificated organisms are currently cross-pollinating with natural occurring species which could screw up all the rest
  • The countries we live in are run by people with more power everday caused by erosion to our civil liberties increasing


Gun Ownership vs Homicide Rate

An assumption I have always had is that more gun ownership causes more murders. Recently I’ve heard some things that made me question this assumption so I have completed a little basic analysis and thought I’d share my findings.

My Analysis

I took the homicide rate per country from wikpedia (the countries were ordered by homicide rate). I then went to another website called http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region to get the % people with guns. I amended the gun ownership figures to the top and bottom and a few countries in the middle. I didn’t get all the % of gun ownership figures because it was too time consuming and I didn’t have time.

Results

>>For the full Spreadsheet showing all 186 countries in order of homicide rate click here
Comment
My analysis did not come out as expected. According to table I put together I can say there is no clear correlation between gun ownership % and homicide rate .  If it plays a role then I  can defiantly say it not the lead cause. The US leads the world in gun ownership and it has a high homicide rate for western countries (5 deaths per 1000) compared to say the UK which is (1.28 per 100) or Australia (1.3).  There were a number of Nordic countries such as Switzerland (45%), Norway (31.3%) , Austria (30%) that have high gun ownership that were in the lowest 10 for  homicide rates.

Conclusion

Based on this quick bit of analysis  it looks to me like war and poverty do look like they correlate with homicide rate but gun owenership does not have any appreciable correlation.

My spreadsheet  can be found here

I would appreciate any thoughtful comments. If you have better data that show things in a different light then I would appreciate it if you could send it me and I’ll continue this post once I look at that.