Author: Joshua D. Glawson

The Boogeyman: Fear of the Unknown

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Throughout the vast majority of the world and all of recorded history, there have been tales of boogeymen: monsters in the dark to punish the disobedient and the susceptible. The Boogeyman goes by various names with the male, female, or neutral gender. These include the Bogieman, El Coco, Sack Man, Ou-Wu, Babayka, El Ogro, The Devil, and more. Most of the story origins are unknown. It is as if they are a part of human nature and a mechanism for control or protection.

Most of the time, the boogeyman is a threat that adults use towards vulnerable children who may be misbehaving. The character has a number of different commonly said actions. Some say it eats children, holds them hostage in a hellish place, or even scares them into correcting their behavior. Overall, the boogeyman is, unfortunately, a socially approved terrorizing mechanism that plagues the mind with fear of the unknown. By presenting the monster as too strong to fight, society instills a fearful reaction of flight over fight.

The Beast in the Dark

When we were children, we usually heard of such a beast in the dark, under our bed, in the closet, or in a forbidden area. In each of these cases, an adult probably told the child the story or scared the child enough to make him or her invent the demon on his or her own. On the contrary, some cultures have a protective guardian angel of sorts to save children it deems good. This invisible protector is all that can immediately protect a child from the bad one out to get them.

Even as adults, the boogeyman may still come to mind in places we deem as dangerous: in dark places, after deaths of bad people, and in some unknown futures. When many adults think of robots and artificial intelligence, they also think of the boogeyman, but in a different form. With super intelligent computers constantly improving around the world, many people will propose that these unknown machines will become sentient and seek to enslave or destroy humans and the world.

In the case of robots conquering the world, it is nothing more than a Nietzschean Übermensch: a Superman that all aspire to become but none can. This super demon then begins to wipe the world clean of humans or enslaves them for its own gains. Similarly to that of the Übermensch, we find the boogeyman again in space exploration, with the idea that evil aliens are waiting to harm us.

Protection from Unwarranted Fear

In both of these cases, the fear of an unrealized boogeyman limits success and progress. Many people will turn towards religion and government to protect us from the unknown monster. They present these organizations as the fairy godmothers that will protect our soul, body, and future with regulations, limitations, and letting someone else decide what is right. Religion can become a government, and the blind allegiance to the government can become a religion of its own: Statism.

Statism is the belief that a government should control an individual’s economic and social decisions in order to prevent deterioration of society, corruption, losses, heinous crimes, terrorism, and more. Proponents of Statism view it as avoiding a Hobbesian regression to the turmoil and chaos of human nature. The ideology of Statism declares that government can, at least theoretically, control every aspect of one’s life. In fact, Statists have manufactured boogeymen of their own throughout history. Without a doubt, Statism becomes an endless, warrantless hunt for the outsider: non-Christians, non-Muslims, witches, spies, Communists, terrorists, drug dealers, immigrants, and more.

Statism: Fearful of Freedom

Statism has also provided the fear of Liberty, of not having a central government, and of no government at all. The State portrays this in the images of utter chaos and the threat of a power vacuum or void. A power vacuum, or power void, is the idea that without one government, other, more evil governments will take over. This proposed boogeyman is said to appear when the coercive control of the few (government) goes away, leaving the helpless and hapless people vulnerable to this invisible monster.

The devout followers of the State will use this boogeyman as a form of mental terrorism that instills fear into the minds of the impressionable. They propose that the only guardian against such a boogeyman is that of the omnibenevolent, omniscient, and possibly near-omnipotent government that staves off the evil, lurking, monsters in the unknown darkness. The closer people move towards Liberty or freedom, the more that Statists will pontificate this fear of the boogeyman into the hearts and minds of all that listen. As the fears build within society, Statists require more and more control. Thus, policing, laws, regulations, spying, recordkeeping, and taxing increase.

The Boogeyman Is Getting Stronger

As time moves forward, the boogeyman, or Übermensch, is always growing stronger and more cunning than its potential victims. It is like the nightmare in which you are forever running away from the unstoppable monster. In Statism, this all-pervasive boogeyman begins as a child’s common fear of the unknown. But relatively quickly, it becomes a psychological defect, leading to the embodiment of a boogeyman in the monster of an oppressive government. It matters little that the State was supposed to protect against this monster: it nonetheless becomes it. This idea that such a boogeyman exists slows human progress by creating a real one from the idea.

If anything, not teaching our children of such monsters as a boogeyman, not scaring them in the dark or around corners, while encouraging them to learn about what makes us scared or fearful, can help them understand the world in a more realistic manner. It will teach them to be less afraid of the unknowns in our lives. At the same time, they will learn to pursue difficulties, rather than back away from the unknown. These constant fears of boogeymen do not need to exist when it comes to peaceful, free, and voluntary action; the fears of boogeymen instill fear of the unknown, inhibit actions, and bog down growth.

A Hindrance to Human Progress

Furthermore, the fear of such boogeymen inebriates the infected individual’s will to better their own life, progress, and success, leaving them timid and unsure how to guide their own life. This removal of the individual’s capability to properly lead their own life also restricts their moral gauge, furthering their dependence on the guardian in control while making them more susceptible to relativism, subjectivism, and nihilism. In response to their fears of boogeymen, many will not only embrace religion and government. Moreover, they may cling to collectivism to help combat the invisible boogeyman. This is because they believe their particular group should survive, and perhaps their group knows how to best fight off the boogeyman better than others’.

If the fear of the unknown and creation of evil to fight it is a natural process, then Reason, peace, voluntary exchange, and Liberty will rid us of these deplorable thoughts. This is a way to become stronger than the fictional beast of Statist myth. This is a way we become our own heroes. In a world where are the biggest hindrance and threat to our own betterment, it is the way forward.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”Friedrich Nietzsche.


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Groupthink Is a Threat to Justice and Reason

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

In the world today, it seems as though there are more people who identify with one group or another. All the while, they attempt to dispel any criticisms of that particular group. We see groups with extra protections under various laws such as “hate crimes,” for example. Also, the State often grants special rights to various groups, such as “gay rights” and “women’s rights.” These protections and positive claims rights came about as a consequence of groupthink, collectivism, and variants of so-called “social justice.”

Of course, this is not to say that these groups, or others, do not deserve rights. Rather, the point of Justice is that all are equal under the law and have the same negative claims rights as others. When everyone is equal, there is no need to specify additional rights for any specific group. Thus, adding classifying terms to “rights” and “Justice” negates the purpose of both. Without any modifiers, equality under the law guarantees Justice.

Throughout history and today, there have been many situations where groups, majorities, or the judicial system itself have hurt individuals. Even when the innocent face negative impacts, there is no need to provide extra rights for them or their groups. There should, instead, be a movement to correct the imbalance and enforce equal rights. Providing extra weight for the side of the proverbial scales that someone is robbing is a dangerous idea. When you add to one, you must either take away from another or grant extra rights. Regardless, equality fades, and with it, so does Justice. When an unjust act occurs, it is brought before the law to help determine retribution for the losses or grievances as a cost to the offending party. This, of course, brings the scales of Justice back to an even keel.

What is Groupthink?

As people continue to scramble for their identity found within a group rather than by themselves, they neglect their very own person and trade it for a herd mentality. This, in turn, leads people to form collective beliefs and partake in groupthink.

‘Groupthink’ is a word that social psychologist Irving Janis coined in 1972. Dr. Janis provided eight symptoms of what he determined to be ‘groupthink’ that are as follows:

  1. Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
  2. Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
  3. Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
  4. Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
  5. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
  6. Self-censorship – Members do not express doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus.
  7. Illusion of unanimity – Members assume the majority view and judgments to be unanimous.
  8. Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.

A Destroyer of Justice

Much like Orwell’s 1984, the concept of ‘groupthink’ arouses the mind to do one of two things. First of all, it can dismiss correct claims when one already has a particular groupthink and blind faith. This idea, called Identity-Protective Cognition, is often observable across the spectrum of ideas.

Alternatively, ‘groupthink’ can spark the awareness of the reader to be self-critical and skeptical of our own place in the world as an individual, while pushing to rid him or herself of the mob mentality. As social creatures, we often rely on groupthink, as it is a lazy way of finding knowledge and belonging. However, it is a philosophical sloth, detrimental to logic, rational thinking, and Justice itself.

Groupthink robs the individual of their Reason, as it relies on subjective beliefs of elites and majorities. Groupthink also robs the individual of exploring and growing, as it limits the interactions and thought processes of what one can and cannot explore. A species of collectivism, groupthink breeds the “us versus them” mentality over truth and Justice. In turn, this acts as a conduit of human and social regression, rather than flourishing and progress.

How to Avoid Groupthink

In order to best combat ‘groupthink,’ the individual must self-assess and question him or herself. This is especially true when red flags of collectivism and groupthink arise. As the study of methodological individualism demonstrates, through and through, only the individual acts and only the individual thinks. To rob yourself of your own individualism and capacity to Reason by granting it to the sporadic oscillations of groupthink is the antithesis of what it means to be a person. Simultaneously, it obliterates the very Justice that the groupthink mob falsely claims it fights for.


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Politicon 2018 Recap

Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Politicon 2018 was another success. Held in the LA Convention Center on October 20th and 21st in Los Angeles, California, the annual “Comic-Con” of politics continues to include people from all political perspectives, discussing and debating, presenting and mingling. The largest corporate news source present was MSNBC who provided free tote bags freshly made in front of you and a huge stage in the center where news anchors spoke on contentious topics such as race and sex, among others.

The greatest blatant comical relief was nearing the comical caricaturized Trump blimp who was portrayed in the image of a whiny baby holding a phone, probably Tweeting something sour.

There were not as many vendors this year, and the LA Convention Center was probably too big and spread out to host Politicon, as opposed to the Pasadena Convention Center where Politicon has been held for two years prior. Some people were confused as to where to go and when people were speaking.

Nevertheless, Politicon was a great time this past weekend. A couple of key heated debates were that of TurningPoint USA’s (TPUSA) Charlie Kirk versus The Young Turks’ (TYT) Hasan Piker:

and a debate with TYT’s Cenk Uygur versus Fox News’ Tucker Carlson:

 

Of course, both of these so-called debates were riddled with logical fallacies, emotions, and inconsistent philosophy such as the role of government and its limitations, fear-mongering on both sides, the push for regulations of technology and people, etc. Coincidentally, another bruise in American politics was present posthumously, i.e. the Nixon Foundation, with the former US President’s lackluster limo including deflated tires and all, and a booth displaying various images of Richard Nixon.

As a side note, in response and staunch opposition to Nixon’s policies is what helped start the Libertarian Party in 1971; and the ’71’ in “71 Republic” is an homage to the founding of the Libertarian Party.

It was great seeing some familiar faces, such as former Presidential candidate Austin Petersen; former Vice President candidate, photographer, entrepreneur, and owner of the award-winning marijuana company Lit.ClubJudd Weiss; Libertarian writer and speaker – Avens O’Brien; Libertarian Party of California State Chair – Honor “Mimi” Robson; the Mises Institute; Free and Equal Elections‘ – Christina Tobin; along with many others.

I, Joshua D. Glawson, was also there representing 71 Republic, donning a costume, taking notes, and speaking with various people:

I look forward to next year’s Politicon, and I hope to see more libertarian scholars present to accurately debate those that only want to impose the State on everyone for their own constantly changing agendas and overall Statism.


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Dr. Steven Pinker and Enlightenment Now

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

On Wednesday, October 17th, 2018, in Irvine, California, Dr. Steven Pinker gave a presentation along with a Q&A for his latest book, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.

Here is a very similar presentation to that of which I saw, for your viewing pleasure:

Dr. Steven Pinker presenting at the Cato Institute.

Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. He has also taught at both Stanford and MIT. He earned a bachelor’s degree in experimental psychology at McGill University and his doctorate at Harvard in 1979. Pinker also earned a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT, and a one-year stint as an assistant professor at Harvard. “He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, and one of Foreign Policy’s ‘World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals’ and Time’s ‘100 Most Influential People in the World Today.’ Lastly, Steven Pinker is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and writes frequently for The New York Times, The Guardian, and other publications.

I was excited to see Steven Pinker speak after reading an intriguing interview that Nick Gillespie conducted in the June 2018 issue of Reason Magazine. As Dr. Pinker was walking up to the event hall, I was able to get an autograph in that issue. He seemed delighted to know it was a Reason Magazine he was signing.

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Image of autographed Reason Magazine

Dr. Pinker on Reason TV.

The Presentation of Steven Pinker

As Pinker’s presentation began, he broke the ice by first showing images of extremism such as both neo-Nazis and AntiFa, along with a couple more humorous images of President Trump. The crowd laughed at the images, and I believe all sides of the political spectrum received his humor well.

Although there is no explicit evidence of Pinker’s political ideology that I could find, he has however been noted as saying that he is “more libertarian than authoritarian,” in a New York Times interview. Perhaps, his success are in part due to not directly affiliating with a political ideology. Instead, he pursues reason with a free market of ideas in light of the Enlightenment period.

As his PowerPoint continued after his initial introduction, he provided the major points he would eventually cover, which were straight from his book, i.e. reason, science, humanism, and progress.

With reason, he pointed out that knowledge has enhanced human flourishing. Because of our ability to reason, we are in a much better world today than ever before.

Major World Improvements

Dr. Pinker provided graphs and charts that many different organizations have since used as evidence. The cited information suggested a strong, direct correlation between improvement in knowledge and quality of life. Pinker did not specify capitalism. However, his wording does advocate for freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas. This is especially so when he mentions how people around the world have escaped extreme poverty in East Asia and other areas. He referred to the world’s growing escape of abject poverty as “The Great Escape,” while noting that “this is the greatest accomplishment in human history, and sadly nobody knows about it.”

Dr. Pinker also touched on humanism, with philosophical and anthropological wording and studies similar to that of Dr. Yuval Noah Harari, who wrote Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over the acceptance of dogma or superstition. Pinker also noted that “identity politics is an enemy of reason and Enlightenment values.”

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Image of books for sale at the Dr. Steven Pinker presentation.

Reason, Humanism, and Happiness

His presentation progressed, providing some evidence that indicated with the increase of reason, science, and humanism, happiness also increased. However, this chart and part of the presentation lost some of the scholarly crowd. Of course, it is possibly dubious to assert a subjective claim, such as happiness, and objectively declare an increase. I do believe that people are happier today, but that is only a belief: testing that and providing a solid answer would be next to impossible. Nevertheless, with the increase of medicine, technology, life expectancy, food, clean water, less disease, less physical labor, better living conditions, lessening of dictatorships, and more, one can see how Pinker’s argument has good standing.

As Dr. Pinker’s presentation closed, he stressed that progress is not magic and there is no utopia. Much like that of the philosopher and former fellow Harvard professor, Dr. Robert Nozick, Pinker was quick to point out that there is no perfect place in the world and it is not possible.

As more popular scholars begin speaking up in defense of these core values, I can only hope that liberty will also return to the center of these tenets. If so, society and the world may progress more than ever before.

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson interviews Dr. Steven Pinker.


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The Difference Between Implied and Explicit Consent

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Conflicts between ‘implied’ and ‘explicit’ consent are numerous and ongoing in the legal world, ordinary life scenarios, and the academic world. At times, the two ideas are seemingly conjoined in the contracts, words, and philosophy of various people, we even sometimes find both ideas residing within our own thoughts and speech as it pertains the very same subject or topic. It is first important to discern the differences between ‘implied’ and ‘explicit,’ and to find out where we stand on certain issues as explicitly as possible. Some of the reasons for finding our explicit thoughts is so that we can better understand our own views, possibly have our views changed for the better, or to have a firm understanding when discussing the particular topic with others so they do not get confused with our own stance.

What does ‘implied’ mean?

For something to be implied is to be implicit; that is to say, the topic, subject, or circumstance is capable of being understood from something else though unexpressed. It can also be a form of potential, where the ‘implied’ standing is involved in the nature or essence of something though not specifically revealed, expressed, or developed. This suggests that not every specification is listed, but there are some cues to indicate the establishment of the consent between two parties.

Some people will naturally confuse the subtle differences between ‘implied’ and ‘tacit.’ The difference is that to be ‘tacit’ it is expressed or carried on without words or speech, or implied or indicated as by an act or by silence but not actually expressed. A ‘tacit’ contract, for example, would be a contract established from non-verbal cues and exchanges, where ‘implied’ could have had some words of exchange.

What are some examples of ‘implied’ consent?

Examples of ‘implied’ in the legal world run amok, but a specific example is found within the US Constitution, (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18), where there are not enough examples to provide for unknown situations where Congress, according to the Constitution, may require extra powers beyond that which are specifically, i.e. explicitly, spelled out within the legal document. These are known as the “implied powers,” found under the “necessary and proper” clause of the US Constitution. This, by no means, of course, indicates that I support such a clause, rather I am merely pointing out its place within current legal context; and, of course, there are difficulties in comparing this “contract” with private contracts between two tangible, voluntary, free, parties, as opposed to a “contract” set long before our birth without our ability to explicitly consent or negotiate, etc. By merely being a citizen of the US, or arguably even within the US, people are said to be implicitly empowering Congress to act accordingly to fulfill both their explicitly stated powers and their implied, “necessary and proper,” powers.

In the ordinary world of daily life, implied consent can be seen in our ordinary interactions with our friends and loved ones. Such an example may be our exclusivity to joke about certain things, kiss or touch, or being a friend that is able to talk about anything under the sun with, depending on your various relationships with these people. Of course, it would also depend on whether explicit statements have been made to determine certain circumstances or behaviors. Nevertheless, our ordinary and ongoing interactions continue to perpetuate the implied understanding of that relationship between you and the other person.

In the academic world, such as that of political science or philosophy, there are certain implied thoughts and viewpoints that every author and speaker will provide throughout their particular or general work. An example of implied “consent” may be more difficult to find as a general statement, but ‘implied’ thoughts are normal. Some writers in politics or philosophy will align their views with other well-known figures, and the author will continuously hone in on the particular characteristics of that other writer or philosopher and their respective ideas.

 

What does ‘explicit’ mean?

To be ‘explicit’ means to be fully revealed or expressed without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity, leaving no question as to meaning or intent. ‘Explicit’ is to also be fully developed or formulated, which is why we should continuously push our ideas in order to have them fully developed while ridding ourselves of contradictions, doubts, or inconsistencies.

What are some examples of ‘explicit’ consent?

It is much easier to find examples of ‘explicit’ consent in the world, as they are clearly stated and specified. For example, when people get married, they specify their conditions and with whom. In law, ‘explicit’ consent is found in contract law (K) when terms are specified in the mutual agreement. In politics, much like that of contract law, there are specified conditions. Although, the political world can also be much murkier and fogged by other circumstances making it easier to change later for the good, but mostly for the worse, as history has shown over and over.

How can there be conflicts between ‘implied’ and ‘explicit’ consent, or other variants of the two terms?

One of the most common ways that ‘implied’ and ‘explicit’ get convoluted is when they are in direct conflict with one another. For example, a philosopher may explicitly state that they do not believe in one thing, but their entire work reflects that they, indeed, do ‘implicitly’ support what they are explicitly saying they are against. For example, a philosopher, such as Kant, has stated that his ideas are not subjective, and yet much of what he stated throughout his work was, in fact, subjective to the person living their life (Metaphysics of Morals). Another example is that of French Socialist economist, Thomas Piketty, who specified that he was not a Marxist and in no way supporting Communist rhetoric, yet throughout his work, even in his title, he is espousing Marxist ideology and economic philosophy (Capital in the Twenty-First Century).

Throughout history, this has also occurred, especially under the guise of government. For example, when a politician will ‘explicitly’ say they are not attempting to remove Civil Liberties, but every policy they sign ‘implicitly’ removes Civil Liberties. This has been an ongoing issue throughout politics and history around the world, and specifically throughout US history from its very inception.

What can we do?

The best solution is to first start with our own core beliefs while assessing what is valuable to our standing in the world. If you are truly against theft, murder, rape, molestation, coercion, etc. as I am, analyze all aspects of your beliefs and understanding of the world to purge any contradictory beliefs to those core values. This is all subjective to the person, yes. However, I solemnly believe most people believe these things to be wrong and the antithesis to Liberty and to a purely prosperous life filled with genuine love for fellow humans. Perhaps I am still putting more faith in humanity than I should, but I am confident that putting total control into the hands of a few so-called “elite” is much more dangerous.

Do more to read and think critically about the world around you, the philosophy you read, the statistics presented to you, and be critical of the continued destructive path of more laws. Find ways to solve social and political issues through free and voluntary means, as opposed to force and coercion. Once we have sought our own non-contradictory understanding of how the world is and how it ought to be, we can move forward in our own lives and hope to provide a positive influence on those around us as we continue to help one another.


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