Tag: green

No, You Can’t Think Outside of the Box

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms  

Try to think of a new color, one that you have never experienced before. It’s purple, but without all of the purple, or green, with a greater amount of intensity. Having trouble yet? Now, attempt the exercise again, but this time, describe it without using any other colors as a reference point to go from. Rather than speaking relatively, imagine the creation of a color outside of our spectrum, and describe it absolutely. You can’t, because you can’t think outside of the box.

Surely, the human brain is not capable of such a task. For that matter, it is also not able to even do so for a color within the existing spectrum. Try, for example, to describe the color green without merely echoing how your individual brain processes the light. Initially, some ideas may include “a cool color”, “the color of the trees in the forest”, or even “light waves that reflect a wavelength of about 550 nm”.

Alas, none of these descriptions are at all meaningful in saying what exactly the color green is. In order to determine what is and is not meaningful, it is best to introduce the situation of a blind man.  If he who cannot see on his own can understand a concept of sight, then that concept must be sound. As the blind man has no bias, he cannot have any pre-existing ideas as to what the color green is.

Suppose the man has a wife and daughter, and both have normal vision. The child goes to a movie with some friends and eagerly comes home after, telling her parents what she saw. The wife can see and the husband cannot, but neither of them has watched the movie. So, neither of them will receive a completely accurate recounting of it. However, by using sensory details, the daughter can convey information that both the wife and husband will understand.

For example, if the movie had a grotesque alien, the girl may say that it had slimy skin, eight legs, and large teeth. Though blind, the man’s other senses compensate, allowing for both he and the wife to get a rough idea of the creature. But what if the daughter only described the alien as green? Even if she called it the forest’s color or remarked about frequency, the blind man would have absolutely no idea what this strange, foreign concept was.

As a person without sight could not understand this aspect of it, then it is safe to say that the description of green is not objective. That is to say, the definition alone holds no absolute truth; the senses are also required in order to understand it. 

Could, on the other hand, the senses alone be a useful tool in determining what the building blocks of the world really are? Though an interesting thought, this appears to be even more difficult to maintain. By looking at forest leaves alone, a person would have no true concept of what makes them green.

What is to say that the way I perceive green is not that way someone else perceives red? Think outside of the box. When looking at a Christmas tree, it is entirely possible that someone may see what I believe to be red. I cannot disprove it, nor can anyone, as that would involve being in everyone else’s minds. The thought, in addition to impossible, is not even slightly appealing and would not be useful in this context.

Clearly, a sense of sight is necessary in order to understand things based on sight alone. The blind man’s assumptions on the movie, referring back, most likely came from information his other senses provided. But just as convincingly, the sense of sight alone is not adequate to bring about objective truth.

Now, a bit of a paradox begins to form. It is obvious that the sense of sight is absolutely necessary to understand the objective quality of sight. However, the sense of sight is also meaningless at determining any objectivity of sight. So, if both statements are true, how can we be sure of anything at all concerning the properties of sight? 

Ultimately, the answer boils down to a level of societal consistency. I, of course, have no idea how anybody else perceives the so-called “green” of a Christmas tree. In fact, there is mounting evidence to suggest different people are able to see and identify different colors. 

One study, done by Debi Roberson of the University of Essex, looks at this phenomenon. The Himba tribe in Namibia has multiple words for green, but not one distinguishing blue from green. So, when trying to pick out different shades of green, they excelled. But, they were often unable to determine the difference between the common green and cyan, even though the distinction is so obvious to native English speakers.

The northwest square is a different color, which the Himba saw immediately. Source: https://static01.nyt.com/images/2012/09/04/magazine/046thfl-green-color-ring/046thfl-green-color-ring-blog480.jpg

I do know, however, that the idea of green is commonly accepted among all. It matters not whether we all perceive colors as the same, and in fact, is entirely possible that we each view them wildly uniquely.

What does matter, in this situation, is that we can communicate the existence of color. The above study all but proves the notion that color is different from language to language. But even within a single language, there is no guarantee that, as I previously said, someone does not think a Christmas tree matches my perception of red.

Color, then, if not objectively verifiable, cannot have inherent objective truths to it. Its only use is for communication, and thus, is nothing more than a human construct. This is where the idea of thinking outside of the box comes into play.

Before the cavemen were able to write, were they able to see color? If so, how many were they able to perceive? The Himba tribe study would suggest that the answer to this is no. If a word for a color is necessary in order to see it, how could cavemen existing before language possibly understand it? But if they did not understand it, how could they have possibly come up with words for it? What came first, the color or the idea of color? Either situation proves humanity’s inability to think outside of the box. 

The less likely of the two situations is that cavemen were unable to see color before conceptualizing color. Of course, the study would support this hypothesis, if carried to a full extension. But, it would be impossible for a human to come up with a word for something that he or she could not perceive.

In the modern day, it is safe to assume that the five senses shape our perception of reality. It is impossible for any human being to think of a world in which another sense exists that we do not have the organ to detect, or that our organ is not yet advanced enough to detect. The proof of this lies in the human inability to imagine a new color that does not entail a combination of existing colors or a relative assessment in comparison to them.

So, it is safe to assume that the study has some limitations. Though it is fascinating how language shapes existing color perceptions, it cannot create new ones entirely. Given the scope of human knowledge now, compared to the times of the Neanderthals, it is highly unlikely that they were any more able to do so.

This, by process of elimination, implies that color itself predated the idea of color. So, an ancient human being, deductively, must have looked at his or her own perception of color and given it words. With those words, the ancient could begin showing others this new property, which they had already observed, but not named.

Time passes by. The words red, blue, green, and others fly across the globe, but when we use them today, what are we actually saying? Is there anything true about them, or we are just unable to think outside of the box?

We cannot possibly imagine another term for color, and if we did, we would not be able to explain it. Language has already set aside certain words that denote color, but they are all subjective. So, when seeing green, one is not seeing anything that has any intrinsic green properties, as green itself does not exist. Science tries to approximate it, but even then, it only uses someone else’s definition, someone else’s box. You can’t think outside of the box, because language is in the box. Without language, what is a coherent thought?

The box encompasses all things commonly accepted as human knowledge, given the pattern of perception and storytelling that is knowledge itself. Rather than physical, it is metaphorical, but nonetheless very real. It is a collection of natural occurrences that humans snared with language, conceptualizing them in ways that allow for their understanding. Color, of course, is in the box, as is language. Neither of those is anything more than social constructs used to further communications.

What else can we place into the box of possible thought? Measurements of time, for one. Though time objectively moves, there is nothing intrinsic to say that a second is really a second at all. We merely invent and use the measurements to better understand each other. Try to describe one second without mentioning any words that denote an interval or direction. That means, no “minute”, “year”, or even “forward”. All of them are constructs used to quantify things we cannot otherwise understand. You cannot think in any other terms because you cannot think outside of the box.

Numbers, too, fit into the box. Ask any schoolchild and they will tell you with absolute certainty that 1+1=2. But what is two, and what is one? Again, you cannot describe two without using another human construct for quantity. 3-1, two things, doubled one, the second number after zero. They all are in the box, and you cannot think outside of the box. We can add many more things to it, such as shape, size, and texture. Though they definitely all exist, we cannot describe the concepts without merely giving circular examples of them.

The logic behind the box is not unlike that of a Nigerian prince’s email, offering you his billion dollar fortune. All he asks is for your social security number so that he may complete the transaction. In it, the fake prince says that you can trust the email because he is a trustworthy prince. How do you know he is a trustworthy prince? Well, the email says so, so it has to be true. 

The same reasoning applies to anything in the box. The forest is green because green is found in the forest. Two is more than one because one is less than two. A second is a duration of time because one second goes by for one second to pass. All of these things are very real, but all are also very logically invalid. Each of these resides on a different concept. But in order for any of them to be objectively true, the concept can’t be its own catalyst.

So, what lies beyond the box? We cannot know, because we cannot think outside of the box. But in so many ways, we likewise cannot think inside of the box. So, in a sense, we cannot wrap our heads around the things that lie inside of the box, and we cannot comprehend things that fall outside of it. 

Is this a contradiction? It would appear that this very logic falls within the same category of circular reasoning as many things in the box. Does the box exist at all? If we cannot understand the things inside or outside of it, where can the line fall?

The exact location appears nearly impossible to ascertain. Though individuals can have limitations, they are always in flux. Some evidence suggests that we did not see the color blue until recently. Does this mean that there are other things which we have the capacity to perceive, but simply do not? Surely I cannot rule this idea out, and thus, these things too would fall in the box. If more is in the box than we can see, then we cannot possibly see the edge of the box. 

Where would such a box come from? What kind of limitations exist on the human capacity to know and perceive? The origins of a box may lead back to a Creator, or a scientific guideline, or perhaps some fusion. Maybe all of these possibilities are moot, and are only products of the box.

Being unable to think fully inside or outside of the box, I cannot begin to fathom where it may have come from. With certainty, though, I can state its existence. But in order to investigate its origin, I must first know what it is. And to know what it is, I must know of the boundary between in and out of the box.

The line must exist, for without it, there is no distinction. Without distinction, there is nothing. But with distinction, there is only circular reasoning, which leads itself down a road free of knowledge. The box must exist, but for it to exist, it must have a place to fall. But, without knowledge of the inside or outside, how can such a place exist? Perhaps, if I was able to think outside of the box, it would be more imaginable. Perhaps not. In a world of circular reasoning, the prospect of an answer appears as dark and unclear as is the box itself, turned over on top of humanity.

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Voting Outside the Box

By FritzCast | United States

If you followed the primary elections of the past week (the day of August 07, namely), we saw a truly lackluster performance for a primary series that is leading up to what the news has hyped as a “pivotal” mid-term election for 2018. Some immediate key takeaways are how many “Trump Approved” candidates easily walked away with a win, almost every candidate that “Social Democrat” hopeful Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed lost, but the real nail-biter was Ohio District 12 Special Election, where even at the moment of this writing, news agencies are reporting that it is too close to call.

Despite those reports, many flocked to Twitter with the hashtag #OH12 ready to lay the blame for the Democratic loss on Green Party voters (A total of 1,127 people according to NYTimes). Leading that charge was Actor Alyssa Milano, who tweeted out the following:

Now, we live in a crazy world where Alex Jones can get kicked to the curbside by various Social Media platforms, and granted private entities like them are allowed to develop their own rules and policies and enforce them as they see fit, but for some reason, nobody will call out Alyssa Milano for this complete fabrication. In this single tweet, she: Alleges Russian collusion; completely devalued the votes of 1,127 people; blames it all on inaction against voter protection.

For some godforsaken reason, independent voters come under scrutiny when a side loses an election. You will hear people screaming from the mountain tops that the third party voters royally screwed everything up, as if the votes were owned by the other candidate and them casting a protest vote proves how selfish they are.

Why is it that people are so quick to devalue a person’s vote? I thought, after all, that voting was one of the quintessential pillars of our society, yet people are so willing to condemn those outside the box.

The same theory was applicable to the 2016 Presidential Election, where I had to face more than a handful of “friends” willing to tell me I was selfish for casting my vote for Gary Johnson, thus somehow costing Hillary Clinton her guaranteed win. I was told my vote was no better than simply casting a vote for Trump, and the hilarious angle in all of that was the fact that my state of Delaware and its low number of 3 Electoral Votes went to Hillary Clinton.

Some may say that our voting system is a little flawed, but more and more I find that the collective philosophy is flawed. Whether you look at Ohio District 12 or the Presidential Election of 2016, the argument always comes to numbers and comes back to that lovely term we float around, Democracy.

Despite the fact that we are not a democracy, everyone so desperately wants to cry out about how our very democracy is under threat while ignoring the fatal fallacy of democracy: just because 51% say Yea doesn’t mean that what they are saying Yea to is moral, just, right, or fair.

You want to blame third party voters for the fact that we demand better of our system? You want to scream in our face that it is so selfish and petty of us?

Shame on you. Shame on you all. You don’t value us, our mind, our opinion or our vote and stop at nothing to try to legitimize our voice, all the while there are thousands more simply not voting at all, either because they do not care or are unwilling to participate because they feel dejected.

Let’s just play your numbers game for a minute, with the Ohio District 12 results (numbers according to Politico:

50.2% Troy Balderson GOP 101,574
49.3% Danny O’Connor DEM 99,820
0.6% Joe Manchik GP 1,127

Let’s assume all the Green Party voters magically belonged to the Democratic Party (it obviously makes sense! That’s why they voted for the Green party guy!). Do the basic math, add those votes to Danny O’Connor…you’ve still lost the election, because it only takes him to 100,947 votes. Even then, we fall back to my argument (which actually works in your favor here): the difference is 627 votes.

Do the same thing with the 2016 Presidential results, if you want:

Candidate / Party Popular / Votes

  Donald J. Trump, Republican – 62,980,160

Hillary R. Clinton, Democratic – 65,845,063

Gary Johnson, Libertarian – 4,488,931

Jill Stein, Green – 1, 457,050

Evan McMullin, Independent – 728,830

How do you even begin to guess where McMullin’s, Johnson’s and Stein’s votes would fall, and split them evenly among Trump and Clinton and you’ve still got what I see as rather measly numbers.

This very thing is what turned me into a Libertarian individual. I don’t want the Government, myself nor the mob dictating aspects of the lives of everyone else on this fallacy. Thomas Jefferson warned us against it:

Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%

America, its time to do away with this toxic line of thinking…we as people can trample a person’s rights as easily as the king did, as easily as a dictator does, we just somehow find comfort in our moral justification that because we had one more person agree with our side, we’re the winners and they are the losers. Now is the time to reiterate our true principles of liberty, independence, and individualism before they are sacrificed.


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The Case for a Libertarian and Green Unity Ticket

By Glenn Verasco | Thailand

The Libertarian and Green parties are not going to make much electoral headway at any point in the near future. Though breakthroughs could be on the horizon, the jump from nothing to next-to-nothing is not much to get excited about. The Democratic and Republican parties have embarrassing approval ratings, but, somehow, this has not affected the duopoly’s reign over American politics.

Contrarily, Gary Johnson did receive nearly 5 million votes in the 2016 presidential election, and Jill Stein received over a million to boot. Johnson’s popular vote tally was the greatest in Libertarian Party history. Stein’s was the greatest Green Party turnout since Ralph Nader in 2000.

Together, the 6 million or so green and yellow ballots cast still pale in comparison to the 60+ million votes that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each received. But the third parties did make some noise.

Rather than continue to hopelessly lose, it might be in both parties’ best interests to work together. Combined, they may have better results in US elections.

Let’s first realize that the Libertarian and Green parties align beautifully on a wide range of important political issues.

While I can’t speak for all Libertarians (or any Greens), I imagine that large portions of the constituencies on both sides agree with me in believing that ending America’s interventionist military policy is the most important issue of our time. Both are morally opposed to bombing nations and destabilizing governments as an attempt to spread pseudo-democracy. And while Libertarians focus on savings while Greens see financing opportunities for welfare programs, neither group wants to see dollars fueling the facilities of the military industrial complex. When Noam Chomsky and Ron Paul are on the same page, it’s a great opportunity to put our differences aside to accomplish something vital in securing a more ideal world.

In addition to war abroad, the parties agree to end the failed War on Drugs at home. Libertarians prefer some level of a laissez-faire drug policy, and Greens would likely go the legalize, regulate, and tax route.  Both are far superior options than our current strategy. We could start by decriminalizing marijuana then discuss how many steps further we can agree to go.

Thirdly, Libertarians and Greens want to restore the 4th Amendment. This means discontinuing the Patriot Act and pulling back the overreach of American intelligence agencies. We are on the same page in believing that individuals are innocent until proven guilty, and that privacy is a right.

This is not the extent of Libertarian and Green overlap. Demilitarization of the police and sentencing reform bring us together too.

Of course, we disagree on economics, worker’s rights, environmental policy, and a whole lot more. But to each Libertarian and Green reading this, would you risk leaving most of the status quo in place for a better chance at victory on peace, pot, and privacy? Let’s take care of some important business first and discuss the minimum wage and fracking later.

Before we can change policy, we have to play politics. Our strategy could go something like this.

In presidential elections, we need to establish our unity ticket candidates as soon as possible. All press is good press. So, getting names and agendas out early will improve our chances of getting recognized and eventually supported. As the Libertarian candidate for the gubernatorial race in New York, Larry Sharpe has noted that only 1 in 5 New Yorkers know who he is. But of those 1 in 5, 1 in 4 support him. The Libertarian message is competitive, but not well-known. This means Green and Libertarians must hold primaries early, months before the Democrats and Republicans. They have the disadvantage in terms of name recognition and need to spread the word early.

We’ll also have to determine which party gets the presidential nod and which gets VP. I believe the fairest way to do this is to compete for participants in the primaries. Each party should allow voters registered in their respective party as well as independents to participate in primary elections. Whichever party gets the most total votes (amassed by all candidates, not just the winners) in the primaries has the rights to the presidential position. The vice presidential candidate would go to the winner of the primary with less participation.

Not only would this be a fair way to determine who gets the presidential spot, it would also encourage our parties to register more voters and get independents involved. It would appear to be a contest, but function more like a marketing campaign.

In congressional, state, and local elections, we’d have to work together too. Like the presidential strategy, we would judge which party to support based on primary elections. But since congressmen and other elected officials lack running mates, whichever party receives less primary participation would drop out of the race altogether and direct their supporters to vote for their Green or Libertarian counterpart.

For example, let’s imagine that during midterm elections, a senate seat in Iowa is up for grabs. The Libertarian and Green parties would hold early primaries to determine their respective nominees. If all Libertarian candidates receive a combined 80,000 votes, and all Green candidates receive 90,000 votes, the winner of the Libertarian primary would concede and endorse the winner of the Green primary. This gives the winner a base of nearly 170,000 Libertarian and Green votes. Some, of course, will not stomach the other party. But ideally, this losing candidate would get on the campaign trail and explain why the Green candidate’s anti-interventionist, anti-drug war, anti-spying position makes him the lesser of three evils among the Democrat and Republican candidates, despite supporting many policies that run contrary to Libertarian orthodoxy.

Another agreement we should reach is that both parties should favor pro-choice/pro-second amendment candidates. There is a rift among Libertarians on the issue of abortion. Those who lean towards Reason Magazine tend to be more pro-choice, while those who lean towards Anarcho-Capitalism are often pro-life.

I imagine that Greens are more unified in desiring gun control measures than Libertarians are on the issue of abortion. Thus, I must admit that I am asking for more than I am risking as a Libertarian myself. However, let’s face facts and acknowledge that the fight against the Second Amendment is a losing battle. There are more guns in American hands than there are American people. With a clear Constitutional Amendment telling us firearm ownership is our natural right, guns are not going anywhere. Let’s come to terms with reality and meet in the middle to better guarantee enthusiastic support from each of our bases. Wedge issues must not be allowed to determine the future of our republic.

Surely, some Green and some Libertarian individuals would be unable to stomach a vote for the other side. However, this may not be a total loss. With the Libertarian-Green strategy in place, Republican and Democratic candidates may be forced to alter their positions to accommodate voters who are susceptible to third-party politics. While in a normal year, Democrats would expect to get a large share of disgruntled Greens, and Republicans would feel the same about Libertarians, the major parties would know that they’ll have to earn their votes instead of playing the lesser-of-two-evils game. Third party hopefuls would have a cause and motivation. The major parties would not be able to rely on cynicism the way the do now.

Popularizing the issues the Libertarian and Green parties align on could influence the two major parties in general. As we grow our bases, Republicans and Democrats will have to change to market themselves to us. And why prioritize a divisive issue like taxes or healthcare when they could appeal to us as a monolith by saying they’ll legalize weed?

This plan is not foolproof by any stretch of the imagination, and dissenters would be quick to frame one side as exploiting the other. But with zero representation in congress, what exactly do we have to lose?

***

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“Planet-Lovers” Are Less Environmentally Conscious

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

A University of Michigan study recently revealed that those who identify as extremely concerned about environmental matters such as climate change tend to be less environmentally conscious in their personal lives.

Continue reading ““Planet-Lovers” Are Less Environmentally Conscious”