The Tyranny of Niceness

This post is inspired by reading this post from the The Advice Goddess Blog. I stole some of Christina’s lines directly and the general trend of the piece but I’d like to think my elaboration is of interest.

Our latest generation can’t argue. They think that creating tension is bad and a sign of something wrong or that something has gone wrong. It is part of the Tyranny of Niceness in which rocking the boat is the greatest sin and tolerance is the greatest virtue.

If you can’t argue then you can’t think.

One of the best ways to refine your ideas is to fight. A good vigorous debate between friends is a blast as well as a passionate argument between rivals. As long as your goal is to enhance your own understanding and delve into the truth such arguments are one of the best ways to enhance the mind. Those who argue with no intention of changing their mind and who openly state that no evidence will ever possibly convert them to any other view are already lost to reason.

If no one challenges your thoughts and opinions then the ruts of conventional thinking just grow deeper and stronger until you’re unable to critically examine your own beliefs and knowledge. Thus, the extreme polarization in America today where those who have the most extreme views are unopposed by the sensible majority and exist in an echo room listening only to those thoughts that agree with them. Those who dare challenge your paradigm are the enemy and whatever the enemy says is suspect as you already know and believe that passionately that your ideas are superior and correct.

The tradition upholding the ideals of free thought, liberty, and speaking your mind are quintessentially american. The latest generation has been raised without this and don’t know it and don’t appreciate it. One of the largest polls ever conducted on high school students showed that the vast majority think that the government should censor the media and those with unpopular opinions should be prevented from sharing their thoughts rather than being argued for and against in the free market of ideas. The ideas should just be quietly shut down and censored by central authority so as to avoid upsetting anyone. Again the tyranny of niceness rears its ugly head. As mentioned in the link Ethics Professors can’t find a single topic or ethical conundrum that their students will find objectionable and will actively stand up against! They just want SOMEONE else to make the decisions and shut up unpopular or divergent thoughts so they don’t have to critically apply their reason or make anyone uncomfortable.

The education system is partly to blame for this. An anecdotal story from an article in Newsweek I read years ago tells how a boy stood up and yelled at his teacher to stop being mean to a girl in their classroom. The girl had asked a question and the teacher mocked her calling her stupid and saying the question was dumb. The boy continued saying that in the first day of class the teacher had said to ask any questions you have and don’t worry there are no dumb questions so she was being mean AND being an hypocrite…the school’s response was to expel the boy for being intolerant and showing a lack of respect for authority.

Reminds me of a great speech given by Al Pacino in a Scent of a Woman.

The December Big Blog of Tech, Politics, Humor, and Weirdness

This is going to be a huge post of various links and stories that have happened this month that I didn’t get around to posting as individual blogs.

Ah, old timey quackery. Reading the comments apparently people still go and get irradiated for “health” reasons in places like Montana’s Merry Widow Mine where people pay to go and sit and drink water from the old radon mine and experience “traditional chinese medicine” or Heilbad in denmark.

The Revigator does sound like a metal band name though:D

http://boingboing.net/2011/12/09/radium-infuser-for-drinking-wa.html

Linguistics is fascinating.

http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/human-language-words-sentences-2206/

A new drug that enhances college test scores…smart drugs are another step closer to reality.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-12/mg-pft120611.php

This sounds so dirty when you consider how Koch is pronounced:
“Phil Dubose, a Koch employee who testified against the company said he and his colleagues were shown by their managers how to steal and cheat — using techniques they called the Koch Method.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-02/koch-brothers-flout-law-getting-richer-with-secret-iran-sales.html/

Being a polymath can be extremely frustrating. I have two degrees and I have less than a year to go to get two more degrees and I have or I am within a class or two away from having six minors. The indecision and simple lack of interest in being a specialist isn’t good for the paycheck and getting a career regardless of whether it makes me a better more well rounded person. I do think in a generation the generalist will make a come back but for today it doesn’t mean a lot on paper.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201112/the-curse-being-gifted/when-high-ability-leads-too-many-options-0

Evangelical Christianity getting upset at pagans, jews, and secularists again. Lying for Jeebus is all right and fact checking is all wrong when dealing with and demonizing Mikey Weinstein, Wiccans, and the Air Force.

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/12/18/94137/315

IBM talks about the five technologies that will change your life in the next five years. I think 3d printing will revolutionize the world in about ten years but they didn’t talk about that here.

http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/36290.wss

Five Technologies that will change your life today:

http://www.technologyreview.com/business/39210/#.Tumxu_80RUs.facebook

3d tissue growing? Awesome!

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/27418/?ref=rss

A little bit closer to bringing glitter boys into reality!

http://io9.com/5713561/neuroscientists-create-the-first-brain%20controlled-exoskeleton

Combine this with OPENPCR and we’ll get DNA testing to be an every day and cheap occurrence.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/gpu-based-server-farm-slashes-analysis-time-for-dna-sequencing-data-batches-from-days-to-hours

Newt Gingrich says the darnedness things:D

http://www.rusbasan.com/Humor/Newt.html

Oxytocin seems to have an ever increasing importance on our neurochemistry and we’re barely at the beginning of finding all the little wrinkles involved let alone all the genetic factors. I love mysteries and science!

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/scicurious-brain/2011/12/19/when-is-comfort-most-comforting-when-youve-got-a-specific-oxytocin-gene/

So many atrocities have happened because of an unwillingness to see the “other” as human.

http://today.duke.edu/2011/12/dehumanize

The author has a good point. Rather than using Norman I immediately thought of Hunter S Thompson as a better example.

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/06/21/books/keep-your-compassion-give-me-your-madness.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

Sheer nerdiness at its best. I think it would be pretty cool to have homemade chocolate dice for a nerd party.

http://offbeatbride.com/2011/11/dungeons-and-dragons-chocolate-dice-mold

When China’s debt/housing bubble bursts it will be world shattering unless people are prepared.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-18/china-debts-dwarf-official-data-with-too-big-to-complete-alarms.html

Dear Leader is dead. What will happen now in North Korea?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-19/kim-jong-il-north-korea-s-dear-leader-dictator-dead-at-70-yonhap-says.html

A friend of mine wrote this about SOPA and the problems it could cause with our internet.

http://www.wnyc.org/blogs/its-free-blog/2011/dec/16/opinion-online-piracy-bill-threatens-innovation-web-freedom/

Are you kidding me? First military detention for american citizens and now they’re going to try to censor the internet to Chinese/Saudi levels and possibly break it as a consequence according to the EFF and you know the guys who really invented the internet and the world wide web.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/12/the-anti-internet-bill-has-not-been-postponed-to-2012-the-committee-members-who-support-sopa-sneakily-changed-the-hearing-date-to-december-21st-trying-to-trick-the-american-people-into-thi.html

This bill is a mark of shame on all of america.

http://www.salon.com/2011/12/16/three_myths_about_the_detention_bill/singleton/

A little history with some interesting stories about ancient graffiti.

http://io9.com/5867518/10-pieces-of-crazy-ancient-graffiti

RIP Christopher.

http://m.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2011/12/In-Memoriam-Christopher-Hitchens-19492011

SOPA and Protect IP if passed will do so much damage to the world.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/12/internet-inventors-warn-against-sopa-and-pipa

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111208/14521817014/mpaa-boss-if-chinese-censor-internet-without-problem-why-cant-us.shtml

And now to leave you with a laugh I have two Awkward Family Photos, an awesome xmas tree,  a cool video of an Ukrainian light show, Christopher Hitchens before he died, and an epic rap battle of history video for Kim Jong Il’s death: