Of division, diversity and an admiral


US Navy Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar

One of the discoveries I have made in blogging is that it is extraordinarily difficult to find successful ways to bring people of different backgrounds and thinking into a common community that nurtures itself. Rather, the division caused by our diversity inherently wins out. And thus we find hostility in the blog threads, protests and violent complaints across the land and wars and genocide around the globe.

I once had the idea of a unified blogging community that would bring all the skilled bloggers into one platform that would rival the clout and readership of the Inquirer. PCIJ and Riassa Robles doing their discovery. JoeAm and Ellen doing their socio/political commentary. The Nutbox focused on international relations. The Professional Heckler focused on humor.

That was a naive idea, for the forces repelling are bigger than those joining, and the current platform of separate and independent voices has its own power. It’s a federalist blogging community, eh? Largely respectful and harmonious.

But still, within any given community, of which the Philippines is one, there are ignorances and politics and agendas and sensitivities and simple misunderstandings, all leading to disagreement, sometimes personal and unkind.

On some days, these forces of division are overwhelming. In citing an opinion, or challenging someone’s stand on an issue, one risks being on the butt end of vicious personal slurs. When that happens, one is inclined to try to build alliances, much as is done in a computer war game, to better fend off people who . . . if we really thought about it . . . could just as easily be our friends.

So the division is multiplied in its power as alliances build to oppose one another.

We can understand the folly of this division when we see Japanese warships welcomed into Philippine seas where they sail right beside Philippine and American ships. History is done, it’s over. Today’s context is different. Former enemies are friends.

But the bugs are not really out of the Filipino psyche.

Those American warships, for some Filipinos, still represent the bitter foe for deeds done during an occupation, or the brutality of WWII. The Japanese? Well a few really old folks don’t like them, but most seem not to care much.

The Spanish, who ruled imperialistically for hundreds of years prior to the American few decades, are also largely ignored, forgiven or forgotten. Rizal was shot by someone it seems, but who?

Perhaps the huge target on America’s forehead is her outrageous success – riches and power – which, whether used for good or bad, represent bad to many. Or her enduring presence. She’s like a skin disease that just won’t go away.

Envy? Fear? Generalizing to the whole of America from isolated events? I don’t know.

What I do know is that just about the time I am ready to give up on being able to find a real home here because the nation is just too locked into its past and its rigid but dysfunctional nationalism, I come across an example that shows there are worldly Filipinos, there are people who persevere to find their own way. And even beyond that, they strive to weave diversity into a cooperative, respectful global community.

For today’s inspiration, I thank US Navy Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar, headlined in the Philippine Star on October 26, 2014, for her appointment as Commander Joint Region Marianas. If you want to read a story about perseverance and rise from an underprivileged background, I suggest you dump Binay as an icon of virtue and read about the Admiral.

She’s a much better idol. She earned her way up . . . honestly.

Her attitude about community – about commitment to that community – is simple, touching and brilliant:

“I am not afraid of anything like handling explosives or diving. My biggest fear is probably of failure. I am afraid to let the team down. I do not want to disappoint the community. I do not want to disappoint my bosses and my parents.”

Yes, Ma’am. Thank you for that. Although we have different cultural origins, I rather think we both share a dedication, and a love, for the two nations we bridge. Congratulations on your appointment and thanks for giving me a shot of inspiration during a week of considerable discouragement. Best wishes, Admiral.

So I remain optimistic and have even formed a different vision of what the Philippines might become. A naive ideal? You readers can tell me. It’s largely up to you.

This is what I think:

Those who promote division and hold to a rigid, archaic nationalism are building a weak, bickering, up-tight Philippines.

Those who welcome diversity and an evolving national identity – a rich, diverse, global identity – are building a strong, unified, healthy Philippines.

83 Responses to “Of division, diversity and an admiral”
  1. Dolly Gonzales says:

    I love this article, Joe! It has such heart. ♥

    You mentioned people “who promote division and hold to a rigid, archaic nationalism.” I tend to think, at least about the ones that jump to mind, that theirs is not nationalism at all. Another nation may be pulling their strings, dictating upon them? That’s certainly true of some — some! — who rabidly oppose the EDCA.

    As for you finding a real home here, I think of you as more Filipino than they’ll ever be.

    • I agree….I even got into trouble for saying so in another blog….anyway, I regularly share joeam’s blog in my FB account

      • Dolly Gonzales says:

        haha, they know who they are, and thus react colorfully 🙂 better not engage when that happens, right? be amused while they foam in the mouth.

      • Joe America says:

        Well, Annalissa, at least I knew from your willingness to say what was RIGHT that you would be a better legislator than this crowd of mutes we have now who will not speak up about corruption when the Vice President of their nation is the poster boy for it. So you are more like the Admiral, I think. And I greatly appreciated your defense of civility.

    • Joe America says:

      It seems like most of life is people trying to put us in little containers. When I see someone who persevered as an individual without losing sight of the community of all, I am very much impressed. When this person bridges two nations, through the dedication to family of her parents, and her own refusal to be limited by what others impose as “the correct way”, I get downright uplifted. The critics and complainers and those trying to put us in their containers? Just incidental little people.

      I’m glad you have heart, too.

  2. josephivo says:

    Wow as in WOW. What a woman, what a Filipina. But again two sides to the coin. The lady at one side, the Americans at the other side with their capacity to absorb immigrants and diversity. For me the main element in their culture that allows this acceptance of diversity is strength. Strength as in their collective belief that they are the best, the most powerful, the nation blessed by the Lord. Strength as in their individual belief that they can do it, whatever it is, impossible is not a common word. “We can do!”

    Most Filipinos miss this assertive attitude so much, they enjoy being the underdog or the impeccable servant. And it is so important not to rise above anyone else around us or it is so important that nobody else rises above us. “They have done it to us!”

    Only once abroad Filipinos feel freed from this crab mentality and grow to their potential.

    • Joe America says:

      The Admiral shows that “we can do” is a part of the Filipino soul, too, if it is not stifled by social convention, all the pressures you cite. The crab mentality is quite fascinating to me. There is confidence in it, or at least bluster, and the insecurity or willingness to be measured according to what others think, that drives rivalry and envy. The Admiral was raised in a circumstance that said “go forth and achieve, for there is opportunity for those who put forth earnest effort.”

      The Philippines lacks that fundamental drive, as envy drags successful people down and elitism and corruption steal the opportunity.

      I look at the UBER fiasco in Manila as representative of institutionalized failure along the same lines. The successful company, UBER, MUST be stopped from showing up the rotten taxicab service. And LFTRB is incapable of making success happen because of all the established forces, perhaps including corruption.

      Break free! That should be the Philippine national model for about 15 years to set up a different institutional mindset, and a personal mindset, to stop being held back by others.

  3. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    There is Division and Diversity in the Philippines no doubt about it. There was once an event that sparked unity, the fake revolution which was called then by various names depending whose side they are on.

    The Church called it the MIRACLE OF EDSA
    The Common people called it PEOPLE POWER
    The Politicians called it EDSA REVOLUTION

    The Balut vendor, iced-water vendor, ice cream vendor, prostitutes, jobless, unemployables, estanbays, tsismosos, tsismosas who were the first responder to all of the above were never mentioned.

    They were there to ogle and witness who would be the winner among thieves: Marcos vs Honasan-Ramos-Enrile (the protector of Theives). When their critical number reached beyond mowing them down by 50 caliber machine guns, the Church, politicians came out to grab the limelight from them. The EDSA Statue never showed Pedro with his raised clenched hands and the other holding cigarettes and iced-water for sale. There was no Pepe in the statue stabbing the night air with chicken Bar-B-Q. No Pilar with her micro-mini skirt. They are just Cory Aquino and the tisoys and tisays.

    This event was never harnessed unify the people. Instead it became political bickerings and posturings.

    To this day, the political divisions and diversities exist.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      There was no Revolution! There was a falling out between corrupt Marcos and the protectors of the corrupt regime, Honasan-Ramos-Enrile. The “revolutionaries” were the onlookers. They did not revolt. They witnessed the squabbles. Just like what happened to Binay-and-Mercado. It is not a fight of corruption by Benigno. It is a fight for the loot, short-changed, eng-get, envy.

      All corruptions in the Philippines come about because someone ratted out not because of COA findings. All corruptions are found out because the corrupts had a falling out. This is not becasue of Benigno. Benigno is just johnny-come-lately. The real corruption fighter is ENVY. SHORT-CHANGED. JEALOUSY. COA never have had its findings investigated. It’s mostly covered up. The Philippine Media cannot understand COA becaue their findings are in numbers. Filipinos are weak in numbers. The Philippine Media prefers someone come to them without evidence and make up goot stories.


      • Joe America says:

        You are scoring big points today. Arrows in the little red circle in the middle. The protest against corruption, the testimonies, are like Edsa, in your other comment. They are protests raised because of specific need, not to change the nation’s values. Indeed, in their spite, they represent the nation’s worst, themselves, a need to harm others.

        Media is the catalyst for division and spite, for sure.

        Ach, toss out the whole batch of value-deficient leaders and bring the admiral back home. Put her in DOTC or DILG. Or Defense. I for sure would rather have the White House Chef as a House representative than Imelda Marcos or Manny Pacquiao.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, the ranting poet. “There was no Pepe in the statue stabbing the night air with chicken Bar-B-Q. No Pilar with her micro-mini skirt. They are just Cory Aquino and the tisoys and tisays.”

      You are right. Edsa did not unify the nation around good community values, but around a need for that time.

  4. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    A Unified Bloggiing Community is sure is a naive idea. Here are whys:
    1. Filipinos hate smart bloggers
    2. at the same time, Filipinos hate dumb bloggers
    3. Goot Englischtzes invite swarms of attacks. They attack grammar despite it is correct just to annoy
    4. Bat Englischtzes invites incessant redicules and they never forget it.
    5. Goot logic still invites pack of wild Filipinos
    6. Bat logic invites the same
    7. Lobbying for justice is not a goot idea. You’ll be accused of being pro-corruption pro-Binay pro-Arroyo because justice makes the corrupt go free. These are the kangaroos and buckaroos. They know what justice is. They just do not want any of it.
    8. Justice to Filipinos only depends who are being prosecuted. Pemberton goes thru what Justice is that is not applicable to Binay. To this day they still scratch their head. Between the two. If I define the difference, I get attacked by those “seeking justice”.
    9. Philippine Media which are fun by Filipinos promote Number 8
    10. Philippine media makes innuendoes based on what they know not what they can prove and publish it anyways hoping the truth would come out. Once there are inconsistencies from those they made innuendoes they got a case! WONDERFUL!. It is called Investigation by Innuendoes. They have a long way becoming Bernstein adn woodward
    11. Philippne Media practice tsismis journalism. Which is below sensationalism and tabloidism. If Monica and Bill happened in the Philippines, they’d publish what they had read in Drudge Report
    12. Filipinos believe they are smart. Anyone smarter than them should be garroted and beheaded
    13. Dumb Filipinos believe they are smart
    14. Filipinos always believe that they are the greatest english speakers in the world. American’s written English brings sarcasm, laughter and redicule from Filipinos. JoeAm cannot know this because they never laugh in your face in the States. They just snicker behind your back.
    15. Filipinos attack just for the sake of attcking. They think it is cool.
    16. Attack becomes vicious if it is logical, rational and against what they stood for no matter what



    I thought I would be in the Philippine Army which is EMPLOYMENT OF LAST RESORT, EMPLOYER OF THE POOR, EMPLOYMENT OF THE POOR. But I knew I was better.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, the secret to success. Not being afraid of failure, but working hard to stay away from that bastard.

      Numbers 15 and 16 . . . that was my point of discouragement this past week. When people who could and should be friends attack for reasons that belie deep-rooted personal issues. The process of psychological examination or therapy begins with getting the patient to be honest about himself. Until that honesty is accomplished, improvement is not possible because the attempt to build a modified behavior set is on weak foundations. I fear that too many Filipinos are in denial as to their own character.

    • 10 and 11 embody the gripes I have these days. The media culture had proven itself to be party to the corruption of the country and its people. Principled journalists are becoming a rare breed and are often out-shined by sensationalist gossipmongers and rouble-rousers.

  5. letlet says:

    Admiral Bette Bolivar is a woman of exemplary virtues and values who arises from extraordinary and most trying impediment to achieve her ultimate goals. She is a woman of steel who so mentally and emotionally prepared herself to pass all the hurdles / most difficult toilsome tasks thrown at her way to become of what she is now. My heartfelt congratulation. As Filipinos, we are so proud of you.

    My facebook has lots of pictures from my various pilgrimages that I wish I could share with you. I join these pilgrimages, novena prayers and bible study to be closer to God, to be a good follower of Christ Whoever committed sins against the commandments of God, especially killing, has to be meted out a punishment ACCORDINGLY. I will never ever say not to punish the sinner. As far as I know, what I say I do, no pretentious. What the people see in me is what I am. At the back and front of anyone, looking at his eyes, I say my beliefs, my frame of mind, my perspectives….., positive and negative I tell him / her infront of him / her, not never ever at his back. I am a very straightforward and frank person. In my world, I don’t know the meaning of HYPOCRITE. i respect whatever is the principles / perspectives of commenters in your blog, as such, I want others to respect mine. At some point, there could be a misunderstanding or could not come across of what trying to impart, but nevertheless, i am a just person.

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      I believe you, letlet. Oftentimes, commenters here get really passionate about their stance and may impolitely rebuff your assertions. I admire your forthrightness and I am glad that you did not let the incident prevent you from coming back here to express your opinion.

    • Joe America says:

      I think the discussions here are generally intellectual and not personal, and in the argument the outer bounds of thinking are occasionally probed. For myself, I believe in spiritual powers which remain a great mystery to me. Others define that mystery in terms that empower them, and it is not for me to challenge that, for it is good. Your “just person” is most refreshing here, and always welcome.

      I like that “woman of steel” description of the Admiral. It’s true, and so different from what we often see here and in America and elsewhere. Good principles rule . . . inclusive principles . . . not political principles . . .

    • sonny says:

      @ letlet

      There is the virtue of Faith that truly shines from within. I can see you are gifted with that. When that Faith speaks out sometimes it is mistaken for being judgmental. I believe you called it in the service of truth and fairness.

      • letlet says:

        @ Joe Juana Pilipinas Sonny

        Thank you all for your kind understanding. May God who is good and merciful bless you and those who are dear to you.

    • Micha says:


      You are, of course, entitled to your own personal religious belief. Why the need to bring it out in a public secular forum such as this?

      Why must you wear your faith on your sleeves when the political side of this blog is contentious enough already?

  6. Juana Pilipinas says:

    As they say in your ranks, “Bravo Zulu, Rear Admiral Bolivar!” I hope that a lot of Filipino youth read your story of success and internalized the grains of wisdom you imparted.

    Most Filipinos do not have problem with diversity when peer pressure is factored out. Some of the positive features of the Filipino culture such as “pakikisama” (teamwork) when taken to the extreme results in group-think and crab mentality. It seems that my countrymen often indulge in extreme emotions: from dead silence to an unruly mob. Maybe that is where problem lies? And the solution is moderation of behavior? Of finding the middle ground?

    • Joe America says:

      The middle ground is found when the achievements of others, or the condemnations, become advice but not rules to live by. The rules to live by are those that we make up ourselves and stick to because they are good not only for us, but for others. Personal accountability is at the core of this, I think. Crabs don’t have much and seem unable to recognize it in others.

    • sonny says:

      Hear, hear!!

  7. Pinoyputi says:

    I am at an age to become cynical and at times I am. But it surprises me how harsh some of the comments to Filipinos are. And yet I appreciated reading this article of yours more then any before. Maybe it had to do with showing some of your ideals and inspiration that gave away the human behind the blogger.
    I am retired here now but my first visit to the Philippines was way back in 1974. I met the first OFW’s way back in 1969. The changes in the Philippines, both in culture and behavior, are tremendous since that time but yet can’t keep up with the changes that the early OFW’s went through while living abroad. It seems that the best of both worlds combined in a large group of Filipinos.
    The influx of foreigners and balikbayans, will steadily educate more and more locals, most for the better and some for the worse. There will be a-holes left in every community all over the world.
    We “Netizens” are able to reach-out and criticize the Government Officials, have discussions with each-other but are unable to get to the majority of the poor. A large group that we desperately need to accelerate change.
    You blogs and writing are a help for change. You’re a great writer and I appreciate the differences that we have, and are able to discus it in clear but decent language.
    My inspiration this month is;

    I had a flat tire. Stopped to fix it. There it is, an “old puti”fixing a flat along the road. There come a guy and without asking took over and helped me. Didn’t want to accept money, food, drink or a lift. Just did it to help me.

    Keep up the sunny side!

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, well, now, there you have shown the part of the Philippines we complainers often overlook, the graciousness of simple kindnesses. I have been blessed with them over and over again, in small ways and large, and it is so easy to overlook that in the heat of politics.

      The future of the Philippines is indeed to be found in the “desperate need to accelerate change” for the poor. Maybe Grace Poe, with her vision of doing a lot more to help the poor, is the right woman to do that. She confuses me . . .

      But that is politics . . . ahahaha, back to the sunny side!

    • josephivo says:

      “The sunny side”, exactly, many want to be the impeccable servant. Seeing a happy master gives pleasure. Nice for the boss, nice for the helpers, drivers, gardeners… or? There is still a strong class society (Binay’s survival magic, helping the poor by being a strong, self-serving, boss). In Europe we have had the French Revolution with equality as one of the 3 battle cries and a socialist movement were the poor were taken as a serious power, so help yourself, unless you are really unable to do so, then “brotherhood” kicks in. Where is the optimum? Too much of a good property is bad and too little of the opposite too.

  8. gerverg1885 says:

    Diversity is what makes a race interesting. And it becomes more interesting when we see time tested values in small acts of kindness that Pinoyputi narrated. They are still part and parcel of this teeming humanity that the media sometimes could not find anything positive to write about.

    The problem arises when politicians come into the scene and they announce to the whole nation that they are here to serve…but with something hoped for (or in most instances, bought for…) in return.

  9. manuel buencamino says:

    You can still do your unified blogging site ala Huffington Post etc.

    Congratulations to the Admiral. No doubt she will excell at her job.

    Another Fil-Am who rose up the ranks in the US armed forces is Antonio Taguba. He reached Major General.

    “In 2004, Taguba was assigned to report on abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. In May of that year, he published an extremely critical report that was leaked to the public.[10] Later that month, Major General Taguba was reassigned to the Pentagon to serve as deputy assistant secretary of defense for readiness, training and mobilization in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. Describing his thoughts upon being informed by John Abizaid a few weeks after the leak that he and his report would be investigated, Taguba said “I’d been in the Army thirty-two years by then, and it was the first time that I thought I was in the Mafia.”

    “In January 2006, General Richard A. Cody, the Army’s Vice-Chief of Staff, instructed Taguba to retire by the following January. No official explanation was given; Taguba himself believes his forced retirement was ordered by civilian Pentagon officials in retaliation for his report on abuse of prisoners.[10] Taguba’s retirement, effective January 1, 2007, ended a 34-year career of military service.[7]”

    “In June, 2008, Taguba was again in the headlines when he wrote the preface to a report by Physicians for Human Rights on prisoner abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib prison, in Guantanamo Bay, and in Afghanistan.[11] In it, he accused the Bush administration of committing war crimes and called for the prosecution of those responsible. He wrote, “There is no longer any doubt that the current administration committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account.”[5] (WIKI)

    • Joe America says:

      Those who ordered torture are unlikely to be personally held to account. The Obama Administration has gone so far as to admit torture was used and that is as far as it is likely to go. The US will not cooperate with any war crimes action, believing that they would be undertaken by radicals or people who had no idea what it was like after the World Trade Center horror. I suppose General Taguba did cross the civilian leaders, and also the military code of conduct that enforces discipline and obedience above all other qualities, for it is necessary to ensure men will advance in the face of deadly fire, as when storming this beach or that in the Pacific. Taguba’s deed would have cast him as untrustworthy and unreliable for any combat assignment . . . or any assignment whatsoever. The morality of the torture matter is less important to the military than discipline. That discipline is both the greatest strength of the US military, and I suppose its greatest weakness.

      But the purpose of this blog is to celebrate achievement and people who succeed at getting outside the limits imposed by their upbringing or circumstance, and who build community rather than divide it.

  10. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Babette Bolivar was born and raised in Honolulu, HI. She is definitely not a Filipino. She was raised as American with American ideals and value. If Babette were born in the Philippines she can never attain what she have attained in the U.S. If Babette were born to wealthy family in the Philipines she would never go into military. She’d definitely be commanding a gaggle of hapless helpless housemaids and drivers.

    What makes America great and the rest of the 1stWorld countries is they mold a person to become and make realization of their aspirations. They have opportunities in front of them for the taking in an honest way despite their lack of fanaticism of religion. They believe in themselves. They make it happen with the support of the government.

    Thank you American Babette Bolivar, you make Filipinos proud 🙂

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Thank you American Taguba you proved to the world it is not Filipino genes but the ecosystem and the government that makes its inhabitants great. And my congratulations also goes out to 14-year-old Jessica Sanchez that told The Filipino Channel that she’s not a Filipino but a Mexican-American until she realized too late that she has Filipino blood running thru her veins, coach of Miami Heat also an American and to all Americans that have Filipino ancestry that proved that it is not about genetics, It is about the government. The only true-blue 100% home-grown Filipino locally-made hero Manny Pacquiao.

      No thanks to Philippine Ivy-Schols that are a cesspool of future corrupt government officials that inculcate thieveries. Scratch every corrupt officials alma mater and there is one school that stands-out.

      Yesterday, Drilon and two secretaries are now in the limelight. PDAF, gone. DAP, finished. They have re-engineered corruption, the modus is OVERPRICING. I wonder what next? Who will be next?


    • josephivo says:

      Correct. What is nature, what is nurture? In this case nurture is overwhelming

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        America nurtured Bolivar to become a successful American admiral with the help of her American compatriots.

        • Joe America says:

          I think Bolivar the individual thrived within America’s setting of opportunity for the diligent and creative, and she was able to overcome – with the help of her family – the bindings that financial restraints or cultural norms impose. America didn’t make her. She made herself. Yes, with help or involvement from a lot of people, her mixed nationality being a part of the hindrance and the help, I suspect.

      • Juana Pilipinas says:

        I think the right combination of nature and nurture has to be present in order for the chemical reaction to work. An unmotivated person in the land of opportunity will not soar like an eagle, I guarantee.

    • Joe America says:

      I have a different take on it, per my other comment. I don’t think America makes people, she presents the opportunity for them to make themselves.

      • I agree with your view, Joe. Many people who succeed in America are self-made. Those who are motivated to make something of themselves find the environment conducive to fulfilling whatever dream they have so they avail of the opportunity. It goes back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. The first four rungs of the pyramid: physiological, safety, love/belonging and esteem are not hard to have for any decent, smart and hardworking citizen or resident of the United States. Therefore, the cherry on top of the pyramid, self-actualization, is just always a step away for the go-getters.

  11. cha says:

    Diversity naturally brings with it conflict and possible divisions. You put together people from different backgrounds, each seeing the world through different colored, shaped and framed cultural lenses and you can eventually expect to see some sort of misunderstanding, differences of opinions, sentiments along the way.

    Conflict, whether diversity related or otherwise, is not the problem. A substantive conflict, or a disagreement between two parties on a particular issue, handled correctly can be productive and could even lead to a resolution that improves on each of the parties’ original position.

    But when an initially substantive conflict mutates into a personalized one, fueled by emotions and assumptions about the other party’s personality, character and motives, then it not only becomes ugly but more so a complete waste of one’s time and energy. (Even more so in a social media forum, I would say.)

    It’s probably better to just walk away, or if it’s that important, at least get the focus back on the specific issues. And then stay there.

    “Music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance.”

    • Joe America says:

      Nice closing quote. The real challenge is when who we are, as personal beings, cannot be extracted from the issue. My Americanism as an example, which gets attached to any conversation I might have about the Philippines, and therefore easily comes into play as an aspect of the issue. Or letlet’s deep faith. She can’t separate that from her being or point of view on issues because it is who she is. So who she is risks becoming an issue no matter what the subject of discussion might be.

      So I think wholesome diversity requires the active step of acknowledging that others can’t help but bring who they are into the debate, and to try to comprehend that point of view and respect it. If it is shading the debate, as my Americanism often does, fine, raise the point for discussion. But the step of using my Americanism or letlet’s faith as a catch basin for every historical complaint against Americans or Christians has no constructive purpose other than ending the debate. Because we can’t rectify history.

      So wholesome diversity requires the active step of conceding to others who they are, without malice or preconceived judgment.

      • cha says:

        “But the step of using my Americanism or letlet’s faith as a catch basin for every historical complaint against Americans or Christians has no constructive purpose other than ending the debate.”


        Not everyone takes issue with your Americanism, though. I reckon more of your readers don’t instead of do. And just as it is not fair to fault you for everything that America has done wrong, it’s also unsettling to have the shortcomings of one or a few Filipinos get taken as therefore indicative of a general problem with our culture or that something needs to be fixed with the rest of us. There may be crabs among us indeed, but we also have quite a few of the Admirals to go around. Your society is teeming with the latter. Birds of the same feather and all that. 🙂

      • Micha says:

        “The real challenge is when who we are, as personal beings, cannot be extracted from the issue. My Americanism as an example, which gets attached to any conversation I might have about the Philippines, and therefore easily comes into play as an aspect of the issue. Or letlet’s deep faith. She can’t separate that from her being or point of view on issues because it is who she is. So who she is risks becoming an issue no matter what the subject of discussion might be.”

        The solution is simple : don’t bring your cultural or religious bias into the table if you don’t want to be challenged on it. Or, on the positive side of it, if you can’t help bringing in your cultural or religious bias on the table, expect others to challenge it.

        Don’t weasel around the claim that you could always bring in your biases and just expect others to let it be.

        Be prepared to defend your biased views in a public forum such as this and let reason be the final arbiter.

        • edgar lores says:

          Hmm. I take the opposite view: it is precisely our biases that make for interesting discussions.

          And it is impossible for anyone not to have any bias. As individuals, we are the product of our culture(s), our time, our personal experiences and our subjective reactions to all of these, and our opinions will always reflect bias.

          Each of us exist in our own cosmic egg, which is our mindset. The shell of the egg is translucent and we see the world through this glass, darkly. We see others in their translucent cosmic eggs and sometimes we have a glimpse of a common artifact, a common decor, a similar size or a similarly colored translucency.

          As we gather our eggs in a circle – please no double entendre is being suggested! – and discuss things, we either come away agreeing or disagreeing, or at the very least come to a greater understanding of issues.

          The greatest impact would be if we are able to produce a crack in the egg – mine or yours. This is a paradigm shift. Eventually, the crack grows and grows, and we step out of our shells – a new hatchling – into a bigger cosmic egg and a brave new world.

          • Micha says:

            “…it is precisely our biases that make for interesting discussions.”

            Yes, by all means, bring your biases in and let us have a discussion about it.

            What offends me is the fallacy of special pleading. Somebody goes, “here’s my Christian or American perspective. I believe I am right. Don’t criticize me for it because I am what I am. Sulk. End of conversation.

            • Joe America says:

              You will have to excuse me, but I find it mildly amusing that you confess to being offended (an expression of emotion) after arguing that we are impeccably rational. Also, you missed the point that I said if my Americanism is relevant to the issue, it is appropriate to discuss it. But it is inherently irrational to enter the discussion as a bigot against Americans because they waged the Philippine American war brutality, and I am one. And I resent the implication that to object to being framed by what others did is “sulking”, another non-rational emotionalism. It is striving to avoid the irrational pigeonholing of people, whether it be me as an American, or Filipinos, or Muslims, or transgenders . . . or anybody who is different from us.

              • Micha says:

                That’s right Joe, special pleading is logically offensive and irrational. But I grant that you are willing to open your American bias for discussion.

              • Joe America says:

                @micha, If we define “special pleading” as labeling an individual based on the qualities of the group, you seem to be an advocate for labeling. And beyond that, the justification of anger toward anyone who would object to such a label. I think listening is the appropriate response rather than anger, and believe it is more logical.

                You also seem to be using bias as “weakness”, also deserving condemnation and anger, whereas I see bias as a natural quality, deserving of a search for understanding.

                In your view, you hold yourself as the final arbiter of what is logical and right, and anyone disagreeing is illogical and worthy of a chop-chop. I hold that I am largely ignorant as to the background of others and need to work to understand them better.

                Yours is the violent, divided world we live in, and I think we need to get to a world that is more embracing of difference. The new world would be enlightened and enriched by its various pleadings and biases because people would be willing to listen and seek understanding. Not label and condemn first and ask questions later.

                Cha’s examination of this is excellent. She describes both the legitimacy of bias, and the danger of a person using it to justify bad thinking.

              • Micha says:

                “If we define “special pleading” as labeling an individual based on the qualities of the group, you seem to be an advocate for labeling.”

                Special pleading is not labeling outside of one who is invoking it.

                “You also seem to be using bias as “weakness”, also deserving condemnation and anger, whereas I see bias as a natural quality, deserving of a search for understanding.”

                Nope, I don’t see bias as strength or weakness. I see it as a jump off point from which to start a conversation.

                “In your view, you hold yourself as the final arbiter of what is logical and right…”

                That’s quite a stretch in your reflection. I have reiterated that reason, and reason alone, is or should be.

                “Yours is the violent, divided world we live in…”

                Au contraire, I advocate for a world where we could reason together.

              • Joe America says:

                It’s good to know that we are making progress here, and agree that bias can be good or bad and is a useful point for further discussion.

                As for: “Special pleading is not labeling outside of one who is invoking it.”

                It seems to me the person doing the invoking is the observer or critic, not the person objecting to a label. A Muslim might say, “My faith is not violent, it is a perverted few who make it violent”. He is not invoking a “special pleading”. He is stating his belief. Yes, he is asking for consideration but not in a begging way. He is asking for understanding. The person invoking the special pleading is the person who labels the Muslim faith as a violent faith without regard for what the Muslim himself thinks.

                It seems a lot like labeling to me. And labeling is step one of division within the community.

              • edgar lores says:

                There is self-labelling – and the creation of distinction and/or division in this respect is intentional.

                So two steps forward, one step backward. 🙂

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, exceptionalism is rampant. It’s an official foreign policy of America, and something that . . . speaking of Halloween . . . creeps me out.

            • cha says:

              I rather believe that discussions become interesting and enriching when we are able to see an issue from different perspectives or world views. Biases don’t do it for me. To me, they are all about prejudice.

              inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair.
              “there was evidence of bias against black applicants”
              synonyms: prejudice, partiality, partisanship, favouritism, unfairness, one-sidedness

              Someone dismissing another person’s arguments simply because the other person is American, or an expatriate Filipino, or religious or what have you – that’s bias. It does not enrich our understanding of the issues on hand but rather detracts and puts the focus on the personalities of those involved in the discussion.

              Someone presenting his opinion as shaped by his own experiences, background, and other personal circumstances, however, that’s a point of view or perspective. That, to me, is what can make a specific discussion quite enlightening at best, and yes, interesting at the very least.

              To be fair, I believe that the latter is what Joeam brings to the table when he writes or comments on political and other issues concerning the Philippines. The former is what some may opt to use to shut down his arguments. Joeam is simply calling this out, and fair enough, I say.

              Having said that, I do also see Micha’s point. While it is unfair to approach a discussion with one’s biases against a particular culture or way of life, hiding behind who we are is also a cop-out.

              • edgar lores says:

                Hmm, yes, perhaps we should not use the word “bias”.

                Certainly, JoeAm, Micha and I are using the term in the wider sense of “standpoint” or “viewpoint”. And I am using it in the much, much wider sense of Weltanschauung.

                The term does have a pejorative connotation/denotation.

                I would still use it though because if we use the definition of “a partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation”, I would question whether an “objective” standpoint is at all possible.

                “Objective” means “undistorted by emotion or personal bias; based on observable phenomena”.

                Is science objective? Some say it is not as it is based on human assumptions, tools and measurements.

                Is mathematics objective? Perhaps this is the only field of human endeavour that can be described as objective. But even on this there is debate.

                Conclusion: I might still use “bias” to describe personal philosophy and use “prejudice” to mean bias as partiality.

                Confusing, no?

        • Joe America says:

          Well, that is a fine intellectual ideal. But we are not rational beings. If we were, we would not have crooks or bigots or wars or arguments over economics. We each carry our biases and I don’t think it is weaseling to accept that some people have different DNA grounding than we do, different upbringing, different education, different culture, and a whole bunch of different experiences. If we expect them to be robots in their dry rational synthesis of argument, we will be mostly disappointed. So, yes, I hold that it is beneficial to employ a good measure of what you call “weaseling” to accept people for who they are. Indeed, if we do that, we are likely to find that our community has a richness of fabric that would replace the current torn one. Torn by people insisting that their way is the only rational way.

          • Micha says:

            “But we are not rational beings.”

            Yes we are. The billions of dendrites and cells in our frontal lobes makes us so. That evolutionary structural feature allow us to comprehend and formulate complex algorithms and mathematics. And even if emotionalism sometimes interferes with our rational processes, human survival and quest for sustainable future could only rest on the triumph of rationality.

            • edgar lores says:

              The question becomes: Who decides which is the most rational viewpoint?

              If we go back to the concept of models, the rationality of each model consists of its coherence, in its ability to explain and predict behavior. Classical physics works in the macro world but does not in the micro world where quantum physics does.

              Rationality depends on the model being used. Where we are using the same models, consensus may be arrived at. Where we are using different models, consensus may not be possible, but each model may highlight an aspect of the issue under discussion.

              My point is: rationality is subjective.

              • Micha says:

                “Classical physics works in the macro world but does not in the micro world where quantum physics does.”

                We are macro and we live in the macro world, therefore, classical physics apply. String theory is weird stuff of the infinitesimally small.

                “Rationality depends on the model being used. Where we are using the same models, consensus may be arrived at.”

                2 + 2 will always equal 4 whether you’re in Cebu, Barcelona, or Mars.

              • Micha says:

                “The question becomes: Who decides which is the most rational viewpoint?”

                Theorem. Proof. Evidence.

              • edgar lores says:

                2 + 2 may not be equal to 4 – depending on your base system.
                2 + 2 = 10 in base 4.

                1 + 1 = 2 in base 10 (decimals).
                1 + 1 = 10 in base 16 (hexadecimals).

                One may argue that the results are the same in Cebu, Barcelona and Mars if the same base is used, but there are ethnic people who cannot count beyond 2. To them, 2 + 2 is “too many” and may be interpreted as 3, 4 or 5.

                Mathematics may be considered “objective” in that it can be used to establish with some accuracy the entities in the universe and the interrelationship and interaction among them. But the real-life objects described by math will always deviate – in some degree – to the ideal mathematical representation. The difference between 1 and 2 is not 1 but an infinity of points if we are not talking about integers.


                Theorems, proof, evidence. These can be subjective as well. Statistical evidence can be interpreted several ways.

                The fables of science are subject to doubt as much as the fables of religion.

                Right now the accepted fable in cosmology is the Big Bang Theory. There are lots of evidence for it like the expansion of the universe. But there are a lot of paradoxes too like how it violates the first and second laws of thermodynamics. Also we don’t know what is beyond the scope of the observable universe (the Hubble Volume). And there are alternative fables.

                Right now the accepted fable of the development of life is evolution. There are lots of evidence for it like fossils. But there are a lot of paradoxes too like we don’t know how it started or like convergence. Also what were the missing links and why don’t we have full evidence of them. And there are alternative fables.

              • Micha says:

                Like its language equivalent, the semantics of mathematics can be deployed to move the goalpost of an otherwise clear and definitive meaning. The 2 + 2 example was of course not meant to be interpreted as having a different set of numerical base other than that of the conventional decimals we used in everyday real life mathematical language. Let me add a qualifier to it so we don’t get lost in the jumble.

                2 bananas + 2 bananas will always equal 4 bananas whether you’re in Cebu, Barcelona, or Mars.

                If there’s an ethnic person in Spain who would give a different answer, then another qualifier is warranted : he’s a mathematically ignorant ethnic person.

              • Micha says:

                “Theorems, proof, evidence. These can be subjective as well.”

                What is subjective about, say, the theory of gravity?

                “Right now the accepted fable in cosmology is the Big Bang Theory.”

                Science does not pretend that it knows everything. That is in stark contrast to the hubris of religious claims. It endeavors to understand nature given the tools and resources currently available. It is flexible to alter previous approximations of its understanding as new proof, data, and evidence comes along. You may deride BB as a fable but what is your alternative explanation on how the universe came to be?

                “Right now the accepted fable of the development of life is evolution.”

                I know, right? It’s a fable. And your alternative explanation is?

                “Also what were the missing links and why don’t we have full evidence of them.”

                Here’s a 4 minute overview of Your Inner Fish :

                If you have an hour to spare, here’s part one of a PBS documentary on Dr. Neil Shubin’s discovery.

                And here’s his lecture at the University of California :

            • sonny says:

              1 + 1 = 10 (binary), 2 + 1 = 10, … 7 + 1 = 10 (octal), … 9 + 1 = 10 (dec), … F + 1 = 10 (hex). I used to know this 🙂

              • edgar lores says:

                Thanks for the correction, Sonny. I meant binary (base 2) not hexadecimal. I keep thinking in bytes and bits.

              • edgar lores says:

                So the base number system depends on the number of digits we have on our appendages. I wonder if Martians are two-toed, three-toed or eight-toed sloths.

              • sonny says:

                Thanks for the memories, Edgar. No correction intended, I knew where you were at. I was with bits and bytes for a while but now after senor Bill Gates, I belong to the retired legacy systems of yesteryears. Today’s systems architecture are partially opaque to me.

              • sonny says:

                Sloths, Martians and the binary system, hmmm … cool connection.

                Regarding, fables and models and rationality – is this phenomenology, the Lores version? 🙂

  12. Micha says:

    “One of the discoveries I have made in blogging is that it is extraordinarily difficult to find successful ways to bring people of different backgrounds and thinking into a common community that nurtures itself.”

    Majority of your visitors and readers agree that official corruption is disgusting. That’s one important common ground to build a modest online community.

    Frankly I don’t understand why we should discourage diversity of views/opinions on various topics. By all means, let us have healthy respectful debates. Rule one : special pleading is off.

    • sonny says:

      If i understand what you mean by “special pleading,” we don’t need to “off” it. IMO, it is a legitimate cooling valve and we can easily recognize it to be so. Instead, I would suggest to leave such as part of the combox record for those who do understand it as a language of religion or culture that has its context, albeit to be decoded.

      • Micha says:


        By way of example, special pleading is a Christian or any religious person who comes along and say, “Here is my Christian opinion/viewpoint on the matter. I most definitely believe I am right and you may not question, challenge, or criticize it because…well, because…I’m a Christian.”

        It is essentially exempting himself or herself from scrutiny over his/her offered opinion and/or action by virtue of his/her affiliation with a particular group, culture, or organization.

        Further example :

        It is legally permissible for on-duty police officers, driving their official vehicles, to break the speed limit in pursuit of criminals or to answer emergency calls. However, off-duty officers driving private cars have no more reason to break the speed limit than do other citizens. The mere fact of being a police officer is an irrelevant characteristic rather than an exception to the law. A fortiori, it is an irrelevant characteristic to be a family member of a police officer. So, it is a case of special pleading to argue that off-duty police officers and their families should not be ticketed in circumstances in which a civilian would be.


        And from RationalWiki :

        Biblical morality takes massive amounts of special pleading from Biblical literalists who insist that morality can only come from the Bible. They are very happy to follow some rules (shunning gay men) but not others (selling their daughters into slavery, stoning disobedient children, eschewing shellfish) — even though the Bible, which they claim can be the only source of their moral decision making, is quite silent on what parts of it you can happily ignore.


    • sonny says:

      Watched the Shubin video. Very informative. It just then occurred to me that fish paleontology as an evidence gatherer would not be so contrary to our (human) epistemology, since we (humans) are also religious and rational by nature. In the evolutionary narrative, primates like other mammals have DNA provenance and continuance. At least basic Genetics and Chemistry show how closely related the members of the animal kingdom are, being separated only by the huge but finite combinatory permutations of very basic amino acids. Somewhere in the duality of human provenance, we possess rationality that is both scientific and religious, i.e. we seek answers borne of both spheres.

  13. edgar lores says:

    Micha and Everybody,

    1.1. I am starting a new thread because the nesting has become too intricate.
    1.2. Also we are not seeing the forest for the trees.
    1.3. The forest was Micha’s assertion that (a) special pleading should be done away with and (b) rationality should guide our discussions.
    1.4. My question to her assertion was: Who decides which is the most rational viewpoint?
    1.5. My answer to my question was that no one can decide but each of us, individually and separately, because “rationality is subjective.”
    1.6. From there we have gone on a joy ride through cosmology, evolution and mathematics.
    1.7. Let me begin by going through some of the trees. Remember my point is SUBJECTIVITY.

    2.1. Micha: Asserted that 2 + 2 = 4 is a universal.
    2.2. Me: Not so. Depends on the base number being used.
    2.3. Micha: 2 bananas + 2 bananas = 4 bananas. This is in base 10.
    2.4. Me:
    2.4.1. Micha has just shifted mathematics from the “objective” abstract to the “subjective” concrete.
    2.4.2. Quantitatively, her formula checks out. And I will concede its universal validity – math-wise.
    2.4.3. But allow me to quote myself: “Mathematics may be considered ‘objective’ in that it can be used to establish with some accuracy the entities in the universe and the interrelationship and interaction among them. But the real-life objects described by math will always deviate – in some degree – to the ideal mathematical representation.”
    2.4.4. Quantitatively, the formula checks out but qualitatively it does not. If we are talking real-life, the bananas in Cebu and Barcelona will not be exactly the same in color, size, shape, weight and sweetness (or any other attribute one may care to impose with the possible exception of kind of fruit).

    3.1. Gravity
    3.1.1. From our viewpoint, gravity is a pull. The sun pulls the Earth within an orbit. The Earth pulls us to the ground.
    3.1.2. From another viewpoint, gravity may be a push. Recent astrophysical observations have speculated that gravity may be a push. And does the moon push or pull the tides?
    3.1.3. Is gravity a particle (graviton) or a wave?

    3.2. Big Bang Theory (BBT)
    3.2.1. There are alternative explanations such as steady-state, oscillating universe, inflationary universe (sub-variant string theory), and multiverse – not to mention the various religious fables.
    3.2.2. Each theory is partly incoherent, meaning that each has problems which cannot be explained and may never be explained.
    3.2.3. BTW, Catholicism accepts the BBT and holds the singularity was kicked off by God. (Note: multiverse holds the possibility of multiple singularities.)

    3.3. Evolutionary Theory (ET)
    3.3.1. Some alternative explanations to evolution are creationism, intelligent design, aliens, and computer simulation. (Yes, we might be SIM creatures.)
    3.3.2. There are schisms in evolutionary theory such as Darwinian (natural selection) and non-Darwinian of which there are several.
    3.3.3. “Your Inner Fish” may be a post hoc fallacy. It is well known that the human mind has an innate tendency to look for patterns (pareidolia, apophenia). If you didn’t know it, could you see the butterfly in the caterpillar?
    3.3.4. Catholicism accepts ET in the variant known as Theistic Evolution. A possible paradox of this acceptance would be that this would render the Genesis fable to be allegorical and, if so, discount the Fall. And if there was no Fall, why the need for salvation?

    4.1. I could go on and on and cite exception after exception to the fables of religion and science. As I am certain Micha can offer a tit for my every tat. (No pun intended.)
    4.2. But back to the forest: my main point was that whether you accept the current (scientific or religious) paradigm or an alternative, all rationality is subjective.

    5.1. All rationality is subjective. There are exceptions such as when a separate arbiter – parent, referee, umpire, judge, justices of the Supreme Court – is clothed with the authority to make an “objective” judgement. But even so, the judgements of these arbiters are tinged with subjectivity arising from their world-view (or bias). (Remember judicial overreach?)
    5.2. In a round-table discussion such as we have on this blog or any blog, there are no independent arbiters.

    5.3. We bring to the table our respective world-views (or “models” in Joseph’s lingo), tinged as they are with emotionality and rationality. And we take from the table whatever our subjective emotionality and rationality can accommodate. (Our cosmic egg, which is our world-view, is our individual Hubble Volume.) We might heed the Marxian maxim not in terms of material goods but in terms of mental and spiritual goods: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
    5.4. Letlet and Sonny’s faith and JoeAm’s Americanism are as valid – if not more so – as Mariano’s outasight wanderings. The richness of this blog derives from these subjective biases and the unexpected encounters and intersections. One purpose is to express and not to dominate. Another purpose is to explicate in order to illuminate. Ultimately, the aim – at least for me as we are talking subjective here – is to lift consciousness and expand our cosmic eggs.

    5.5. All rationality is subjective. This is not to say it is impossible to arrive at consensus – at the unexpected intersections. Moreover, this is not to say that there is no correspondence between our internal world and the world out there.
    5.6. More importantly, this is not to say that your individual rationality is invalid (in terms of correspondence to the world out there), even when I think your “rational assumptions and arguments”, and not you, are untenable or, ok, silly. I hope you will forgive me when I fail to make the distinction. 🙂

    5.7. There should be NO prior restraint to what we bring to the table. Exception: we are a society of honor and we should bring a modicum of courtesy. Other than that we are free to say what we want to say. And ain’t that the shit?
    5.8. Granted that special pleading is a fallacy. Anyone can call out anybody and say, “Excuse me, that’s special pleading” or “That’s a furtive fallacy.”

    5.9. Semi-final paradox: Is it possible that the “rational arguments only” approach is a case of special pleading?
    5.10. Final paradox: Be absolute in your rationality but be relative in your absoluteness.

    • Micha says:

      “My question to her assertion was: Who decides which is the most rational viewpoint? My answer to my question was that no one can decide but each of us, individually and separately, because “rationality is subjective.”

      Nope, rational is not relative or subjective. No such thing as “most rational” or “least rational”. There is only the rational – a universally valid and accepted truth, mostly scientific and mathematical truths.

      PoMo’s “everything is valid” dictum is a journey into absurdity which prompted Alan Sokal to dismiss the movement as nothing but fashionable nonsense.

      • edgar lores says:


        Here’s the definition of rationality: “Rationality is the quality or state of being reasonable, based on facts or reason. Rationality implies the conformity of one’s beliefs with one’s reasons to believe, or of one’s actions with one’s reasons for action.”

        The second sentence gives a very wide latitude to what rationality consists of in the phrase “the conformity of one’s beliefs with one’s reasons to believe.”

        If I say, “I am expressing this [insert specific opinion] because I am a Christian” that would fall into the scheme of rationality. To you, that might be special pleading.

        And there are degrees of cogency in reasoning. Why do I want to climb Mount Everest? There might be two plausible reasons: (a) For the record; and (b) because it is there. The more relevant reason would be the more immediate cause. In my case, it would be option (a).


        “Rationality is subjective” does not equate to “everything is valid”. It depends on what is being conformed or non-conformed with.

        It simply means that a person’s rationality is valid for him (from a first person point of view). This is conformance with self.

        It does not mean that that rationality is valid for another person (from a second person point of view). This is also conformance with self and non-conformance with another.

        When all sane people agree to a certain rational proposition, then that proposition would be universally valid. This might be conformance to “objective” reality.

        • Micha says:

          “When all sane people agree to a certain rational proposition, then that proposition would be universally valid. This might be conformance to “objective” reality.”

          I’m glad you said this because I really am starting to get worried you’re actually fully hooked in PoMo’s assumptions. Or maybe this is just the latest tweak and revision in the movement’s phase?

          A post-PoMo synthesis?

          • edgar lores says:

            Ahaha! I do identity myself as a PostPoMo.

            The difficulty with PoMo was its absolute relativism and that therefore everything was in error. You could not hold on to anything.

            As a PostPoMo, one recognizes that (a) truth is not monolithic and that (b) truth is subjectively valid but may not be universally valid. However, you allow for universal truths. And you also, as you note, tend to synthesize things.

            That’s why I said: “Be absolute in your rationality but be relative in your absoluteness.” I take this to mean: be strong but flexible. That is, be strong in your faith, or emotionality and rationality, whatever it is (say, 80-90%), but leave room for doubt (10-20%). Unless you have a truly coherent Theory of Everything (TOE).

            This makes one a person of deep conviction, but also an understanding one. It keeps you open and therefore capable of growth.

            • Micha says:

              Well, welcome back! You’re coming full circle on the method of science.

              Question everything, employ critical thinking, be skeptical. But once a scientific fact had been established, i.e., had been tested and could make accurate predictions, you give credence to those facts and stop making asinine assertions like all truths are relative or subjective. Surely, you would not anymore say that a person who, for example, still believe that the earth is flat has a valid truth, would you?

              There are still a lot of things we do not know about the universe, but the useful things we do know now had been established using the rigorous, cumulative, and collective method of science.

              • edgar lores says:

                Oh, dear, have I put my foot in it? Let me try to recover. 🙂

                “…you give credence to those facts and stop making assertions like all truths are relative and subjective.”

                A flat-earther’s belief is valid subjectively. True, his belief may not conform to external reality. However, if his belief prevents him from wandering off for fear that he may fall off the edge of the Earth, then that his experiential reality.

                Therefore, the acceptance of any truth – even universal truths – is still subjective. No truth will work for you until and unless you accept it. And any untruth – that is a falsity from another person’s point of view or from the viewpoint of “external reality” – can still be true to you if you give credence to it.

                The above two paragraphs apply to the fables of religion as well as to those of science.

                Specifically as to the fables of science, your credence should be given only to the extent that particular propositions have been established by the scientific method, and to the extent that a particular scientific model works. Your credence should not be given fully until and unless all anomalies have been satisfactorily explained.

                And, as I say somewhere above, science is not considered objective as “it is based on human assumptions, tools and measurements.” Objective reality may be real or an illusion, but if it is real we will never know objective reality as such because of the limitations of our sense organs, the limits of our consciousness and our tools.

                (Here, in touching on the question of objective reality, we skirt the edge of a profound abyss.)

                Finally as you will note, the term “credence” implies subjectivity: “belief in or acceptance of something as true.”

      • sonny says:

        3.1. Gravity

        3.1.1, 3.1.2 Clear statement of paradox in gravity.

        3.1.3 Pity me and imagine me w/college Physics 101, wading through this summary of the graviton. No insight from me here. 🙂 Would appreciate any more help to understand this.


        3.2. Big Bang Theory (BBT)

        3.2.1, 3.2.2 These theories are really “fabulous” (pun intended) since observations are very attenuated and theorizing is highly arcane. (Note: am still struggling with concept of singularity; does this mean there is infinity somewhere in the equation?)

        3.2.3 Msgr Georges Lemaitre, the author of BBT, cautioned Pope Pius XII not to use his BBT as proof of the Creation story. The Pope complied. Thus anybody can use BBT on its own merits as a scientific theory. Recently. Pope Francis was interpreted to find nothing wrong in using BBT as a likely model for the origin & destiny of the universe. This opinion I’m sure must have been vetted by members of the Pontifical Academy of Science, viz. fellow Jesuit, Bro. Consolomagno, SJ.

        3.3. Evolutionary Theory (ET)

        3.3.3. All the rest of humanity follow the researchers and examine their observations and principled logic be they scientific or religious. For example, even with my limited knowledge of Chemistry & Mathematics, I can follow and make judgments on the validity or resonance of narratives that I encounter in a report like “Your Inner Fish” by pattern recognition as suggested by edgar. In the case of the fish to the human being, I can think of the paleontologist’s findings, as parallel developments of species rather than serially as suggested.

        3.3.4 Catholicism does not prohibit anyone from holding ET theories that reasonably explain the findings of science.
        She reserves her teaching authority to be applied to explain the creation of the human soul as a direct act of God.

        From the Catechism:
        The Church holds the truth of Original Sin (the Fall) precisely because she holds the truth of the Incarnation and the salvation of the human race. There is an Incarnation because there was & is the Fall. To understand how the Church comes to this conclusion, then understand the hermeneutic she uses to interpret Scripture and Revelation.

        ‘…What Revelation makes known to us is confirmed by our own experience. For when man looks into his own heart he finds that he is drawn toward what is wrong and sunk in many evils which cannot come from his good creator. Often refusing to acknowledge God as his source, man has also upset the relationship which should link him to his last end; and at the same time he has broken the right order that should reign within himself as well as between himself and other men and all creatures.’ (from GAUDIUM ET SPES)

  14. Micha says:

    There’s this:

    “A flat-earther’s belief is valid subjectively.”

    and this :

    “Objective reality may be real or an illusion, but if it is real we will never know objective reality as such because of the limitations of our sense organs, the limits of our consciousness and our tools.”

    Nope, we can now say, objectively, that the earth is spherical and not flat because a NASA satellite and an astronaut from the International Space Station had taken high resolution pictures of our bluish glorious planet. Objective truth presents itself as the evidence. We are the observer – the evidence gatherer, if you may – of objective reality.

    As such, we can now objectively dismiss a flat-earther’s reality to be invalid.

    • edgar lores says:

      Missing the point? A flat-earther’s belief is valid subjectively. Meaning to the flat-earther.

      • Micha says:

        Got that one.

        It’s your “we will never know objective reality as such” that I do not, and cannot, subscribe.

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