Developing new disciplines to deal with modern ways

[Photo source:]

By JoeAm

Our way of living is very different than the way people lived just 20 years ago. Regular contributor Edgar Lores recently provided a nice snapshot of what is going on:

  1. Increasing complexity. E.g. not only computers but also newfangled gadgets and ideas.
  2. The speed of change. E.g. Moore’s Law.
  3. The increased dimensions of our world. E.g. 24/7 news cycle. Our world is more than half virtual.
  4. The decline of religion. E.g. moral rules do not hold.
  5. The loss of certainty. E.g. not only in religion but in philosophy; relativism; postmodernism.
  6. The non-observance of the rule of law. E.g. Duterte and Trump.
  7. Our age. We see the past as idyllic and are hardpressed to keep up with 1 – 3.

We can discuss these or other interpretations if you like. But I’d like to power right on past them and accept them as “givens”. Yes, our world is complex, moving fast, global, increasingly amoral, uncertain, and increasingly unbound from rules. So stipulated. Some of us have longer memories than others, so we have a lot of years over which to pine and say goodbye.

That’s where this article takes up.

I’d like to propose that we not just sit back and be victims of the change, or pawns for the players who have mastered the new technology, media, and ways, but develop some new disciplines that protect us and preserve our sanity.

First of all, we must accept our ignorance. There are some people who understand bitcoins and a lot of us who don’t. Does that ignorance make us any less capable of using the systems that rely on bitcoin information processing? No. Does it mean we can’t thrive in this complex new era? No.

Our challenge is to choose where to accept ignorance and where to direct our time for learning about things that matter for our self-fulfillment. I suspect each of us will have our own personalized list of “New Disciplines” designed to help us do this. Here are some starter ideas, and I leave it to those who wish to comment to suggest others.

Joe’s Rules for Thriving in the Era of Speed, Ignorance, and Deception (JRTESID)

  • Use the strengths of news media and avoid the weaknesses
    • Diversify among credible sources to scan through a wide range of inputs
    • Use modern news filters to sift through the many articles available: google (personal profile), twitter (a variety of news outlets to follow)
    • Avoid small, personalized boutique news shops; most have agendas and severely slant or distort the information they provide
    • Add universities to search routines to seek informed, unbiased knowledge; for example:
  • Don’t give way to the perversions of opinion and the attraction of the echo chamber
    • Understand that it is natural to seek opinions that agree with our own: resist
    • Play the devil’s advocate with ourselves on issues now and then so that we learn to recognize the legitimacy of opposing points of view; don’t do this with others as it is manipulative
  • Take steps to find relief from the emotional pressures arising in our fast paced world
    • Know the basic argumentative fallacies and do not ‘bite’ on them
    • Learn to compose factual statements devoid of self defense, attack, or manipulation
  • Seek the knowledge that will make us strong at what we want to do
    • Build a knowledge pyramid that narrows from a broad understanding to applied skills
    • Develop principles that keep us moral in a world gone amoral; this needs elaboration separately
  • Exercise
    • Dedicate an hour a day to on-line reading in which NO judgments are formed; internalize the discipline that judgment is a rational option, not an emotional need.
    • Dedicate time away from the deceptions of electronic media to stay attached to the truths of the real world; start with an hour a day.

The wide-ranging knowledge available to us will keep us informed on the complex new developments in technology and changing global socio-economic fundamentals. If we keep our emotions in check and our minds strong along the path of discovery, I’m confident our trek into the unknown will be rich with discovery, joy, and self-fulfillment.


49 Responses to “Developing new disciplines to deal with modern ways”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    The mobile phone only came mid 80s (on or before) we did fine with out them, now we can’t live without them.
    Before we have television for idiot boxes, I guess now, the smart gadgets make humans seem like idiots.

    • Good example. It seems like they have been here forever, but 10 years ago, most Filipinos could not afford one. Now they are everywhere.

      • NHerrera says:

        An anecdote to illustrate. Our small village admin hired a new young, likable gardener to serve the needs of the village after the previous one passed away. At a Christmas season two years ago I gave him a simple but usable call-text phone I bought and lent a balikbayan friend who had his smartphone locked to his service provider back home. Lo and behold now he is sporting a smartphone he uses for music while gardening.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Yes, they are everywhere
        They are not that cheap, but credit cards made them deceptively affordable.

        • karlgarcia says:

          And here, we somehow found a way to delay the obsolescence of stuff, so the second hand or pre-owned market is doing good.

  2. edgar lores says:

    1. I like the JRTESID. Some are plain common sense. Some are easy to follow. Others are hard.

    2. The first rule is commonsensical and follows the first rule for making investments – diversify. I maintain several local Oz, local Philippines, international news and social media sources. I have recently been following the redoubtable Rachel Maddow on MSNBC for her superb Trumpian analytics.

    3. The second rule is also commonsensical – be skeptical and consider a variety of vantage points. For most people, this rule does not come into play because of their arrogance in the belief of their rightness.

    4. The third rule is hard and requires study and practice – study logic and the logical fallacies and practice impartiality. This rule even escapes Supreme Court justices.

    5. The fourth rule is also hard – seek knowledge and form a comprehensive worldview. This is hard because we tend to take our inherited cultural conditioning as our worldview and fail to transcend it. This rule brings to mind such maxims as “Know thyself” and the “The unexamined life is not worth living.” It also brings to mind Kohlberg’s stages of moral development and the necessity of developing (or verifying) one’s own moral code. Very few see the necessity for this.

    6. The first part of the fifth rule is hard, one might say impossible – suspend judgment. The second part is also hard – observe a period of silence each day.


    7. I know I follow all these rules. However, the fourth rule is my first. It took decades for me to develop my own way of seeing. My impetus was estrangement from the world at an early age. This is not common. Most of us are reared in the safety of custom and tradition.

    7.1. Consequently, the second rule of skepticism was also my second rule. Along the way, the third rule of adherence to logic came into play as my third.

    7.2. I think the second and third rules form the edges of a double-edged sword. Metaphorically, they constitute Occam’s Razor which is used to cut through the diversity of the first rule which happens to be my fourth.

    7.3. Finally, the fifth rule is also my fifth.

    7.3.1. I usually suspend judgment when confronted with something new; otherwise, the flow of input goes through the filter of my worldview.

    7.3.2. When I have understood a new thing, I will integrate it and fit into my matrix. However, many things remain in suspense and mystery. As they should be… as they keep us at the edge of wonder.

    7.3.4. My periods of silence consist of meditation, breathing, listening to music, and an afternoon siesta.

    8. The rules, as presented, are a dynamic process. Nothing should be seen as a constant — not even the principles developed under Rule 4.

    8.1. Beneath the principles are assumptions that see the world as caring or uncaring. Be careful what assumptions you choose. Because that will be the world reflected back to you.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Number 4
      I only know ad hominem, the other fallacies were taught when I was absent.

    • NHerrera says:

      Thanks for your elaboration, edgar.

      In my old age, I find some of the thoughts expressed by the Stoics useful. It very interesting and add to his credentials that one of the best Roman Emperors, Marcus Aurelius, writes for his own benefits not for public consumption, his philosophy of Stoicism in his Meditations. Interesting that as Emperor, Marcus Aurelius with absolute power, not act like modern day “dictators;” examining himself at the end of the day so he may rule so as to stave off what afflicts modern day dictators.

    • Nice cut at feasibility and ordering of priorities. I actually started thinking about this topic when I took up the matter of DFA Secretary Locsin. He so angers me with some of his positions and words, but I knew that, considering his background and essential intelligence, he might just be a satirist on the move that no one really gets. When a DFA acquaintance sent me a note on the side saying he was the real deal and not another Cayetano or Yasay, I had to suspend judgment to be fair and reasonable. The blog then became possible, and some defense of the Secretary. It was a thoroughly rewarding exercise. Yesterday or the day before, his tweets were just dynamite. Satirical, funny, smart. I think he has tempered his smart-assed style and language and is deep in his intellectual reach.

      The principle that backed the judgment was one that I used to defend President Aquino when everyone else was screaming at him. A CEO deserves the latitude to think differently than we do and to have a personality different than we have or would even like. He is allowed to make mistakes, even. So that is the positive act of suspending judgment that can be so healthy, but is so rare. I think it can be developed, actually, and if more did it, the world would be a lot kinder and more productive.

  3. NHerrera says:

    Thanks Joe for summarizing your thoughts on how not to be overwhelmed with the chaos exacerbated by technology and the fake information/ news [I wonder if the fakes now is greater than the non-fakes]. Books and books have written on the subject which in some, distilled in its essence, carry less substance than your summary.

    By the way, I followed the discussions in the previous bank blog, including that of the contrary views of Micha. To a non-sophisticate on the subject, it is good to read the other side — like reading about the mainstream on fossil fuel use causing a big part of Global Warming and Climate Change and the contrary views. The contrary views sharpen one’s appreciation of the subject [This is one of your items — not to listen only to the members of our choir so to speak.] Additionally, I find caliphman’s post on RCBC not “caving” in just yet useful to me.

    • Yes, that is hard to do. How do you listen to someone who supports the Duterte drug war, and not judge it? Near on impossible. I have Secretary Locsin on my mind (see comment to Edgar), and he is an interesting case. He supports the Duterte drug war but has come out against lowering the age of criminal responsibility for minors. Why? I’d have to guess he has to in order to get the two views to mesh. He views drug dealers and addicts as a scourge on Philippine society and can support the drug war on that basis. But throw in kids and that argument breaks down. He knows kids cannot be a scourge on society, so his whole rationale is undermined.

      By suspending judgment of the Secretary, I stick around long enough to fit the facts into a pattern that makes sense and somehow feel a whole lot smarter.

      • NHerrera says:


        Speaking of logic as a way of assessing a situation such as Locsin’s, A >/> B, that is, A may not imply B, under the old situation or setting, as in the “good old days of our youth and young age” but the insertion of (oftentimes unexpressed) current situations or intervening events may may make such logic as A>B plausible or “logical” because of this (unexpressed or unconscious) premiss of the new situation. Which in a way is one reason why a new discipline — as the blog explains — is needed so as not to overwhelm us in our modern times; that is, the old guides are insufficient.

        • NHerrera says:

          This is belaboring my post above. Before the nuclear bomb the logic of spending less money on the US Military and more on items such as Education is logical, that is, A > B, but with the intervening situation of the nuclear bomb, that is not as logical, meaning, A >/> B.

          • NHerreraN says:

            Going foreign, here is a bit, further elaborating on my immediate previous post.

            Trump’s logic of not yielding on a a hinted second shutdown, meaning his wall money, for the unpalatable (to him) full protection on DACA that the Democrats may insist on in the 15-day interim, in exchange for his wall, is “logical” or plausible under the previous situation. But the recent situation (or intervening event) climaxed by his “caving in” in the light of overwhelming opposition to his first shutdown has changed the calculus. For him to insist on his own demand the second time around (or on declaring a state of emergency on the transparent non-emergency) does not make logical sense. But I am not Trump so my logic is fallacious. 🙂

  4. NHerrera says:


    To lighten our very serious talk on the new discipline required of us ordinary mortals in these our modern times, read the link about the jokes John Kerry [former Secretary of State of President Obama] deployed in his farewell dinner speech as the outgoing President of the Alfalfa Club in the link below. It is worth a chuckle or two.

    • Ah, wonderful, wonderful. I like John Kerry. Viet Nam vet who turned peacenik, a lot like the publisher of this blog. He’s tall, too, and clearly has a wicked sense of humor. My favorite:

      “Roger Stone isn’t here. He’s always been controversial. I remember when he got caught advertising for sex in bondage and swingers magazines. So, [Friday] morning probably wasn’t the first time he started his day in handcuffs.

      I did not know of this club, and here is what Wiki has to say about it:

      The Alfalfa Club is a social club that exists only to hold an annual black tie banquet on the last Saturday of January at the Capital Hilton in Washington D.C., with an after-party at a local restaurant. The banquet, which lasts 4 hours, features music by the United States Marine Band as well as a political roast.

      Dignitaries of all political shades go to the bash. Former Defense Secretary Mattis got a standing ovation. He recently resigned because he disagreed with the Trump withdrawal from Syria.

      Thanks for the chuckle or 10.

      • NHerrera says:


        I thought somehow when I wrote the note above that it is the sense of humor you and others in TSH will like. I did not Google his military background. I do know from pictures and videos of him in the news that he is tall.

        There is good Abe Lincoln too — tall with a sense of humor but not with a background in the military; a lawyer

  5. popoy says:

    oot, OOT: ang gulo ngayon sa Venezuela, di tulad noon EDSA. Parang sanggol lang ang
    CONVULSION. BUT In Venezuela it is like an elderly’s whole being suffering convulsion, heart attack and brain seizure at the same time. The world must fear not because the defragillators of nations in the hope and hearts of men will revive Venezuela in no time at all. And peace shall reign again.

    • popoy says:

      Read OOT in another form:

      VENEZUELA @ 2801190447

      ang gulo ngayon sa Venezuela,
      di tulad noon EDSA.
      Parang sanggol lang
      hindi nagtagal
      ang CONVULSION.

      BUT In Venezuela
      this moment it is like
      an elderly’s whole being is
      suffering convulsion, heart attack
      and brain seizure at the same time.

      The world must fear not because
      the defragillators of nations
      in the hope and hearts of men
      will revive Venezuela in no time at all.
      And peace shall reign again.

  6. popoy says:

    HELLO? Where Am I?

    After perusing here in TSoH
    The eche bucheche
    of artificial intelligence
    I confess battling senescence
    I have no smart phones
    Nor Ipads, left lost and
    Longing for public phones
    In Malls and Airports.

    Amid the dehumanizing effects
    Of AI to the professions and
    To activities of the modern man
    I am minority, fading,
    A wannabe kind man exiting
    obsolescent member
    of mankind.

    • NHerrera says:

      Senescence? Oh no, Popoy, based on your postings here. Ok, in truth, we do not have the agile brain and physique that we had years ago, but we can say what we lost is compensated for in some wisdom?

      Who cares for all the most recent digital gadgetry. I like my old reliable engineer’s compass than the eche bucheche compass application software in the smartphone which relies on Internet access and my battery being charged. Marooned for a week or so someplace let us see who has the better situation — I and my compass versus another with that compass app in his smartphone.

      Tidbit: I recently got a pocket compass, which is like a pocket watch of old, which I tie to my pants belt loop with a nylon lanyard much like one will don a pocket watch with a chain. My confession then — I am still a gadgeteer but not a modern one. Hehe.

      • popoy says:

        Hey NHerr Fuhrer, you are my man. Fuhrer may be for the other guy, but we belong to the same enterprise. I am thinking of DISEMBOWELING artificial intelligence by discussing its opposite.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Roger Stone, the strategist whose really into S and M and spouse swapping?

    • NHerrera says:


      Two comments on the link you posted:

      1. An interesting read. But a non-expert comment: won’t taxing the uber-rich much more as proposed by, say, Warren not provide enough disincentive to them, humans as they are, to soon have no uber-rich anymore but all us uber-poor. 🙂

      2. Seems like the link is related to the discussions in the bank blog — hahaha: provoking chemrock and Joe. 🙂

      • karlgarcia says:

        1. From bllionaires to millionaires.

      • Ah, but it is the right kind of provocation, using a well-spoken advocate of better distribution of wealth. The article is of the emotionalized veneer that is the style of the day. As are my own writings, I suppose. Hmmmmm . . .

      • Micha says:


        The concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few people contradicts the ideals and the promise of capitalism.

        When much of Europe transitioned from the rule of kings and barons and dukes (feudalism), capitalism was heralded as a way to democratize wealth and, by extension, democratize power. That’s the reason why we usually associate capitalism with democracy; it was believed that by allowing people to be independent creators and owners of property, it will also democratize political power. Capitalism assumed the role as a real world mechanism for achieving democracy envisioned by both classical and renaissance philosophers.

        All of that vision is lost with the emergence of present day super billionaires. Because of their very tiny number, they have become the new royalty; the equivalent of kings and princes and dukes of old. The concentration of wealth also accompanied the concentration of power. Business tycoons and billionaires exercise more political power and influence in policy making than your average citizen.

        Thus capitalism in its present iteration has become the new feudalism. It is undemocratic. It betrays the ideals of democracy.

        Democratizing wealth is reforming capitalism to restore its original promise of democracy.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Without reading but basing on past Michan commentaries.

      I don’t think ot is a matter of nationalization or privatization. It is a matter of managenent.
      Mismanagement is the root of clusterfucks.

      A mixture of socialism and capitalism and some more isms is good
      If it is true that taxation and banking is not even necessary, let me see that if it happens within our lifetimes.
      How can you nationalize and subsidize without them?

      Since taxation is already a given, Taxing the rich is favored, not that I am anti-rich, it is because they hire accountants to dodge taxes, I know I am generalizing, but I best most do. So tax them heavy and the rest will just contribute in consumption tax or any other fees like tolls and licences without having to file for income tax.

      Without banks how can you even start a business without borrowing money? I know am a slow learner in MMT but I gather that I am not alone, others wont even bother.

      Somehow, it is nice to source everything domestically and use it for domestic consumption, what will you do with excesses, destroy and dispose them?
      What if you can’t source locally, do you just 3d print them to existence?

  7. edgar lores says:

    What has happened to Richard Heydarian?

    He does not seem to have developed new disciplines to deal with Duterte’s ways.

    • karlgarcia says:

      I thought it was a case of credit where credit is due, but it was about peace in Mindanao, I refuse to give him credit, the negotiations started before his time. Though, Heydarian is right to sau that it is a good start.

      The Manila Bay rehab, I could give to him.

    • I’m not quite sure of your point. The article expresses Heydarian’s assessment that the passage of the BOL in plebiscite is a significant achievement, and President Duterte deserves credit. He also credits Aquino and Ramos with strong efforts, but Duterte had the gravitas to carry it off. I think that is genuinely what Heydarian thinks, so why should he write something different to please political players? He is an academic and independent analyst. I think he compartmentalizes issues and examines each for its own merits, which is as it should be. I would be inclined to do the same thing on the Manila Bay clean-up project, which I think is right and long past due.

    • chemrock says:

      “He has consistently gone the extra mile to underscore the shared monotheistic roots of both Christianity and Islam, which have a common prophetic parent in Abraham and believe in a single Creator, who they call by different names with varying theological nuances and rituals of worship.”…. Richard Heydarian

      As a Christian apologetic, I have to say Christians and Muslims do not share a common God. This is a line put out to soften the jihadist image of Islam. Muslims do not believe the divinity of Jesus, nor the Holy Trinity. Clearly, Allah is not the same God of the Christians.

      • sonny says:

        With the Internet one can examine the trajectories of Islam across time, ideology, sociology, anthropology, geography, etc and get the “truest” picture of its complexity.

    • NHerrera says:

      Heydarian has a good point about the President on the BOL plebiscite but the essay is more like an eulogy of Duterte where in such situations the good aspects are magnified, embellishments are common and negatives are glossed over for the sake of the dead’s relatives and friends.

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