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Could I be wrong?

Clear thinking - humans are not naturally prone to do it. It takes effort. We would rather believe our initial conclusions were right, and seek evidence to support them, while ignoring evidence against.

But how did we arrive at the initial conclusion? By instinct, or some automatic mental mechanism, usually. This way of thinking is good when we are in a dangerous, natural environment, where thinking things out too much can get us killed.

But most of us do not live like that; in fact, we have never lived in that type of situation. But we still make snap judgments as though we did. Real life is complex. It is not like a television drama or movie, where for dramatic effect complexity is reduced.

There are no perfectly good good guys, and no completely bad bad guys. The good guys have some bad qualities, and the bad guys have some good qualities. Our choices are not life-and-death choices. They are nuanced, subtle. A wrong decision usually does not ruin our life, it just makes it more difficult. A right decision does not make everything wonderful, it just makes things better.

Even when we do take the time to think, we often start in the middle, from a set of assumptions. But we usually have not examined the source of our assumptions. Perhaps we were propagandized by parents, teachers, religious teachers, etc., into believing things that have no basis in reality.

Becoming a fully rational human requires an examination of the source of our beliefs.


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St. Augustine on Curiosity ***

There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity... It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.

- St. Augustine

***10/5/2013 - Note: this is probably a misquote, for the purpose of defaming St. Augustine.  I published it without any research as to its veracity, and I regret it.  He is a revered figure in Christianity and western culture, and whether we subscribe to his philosophy and views or not, everyone deserves at least to be described accurately. - James Carr.

'Cause I'm the Tax Man

What's next? Is nothing sacred in this world?

From BBC:

Sweden targets strippers for tax

Sweden's tax authorities are seeking the bare facts about webcam strippers' income, estimating that hundreds of Swedish women are dodging the law.

The search involves tax officials examining websites that feature Swedish strippers, in an effort to identify them and chase them for tax returns.

The tax loss is estimated at about 40m Swedish kronor (£3.3m) annually.

Project leader Dag Hardyson said 200 Swedish strippers had been investigated so far. He said the total could be 500.

"They are young girls, we can see from the photos. We think that perhaps they are not well informed about the rules," said Mr Hardyson, head of the tax authority's national project on internet trade.

The investigation into strippers is part of a wider tax project that includes online poker and fake trader locations.

Detective work

Mr Hardyson told BBC News that the strippers could be liable to pay ab…