Why Does Religion Persist?Photo license

While the response to “religion?” on surveys is increasingly “no religion”, there are still a great many people who find a belief in a higher power improves their lives.

How does religion improve your life?

1. Religions prohibit vices. That saves you money.

2. Religions promote or demand altruistic giving. This can make you feel good for helping others.

3. Belief in a happy afterlife or reincarnation makes it easier for you to tolerate an unhappy present life.

4. Belief in a higher power can get you through hard times. Leave your problems in the hands of the higher power and it will all work out.

5. Participating in a religion gives you a social group.

People with no religion can enjoy all of these same benefits.

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The Evolution of Work

Posted: October 19, 2017 in Sociology, Uncategorized
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The Evolution of Work

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I want to tell you a story. Call it a myth if you’d like. I know that work has not had a linear evolution. The stages in the history of work have been mixed up at times and gone backwards at others. What follows comes from my reading in cultural anthropology and history.

Long ago, when there were very few people, we were all hunter-gatherers. The men were the hunters because hunting had a high mortality rate. A tribe’s ability to replace it’s members depended on the number of women. Men were needed so the tribe could eat protein along with the fruit, vegetables, and mushrooms. Men were also good at fighting and killing other men. Some things never change.

Eventually, people got the bright idea of keeping some of the less dangerous animals captive and breeding them for their meat. That led to the complimentary idea that they could do the same with fruits and vegetables. And settled farming began. In the hard old days of hunter-gatherers, fights were over territory. The strongest tribes controlled the areas they passed through. With farming, a new use for strength appeared. A strong group could take from the farmers instead of doing the farming themselves.

If a strong group took everything from a group of farmers the farmers wouldn’t be able to eat and they’d either die off or go back to hunting and gathering. There’s nothing much to take from hunter-gatherers. It was in the best interest of the bandits/takers to make sure the farmers could survive.

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Life's Many BalancesPhoto license

Any scroll through an internet news site will convince you there are many unbalanced people in the world. Some people become unbalanced through drugs or mental illness. Others became obsessed with the wrong things. How can we avoid falling into this tragic comedy of the damned? Become aware of the importance of balance.

There are many ways to balance your world. The concepts below come from psychology and philosophy. It doesn’t matter if you agree with their subjects. Learn instead to see how everything has an opposite and creating a balance will keep you out of trouble.

Each balance below starts with the philosophy behind it. This is followed by the psychology of balancing in our everyday experience. Most end with some practical application.

Good and Evil

Eastern philosophy emphasizes the Tao (Yin Yang) of good and evil. The good is creative and productive action. The evil is uncreative and destructive action.

The “secret” to a happy life is focusing on the positive and acting on it. All action leads to some negative reaction. We discover our weaknesses. Equipment breaks down. Others are not interested or oppose our actions. For an unhappy life, focus on the negative. Positive things still happen for the negative person. Work still comes with a paycheck. Positive people try to help. Lunch is still a good time.

A well balanced person prefers the positive and accepts the negative. When everything is going great, they prepare for problems that will come up later. When everything is falling apart, they remember that it will be good again. They focus on what’s working while doing damage control on the problem areas.

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What is Insanity?

Posted: July 9, 2017 in Psychology
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What is InsanityPhoto license

There have been many definitions of insanity. It’s mainly a legal term for someone who is so disconnected from reality that they can’t understand the consequences of their actions for other people.

Getting Crazier

In psychology itself, clinical is used to indicate extreme cases. These are mental disorders that have gotten bad enough to have a negative effect on other people. As long as a person’s mental disorder only affects themselves, there’s no reason to force treatment.

There are several levels at which a person’s mental disorder may affect others. The least disturbing way is when they are unable to keep a job and become a financial burden to others. People at this level often find themselves on welfare, sometimes for life.

More severe are cases where the person’s mental problems manifest in the real world in ways that cause emotional distress for friends and relatives. Think of hoarders, for example.

The most extreme cases of mental disorder result in physical harm or death to others.
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Willpower and MotivationPhoto license

Willpower is doing whatever it takes to reach your long term goals. It is also avoiding what you should not do. It is both achievement and abstinence.

Self-discipline has been found to be a key factor in success. You can succeed without it, of course. Maybe you’ll luck out on a good job or have a nice lotto win. Joking and luck aside, you are more likely to achieve what you want when you have strong willpower.

Steps in using willpower:

1. Decide why you want to change, your motivation, and set clear goals.

2. Monitor your actions as you move toward those goals.

3. Exercise your willpower to keep on track.

Willpower is cognitive, not emotional. Don’t let your emotions take over. If you’re guided by what you feel like doing, you’ll go off track. What is your goal? What must you do to achieve it? It doesn’t matter how you feel about the task right now. It’s how you will feel when you succeed. Let logic win.

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A Motivated Killer

Posted: August 20, 2016 in Editorial
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Toe-Cutter cover

Most of the articles here are about getting motivated and avoiding negativity. What if you lived in a world where the negatives never ended? I wrote a novella which I’m giving away for free that explores just that kind of life.

Vern grew up in violence and learned to fit in. He tries to look on the bright side and fight for those he sees as the good people. Can he fight evil without becoming evil himself?

If you think you might like a short walk on the dark side, the story is only 30,000 words. That’s about 80 pages in print.

There’s a link to download your free copy of Toe-Cutter on my book page.

Article by Ivan Izo.

Too Much EducationPhoto license

Are we getting too much education today or is it the same education as in the past drawn out over a longer period of time so that everyone passes?

My grandfather had a grade five education, started out with his own business, later went into government where he set up medicare for an entire province among other things, and eventually became a mayor.

My father had a high school diploma, went in for manual labor and factory work, and retired with a pension.

I have a university degree and will need to work until I die.

Untangling Education versus Pay

Part of the change over the generations described above is due to recessions or depressions appearing about every ten years. Those have kept wages down while raising the cost of living.

The result has been that more and more education is needed to get a job that just pays the bills. Thanks to student loans, it can be a long time before those better paying jobs make a difference in your bank account. Many choose to stop at high school and get by on minimum wage or enter the welfare system.

But that’s a separate problem. Let’s stick with the value of education.

We Were Taught More in the Past

In 1917, my then 12 year old grandmother moved to Canada from Scotland with her family. She had been in grade 9 studying calculus and algebra, among other subjects appropriate for the grade level.

When she enrolled in school in Canada she was told, “Grade 9 is too far ahead for a 12 year old. We’re putting you in grade 6.” She was disappointed to say the least. For the rest of her public education, she was at the top of her class and went on to take a one year teacher’s degree. When she went to work as a teacher, she could have been a principal but was passed over for a less qualified male teacher because, “It wouldn’t be right for a woman to be a man’s supervisor.” Yeah. It was a different world in a lot of ways.

That’s Just Scotland

Is it just Scotland? Did they start kids in school three years earlier than Canada? I think it was Europe versus North America. Maybe it still is.

Any readers from Europe who would like to comment on what grade, age, and year they found themselves studying calculus and algebra? Scottish comments could be especially revealing.

Location is not the point either. It’s how much education and how soon.

Triumph of the Unintelligent?

When I went to school in the 1960s and 70s, a 60% was required or you repeated the grade. I passed every grade with little effort. A pass was all the school and my parents demanded. Why this matters will make sense shortly.
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