Archive | April, 2021

229. Poor Management Threatens Human Survival

29 Apr

The irony of our times is that good management of critical processes could have solved all of the worlds problems, and provided happiness for everyone, yes, every person on Earth. Here is a list of problems, presented briefly, that could have been solved with good management and using existing knowledge.

Climate-change. Much of this science was developed decades ago, but like children, few were willing to make changes with long-term benefits. There are numerous discussions of potemtial and current climate disasters.

Poverty. There are enough resources on Earth to provide food, shelter, clothing, and entertainment for everyone. We have poverty because national leaders become greedy in office, and hoard resources.

Covid-19. President Obama had a group working on pandemic solutions, which was abolished by the next president. Inexperience and lack of knowledge led to millions of deaths, worldwide. And suffering may continue for many more months or even years. Ultimately, we need science to provide a broader protection from many disease variations.

Expansionism. Leaders of several major countries have goals of expansion, the conquering of other nations by military force. In current times, we must add cyber and political agression. Weaker nations are vulnerable.

Beliefs. I have no problem with people who wish to practice religions. Much in this area is beneficial. But, unfortunately, differences in religion sometimes leads to major violence and many deaths in wars. Also, the beliefs of Qanon, Proud Boys, Neo-Nazis, KKK, and others are bizarre and dangerous.

Science. A part of every population does not trust science, in general, and ignores beneficial processes. Science can help with food production, medical advances, technical advances, and many of the problems listed in this blog. Genetically altered foods have proven to be safe and beneficial.

Voting. It is sad that many of those who could benefit most from good government, often are fooled into voting for leaders that will not help them.

Endless wars. The US and several other nations have tried to correct the governments of other countries. While these efforts are often done with good intensions, good results are often lacking, and sometimes matters are made much worse. A study of history could have helped.

Rich donors. Extremely rich people in a country often have a major influence on tmportant decisions. These decisions often benefit them, but are dangerous for the rest of the population.

Democracies. Most of us would never have predicted that the USA could move
towards a dictatorship. Yet, in 2020 we were very close to this. Traditionally, the US has provided a great example of good government. Poor management of the election process almost resulted in a permanent disaster.

Food resources. Proper management of the oceans is important for keeping them as a source for food. Management of land useage for food is also important. Ultimately, good sources of protein may be more effectively provided by industrial processes.

Summary. Our current world, which is crowded with human populations, must now be carefully managed to avoid extensive human suffering and deaths. Much of tradition is no longer effective in solving problems. We must think clearly and objectively in finding the best solutions. Most of the topics above, are extensevely covered in my blogs, and many other writers have good ideas that must be explored. Our serious world problems can be solved.

228. Finding Truth in 2021

25 Apr

Now, more than ever, the determination of truth, is of primary importance. The Democrats and Republicans have remarkably different interpretations, and who is perceived as right, will have a major impact on all future US elections. I have written many times on the topic of truth, and it is of persisting importance.

First, absolute truth in many areas is not currently attainable. At best, we can say that certain ideas are more likely true than others. When a fact is most likely true, it is often reasonable to act on it. Even if it is ultimately proven wrong, we can look back and say we did our best at that time. And there is an old saying: don’t ignore the good, for a desire to be perfect (my version).

A general procedure for all types of truth, is to start by looking at major traditional sources of information, such as widely read newspapers. And to be extra cautious, examine them for inconsistencies and obvious confusion of facts. Unreliable sources tend to frequently vary in the “facts” they present. They often make promises that are unlikely to be kept. They often present ideas for which there is no clear source — generalizations without any data.

In science, ultimately “consensus” (general agreement) brings us closer to truth than other methods. Consensus means that most reputable experts in an area agree with each other. Articles in established, peer-reviewed journals are more likely true than other sources. “Peer-reviewed” means that other competent scientists in the same field have evaluated the report. In many areas of science we see a variety of opinion, gradually changing and the formation of a significant “consensus.”

A good example of consensus is the area of climate-change. For many years, I have followed this important topic. The history goes way back into the 19th century. For example, Joseph Fourier, in 1824 proposed the basic premises of atmospheric transmission. Light from the sun passes easily through the atmosphere, it warms the ground, and heat waves are generated. But the heat is limited in transmission, so our air serves as a kind of blanket, holding in the heat. There was little consensus for the early thought, but decade after decade, more evidence was gathered and the number of supporting scientists gradually increased. For at least the last 15 years, there has been a strong consensus for all aspects of climate-change and dangerous global warming. Government reports, scientific journals, established newspapers, and many foreign leaders, all support this idea.

The concept of scientific consensus, is applicable to many aspects of our lives, including covid-19 procedures, clean energy, food resources, and many types of pollution and contamination.

I suggest that people, in general, must focus on the following considerations. The nature of the world is best understood by science. Many political and religious leaders mean well and have valid ideas, but do not have a devotion to hard evidence and clearly supported facts. Many leaders will tell comforting stories, but relying on stories can interfere with the more productive, rational solving of problems. For those needing comfort, more effective is: talking to a good listener and exploring relaxation methods.

Science does not generally deal with all aspects of life, but the methods of science do have broad application. I emphasize science, but also think that kindness to others is of great value. I want to live in a world where understanding and empathy are valued over greed and domination. And this applies to all humans.

227. Fears Affect Police Actions

18 Apr
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Fear is a powerful emotion that can affect behavior. The police often deal with violent criminals and as a consequence, their fears can reach a high level and officers can be unjustly harsh. Understanding this, is not an endorsement. But understanding can lead to: better training, better applicant selection, and better procedures. Like most other people, I am angry with bad policing, but my anger does not help. What helps is acknowledgement and new rules. Also very important is really good support for responsible and professional policing. Let’s honor the many that serve well.

. LEARNING TO CONTROL FEAR IS VITAL

There are many recent contentious police actions, maybe due to the effects of covid-19 restrictions. Perhaps the most important fear is that of being attacked during an arrest. Such fears can easily lead to excessive and/or prolonged force. When a vehicle is stopped and an officer is preparing to engage, he must first deal with anger and fear. It is important to develop an interaction procedure that is unassuming, polite, and constructive. The first goal, is to carefully open a dialog dealing with the reasons for the stop. For example, in a recent case, a car was stopped for a missing license plate. A polite dialog could have revealed that this new car had a temporary plate in the back window (not all that visible with window tinting).

A second fear is that their peers will think they are weak. Once an officer gives a command, he/she must have complete compliance or they will lose the respect of other officers and the suspects. Also involved are rigidity and pride. There are times when backing down would be better for all involved, but this rarely happens. For example, if the person has a PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) or mild psychosis, a specific command could trigger high anxiety or hysteria. At this point, some discussion or alternate procedures could bring about a better outcome. I have not read police manuals on this, but I suspect that there is a lot of emphasis on exactly conforming to rules. Many rules should be rigid, others should have some situational flexibility. I fully recognize the difficulty of reaching a proper balance.

Here is another thought about the dilemma of police-motorist interactions. Clearly, if every motorist were treated politely and with kindness, there would be great improvements. But the problem is that a small but significant number of motorists could be dangerous criminals. So the police must give up some kindness for their safety. And, I would agree that the interactions between a white policeman and a black motorist can be worsened by racism. Perhaps what is needed is the development, for everyone, of polite police methods that also involve sufficient safety.

Let’s look at the case of the Army lieutenant stopped for not having a license plate. The policemen took out their guns and harshly demanded that he get out of the car. A better alternative would have been to politely ask him to put his hands on the steering wheel, while the policeman approached the car for an initial dialog. A quick discussion would have clarified the situation. Maybe policemen assume that they are safer if they scare the suspect?

The most difficult decision that an officer must make is when to fire at a suspect. Often it is made in less than a second and is entirely based on current emotions, courage, past training, and experience — no time for thinking. Consider the case of 13 y.o. Adam Toledo. According to many accounts, Adam had a gun, was chased down a dark alley, threw the gun away, raised his empty hands, and then was shot dead by the officer. The instinctive shot was based very much on emotion and the effects of emotion on vision. In a very fearful and excited state you might see dangers that do not exist. How someone reacts in this situation may be mostly determined by his general emotional control, and “courage” — traits that our movie heroes always have, but are rare in actual people. Maybe after certain testing, there should be more limitations on who can carry lethal weapons, and where they are used.

Conclusion. It is fair to say that: it is easy to make suggestions, but actual changes can be almost impossible. For example, finding police applicants that have the right temperament, character, and intelligence may be problematic. I guess we can at least try to make the best rules, and hope that they are followed. The development of better, non-lethal weapons would also be of benefit, as well as exploring the best way to diminish fears.