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It’s been a while since Thomas had a chance to be playfully arrogant.

We put a lot of emphasis in American culture on being special, or an individual, but numerically there’s going to be a lot of overlap in skills & knowledge when you’re talking about billions of people potentially. Individuality is only possible up to a certain point. After that everything gets less gold star. I think striving to be special makes you better overall than starting from the idea that everyone is special. If everyone is special, then no one is, as it is sometimes remarked.

In movies there’s always the one expert that gets called upon to “do the thing”, but in most every field of study you have a group of people who kind of jostle around at the top. It’s one of those simplistic narrative ideas that we use for ease of storytelling whereas, if 2020 has been anything to go by, the experts don’t always agree, & we also don’t even agree on who the experts are most of the time.

Humans have this strange tendency to follow whoever says things with the most confidence. I’ve watched so many people become famous on youtube because they had strong opinions about video games & over time they somehow also became experts in every other fucking thing… It worries me a little. I’m not sure I would be good at that kind of thing because I have something in me that makes me admit when I don’t know something. The last thing I want is to be the one who fucks everything up because I was too proud to admit I don’t know much about the socioeconomic state of finance, or whatever…


Cultism continues to be a problem with human nature as people will follow those who provide the greater pragmatism, for better or worse. I mean, do I need to point out what this country went through under the current administration for the past four years?

My cynicism with society has already reached a point where pep talks just come off as sales pitches towards a self-fulfilling prophecy. I legitimately feel that if we’re going to have to better society in the future, we can’t just keep acting like sheep to the shepherds. At some point, we have to acknowledge that everyone has to put their collective thinking caps on and put aside their own hubris to acknowledge the inconvenient truths and work to fix them for everyone’s benefit.

Following a pragmatic leader is not cultism. Nor is mr. orange a pragmatic leader. He’s a huckster, “boisterous, bullying, and crude”. He took P.T. Barnum’s book and ran with it. These are American cultural virtues.

Getting people to think for themselves, much less discuss their views respecfully, when they haven’t learned how to in school, nor aren’t given much beyond “feels” to think about, is going to be a tall order.

It does become cultism if one is willing to disregard constructive criticism or cold, hard facts to follow the will of the leader regardless of their reputation in society.

Also, even as a tall order, I refuse to give up in the notion that people are going to disregard challenging and alternating viewpoints in the future if it doesn’t fit their agenda. Selfishness may be seen as a virtue here but it doesn’t magically make issues go away at the ballot box regardless of how passionate people are about them.

Yes, people are going to disregard and dismiss things they don’t agree with if all that counts is which camp you belong to. Don’t forget mr. orange got in on the crest of a counter-wave to “the establishment”, which presented a cold-hearted criminal for a legitimate candidate because female and yay female president. It wasn’t about capability because he seemed the better available option, and probably was. It really wasn’t about facts, for he could derail any such argument by saying “yeah I got those too, but different ones”. You can’t do that with accepted actual facts, but you can with perceived fake ones.

The cult isn’t “Trumpism”, it’s the entire circus of the American Uniparty with its two wings that are at loggerheads over… pretty much insignificant details, not about big issues. The serious issues have been created and/or ignored by at least the two previous presidents, that’s four terms and therefore sixteen years. So don’t get hung up about that guy, for that’s cultism too.

I’ve tried for the past four years to give Trump the benefit of the doubt in terms of his presidency but all it has really accomplished was nothing more than frustrations over a reinforcement of moral ambiguities to his policies being further clouded by media spin and adolescent behavior that wasn’t mutually exclusive to Trump. When it reaches a threshold that your own friends and loved ones are willing to split relationships to uphold party loyalty despite being educated for years about the importance of such bonds being bigger than those loyalties, you can’t help but second guess the very institution of your own democracy and the nature of humanity in general. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the American face of integral democracy has become permanently damaged as a result of the Donald Trump legacy.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not automatically going to distrust Biden after what we had with Trump but I will have to look at his policies with a bigger grain of salt than usual. The last thing we need is another rise against “the establishment” for the purposes of installing results-driven policies that shatter the moral fibers of the nation. Results matter but morality shouldn’t be thrown out the window either.

I don’t think mr. orange did all that much damage himself. He didn’t fix much, he did break a thing or two, but most of it was sound and fury signifying very little. More to the point, him becoming president showed quite clearly that much of what you fear broken already was quite thoroughly fucked up. Then, the four year long temper tantrum his detractors threw was a red flag something was amiss. Why the continued meltdown? It wasn’t just because of him.

It was exactly this “establishment” that has overplayed its hand, and the various complexes still exist and still are making money hand over fist, to the detriment of most everyone else.

Or even various federal agencies are still pretty much out of control. This needs fixing. I’d like to suggest “Against all enemies”, where the author doesn’t outright say, but certainly implies that the president has lost control over at least the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA. Wag the dog much? Wag the dog a lot.

In a way he did them a service, by so thoroughly keeping all attention on him and not on the failings of the establishment. He said “drain the swamp” a lot but it’s still very soggy.

Humanity in general has some very dark edges, and I’d suggest you look over the US borders for a bit, possibly travel as well, to see how differently they do things elsewhere. Even without the US starting them, there still have been wars and even genocides, on issues you wouldn’t even think of to see as issues.

Doesn’t mean we should stop trying to get better. I wouldn’t despair quite yet. Instead, maybe figure out something to do to improve. Once you figure out what it is that’s broken. And for that you need to look a little deeper, maybe take a little distance.

I’ve been checking the global situation just as much as the U.S. In Canada, people are turning on the Prime Minister for his back room dealings, new taxes, and disregard for indigenous people’s rights over the Keystone XL pipeline. We have the whole regional conflict in Armenia against Azerbaijan[sic?], Putin’s continued meddling in Russian political affairs against the interests of the people and the Kremlin, the Brexit fiasco, North Korea and Iran’s nuclear programs, the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, the list goes on.

We absolutely have a LONG way to go before we are able to maintain a somewhat plausible effort on global stability but it definitely needs to stop being a popularity contest first and foremost, which is something that also needs to trickle down into partisan politics. You can’t have solutions by completely benefitting the ideologies of one party and completely ignoring the ideologies of the other. It all boils down to that of the “broken clock” effect to which even those who are the wrong side of history can still make a logical point every now and then. I’m just hoping that one day, everyone can focus on the better aspects of our logic and use it to create a proper society where all can benefit. But, as I’ve said, it’s going to be a LONG time.

Whatever you think of Trump, it’s sort of ridiculous to see his supporters as sheep. The media hated him, the Democrats hated him, the Republicans hated him, academia hated him, professional activists and advocates hated him, foreign leaders hated him–people voted for him BECAUSE they thought for themselves and rejected the simplistic, spoon-fed solutions the establishment of both sides were feeding them.

Fox and right-wing media was the only part of the mainstream media to be supportive of Trump as they saw him initially as a breath of fresh air to help reinvigorate conservative values in language that average Joe and Jane America can understand.

His base likes him because he wasn’t a career establishment politician so someone like him wouldn’t be subject to outside buttering from certain parties. Although how much of that is true is still under jury deliberation in the court of public opinion. Trump is also unrelenting in being a results-driven President who doesn’t take shit from anyone else. A decent chunk of Americans like that. They want a President who doesn’t shy away from criticism, takes it head on, and produces results, for better or worse. They saw that spark in Trump in 2016 and they still will make excuses for him now in 2020 all the way up January 20th and possibly beyond that. Any criticism, no matter how constructive, would just be seen as “fake news” or “radicalism” by the “left”. I’ve had this drilled into my head by FOX news and my family who are avid Trump supporters. They absolutely refuse to believe that Trump has done anything wrong.

So as you can see, for me to be the odd man out here in my family regarding Trump, I legitimately feel, as a duty of that of a human being, that I have to get the ball rolling in showing the fallacy of one-sided politics. When it gets to the point that even families can end up getting split regarding the current democratic process, then I think it’s time we re-evaluated ourselves as a nation and what we truly want in a democracy.

I think that if you state that you don’t know something not like that’s an admission, but in a confident tone of voice like if it is your considered opinion that you don’t know enough about the subject to opine yet, it still works pretty well. :)

This is essentially the solution to the Dunning-Kruger effect. The problem is that it depends on the speaker knowing what they don’t know and being honest about it.

I tend to underestimate myself. So I often avoid working on something and when others pitch in I end up seeing all the awful mistakes they make and wish I had done it instead. Or is it that I believe them when they overestimate their abilities?

I know a lot about a large number of things and can be considered an expert on a few. My caveat whenever I am asked to opine on something I know something about is “I know just enough to know that I don’t know enough”

Being special = being better than everybody else.
That’s an odd idea.

You can say that everyone is [special], meaning you like the unique things that [a single person] says, + the unique things that they do.

I guess I don’t want to strive to be “special”, if that means I have to be the BEST at something…out of all of the people- in my town, state, or a place.

[Sorry, the grammar is probably all messed up in this comment.]

I think being special in this context doesn’t necessarily mean the “best” but rather exceptional, or distinguished. As in having an interest or expertise that sets you apart from your peers. Within a field you won’t necessarily be special, but when compared to those around you in your day to day life having this interest or expertise is a distinguishing factor.

Take me for example, I’m generally considered to be “special” but I’m not the “best” at anything, rather I have a large number of interests, expertise, and peculiarities that set me apart from those around me. I was lucky enough to have a (barely) genius IQ and am particularly adept at understanding new concepts and learning new things, largely because I have a huge and eclectic knowledge base and am naturally predisposed to faster processing speeds, but I am far from the smartest or the fastest, or even the most knowledgeable, and due to my lack of sufficient motivation I never will be. As far as interests go, I am a magician, a LARPer, and a folk singer. I have probably forgotten more sea shanties than most people alive today will hear in their entire lives, and I’m only 24, but I am far from an expert. I have epic stories of trickery and daring do from my experience at LARPs, but there are plenty of people who can top every last one of my tales. I’ve been told I was the best magician some of my audiences had ever seen, but when your sample size is two it’s easy to be number one, meanwhile some of my magician buddies have been honing their craft for decades and studied with the greats, and here I am only doing like 5 tricks.

I think the take away is that one should focus on what makes them happy irrespective of what others are doing, and you will naturally set yourself apart in some fashion or another, even if what you are doing is popular or common. Honestly, in this world it often seems like even just *having* a passion in the first place is special, which is frankly kind of sad.

Are you the long lost son, I never knew about? About the right age, sea shanties, eclectic, SCA (not Larp), folk singer, knows a little about everything I can get my hands on? Met the guy who started “Blood for Odin!” In the airport? You sound like my clone? Bounding Maine it is!

The trick is to have a useful combination of skills or knowledge, and to recognize what else you need and know where to look for the pieces you don’t have. That includes asking for help and calling in people who know another useful thing or two.

It’s not surprising. Confidence–even arrogance–convinces people that a merely strongly-held opinion is a fact. Why not? If it weren’t so strongly held, then it would just be an opinion! Who would put that much weight behind something that could be wrong, right?

Turns out, most people would. But people and logic don’t always go well together.

And that is why we have The Darwin Awards, soon to be made irrelevant due to the large number of nominees. Antivaxers + Antimaskers + Covid19 = we have a winner

It has become like an episode of Oprah where everyone gets a virus.

I wonder how much of our desire to look to an expert in one area, to advise us in other areas, hinges on the instinct to form tribes, cliques, or troops? I Certainly seems to be built into our psyche.

Tribalism is, indeed, hardwired into our brains.

At least, according to those “experts” (nod to Jackie’s commentary above) who study these things.

It’s not particularly constructive but there is entertainment value in throwing a bunch of experts, who all feel the need to be the smartest person in the room, together to discuss some point about which they all hold varying but strong opinions. I’ve seen high dollar psychiatrists nearly get into a fist fight over minor details of a treatment plan. It wasn’t much fun at the time but it got milked for stories for years.

I like playing a Red Mage-style character in D&D; everyone else is showing off with their super-special abilities and making the DM plot their demise, and you’re the full caster with 19 AC minimum, martial weapons and proficiency in Constitution saves for concentration spells.

(Fighter 1/Divine Soul Sorcerer ftw)

Ah, reminds me of my Baldur’s Gate character.
Quirk of the game system is that you are always identified by your first class to NPCs or other players [unless you blab].
Ranger 1 – Fighter 3 – Monk …….
Run around in leather and do so-so in combat.
Party gets captured and stripped of everything and tossed in a cell?
Beat the crap out of everyone and everything.
When the Rogue fails, just punch the lock when nobody is looking.

I had an alcoholic, whoremongering, cheapskate blacksmith who was researching magic so he could make better weapons. He also did the party’s accounting; split all the treasure hauls. Accurate down to the copper; he believed that cheating his party represented a risk to him personally, as if he undercut someone’s share of the take, they wouldn’t have the right gear to fight back and keep him from dying. He started out as Chaotic Neutral, but by the end of the game had swung up to Chaotic Good. Nice little character arc on him.

Basically, he was two levels of ranger and like another eight of wizard by the end. Enchanting weapons left, right and center; his repeating crossbow had a bottomless magazine and fire AND acid on it by the end. Good times.

Me in panel 2 vs everybody else in panel 5. (Sure feels like, anyway…..eh, whatever. Nobody’ll care in another century anyway.)

The advantage being that you can trust yourself to be honest with yourself, while panel fivers are unreliable sources of information -even to themselves-.

See also: pessimists aren’t pessimistic, they’re realistic. Optimists are terrible at making estimates, while so called pessimists actually make pretty good estimators.

Not really. Part of the problem with epidemiologists is that they are pessimists, which makes their predictions so often wrong, often by orders of magnitude. Bird flu was supposed to kill, like, millions. Environmentalists are also pessimists, typically assuming we’re now in a downward spiral of depleting resources or food or whatever, and it’s usually the opposite. It’s not inherently better to be either.

Epidemics are also very hard to estimate. Given their exponential nature, small randonm chenges at the start can have enormous consequences later.
So there’s a tendency to advise excess caurion, because it’s not clear how much caution is enough.

There is also the stigma of lots of dead people if you get it wrong due to a lack of cation.
Same goes for engineers who butt heads with the bean counters who do not care one iota about people ending up dead as long as it is not them. See the American auto industry and the manufacturers self insuring.

I will say that the one thing which helped me alot when I got to that stage of not feeling special, realizing I probably never will be, and then feeling bad about it, was working on my moral character. There’s no way to say that without sounding arrogant, it’s not my intention. Just learning to be a better person, a dependable person, a person with integrity, is ALWAYS special. Even if you’re just the janitor–doing your job well, showing up on time, honoring your commitments; these things matter. Our media is indeed filled with the exceptional, and that’s been true as far back as we know (look at mythology; Thor, Huangdi, Heracles), because it’s hard to make a story about “a decent guy/gal with no special traits or powers” all that interesting, but that’s what builds all of civilization; where people are of poor personal morals, all the laws and all the plans ever made are utterly useless. And it’s made me feel far better about myself to have become someone dependable and honest; it may not seem like much, but it’s surprisingly alot in today’s world of entitlement, corruption, and excuses.

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