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"Tradition?? The only good traditions are food traditions. The rest are repressive."

"There are two ways to think. The first is to trust to your ancestors, your religious leaders, or your charismatic professors. The second is to question, to challenge, to explore history for meanings, and to analyze issues. This latter is called Critical Thinking, and it is this that is the mission of my web site. "

Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman  

August 2020

History in Perspective


We are currently living during a belated focus on history. The Black Lives Matter movement has brought our attention to the systemic racism that has dogged Black communities since the failure of the Reconstruction, after President Lincoln was assassinated.

Formerly considered "historic" statues and memorials firmly planted in countless town squares and courthouses have been revealed to be frauds, not post-Civil War memorials at all. We now know that all of these memorials more...

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Refusing Oversight

Our Founding Fathers knew that leaders would not always be honorable, honest, or uncorrupt. Our system is designed with divided power centers: administration (President), congress, and judiciary. It has worked over our two and a half centuries, sometimes better than other times. We have had corrupt governments every so often, usually outed by the press or good civil servants, but for the most part, by presidents following the norms of transparency.

We have learned that the best di more...

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"Believing" Can Be Deadly


Human beings, unlike most lower species, are not governed much by instinct. The birds that return to Capistrano each year do not have travel choices. Monarch butterflies are programmed with two destinations: winter and summer groves, thousands of miles apart.

Religious systems fall into the category of "beliefs," that is: accepting by tradition certain ideas that cannot be confirmed by reason alone. But even religions hold each believer capable of rational thought: doing r more...

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The Real Pandemic: Lies

A new virus, the coronavirus, is sweeping the world. When our hunter-gatherer ancestors began settling in villages, towns, and later cities, and when they began livestock agriculture, diseases have spread from animal hosts to human beings, with no immunity at first. Throughout history, China, India, and Africa have been the incubators of disease outbreaks that then became worldwide.

In China, the problem was crossovers from animals kept for food use, starting with flu from swine, more...

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Rolling Back Regulations

We regularly hear about President Trump?s latest "rollbacks" to regulations, the primary excuse being that regulations, particularly Obama ones, "overreached." The real reason, it appears, is that President Trump cannot bear comparisons between Obama?s presidency and his. But he sometimes has other motives. As Nancy Pelosi warned, "in the Trump White House, all roads lead to Putin."

Early in Trump?s presidency, I recall his amazing comment about asbestos, and his scorn for regulat more...

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The Gaslighting Phenomenon


A new term has now entered our lexicon: "gaslighting." In a 1940 movie called "Gaslight," an evil husband and his housemaid/mistress attempt to drive the wife mad by making her think that lies were true. They played tricks on her, hid things that she knew she had not lost, and finally almost convinced her that she no longer could tell truth from deception. Gaslighting now means that people can no longer tell truth from even an obvious lie. Gaslighting also requires people to aid in the d more...

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Trust and Truth in Democracy

We take for granted how lucky we are to live in a society in which there is so much trust. It is automatic to believe that our system is predominantly based on truth and sense of duty. When we turn on our water taps, we expect the water to be safe to drink because the people responsible for assuring it are doing their job. When we find that officials have deliberately lied about water quality, we expect to see them prosecuted for criminal action.

When we go to the market, we do no more...

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October 2019

Disrespect for Truth



We already know that President Trump has no respect for truth. He lies every time he speaks, and what we need is a running banner on the television screen that truth-checks as he speaks.

As annoying as this is, the disrespect for truth has gone beyond this one man. Around the world, particularly in the more traditional (lesser-developed) countries with more than 50 percent illiteracy, there is little acceptance of facts as a source of truth. Dictators and authorita more...

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September 2019

Disrespect for Truth



We already know that President Trump has no respect for truth. He lies every time he speaks, and what we need is a running banner on the television screen that truth-checks as he speaks.

As annoying as this is, the disrespect for truth has gone beyond this one man. Around the world, particularly in the more traditional (lesser-developed) countries with more than 50 percent illiteracy, there is little acceptance of facts as a source of truth. Dictators and authorita more...

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Sticks and Stones: Words Matter


"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me." This saying was aimed at children, to arm them against verbal bullies. It is also linked to our First Amendment, freedom of speech, even when people to say things that we hate, but protect their right to say them.

Such freedom, however, ends with speech that can endanger life: falsely crying "fire" in a crowded theater, or urging riot in the public square. "Let?s go kill the?.aristocrats" during the Fr more...

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The Element of Trust

One of the most important elements in having participatory democracy, as well as flourishing capitalism, is trust. Trust is so embedded in our lives that we scarcely ever think about it.

We use trust every day. We trust that other drivers are obeying the same laws and rules of the road that we are. Of course, driving requires both trust and caution. Some people do not obey the rules, and we must look out for them, although they are comparatively rare.

When we shop f more...

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