Vestigial Reason

Reason isn't dead, it's just on life support.

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Robert Reich: Why Anyone Should Care that Bill O'Reilly Calls Me A Communist

Robert Reich could have titled this: The Reasons You Should Ignore Fox News and Roger Ailes’ Minions

I’d have been fine with it.


Bill O’Reilly, the tumescent personality of Fox News, said on his Friday show “Robert Reich is a communist who secretly adores Karl Marx.” (This came after Fox News’ Neil Cavoto called me a “sanctimonious twit” for suggesting the rich should pay more in taxes.)

O’Reilly’s accusation is odd, to…

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More Burden of Proof

It seems just yesterday I was calling out Mitt Romney to produce proof to back up his accusations. Lo and behold, I’m calling out someone else this time. Go figure, they’re a member of the Tea Party.

Ol Rep. Fitzpatrick thinks that Obama will commit treason if he is re-elected. Again, where’s the proof? I feel like that old lady looking for the beef except I just want some actual objective evidence of the claims these people are making. I mean hey, if you’ve actually got documents, recordings, film, etc. that prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a sitting President of the United States of America is conspiring as part of an inside-job to bring down the United States from the White House I would love to see it.

Of course this guys “proof” is the President talking to a foreign leader about co-operative policy (yes guys, the treaties we signed in good faith with other nations actually apply to us and when those other nations see us sliding away from our commitment they might get nervous and need reassurances. We are, after all, the only nation on this planet to use a nuclear device against another as a method of conflict resolution). Out here in the real world it wouldn’t hold up as proof.

So, I ask the question again, why are politicians allowed to spew libel and slander? Why are political action committees allowed to the same in the name of politicians? We have laws against libel and slander. Why don’t they apply in these cases?

The answer, in my opinion, likely has to do with money and power. The more of it you have, the further insulated from justice you are. 

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Mitt Romney and the Burden of Proof

Perhaps some of you watch enough Law & Order (or paid attention in civics class) and recall that the burden of proof, in a country of laws like ours, rests upon the accuser.

So, Mitt Romney when you said “vast left-wing conspiracy” during an interview with, I ask - Where’s your proof? Don’t give me “I think” or “I feel” - you’ve accused the legislators, judges, a number of corporations, and the government of the United States of America itself of engaging in a “vast left-wing conspiracy” and now, to prove your allegations, you must show proof.

I’m waiting.

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Internet Freedom: A Note Before Finals

Finals loom in the not-too-distant future for yours truly so I will likely be absent in the coming weeks. Before I dip out to handle the trials of academia I would like to take a moment to advise you all on freedom.

True freedom encompasses both the body and mind and is without consideration of offense or decorum while always avoiding the use of force or coercion upon others.

When you hear anyone say “I’m all for freedom of speech but…” they aren’t for freedom.

When you hear anyone say “That’s fine for X-people but not for Y-people” they aren’t for freedom.

When your government says that only certain websites can be on the internet… they aren’t for freedom.

Stay aware. Stay knowledgable. Stay vigilant. Why? I’ll answer your question with a question. What’s the most dangerous thing in America? A citizen with internet access.

Keep the halls of power sleepless at night. Keep learning.


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Consumers consume things, what else is there to say?

It’s doesn’t really work to lump mental disorders into the category of have it or not have it. It’s safe to say most people exhibit traits of some mental disorder or another. The questions you have to ask is what extent do these traits manifest, how many do you have, is it harmful, and are they controllable? With that in mind I think consumerism can be a mental disorder. 

I also think it would be worth looking into the possibility of consumerism being driven by corporatism and the average person’s susceptibility to suggestion. We are after all a byproduct of one’s environment. The average American spends 4 hours a day watching television in that we spend 64 minutes watching commercials. That’s 25% of our viewing time being told to buy something, it will be very hard to convince me there is not at least a minimal effect on our purchasing decisions. This is also not calculating how many advertisements you view on the web. If you consider the  implications of the Milgram experiment and the average person’s inclination to conform to the authority obedience model it all fits in. I’m not saying stop watching television or anything, I think entertainment is valuable to our overall health. I’m simply suggesting we start putting more thought into our purchases. Frugility is a common trait shared among the rich people we all want to be.

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The Sad Thing about George Zimmerman

As media focus intensifies and the pundits amp up their verbal arsenals we’re all girding our loins for the idiotic slug-fest that’s sure to happen as things proceed now that Zimmerman is in custody I find myself worrying, not about the trial or the conviction or the media circus that’s sure to be attached, but about George Zimmerman.

Before I delve into what’s got me sad about our shooter (he isn’t alleged, after all, he admitted to killing Martin) I do want to say that I sincerely hope that the family of Trayvon Martin is able to cope with and work through their grief. I also hope that the verdict that is handed down in the forthcoming trial is a just decision rather than one built upon a desire to punish and exact revenge.

Now, what’s got me slightly down about Zimmerman’s situation? The guy may actually have psychological issues. And I would like to emphasize that these issues may be legitimate and real factors in why Trayvon Martin was killed. They should be examined. I doubt Zimmerman isn’t fit to stand trial, but if he acted not out of hatred or a real desire to do harm but because his psychology and neurochemistry are so battered that he really did fear for his life then the sentencing should reflect this. Given the media frenzy I fear that George Zimmerman’s context may not be properly examined. 

Did he do it? Obviously.

Was he justified? Not even close if you go by the reasonable and prudent person standard.

But was George Zimmerman a reasonable and prudent person? Was he capable of thinking as such at the time? This is a question we can’t answer at this point. Zimmerman’s original attorneys went over the ethical line this weekend in a fashion that most readily implies either grandstanding or serious concern over their client’s situation and well-being.

We need to answer these questions in order to properly administer real justice. The next question we have to ask is what do we want justice to mean? Punishment? Restriction? Revenge? Rehabilitation?


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Coming out about White-on-White Crime

In light of Trayvon Martin and the sudden discussion of Black-on-Black crime I’d like to make a confession.

My name is Dave, I’m a Vestigial Reason contributor, and I’m a victim of white-on-white crime.

In 27 years I’ve learned one thing very well - you can’t trust white people. If you listen to the media and the pundits you know how black folks just keep killing other black folks but what they don’t want you to know is that white people hurt and kill other white people every day. People like me. 

You might be shocked and incredulous. Surely white people have lived in harmony with other white people, banding together to form societies and commit genocide against people who look a little different or think different things, so is it really possible that whites kill other whites? Yes and they do it more often than you’d ever imagine!

You see, whites naturally don’t like anyone that doesn’t look like, think, or act like them. This animosity is usually directed at groups with obvious superficial differences, you know for ease of categorization, but whites have begun to turn in on themselves as the economy goes south and all those manufacturing jobs go overseas to brown and yellow people. This creates a rupture in the natural environment of whites and results in an increase in white-on-white violence!

In order to stop this, I urge President Obama to step in and show us white folks we’re special and protected by enacting superfluous laws protecting whites from white-on-white violence. I urge all non-white media personalities to get out there and start talking about what needs to be done about this problem of white-on-white violence! Surely it’s not detracting from other, more important conversations the country could be having.

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Is Allen West representative of Americans?

Allen West, who some speculate will get the veep nod from the GOP, had this ( to say about the Dems in congress. I’ll quote for you non-link-clickers out there: “he’s heard” that around 90 Dems in congress are card carrying communist party members.

I’ll give you a moment to stop laughing.

Let’s side-step how ridiculous the claim itself is (it can easily be disproved by the most casual of observations of attitudes, behaviors, and habits of democratic members of congress) and focus on the fact that it was reasonably well-received by it’s audience and was made by a man that has a following who believes he’d make a good Vice President. 

We live in an age where a vast wealth of information is instantly accessible from almost anywhere in our country if you have the resources. YouTube, 24/7 Digital News Media, Bloggers, etc., all contribute vast quantities of data in various forms to our global cloud database (aka the internet/intertubes/web/whatever euphemism you want). Yet despite all of these advantages someone like Allen West can stand up in front of an audience and make claims that blatantly imply duly elected members of the US Congress are lying to the american people about their political affiliation, goals, and intentions and have been doing so for at least part of their careers while managing to keep it entirely secret.

This pretty much fits the boilerplate example of a conspiracy theory which is characterized by disparate, unconnected pieces of information combined with wild theorization. And this is being spoken, openly, by someone with mainstream media access and a following. 

I’d blame Allen West but I think the guy probably believes what he’s spewing. Who is at fault for this willful ignorance? We the people. 

We’ve become content with handing off the broad course of our daily lives, our society, and our government to other people when we have the means to do it all ourselves. I submit that this attitude has lead us to a decreased understanding of and engagement in personal responsibility as human beings and as citizens of a country devoted to the ideals of freedom, liberty, equitable justice, and the pursuit of happiness for all individuals regardless of race, creed, or color. In a digital/information age we no longer have the luxury of willful ignorance.

We, as responsible human beings and citizens, must take it upon ourselves to critically examine policy, doctrine, ideas, and values that are presented to us. We must not let complacency define our existence. By taking personal responsibility, by investigating, questioning, and educating we improve our understand of the world, of others, and can create a clear vision of a future for us all.

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America: Where Ideas are Bad

How did we come to this place as a civilization where public figures openly mock and deride anyone who has an opposing idea? Just this morning I was getting ready for class and I heard Varney on Fox Business News discussing an exhibit at MOMA.

The exhibit, from what I understand, claims to speak to how American’s live. Varney walked away from the exhibit (or from hearing about the exhibit) and criticized MOMA for showing an exhibit that - gasp! - expresses a point of view contrary to the established POV.

I know Varney is a Brit, but that’s no excuse - we don’t live in an auto- or plutocracy (at least in theory we don’t) and artists have never been keen on expressing the views of the establishment. How is this any different from the norm?

I don’t think it is, which makes me question why Varney is suddenly an art critic.

Stick to business news, bud.