Bias

Global warming is one of Scott Adams’s favorite topics. Experts on both sides – those who believe global warming is an immediate threat and those who think it’s a hoax – have excellent arguments, he says. A non-scientist like Adams has no way to tell which side is right.

Even scientists can’t tell who’s right.

Adams creates a thought experiment. The perfect global warming expert. She works in the field, has all the current information on global warming and  is a great communicator. She can explain the most recent theories so even a dolt (probably like me) can understand.

Let’s say you know nothing about global warming. Never even heard of the term. You would be convinced by a scientist like her. She works in the field. She knows all the up to date information. She explains it well. Of course, you’ll believe her.

But you shouldn’t, Adams says.

What isn’t she telling you? There wouldn’t be an opposing view if the proof for global warming were that strong. There is opposition. Don’t tell me that the scientists who question global warming are all nut jobs. Sure, some of them may be. But there are also legitimate scientists who have legitimate arguments against global warming.

She knows these arguments. She doesn’t want you to know about them.

And what about her biases? Sure, she’s a scientist. Sure, her work is peer reviewed. But so what? Scientists are humans. They have biases.

It doesn’t mater if your an expert or an interested amateur. No one has the definitive answer. About global warming or anything else.

People get worked up about all sorts of issues. Global warming. Affordable health care. Illegal immigration. Terrorism. The national debt. What ever. Just name a subject.

There is no way the average citizen can gather all the information needed to have an informed opinion. We choose our side and then search for the information that supports it.

Remember that the next time you’re mad at your neighbor. He may be ignorant, but so are you.

It’s okay to have your opinion. Opinions are like ass holes. Everyone has one.

Is an either or option better than no option at all?

I submitted my online hunting report to the Washington Department of Fish and Game. The State requires a hunter to report whether he or she hunted and whether or not the hunt was successful. If you don’t report, you get a ten dollar fine added to next year’s license.

Fair enough. Ten bucks isn’t a bank breaker. And it’s just high enough to help me remember to submit my report. I forgot on year and the extra ten bucks pissed me off.

And I understand why the State wants the info.

The report was easy for me this year. I didn’t hunt in 2016. Only one check box for me to complete.

Actually, two.

The second box asks if the reporting tool is satisfactory or unsatisfactory. That’s the choice and you can’t skip out. My report isn’t complete until I answer the question.

But how do I answer?

Should I choose unsatisfactory? The website is kinda clunky in my opinion. The State changed the site since I lasted reported, so I had to redo my user name and password. Then I couldn’t get signed in. LastPass, for some reason, saved my computer generated password incorrectly. I had to go through the motions of saying I forgot my password and get a new password. You know. I’m sure I’m not alone with the password struggles.

Were my password struggles part of the States clunky site? Maybe. More than likely it was user error.

So I chose satisfactory. But what does satisfactory mean? What does it mean to the State? Does satisfactory mean the site kinda sucks but doesn’t suck enough to be unsatisfactory? How does the State know what needs to be improved if it gets a lot of unsatisfactories? (Did I just make up a word?) If the State gets a lot of satisfactories, does it assume all is well? The site works like a champ?

No, there isn’t any way to comment.

As far as I can tell, the question is bullshit. Unsatisfactory doesn’t explain what needs fixing. Satisfactory doesn’t mean much at all.

So why ask the question?

Artists and additction

I finished Marky Ramone’s autobiography¬†Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone. Marky Ramone is an alcoholic. His rock bottom wasn’t getting fired from the band. It wasn’t blacking out and crashing his car into a furniture store. His rock bottom came not long after his first stint in rehab. He was drinking at a friends house and had to crash on the couch. When he made it home the next afternoon, his wife, Marion, told him he couldn’t live with her any more.

You’re outta here, punk.

He checked himself into a tougher rehab. His Psychiatrist told him to take a break from music – at least a year – so he could fully rehab. He did. His wife let him back in. He worked as a bike messenger and in construction. Four years later, the Romones asked him back. He even helped his fellow Romones with their addictions.

Markie Ramone is in his 60s now. Sober for over 30 years.

I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing. King was also an alcoholic. Alcohol wasn’t enough, I guess, so he took up cocaine. Must be an overachiever. Stephen’s wife, Tab, told him to go into rehab or move out. She and their children didn’t want to see Stephen slowly commit suicide.

Stephen King is clean and sober now.

King had some interesting comments on addiction. Creative types with addictions think the addiction is the source of creation.

Just an excuse, King says. An alki is an alki regardless of profession. Maybe creative types or more prone to addiction, he said, but saying your work is dependent on addiction is hiding.

That got me to thinking. Are creative people more prone to addiction? My first instinct is to say no (and I don’t think King was convinced either).

Sure, you can find plenty of examples of addictive artists if you look. You can find plenty of examples of artists without addictions if you look. We tend to find what we look for.

There are non-creative people who have addictions and non-creative people who don’t.

Steven Pressfield has weighed in on this. So has Seth Godin.

There is a tension between needing to do the work and not doing the work. The tension drives us nuts. We want to do the work. Desperately want to do the work. But we are afraid to start. We don’t know where to start. How to start. And what if we start and fail?

We become drunks and addicts because of the tension. We take on all sorts of bad habits in an attempt to relieve the tension. So just start the work and the tension goes away, right? No, it doesn’t.

The tension is there before we start and when we start and while we work. It’s there when we finish, because now we have to start again.

The tension never goes away. It’s never silenced.

So learn to live with it.

Tension is a guide. No tension in your work? Then you probably don’t care that much about it. It’s not that important.

The tension means your on to something. Something important.

No excuses left for learning something new

I bought an acoustic guitar as a Christmas present to myself. Nothing fancy. It’s a decent one.

A coupon came with the guitar. Jamplay, on-line guitar lessons. The coupon gave me free access, so why not give it a whirl?

So far, I love it. There are more than 50 teachers. Lessons include all different styles. Blues, Bluegrass, Rock, Folk, you name it. I chose beginner lessons, of course.

It use to be hard to learn a new skill. You had to find an instructor to learn an instrument. Tough to do in a small town. No instructor? Your only option was to pick up a book at the library or buy a book. Books can certainly help. It’s not easy, though, to pick up a new skill on your own with only a book as a guide.

Woodworking, leather working, welding, cooking, knitting. Find a teach, find a mentor or find a book.

Mentors and teachers are everywhere now with access to the Internet. Sites like Jamplay, Instructables, Craftsy, Skillshare and other sites I don’t even know about offer high quality video instruction. You can watch the videos over and over. Progress at your own pace.

Can’t really hide now. Our excuses are gone.

Go learn something new.