Focus On The Present

We should focus on the present, rather than on the past.  We need to become more aware of our present situation and what we’re now experiencing.   This is contrary to Santayana’s dictum–“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”–and anathema to historians, the pros of the past, who would have us believe we can learn  from the past/history and be much the better for it.  But filling our minds with the past dulls the present, makes us stumble and fail.  In McLuhan’s words, when “we look at the present through a rear view mirror . . . we march backwards into the future.”

Here’s another comment by McLuhan on the important of a focus on the present:  “the favorite stance of literary man [e.g., Santayana, historians] has long been “to view with alarm” or “to point with pride,” while scrupulously ignoring what’s going on.”  Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, Critical Edition, pp. 269-70.

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Survey Research, Correlation, Causality, And Sex

Correlation is not causality.  Survey research can establish correlation (or,what’s   sometimes called a dependent relationship), but not causality. However, that does not stop askers and those who rely on answers to questions from saying that correlation is causality.  For example, the title of a Chicago Tribune article based on survey research affirms a causal relationship between marijuana use and sex: “Study Finds Marijuana Users Have Sex More Often.”  That’s causality; pot causes sex: “Regular marijuana users have about 20 percent more sex than abstainers.”  But maybe not causality but, rather correlation/dependency: “the study . . . found . . . a . . . `dependent relationship’ between marijuana use and sex frequency. . . . “The study does not . . . indicate a causal relationship between marijuana use and sex.”  But maybe not correlation but, rather, as the article concludes, causality: “Nevertheless, . . . a causal effect could be a work here.”

Here are my conclusions from this mish-mash:

If you want to find out about marijuana use, don’t ask.

If you want to find out about sex, don’t ask.

Actually, if you want to find out about anything, don’t ask.

See also Survey Research and Sex and The Problem with Survey Research.




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Internet+ Effects Irresistible

Effects of Internet+ (that is, effects of the Internet plus smartphones, Google, cloud computing, sensors, and other attendant hard- and software) are irresistible, cannot be overcome, largely because these effects are invisible to us; we’re not aware of what they’re doing to us, not aware that they’re “massaging. . . . us over completely” (The Medium Is The Massage).  But regardless of why Internet+ effects are irresistible, the more important point is that that the are irresistible.  Here’s McLuhan’s statement on the irresistibility of technology’s effects: “The spiritual and cultural reservations that . . . people . . . may have toward our technology will avail them not at all.  The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinion [survey researchers can’t help us] and concepts [nor can philosophers], but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily and without resistance.

What to do? what to do?  Answer:  Focus on  effects of Internet+ on us and on our institutions (governments, banks, etc.), processes/procedures/activities (politics, elections, decision making, etc).  This is to say, identify and seek to understand the effects of Internet+ on our individual psyches and behaviors and on our situation/environment.  Ignore the content of Internet+; that is, ignore the meaning of what’s on the Internet, such as the meaning/content of Facebook feeds, the Trumper’s and the Pope’s Tweets–yes (but after you read it) the content of this blog post.  The medium itself, not its content, is the message, is the massage!  The medium, not it’s content, is working us over!  Focus on what Internet+ (not its contents) is doing to us and, actually, to the world.

For more of my posts on the Internet, Internet+, and related matters, type internet into the Search box at the top right of this page.

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Do What You’re Interested In

Here’s my reaction to the above Pete Davis/Goalcast statement:

“Commit to something” should be replaced, as much as possible, by “do what you’re interested in.” Do more of what you’re more interested in and less of what you’re less interested in. When you’re no longer interested in what you’re doing, as much as possible, stop doing it.  When you find something new that you become interested in, do it–IF YOU CAN!  Pete Davis/Goalcast are wrong! wrong! wrong! when they state on their About Us page: “Anyone has the potential to reach their goals no matter how ambitious.”  No they don’t!  You can’t, a la Nike, “Just Do It.”  You can only do what you’re now doing and what you might do.  What might you do?  Nobody, including you, knows.  So, what to do? what to do?  Now, I’ll repeat what I said at the outset: “do what you’re interested in. Do more of what you’re more interested in and less of what you’re less………”

Everyone’s behavior, including striving for this or that goal, is a result of his/her environment (mom, dad, neighborhood, school, etc.). That’s the main reason (genes also count) why people in Chicago’s South and West Sides behave differently than people in Streeterville.  Different environments, different behaviors.  As much as possible, do what you’re interested in–if you can; that’s the best you can do.

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Internet+ Effects: Facebook

We are mightily affected by Internet+; i.e., by the Internet plus attendant hardware and software; for example, Facebook: “Facebook uses algorithms to feed us news that we will like.” Robert Danton, reviewing Lee McIntyre, Post-Truth,

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America Founded By A Nutty Religious Cult

Christianity–I call it The Christian Fiction–was present at the founding of god-blessed America and now permeates all aspects of American society:

“Under the illusion that they were God’s chosen people, the Pilgrims set out to prepare the way for the end of the world by establishing a theocratic state in the wilderness.  they wiped out the indigenous people (imps of Satan), expelled anyone who thought for herself (Anne Hutchinson), and construed politics as the unconstrained power of the elect (not the elected).  Massachusetts was America’s first fantasyland. . . . `America was founded by a nutty religious cult.'”

Robert Darnton, quoting Kurt Andersen, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500 Year History:


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Internet+ Effects: Control/Regulation

We’re controlled/regulated by the Internet and/plus attendant hard- and software (i.e., by what I call, Internet+). This is well documented in Crary’s book, 24/7 (see my Amazon review below); e.g., when he writes on page 46: “Every new product [hardware]or service [software] presents itself as essential for the . . . organization of one’s life, and there is an ever-growing number of routines and needs that constitute this life that no one has actually chosen.” [emphasis added]

On the topic of control, see also:

There’s No Such Thing As A Free Market

Snowden’s Leaks and the Liberal Illusion of Control


My Amazon review:

on September 27, 2013
Crary describes–accurately, I believe–how the Internet and its attendant hardware (PCs, mobile phones, and the like) and software (e.g., Google) have integrated individuals into “the 24/7 operations of information processing networks” (p. 24). Almost everyone is (so to speak) all in and, he says–again, accurately–there’s no way out: we’re in “a switched-on universe for which no off-switch exists. . . . [N]o moment, place, or situation now exists in which one can not shop, consume, or exploit networked resources, there is a relentless incursion [of the Internet, mobile devices, and the like]. . . into every aspect of social and personal life” (p. 30). Crary’s description of the all-in-no-way-out relationship between individuals and their society/universe–a relationship in which individuals are integrated into the larger system in which they are a part and, thereby, controlled by it–is not unique. It’s similar to Marcuse’s one-dimensional society, McLuhan’s “world of total involvement [of] everybody” (The Medium is the Massage, p. 61), and Wolin’s “inverted totalitarianism” (Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism). It’s a notion as old–and as accurate–as Rousseau’s, “man … is everywhere in chains”, as well as a basic tenet of anthropology and sociology and, of course, an empirically established principle of behaviorism and system analysis.
Crary’s contribution to our understanding of the contemporary situation, although not unique, is significant because he shows, more clearly than anyone else I’m aware of, the centrality of the Internet, PCs, electronic networks, and so on, in the one dimensionality of our contemporary situation.
Crary is displeased with our situation, with “the homogeneity of the present” (p. 19), and wants “radical social transformation” (p. 121). Some (I include myself) propose that we find the levers for change and betterment within the existing situation; that is, within the Internet world. No way! says Crary. We must “struggle . . . elsewhere”; that is, we must initiate and form our struggles outside the Internet world, in “already existing relationships forged out of shared experiences and proximity” (Ibid.). In addition, “we must “subordinate. . . . electronic media” to these efforts that we’ve developed outside 24/7 electronic media networks. Otherwise, the Internet, electronic networks, et al. “will . . . reproduce and reinforce the separations . . . [and other Crary-undesired phenomena] inherent in their use” (Ibid.).
Crary and his elsewhere outside radicals are as likely to succeed today in producing “radical social transformation” as did their 1960’s Marcusian-outside-radical-goal counterparts. Consider the accomplishments of Marcuse’s lauded leftist intelligentsia, the socially marginalized, “the unemployed and the unemployable …. outcasts and outsiders, and the exploited and persecuted” (One-Dimensional Man, p. 256). Angela Davis comes to my mind, as she did to Marcuse’s, but she is/was a social transformer? Eldridge Cleaver, another 1960s persecuted leftist radical, transformed himself in 1975 from Black Panther to fashion designer, then, to Christian Republican and, later, to other personae, but that’s it in terms of Cleaver and transformation. At best, Crary’s elsewhere radicals, Marcuse’s leftist intellectuals, the persecuted, et al, as well as all other outsiders, however named–bring about incremental change; the only kind of change (excluding Divine intervention or similarly-sized disasters) there is. Those (again, I include myself) who want to increase the effectiveness of incremental changes which, over time, result in breakthroughs and a significantly better situation, must use the Internet and its accompanying hard- and software. Otherwise, we fail to optimize our efforts to move the Internet world in the right direction.
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