As many of you probably know, Jill Stein, the Green Party’s 2016 presidential candidate, recently raised money from many donors to try to initiate recounts of this year’s presidential ballots in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. She raised quite a significant amount of money for this cause – many millions of dollars - but had only limited success at inducing actual recounts. (She did manage to cause Wisconsin to do a recount, but courts in Michigan and Pennsylvania blocked recounts from being completed in those states.)
As a result, she may end up with leftover funds and the need to decide where to allocate them. As is only fitting, she has expressed interest in donating them to organizations that focus on electoral reforms and voting rights. Her website currently says that she will be accumulating a list of potential recipients and then there will be a vote – appropriately held in ranked choice fashion – in which those who donated to the initiative can decide which organizations will receive funds.
I have quite strong feelings about who should be among those to receive these funds. So I wrote a letter to Stein’s organization expressing them. Here is what I wrote: Read the rest of this entry »
In a long overdue milestone, those with interest in my ideas and work can now sign up to regularly receive free bonus content that I create only for subscribers, as well as periodic updates and announcements, directly in their email inbox.
This post, of course, offers details regarding this newest feature, including how to easily sign up for my newsletter, as well as about what you receive when you do so - namely some of my best, in-depth material exploring a wide range of ideas that have had significant impact on my life, the journey that led me to discovering them and how they can bring you greater clarity and insight. But, in addition, it covers the story of why I was so strongly motivated to start the newsletter, how I finally overcame numerous challenges to bring it into being, how it’s gone since the launch several weeks ago and what I’m looking forward to with it in the future.
For those considering starting or working on their own, it also offers more general insight regarding newsletters and email lists that I’ve gleaned from my experience and from studying the work of a number of trusted experts. It describes some common challenges involved in email design and coding and the many benefits newsletters offer in online business which lead me to refer to them as the holy grail of the online world. And I share my assessment of some of the email service providers that allow you to set up your own newsletter at almost no initial cost and the reasons I chose the one I ended up using for this newsletter, as well as other tools and resources useful for optimizing newsletters.
Of course, if you prefer, you can skip as much of the post as you want and just subscribe.
Many people who knew me back in 2003 and 2004 heard endlessly from me about the wonders of IRV. I even traveled to Washington, D.C. for a conference put on by the Center for Voting and Democracy, now known as Fairvote, to learn more about how to be a better advocate for election reform.
This culminated in a campaign that I helped coordinate, and in which Fairvote helped support us, to pass a ballot proposal in Ferndale, Michigan to use Instant Runoff Voting in their elections for the mayor and city council. You can learn all about that campaign at the website we created during it, which is still available to help educate the public.
Instant Runoff Voting is an election system with many benefits, which you can read about at my page dedicated to the subject. But one of the main benefits is that it helps eliminate the “spoiler effect,” a problem that occurs in certain elections when more than two candidates run for the same office.
The spoiler effect is especially problematic when multiple candidates that share similar views run simultaneously, since they can end up splitting the votes of people that like both or all of them, allowing a person that most people actually do not like to win the election. In a situation like that, IRV is a fantastic solution – a solution we hoped Ferndale would have in place if it ever found itself in such a circumstance.
Well it is now 2013 and guess what. Back in August, I came across an article explaining that Ferndale finds itself with an upcoming mayoral election featuring more than two candidates. Not only that, but two of the candidates – former mayor Craig Covey and current mayor Dave Coulter – share extremely similar views, platforms and constituencies (not to mention sexualities, which, perhaps sadly, is the focus of that particular article). The situation is ripe for a “spoiler effect.” But, luckily IRV was passed in Ferndale almost a decade ago so this election won’t be spoiled…right? Read the rest of this entry »
Just over a year ago, I announced a milestone for me. Reading several books that came to my attention within a period of just a few years prior had convinced me that, when considering health and sustainability, certain topics related to the question of whether that often referred to as “evil” - harmful malicious or willfully negligent activity, for example – has a biological basis are crucial. And I had released a series of comprehensive pages, representing over a year of work, on these subjects, the most important and encompassing being the page on ponerology – the field dedicated to studying “evil” from a scientific perspective.
As I worked on the series, even more relevant material - articles, books, stories, news, television shows, movies, research studies, websites and other resources touching on these topics - continued coming to my attention, precipitating a realization that my interest in them mirrored a growing interest throughout society, supporting many of the arguments I made in the writing and encouraging me to continue the work. While working, however, I did not have time or energy to really focus on or incorporate these new developments.
After releasing the series, these ponerology-related developments continued to arise regularly and it occurred to me to begin cataloguing this emerging material to help support my work and promote it for those wanting to keep up to date. But I put off doing so until a recent coincidence reinforced to me the level of mainstream growth of interest in ponerologic topics and finally spurred me to action.
Now I’m announcing a new website I’ve recently launched dedicated to promoting news and information stemming from disciplines as diverse as neuroscience, criminology, psychology, arts, media and beyond related to ponerology, the “science of evil,” to help raise awareness and educate the public about these issues. Find out about the first set of posts on that site, its mission, early feedback it has received, how you can visit the site and get involved and what it means for the future of this site.
In my last blog post, I offered my response to a debate between Adam Kokesh and The Amazing Atheist that revolved around the subject of anarchism vs. statism. I tried to focus the debate on what I think is the essential issue - the question of how a society can best deal with the inevitable presence and influence of psychopaths and others with empathy- and conscience-reducing disorders.
After writing and sharing this post, I did some more research and discovered a video in which Kokesh addresses this topic head-on in response to a viewer named Spencer Thiessen who has come to the conclusion that his stance on whether anarchism is feasible rests on “one simple question”:
“Is there a way that anarchy can sustainably survive the psychopathic tendencies present in human nature?”
The video is relatively short at just under 6 minutes long, so I encourage you to watch it first and then you can read my responses below. Read the rest of this entry »
Last year, in response to a podcast in which a call-in show host, Stefan Molyneux of Freedomain Radio, attempted to employ the Internal Family Systems (IFS) approach to help a caller, I made a post in which I clarified many of the details of the IFS model that I felt this host may have misunderstood or failed to fully incorporate. A few weeks ago, I was notified of a comment made by a psychologist in training in response to that post. I thought the commenter posed an excellent question and, as I typed up my response to it, I increasingly realized that it merited not just a comment on that original post, but a post of its own.
Here is the question that was submitted as a comment to the previously mentioned post:
I have recently come across a therapist using this IFS model. Because I had never heard of it before, I decided to do some research on it. However, when I looked for peer-reviewed studies on it, there is very little. There are, in fact, no randomized controlled trials or any other type of research comparing IFS to other therapies (or even a waitlist control group). There are simply anecdotal case reports, which are not very useful for identifying whether or not a treatment is effective. Take the placebo effect, for example - many people will say that a pill they believe to be a novel, active medication, has helped them when in fact it is a sugar pill.
Given this information, what has made you decide that the IFS model is so worthwhile?
Background information on a group of pages that deeply explore evil, its possibly malicious origins emerging from biologically-based empathy and conscience-reducing psychopathology and its role in the evolution and complications of tragic, seemingly intractable problems and suffering at all levels of our world’s systems. These pages, integrating a range of source material, consider and attract attention to evil’s cyclic, manipulative and deceptive dynamics and its contribution to and exploitation of modern civilization, its structures and technologies, and, in turn, much of its dysfunction, abuse, trauma, corruption, absurdity and injustice. They also discuss our best understanding of the variation in people’s responses to these phenomena and their implications for nearly every area.
Furthermore, the pages advocate for an objective, scientific and medical approach to studying harm, highly valuing critical thinking and investigation, technical insight, psychological knowledge, precise and widespread dialogue and modern wisdom. They urge us to enhance reform efforts by better identifying leverage points and cooperatively developing optimal strategies for transcending challenges and resistance and preventing, assessing, reducing and healing from vicious cycles. And they point the way toward the establishment of new healthy, sustainable forms of human systems, more conscious of and immune to pathological influences and capable of flourishing with creativity.
This work is the culmination of a lifelong progressive quest – fueled by an uneasy sense about our world and concentrated through the discovery of what may be the most important book you’ll ever read – to understand issues of ethics and power. Learn about the very personal stories that coalesced in its development.