Internet Surveys

Why are voluntary, internet-based, surveys considered legitimate data? Especially when they are short surveys on top of that. It seems like the quality of data is not questioned in these situations so long as the population is statistically significant and “representative.”

I propose that internet surveys cannot actually be assumed to be representative regardless of the number of participants especially when it is a voluntary survey people are supposed to do on their own time.

The easy problem to point at is: what about those individuals without internet access for whatever reason, or limited access? That group is immediately barred from participation. How can a survey be representative if, by it’s very nature, it limits who has access?

Next, what about those individuals who happen to have more than one job meaning limited free time to do things such as fill out opinion surveys? Did you ever notice how the people who have two jobs to make ends meet also tend to have jobs that are not computer and office based? Think about that, sure there are people who do side hustles etc. But, those individuals who have to work at some sort of plant or factory then roll into a job at Wal-Mart to somehow get benefits and pay, that group doesn’t necessarily have the free time at home or at work to do things like filling out online surveys. (Or check their emails which companies like to give their employees anyway.)

Finally, for now, how about all those not noteworthy moments that individuals have which doesn’t inspire enough emotion to get someone to fill out the survey? Those moments aren’t necessarily bad or good but neutral or slightly positive, those data points are probably hardly ever recorded when it is these boring moments built up over time which truly make a difference.


New Citizenship

What if citizenship was not based on geographic birth but on who pays AND participates?

Meaning, instead of gaining citizenship simply from where you are born, how about defining a citizen as any person, on the planet, who pays taxes to a country and then proceeds to actually participate in the government in whatever means possible (a minimum of actually voting).

I suspect that this would drastically change how different countries are “populated” insofar as, this would lead to potentially more people from outside of physical borders becoming citizens of other countries.  Which, at the beginning, would certainly feel chaotic.

But, I think that having these minimums required for full citizenship would actually promote a more engaged citizenry insofar as, without citizenship those people would not be able to access other benefits of citizenship.  There would of course have to be a way to make sure those people who are not citizens are not trampled upon and, most likely, this would never work.   It is a nice idea to think about though, a fully engaged and active citizenry taking it’s responsibilities as seriously as it does it’s rights.

More Physical Life

I have been substitute teaching for a physical education class in a grade school the last couple of days. It has been an amazing learning experience of how physically incapacitated children are in the United States.

This is a very small subset technically but, with what else I’ve read I can only assume that this must be somewhat usual across p.e. classes now: these grade and middle school students cannot even bend over to touch their toes!

Part of my notes had the students doing some push-ups and for the classes we had to stop to have a quick lesson in proper technique, I then asked them to just do a bodyweight squat and none of them could do it with their feet flat on the ground or their knees not caving in. In fact, some students didn’t quite comprehend that a squat requires bending their knees at all.

Now, this is not to ridicule these students, this is to point out a fundamental flaw in how we view physicality now. As humans, we are not even getting our children how to move in remotely proper ways, instead they all claim aches, pains and tightness like they are 80 year olds and think that I am super human because I can get my butt below my knees.

This has already been covered by many I am sure but, we definitely need to reevaluate our relationship with physical activity, if only for the health and wellness of the next generation. I am sure, especially in the case of boys, physical exploration would help with all sorts of mental health problems (ADD/ADHD, I’m looking at you) and physical health.

Another example of needing simply more physical lifestyles comes from a recent safety training that I had to sit through.  The training was on “heat illnesses”: heat-strokes, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, etc.  I have to admit that heat-strokes are a serious issue just like hypothermia but, “heat cramps” and exhaustion are not. Those are simply signs of discomfort, something that people desperately fear but physical work makes constant.  In this training, acclimatization is brought up for heat saying that an individual needs at least 2 hours per day of heat exposure for 5 days in order to be “acclimatized” to a hot environment.  Did those safety people check how weather patterns work?  Sure, going from winter in Antarctica to mid-day in the Sahara would be a violent shift that could be problematic but a) who actually does that? and b) the less extreme differences happen with the weather, our bodies are built to be able to handle that sort of stress.

What if, we actually had physical work to do again?  How would that solve our health problems, fix our movement, and solve a bunch of other random illnesses and issues that seem to suddenly exist now?

Active and Passive Media

How about splitting media types up by their activity. Activity being the sense of “mental activity.” Mental activity is of course incredibly complicated and probably well beyond my expertise (or lack thereof) but, I will do it anyway because I can.

What I mean by mental activity is some sort of mental effort having to be put forth in the sense that the media doesn’t simply “invade” the senses. This is more of a spectrum, not hard divisions but, I suspect media types lend themselves more towards one end of the spectrum or the other.

The easiest pair for me to point at is TV and reading on physical pages. I will be using these as the Pinnacle/extreme ends of the spectrum. TV I consider one of the main examples of passive media whereas reading a physical page is the most active.

I consider TV passive because of the fact that essentially, one immobilizes themself and then just receives the data (images and audio primarily).  One does not have to engage with that data, just receive it.  Of course, one has the option to engage with the material and analyze it but it is not required; not to mention, let us be honest, a majority of the media taken in on TV does not require analysis of that sort.

Reading, specifically, from a  physical page, is one of the more active mediums because, although one immobilizes themselves again (like all media that isn’t purely audio), they actually have to hold onto the material and move it around to an extent and mentally take in the text.  One cannot “read” something without at least deciding to do the reading.  I have yet to figure out how to “turn on” a physical book and just let it run, if there is a skill there that I failed to learn that others know it makes this point moot. (Or, if someone can multi-task while actually reading because I certainly cannot.)

Entirely useless aside, skip to stay on track:

A strange parallel to this comes from all that research on sitting and how it is dangerous.  Although it is probably overblown to an extent, some of the movement systems I am interested in talk about sitting/squatting often.  The sitting they refer to is just sitting on the floor and squatting as a resting position.  Both of those are actually much more “active” than sitting in a chair.  Sitting upright on the floor or squatting down, although a resting position, requires muscle engagement to maintain balance or not simply flop down into a laying position.  Sitting in a normal chair, although not a requirement, lends itself to “passive” sitting, just laying back and letting the chair do all of the work of keeping oneself upright.  It is certainly work well for me right now as I type this. Active sitting vs passive sitting, a new way to get healthier?

Anyway, active/passive media.  TV would be at the passive end, photos would be slightly more center, audio further towards active and then reading would be the most “active.”  Generally.  This spectrum is of course not set in stone and one can be active while watching TV and fairly passive in reading a relatively simple/easy book.

This separation is not particularly interesting in and of itself but, what if this difference leads to a different sort of mind-set?  By this I mean, something like the idea of “you are what you eat” and habits, if someone watches a lot of TV and habitually tends towards the passive sort of viewing, what sort of habit does this cultivate?   It would seem that it cultivates a passive type of habit which then could bleed into the rest of their life and lead to becoming a more passive person overall.  I sometimes wonder if that passivity is becoming more pronounced as more people spend more time watching TV passively and sitting passively.

Beginning A System

I do not know where I was going to go with this post when I first wrote it but, here is what I have at the moment.

What if, instead of focusing on individuals, we focused on the space between them?

I mean that ethics, so far, generally focuses on individuals and their actions and virtues derive from those actions.  What if, instead, virtues arise only out of relationships? I propose that one cannot  be virtuous in vacuum (I’m far from the only one on that but still), only in relationships.  This includes in relationship with self.  Using ideas from psychology and sociology I come to an understanding of at least two forms of self within an individual and then the external relations we generally have throughout our lives.

One of the main issues in ethics is motivation.  Why should we think about our actions? What about those situations that are not the extreme cases created in thought experiments?  Then, when trying to define lines of where ethics stops, we come into the problem of what is sentience and who/what has it.  Focusing on relationships instead of individuals and their actions avoids or answers all of these problems.

We must start with the “internal’ relationships first though and build out from there.  This internal relationship is built up from the internal dialogue most individuals are thought to possess; between self-esteem the “I” and the “me” as some sociologists call it and then the society that the individual is immersed in. The “I” is the initiator (see what I did there? XD), this “I” is the animal per se, there are impulses that people have which arise from the “I” and the sense of being an individual.  The “me is the consciousness mechanism which makes it so that the individual can look at its own “I,” recognize the impulses and decide whether to act upon them.  The “me” is a mirror which is used to temper impulses.  The relationship between these two is at the heart of the internal relationship and the possibility, chance, opportunity to have a healthy, flourishing relationship is why all human beings have rights and where ethical action begins.

The I arises from being one individuality.  The “me” is more complicated in that it arises from a combination of recognizing one’s individuality as compared to society overall.  The “me” internalizes this societal other and begins to apply rules and strategies to temper the impulse coming from the “I.”  These rules, strategies and the general need to control the impulses comes from being in relation with others and society overall.  The more people you come in contact with the more impulses the “me”learns to try to control and the more that the “I” changes and grows too.  The relationship between the “I” and the “me” therefore,  is a constant dialogue, one that can have various affects on the individual and how they see themselves/their self-esteem.  If the “me” is weak for some reason meaning, unable to curb the impulses well, one can have a low self-esteem since what they think/want in some ways is overpowered by a more sub-conscious self leading the individual to feel like they are unable to control themselves.

An extreme to the other direction can lead to a similar problem.  If the “I” is so tightly controlled that none of the impulses are ever considered the “I” can, in a way, be choked down like a fire without oxygen.  In order for a human to flourish they need to find the correct balance; in order to have an impulse to act and direct those impulses towards things that they want.  The potential for this flourishing is the kernel from which human rights and the impetus to treat others ethically arises.  One cannot enact this potential without being in relationships.  Only by finding a balance between the “I,” “me” and external relationships can a person flourish be truly happy and be trying to act ethically.

As can be noticed by my word choice: a basis for ethics for me begins with the ancient Greeks.  Aristotle, specifically.  It all generally starts off with, “what is good?” You cannot point at goodness, you can only say that things are in possession of qualities which make it “good.”  If you consider the qualities that an object has which make it good, they are generally qualities that influence the objective of the object.  A knife is good because it has a sharp edge which it holds for a long time, both qualities affecting the knife’s ability to do it’s one job – cut things.

Living things become more complicated of course but, overall, a good plant or creature is one that can successfully fulfill its niche and reproduce.  Humans become a bit different though, this is because we have an ability to influence our environment in very profound ways compared to animals.  We also have this “I”-“me” relationship so we have to decide what makes a good human being.

When we say that someone is a good person, what do we mean?  Generally, it seems to mean that this person has qualities we value as a society: honesty, trustworthiness, helpful, etc. etc. Also, the person seems to be like that always and without need for ulterior motives.  Someone can be “good” in order to gain something but once the truth is discovered, we find that we cannot call that person good anymore.  The other side of a good person would be one who is content with their life.  If we knew someone who had all of these desired qualities but begrudgingly, would they be “good”? I think not.  As such, a good human being (person?), it appears, would be an individual that has these good qualities and works at gaining/enjoys having such qualities.

Next, these generally desired qualities–what are they?  I think that virtue and care ethics are the two best places to find out what these qualities may be.  In short, they are the qualities that generally show that the “me” can temper the “I” in the individual to the correct amount and supports the growth of others in creating a healthy relationship between the “I” and “me” in others an oneself.  An exhaustive list is most likely impossible and even a good start is likely not recommended (and well outside of my current abilities).  But the qualities I am speaking of are the same qualities that come up in religious ethical systems, virtue and care ethics systems.  The one thing that has not been noted in these characteristics, especially from the side of virtue ethics, is how these characteristics help others flourish and gain a good relationship between the “I” and “me.”

The combination of these two is where an external ethics arises.  In order to be a good person one must also interact with other humans and interact in such a way as to enact a healthy “I”-“me” relationship and enable others to do the same.  In other words, to flourish one has to help enable others to flourish, or, in terms that are more legalistic: every human has dignity which ascribes certain rights to every individual and group.

Dignity, in the UNDHR, I think is the word used to point at the potential for every human to have this “I”-“me” relationship.  The potential only.  Some may not be capable of having it easily, if at all, but we do not know for sure.  As such, every human being has the potential, has dignity, which requires all of us to recognize the ability for them to flourish if given the correct environment, education and relationships.  Relationships are not just with other humans either, we are also in relation to other animals and, I woudl argue, our environment as well.

Although these other things may not have the same sort of dignity as other humans, humans have the ability to self-police and act in a good way with these other entities plus these entities do still help to form, reifnorce and support both the “I” and the “me” aspects of individuals;  you simply cannot live in a physical vaccuum either.  Finally, one’s interactions with these non-human entities also helps to show their internal “I”-“me” relationship.

Alright, a lot got said there, let me unpack what I mean.  The potential that all human beings have to be in possession of this “I”-“me” dialogue, the potential only, I am calling dignity.  To treat someone with dignity is to treat them in such a way as to be supportive of that other’s dignity.  To act with dignity is to act in such a way as to be expressing your personal “I”-“me” relationship in a positive way or in a way to define your potential possession thereof.  Treating others with dignity confers honor, the next word I intend to use often.  Treating others with dignity could be called respect too but, respect as I understand it, does not go far enough.  I can respect one’s dignity by not trying to negatively affect it but, I honor their dignity by respecting it and being willing to help them have/promote their own dignity.  In honoring another’s dignity I see that my personal dignity is reflected in my relationship with that person and their dignity.

An interesting discussion on respecting versus honoring rights comes up at this point but, that will have to wait.

Next, of course, is respect.  This is the negative action of supporting one’s dignity as compared to honor which is the positive and negative.  By negative I mean the same as for liberties: to respect one’s dignity is to just not actively try to infringe upon it but not positively promoting it either, whereas honor (or grace) has that promotion aspect.

Grace and rights are the next two concepts.  Grace is by far the largest term because grace is to act in such a way as to honor your own dignity and others in a coherent whole.  A dancer has grace when their skill is combined with timing and an audience for it all to come together in a way that is pleasing to mind and body.  Doing the same with dignity is grace.  So, a graceful person in this sense, swims through their life and relationships with their own dignity and promoting everyone else’s dignity in such a way as to show a cohesion of self and make it all look easy.  Socially graceful but, in a way that shows that they are truly a person and not just scheming.

For a much more compact, useful word, let’s talk about rights.  Rights are those things which a group deems required for an individual to have dignity and for the society/community/group to honor individuals and other groups’ dignity.  So, one can respect rights as in simply not infringing on them or honor rights as in working to promote and defend them.

So, how does one show/enact/honor dignity?  This is where care ethics and the virtues arise.  To care, for me, is to begin to cultivate thoughts and the ability to honor another’s dignity in specific ways to that specific other.  I care is to listen to what the other considers important for their own dignity.  To care is to honor in many ways.  The next are virtues, these are the characteristics that one cultivates to create a healthy relationship between the”I”-“me” and that the society/group/individual has decided help to respect and/or honor their own dignity and others’.  Only through caring about your personal “I”-“me” and others can you get the virtues and only with the virtues can you now your own dignity and others leading to right action and eudaimonia.

This “I” and “me” are fundamental to this ethical set up so where do they come from?

The “I” is easy, essentially it is the basic state of an individual being a living creature, there are desires/needs.  The I arises through these needs and desires and, as one is exposed to more things, the “I” attempts to expand.  This expansion leads to running into obstacles, some of which are environmental such as a river blocking access to food, and others are through having to interact with other individuals which also have their own “I.”  These obstacles, especially those arising from other “I’s” help to create the “me.” This is because the “I” learns that in order to fulfill its desires sometimes one must work with the other “I’s” leading to a learning of how to take another’s perspective to try to work with them more effectively.  But, this “me” due to its ability to take other perspectives, begins to put severe limits on the “I’ and its impulses through its continued dialogue with the I and others outside.

These limitations, though beneficial to society, end up hurting the “I’ unless the dialogue can be made healthy.  The “me” and interactions can lead to all impulses by the “I” being stopped or controlled, leading to frustrations, disappointments, poor self-esteem, possibly other undesirable effects.  So, the ‘me” has to be able to let the “I” work at the same time as tempering it because, someone simply satisfying their impulses leads to generally undesirable traits and could be considered to sign of immaturity.  Cultures generally, have built into themselves what they would consider the best ways to keep this “I”-“me” relationship healthy in having explanations and expectations for how relationships should work: ethics.

These societal ethics, as such, are premised on what an individual ought to do in reference to different situations in that culture.


Sin as Responsibility

What if the “original sin” was/is actually simply not taking responsibility for one’s own actions?

Think of the basic story: Adam and Eve are assigned the task of caring for the Garden of Eden.   “The Devil,” in the form of a snake/serpent and convinces Eve to eat the one fruit that they were banned from eating.  Adam, finds out about this.  He is then convinced to eat the same fruit.  The fruit has its side affects of humility etc.  Then, when God asks them about whether they have eaten the fruit, they lie and then try to blame others.  Adam claims that Eve convinced him and Eve argues that some [essentially random] snake convinced her to do it.  Not that they were physically force fed this fruit but that they abdicated their responsibility and personal control and let someone/thing else “convince” them to do the one action they were not supposed to do. Then they are ejected from the garden to work and toil for food etc.

Before we move on further, consider the cliche about apologizing for what you do.  One can find it in most children’s books and movies.  The main character makes some sort of mistake on their own or does something bad and then they try to cover it up or blame something else.  Eventually the lie is uncovered and they are punished and find out that had they been honest and openly discussed what happened they would have been forgiven and the problem would have been less bad.

I have not yet come across anyone who asked, “what would have happened if Adam and Eve had simply taken responsibility for their action(s)?”  Would they have been forgiven?  Would we forgive them?

I like to think that I would, at least, that is how I remember being raised and those being the ideals in the movies; better to come out and say what happened, admit to your mistakes than just try to cover it all up.

Time As Money

Time Is Money

A phrase that, must almost be bred into our psyche anymore, is that “time is money.” Usually, I think, with the intent that time wasted is money not earned.  What if this was flipped, to an extent?

What if, instead of time wasted being money not earned, what if time invested was seen as money made? More importantly, what if money was viewed as a shortcut for time only as opposed to something to trade time for?

Or, what if we viewed using time the same as using money? One must invest it somewhere in order for it to grow.  It is interesting when picturing money and time in this sort of relationship because then, the only way to actually create money, create income generating things is by investing time first and then money follows.  So, perhaps, we need to rework the phrase and say “time creates money” instead of “time is money.”  How do you think that we would change how we look at money and how we use our time if we started thinking and comprehending that phrase?

I think, if people started thinking in this way, we would start seeing very different entertainment consumption patterns, let us look at Netflix.  If one saw time as something invested which creates more money, would you feel as free to spend hours watching Netflix TV shows?  In investing that time watching a TV show, how would it create money for yourself?  How does watching TV become an activity that has a financial reward of some sort? Short of becoming a TV critic and possibly some inspiration for artistic endeavors, I do not think there are many other options.  Yes, some rest and relaxation is needed to be effective overall but, staying up all night long to be short on sleep to catch up on a TV show I assume is more detrimental than helpful overall. Besides, what if you invested time in doing something relaxing that was active?