A Grain Of Salt – Part One: Respect

Guest essay by Caleb Shaw

One sign of healthy skepticism is that you take things with a grain of salt, but there is a problem inherent in having this attitude, namely “disrespect.” We are suppose to respect our elders and teachers, and I can’t say my skepticism has always led to such respect.

For example, as a teenager in the late 1960’s I embraced the Jack Weinberg quote, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty,” in a way that seriously thwarted learning from my elders. To be blunt, the reason I distrusted elders was because I wanted to break the law, and they’d put me in jail if they knew what I was up to. (I wish I could say I was breaking rules for some noble cause, such as pacifism, but that would be dishonest.)

Basically I wanted to do things elders would disapprove of, and didn’t want to hear elders rebuke me for doing things that they claimed were bad for me. Therefore, instead of learning from elders, I learned the hard way that many of the things they said were bad for me were, in fact, bad.

Apparently, if I was going to be skeptical, I should have been more skeptical of the statement, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty,” however it didn’t seem possible I’d ever be so old. That particular skepticism didn’t sink in until my thirtieth birthday approached, and I looked in the mirror and thought to myself, “Oh Lord, I’m about to be one of those people you can’t trust.”

Now that I’m over sixty I thoroughly approve of respecting elders. In fact I have revised the Weinberg quote, and it now goes, “Don’t trust anyone under sixty.” After a significant pause I add, “And I wouldn’t trust those over sixty either.” After a second significant pause I conclude, “For that matter, I wouldn’t trust myself.”

The simple fact of the matter is that humans aren’t perfect. (Some say there are such things as Perfect Masters, but I can’t claim I’ve ever met one on the street.) Sooner or later everyone I’ve met, including myself, makes a mistake, and, by making that mistake they, in some way, shape or form, break the trust. Even a minor mistake, such as being one minute late for an appointment, breaks the trust. Even if you have a thousand excuses, you failed to keep your word. Therefore it is quite true to state that no one can be trusted.

Life would be a complete drag if I took human imperfection to heart, and walked about scowling at everyone. Another attribute of humans is that, just as you can’t trust them to do right, you can’t trust them to do wrong, either. At times the most unlikely people pull off amazing deeds of kindness, strength and heroism. Humans are a lot like the weather in this respect: You can’t forecast them with 100% certainty.

Though you can’t trust humans to be perfect, you can develop a form of government that takes imperfection into account, and, through a system of checks and balances, makes it possible to make, recognize, recover-from and forgive mistakes. In like manner you can create scientific disciplines that allow one to make, recognize, recover-from and forgive mistakes. In fact all areas of life, right down to a game of darts, can be governed in a way that allows one to make, recognize, recover-from and forgive mistakes. All people need to do is accept a system of rules.

This was precisely what I refused to do, as an ignorant, young jerk. People much smarter than I had worked long and hard to create various systems that effectively deal with the fact humans are prone to making mistakes, but their systems involved rules, and I didn’t like rules. I would find a better way, an “alternative lifestyle.” Rules didn’t seem to be the same as freedom, and I wanted to be free, unaware (to a ridiculous degree) that one thing I’d never be free from was making mistakes. Then, when my mistakes became apparent, I, in the spirit of a true do-it-yourselfer, set out to reinvent the wheel. Because I was very lucky, my mistakes didn’t kill me, and I eventually arrived at a solution that looked very much like a wheel.

Now I sit back and wonder, “What in God’s name was I thinking?” I wasted decades reinventing a wheel that teachers were trying to give me for free. What made me such a stupid rebel? What a mistake!

I suppose I could play the blame-game, and say someone else made a mistake that led to mine. America is a nation founded upon rebellion, and Americans are such rebels that even the motto on their money states you can’t trust humans. It was therefore my homeland that put rebellion in my blood.

Or I could blame women, (especially schoolmarms), because it was only when women got the vote that drinking beer became unconstitutional. Prohibition didn’t merely engender a disrespect for the law, but even for the Constitution our forefathers died for, yet, as a young boy, I could hear old-timers laugh about how they brewed beer in the basement, blithely unaware they were encouraging disrespect for the Constitution.

Or they laughed about how they drove 1000 miles in ten hours, though the speed limit signs said sixty-five.

On the fourth of July everyone set off fireworks in my Massachusetts neighborhood, though fireworks were illegal. Does that not celebrate independence from the Law? Is it not in the very nature of Americans to disobey elders, whether they be King George or one’s schoolmarm? It isn’t my fault! I am not to blame for the fact I wasted decades reinventing the wheel!

The blame-game may be fun, but it cannot pull you out of quicksand. At some point it simply doesn’t matter how you wound up to your neck. Getting out of the mess becomes the focus. However, providing you survive, it is a healthy intellectual exercise to look back and ponder the mistakes that got you into quicksand. Even if it doesn’t get you out of the ooze, it might help you to avoid jumping back in. It is in this spirit that I would like to cause trouble, by pointing the blame-game finger at the schoolmarms.

I think I can say, with a high degree of probability, that it is a mistake for schoolmarms to put boys (such as I once was) in rows of desks, and expect the boys to sit still. Boys squirm. Boys kick. Boys dream out the window, dip pigtails in inkwells, shoot spitballs, and fail to memorize six words of Shakespeare even while writing twenty lines of rhyming doggerel mocking schoolmarms, (with hilarious cartoon illustrations.) You are just begging for disaster if you fail to recognize boys will be boys. You will turn a boy who might have been law-abiding into a law-breaker. Boys, by their very nature, need to run wild, and if you squelch this impulse you will have hell to pay.

(I’ve talked with schoolmarms who know this, for they have seen that boys sit most still and learn most right after recess, and right after summer vacation, and squirm worst and learn next to nothing just before recess, and when spring is in the air. However, being schoolmarms and not boys, they don’t even whimper when their government and/or teachers-union urge recesses and summer vacations be banned “so boys may learn more.”)

I actually think it isn’t a schoolmarm’s duty to discipline boys. That job is the father’s. If I wrote the laws, then, rather than a bad boy being expelled to the principle’s office, the boy would be sent by taxi to the father’s workplace. If the Dad was in jail, send the kid there. That would get men’s attention darn fast.

That never happened when I was little. I suppose I should point the blame-game finger at Dads, for when I was young they put widgets ahead of family, and ran away to the rush-hour each day-break, leaving their poor, defenseless sons in the quicksand of classrooms, and at the mercy of schoolmarms.

Due to a weird twist of fate, I grew up dead center in a wormhole in the space-time continuum, wherein I escaped the wrath of schoolmarms when it was expressed by caning, and escaped the wrath of schoolmarms as it is now expressed by drugging. When I made chaos out of their quiet classrooms, all I faced was the wrath of schoolmarms expressed by words.

Much of my skill with the use of the English language was absorbed from schoolmarm’s tongue-lashings. In order to keep order in classrooms of twenty to thirty Baby Boom rebels, they had to exploit adroit sarcasm and cynical sneering, and employ twists of dubious logic and clubbing condemnation. Their wit could be superb and set the entire class laughing, but when you are a little boy and the whole class is laughing at you, you do not think of witty rebuttals as much as you think of getting some sort of completely unholy and uncivilized revenge. An abscess of resentment brewed in me. Schoolmarms may have kept me quelled, when I was small and helpless, but when my hormones hit and I swiftly loomed taller than they, all my study of their use of English came back to haunt them.

They had created a monster. True, Frankenstein is not usually portrayed as jovial, nor as being able to out-argue the doctor who bolted in his brains, but reality is often even stranger than a monster movie. I became an outlaw, but one of the most harmless outlaws imaginable. Initially my sinister activities involved dreaming out windows, wandering into the classroom after the bell, or shrugging when asked where my homework was. It was when I stopped shrugging, and started answering the sarcastic questions, that I think I set some sort of modern record for the most after-school detentions ever received for being cheerful.

Detentions were a half-hour spent sitting in a classroom after school, and were a bad idea when boys are bursting with energy. I could only serve four detentions a day, because the last bus left at four-thirty, and for a time it looked like I might not graduate due to not-having-served the amazing numbers of detentions I was amassing. It was at this point an uneasy truce descended. Likely the teachers dreaded the prospect of another year with me, though perhaps the teachers were also embarrassed by the prospect of failing a student who was going to win the award for creative writing, and not failing him because of his grades, but rather because he cheerfully answered their sarcastic questions. In any case they stopped being sarcastic, which meant I had won.

It was at this point, at my moment of victory, that I fell flat on my face. The culprit was drugs, but I’ll talk of that later. For now I want to remain on the topic of respecting elders.

Schoolmarms did teach me a sort of respect for elders, but it was not the sort of respect that leads to one rushing to elders, desiring their attention like a rock-star’s fan desires the star’s autograph. Instead my primary goal in school became to avoid the attention of schoolmarms. They were the Gestapo, and I was the French Resistance. My respect was the sort of loathing respect one has for a bully. After the hormones hit and I won my victory I became like the Norwegian Resistance, and schoolmarms became like the trembling Quislings after the Gestapo had fled Norway.

Now I look back across a half century and wonder: What was it that made them the bad-guy Nazis, and me the good-guy? Why didn’t they seem like millionaires, loaded with knowledge, as I myself was a mere beggar, with the empty pockets of ignorance? Schoolmarms were offering me a free hand-out. What was I fleeing?

I think the answer lies in the single, dreaded word, “Drill.”

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99 Responses to A Grain Of Salt – Part One: Respect

  1. H.R. says:

    I resemble those remarks except that I had few detentions. I took the swats.

  2. Greg Goodman says:

    “We are suppose to respect our elders and teachers”

    LOL, that’s myth that is spread by our elders and teachers.

    Respect, in book is earned not ordained.

    Some elders and teachers merit it, many ( perhaps the majority ) don’t.

  3. Greg Goodman says:

    ” in my book”

    It is also lost much quicker than it is earned or regained, as climatologists are finding.

  4. gnome says:

    That bit about never trusting anyone over thirty has served me very well over the years. The other, about never trusting anyone under sixty sounds like good advice too.

  5. “All people need to do is accept a system of rules.”

    Rules are fine. Rulers are a problem.

  6. Greg Goodman says:

    Certain old people are wise, because they are smart, reflect and have loads of experience.

    Many old people are as dumb as the day they were born and have a lifetime of experience at it.

    The latter group try to draw on the authority due to the former by saying : “We are suppose to respect our elders and teachers”.

  7. Oldspanky says:

    Science has exactly as much use for respect as an internal combustion engine has for a foreskin.

  8. Jolan says:

    Good read. Witty and humerous.

  9. Caleb says:

    RE: Greg Goodman says:
    June 27, 2014 at 3:07 am

    “…Many old people are as dumb as the day they were born and have a lifetime of experience at it…”

    It might appear that way, but that is because the old tend to carry a shield to protect themselves from onslaughts of criticism such as yours. If you are put off too easily by some shield of Archie Bunker racism or religious closed-mindedness, you will miss what they have picked up over the years.

    I’ll explain further in parts two through five.

  10. lee says:

    For some of the young ones it seems as if brains were dynamite- they wouldn’t have enough to blow the wax out of their ears.

    Of course probably not true, but sometimes seems that way.

  11. Hoser says:

    What made the Boomers so self-indulgent and whiny? What is the reason we need to dive into endless armchair self-psychoanalysis? Can you imagine Benjamin Franklin or George S. Patton doing that? In my opinion, it’s a product of the Greatest Generation’s greatest mistake: Spoiling their children, because they had to do without during the Depression and WWII, and our economy improved in the 50s and early 60s. Then we had Benjamin Spock, the late 60s psychodrama craze, encounter groups, and endless drug-induced wonderings. As if any of that made any positive difference. Now we have a thin-skinned overly sensitive group running things, and people who can’t stand being dissed, and who are easily offended. As if being offended is a bad thing. That’s what the First Amendment is all about, baby.

    Whatever it is, get over it, Get to work. Don’t try to be happy all the time – believing you should be constantly happy is another dangerous idea of the Left. Rather than worry about ME, I just do what I need to do to take care of my family. When I think I have it bad, I think about the Warsaw ghetto or central Africa, and I cheer right up.

  12. Bloke down the pub says:

    Best rule of thumb is to trust someone as far as you can throw them.

  13. ozspeaksup says:

    Caleb says:
    June 27, 2014 at 3:53 am

    RE: Greg Goodman says:
    June 27, 2014 at 3:07 am

    “…Many old people are as dumb as the day they were born and have a lifetime of experience at it…”

    It might appear that way, but that is because the old tend to carry a shield to protect themselves from onslaughts of criticism such as yours. If you are put off too easily by some shield of Archie Bunker racism or religious closed-mindedness, you will miss what they have picked up over the years.

    I’ll explain further in parts two through five.
    ===================
    Greg gets my vote
    there ARE dumb young people who never DO grow a brain,
    they end up as dumb old people,
    and respecting them is dangerous and damaging.
    Once I respected and trusted that all elders did know more,
    as I near my 60s I know many do not.
    and
    for that, many young dont even have a basic grasp of stuff I learnt at school and thats pretty basic.
    its scary. they will be our “keepers” in our real aged years, heaven help us!

  14. cnxtim says:

    Age has almost nothing to do with it, i am 68 and yesterday i was taught a lesson to remember by a 6, thankfully, I have learned from it.

  15. philjourdan says:

    @Caleb says: June 27, 2014 at 3:53 am

    I tend to agree with Greg. Some never learn. Your adage of never trusting anyone under 60, and then not trusting them all is the way I look at it now. I am about your age (going to be 60 shortly). And I do look to elders for wisdom, and the youth for pig headedness.

    I managed to grow out of the rebellion stage earlier than you. But that does not mean I was not as stupid as they come back then. With 4 sisters and 3 daughters, I know girls are a bit different (the term is not allowed on this blog). But with 2 brothers and 2 sons, and myself to boot, I can easily say that boys reach puberty and lose their intelligence. I have seen some grow out of it early. But all enter it. And the really stupid ones never get out of it.

    But the wisdom – I know that my opinion is naive and in time it will change some more.

  16. Jimmy Dell says:

    In 1957 I was in the 7th grade. The science teacher was a very old woman, no really, she was old, perhaps 64. She was the most entertaining teacher in that school and she said one thing that has stuck with me to this day and while not original it has been helpful. “Believe none of what you read and only half of what you see. Study, do the research, experiment and prove something to be true or false.” A wise woman.

  17. Stephen Skinner says:

    Age does matter although the trick is working out who has the best experience. In flying there is a saying: ‘There are old pilots and bold pilots, but the are no old bold pilots’!

  18. Matthew Benefiel says:

    Great thoughts Caleb. As you pointed out, in our society where we are taught to rebel and we forget that rules are meant to help and protect us, good rules anyway or rules that you actually follow through on. While I agree that it is nigh impossible to get boys to sit and listen, I would still argue it is a necessary part of life, though we could be a lot more creative about it sometimes. Respect is a hard thing, as many have pointed out we have plenty of “elders” that don’t deserve it, but often we throw the baby out with the bath water and when we resort to mocking and breaking someone down we risk being become those “elders” that don’t deserve respect. I find those I respect the most are those that are humble and have the wisdom and insight to realize they don’t know everything and are always willing to learn more.

    As for Oldspanky and this statement: “Science has exactly as much use for respect as an internal combustion engine has for a foreskin.”

    Doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense, science is just a set of rules with checks and balances to help govern how we observe the world around us. Science is performed by people with all their mistakes and bias, so yes science still requries respect and a host of other things from those that follow its rules otherwise you begin to break the rules and end up as someone that can’t take critism and make everything personal. On another note, can the plastic splash shield under the engine be considered a foreskin?

  19. wws says:

    Your school experience with the sarcastic questions reminds me of a book by Ron White (the comedian) recalling his misspent, delinquent youth and his constant run-ins with the local police in a small, west Texas town.

    “I had the Right to Remain Silent, but Not the Ability”.

  20. Caleb says:

    RE: ozspeaksup says:
    June 27, 2014 at 4:10 am
    “…there ARE dumb young people who never DO grow a brain,
    they end up as dumb old people,
    and respecting them is dangerous and damaging…”

    The danger in your attitude is that you miss what can be used, in your contempt for that which should be rejected. You may be correct in stating some have embraced ignorance, but a midst all that ignorance is a shred of wisdom. If you become too pessimistic you in a sense are accepting the ignorance as the status quo. I am more optimistic that even out of a slag heap of stupidity a bit of gold can be refined.

    When ignorance causes a construct to fall in a heap, it doesn’t mean the entire idea is ignorance. It means you need to go back to the old drawing board.

  21. Stephen Richards says:

    Respect is NOT mandatory, it must be earned. You can do this by being open and honest when communicating your science / story so I guess that rules out politicians, Crimate scientists, Institutional CEOs, etc

    I had a neighbour who sadly died about 4 years ago. Her husband died when she was 6 months pregnant not long after WWII (in france). The babe was in hospital for a year after his birth and she brought him up on her own will no government support. She worked hard all her life and was still growing her own food, digging the garden by hand at aged 89.

    Sadly she brought up her son to be a real asshole who bullied her for most of her life and lives off social security.
    I adnmire her for her determination and perseverance but I do not respect her for her son.

  22. Matthew Benefiel says:

    Hey Caleb, sorry to post again, but I thought up a good example. Let’s image I’m invited to a Climate Change forum (a big if for sure but we’re pretending) and I meet Michael Mann there. Let’s say I show my disrespect for him by calling him names and not shaking his hand therebye not even respecting a single thing about him. Then a prominant scientist walks in, someone Mann really respects and believes shares his same views. Mann walks up to said scientist and begins talking about all his research. This scientist looks at him kindly, but firmly and calmly states that Michael made some mistakes and that if he corrected them and recieved critism better then the world would be a brighter place. Let’s say in this theorectical story Mann takes this to heart (after an inward battle of course – we all have those) and ends up taking the advice. Whose respect or lack thereof had a greater affect? Or if you can’t picture that, whose respect or lack thereof has the greater potential of breaking the barriers we humans like to setup?

    It may sound silly, but how often in human history have we seen an enemy of something become a major proponent due to a major turn around. I know in my own life my supposed beliefs and thoughts were altered by a person or persons I really respected, even though we disagreed an many things. In many ways we still disagree, but their opinion and their way of breaking things down and offering insight has become the true reason I respect them. Togther we can talk about a host of things and both come out the better for it. I guess I’m saying respect for a person or position even when you really don’t want to can alter your own life and the life of those around you.

  23. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (because, of course, we are all made to the same physical and mental patterns). If you don’t learn it the easy way, when you’re still a child, you will have to learn it the hard way, when your criminal, or immoral, behavior elicits sharp correction from others. Why the latter way should be emphasized as in the above post, and the former, really ancient wisdom, not even mentioned even after the fact, astonishes me.

  24. Eustace Cranch says:

    Richard Feynman:

    “Have no respect whatsoever for authority; forget who said it and instead look at what he starts with, where he ends up, and ask yourself, “is it reasonable?”

    I’m with you, Dr. Feynman.

  25. oldspanky says:

    @Matthew Benefiel in particular, but to anyone else mystified by my earlier comment: I wrote “science” not “scientists”. (So many on both sides of the climate debate fail to make that distinction which is why we spend so much time and energy squabbling about consensus, as if it matters.)

  26. Alan Robertson says:

    Stephen Richards says:
    June 27, 2014 at 5:16 am

    “Sadly she brought up her son to be a real asshole who bullied her for most of her life and lives off social security.
    I adnmire her for her determination and perseverance but I do not respect her for her son.”
    __________________
    Are you somebody else? Neither is she. You are blaming her for the actions of someone else. Her son is an asshole because that’s what he is. It had nothing to do with her. Have you not seen other such examples, perhaps in a family with several children, all of whom are great people, save for one?

  27. Tom O says:

    “Greg Goodman says:
    June 27, 2014 at 2:45 am
    ” in my book”

    It is also lost much quicker than it is earned or regained, as climatologists are finding.”

    I will agree wholeheartedly with this statement. As a youth, I automatically respected professionals of all nature – brought up to believe that. I found out, as I went out on my own, that too many “professionals” weren’t. They were mostly pedigreed crooks. I decided that respect can be considered, but not guaranteed – to elders, professionals, teachers, etc. And yes, do something that is dumb and make no attempt to correct it, and you have lost my respect completely, and it truly is difficult to gain it back.

    Wisdon and age have very little in common. As you grow older, you generally have had time to discover more facts for yourself, thus your knowledge base grows. Does that signify wisdom? Not at all. I have seen wiser 5 years olds than I have 50 year old politicians, and in this field, so called climate science, I have seen more wisdom displayed by those 5 year olds that 80% of the warmists because wisdom implies you learn from mistakes, and warmists don’t.

  28. Brian P says:

    There is a huge difference between respecting people and treating people with respect. If you can’t treat people with respect (whether you repect them or not) you cannot function well in society.

  29. Alan Robertson says:

    Matthew Benefiel says:
    June 27, 2014 at 5:18 am
    ___________________
    Well said.
    Have you ever had the experience of someone saying to you, out of the clear blue sky, “I don’t trust you”? Usually, this comes from someone you’ve just encountered for the first time, and who knows what motivated their position? As sure as the day is long, you’d better watch out for that person (do not trust them,) because they have already judged and condemned you and are just looking for an opportunity to “execute” some form of retribution against you.

  30. Eustace Cranch says:

    I don’t expect anyone to trust me or accept my authority by default. Nor the other way around.

  31. Tom J says:

    ‘Prohibition didn’t merely engender a disrespect for the law, but even for the Constitution our forefathers died for, yet, as a young boy, I could hear old-timers laugh about how they brewed beer in the basement, blithely unaware they were encouraging disrespect for the Constitution.’

    I must respectfully disagree, sir. I think that if our forefathers knew that their fighting and dying would later have produced Prohibition, and the Wilson administration that helped produce it, well then, they might have fought and died with a lot less vigor. I don’t think anyone, anywhere, at anytime is going to sacrifice their life so people can’t drink beer. (Except, of course, for a certain region of the world that shall go unnamed.) Our forefathers wanted a government that approached being no government at all. Prohibition was an insult to their vision and the Constitution that described that vision.

  32. Alan McIntire says:

    “Therefore, instead of learning from elders, I learned the hard way that many of the things they said were bad for me were, in fact, bad.”

    That reminds me of another aphorism:

    “Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment”

  33. TinyCO2 says:

    Caleb, you’re mistaking ‘respect’ for ‘doing as you’re told’. You can respect someone but still do what you want and also the opposite. You can respect a person for one area of their lives or personality but you don’t have to extend it to areas where they are ignorant or deficient. Eg a person can be very kind but be a disaster area on DIY. Learn from their generous spirit but never ask them to help put up a wardrobe.

    Doing as you’re told by your elders/betters is something else entirely and is only connected to respect because we use our feelings about people to pre filter what they say or do. Children are supposed to do as they’re told because the adult is usually more knowledgeable. As we grow, we are able and expected to substitute blind acceptance for personal judgement. Don’t let your own lack of respect for the education system of your youth fool you into thinking that your young self was as knowledgeable as you thought you were. You may not have been in the mood to learn as a child but it doesn’t mean you couldn’t.

    We’re seeing the side effects of a generation of adults who wanted to learn from their own school experiences and improve things for the next group of kids. While some of them are worthy, like trying to eradicate bullying, others, like encouraging kids to be independent, have led to chaos in schools. I too spent much of my time looking out the window but I’ve grown up to understand that if I’d been given my way, I’d never have been in the mood to sit still and listen. I realise that being forced to accept that I had to do boring tasks and do as I was told, were good things because those skills are as necessary as maths and English and probably harder to learn.

  34. Richard says:

    Respect for Stephen Goddard for outing himself, he has an interesting cv.

  35. Matthew Benefiel says:

    @oldspanky
    “Matthew Benefiel in particular, but to anyone else mystified by my earlier comment: I wrote “science” not “scientists”.”

    I understand. But considering science is a set of rules and those rules reuquire a peer review, then peer review by inference requires a ceratain amount of respect, otherwise no one would listen to criticism.

  36. Caleb says:

    RE: Alan Robertson says:
    June 27, 2014 at 5:49 am

    I have witnessed similar situations, where a good woman has a bad son. In fact, to a certain degree I myself was, at times, “the bad son,” and on at least one occasion “the asshole.” If I don’t accept responsibility for my own stupidity, and play the blame-game, I think my mother was not so much to blame as the lack of fathering I was a midst. Single mothers have it rough.

  37. Caleb says:

    I have to get back to work, but would like to thank people for commenting. An elder like me relishes respect, and even taking the time to tell me I’m wrong involves effort, which is more respectful than ignoring me.

    I think some are missing a certain nuance in the point I am making. I am not saying I should have respected dopes, just because they were old. I am saying there were people who were not dopes, offering me knowledge for free, who I avoided. Later on, with 20-20 hindsight, I smack my forehead.

    I’ll be back later.

  38. Alan Robertson says:

    The Golden Rule covers all human interactions and is a pure explanation of karma.
    There is precious little else that Christ talked about. He explained that we make our own world and are free only to the extent that we will live out the consequences of our own thoughts and actions. Sow and reap, love and forgive…

  39. huxley says:

    Now I look back across a half century and wonder: What was it that made them the bad-guy Nazis, and me the good-guy? Why didn’t they seem like millionaires, loaded with knowledge, as I myself was a mere beggar, with the empty pockets of ignorance?

    Apparently you had better luck, but quite a few of the adults in my life were bad-guy nazis or unhappy, weak, crazy people, who had authority over me but I knew I couldn’t trust or rely upon them.

    I’m more conservative now and not quite so quick to dismiss conventional wisdom, but looking back I haven’t changed my estimation of those adults.

    For instance, the Catholic nun, who was principal of my elementary school, was dismissed as mentally ill years later. But while I was a student none of the parents or teachers would brook any criticism of her, although she embodied the caricature of the vicious authoritarian teacher.

    Who was I to respect in that situation? How was I to know they were offering me riches of knowledge? How was I to choose to ignore one teacher and respect another if not by my own impertinent, youthful judgment?

    I don’t think this stuff is as simple as you lay it out.

  40. urederra says:

    Nullius in verba

    Nullius in computer output. :P

  41. Matthew Benefiel says:

    @huxley says: “I don’t think this stuff is as simple as you lay it out”
    June 27, 2014 at 7:26 am
    It’s a good statement, because as with many things there is never a simple “do this and everything will be all right.” Our faults as people is what makes actions like respect so hard, because everyone of us has times when we don’t deserve it. That is where grace comes in, understanding that someone has failed that trust but giving them the opportunity or help to gain it back. Sometimes even that won’t work like in your case. How you approach it though makes all the difference. I’m reading into things but from the sound of your post it sounds like while it creates a sadness you do not hold a grudge, you have learned and moved on, making the best of the worst situation. Sometimes that is all we can do. Sometimes we need to take those experiences and help lead the next generation to be better leaders and as someone else mentioned, treat others like they would like to be treated.

  42. Ed Hinton says:

    Perhaps I am jumping the gun and later parts will address this, or perhaps not, but I believe our sometimes misplaced compassion as a society has significantly degraded respect for the wisdom of others as well as the wisdom that others develop to deserve respect. In ages past, many of the rules that developed (even dating back thousands of years to rules around what foods to eat together) and the wisdom elders were seen to have related to the fact that mistakes could have very harsh consequences. I am not referring to the consequences rulers imposed for lawbreaking. I am referring to the very personal consequences that occurred naturally when we were not so good at taking care of and ameliorating the negative harmful things that could happen. In a way, it was a sort of human Darwinism that our compassion and technological advances have managed to largely defeat. I speak not only of physical dangers either. Society breaks down with higher crime and violence when bad behavior has no consequences. We have “progressed” so far to all but eradicate the concept of shame. So now there is no shame for bad behavior, and seldom any physical consequences that cannot be taken care of for risky or even violent behavior. Respect is meaningless if there are no values or principles to aspire to. Wisdom becomes less common when stupidity and risk taking are looked back on as not having had any long term consequences, especially when cultural and technological supports have made that lack of consequences a reality. We have evolved to a point where it is only individual strength of character that makes the difference without the societal/cultural support that once helped most to gain the wisdom that should earn respect while others used to have to face the very harsh consequences of injury, loss of life, or loss of acceptance that once reinforced development of strength of character over a lifetime.

  43. Richard Wright says:

    You can respect a person without trusting him. But science has nothing to do with trust anyway. You shouldn’t trust anyone’s data or experiments. Verify the theory yourself independently. That’s what it’s all about – independent reproducibility. Satellite temperature data vs ground-based thermometers is a good example. Satellites couldn’t care less about station siting and data fudging. They are a completely independent means of gathering data.

  44. Josh says:

    Tom J says:
    June 27, 2014 at 6:06 am

    Preach on brother. Preach on! I wish more people in this country understood why the founding fathers implemented the system they did and understood their intentions. The constant bombardment from seemingly intelligent people about the “interpretation of the Constitution” drives me insane. It is a trick used by those with an agenda to promote an idea or ideology that is in stark contrast to the intent of those who helped frame the most wonderful and free country the world has ever known. We, as a society, have fallen into a trap that has been carefully designed and slowly implemented to make the masses believe that our unalienable rights are privileges and privileges rights.
    We have become a nation of “useful idiots” because so many simply don’t understand nor care to discover what the real meaning is behind all of the rights and powers granted to the feds, states, and individuals. It’s very easy to know what the authors of our Constitution meant and why they chose the words they used. All people have to do is read the Federalist Papers and it becomes very apparent. But, alas, how many people in this country even know who John Jay is?

  45. rabbit says:

    An easy way to identify pseudoscience is if the author(s) shows contempt for researchers who came before, denouncing them as regressive and unable to think outside the box, and gloating over their own superior insight.

    Even as Einstein was overturning the very foundations of physics, he showed great admiration and respect for Newton, Maxwell, and others. He knew full well he was building on, not disrespecting, their work.

    To the Master’s honor all must turn, each in its track, without a sound, forever tracing Newton’s ground. ~ Einstein

  46. Jim Clarke says:

    I’m not sure where you’re going with this Caleb, but it was an enjoyable read. Thank you! It reminded me of this:

    Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others,
    even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

    -Desiderata

  47. Pamela Gray says:

    re: interpretation
    Josh, be careful what you say about the Constitution and its interpretation. Plain words are plain words, but only in their time and space. They become more or less interpretable in another time and space. A case in point, the phrase from our Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal…” led to all manner of concurrent discriminatory laws and regulations based on its plain word. It was only later, in another time and space that those plain gender words were broadened to mean male and female, and usually after they were changed to mean white and black “males”.

    http://womenshistory.about.com/od/laws/a/Constitution-Sex-Discrimination.htm

    The Bible is another instance where plainly spoken words interpreted as plainly spoken words are plain only in the time and space they were written. We certainly can no longer take the whole of that text literally the way it was used in its time and place of origin.

    http://www.christianbiblereference.org/faq_BibleTrue.htm.

    re: looking back
    Which speaks to the “looking back” notion. We see our own past through different colored lenses. The author above interprets his past. But it is his past. He cannot speculate on the past of another (and it irritates me no end that many do just that). I speculate that humans learn best through mistakes, meaning they are necessary. That decades are spent making mistakes is very likely the normal condition. I have yet to see a perfect and law abiding youth not make mistakes. That the mistakes are different from the mistakes of a rebel is simply context.

  48. Oscar Bajner says:

    “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years. ” Mark my words, Twain.

    “Don’t trust anyone over thirty”, is a credo so vicious, it is shocking that anyone could find it entertaining, let alone entertain it. It is a full scale assault on social relations, starting with those who are seemingly distant strangers, and ending with our own parents, sick.

  49. Brian R says:

    You shouldn’t take anything “with a grain of salt”. Don’t you know salt is bad for you.
    /sarc

  50. Rick says:

    “When we start to forgive our friends we are leaving childhood, and when we start to forgive our parents we are leaving adolescence, but not until we start to forgive ourselves have we gained wisdom.”
    or alternatively Mencken’s quote
    “The older I get the less I believe in the old saw that age brings wisdom”

  51. huxley says:

    Matthew Benefiel @7:41 am: Thanks for the thought.

    I don’t hold grudges against the adults from my past. When I revisit those situations, however, I don’t see how I could have done much better than I did. My personal rebellion against authority then still makes sense to me, just as my current rebellion against climate science authority does.

    Pondering the larger sixties countercultural movement against authority, I can certainly see its errors and excesses with us today, but I’m not convinced it was all a mistake or easily avoided.

    Caleb asks why didn’t his teachers “seem like millionaires, loaded with knowledge”? Maybe because they weren’t.

    My teachers were mostly ordinary people who had gotten where they had by playing the game but didn’t seem to have any special wisdom beyond perseverance, and many of them seemed terribly flawed, confused, and unhappy. I have more appreciation for perseverance now but that alone doesn’t make the nut of a millionaire’s store of knowledge.

    Caleb also seems to forget the considerable doubts adults then had about their collective wisdom. They had been through one world war, a terrible depression another world war, and were looking at the possibility of a total nuclear war.

    Boomers didn’t invent the disenchantment with elder wisdom. That had been brewing at least since World War I.

  52. caprizchka says:

    Hoser says: “What made the Boomers so self-indulgent and whiny? What is the reason we need to dive into endless armchair self-psychoanalysis?”

    They were the primary recipients of the age of Behavioral Conditioning which exalted “feelings” over rationality, spilling over into the schools. Meanwhile drugs like LSD were part of the mind-control experiments conducted by our shadow government. The population “boom” was also an issue in that Social Security and other entitlements surely couldn’t handle the strain especially with deficit government spending ensuring a requirement to borrow off the public trust.

    “In my opinion, it’s a product of the Greatest Generation’s greatest mistake: Spoiling their children, because they had to do without during the Depression and WWII, and our economy improved in the 50s and early 60s.”

    Apparently, the Greatest Generation also let “feelings” impact their mathematical abilities. At what point did prospective parents consider that there just might not be enough for everyone after all? It apparently extended all the way to the parents of the Baby Busters. Those children, born in 1960-62 routinely overfilled classrooms and largely came to comprise “The Sandwich generation” obliged to care for their math-deficient elder parents along with their unemployable adult children and perhaps even stark-future grandchildren. I’m one of those Baby Busters, but I know a little too much math to submit to “sandwiching”.

    “Now we have a thin-skinned overly sensitive group running things, and people who can’t stand being dissed, and who are easily offended.”

    They are starting to frame unkind or “disrespectful” words as “psychological assault”. I wonder if that’s worse than second-hand smoke or fragrance or wearing fur or smelling as if one has just consumed a baby cow or feeling happy instead of guilty for being “privileged”.

    “When I think I have it bad, I think about the Warsaw ghetto or central Africa, and I cheer right up.”

    That would indicate that you are “privileged” and are otherwise subject to “feelings” that have not been approved by the authorities. Show some respect. ;)

  53. Aphan says:

    I believe it is possible to learn great lessons from the worst, weakest of people. What not to do, how not to act or react. Every person we encounter can teach us something, or change how we thought of something prior, or be one more piece of evidence that reinforces our past experience. Not all learning experiences are pleasant ones. I’ve found in my life that the hardest lessons were the ones I needed the most, and that as stubborn as I am, they had to be difficult to reach me fully.

    I also think there is a difference between basic human courtesy and respect. I can shake Mann’s hand and remain silent about my feelings about his work without respecting him in the least. As has been pointed out, respect is earned. But so is distrust in an equal and opposite fashion. It’s entirely possible that upon getting to know Mann personally, I might develop respect for him as a father, friend, neighbor etc. He might be able to teach me great lessons, even in negative ways. If I truly value and seek for knowledge and wisdom for myself, I must be willing to accept that it can come in the most unexpected ways.

  54. huxley says:

    I believe it is possible to learn great lessons from the worst, weakest of people. What not to do, how not to act or react.

    To be sure, but you decide the lessons you will learn from people and those lessons are not always the lessons those people believe they are teaching.

    As I understand Caleb, he speaks of accepting the knowledge his teachers offered, as opposed to learning from their possibly bad examples.

  55. EW3 says:

    The only truly original thought I have ever had —

    “Wisdom is knowing what not to do”

  56. evanmjones says:

    Good post, here much food for thought. I made an early WUWT guest post on “whom to trust” back in aught-8. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/03/08/who-decides/

    I also grew up during the “wormhole”, although i was a “good kid” (lord yelp me).

    Much of my skill with the use of the English language was absorbed from schoolmarm’s tongue-lashings.

    For me, it was H.L. Menken. (Same deal, really.)

    but when my hormones hit and I swiftly loomed taller than they, all my study of their use of English came back to haunt them.

    They had created a monster.

    I am a Liberal. Trained in deconstruction and the dialectic. And they hate it when their own weapons are turned against them. Gander sauce.

  57. JoeCivis says:

    As it has been stated above the treat others as you want to be treated is usually a good start. I would also like to point out that treating someone respectfully does not mean you respect their intellect or opinion, although it allows you the opportunity to find out their opinion and possibly influence them. I also agree that the current state of affairs in America and perhaps the world has people entirely much too “thin skinned” what ever happened to the “sticks and stone will break your bones but words will never hurt you” wisdom? I believe it is the “progressive” victim mindset that fosters the “I’m perfect”, “I deserve it”, “you’re oppressing me” mantras that are dragging the US down.

  58. evanmjones says:

    One day when I was sitting in detention, the guy next to me — out of the blue — turned and stabbed me in the arm with a sharp pencil. I still have the mark to this day. I didn’t utter a peep and I didn’t fink him out, either: There are some rules one must obey, some customs which are inviolable.

  59. tadchem says:

    I lost all ‘blind’ respect for my ‘elders’ when I was 8 years old, in the 4th grade. I had a teacher accuse me of cheating on a test of long division simply because I got a perfect score on the quiz, I didn’t show any work (because I had done it all in my head), and I was able to write down the answers as fast as she wrote the problems on the blackboard.

  60. Josh says:

    Not trying to hijack the comments section or get too far off topic, so mods, do as you feel…

    Pamela Gray says:
    June 27, 2014 at 9:08 am

    First, thanks for engaging. I always learn a lot from your comments and replies.
    I think you helped prove my point without realizing it, though. The Constitution was framed in such a way that as times, philosophies, attitudes and society in general changed (and/or change in the future) there is a framework for how to go about amending it. Again, that was deliberate and the process well documented and planned for. When they said “all men” they meant just as you said – all white men. As the people of the States (too) slowly came to realize that it was not right at all to exclude everyone who was not a white man, the framework they put in place was used to correct that mistake and make this country even better for all.
    The problem, as I see it, lies in misinterpreting the words written. A good example is the constant attack on all religions in public events and places. The 1st Amendment guarantees that there shall be no infringement upon the free exercise of any religion. They wanted everyone to be free to practice whatever religion they believe in wherever and whenever without fear of persecution or prosecution. Again well documented in their own words and supported by their actions as all of the founding fathers were active members of their churches and started all of their official meetings with prayer.
    That’s also why the Declaration of Independence emphatically states that the rights of life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness are granted by the Creator, and not given out by men and governments. The leftist revisionist historians continue to try to argue that they were not religious at all, but the actual evidence overwhelmingly proves they were religious and actively so.The separation of church and state was intended to prevent the government form enforcing only one religion that all must follow like the king had done. Now, where have I heard that an idea is not supported by evidence before? Trying to remember… Oh yeah, the entire AGW scam, which oddly enough is being pushed the most by the leftists and progressives.

    As for the bible, there’s no end to the arguments with that book. However, I think, again, the majority of the problems come from a lack of understanding what was actually written, versus the modern translations (hence the multitude of “versions”), and what it meant at the time. Or, they result from an intentional “misinterpretation” or from taking one idea or statement out of context. I don’t believe everything that is written in the bible, but the majority of it taken in context and viewed with a basic understanding of the time/location in which it was written as well as the societal norms of the time provides a solid foundation of how to treat other people and the world around us in general.
    Classic example is “spare the rod and spoil the child.” That is not a reference to corporal punishment as most people think and have been taught. A “rod” in the time/region it was written was a tool used by the shepherds. The meaning of the phrase is if you don’t make your child help with work/chores, you will spoil him/her and make them lazy. The vast majority of people I tell that to look at me with the confused puppy dog look and act like I’m speaking gibberish. I tell them to look it up for themselves but they don’t. They just tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about and go about being blissfully ignorant of the world around them.
    Basically, they react like a climate scientologist who is shown the error(s) in her/his research. They resort to ad hominems, hand waving, or appeals to authority and go on blissfully unaware of the real issues with their work and pretend like they know all and no one is qualified to tell them they are wrong.
    OK, time to get down off the pile of soapboxes I am standing on and get back to work.

  61. huxley says:

    I wasn’t 8 years old in the fourth grade, but I was bright enough to annoy some of my teachers. I had one English teacher on my case for all of high school because I told her I had read a library book in one night.

    Caleb: This is the problem with respecting teachers as though they were knowledge millionaires. Many of them really were small-minded jerks who even got the knowledge part of their job wrong. That same teacher also taught the Gerard Manley Hopkins line from “God’s Grandeur” about “the ooze of oil crushed” was about popping a pimple.

    Sure, some teachers know their stuff. Some of them are even wise. But how do you separate the wheat from the chaff when you’re just a kid?

  62. philjourdan says:

    @Matthew Benefiel – The key in your story is who Mann respected. You could do anything, and Mann would not listen to you – because he did not respect you to begin with, so your respect or lack thereof would have no influence on him.

  63. Michael J. Dunn says:

    These are all life lessons, but insofar as science is concerned, be mindful of the fact that it is founded on honesty and telling the truth. Without that, it is literally impossible to conduct it. Last I heard, honesty and truth-telling were profoundly moral issues.

    Which brings us to “climate science”…

  64. Zeke says:

    “Basically I wanted to do things elders would disapprove of, and didn’t want to hear elders rebuke me for doing things that they claimed were bad for me. Therefore, instead of learning from elders, I learned the hard way that many of the things they said were bad for me were, in fact, bad.” ~Caleb Shaw

    Apparently there is a small percentage of the Boomer Generation who has reflected back on the reason for their “rebellion” – and the subsequent cultural changes that they brought about – and have had the candor to admit that there was no substance to it. The free love, drugs, rock and roll, flirtation with communism were just the satisfaction of personal desires, nothing more. The Boomers did not want any constraints on themselves and proceeded to remove the outward constraints in society to suit themselves.

    I have tested, observed, and questioned, and my observation is that no descent of the country into sexual depravity, drug use, or loss of personal responsibility can ever cause Boomers to consider that their social experiment has had disastrous affects.

    But occasionally one or two from that generation are honest. It makes a difference, and it is still a wonderful conversation to have, even if it seems far, far too late for that.

  65. huxley says:

    Caleb: What would you do if you were a high school student today and the schoolmarms were teaching you climate change, multiculturalism, and the Howard Zinn history of the United States?

    Would you be soaking up that information rather than trying to reinvent the wheel?

    Unless one passively accepts society’s current worldview, one is stuck with having to reinvent the wheel to some extent — at least choosing which set of parts to work with.

    However impudent it may seem for a young person, or any person, to reinvent the world on their own say-so, there is no way around it I can see. If you just accept what’s given you, that’s still a choice, though perhaps an unconscious one.

  66. Slightly on topic…
    There is a large (and nicely printed) sign in a gift shop I know – a very nice one to boot – which reads:
    “Unaccompanied children will be given a double expresso and a puppy.”

  67. huxley says:

    I have tested, observed, and questioned, and my observation is that no descent of the country into sexual depravity, drug use, or loss of personal responsibility can ever cause Boomers to consider that their social experiment has had disastrous affects.

    Almost all Boomers I know have come to their own reservations about the sixties/seventies experiments, though perhaps not to your satisfaction.

  68. CaligulaJones says:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/45122/45122-h/45122-h.htm#Page_190

    Every true Science is like a hardy Alpine guide that leads us on from the narrow, though it may be the more peaceful and charming, valleys of our preconceived opinions, to higher points, apparently less attractive, nay often disappointing for a time, till, after hours of patient and silent climbing, we look round and see a new world around us.

    PROFESSOR MAX MÜLLER

  69. rishrac says:

    Some children are adults growing up and don’t have that reference to ‘doing things that elders will disapprove of’. Your article is off the mark if you think we are all the same growing up. Respect is a two way street regardless of age. I didn’t have that sheltered, naïve view of the world. As John Steinbeck said in one of his forwards, that most children know adults are not all good. Adults lie, cheat, steal, and do a lot of bad things. I never had that jee wiz feelings to kneel before the great and powerful OZ. (not the country) . In this on going debate, why call it a debate if the science is settled, I’ve actually had an alarmist say, ” but they are climate scientists”. Yea, So? I’m not going to take their word for it if I think differently. If anything, I show you where you are wrong, and you refuse to acknowledge it, who is being disrespectful? I will be disrespectful when you want to haul me off to be tried as a criminal for disagreeing with you, it’s still a democracy not a dictatorship. — Now that the results don’t match the predictions, do you think I should just let this go?—- Still sitting in your ivory towers? Such moral and ethical dilemmas

  70. Zeke says:

    “I actually think it isn’t a schoolmarm’s duty to discipline boys. That job is the father’s.” ~C Shaw

    And this is the most important observation on the table. The fact of the matter is that the true source of human intelligence, or even giftedness, is developed in the context of close family bonds. People are not profoundly affected by the presence of a lot of classmates, co-workers, and other social relationships. We are shaped by the very few close relationships we have in life. These relationships help to structure and organize the brain in early life, and this profound restructuring of the brain can happen into the senior years, through marriage. And if these relationships are not present, the brain cannot organize itself in a meaningful, coherent way. Intelligence is supported most of all by loving relationships.

    The Boomers brought a profound break with their parents, and scoffed at the importance of the committed life-long marriage. The Boomers exacerbated the alienation with their parents – which was in some cases justified by schoolmarm attitudes – by permanently burning bridges. The use of drugs, throw-away marriages and children, and self-aggrandizement through career ambitions was the method of this near total destruction of the bonds between the generations. This bond between generations is very important to balanced emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development. But now it is so entrenched in society, that no one is able to question the idea that experts ought to educate and raise the children. Now the disconnection of loving, stable family relationships is institutionalized, and even enforced by putting boys on drugs and dressing girls in skimpy clothes; but most Boomers who are in positions of power in media, academia, & entertainment – rather than look at what they have wrought – want to rip out a few more pillars of free society (like personal transportation, flight, energy, agriculture, and the middle class) before they exit stage left. For it is the middle class that they hated most. That is the root of the matter, imo: all of the Boomers attacked and assaulted the middle class, whether they were on the right or left.

  71. huxley says:

    Zeke: You might want to consider a finer-grained view of Boomers.

    All Boomers are not the same. Even at the height of the counterculture, the majority of American youth were straight.

    Speaking for myself and several of my hippie friends, we are now conservatives and share concerns similar to yours about the repercussions of the counterculture.

    Boomers are powerful now because they are the age where a generation peaks in power. The problem is not Boomers per se, but the liberal/leftist Boomers who have consolidated control of academia, Hollywood, the media, the Democratic Party and government bureaucracies.

  72. Zeke says:

    Huxley says in part, “Boomers are powerful now because they are the age where a generation peaks in power. The problem is not Boomers per se, but the liberal/leftist Boomers who have consolidated control of academia, Hollywood, the media, the Democratic Party and government bureaucracies.”

    This is utterly central to the discussion. The Boomers are in the highest positions in society, and it is their attitudes about environmentalism and human life that are coming to their logical conclusions right now. Leftist Boomers are one thing, but the drugs are flowing thick and deep in our country, and Boomers are the ones who not only brought this about, but are now working night and day on the right to continue the flooding of our country with drugs, by removing any and all of our local controls and legalizing everything. The drugs are extremely harmful to local communities and to family relationships, and to the developing brain. I suggest the Boomers on the right are also progressives in many ways, and are brutally culling out any conservatives from the GOP. You may disagree.

    Boomers include anyone born to a WWII family or veteran, and I think only extend to 1955 or so, but I don’t know where the cut-off point is.

  73. Caleb says:

    “I had the Right to Remain Silent, but Not the Ability”.
    ‘There are old pilots and bold pilots, but the are no old bold pilots’!
    “Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment”

    Great Truth often hides in good humor.

  74. huxley says:

    Zeke: We seem to agree but then you go off on drugs and practically sound like Col. Ripper talking about precious bodily fluids in Dr. Strangelove.

    Boomers didn’t bring drugs about. I smoked my first joint with my mother and uncle. Alcohol of course has been around forever and can’t be blamed on Boomers. Likewise nicotine, another dangerous drug, the usage of which has decreased under Boomers. Amphetamines were brought to us by the WWII generation and have become more of a problem in heartland communities. Almost no one is talking about legalizing amphetamines.

    Not all boomers are for drugs. Frank Zappa, leader of the notorious Mothers of Invention rock group, was earnestly against drugs his entire life.

    Drugs aren’t all the same either. The worst damage I’ve seen was from alcohol and amphetamines. Marijuana was nowhere near either of those.

    Communism and socialism have been immense problems. Drugs had little to do with either.

    Boomers on the right cover a lot of ground. I don’t see that they are “brutally culling out any conservatives from the GOP” unless one has a specific, purist notion of conservativism, which may be the case with you.

    As far as I’m concerned the problem we face is leftist ideology. Your generalizations strike me as odd and unuseful.

  75. Caleb says:

    RE: Tom J says:
    June 27, 2014 at 6:06 am

    And I respectfully disagree with your disagreement, good Sir, though I confess you sound like an interesting person to talk with, as you seem to understand what a debacle Prohibition was.

    First, I think our founding fathers likely did discuss all sorts of situations that might arise, and what sorts of checks and balances might best be put on place to restrain not only tyrants, but do-gooders. They surely had examples of Puritans who got out of hand, attempting to outlaw behavior that Puritans deemed bad.

    Second, both the establishment and abolishing of Prohibition likely occurred in a manner they would have approved of, even if they thought Prohibition itself was a stupid idea.

    Talk about the law of unintended consequences! I wonder if the do-gooders who desired prohibition had any idea they would make gangsters so powerful and wealthy?

    When I think about the 1960’s I recall the movie, “Bonnie and Clyde,” which attempted to glorify two people who’s behavior was not admirable. In that movie I see a failure to differentiate between wild and free behavior, such as sky diving or bull riding, and behavior which actually hurts your fellow man. I assume this failure to differentiate was born, or perhaps gained steam, in the simple-minded do-gooder effort called Prohibition.

    Even as I sit here, sipping a beer after a long, hot Friday, I recognize alcohol makes some ugly and foul. I understand why some hate the stuff. However the worst offenders a hundred years ago were not those who drank beer or wine, but those who drank whisky. If Prohibition had been constructed with any sense, it likely should have been enacted as a high sin-tax on hard liquor, and left the Constitution out of it.

    However it is a fascinating topic, and worthy of further study and discussion.

  76. Zeke says:

    The glorification of drug use was the cause celebre of the Hippies and any objective observer knows that. Saying that it was in circulation before that does not address the fact that this was central to the Hippy movement and to the hippy identity.

    I am pointing out that drugs are destructive physiologically and extremely harmful to family relationships. But it is difficult to even have that discussion. We now live in a society which accepts putting one fourth of the boys in schools on street drugs.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=ritalin&client=firefox-a&hs=QRg&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=sb&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=3PCtU4jvGZL6oATI54CAAQ&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ&biw=1025&bih=493

    No one will be honest about the real devastating effects of drugs on brain development. No one. In fact, if a child is diagnosed for ADD, some schools can force parents to put their child on medication.

  77. Zeke says:

    “Communism and socialism have been immense problems. Drugs had little to do with either.”

    The destruction of the middle class is the end goal for the communists and socialists, and fscsts. It may be carried out economically. But it is known that the values of thrift, home ownership, lasting marriages, self-control, literacy, and tradition are important to the continued existence of the middle class. Injecting drugs and sexual immorality into all aspects of life is also destroying the middle class.

  78. Caleb says:

    There are lots of good comments, and I wish I could respond to all of them, but my youngest son is coming home from college tonight, and I’m eager to see him.

    There are lots of examples in the comments of bad teachers, and I too had my share. But there were also some good ones I didn’t chose to heed. One tried to impress upon me the importance of spelling words correctly. She had no idea “Spell Check” would be invented, and I tell you, had not that wonderful gadget appeared none of you could have gotten through the first five paragraphs of my writing.

    Do they even teach grammar any more? Does anyone see my mistake in the first paragraph?

    I had an aversion to “drill,” which is the subject of Part Two of this series of thoughts.

    Thanks to all who add to my thinking. Many minds makes might.

  79. Worc1 says:

    Sounds like my first 30 years, except, obviously, the award for creative writing. Although I still rebel against conformity quite often. Nice essay, Anthony.

  80. Barbee says:

    Scientists, used car salesmen and politicians deserve an equal amount of respect…did you say trust? But, of course I TRUST used car salesmen. Politicians and scientists?… Not so much.

  81. evanmjones says:

    Do they even teach grammar any more? Does anyone see my mistake in the first paragraph?

    I suspect the missing “d” is a typo?

    No, they don’t each grammar much, anymore, I suppose. And no one seems to be aware of the proper use of commas. (But that gives me an advantage. Mom was a copy editor.)

  82. James the Elder says:

    At 50ish, coming off the course after having been destroyed by a 70ish by about 15 strokes, he taught me a valuable lesson: 1: “Be happy you’re still on this side of the grass.” 2: “No matter how bad you played today, there are 1,300,000,000 Chinese who don’t give a $hit.”
    Lesson learned.
    My handicap dropped by 4 strokes in two months.

  83. Pamela Gray says:

    I was raised on a smallish ranch in the far NE corner of Oregon. That county still does not have a stoplight anywhere in the entire county. So I missed out on all the modern rebellion. Some kids turned to cigs and beer but that was about it. Life was and is still hard in the county and young teens still die from doing dangerous things or taking their own life. But few ever blame someone other than their own choices. There was no anti-establishment. Not even antidisestablishmentarianism. Most kids tolerated school because at least they weren’t doing chores. There were chores, sneaking out with a cig or a beer or the car, school, and…and…I guess that was it.

    To this day I don’t know which is harder on kids. The city life or hardtack.

  84. huxley says:

    Pamela Gray: Thanks for your comment.

    The countercultural Boomers had an outsized influence then and still do, but the fact is that they weren’t and aren’t the majority of Boomers.

    Zeke’s “Boomers…Drugs…Evil” mantra is on par with the idea many have that all Californians are from the Bay Area or Los Angeles. Given media coverage, that’s an understandable impression, but it’s just not so.

  85. bushbunny says:

    When I was at school around 13 my first boyfriend (well we liked each other) told me, he wouldn’t have a girlfriend smarter than him. My first husband told me, ‘Who wants an intelligent wife.” and my second husband told me in a drunken rage, “I don’t want a wife who is better educated than me, (when I enrolled externally at UNE). And both said I couldn’t write, creatively, but the reason hubby no.2 gave was ‘I bet she has a best seller and goes to Hollywood to run away with Robert Redford. (As if?) So I made it my passion to educate myself and write books, one that has been published. A BA, GCA, Diploma and Certs in Horticulture and Organic Agriculture. But I had a chance to go the University in my fifth year, but my mother said, ‘That’s a waste of time, she’ll be snapped up for marriage instead.’ And I was at 20.

    So as they said, Revenge is best served cold.’ So – I must say, I missed the sexy 60s as I was living in Cyprus until 1963 then married a RAF officer who became a captain on the V Force. And later joined QANTAS. Protected from societies hippies and drugs. But I do resent my ex-husbands for various reasons, but have learned to live with it, and concentrate on supporting my two sons, whose father’s would rather not know.

  86. huxley says:

    Caleb: Well, if you’re telling your individual story as a callow youth who rebelled against teachers because of the siren call of disapproved pleasures and your flight from drill, that’s fine by me.

    However, it’s not my story nor that of my friends who were part of the counterculture.

    I’m still curious to know how you would choose which elders to trust and respect.

    When I was young I had already learned that my elders did not speak with one voice, a fair amount of what I heard from them seemed crazy, wrong, mean, or dishonest, and I was stuck with having to pick and choose on my own.

  87. Khwarizmi says:

    Zeke says: (June 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm ):
    People are not profoundly affected by the presence of a lot of classmates, co-workers, and other social relationships.
    = = = = = =

    Relationships amongst peers have a more profound impact on developing teen-aged minds than do relationships amongst kin. This is why advertising gurus never use parent figures to sell kids the latest gadget, toy or fashion item. Rebellion against parents is a natural instinct that social engineers (in advertising, media and government, etc) often exploit to undermine the decisions & guidance of elders. For example, the advertising slogan for an Australia car in the 80s boasted: “Holden Camira: Your mother will hate it.
    Rebellion and respect for peers is part of the process of leaving the nest. It stems from youthful recognition that your peers, and not your parents, will be around to inherit the Earth. If you are an identity-hungry teen that sees not much hope for inheritance, “rebel” itself can be an attractive identity to build. That’s probably why elder siblings, tending to benefit most from the status-quo in family hierarchies, also tend to become “conservatives,” while later siblings who tend get the “hand-me-downs,” are more likely to become “liberals.”

  88. Caleb says:

    RE: Pamela Gray and others:

    I apologize in advance, for surely my sense of humor will be in some ways grating to you, especially my irreverent attitude towards “schoolmarms.” However little I have to say will be what you don’t already know. I am not trying to preach to the choir.

    I should also say that you were fortunate to escape the seduction of the sex-and-drugs nonsense. Furthermore, the pragmatic backbone of America, people who either escaped because they were outside the nonsense, or who found the nonsense repulsive and not seductive at all, were the people who helped me pull out of my personal nosedive. I owe a debt of gratitude towards the very people I once tended to sneer at as being “square.”

    I’m not sure country folk are as able to escape the sex-and-drugs nonsense any more, as the music industry has polluted country music and Hollywood is what Hollywood is. Despite obvious examples of the Hollywood lifestyle leading to ruin and death among their own population, they never seem to learn.

    Therefore it seems important to say what I went through, even though a lot of it was stupid nonsense, for I did learn, and can even arrive at soft-science conclusions that directly contradict the soft-science generally accepted.

    I utilize my sense of humor while doing so because the alternative is tears. However please do not take my humor wrong, or think I advocate being stupid, or put down people who were not as stupid as I.

  89. Caleb says:

    RE: huxley says:
    June 27, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    “….I’m still curious to know how you would choose which elders to trust and respect.”

    That’s the Big Question, isn’t it? Remove the two words “which elders” from the above sentence, and put in the word “what,” and perhaps it in some ways describes the purpose of life.

    I think each person has their own criteria of Truth and Beauty, and unique perspectives and a unique path. It behooves a free country to allow as much freedom as possible, so that people can follow their own stars. However there need to be laws to keep one person’s path from trampling another person’s toes, and that is where things get complicated.

    A lot of the complication is avoided if people simply follow the Golden Rule. Don’t trample toes because you wouldn’t like having your toes trampled. Don’t dominate others because you wouldn’t like being dominated. Serve others because you would like being served.

    This humbleness isn’t taught as much as it should be taught, and some of what is taught seems bound to raise a generation of megalomaniacs. The result is that everyone gets their toes stomped on. Perhaps this truth is starting to sink in. All sorts of different people, with unique perspectives and on different paths, may be starting to mutter, “Man! Do my toes ever hurt!”

    Sad to say, but sometimes people only turn to spiritual behavior because the alternative hurts terribly. Many, (if not most,) conversions occur not in churches but in the gutter. Right now the entire planet, in a manner of speaking, is in the gutter. They say it is darkest just before dawn, so perhaps the entire planet is on the verge of a conversion. People are tired of saying, “That’s just the way the world is,” and are getting downright sick of it.

    To return to your original question, “which teachers should we trust,” I think we don’t truly know until we test out what they’ve taught. As students, we are in a very vulnerable position. For this reason teachers should stick to teaching what they are hired to teach. Math teachers should teach math. English teachers shouldn’t pretend to be philosophy majors. Social Science should be abolished, and we should go back to studying the dull dates and places of History, and the words of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

    If children are not to learn a moral code to live by from parents or in Sunday School, it should be in a class called, “A Moral Code To Live By.” The entire business of attempting to sneak morality in between the lines strikes me as being slightly dishonest. A teacher’s moral standards come across clearly enough through their demeanor and through how they treat the ignorant.

    Once things are clearly stated, then kids need to either suffer being taught and exposed to drill, or be removed from the classroom, especially if they are at all disruptive. Which is a Segway to my thoughts about “Drill.”

  90. Alan McIntire says:

    I think there is a confusion between “respect” and “polite and considerate” here. It can be easy to develop a lack of respect for someone who has demonstrated their incompetence, but not respecting someone is no excuse for being rude and insulting.

  91. farmersteve says:

    The Gift

    You have given me a gift recently. $100,000.00 dollars for free!
    Thank you! However I’m thinking you did not actually intend to give it.
    I’m a farmer and the payment came from the SURE federal disaster program.
    The easy thing to do would be living out my life anonymously on my farm.
    This time I have resolved to return the money. The following is why.
    First, I want to explain why people participate in many of the governments programs.
    To most the answer requires no thought it’s free money! The true answer can be described in one word, competition.
    I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you and I are farmers, neighbors and friends.
    Our children go to the same school we may even attend the same church.
    Now a piece of land comes up for rent at auction. We both would like to rent it. So
    we both compete in the auction. Now you have recently stopped participating in the federal farm program because you are opposed to it.
    I participate and collect $10 per acre in doing so.
    Who will be more competitive at the auction? You or I?
    Moreover what will you do if I call your existing land lords and offer them $10 per acre more for the land you are currently farming?
    The point is we are compelled to participate because of the need to be competitive.
    Or more simply we participate because our neighbor does. This is what happens when
    the government injects money into a market. Human nature is such that if you see a person walking down the street with a fist full of cash,
    the first question you will ask them after perhaps “are you crazy”? Is “where did you get that”?

    I want to point out the insidious nature and the motivated self interest of government prodded by industry to inject public money into the free market.
    .
    I believe that many of the politicians and the people they represent are good kind people who genuinely believe that government programs,
    public money can and should be used to make society more fair and equitable a noble idea I will come back to.

    The Gift of $100,000.00 is nice but it pales in comparison to other gifts I have been given. First my life itself was a gift.
    Second the opportunity to have my nature, habit, talent and luck determine my success within a just and moral society called The United States of America.
    These gifts are worth far more than a stack of $100 dollar bills.
    The second gift is one we all can give. I for one did not want to reach the end of my life when my strength is gone and look back with regret
    not having done something to pass on the gift I was given. “The opportunity to have your nature, habit, talent and luck determine your success within a just and moral society.”
    Our nation is not perfectly just or perfectly moral but it is far more just and moral than many would have you believe.
    We all fail at one time or another to one degree or another that is what forgiveness is for.
    A word about forgiveness. You should always forgive, for the sake of your own life and happiness. However that does not necessarily mean you must go back for more of the same treatment.
    Therein lye’s the difference between going to a free competitive market for your needs or a government office. There is at minimum an equal chance of being mistreated at either place because both are run by people. However if you are mistreated by an individual or private business at the very least you do not have to do business there again you have options.
    What are your options when the government or other monopoly threatens you or mistreats you?
    Returning to the vision, or idea of a fair and equitable world through government a noble idea often promoted by fanning the flames of greed, jealousy and fear that burn within each of us.
    Listen and you will hear those tools being used.
    Nothing good will ever come from the use of those tools but you can not deny their effectiveness. They are promising to build something better something grand later.
    Of course when it comes time to perform and it fails they will blame you.
    Accepting your own luck making and taking responsibility for your own decisions that is as close to fair as you will ever get. Using your time and your strength to help
    people who are struggling is as close to prefect as you will ever get.

    I want to add my thoughts about debt since you borrowed much of the $100,000.00 you gave me. Debt should be thought of and is a useful tool just like a hammer. Say a 20 ounce claw hammer. We now have a 48 pound sledge hammer a once useful tool has become a burden.
    If the idea that is the United States is to survive then we must participate vigorously and do so with an attitude of altruism or selflessness.
    I am asking in exchange for returning some of your money that you listen carefully to those who speak and are in positions of power and influence. Ask yourself if they are fanning the flames of greed, jealousy and fear. If so reject them offering your faith, hope and optimism in alternative.
    It’s our responsibility as citizens to pass on the gift.

  92. mbur says:

    Another excellent essay from Caleb Shaw. Thank you. I await parts 2-5.
    Forget rules, I’m going with standards.
    Something to live up to, not follow.
    Thanks to WUWT for the interesting articles and comments.

  93. Zeke says:

    Khwarizmi says:
    June 27, 2014 at 9:47 pm “Relationships amongst peers have a more profound impact on developing teen-aged minds than do relationships amongst kin. This is why advertising gurus never use parent figures to sell kids the latest gadget, toy or fashion item. Rebellion against parents is a natural instinct that social engineers (in advertising, media and government, etc) often exploit to undermine the decisions & guidance of elders. For example, the advertising slogan for an Australia car in the 80s boasted: “Holden Camira: Your mother will hate it.””

    Okay, peer pressure and work relationships are important and we all get caught up into fashion whirlwinds. What I said was, “We are shaped by the very few close relationships we have in life. These relationships help to structure and organize the brain in early life, and this profound restructuring of the brain can happen [even] into the senior years, through marriage. And if these relationships are not present, the brain cannot organize itself in a meaningful, coherent way. Intelligence is supported most of all by loving relationships.”

    What this means is that the actual organization of the brain is permanently wired by the closest bonds we have, and is reliant on the timing of the exposure to the stimuli also. Here is one example of the wiring of the brain – as opposed to the merely outward behaviour which peer pressure elicits – taking place in people who are learning American Sign Language: http://zekeunlimited.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/communication-and-mind-formation/

    Another example of the presence or absence and timing of brain development includes the ability to express simple affection. If a youngster has a dismissive or inconsistent parent, who does not make eye contact or does so only in unpredictable ways, the young child does not associate eye contact and hugs with closeness, and has great difficulty expressing these later in life. So I am talking about brain differentiation, and the areas of the brain devoted to certain activities, as opposed to passing crazes.

  94. Zeke says:

    Intelligence then would be defined as the ability to discriminate between good and bad group behaviour, and also the ability to think of an outcome you want, and take steps to achieve that outcome.

  95. Zeke says:

    Khwarizmi says:
    June 27, 2014 at 9:47 pm “Rebellion against parents is a natural instinct that social engineers (in advertising, media and government, etc) often exploit to undermine the decisions & guidance of elders. For example, the advertising slogan for an Australia car in the 80s boasted: “Holden Camira: Your mother will hate it.””

    You are right. There is absolutely no other way to explain that car.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=Holden+Camira:+Your+mother+will+hate+it&client=firefox-a&hs=r3K&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=rcs&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=dByvU5yNCIjboAS95oLQCQ&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ&biw=1025&bih=493

  96. huxley says:

    To return to your original question, “which teachers should we trust,” I think we don’t truly know until we test out what they’ve taught. As students, we are in a very vulnerable position.

    Caleb: Thanks for the answer, but I’ve got to say it’s not very useful.

    Yes, as students we are very vulnerable. As youths, we don’t much time to test what we’ve been taught nor much experience on which to assess our lessons.

    If we’re lucky enough to have good parents or good teachers, it can work, but if not, not.

    I was caught between my looney family — most of them were dead by the time I was 30 from their craziness — and parochial school which was stable and offered a good education but in those days was still pretty abusive. If you began to question Catholic authority, as I did, it was no fun at all.

    I instinctively liked Golden Rule morality, but the nuns and priests were often so mean and weird with kids that I couldn’t see them or the Catholic Church as moral. So they failed my test and I was stuck reinventing the wheel.

    I took my cues from the counterculture and it wasn’t a bad choice, all things considered. I was in the slice of college hippies and commune hippies who, aside from looser standards for sex and soft drugs, tended to be very moral. (The street hippie scene was very different and far more dangerous.)

    Being a hippie didn’t prepare me for a career — I caught up on that later — but it did give me a decent moral matrix and a chance to finish growing up safely and happily for which I am grateful.

  97. Caleb says:

    RE: huxley says:
    June 28, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing your view. You saw things I didn’t, and are able to expand my horizons.

    My school was heavily influenced by the ideas of Dr. Spock, and was permissive, and therefore very different from a parochial school. I have a number of friends who did attend parochial schools, and the very mention of the word “nuns” gets them telling tales of being whacked by rulers for the most minor infractions. My school, on the other hand, let me withdraw to a dangerous degree, where I never bothered do any work at all, and the only consequence for daydreaming was a half hour detention where I could daydream further. Fortunately in sixth and seventh grade I had three different elderly “old school” teachers who simply wouldn’t allow me to daydream. They kept me after and sat down with me and forced me to actually work. I hated them at the time, but now I am grateful, for I have no idea what would have become of me if I didn’t gain from them at least a slight idea of how to work.

    I think it is amazing anyone can get through parochial school and be thankful, as you seem to be, that it “was stable and offered a good education.” In the case of my friends, it convinced them to become Protestants, which I’m sure was not the nun’s intent. However to some degree they do concede the rigid discipline was better than the “street scene.”

    As far as I know, there is no mention of nuns in the Bible, and I’ve always been curious where they came from. I’d see them walking by twos, on my trips to Boston as a boy and teen, and even sat next to them in the subway, but was curiously shy about ever even attempting to strike up a conversation. Therefore I remain ignorant about that particular subject.

    When you consider the predicament of immigrants back around 1900 “fresh off the boat,” more or less penniless in a big city, it is likely a good thing the Catholic church was there to offer some protection. If the church exploited the hapless, it protected them from worse exploitation, and therefore was more good than evil. By the 1960’s times had changed, and the church was faced with making adaptations it struggles with to this very day.

    The one thing parochial schools were better at than my school was drill, which is an obvious Segway to the next part of my essay.

  98. huxley says:

    Caleb: Thanks for the generous and open-minded response.

    I can see how it would have been helpful for you to run into some “old school” teachers at that point in your life.

    I liked to learn and did my schoolwork. My problem was getting by in a world where my home and school experiences tended to be hostile. So for me joining the hippie culture was natural since it was based on people my own age and the belief we could build a better world than the one our parents and teachers provided.

    Of course building a better world turned out to be more difficult than we thought. Eventually we became the adults in the world with our own records of compromise and failure.

    Today’s Catholic schools are much less abusive. All the scandals and bad memories, not to mention lawsuits, caught up with Catholic education. The teachers are mostly laypeople — not nuns, priests or brothers.

    I’ve since learned that the nuns who taught me worked under terrible pressure with not enough sleep. In other words they were being abused too. In the seventies and eighties tremendous numbers of American nuns returned to civilian life and they have not been replaced. In 2012 the average age of an American nun was 74.

  99. Gunga Din says:

    Rebellion in human nature goes way back to the original rebellion against “The Elder”.

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