Saturday, July 23, 2011

CAUSE AND (negative) Effect


When we think of negatives our mind goes to fourth grade math and the counting system:

-10  -9  -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1  0  +1  +2  +3  +4  +5  +6  +7  +8  +9  +10

With ZERO being the pivotal number, and any number appearing before the zero as a value of something that doesn’t exist – explain that to a fourth grade math student.

Actually the concept of Zero, as a place value, is probably the single greatest advancement in mathematics, allowing all present day calculations to be precise and possible.   Zero was devised by the Babylonians as a place value in their Base-60 counting system.

But let’s go back to proving ‘the something that does not exist.’   When Cheney bragged that George Bush’s enhanced interrogations policies prevented further terrorist attacks in the U.S after 9/11 he was postulating a negative: we did not have an attack therefore enhanced interrogation was responsible.

In order to verify this claim we would have to use the scientific method: specifically what actual attack plans were uncovered through enhanced interrogation; and of these which were at some level of execution; and exactly what counter measures were used to defuse these imminent attacks.

Postulating a negative is often used as a ploy to take credit for something that would have happened, or did happen, or did not happen as a natural result of cause and effect.

The problem with proving a negative is the unwillingness to present documented proof of the process and the verifiable results.

Some lies postulated as negatives:

1. Because we fight them over there, we don’t have to fight them over here.

2. Our nuclear plants are safe because we have had no major melt downs in the U.S.

3. The Patriot Act has kept us safe.

4. We are a free nation because our Constitution guarantees us the right to bear arms.

5. The Iraq war had made us safer.

6. Because we can not explain cosmology (or specific happenings) there must be a god.

Some negatives are verifiable: one thing that should have never been postulated as a negative was the statement that stimulus spending prevented the loss of jobs. The President has taken a lot of flack for postulating this as a negative when it would have been so easy to present the facts: saving the automobile industry and all the related suppliers actually prevented the loss of x-number of jobs – with the jobs listed; along with an actual list of construction jobs, teachers jobs, police jobs etc. that were actually saved as the results of stimulus spending incorporated in the budgets of identifiable states.

Specificity is preferable to postulating a negative; otherwise it should be suspect as a lie.

We may be falling down a rabbit hole when we blindly accept, and laud our government and societal leaders for things that did not happen.


  1. 1. Because we fight them over there, we don’t have to fight them over here.
    I remember them saying that about the war in 'Nam. "If we don't stop the filthy Commies over there, we'll be fighting them in Long Beach!!" Yeah, Right!!

    As for the zero thing, I thought the Arabs came up with the zero to ten number system?? Or is it they came up with the shape of the numbers as we know them??

  2. I think advertising was developed deliberately in order to make people incapable of being rational in the long term. If people can believe McDonalds actually serves food there's very little else they won't believe.

  3. Kulkuri: Arabs may have thought of the number zero, but Babylonians set it as a place value: this according to the book ZERO by Charles Seife

    Susan: America is gullible - most people will believe anything - McDonalds is the favorite eatery of the Tea Party.


COMMENT: Ben Franklin said, "I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false."