The Individual Doesn’t Matter

If you know me (you probably don’t), you’d know that I am a huge believer in the individual. That doesn’t make me right, but it is the lens through which I observe the outside world. And it’s when I see stuff like this that I really get bothered.

No idea if this will work

In case the link doesn’t work for those that click on it, it’s a link to a Facebook post by a group. The picture is split into 2 pictures, one of a GoFundMe of a wounded veteran, the other of a GoFundMe to get Kanye West out of debt. Mr. West’s GoFundMe has almost double that of the wounded veteran. And the caption is as follows:

“THIS RIGHT HERE IS WHAT IS FRICKEN WRONG WITH PEOPLE! A Wounded Veteran can’t even get help building a handicapped accessible house, but people will donate to help this guy out of Debt!!!! Come on people one GUY went to WAR 4 times/fought for everyone and the other does not do squat! Horrible! Who ever donated to this should be ashamed of yourself. *mic down*”

(For the sake of argument, I will assume all assertions are true because their truth value does not change my argument)

The author clearly has some righteous indignation because they value the service of our veterans more than that of Kanye West’s contributions to society… whatever they might be. But the author forgets a few things. First of all, the people of the United States never asked for this person to serve the United States. These strangers applied no pressure, made no request, and don’t expect anything from this individual. They got wounded in their 4 wars Now it is the VETERAN who is asking for handouts from people that owe them nothing on an individual level. Now you can argue that we owe our veterans for their service, but I have to ask you… do we really? The United States spends so much money on defense, presumably some of it goes to paying for the upkeep of these soldiers. Similar to prison, only the soldiers get to vote. So for this soldier’s 4 wars, the United States people paid for their training, their upkeep, and presumably they continue to pay this vet as well as many others through a GI bill or something. The United States people have paid this soldier for their service. Now that we’ve established that the United States people owe this soldier nothing (in fact, they probably continue to support this veteran through taxes) we can say that the people of the United States have no obligation to support this veteran in their time of need. There is no obligation to spend YOUR money the way SOMEONE ELSE wants you to. And the author probably recognizes this, and that’s why they appeal to emotion, not logic.

And this isn’t the first instance of this. With the identity politics being played by ‘loud feminists’ the same principle is being applied. To these individuals if you are a woman and you do not identify with their movement, you are a traitor and you should be ashamed of yourselves. Madeline Albright herself recently made a similar appeal, (paraphrased) “There is a special place in Hell for women who do not support one another”. I’ve underlined ‘for women’ because it emphasizes the point that this is a shame campaign. It doesn’t matter who you are as an individual. All that matters is that you have two X chromosomes (or you identify as such?) You can see it on the internet among the United States current general election arguments. For those unaware, the argument goes like this.

Person A identifies Democrat or Independent. Person A really likes Bernie Sanders’s ideals and claims they will not vote democrat if Sanders does not get the nomination.
Person B points out that some Supreme Court appointments are probably going to be made this next Presidential term, and as such, it is the OBLIGATION of A to vote democrat, regardless of candidate in order to protect the United States from getting a conservative Justice to ‘undo decades of progress’.

Note how B does not recognize A as an individual. They recognize A as part of a collective that (ideally) aligns themselves with Democrat ideals. Therefore, if A votes Independent or Republican (or not at all), they will effectively be allowing a conservative to enter office who would then appoint a conservative Justice that will ‘undo decades of progress’. It doesn’t matter what A believes, all that matters is that they stay in line and do what’s best for the Democratic Party instead of what A believes is best for A.

It boggles my mind how all sense of agency is being removed from individuals. Recent topic: White cop violence. If a cop shoots an individual, and the cop happens to be white and the individual happens to be black, the media doesn’t care about the circumstances of the shooting. All that matters is that a white person shot a black person (again, I use labels for ease of reading, not because I approve of them) then the races of the people involved are all that matter. It’s a ploy that uses an identity instead of reason to convince people of a message’s truth value. After 9-11, (and even today with ISIS’s perceived threat) the United States is afraid of Muslims. My basis for this conclusion is a number of statistics on the perception of Muslims and some polls, one of which concerned the bombing of ‘Agrabah’ (notably the fictional city in Disney’s Alladin). What they forget is that 9-11 was a terrorist attack. It didn’t have to be Muslims. It could just as easily have been Christians, Jews, Nazis, KKK, Socialists, Communists, the list goes on. It could have been anyone with a particular grievance against the United States; it just happened to be individuals that identify as Muslims.

People are so busy trying to toss around labels and fit the narrative such that the side that they’re on is the ‘good side’ that they forget what really matters. A question of ‘what’ requires little to no thought. Jeopardy, a popular game show, is all about trivia. Knowing many pieces of unconnected data and the ability to recall them speedily is all you need to excel in it. It doesn’t matter how or why the printing press allowed a faster exchange of knowledge when it was invented, it just matters that you recognize that this device is the noun, the ‘what’. Truly useful knowledge will involve the ‘how’ or the ‘why’. ‘Why’ is your side the ‘good side’. What makes it ‘good’?

The next time you talk to someone, try to recognize them as an individual, and not part of a race, a gender, or a political party. Try to recognize them as someone with ideals, some of which may coincide with experiences that happen to align with those of a specific race, gender, or political party. By assigning them to a collective, you consciously (or unconsciously) assign an identity to them that will probably not fulfill. You will have preconceptions of their ideals before you even know what they are. Those that wear fedoras are not inherently misogynist. Those that play American football are not inherently stupid. Give people some goddamn credit as individuals.

Artemis Hunt

The Individual Doesn’t Matter

Personal Modifiers

So I recently saw this image on Facebook about giving likes to these wounded female veterans. And in the picture there are a couple of amputees, presumably obtained during their service. And this made me upset for some reason, so I thought about it for a few minutes and now you have a blog post saying why. And here’s the gist of it.

I didn’t see wounded female veterans

No, don’t be ridiculous. I definitely saw what would presumably be females that have given their time and effort for our nation. I just don’t recognize them as “female veterans”. To help illustrate my point, allow me to direct you to Jamie Brewer’s tweet

(Oh wow, you can tell politics is hitting me hard because for some reason I read Hair Time Now as “Her time now” which has commonly been a criticism of the Clinton campaign)

So this by itself isn’t bad. I don’t disagree with the idea that people with autism should be afforded every opportunity. I believe that everyone should be afforded every opportunity. My beef isn’t even with the tweet itself. My problem is with the headlines that followed it. These headlines made such a fuss because Jamie Brewer has autism and became a model. It’s downright bonkers. Autism may be a barrier to becoming a model but it’s a barrier that can be overcome through individual determination and the desire to chase one’s own dream. Note: In the following statements, I am not denouncing Jamie Brewer’s efforts in achieving her goal despite that which would be considered a handicap. Imagine the number of tall white blonde girls that become models that get no headlines. Imagine the number of black girls, latina girls, asian girls that become models but get no headlines. I am convinced that the biggest reason that there was a fuss about this Jamie Brewer is because of her condition. A condition outside of her control. Something she never asked for.

So what does Jamie Brewer have to do with wounded female veterans? Absolutely nothing. No, the problem is with the media’s follow-up. The media made a big deal of it because it could be framed as an inspirational story of a girl overcoming odds to achieve her dream and that sells. Jamie Brewer would be useless to headlines had she not had autism. Absolutely useless, which I alluded to in my previous paragraph. And that’s the problem. The way people are being manipulated using these modifiers. The way social identities are being used to push narratives and push politics around. Hillary Clinton’s campaign seemed to bank on women supporting her because she’s female and women are female so female solidarity. She’s banking on minorities supporting her because Bill Clinton was a popular candidate among minorities, sometimes even being referred to as ‘the first black president’ in jest. There are a lot of other references like third wave feminism and Black Lives Matter which also abuse this narrative but I won’t delve too deeply into because many others have covered it and I don’t think I have too much to contribute to on the topic.

Let’s bring this back to point. I’m a student. I have student loans and as long as I’m in school, I’ll probably accrue some more. I’ve applied for some scholarships but I’ve yet to win any, probably due to my noticeably poor writing style (apparent in this blog, even). It’s not that big of a deal to me, because I’m sure someone is getting these scholarships to go to school. But when I see organizations like Sons of Italy and NAACP discriminating based on lineage, when I see several scholarships that I can’t apply for just because I happen to be a white male going into the science field, I get a little bothered. I recognize that these scholarships probably come from private institutions and since it is their money, they can spend it however they like. That’s fine. I just can’t help but think that the idea that because you fit some arbitrary criterion that people are willing to offer you the opportunity to have them pay for your education is a little backwards.

Why does this bother me? Let’s extend this to society, where you could feasibly see people unable to apply for jobs just because they happened to be white, or cisgender. I don’t want to see a future where diversity is recognized because it’s enforced by law because that’s a dangerous path to go down. You could have men or women in the service that are unable to perform tasks required of their position, and as such, cost the lives of comrades in the name of equality. It seems like we’re coming to the point where modifiers determine your value. So now everyone is in a competition to see which combination makes you the most disadvantaged so you can put your fingers in all of the pies and claim the benefits that activism would eventually yield. It’s like an RPG. Oh you’ve equipped white cisgender male? +1 for white, +1 for cisgender,  +1 for male. Your equipment has a bonus of +5 or less so you’ve been given the ‘tumblrin down society’ debuff which makes you a target should you ever disagree with certain individuals online. You beat the boss but you had a gay black man in your party so instead of a 50/50 split between the two of you, the split goes 30/70 because ‘reparations’. And it’s not like you chose to be white, cisgender, or male, but because of original sin (at least, in the United States) society is your fault because you ‘benefit from the structures in place’.

Most of all, I hate how I had to use these labels just to be understood for this blog post. I truly believe that we won’t move forward as a society while we still use these labels. I suppose that’s why President Nixon in Futurama has always appealed to me. See, (to the best of my memory) President Nixon began every speech with the address, “My fellow Earthicans”. There were no black women, white men, transgender latinos to President Nixon. There was no difference between robot, alien, or human. Everyone on Earth was one race. And I hope that in the future such ideals would spread such that everyone is of one race. Like we’re bound by the Force or something, and it doesn’t matter what you are or where you come from. We’re all one presence.

Artemis Hunt

Personal Modifiers

Appeal of the Masses

In Senator Sanders’ campaign for the presidency, he has often brought up climate crisis. He said something like 97% or 98% of scientists agree that climate crisis is a serious issue. Seth McFarlane endorsed Sanders shortly after the first debate and cited Sanders’ recognition of climate crisis as a primary reason for endorsing him. In democratic debates, it has been brought up several times that while the GOP still argues about how to deny climate crisis, that it’s “up to the democrats” to figure out how they plan to “sort this crisis out”.

I support the democratic process and I fully believe that an individual is free to support whomever they like for whatever reason they like. All reasons are valid. If you would like to support Trump because you think he’s a cool dude, that’s okay. If you would like to support Rubio for his winning smile and ever optimistic outlook? Go nuts. If you want to support Hillary because she’s a female, that’s okay. This is democracy. Others may not agree with your reasoning, which is perfectly fine as well. It is your responsibility and the responsibility of those you support to convince the public that they are the hope of the people. That’s not what this blog post is about.

This blog post is about Senator Sanders’ justification of the issue of climate crisis. The statistic that 97% or 98% of scientists agree that it is happening and it is now. Understand that I am a graduate physics student, beginning my journey into the world of publication. Understand that I am one who believes in the scientific method. And if you understand these two things, you should understand why I have a problem with this justification.

What we’re running into here is a case of appeal to authority and appeal to the masses. Primarily the appeal of the masses issue. What needs to be stated is that regardless of whether or not climate crisis is happening, it does not matter how many people believe it is happening. It does not matter how many “decorated” people believe that it is happening. The validity of a theory comes from repeated experimentation and its ability to make predictions.

Side Note: Scientists are only now really getting into climate change as an issue. Climate change is also an unfortunate issue because of how frequently the data in experiments has been misrepresented.

And this isn’t a new issue. Today, on the issue of dark matter vs. MOND (MOdified Newtonian Dynamics) there are scientists, Ph.D. wielding scientists that suggest that an examination into anything other than the dark matter particle as an explanation for galactic rotation curves is a waste of time. And then snarkily adding, “Let them waste them their time, that’s more opportunity for me” is an insult to the scientific process. Barely 100 years ago, Albert Einstein published his General Theory of Relativity. This theory has been tested extensively and it was used to make a prediction of the existence of black holes. The existence of which has been verified. This is a solid theory in comparison to what we call Newtonian Physics or Classical Physics in which if you had suggested to be incomplete or incorrect 150 years ago, and you wanted a career in science, you could be laughed out of the community. Maxwell Boltzmann was a scientist that strongly put for the idea of molecules. His ideas were not welcomed within the scientific community. He takes his family on vacation and commits suicide. By the way, a few years later, it turns out that there’s actually a lot of evidence for the existence of molecules. What I’m trying to get at here is that it’s a logical fallacy to accept something because “someone in authority” has said it, or because “several people in authority” say it. At best it opens up a debate. At worst, it can drive people to suicide.

So Sanders, to you I say this. I don’t mind you saying that 97% or 98% of scientists agree on a topic. Truly, I don’t. But it would be disingenuous to the art of logic and argument to cite that as the pure foundation to your claim. The argument is still going on; Today’s 98% can be tomorrow’s 9%-8%. Stick to the facts.

Artemis Hunt

Appeal of the Masses