Scroll down to see why some folks do.

There was a time when
  even well-educated folk believed that some people could create storms of wind, rain, hail and snow on demand. Practitioners, were known as witches and their craft at witchcraft, which is synonymous with weathercraft. It was thought that they managed this by magical means which probably involved the help of some supernatural entity, a nature spirit, demon or deity. Three of the above practitioners are employing sympathetic magic to get the attention and help of one of these agencies. The Old Norse woman in the bottom panel has been "stirring the pot" and is seen emptying the contents on rocks. This emulates rainfall and a storm is seen as the result. Wind was stirred up by waving a rag or or a spoon about in the air.  In times past witches were called upon to create wind knots in rope. This was carried on ships and one or two untied when wind was scarce. No one looked for this much wind and this is abusive magic. In the upper left panel hail is being generated.  The three witches at right are the Weird Sisters mentioned by Shakespeare Macbeth.  That suspected witch on a dunking chair was being periodically immersed in her medium until a confession was realized.

There are still people out there who would  suggest that the heavy rainfall
warning issued at that time was tied to magical numerology. Climatologists had warned that Global Warming would lead to increased storm activity and precipitation in Northeastern America and that is what we got in February 2015. New records for snowfall were struck for Saint John (184.4 cm),  Charlottetown (222.8 cm),  Greenwood ( 166.1 cm),Halifax Airport (130.8 cm) but, surprisingly, not in Sydney, Cape Breton (105 cm). The record the was 168.8 cm reported in 1992.  There is no news interest in ares such as our south west coast where the snow pile up was not as serious. The web site pays even less attention to  local hot spots. The United States National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration deals in scientific averages. "January was warm and dry overall for the contiguous U.S. despite coolness across parts of the South and Northeast." Looks like February is not a downer, "The average lower tropospheric temperature (LT) anomaly for February, 2015 is +0.30 deg. C, down a little from the January 2015 value of +0.35 deg. C."

A lot of subjective nonsense, disparagingly labelled as "folklore" fell prey to the 17th-century philosophy known as the Age of Reason, which evolved as a successor of the Renaissance. The Age of Enlightenment (1650-1780) which followed reasonableness was an intellectual and cultural movement which emphasized reason, analysis and individualism as opposed to traditional lines of religious and secular authority. In Western Europe one branch of this produced proto-sciences and the older disciplines of alchemy and astrology lost scientific credibility. Incredibly, the March 2015, the National Geographic magazine's cover highlighted their lead story, "The War on Science."  Subtitles warned that a big part of the North American population believes that "Climate change does not exist, evolution never happened, the moon landing was fake, vaccinations can lead to autism and genetically modified food is evil."

But then,"The greatest achievements of the human mind are generally received with distrust." -Arthur Schopenhauer.  Dr. Spock would have been aghast at the renewed interest in  practising and bringing down witchcraft. That by-line quote came from Albert Einstein.

Some of the "science communications problem" has been provoked by industries which have deliberately undermined scientific consensus by digging up skeptics. As National Geographic reporter Joel Achebach says these people "mavericks, naysayers, professional conversationalists and table thumpers" make better news groups of people who acquire data and insights after years of boring co-operation. The Age of Enlightenment has given the average human many gifts but it also emphasized the value of the individual and promoted a distrust of scientific organizations particularly those sponsored by government.  Joe Btfsplk was a decided loner and you can see why? A well meaning lad, he appeared in the satirical comic strip Li'l Abner penned by cartoonist Al Capp. That little black cloud that drizzled over him was his sole companion and the source of his supernatural power, which went well beyond weathercraft. According to Al Capp, btfsplk is a rude sound. During public lectures, Capp demonstrated this by closing his lips, leaving his tongue sticking out, and then blowing out air, producing a "raspberry" or Bronx cheer.

lil abner

In the1970s tiring of this perpetual "friend" he tricked him into entering a cave and then sealed the mouth. Joe becomes romantically involved with a "gal" for the first time—until her crazed ex-boyfriend showed up promising to kill him. Joe reluctantly opens unsealed the cavern. Afterwards, like any true sociopath he wistfully accepted his fate briefly satisfied with having such a powerful and interesting ally. This comic strip tended to pick away at big government and big business while extolling the cantankerous lone eccentrics of the world. Motion pictures of the last century often represented science gone amuck and promoted the view that the trouble stemmed from mad lone geniuses, so deviant that they invariably produced shocking and dangerous products.

The truth is scientists are like birds and flock together. It is big money that floats the biggest scientific breakthroughs,  and that's another kick the can for common folk. The top sociopathic occupations are politics and CEOs, and Al portrayed both: Senator Jack S.(jackass) Phogbound
. The senator was satirist Al Capp's parody of a blustering anti-New Deal Dixiecrat. General Bashington T. Bullmoose was the epitome of a mercenary, cold-blooded capitalist tyrannical tycoon. Bullmoose's bombastic motto: "That's good for  General Bullmoose is good for the country" was  borrowed from General Motors.

lunney tunes

A poll conducted by the Pew Research Centre in the United States found that 40% of Americans accept the proposition that human activity is the dominant force in global warming. The rest do not and one does not have to leave Canada to find similar sentiments. The government of Stephen Harper is in line with the Republicans and this gentle-looking Conservative is very conservative indeed. His government has pretty much gagged all scientists working for government. The aptly named member for Nanaimo-Alberni, created a stir in early March by tweeting anti-evolutionist dross in
defence of a conservative Ontario MPP Rick Nicholls, who told reporters last week that he doesn't believe in evolution. In the province the Conservatives distanced themselves from this "personal opinion."
Lunney explained that "The evolutionist may disagree, but neither can produce Darwin as a witness to prove his point. The evolutionist may genuinely see his ancestor in a monkey, but many modern scientists interpret the same evidence in favour of creation and a Creator." Lunney has in the past used his Twitter account i to question climate change. He tweeted "Science settled? Think again!" and posted a link to an article by a University of Guelph economist a signatory of a declaration disputing climate change.
He was himself a signer of the above declaration dealing with global warming. In a 2004 speech in the House of Commons, Lunney cited figures he said showed a tenfold increase in the incidence of autism in children who took vaccines. Harper is unlikely to comment and this member has announced he will not run again for political office.

bird course

Above, Drake University President David Maxwell Plays Blues Ballad with Dick Oatts.

It is also fair to ask why that university offers "bird courses." The Chronicle Herald estimated the cost to taxpayers for increased salaries has been $3.8 billion a year. In February 2014, after CBC published an investigative report on the Drake program,
Nova Scotia Education Minister Karen Casey put a halt on approval for new course applications. However, in April she announced that 477 teachers already approved to take correspondence video courses would be allowed to continue and obtain credits. The newspaper asked, "If the programs aren’t good enough to qualify as meaningful professional development in the future, why are they good enough to qualify in the interim?" Noting the terrible recent outcome reports on the scholarship of students they continued, "The Drake program is said to contain some quality courses, but many of the Nova Scotia teachers took coaching courses that do not address any shortcoming in the system... while a more qualified teacher is an advantage in any subject, this province can’t afford to throw away millions of dollars on a program that gets a failing grade from its own education minister." On March 2, 2015 the minister announced that Nova Scotian teachers pre-approved to take courses at Drake would not get the boost in licences and salaries as promised. "Teachers can still take the Drake courses if that's their choice. But as a certification process, we will not be recognizing them for certification."


Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason , says in an article in the Washington Post, "Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture; a disjunction between Americans' rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism."

Journalist Charles Pierce, author of Idiot America, adds another perspective: “The rise of idiot America today represents--for profit mainly, but also and more cynically, for political advantage in the pursuit of power--the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they are talking about. In the new media age, everybody is an expert.”


After leading the world for decades in 25-34 year olds with university degrees, the U.S. is now in 12th place. The World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. at 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly 50% of all graduate students in the sciences in the U.S. are foreigners, most of whom will be returning to their home countries. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities report on education shows that the U.S. ranks second among all nations in the proportion of the population aged 35-64 with a college degree, but 19th in the percentage of those aged 25-34 with an associate or high school diploma, which means that for the first time, the educational attainment of young people will be lower than their parents. According to the National Research Council report, only 28% of high school science teachers consistently follow the National Research Council guidelines on teaching evolution, and 13% of those teachers explicitly advocate creationism or "intelligent design."


It is said that university completion is the most relevant indicator of Canada’s ability to produce highly talented, innovative people. In 2010, Canada ranked 12th in graduates emerging from science, math, computer science, and engineering faculties and that group comprised only 21% of all graduates. In contrast, Finland graduated 32%. While the arts produce innovative people technological advances are the province of the "hard" sciences. Canadians with scientific degrees tend to earn more. Five years after graduation, engineers earn about $10,000 more annually than fine arts and humanities graduates, and upwards of $5,000 more than social science graduates. These earnings are in line with computer and physical sciences, although agricultural and biological sciences tend to earn around the same as social science graduates.


Quotes are from Anti-Intellectualism and the "Dumbing Down" of America published by Ray Williams on Jul 07, 2014 in Wired for Success.

We’re creating a world of dummies. Angry dummies who feel they have the right, the authority and the need not only to comment on everything, but to make sure their voice is heard above the rest, and to drag down any opposing views through personal attacks, loud repetition and confrontation...In American schools, the culture exalts the athlete and good-looking cheerleader. Well-educated and intellectual students are commonly referred to in public schools and the media as "nerds," "dweebs," "dorks," and "geeks," and are relentlessly harassed and even assaulted by the more popular "jocks" for openly displaying any intellect.  These anti-intellectual attitudes are not reflected in students in most European or Asian countries.


People accept without questioning, believe without weighing the choices, join the pack because in a culture where convenience rules, real individualism is too hard work. Thinking takes too much time: it gets in the way of the immediacy of the online experience.
The artificial events of their lives become the mainstay of populist media to distract people from the real issues and concerns facing us. The current trend of increasing anti-intellectualism now establishing itself in politics and business leadership, and supported by a declining education system should be a cause for concern for leaders and the general population, one that needs to be addressed now.


The Conservatives are fiscal conservatives and Stephen Harper has been antagonistic  toward Arts and Culture apparently seeing these pursuits as too highbrow for average Canadians. When his minister, Josee Verner,  announced  cutbacks to arts and cultural programs in the election campaign he was vilified. Harper explained that the common folk could not possibly relate to "rich galas" where artists complain about subsidies. He also noted that the overall budget of Canadian Heritage had climbed eight per cent in times past. The Conservatives only elected 10 MPs in Quebec partly because of the opposition against this move.  James Moore who replaced Verner as Heritage Minister following that election stated that he had no plans to cancel the cutbacks . "If Ottawa giveth, then Ottawa can taketh away." - Stephen Harper

science mistress

When Dan Kahan of Yale discovered that less than half of Americans believe that the Earth is warming because humans are burning fossil fuels, he correlated his sample of 1,540 subjects and found that science literacy clustered at the tow ends of a bell curve and guessed that such knowledge merely reinforced preconcieved world views. If so, Paul Coelho is correct when he comments: "Don't waste your time with explanations; people only hear what they want to hear." Kahan thought that belief in scientific consensus could be categorized as centring on those who were "egalitarian" and "commintarian" a mind-set which is suspicious of industry, sees the risk of climate change and wants government regulation. The larger camp he described as "hierarchical" and "individualistic" The conservative mind-set respects industry and mistrusts government interfering with the open market. They are suspicious of warnings about climate change and refused to be moved by scientific consensus because they may not have the background to understand this complex scenario. However, they also know that acceptance of climate change would probably lead to unpopular regulation and an increased tax burden. Kahan says that society is divided into these two tribes, and "For a hierarchal individualist it's not irrational to reject climate science (even if one has suspicions that the idea may have some merit): Accepting it wouldn't change the world, but it might get him thrown out of the tribe." That has happened and turncoats, like whistle blowers, lead difficult lives. In family as well as more general situations it is always easiest to bow to "common sense." "People still need to fit in," says Marcia McNutt, and that need to fit in is so strong that local values and local opinions are always trumping science." Common sense can be quite stupid.

henry ford

The voice of Henry Ford one of the world's great pirates, wealthy enough to say anything. A great model for hierarchal individualists. Ford pioneered "welfare capitalism", designed to improve the lot of his workers but also reduce the heavy turnover in his auto factory. Profit-sharing was offered to employees who had worked at the company for six months or more, and who conducted their lives in a manner of which Ford's "Social Department" approved. That outfit frowned on heavy drinking, gambling, and deadbeat dads. To forestall these possibilities and union activity, Ford hired Harry Bennett, a former Navy boxer, to head that department.


As for real pirates, even they had a need to fit in but they certainly would have been at odds with Ford's worldview. They comprised an individualistic tribe but didn't like anyone interfering with their affairs. Scientists are a bit like that and Kahn did suggest that they were "as tribal as anyone else." Scientists share the conceit of any large group that they have broader powers of understanding than their opponents. Honestly science is divided into so many specialties no one can comprehend, let alone judge,  all of it. But people feel compelled to pretend they are omnificent. Kahn has reminded us that We believe in scientific ideas not because we have personally evaluated all the evidence presented but because we have an affinity for the scientific community, When ENG writer Joel Achenbach told Kahn he fully accepted the concept of evolution, his response was, "Believing in evolution is just a description about you. It's not an account of how you reason." Extreme individualists are unfortunately bound for misfortune. Not everything in this world is changeable.


And not every story has two plausible sides: evolution has happened and continues to happen, we are in a period of dramatic climate change, vaccines are life savers. Achenbach is entirely correct in saying that even for scientists, "science is a hard discipline." Like the rest of us they have a bias towards looking and seeing evidence that confirms prior belief. But they publish reports subject to peer review and theories are can be overturned by future experimentation and observations. It is a tough game they play and for various reasons there are failures to reach the ideals of the scientific method, but it is a better modus operandi than accepting pronouncements from the supernatural."Being right does matter - and the science tribe has along track record of getting things right in the end. Modern society is built on things it got right."

If you haven't been subjected to a beginning course in Physics you may not know the answer. Even if you have you may not know the answer. Some scientists in other fields may not know or remember the reason. We are not born with this method of assessing facts in our hard drive. Scientific thinking can be taught but we have already mentioned that there are supposed science teachers pushing creationism, so they do not understand how this system of thinking works. At least half the members of our extended families have little or no acquaintance with this useful method of dealing with questions. Science has only been with mankind for a fraction of time we have lived on this planet and the folkloric guesswork served us poorly. We remain a bloodthirsty species but we no longer invoke rain ans sun deities but we have not changed enough to insure that our kind will persist. We are in a scary situation no matter what some folk say. It is science and technology which has made us the dominant species, one capable of killing the Earth as well as ourselves. We should not trust intuition alone to find answers for all the inconvenient questions which plague us.


When it comes to businessmen Henry Ford was unique. Will Rogers guessed that "It will take a hundred years to tell whether he helped us or hurt us, but he certainly didn't leave us where he found us." Adolph Hitler said, "I regard Ford as my inspiration." Speaking from the depth of the Great Depression, Ford made that aside about working men adding that "There is plenty of work for people to do if they would do it."

He identified himself as non-religious but was convinced that reincarnation was his liberating worldview: "I realized that there was a chance to work out my ideas. Time was no longer limited. I was no longer a slave to the hands of the clock. Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives. Some are older souls than others, and so they know more. The discovery of Reincarnation put my mind at ease. If you preserve a record of this conversation, write it so that it puts men’s minds at ease. I would like to communicate to others the calmness that the long view of life gives to us." 


In my view we are all periodically reincarnate but perhaps not after death. Achenbach warns that "We have trouble digesting randomness; our brains crave pattern and meaning." I think that is why people flee to the unknown, "which we know not of" because of this. Science warns of making casual connections between cause and effect. There is a current tendency to compare photographic images of different people over time and conclude that similarities between them support reincarnation. Not so! Worldwide a few people share my name (but not in full). My friend Mark Connell and I share some physical characteristics but we are not directly related. Sympathetic magic is unsupportable. Things which look alike can be vastly different.

 “All who live possess eternal life, and few would trade it for an immortal body, if they truly understood what it is to be alive.” ― Audrey Auden, Realms Unreel.

“No one, good or evil, ceases to exist; life is energy and energy cannot be created or destroyed; it is recycled.” ― Patricia Cornwell Blow Fly. But probably not in any expected way?

know nothing

Separating good advice from bad is a problem compounded by "experts" on both the left and right sides of every issue. "An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes, which can be made, in a very narrow field. - Niels Bohr." What's to be done about it?  You know that thing you just did? Don't do that." - Douglas Adams. Polarization appears when literate and non-literate folk wander beyond their specialty.  Working as a teacher and later as a biological technician I have encountered many dazzlingly brilliant folk but they have been greatly outnumbered by people who were misplaced in their workplace due to innate stupidity. Some of them have given both the arts and the sciences a bad rep. On the other side of reality we have always had very extreme conservatives. The Know-Nothing Party was an American political party in the mid 1800s. Its members strongly opposed immigration Irish and German Catholicism. A secret society it had as its password "I know nothing." Nativism became a new American rage: Know-Nothing candy, Know-nothing tea, and Know-Nothing toothpicks appeared. Stagecoaches were dubbed "The Know-Nothing".
In the late 19th century, Democrats would call the Republicans "Know Nothings" in order to secure the votes of immigrants and Catholics. The term has since become a provocative slur, suggesting that the opponent is both nativist and ignorant.
In  2010, The New York Times published "Building a Nation of Know-Nothings" discussed the Birther movement, which falsely claimed that Barack Obama was not a natural-born United States citizen, which is a requirement for the office of President of the United States

There are "angry dummies"close at hand here in Maritime Canada (some to the left and others to the right socially and politically); people struggling for "place" rather than "peace." Has the book Managing Dougheads For (Other) Dummies been published?  I am a dummie when it comes to understanding the motivation of people whose ideas are not even half-baked.  "Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil." - Niccolo Machiavelli. He makes this further point, "Men’s hatreds generally spring from fear or envy." Finally he adds that no one should incur hatred without the hope of gaining some advantage. Machiavelli was a a model right-winger, who believed that political expediency should trump morality, and that craft and deceit  were legitimate tools of government.

When people supposedly on our side get cranky, I tend to think they are either Machiavellian or stupid.  Nevertheless: “It's hard to fight when the fight ain't fair.” ― Taylor Swift. Contenders who bluster and talk very loudly certainly have me at a disadvantage but I have seen and heard it escalate from there. I take some shelter in the fact that “Swearing doesn’t make your argument valid; it just tells the other person you have lost your class and control.”  ― Shannon L. Alder. I definitely try not to go there, even in self-defense.


No one fights dirtier or more brutally than blood; only family knows it’s own weaknesses, the exact placement of the heart. The tragedy is that one can still live with the force of hatred, feel infuriated that once you are born to another, that kinship lasts through life and death, immutable, unchanging, no matter how great the misdeed or betrayal. Blood cannot be denied, and perhaps that’s why we fight tooth and claw, because we cannot—being only human—put asunder what God has joined together.  - Whitney Otto.

People who suffer the double scourge of fear and envy  try to compensate in a self-centred way by making themselves the centre of attention.  This can be very trying in a family situation where there are siblings looking for parental approval. Aristotle defined envy as "the pain caused by the good fortune of others", taking pleasure from the misfortune of others is termed Schadenfreude.

Kant explained that fear emerged from "a reluctance to see our own well-being overshadowed..." Fear of failure! Thus the prima donna and the prima don, unfortunates found in all walks of life. They may not always gain a wide circle of true believers, but they are struggling to be part of a tribe, preferably the tribal leader.

I have never felt entitled but I have felt blessed in having merchandisable talents and the company of my madcap wife, Ruth. Allison took the above picture, which he has entitled "The pot lid Highland fling."  The word "madcap" isn't used much anymore so I better explain that this means "an amusingly eccentric person, place or thing." Not a real "mad-hatter." I think her detractors might prefer some of the synonyms: "audacious, brash, daredevil, foolhardy, overbold, overconfident, reckless, temerarious." They really don't fit, her bursts of open exuberance are tempered by conservatism. She is in fact, extremely analytical and has a solid scientific education in addition to almost qualifying for a business degree.  She has been in business for herself as an occupational therapist and has worked for government in developing a health service programme. Currently, a medical transcriptionist, she has more believability than most folk when it comes to assessing the value of health care information. In my own situation she has know exactly how to act when I was seriously ill. In her mother's case, it was her suggestions that prevented a serious condition ending as a calamity. She is very good-hearted. These are only some of the reasons why I love and appreciate her publically and privately.
jealous king
Jealousy is an emotion, and the word typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection. Jealousy often consists of a combination of emotions such as anger, resentment, inadequacy, helplessness and disgust.

David Levy introduced the term "sibling rivalry" in 1941, claiming that for an older sibling "the aggressive response to the new baby is so typical that it is safe to say it is a common feature of family life." Researchers today generally endorse this view, noting that parents can ameliorate this response by being vigilant to favoritism...
Approximately one-third of adults describe their relationship with siblings as rivalrous or distant.  - Wikipedia

Children who are rivals can be tolerated as an indication that they are healthily assertive, but when it continues long term  it can escalate into sibling abuse. Abuse and verbal or physical  bullying is a long-term behavioural matter rather than incident specific, where one kid pokes and the other retaliates. I've seen patterns of victimization develop and where it occurs the bully secretly manages to create an imbalance of power. Such questionable behavior aims at embarrassing or dominating the victim. The death of a parent is known to sometimes cause escalation of such abuse. I have several examples, which I'll keep to myself. In the case of my own parents, both are dead, so no redress is expected in this world.

Late Old English godsibb ‘godfather, godmother, baptismal sponsor,’ literally ‘a person related to one in God,’ from god ‘God’ + sibb ‘a relative’ (see sib). In Middle English the sense was ‘a close friend, a person with whom one gossips,’ hence ‘a person who gossips,’ later (early 19th century) ‘idle talk’ (from the verb, which dates from the early 17th century). Archaic, a friend, especially a woman.

All very comfy, however
this kind of interchange is now regarded as casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.Hence: "circulator, gossiper, gossipmonger, newsmonger, quidnunc, talebearer, tale-teller, telltale." The Urban Dictionary is more damning: "Exaggeration or fabrication of a story, regarding somebody other than the tale bearer, in the absence of this person who is being discussed - for the malicious purpose of demeaning, slandering or tarnishing this person's reputation." At that most secret talk is of the "know nothing" sort and not the stuff of lawsuit.

Sociologists have called gossip a "social weapon," a harmful tool that some will use against others. Alina Tugend, writing for the New York Times, said " makes sense to me that gossip can serve a purpose in keeping people in line and reinforcing some important societal norms. But I also think we need to be careful not to give ourselves too broad a license. After all, a little gossip goes a long way." An that is the point made in this Rockwell illustration. I am astounded that relatives have discussed our "situation" with strangers as well as relative and expected we would not hear about it. Two assumptions are possible: 1. The gossip monger is extremely stupid. 2. The gossip was intended to do be heard by, and damage, the victim. The latter is quasi-Machiavellian. 

“Rumor travels faster, but it don't stay put as long as truth. ” ― Will Roger

“It is always assumed by the empty-headed, who chatter about themselves for want of something better, that people who do not discuss their affairs openly must have something to hide.” ― Honoré de Balzac

“No one gossips about other people’s secret virtues.” ― Bertrand Russell


"Some guys are the type of people who bring brass knuckles to a fight. I've always thought it prudent to bring some running shoes." ― Jarod Kintz,

"These are the few ways we can practice humility: To speak as little as possible of one's self. To mind one's own business. Not to want to manage other people's affairs.
To avoid curiosity. To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully. To pass over the mistakes of others. To accept insults and injuries. To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked. To be kind and gentle even under provocation.Never to stand on one's dignity. To choose always the hardest.” ― Mother Teresa, The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living.

It is sad that sainthood will elude most of us aging earthbound types.