How do you know?

Desert dawn
Desert dawn
Image credit: Jessie Eastland — CC BY-SA 4.0

Only a few thousand years ago a curious youngster wondered why the sun appears bright in the sky each morning, and then disappears each evening. She observed this for many days, wondered what could be happening, and asked her parents, family members, friends, and wise people throughout her tribe. Although we can’t know what story she was told, it is likely she was told a similar story by each trusted friend she asked. The story might have described gods in chariots, beasts swallowing the sun, the sun attached to a celestial sphere, or some other fascinating…

By Michael Sander — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

In the beginning the earth formed, and people arose upon the earth, and it was good.

The people hunted and gathered food to feed their families. They built shelters and tools, and they sang, and danced, and worked and played together in small groups, tribes, and villages, and it was good.

Some groups had plenty, others suffered shortages, so the people were happy to share and help one another. Everyone could remember a time when they had suffered shortages and others generously shared, and it was good.

Some people were naturally better at hunting, some better at gathering, some better…

Air pollution trespasses on our clean air.

Trespass is unwelcome encroachment upon another’s property. We recognize it in many forms: trespass to the person (e.g. assault and battery), interference with possession of personal goods (robbery), and trespass onto land. The castle doctrine is the common law concept that persons have no duty to retreat in their home (or “castle”), and may use reasonable force, including deadly force, to defend their property, person, or another person. This is the basis for various stand-your-ground laws. It’s time we recognize pollution as a form of trespass. If a truck dumps toxic waste on your front lawn, it is a trespass…

Aligning Worldviews

It is wise to align our worldviews with the real world.

The age of enlightenment arose from a clash of worldviews. The Pope insisted the earth was the center of the universe, while Galileo examined the evidence and concluded that the earth revolves around the sun. The Pope’s power prevailed over Galileo’s evidence for many years. Clashing worldviews continue to provoke conflict as the world turns!

Each of us creates and maintains a collection of mental models we use as our conception of the world. This is called our worldview and we use this worldview to interpret observations, make decisions, and plan for the future. We may be unaware…

Understanding the structural underclass

Photo by Billy Black — Photographer for Sail, CC BY-SA 4.0

The imperative to find work or starve is at the foundation of most economic systems in place today. In the face of scarce resources, we all need to pitch in and do our part, so this seems only fair. Can we attain a level of abundance that makes this premise obsolete, or even cruel?

Productivity has increased dramatically in recent centuries. Now many fewer people need to work to produce essential goods. As productivity increases, the overall demand for labor decreases, and wages decline.

Requiring people to find work or starve necessarily results in some number…

Change the story to change the future.

Image Virginia State Parks staff, CC BY 2.0

Out of the ashes of the post-truth era intellectual honesty has emerged as a primary value. We came to understand that shared knowledge is a public good. Determined to value reliable and accurate information as much as we value free speech we recognized that each of us has a duty to know how we know. People developed reliable epistemologies to guide them toward beliefs that corresponds to reality.

Dialogue began to replace dogma, diatribe, dismissal, and even debate. We learned to transcend conflict rather than to seek it out and wallow in it…

Don’t pollute our shared knowledge

Image by Sean the Spook at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Shared knowledge is a public good. Travelers rely on accurate maps to plan their routes. Healthcare professionals rely on accurate anatomical data, physiology information, disease characteristics, and treatment efficacies to treat patients. Chemists rely on the periodic table of the elements to develop and analyze chemical reactions. Policy makers rely on accurate knowledge of international relations, public health conditions, security threats, economic conditions, scientific findings, environmental conditions, climate science, crime rates, educational outcomes, civics, human rights, and peoples’ wellbeing.

Disinformation pollutes our pool of shared knowledge. We do not tolerate trucks dumping crap into the…

Proposing a well-being dashboard.

The Preamble of the Constitution of the United States

In 1788We the People of the United States”, set out “…to…promote the general Welfare [and]…establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” How well are we doing?

Businesses use dashboards to manage their key performance indicators. What key performance indicators would guide us toward improving the “general Welfare”? How can we make the well-being of the people visible and actionable? What would a well-being dashboard look like?

Well-being refers to experiencing positive conditions — in short, exploring the question “How are you doing?” Related concepts include eudaimonia, happiness, flourishing, quality of life, contentment, and…

Advancing human rights, worldwide

Eleanor Roosevelt with the Spanish language version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — Franklin D Roosevelt Library website

Alan always wanted to make a difference in the world. As a teenager he was fascinated by the book The Boys in the Boat. He was captivated by the true story of nine University of Washington students who struggled to become the world’s best eight-oar rowing team. Hitler watched as a remarkable act of American courage defeated the Germans during the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Inspired by the story Alan was determined to enter the University of Washington, join their crew team, work toward national and international rowing success, and relive for himself the glory of the…

Democracy can use our help during tough times

Vote Carefully

The experiences of the Trump era highlight many opportunities for strengthening democracy. Here is what we can do.

Intellectual Honesty

Intellectual honesty combines good faith with a primary motivation toward seeking true beliefs. Elevating intellectual honesty to a primary value can bring us together as we recognize that reality is our common ground. Agreement on matters of fact provides a firm foundation for practicing dialogue on controversial issues.

These actions promote intellectual honesty:

· Take the Pro-truth pledge, and encourage others to take the pledge.

· Strengthen Social Media Community Standards by verifying that…

Leland Beaumont

Seeking real good.

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