Guns and Dominoes: Let’s Play Global Thermonuclear War!

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Via fanart.tv

 “As in life, when playing dominoes the points of light are what matter, not the surrounding blank. Look for the dots of goodness in the world and an impressive pattern of possibilities emerges. It is here the game is won.”  –M. Daniel Nickle

Did you know that there are 55 different techniques of faulty reasoning and distortion that people use when they try to convince you of something that isn’t necessarily true or factual?

Do you know how to identify these faulty reasoning techniques so you don’t get swindled?

Do you know how to use these techniques to try to make a case for something or convince someone of something that you really don’t have the facts to support?

These are some of the many issues we are going to address in today’s essay.

In an earlier article I promised that The Domino Principle was going to help you see through bullshit and distortion. (Domino Principle #1: Deceptive Perceptions, notes that “you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.“)  I also promised that we were going to help you learn how to root out the self-deception in our own lives. Today I’m going to give you a set of specific tools for doing both of those things.

I’ve also told you that “there’s a storm coming” in our lives and our society, and today I hope to give you some initial insights into what that really means. Today’s article also starts to tie together many of the Domino Principles in truly deep ways… I hope it will give you a glimpse at how, once we’ve fully fleshed them out, the 10 Domino Principles can help you create a consistent world view that is going to be of great benefit to you, both in a personal and professional sense.

We have a lot of territory to cover.

We are going to lay down a foundation for Domino Principle #5: Developmental Psychohistory, to look at the subject of statistical and historical analysis applied to social issues and future predictions, and what can and cannot be inferred from that methodology.

We are going to look at what defines cultish behavior and fanaticism. As I mentioned earlier, I’m going to give you a toolset for seeing through distortion and propaganda. We are also going to take a look at the differences between science and religion, and why some decisions cannot be made by science, they must be based on one’s value system.

We are going to examine the concepts of personal liberties and freedom, and what reasonable role our government has in restricting our freedoms to protect ourselves from others who might cause us harm; to protect others from our causing them harm; and to protect us from harming ourselves.

We are going to briefly introduce Domino Principle #9: Disaster/Doomsday Preparation, to look at a few trends that are leading us towards societal collapse, and how the choices we each make today may influence the pace at which that might occur.

We are going to apply all of the above to the distorted prose and rhetoric of the gun regulation debate, because doing so in fact requires an understanding of each of these concepts. You might or might not agree with my conclusions, but at least you’ll have a rational toolset in place for making that determination.

Finally, we will briefly introduce my favorite Domino Principle of all… Domino Principle #3: Dance Passionately!

A Little story, and how we define Science, Religion, Cultism, and Fanaticism

On March 6, 2014, I sat across the table from a woman in a Thai restaurant in Katy, Texas, and she relayed to me an amazing story:  how she had lived virtually her entire life in a highly cultish religious environment, and that she was now free of it.  Over time she had discovered that she was unable to find a foundation for most of the tenets she had freely accepted at one time but could no longer find rational cause to justify (this group, for example, believed that Harry Potter books were the Devil’s work, and that the act of dancing was inherently evil). When she asked the right questions, she had begun to knock over the dominoes and root out the distortion in her life.   I knew then that this was an extraordinary woman.

The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry is commonly based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning, which can be duplicated.

Neil deGrasse Tyson has noted that the central difference between the nature of science and religion is that the claims of science rely on experimental verification, while the claims of religions rely on faith, and these are irreconcilable approaches to knowing.

A religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence. Whether we are talking about Sun worship (as in the case of the Romans), or Son worship (as in the case of Christians), or Gun worship (as in the case of the gun fanatics), it is a religion, because it is based on faith and not science.

Cultish environments encompass religious or social groups with socially deviant or unusual beliefs and practices that are inconsistent with scientific and/or logical reasoning. Such groups often feature many things in common. They are often led by an extremely intelligent and/or charismatic leader, whose “superpower” is preaching a world view and a collection of “truths” based on a distortion of facts and reasoning, and a belief in things which transcend common sense, while making it all sound not only reasonable, but beneficial. The cult leader may often have a hypnotic ability about him or her but it is not sine qua non. Such environments often are structured to keep their members sheltered and away from interacting with “worldly” people whose views unravel their truths with questions of foundation.

Fanaticism is a belief or behavior involving uncritical zeal or with an obsessive enthusiasm. When behavior promotes a point of view that is directly contrary to scientific and empirical evidence, and the scientific method; when the arguments in support of the point of view nearly always involve highly fallacious and distorted reasoning in terms of scientific assessment (which we will demonstrate and discuss in much greater detail later in this essay); when the individuals involved in the belief often interact in ways that are obsessive and cultish; and when the views of the group involved serve to promote and often encourage behaviors that are harmful and detrimental to society, then the term “fanaticism” applies.

Some people choose to adopt a religious or faith-based view of the world, while others adopt a rationalistic/scientific view of the world. Some rocket scientists are very religious, thus able to employ both views in different contexts. Yet few if any of them would be willing to fly in an airplane that is guided by prayers to Jesus rather than by scientific instruments.

Some examples of issues we sometimes deal with related to the differences between faith and science:

There is for some people a rationale for teaching creationism in the home or church, and I support their right to do that. But it has no place whatsoever being taught in the science classroom. It isn’t science, it is the antithesis of science (that said, it might have standing for being taught in a theology class). Public schools are not the place for advocating one particular religious dogma, as many religions preach many different viewpoints, and the tenets of creationism are inconsistent with the teachings of many religions.

When I took a trip out to Zion National Park in Utah last summer, a friend gave me a book to look at that tried to “scientifically” explain how the geology of Zion had been created over the past 5000 years in conjunction with a “great flood” event. The extensive book sounded very scientific. It used scientific jargon and often sounded like it was employing a scientific reasoning process. But on close examination, it most clearly was not. The reasoning employed in this book didn’t follow the scientific method with even the remotest degree of rigor. The book was a religious book rather than a science book… and the authors were as clever and as wrong as phlogiston chemists. But I would imagine that to many people without a strong scientific background, the book sounded most logical indeed. The tools we will introduce below will help you tell the difference between logical and fallacious reasoning.

I sometimes intentionally use emotionally charged words in this essay. It is done with great thought and intention. It is up to you, dear reader, to root these instances out and decide if my use is justified. For example, throughout this article I’ve frequently used the words “cult/cultish” and “fanatic/fanaticism,” both of which are highly emotionally charged. I want you to understand why I’ve chosen to use these terms and under what conditions I believe the use of such terms is justified.

The word “cult,” for example, (in a pejorative sense) has always been controversial because it is considered a subjective term. Whether any particular group’s beliefs and practices are sufficiently deviant or unusual is often unclear, thus making a precise definition problematic. Its use is an example of an “ad hominem argument” against groups with differing doctrines or practices. Argumentum ad hominem in this case casts doubt on a group’s character rather than on the content of their arguments. Ad hominem reasoning is not always fallacious, for example, when it relates to the credibility of statements of fact or when used in certain kinds of moral and practical reasoning.

In this case, I use the word “cult” because, from my personal moral and scientific worldset, the beliefs of the group transcend logical and/or scientific credulity or consistency, and many of the other attributes I discussed earlier which related to cultish environments also often apply. To me, it is obvious that a value system that includes a belief that Harry Potter books are the Devil’s work, or that the act of dancing is inherently evil, is patently absurd. Yet, to the people in the group, such is clearly not the case. In the end, it is up to you to decide if, according to your own moral, ethical, scientific and religious world views, the use of the term is appropriate. To me, the requirements are clearly met, not only for those who worship a Bible-centered religion in ways I see as extremely absurd, but also for those who I see as worshiping a gun-centered theology in ways that seem to me to be equally unreasonable. In either case, I’ll stand up for their right to worship as they best see fit, so long as their doing so doesn’t injure or increase the risk of injury to me and those who I care about.

Please don’t get me wrong — as explained later in this article, I highly support the right of gun ownership in America… that said, there is a segment of the population whose attitude towards guns, and the lack of regulation thereof, I see as clearly fitting the definitions of being fanatical and cultish. Once you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll have the tools to decide for yourself if my use of those terms is justified.

The Propaganda Agenda

Persuasion involves attempts to influence a person’s beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations, or behaviors. This article is intended to be persuasive.

Propaganda is information that is not impartial and that is used primarily to influence an audience thereby furthering an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively (perhaps lying by omission) to encourage a particular conclusion, or using loaded messages to induce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information presented. Propaganda involves faulty techniques of persuasion that are often used by advertisers, politicians, editorial writers, and in normal human interaction.

More than 40 years ago, I had had the privilege to be in an extraordinarily progressive sixth grade gifted program at Brentwood Elementary School in West Los Angeles. Thanks to Facebook, I and many of my classmates from that class remain in touch with our teacher, Brian Litwak, to this day. One of the techniques Mr. Litwak used to help us think intelligently, logically and without distortion was allowing us to play a series of games sponsored by the Academic Games Leagues of America. In some cases, we traveled to compete with other schools in Southern California, playing in tournaments. While I first started learning these games at the age of 12, it would be fair to say that these games provide highly challenging learning experiences for intelligent adults as well.

the-propaganda-game-1381529167One of these games is, in fact, called Propaganda. Players of Propaganda increase their ability to discern the truth from smokescreens; they learn to figure out the reality of situations rather than getting duped by the techniques. Players become critical thinkers.

The game of Propaganda defines the following 55 techniques of faulty reasoning and distortion:

PropTechniqueList
Graphic via Academic Games Leagues of America.

You can find definitions of each of these 55 techniques here.

You can find examples of propaganda statements that illustrate these 55 techniques, and will allow you to test your ability to recognize them, here.

These techniques provide a framework for rooting out and seeing distortion in our lives. When we note use of these techniques by others, it tells us that the conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow from the statement being made, and triggers cause to make us question the validity of the conclusion and the motivations of the speaker. That doesn’t mean that the conclusion is always false… it just means that the reasoning process is flawed and the conclusion hasn’t been proved. It might, or might not, be true or false… we have to root out the distortion and dig deeper.

Later in this article, I’ll use these techniques to validate my assertion that much of what the gun fanatics publish is bullshit and distortion.

Domino Principle #5: Developmental Psychohistory

foundationBack in the early 1940’s, Isaac Asimov began writing a series of fictional stories that eventually became known as the The Foundation series of books. According to Asimov, his story was based on ideas set forth in Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. A premise of the Foundation series is that, tens of thousands of years in the future, mankind develops a brand of mathematics known as psychohistory, a concept of mathematical sociology. Using the laws of mass action, psychohistory can predict the future, but only on a large scale.

In the Foundation series, the technique of psychohistory is used to foresee the imminent fall of the Galactic Empire (encompassing the entire Milky Way), followed by a dark ages lasting 30,000 years. A group of people called The Foundation set about taking a series of actions designed to reduce the approaching dark ages to only 1,000 years.

Psychohistory depends on the idea that, while one cannot foresee the actions of a particular individual, the laws of statistics as applied to large groups of people could predict the general flow of future events. Asimov used the analogy of a gas: an observer has great difficulty in predicting the motion of a single molecule in a gas, but can predict to a high level of accuracy the mass action of the gas. (Physicists know this as the Kinetic theory.) Asimov applied this concept to the population of his fictional Galactic Empire.

When Asimov wrote the early Foundation books, the idea of having high speed computers capable of analyzing vast amounts of data was but a glimmer in mankind’s eye. The pace of the evolution of computing resources and data acquisition and analysis techniques has vastly exceeded Asimov’s expectations. While we are not at the point where Asimov’s mathematical theory is a reality, we are at the point where we can take the first baby steps in making sociological predictions in a scientific fashion, based on the statistical analysis of historical data.

Statistical analysis involves the collection, analysis, interpretation, presentation, and organization of data. It is important to understand what we can, and cannot, conclude from statistics.

For example, the statistical data is very clear that homes with guns are statistically far less safe than homes without guns. Knowing that fact, however, doesn’t allow us to conclude that all homes with guns are less safe because of that gun presence. Some are probably more safe because they have guns, even if they are in the statistical minority. Knowing that homes with guns are less safe doesn’t even tell us for sure that the reason that these homes are less safe is because they have guns in them… it could be because there are other factors associated with gun owners, beyond their owning guns, that causes such homes to be less safe (although I suspect that the statistics on gun deaths in homes with guns, vs gun deaths in homes without guns, makes such a conclusion seem quite unlikely).

Statistical analysis, however, does not make any judgment about what, if anything, society should do in response to a statistically driven insight.

The bottom line is that science and statistical analysis can allow us to formulate truths about our society. Denying those truths means failing to take a science-based world view. But even if we adopt the truths revealed to us by statistical analysis, what actions, if any, that we should take based on those truths is a far more complex issue.

Science and the Gun Regulation Debate

On April 23, 2015, David Hemenway, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, wrote an Op-Ed piece in the Los Angeles Times: There’s scientific consensus on guns — and the NRA won’t like it.

The article concludes that it is a distortion when journalists report that scientists are evenly divided on the gun debate. They are not — scientists by vast majority believe that guns make our society less safe. And that while it is possible to find researchers who believe guns make our society safer, such researchers are in a substantial minority. The article also notes:

Of the 150 scientists who study such issues and who responded to a survey, most were confident that a gun in the home increases the chance that a woman living there will be murdered (72 percent agreed, 11 percent disagreed), that strict gun control laws reduce homicide (71 percent versus 12 percent), that more permissive gun laws have not reduced crime rates (62 percent versus 9 percent), that guns are used more often in crimes than in self-defense (73 percent versus 8 percent), and that a gun in the home makes it a more dangerous place to be (64 percent versus 5 percent). Eighty-four percent of the respondents said that having a firearm at home increased the risk of suicide.

An April 26, 2015 article in the Christian Science MonitorWhere does science fall on the gun control debate?” also noted:

These figures stand sharply at odds with the opinions of the American public. A November 2014 Gallup poll found that 63 percent of Americans say that having a gun in the house makes it a safer place to be, a figure that has nearly doubled since 2000. According to the same survey, about 40 percent of those Americans keep a gun in the home.

“The reasons for gun ownership have similarly shifted since the end of the 20th century. A 2013 Pew Research survey found that 48 percent of Americans cited protection as their main reason for owning a gun. In 1999, 49 percent said had owned a gun mostly for hunting, with just 26 percent citing protection as the primary reason.

“According to Pew, a slim but growing majority of Americans 52 percent versus 46 percent – say it is more important to protect the rights of gun owners than it is to control gun ownership. In 1999, according to Pew, that figure was 29 percent versus 66 percent.”

When reading these articles, it is important to note the following:

1) These articles take no position advocating (or not advocating) gun regulation. They merely state facts regarding the opinions of scientists and ordinary citizens.

2) None of the data on which these scientists base their opinions is presented in the articles. You can, like I did, do some Internet searching to turn up some of this data and evidence yourself. After some fairly extensive online searching, I came to the conclusion that the statistical evidence does indeed strongly support the position of the majority of the scientists rather than the opinions of the American public as a whole. You can make your own decisions. I’ve provided some references at the end of this article, and you can surely find many more.

3) Scientists are not always correct. Revelation of factual data is in a state of flux for many aspects of our world.  As new facts and evidence are obtained, scientists evolve and modify their conclusions. But key to doing this is using the scientific method and associated empirical evidence to refute and change conclusions. Using distortive reasoning and rhetoric just doesn’t cut it. I’ve given you the tools above to allow you to tell the difference.

My Perspective on the Gun Regulation Debate

Now I go beyond science to give you my personal perspective. It is based not only on science, but also on my ethical and moral world views. Yours may differ from mine.

I can think of at least three reasonable civilian uses for guns in today’s world.

The first is recreational. Once or twice a year, I might go shoot at some skeet or a target, in a very controlled situation. I think an adult person in our society should be able to fire a gun safely and with some degree of accuracy. They should respect that it is in no way a toy, and know that while it is an object whose primary purpose is to inflict pain and killing and destruction, it can also be an object of skillful sport. Last year I went and spent a day doing a Navy Seal training program that included gun training. It was an awesome experience, one that enhanced my appreciation of what those heroic people do in defending our country and its liberties.

The second use is for acquiring sustenance.  In a scintillatingly beautiful arrangement of plus and minus, this world and its inhabitants are set in equations of balance.  One eats another, typically of a lower order of species, so that the higher order can have its sustenance.  Killing for any other reason is an invention of the mind of man and has no natural place.

The third use is to try to protect ourselves in our homes from “bad actors” in situations in which our government is unwilling or unable to do so. If we could remove the guns from the bad guys, that might not be necessary, but the reality is that no laws are ever going to do that. Certainly one can envision scenarios where having a gun in the home could lead to killing an intruder rather than the intruder killing the occupants. One can also envision scenarios where having the gun in the home makes it far more likely that the intruders will end up killing the occupants. And I have personal experience with at least one family I know where having the gun in the house creates a situation where it is far more likely that the gun will be used by one member of the couple to kill the other one or for one of them to commit suicide, rather than the gun ever being used to kill an intruder. And such a situation is, I think, not uncommon in the least.

A corollary of the gun in the home scenario is the “end of society as we know it” scenario. Society, and law enforcement, as we know them could come to either a slow or abrupt end, either temporarily or for the foreseeable future, through a variety of very low probability factors. Such factors might include asteroid impact, Yellowstone volcanic eruption, biological plagues of both a natural and man-made nature, cataclysmic world war, and terrorist acts including nuclear detonations, cyber-terrorism, and attack of our information and communications satellite infrastructure. Even while such situations are very low probability, it isn’t irrational for someone to want to be able to defend their home if the governmental system disintegrates and it becomes an “every man or woman for him or herself” situation. We will delve into this situation more extensively in a later article when we tackle Domino Principle #9: Disaster/Doomsday Preparation.

The articles I’ve referenced did not promote the banning of guns, but they did assert that “strict gun control laws reduce homicide” and that “a gun in the home [statistically] makes it a more dangerous place to be.” These things are true and, in my opinion, rather self-evident.

The issue of when and whether the needs of the many (or doing what is in the best interests of the many) outweighs the needs and rights of the one or the few is certainly a legitimate issue for debate.

Our country’s stance on religious freedom clearly takes the position that the rights of the few to practice their religion shall never be eclipsed by the religious beliefs of the majority. And I strongly agree with this stance. Yet, there are limitations on such freedoms. A religion has, in most cases, the freedom to preach the killing of people who disagree with its dogma. But if someone actually does go out and kill someone, then that is illegal, regardless of religious beliefs. The ability of our society to uphold its laws trumps religious freedoms.

In issues like the regulation of the use of alcohol, we once had made it completely illegal, then we reversed that position. Then at some point, as a society, the United States said that even though we consider our citizens to be adults at 18 years of age, and able to fight in wars for us, they can’t legally buy or drink alcohol until they are 21 (and this holds true in most states even if their religion holds otherwise). Far fewer people die because of this restriction. If we change the age to 25, even fewer would die. If we changed it to 45, even fewer would die. But we haven’t made those changes. Our society has chosen, for the present, that age 21 is the appropriate age at which our right to drink alcohol is balanced with our right to not to die from a young person driving a car while intoxicated.

Does making it illegal for an 18 year old to drink alcohol completely prevent them from obtaining alcohol and driving while intoxicated and then killing someone? Of course not. But statistically and scientifically, we know that having that law in place results in far fewer senseless deaths. We’ve made a decision to limit the freedoms of a segment of the population in order the enhance the safety of a much larger segment of the population. It isn’t perfect, but on the whole it works much better than having not changed the drinking age.

Similarly, there is a big difference between completely banning guns and creating laws that make it far less likely that our civilian society will use guns in destructive and inappropriate ways… ways that make society less safe for the majority of its citizens. There is a parity that must take place between individual rights and the rights and safety of society as a whole.

While the numbers clearly show that keeping a gun in the home statistically makes the home less safe, I believe that if I want to keep a gun in my home, because I perceive that it provides me greater security, I should have the right to do so, even if my perception is distorted and wrong. It isn’t the government’s right to keep me from making such a decision. And if I choose to keep a gun at home and someone doesn’t like it, then they can simply choose not to visit my home. And in some cases and situations, it probably isn’t a bad decision to keep a gun at home for personal safety, even if statistically it is a bad decision overall. It is my choice, not the government’s, to make that determination.

But it is well within the government’s right to impose reasonable restrictions on my ability to obtain and keep such a gun, as well as the kind and types of guns, for that purpose, if, and only if, such restrictions increase the safety of society as a whole. I should have a right to make choices, even bad choices, that affect me personally. But if my bad choices negatively affect the lives of other good people without their consent, the government has a reasonable right, and obligation, to step into the situation.

There is plenty of room for debate regarding what potential restrictions might do the most good to prevent tragic consequences, and ways that science can be used to help make that determination. I strongly believe that is where the debate needs to be focused. But it isn’t even remotely where the gun fanatics try to focus the debate.

In the concert industry that I work in, when Tim McGraw, a gun owner himself, recently was extensively dissed and threatened by the gun fanatics for giving a concert that supports an organization that promotes highly limited reform in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, it was a sad and bizarre thing indeed. Billy Currington withdrew from the show saying he’s “never been one to take on controversial issues.” Yet, that was a complete lie. He had agreed to do the show. By withdrawing from it, he took a position, one which was spineless and gutless, and said that his fears of repercussions from the gun extremists impacting his music sales was more important to him than honoring his word and commitment.

Carrying Guns in Public

I do view the idea of civilians carrying guns in public versus keeping them in their homes as rather different issues. One of the references at the end of this article notes that an assault victim is 4.5 times more likely to be shot if they’re armed… while that specific ratio is debatable, the overall conclusion seems solid.

Is it true that every individual person who carries a gun in public makes society less safe? Certainly not. But it does appear to be quite clear from a statistical sense that the more people who carry guns in public, the less safe we are as a whole. And on the whole, we can’t pick and choose who carries. Bad choices of gun holders, both licensed or not, affect the life and liberty of myself and my loved ones directly and personally.

When I think about the people who voted for certain elected officials in our current government, and how irrational those people (who comprised a majority in their jurisdiction!) must have been to elect those officials, the thought of those people carrying guns around is just creepy beyond words. I can choose not to go to their homes. But I can’t nearly as easily choose to not be around them in a public place. My right to not be around creepy people carrying guns, and to not potentially be harmed by their bad decisions, has to be balanced against their rights to carry guns.

Yes, I can envision a situation where a gunman walks into a mall I’m shopping in and starts shooting, and because a civilian has a gun, the gunman is taken out and my life is saved. And yes, I can envision a situation where someone might try to attack my daughter, and if she is carrying a gun, her life is saved. These things surely could happen. I can also envision many situations where right to carry laws allow more dangerous people to carry weapons, and misuse them, around me; and where good people get killed by someone who might not otherwise kill them, just because they see that they have a gun.

The rare situation where I’m benefited by a civilian carrying a gun doesn’t nearly eclipse my overall loss of security and safety when people carry in public. The government has every right to step in and regulate here, far more strictly than the way in which guns in the home might be regulated.

The gun cultists appear to me to preach a religion of proselytizing for and playing with weapons of killing and pain and destruction, and promoting meretricious laws, or the lack of laws, that make our society, for ourselves and our children, substantially less safe.

Given the realities of the society I currently live in, I have a high degree of confidence that, even if well trained in the use of a gun, my carrying one in public would statistically make me far less safe rather than more safe. On the other hand, my taking a martial arts self defense course would likely make me statistically far more safe. The recent “Pimento” episode of Better Call Saul illustrated this quite playfully and humorously. If the gun fanatics really were concerned about enhancing the safety of those they care about, they’d be putting at least as much focus on their self-defense training as they do their gun skills.

Some argue that they wish to arm themselves in public in order to not only defend themselves against threats, but to deter potential threats from seeing them as a viable target… the idea is that the more people who carry, even covertly, creates a deterrent because those who might shoot at them will know that they might be armed. But the reality is that we live in a world filled with irrational actors and imperfect information. A killer would have to give a damn about the idea that someone might possibly have a gun. Criminals who kill like this are not “rational actors.” If they could make a decision to not attack someone because the person might be carrying a gun, then they would be capable of making a similar decision to not kill someone because they are going to go to jail for a long, long time. Rational arguments are not going to persuade most irrational actors from acting. The only way to materially reduce the chance they will kill someone with a gun is to make it harder for them to have access to a gun.

The Issues That Need to be Discussed, but Aren’t

Last year, we saw widespread individual protest and boycott of the NFL because of its cavalier attitude towards its players’ abuse of their spouses and children. Yet, that issue pales by orders of magnitudes by the number of women injured or killed by their boyfriends or husbands using a gun in the house. As noted in one of the references at the end of this article: In 2010, nearly 6 times more women were shot by husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners than murdered by male strangers; A woman’s chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than 7 times if he has access to a gun; One study found that women in states with higher gun ownership rates were 4.9 times more likely to be murdered by a gun than women in states with lower gun ownership rates.

We seldom see these incidents discussed in the gun fanatic blogs, of course. It is a really terrible problem that results in the untimely murder and injury of women all over the country on an ongoing basis, and there are no easy answers. How do we allow people to have guns in their homes for security (which I strongly support), while preventing them from killing each other with those guns? While it can work either way, in the vast majority of the cases it is a woman on the loosing end of the fight. After Sandy Hook, there were actually gun fanatics who suggested that instead of putting additional restrictions on the ownership of the kind of semi-automatic guns that had been used to kill those poor children, instead we should arm the teachers. Really? So is the solution in this case to make sure that every wife and girlfriend is carrying a bigger gun than her husband or boyfriend? If so, will that act as a deterrent if they get in a fight, or will both of them being armed increase the likelihood that one of them is going to shoot before the other one can shoot them? The answer, of course, is obvious.

The issue of how to allow guns in the house but reduce gun violence among the people who live in the house, or who are invited guests, is a terribly difficult one to solve. It is going to take people far smarter than me to figure out an answer. When the gun fanatics pretend that this issue doesn’t exist or act as though isn’t truly grave and serious, their credibility and motivations are again subject to question.

Instead of spewing the steady stream of  lies and distortions that it currently spreads to try to justify a position that is wholly unsupported by science and reality, what if instead the gun fanatics took a more honest approach? They might try saying something like this… “We believe that American’s should have the ability to defend and protect their homestead from those who might attempt to cause us harm, not only based on rights provided under the 2nd Amendment, but also because our right to protect ourselves and our families is morally just. An unfortunate reality of the world we live in today means that providing ourselves with a realistic opportunity to protect our homesteads requires the use of guns. And an unfortunate reality of there being more guns in the household is that the number of gun deaths resulting from the unintended consequences of gun ownership are quite significant (just as the number of auto deaths from the unintended consequences of alcohol consumption are quite significant). We are committed to finding ways to reduce such tragedies while also maintaining our ability to protect ourselves and those we love.”

I could sign up for that… totally, 100%. It is a position based on truth, justice, and the American way. This statement has the balls to acknowledge the difficult choices we must make to preserve our liberties, the difficult road we face in making sure that such choices do not end the lives of others unnecessarily, and the responsibility we assume in making such choices.

A while back I came across a profile on Facebook of a grown American adult man whose primary profile photo was of him aiming and hiding behind a high powered weapon of pain and killing. He was not in the military or law enforcement, and he wasn’t pretending to be a Navy Seal at Halloween. Fortunately, I think he was from California, and not Texas. To most adults, I expect that image gives off a message of insecurity, compensation and extreme creepiness (read the references at the end of this article if you don’t get it). But even far worse is the utterly warped message (namely, that weapons of death are cool toys) that it could give to a child who might see it. He might as well have been holding up and marveling at a tray of beautiful blue crystal meth.

While I might at some point put up a photo of myself on Facebook dressed as Ironman or Spock for Halloween or something, those are positive memes at least, and done in playfulness rather than negative distortion. Aside from the military and law enforcement or an educational purpose, there is no place for guns to be glorified, or displayed or used in any other context than on the shooting range, while hunting for food, or in the most extreme situations, self defense of one’s homestead. While I’ll defend a person’s right to post such a photo under the First Amendment, that doesn’t stop me from thinking that the person is a pretty darn messed up dude who clearly lives by a very different value system than I do.

Let’s Play Global Thermonuclear War

What if the statistics were wrong, and people who legally carry in public were in fact individually safer because they do so? Does that change my conclusion that it is not in society’s best interest for them to carry? Oddly enough, it doesn’t.

collapse_bookChapter 14 of Jared Diamond‘s classic 2005 book COLLAPSE: How Societies Choose To Fail and Succeed deals with “Why Do Some Societies Make Disastrous Decisions?” In this chapter, Diamond discusses how societies can fail to anticipate a problem before it arrives; failing to perceive a problem that has already arrived; and engaging in what is known as “rational bad behavior/selfish behavior.” All three of these factors are relevant to the gun control issue, but the one most relevant is the “rational bad behavior/selfish behavior” example.

Diamond notes, and I have elaborated with my added comments italicised in the []’s, that “societies sometimes fail even to attempt to solve a problem once it has been perceived. Many of the reasons for such failure fall under the heading of what economists term “rational behavior,” arising from clashes of interest between people. That is, some people may reason correctly [or incorrectly, but they at least believe that they are reasoning correctly] that they can advance their own interests by behavior harmful to other people [such as by carrying guns to protect themselves]. The perpetrators [those carrying guns in public] feel safe because they are typically concentrated and highly motivated by the prospect of reaping big, certain and immediate profits [in this case, they perceive that by carrying a gun, they are better protecting themselves and their loved ones] while the losses [in this case, the many people who become less safe because there are more guns around] are spread over large numbers of individuals. That gives the losers little motivation to go to the hassle of fighting back [in this case, fighting the strong political machine of the fanatical gun movement], because each loser loses only a little [bit of their safety each time another person carries a gun]. [And then when those not carrying see more people carrying and feel less safe because of it, they feel greater pressure on themselves to carry as well. The entire situation over time spirals out of control, and becomes vastly destabilizing]”

This issue reminds me of the famous scene in the movie War Games, where the computer realizes that the only way to win a game of Global Nuclear War is to not play it at all. You can watch the scene here:

It isn’t an exact analogy. In the nuclear mutually assured destruction scenario, we assume that since the parties involved are large governments, that they are rational actors. In that situation, it makes sense for both sides to arm while it also makes sense for neither side to “shoot.”

In the gun debate the mutually assured destruction scenario is similar, but a bit different. Here a segment of the population with guns includes many people who are not rational actors, either continually or just in a moment of extreme stress. Because of that situation, the only way to win the game is if we as a society decide not to arm ourselves to be able to play the game in the first place. This is because the more guns that are permitted in public, the greater the chance that such guns will end up in the hands of bad actors or used by good actors in bad ways or in ways that decrease their own safety. As guns proliferate, our society becomes less and less safe, potentially evolving into degeneracy where law enforcement is more and more frequently unable to provide even rudimentary protection to good citizens. As the dominoes fall in this direction, scenes such as what recently played out in Baltimore will become more and more frequent. To be fair, gun proliferation is not the reason why the situation in Baltimore occurred… it just made it all that much worse and more difficult to protect the police along with good citizens and their businesses. The more guns present in that kind of a social firestorm, the worse the situation becomes and the less able law enforcement is to quell the situation.

The notion that heroic and noble vigilante citizens are walking around amongst us thinking they are somehow protecting us from the bad guys is pretty darn creepy.  If we choose not to play the game of arming up our citizens in public, then the degenerative spiral will not occur, and the number of gun deaths will decrease. We will eliminate the threat from good actors who make bad decisions in carrying out their version of justice and from otherwise good actors who become bad actors under stressful situations. And we will eliminate the deaths of good actors who pull a gun on a criminal and end up dying, but who would not have otherwise been shot by the criminal if they had not reacted in such a manner.

Will the criminals still have guns? Yes, of course, but they will have fewer of them and it will become harder for them to get them. Will there be instances where good people might die, but would have been able to save themselves if they were carrying a gun? Yes again, it surely will happen, but statistically, far more people will live because there are fewer guns in public. It is the job of the police, not vigilantes, to deal with criminals in public, and as the number of guns decrease, their job will only get easier. It takes far more bravery to realize that the needs and the safety of society outweigh the selfish self-interest of the one, than it does to hide behind a gun.

Yet, we still have to balance the need to protect society as a whole against legitimate needs and rights of people to use guns for hunting, protecting their home, and for recreation in controlled settings.

To read more on this topic, see the article “M.A.D. with Guns” by Josh Sager.

As we mentioned earlier, the Roman Empire did eventually fall, and so did Asimov’s fictional Galactic Empire. My gut feeling, based on the way I see the dominoes falling today, is that the end of America as we know it is certainly feasible within the next 100 years. Probably not in my lifetime… but very possibly in my daughter’s lifetime. The growing divide between the have’s and the have not’s; an out of control national debt; growing social unrest, violence and terrorism; an increase in gun violence; a de-emphasis on education and science with an accompanying increase in cultism and fanaticism; increasing disrespect for the police (in some cases warranted by atrocious police behavior); global warming; and a variety of other factors are all part of the equation. We as a society are engaging in exactly the type of selfish behavior that Diamond describes with regards to our guns, and while it is just one factor hastening what is likely inevitable in the societal collapse equation, it is hardly a trivial one. And honestly, I don’t see any realistic chance that our legislators or voters will have the courage to change it.

Dissecting Gun Fanatic Propaganda

So, as I promised earlier, let’s now take a specific look how the gun fanatics use propaganda techniques to distort and deceive.

Articles filled with extreme bullshit and distortion fill virtually all the fanatical gun news and blog sites. Articles like gun reviews tend to be pretty objective, but commentary on gun-related events and legislation typically go way off the deep end. Finding an article that we could dissect using the tools we discussed above isn’t hard at all (there are perhaps tens of thousands of them), and with just a bit of searching I was thrilled to find one (actually I found many) that deals with, of all things, Guns and Domino’s. Domino’s Pizza that is.

It turns out that Domino’s Pizza, like all pizza delivery chains, bans its drivers from carrying guns. And the gun fanatics hate this. They really, really hate this.

So go read this March 25, 2015 article in Ammoland.com by AWR Hawkins:
Domino’s Gun Ban Victims Pile Up: Delivery Driver Shot, Killed in New Orleans

Before you read my line-by-line analysis of the article below, make your own initial assessment. Do you see places where the author might be choosing his words to deceive or trick you, or to persuade you using emotional arguments instead of logical arguments? After reading the article, do you sympathize with the author’s opinion that it is an injustice to not allow pizza delivery drivers to carry guns?

Okay, here we go… let’s start with the title of the article…

Domino’s Gun Ban Victims Pile Up: Delivery Driver Shot, Killed in New Orleans

The second part of the title after the “:” is a factual statement. A delivery driver was in fact shot and killed in New Orleans. Fair enough.

The first part of the title, however, does not come even close to passing a basic bullshit test. First of all, the extreme gun rights activists always try to make a point that it isn’t guns that kill people… it is bad actors using guns who kill people. So why does this article title imply that the person who was killed was a victim of a “gun ban,” instead of someone who was killed by a bad actor who had access to a gun? Is there any mention in the article of whether on not the killer had legal access to the gun that was used in the killing? Nope. Is there any mention that one way to have prevented that killing might have been to have made it much harder for the killer to have obtained a gun? Of course not.

Then there is the use of the term “pile up.” It deliberately evokes an image of a stack of bodies somewhere consisting of all the pizza delivery people who have been killed by someone with a gun. Does such a pile exist? Of course not.

Next we come to this wonderful image below the title:

Dominos-Pizza-Gun-Ban
Via Ammoland.com.

It appears that the good folks at Ammoland actually went and fabricated  this sick yet simultaneously hysterical staged image. It shows a Domino’s pizza box with some red stuff on it that clearly isn’t blood, but is intended to evoke, and associate with Domino’s Pizza, a highly emotionally charged illustration of all the blood that is being shed by the pile of Domino’s drivers who were killed by the company’s corporate gun ban (rather than by people with guns). Okay now.

Onward to the body of the article…

Early Tuesday morning, another Domino’s Pizza delivery driver was shot and killed in New Orleans 9th Ward.

This is a statement of fact. Bravo.

Breitbart News has previously reported that Domino’s Pizza bars their drivers from keeping guns with them for self-defense.

Assuming that it is true that Breitbart News did previously report this, the statement still doesn’t pass a basic distortion test. Domino’s has a no-guns policy for its delivery drivers. That policy isn’t related to what use the gun could potentially be used for. To keep the statement undistorted, the phrase “for self-defense” should have been omitted, or alternatively it could have been enhanced to say “for either self-defense or for robbing, killing or raping people to whom they are delivering pizzas.”

The statement could have been simply worded: “Domino’s Pizza bars their drivers from keeping guns with them. This prevents their drivers from carrying a gun for the purpose of self defense.” Phrasing it that way would have omitted the fact that a driver carrying a gun might use the gun for other purposes, but at least it would have been largely undistorted in its representation of Domino’s policy.

Sadly, this does not stop armed attackers from preying on the unarmed drivers.

It is clearly sad that a pizza delivery driver died. It is not clear, however, that Domino’s policy is a sad one. If Domino’s had a policy in place that allowed it’s drivers to carry guns, would that stop an attacker from preying (emotionally charged word here, but perhaps warranted under the circumstances) on the driver? No, certainly not.

Is it feasible that if Domino’s allowed its drivers to carry weapons then that might have deterred such an action on the part of the killer? It is feasible, but by no means certain or even likely that such would be the case. Firstly, the killer would have to be aware of the policy. Secondly, as noted earlier, the killer would have to give a damn about it. Criminals who kill like this are not “rational actors.” If they could make a rational decision to not kill or attack someone because the person might be carrying a gun, then they would be capable of making a similar rational decision to not kill someone because they are going to go to jail for a long, long time.

Rational arguments are not going to persuade most irrational actors from acting. The only way to materially reduce the chance they will try to kill someone with a gun is to make it harder for them to have access to a gun.

Now lets suppose the driver was in fact not only allowed to carry a gun, but was in fact actually carrying a gun. Would that have prevented the driver from being “preyed upon?” Again, the answer is a clear NO. Think about the scenario… dude comes up to pizza driver with a gun… pizza driver goes to pull their gun in response. Seeing that happen, the probability that the criminal is going to shoot the driver would seem to increase rather than decrease. One can envision scenarios where an armed driver would be able to kill the attacker instead of being killed themselves, but that seems a far less likely scenario than ones in which having that gun doesn’t change or even increases the odds that the driver will meet a bad end.

On February 11, I reported at least eight Domino’s Pizza drivers had been shot since January 2012, and three of them died.

True statement.

Now we add the driver killed on March 24 to the list, along with another Domino’s driver who was shot and killed in New Orleans’ Mid-City six months ago.

Distortion. The driver shot and killed six months ago would seem to already be included in the total of eight shot and three killed described in the previous sentence. The author is attempting to count that incident twice.

The Times-Picayune reported on both the New Orleans murders, indicating charges have been filed against those suspected of killing the Mid-City driver.

True statement.

In addition to the murders of Domino’s Pizza delivery drivers, unarmed female drivers face the threat of rape and other forms of sexual assault.

Irrelevant and a distortion. All females, and perhaps even all males, armed or unarmed, driving or not, face the possibility of rape and other forms of sexual assault.

On Sunday, February 8 2015, a female Domino’s Pizza driver was raped and robbed in broad daylight during a pizza delivery in Antioch, California.

True. The phrase “in broad daylight” seem irrelevant and somewhat emotionally charged (especially since it is italicized). But still true.

After the rape and robbery, Domino’s Pizza spokesman Tim McIntyre said company executives were “shocked and horrified by what happened.” He said the company “couldn’t conceive of something like this happening, especially on [a] Sunday.

I have not seen the original statement, but I have no reason to believe this isn’t true. Why the Domino’s spokesman included the phrase “especially on [a] Sunday” is just as perplexing as the “in broad daylight” phrase used by Mr. Hawkins. I’m guessing that somehow Mr. McIntyre thinks that a criminal might be less likely to kill on a Christian day of worship? I don’t think so.

With so many unarmed drivers being shot and killed in the last two years, how can McIntyre or company executives continue to be “shocked?

Distortion. A killing is a shocking and horrible thing. Yes, this is shocking.

Their anti-gun policy forces unarmed drivers to carry cash and product into a dangerous world where criminals prey on those incapable of defending themselves.

False. Domino’s prohibits its drivers from carrying guns. That clearly is an  “anti-carry” policy for its drivers, but we don’t know how they feel about guns in other situations. Saying that their policy is “anti-carry” for its drivers is true. Saying it is “anti-gun” is not true. In bad neighborhoods, Domino’s may have armed guards in its stores.

Driver do carry cash and product, sometimes into dangerous neighborhoods. Sometimes criminals do prey on others, in both bad and good neighborhoods.

Domino’s drivers are not forced to do anything. If they don’t like Domino’s policy, they can get a job working or driving for another company without such a policy. It is a free world, and Domino’s is not the only one offering jobs suited to those individuals.

This sentence implies a causal connection that is not supported by any factual presentation. A criminal who walks up to a Domino’s driver and shoots them without warning is going to be able to do that whether or not the individual is carrying a gun. In most cases there is not a causal connection between the fact that the driver isn’t carrying and the fact that someone shoots them, and, in fact, I suspect it is more likely they will get shot if they are carrying.

As Breitbart News reported on February 11 2015, Domino’s gun-ban-by-corporate-fiat model is costing Domino’s Pizza delivery drivers their lives, their dignity, and their peace of mind.

Breitbart News may have reported this, but the statement is unsupported by facts presented in this article, or any other facts I am aware of.

It’s time for the company to amend the policy so as to allow drivers with concealed carry permits to keep a gun with them for self-defense.

An opinion of the writer, which he is entitled to have, but wholly unsupported by any argument presented in the article itself.

Okay, we’ve done the easy part. While the rampant distortions included in the language of the article are extensive, they pale in comparison to the distortions caused by what is omitted from the article. Included distortions are easily identified by those who know how to see them (and hopefully this essay is giving you the tools to do just that). But seeing the distortions caused by the omission of information (deliberate or otherwise) is often a vastly more difficult task.

So what didn’t the author tell us? I’m not sure I’m catching everything, but a few things do immediately come to mind.

He didn’t tell us why Domino’s has the policy that it has. He didn’t even appear to ask Domino’s for an explanation of its policy and why it believes it is justified, which any bona fide reporter would do. (That’s one of many signals that this web site isn’t really a news site at all… it is propaganda web site representing itself as news and truth, when in fact it is most clearly neither.)

I don’t claim to be a reporter like Mr. Hawkins does, just a social commentator. So without speaking for Domino’s, I’ll give you three really good reasons that quickly come to mind as to why Domino’s might think that its policy is a good one.

1) Domino’s wants to keep its drivers alive. Pizza drivers get robbed fairly often. I think it is rather likely that Domino’s tells its drivers… if someone tries to rob you, give them the money and whatever else they want. Your life is more important to us than protecting whatever cash you are carrying. The probability is very high that if you give them what they want, they will take it and run away rather than committing a murder. If you resist or pull a weapon on them, then it comes down to who can fire first and most accurately, and because of the surprise factor, you are likely to be on the losing end of that battle. Yes, some drivers still get killed, but far fewer this way than if they were carrying.

2) While many pizza delivery drivers are good and honest citizens, sometimes that job segment is represented by individuals who are not exactly the cream of society. Drivers are predominantly male, and often have access to be allowed inside of the homes of customers, and around females in their homes… and in some cases such females might be viewed by a predator as potential sexual assault victims. Were a pizza delivery person to be allowed by their company to carry a gun and then were they to use that gun on a customer, a jury could well deem it negligence on the part of the company, and the company would be open to huge damages in a civil suit. Domino’s wants to avoid such situations at all costs, to protect both the safety of its customers and itself.

News stories of those harmed by pizza delivery drivers do not receive nearly as much online coverage as when a pizza delivery driver working for a no-carry company is hurt or killed. There are two primary reasons for this: 1) the gun fanatics love to spread and publicize it when a driver is injured or killed, but when the customer is injured or killed by the driver, the story doesn’t seem to generate much interest amongst that highly vocal crowd; and 2) there is a strong probability that the relative scarcity of such incidents is directly related to the fact that drivers for the larger pizza delivery companies are not allowed to carry guns. Fewer people with guns in public equals fewer people killed or raped by those people carrying guns. It is pretty much a universal constant. Yet, even without guns, such crimes still do occur (albeit with lower frequency), and they are primarily rape crimes. A quick Google search turned up these articles:

Jury is sent home in [Domino’s] pizza man rape trial

Raleigh Pizza Delivery Man Charged with Statutory Rape

Woman raped by pizza delivery boy says 2012 attack ruined her life

3) I don’t open my front door to strangers other than verified law enforcement or people whom I’ve invited. Domino’s delivery people, while invited, are still strangers. Domino’s customers, who are in most cases (but not all cases) rational actors, usually will find the idea of someone who they don’t know coming up to their door, and possibly inside their homestead, carrying a gun, as creepy in the extreme. I certainly would not buy pizza from a company sending people with guns to my house. When the delivery person arrives, I’ll step outside to meet them, and if there is someone else in the house, I’ll suggest they lock the door behind me. I want to keep my family and friends as safe as possible when someone I don’t know comes to my homestead, whether or not they are carrying a gun.

Would I want someone delivering a pizza to my daughter or girlfriend, while she is home alone, to be carrying a gun? Not just no… but hell no! What kind of a person would? It doesn’t matter whether or not she has a gun herself in her homestead. Statistically she would seem to be far less safe if the delivery person is carrying.

On AWR Hawkins’ Twitter page he describes himself as a “Truth seeker. Opposed to ideologues and leftists. Accustomed to living as a free man in a free country.

After reading the above, do you think that Mr. Hawkins is a truth seeker or a truth distorter? A common tactic used by fanatics is to make strong but utterly unjustified claims of having access to (a higher) “truth” in their preaching.

An ideologue is someone who very strongly supports and is guided by the ideology of a particular group. Do you think that Mr. Hawkins is opposed to ideologues, or that he is an ideologue himself?

Make your own decision.

[Note added May 15, 2015: To see what happened when I tried to post a polite comment to Mr. Hawkins’ article on Ammoland.com with a link to this review, check out my follow-up article: Viva La R’evolution, Food for Thought and Fingernails on a Chalkboard.]

Okay, so now we’ve taken a sample and highly representative article from the gun fanatics and seen how it is comprised primarily of distortion, misinformation, and critical omissions. To be intellectually honest, I have to tell you this… the gun fanatics are not the only ones who do this. Those on the other side of the gun regulation debate, while often not nearly as vociferous, sometimes employ the same kind of distortion tactics in their reasoning. That’s why I wanted to give you the tools to look for distortion wherever you might find it.

Our choices in life determine Who We Are.

mohinder “There is good, and there is evil, right and wrong, heroes and villains. And if we’re blessed with wisdom, then there are glimpses between the cracks of each, where light streams through. We wait in silence for these times, when sense can be made; when meaningless existence comes into focus and our purpose presents itself. And if we have the strength to be honest, then what we find there, staring back at us, is our own reflection, bearing witness to the duality of life: that each one of us is capable of both the dark and the light, of good and evil, of either, of all. And destiny, while marching ever in our direction, can be re-routed by the choices we make, by the love we hold onto, and the promises we keep.” — Mohinder Suresh, “Dual,” Heroes.

Back to my conversation of March 6, 2014, discussed towards the beginning of this article. It would also be fair to say that my discussion that day knocked over the first domino on the path that led to The Domino Principle. It took me a while to find a place of clarity, but in time, these are some of the things I learned and the choices I have made in my life, in large part as a consequence of that discussion:

I choose to live my life with a belief system centered on love, curiosity, and goodness, and the perspective that true spiritual enlightenment comes from sharing these things with those who I love, while continually striving to gain a deep and undistorted understanding of the universe that we live in.

I can, and do, choose to be good and do good. I choose to surround myself with people of strong character and morals. I choose to not allow drama or negativity to influence the good things in my life. And I choose to believe in myself and to love myself at all times. Whether I influence the world or a few people my life will have meaning because I accept nothing less of myself and for myself. When the time comes for me to go, I will leave the world a better place because I lived. I am happy because I choose to be, and because it is an inevitable consequence of striving to be good.

I choose to make rational decisions based on the scientific method, and to understand the limits thereof, and to realize that some decisions cannot be made by science, they must be based on one’s value system.

I choose to adopt a value system based on my personal sense of right and wrong, good and evil, the light and the dark, and my desire to live a life centered on personal freedom and liberty.

I choose to believe that in general it isn’t the government’s role to restrict my rights, or to prevent me from making my own decisions, even if those decisions might be poor decisions. However, a key exception to that principle is that I believe that in many cases the government has not only a right, but an obligation, to protect me from others who might cause me harm, even unintentionally, and even if it means restricting their freedoms do so.

Today I fortunately have a right to not be forced to inhale second-hand smoke most public places. It is detrimental to my health to do so, not to mention rather disgusting. I should also have a right to enjoy public spaces without being around creepy (or even uncreeepy) gun people, or their guns and bullets, because doing so is also detrimental to my, and my children’s health, and to the long term health of society as a whole.

I choose to not present cultish and fanatical behavior as positive examples to my, or anyone else’s, children.

I choose to not treat weapons of killing and pain as if they are cool toys, or to worship them as a objects of religious cultishness.

I choose to dance in the light, finding and sharing beauty in the world on a daily basis, rather than living in a soulful darkness based on fanaticism and distortion.

Those are my choices. What are yours?

Additional References:

Selfishness and Gun Control; You Do The Math

Civil Liberties: 9 Signs of Dangerous Gun Nut Craziness in 2014

Guns, Masculinity, and Insecurity

Empirical Evidence: Irrelevant to the NRA and the Gun Fetish Cult

10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down

Our Worship of the Gun God

Many American White Men Worship Guns Because of Sexual Insecurity, Entitlement, and Profit

Gun Deaths vs. Gun Ownership

Sandy Hook, guns, the mentally ill and control

Mill on Gun Control

The Role of Ethics in 21st Century Organizations

Armed with Reason: Debunking the “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People” Myth

The Hitler gun control lie

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Science and Religion Are Not ‘Reconcilable,’ So Stop Trying

The Truth about Violence: 3 Principles of Self-Defense

Let’s Dance! Guns and Dominoes

If you’ve made it this far in this essay, take a deep breath now and relax… this is heady stuff, and you’ve earned a couple of  rewards. Domino Principle #3: Dance Passionately has not yet been formally introduced, but I’m going to give you a chance to apply it right now.

Below is the video for DJ Surge-N’s remix “Guns And Dominoes,” featuring Jessie J’s “Domino,” taken from her debut album “Who You Are,” and Ellie Goulding‘s “Guns And Horses,” taken from her debut album, “Lights.” If you know Who You Are, and are ready to walk, or even dance, into the Light, I encourage you to get up and dance to this video.

Oh, and remember… Dancing isn’t evil. I promise!

“It’s time to come clean
And make sense of everything
It’s time that we found out who we are
Cause when I’m standing here in the dark
I see your face in every star”

“But I wish I could feel it all for you
I wish I could be it all for you
If I could erase the pain
Maybe you’d feel the same
I’d do it all for you
I would”

“Rock my world until the sunlight
Make this dream the best I’ve ever known
Dirty dancing in the moonlight
Take me down like I’m a domino”

Earlier we discussed how, as more and more citizens carry guns, the situation spirals out of control, and becomes vastly destabilizing. This “Enjoy Your Life” video topples 275,000 dominoes and sets a Guinness World Record for the most dominoes toppled in a spiral. Amazing!

–Cliff

“DOminoes are activists. Their first name is DO.“ I could use just a little help from my friends to enable The Domino Principle to gain sufficient critical mass to become more successful and useful. Our readers, like you, are influencers, and YOU can DO something quick and easy that would use your influence to help us out. Below each article we publish on The Domino Principle blog (like this one), you’ll see buttons to share the article on social media. Please use these buttons to share our articles, especially the option to share our articles with your friends on Facebook. It will really help spread the word of what we are trying to accomplish!

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Cliff Kurtzman

Described as "pragmatically reckless with a high tolerance for ambiguity," Dr. Cliff Kurtzman is the founder of The Domino Principle. He is also an award winning entrepreneur, speaker, trend forecaster, and M.I.T.-trained rocket-scientist. Over the past 25 years, Cliff has launched several highly successful ventures by seeing technology trends in the world before they became widely realized, figuring out how they would impact our lives and then creating businesses that leveraged those trends ahead of many others. His bio is at http://www.kurtzman.biz.
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