Is what I know actually true?

This is a sort of ‘big-think’ post: big as in an overview of the way I think and what I think about, not as in international politics, although I will be discussing international politics.  There will be a scattering of links but this post is about my opinions.

I am writing it to learn what I think about certain things and to see if they seem rational.  For this reason, although I will engage in some revising before I post, I do not promise a rational train of thought. This could well be a Grand Canyon style set of curves and twists, although likely as shallow as the Grand Canyon is deep.

I am in an email debate with a coworker about evolution and creationism.  I am convinced his views and claims have no merit.  There are a few points where I can see why is confused while still denying there is room for confusing.

I recently read a post on Facebook from a ‘friend of a friend’ (this is the literal term used) about how the North Koreans were provoked by the US and that the US and South Korea engineered the sinking of the Cheonan.

Last March, North Korea was falsely blamed for sinking a South Korean ship, a topic an earlier article addressed, accessed through the following link:

[link removed – find it in the original article]

Seoul said there’s “no other plausible explanation….The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that (a) torpedo was fired by a North Korean submarine,” even though none was detected in the area.

At the time, evidence suggested a false flag, manufactured to blame the North. The incident occurred near Baengnyeong Island opposite North Korea. US Navy Seals and four US ships were conducting joint exercises in the area. The torpedo used was German, not North Korean as claimed. Germany sells none to Pyongyang. Yet it was blamed for what it didn’t do, what apparently was Pentagon-manufactured mischief.

I am convinced these claims have no merit.

Articles likethis have me confused:

I have found at least something to like about each Republican or Democrat I have met. I have close friends in both camps, in which I have observed the following: no matter the issue under discussion, both sides are equally convinced that the evidence overwhelmingly supports their position.

During the run-up to the 2004 presidential election, while undergoing an fMRI bran scan, 30 men–half self-described as “strong” Republicans and half as “strong” Democrats–were tasked with assessing statements by both George W. Bush and John Kerry in which the candidates clearly contradicted themselves. Not surprisingly, in their assessments Republican subjects were as critical of Kerry as Democratic subjects were of Bush, yet both let their own candidate off the hook.

The neuroimaging results, however, revealed that the part of the brain most associated with reasoning–the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex–was quiescent. Most active were the orbital frontal cortex, which is involved in the processing of emotions; the anterior cingulate, which is associated with conflict resolution; the posterior cingulate, which is concerned with making judgments about moral accountability; and–once subjects had arrived at a conclusion that made them emotionally comfortable–the ventral striatum, which is related to reward and pleasure.

I am convinced that the US government has lied many times and consistently on several specific subjects.  I believe that they attacked Iraq simply because they could.  There was no evidence of recent use or creation of WMDs.  Just about everything we were told was a lie.  I am more accepting of claims made about Afghanistan but still distrust most everything I hear about US foreign policy.

And yet I accept almost everything I read about North Korea and see the Americans, and the South Koreans, as the good guys who don’t have any special reason to do wrong.  The North Korean government is evil and I can’t recall hearing of them doing anything that I approve of.

If I read or heard that sentence describing anything else, I would consider the writer or speaker to be simple or naive.

I do want to think of myself as rational and not overly set in my ways.  I like to think of myself as open to new ideas and have made an effort online to admit, on occasion, when I was wrong.

There was a blog in the old days called incestuous amplification.  The name referred to the way people with set viewpoints only read media that agreed with them so their own views were strengthened artificially.

The internet and other media all seem consistent in their vilifying of North Korea.  Defectors all tell stories varying only in how horrifying the conditions there are.  Still, people escaping a country can hardly be expected to describe it glowingly.

These same defectors are treated poorly here in South Korea.  They are watched with suspicion and can only find menial jobs.

North Korean pronouncements seem almost comical in their unrestrained attacks on South Korea and the US- so comical that I can easily imagine they have been doctored by translators.  And yet, I do see vicious verbal attacks followed by demands that the South give them more aid and reopen factories based on North Korean soil.  They seem crazy, but their demands are often met.

Is there anyway my reader(s) could imagine the North Koreans are not the total bad guys I believe them to be?


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