Sunday, February 28, 2010

Alternate Lyrics to "It's a Small World"

A couple weeks ago, I found myself at Disneyland, standing in line for It's a Small World. Now I, personally, think that the ride is harmless, and rather enjoyable. Many people, especially little kids, love the ride! But a vast majority of others dislike the ride intensely because the tune can get rather... irritating. The ride lasts maybe 15 minutes, and the Small World Chorus repeats every perhaps 30 seconds - add the time you spend waiting in line and hearing the tune, and you can see how it gets old. So anyway, while I was standing in line, I realized that it would be fun to make a parody of "It's A Small World," and by the time I got off the ride, I had finished composing a song. I'd like to dedicate this song to my friend Larry who usually indicated that he would rather die than go on that ride. Here is it, Enjoy!

Original Lyrics:

It's a world of laughter, a world of tears
It's a world of hope, and a world of fears
There's so much that we share
That it's time we're aware: It's a small world after all!

It's a small world after all-
It's a small world after all-
It's a small world after all!
It's a small, small world.

(And then it repeats...)
It's a world of laughter, a world of tears
It's a world of hope, and a world of fears
There's so much that we share
That it's time we're aware: It's a small world after all!

It's a small world after all -
It's a small world after all -
It's a small world after all!
It's a small, small world.

La la la La la la

Parody Lyrics:

It's a world of water, a world of song
It's a world of dolls, and it takes way too long
It repeats, and repeats
So I think we all know: It's annoying after all!

I will never ride again -
I will never ride again -
Cus that ride drove me crazy
A long time ago!

It's a world of water, a world of song
It's a world of cheap dolls, and it takes way too long
It repeats, and repeats
So I think we all know: It's annoying after all!

I will never ride again -
I will never ride again -
If I ever ride again,
I think that I just might die!

Mostly, it's to the same It's a Small World After All tune, except for the end, in which I steal the tune from the end of the verse (The tune to "That it's time we're aware: It's a small world after all!") and put it at the end of the chorus (The tune for "It's a small world after all, it's a small small world"). Maybe that was confusing. Lemme explain a different way. My lyrics "If I ever ride again, I think that I just might die" which is at the end of my song goes with the tune from "It's a small world after all" because that has more syllables.

Nine Newly-Discovered Logical Fallacies

As I grew up, I learned what was logical and what wasn't, but I didn't really know any of the particular names of the fallacies themselves. This trend changed a couple years ago, when my Mom got a book called "The Fallacy Detective" to teach my siblings the different types of formal logical fallacies, and I got a change to read it just for fun. It's a very good book, by the way, complete with little comic strip illustrations. I was very happy to know the fallacies because, up to that point, when someone would try to prove something that didn't make sense, I was limited to saying "that's not logical." Now I can say a bit more illuminating, like "that's a red herring!" It's helpful to the conversation because if you simply reply to someone that they are not being logical, they will disagree. On the other hand, if you point out exactly what logical fallacy you claim they are using, you both can figure out objectively whether the accusation stands or falls, and the conversation actually gets somewhere.

First, I wanted to outline about 29 of the most well-known logical fallacies, but I realized that that would be a bit long for a note, and so instead I am including a link to this site:
Logical Fallacies
That site lists most of the usual fallacies people use, and if you click of the name of the fallacy, it gives you an explanation of what exactly it is. If you are unfamiliar with logical fallacies, I would recommend perusing that site. However, I was disappointed that the site did not include a description of the "special pleading" fallacy, and so here is another link which will explain that one in particular: Fallacy Files

This all brings me to the point of this particular blog. Now, over the years, I've also come across types of logical fallacies that people use now and then to prove a point that are not officially recognized. There are, of course, thousands of ways to be illogical, and it would be foolish to try to come up with a name for every single type of logical fallacy, but the more prevalent a fallacy is, the more helpful it is to have a name and explanation for it. While talking with my brothers, debating with them, and discussing other debated with them, I came up with a list of nine more tactics which are commonly used and that we think should really be named, have definitions, and be well-known as fallacious arguments. If nothing else, they are pretty interesting, and fun to spot in real life.

What's wrong with this picture?

The "If Only" Fallacy:
1 - Y happened, and X happened
2 - Y wouldn't have happened if X had not happened
3 - Therefore, Y caused X

This fallacy is often used in real life to assign responsibility or blame, but it's clearly not logical. Y did not necessarily cause X, even though it was the trigger or determinant of the situation. For example:
1 - You said that I was wrong, and I hit you
2 - If you hadn't said I was wrong, I wouldn't have hit you
3 - Therefore, you made me hit you

I actually wrote a whole blog about this fallacy: here's a link if you wish to read it:
If Only

Chip/Milk Equivocation:
You may have heard of the normal equivocation fallacy, which is to switch the meaning of the word in the middle of an argument. "That's cool!" "No, it's warm, it just came out of the oven." The person has proven that it's not cold "cool" but has not proven that it's not awesome "cool." That type of equivocation relies on having a word that can mean more than one thing. On the other hand, "chip/milk" equivocation is equivocating two different words that still do not mean the same thing.
1 - (Underlying assumption that Chips are the same as Milk)
2 - You have chips.
3 - Therefore, you have milk.

How is this used in real life? It happens all the time, in a multitude of situations where a person thinks that two things are the same, when really they are not.
1 - (Goth is the same as Emo)
2 - You are Goth
3 - Therefore, you are Emo

Or, something I come across more often:
1 - (True total sovereignty is the same as decreeing every last detail)
2 - You believe that God does not decree sin
3 - Therefore, you are trying to deny that God is sovereign!

Perspective Fallacy:
1 - Subjectively, X is true.
2 - Therefore, objectively, X is true.

This topic came up when Mom said that my brother was being too loud, and he said that she was wrong. Generally, "too loud," "too soft," "too hot," "too cold," and the like are all pretty subjective. Mom was correct that my brother was being too loud, because although the level of noise he was making was moderate, she was on the phone and had already asked him to be quiet for a few minutes. In refusing to be quiet and maintaining a level of noise that made it hard for her to hear the other person, he was being, in her subjective opinion, "too loud."

Here's the fallacy my brother followed:
1 - In his subjective experience, the level of noise he was creating was pretty normal, and not usually considered by most to be overly loud. To him, it was not too loud.
2 - Therefore, objectively, it was not too loud, and Mom was wrong in labeling it "too loud."

How can this be used in serious discussions? For one thing, I see it often used when people try to understand God based on their subjective view of what perfection is.
Given - God is good
1 - From my point of view, God would not be good if He sent people to hell
2 - Therefore, God, being good, does not send people to hell

You can see that it would make sense that if good objectively could not include sending people to hell, and if God is good, then we could conclude that God does not send people to hell. The mistake is made when the person mistakes what they subjectively perceive as good for objective good.

Strongman Fallacy:
1 - If A and B are true, then C is true
2 - A is true, and B is true
3 - Therefore, C is true

As you can probably tell, that is actually logical. What is the problem with this train of thought? There isn't a problem with it. You commit the "Strongman fallacy" by being too logical. That is, by being more logical than your opponent would like you to be. But since, until now, there has been a name for this fallacy, no one will say to you "You just used the Strongman Fallacy!" Rather, they will say something like "you're being overly logical," or "you are relying too much on human logic."

It's not actually a fallacy, but people treat it like it is. So I gave it a name.
Example of Strongman Fallacy:
Person A: God cannot be self-contradictory. He cannot be sinless and sinful at the same time.
Person B: Yes He could. His ways are mysterious to us. We cannot ever hope to understand them with our puny human logic.

The Fluff Fallacy:
1 - I am arguing that 2 X + 4 - ab = 2Y + 4 - ab
2 - I am not arguing that X = Y

As you can see, those two statements contradict each other. The reason for using such a fallacy is to avoid being proven wrong.

Example: (Given that X=4, and Y=9)
Tom: X plus 4 is the same as Y plus 4.
Tim: So you're telling me that 4 is 9
Tom: No of course not! That would be stupid!
Tim: But you said that X is Y!
Tom: No I didn't. I said that X plus 4 is the same as Y plus 4!
Tim: Dude. That's the same thing as saying that X is equal to Y!
Tom: You are strawmanning my position! I never claimed that X equals Y.

The Fluff Fallacy is when a person dresses up a simple argument in so much verbal "fluff" that the argument cannot be proven or disproven, and refuses to simplify his argument to the point where it would be possible to test it's accuracy. This is very possible and easy to do if you know a lot of long words that others don't know - using the fluff argument, a person can sound super-intelligent and make claims that no one else can disprove, even without putting forward any truth.

The Little-Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf Fallacy
1 - I disagree with you
2 - Therefore, you've committed a logical fallacy

Basically, this fallacy is just when a person keeps claiming that other people are using fallacies that the other people are not really using.
Tom: X plus 4 is Y plus 4
Tim: So you're saying that X is Y.
Tom: No! That is a strawman fallacy! You are misrepresenting my position!

Tom: I think that all girls only like guys with blond hair
Suzy: That can't be true, because I like guys with brown hair.
Tom: That's a red herring! Completely irrelevant!

Tom: You beat up Paul earlier. I know because he told me so.
Tim: But you know that Paul is notorious for lying!
Tom: That's an Ad Hominem attack! Just because he isn't perfect does not mean that his theory is incorrect!

After reading that, you can probably start to tell why I named this fallacy after the little boy who cried wolf...

Argument by Lack of Argument:
1 - (I do not bring up a point, or else my point is successfully debunked)
2 - I claim that I've already proven that point

This fallacy is surprisingly common in internet debates. Every so often, when you question a point, they will claim that they're "already proven" something which they never actually addresses previously. And without a lot of searching, it's hard to prove them wrong. The best you can usually do is to call their bluff and say something like "Oh really? Where did you prove that? Link please?"

UserName1220 - Choices are hard, but I am glad that we have free choice
Some1Else - You're just going in circles. I've already proven that free choice doesn't exist

A Double Standard of Evidence:
1 - For your point to stand, you must prove it true, and also prove my point of view false.
2 - For my point to stand, I do not need to offer any proof for it, or even prove your point of view false. I only need to show that any evidence against my argument might possibly be inconclusive

Guy: The government watches our every move. Even now. They are tape recording this conversation.
Girl: There's no reason to believe that
Guy: No, there is reason. I've read about them online!
Girl: The web doesn't give only true information, you know
Guy: You haven't proven that it's false information
Girl: I know this house like the back of my hand, and I've never found any hidden cameras or bugging devices
Guy: Well of course if they bug your house, they won't want to you find out about it!
Girl: You have no proof that they are watching us like that!
Guy: See, you're just proving me right because you've come up with every argument against it, and none disproves it! You're just ignoring the obvious conclusion because that's not what you want to believe.

The Bluff Argument:
Premise - If A and B are true, then C is true
Version A:
1 - A is true
2 - B is true
3 - Therefore, Y is true!

Version B:
1 - A is shown false
2 - B is shown false
3 - Therefore, C is true!

As you can see, in both cases, 3 does not logically follow 1 and 2.

Simple examples:
1 - Brownies taste good
2 - You have to bake brownies
3 - Therefore, cake is not as good as brownies

Person: Eating a lot of chocolate every day will make it less likely for you to get sick
Person2: That's not what medical studies have shown...
Person: Also also, baking things gets rid of anything in them that could effect you negatively, similar to sterilizing needles
Person3: Actually, a lot of things that may not be good for you, like sugar, survive heat just fine
Person: And therefore, as you can all clearly see, we should all be eating more brownies!

You may think these arguments so ridiculous that they could never be taken seriously in real life, but you might be surprised! I've seen version B uses in debates between presidential candidates, or even used to win points and votes in the board game of "argue." One real life example that comes to mind is this one time when a particular fellow was trying to persuade people to reject the idea of free will/free choice.

He put forward that:
1 - According to Scripture, you and I do not have free will, and do not determine or make our own choices and decisions
2 - Those who teach that we do really make choices are teaching lies (that they know people want to believe)
3 - Therefore, "it is up to you, and it is up to me to choose to follow the truth" instead of following the lie of free will!

As you can see, the Bluff argument can go so far as to contradict itself. (IE We cannot make choices, and we must choose to believe that) The intriguing thing about the situation was that, among the perhaps 25 people listening to that lecture, I was the only one who noticed the inconsistency: the conclusion did not follow, and in fact contradicted the previous points established. Most everyone else bought into it. It's a powerful logical fallacy, apparently.

Excerpt from "Mere Christianity" on Free Will

I was reading "Mere Christianity" today, which is written by one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis. There is a reason that this book is considered classic - Lewis is very wise and writes in a way that is easy to understand. In the section "What Christians Believe," I found this one part about free will. Perhaps now this section should be defined as "What Some Christians Believe" because it seems to go against much of what Calvinism and reformed theology teaches. Now, free will is defined many different ways, and I will let the reader decide for him or herself which kind of free will C.S. Lewis is talking about. I agree with what most of what Lewis says here. You might notice that he makes no mention of the "secret decrees of God" when explaining human sin. The question is also brought up: If God knew that man was going to sin, why would He allow it, or give them free will at all? Also, How could God truly be in charge, if His creatures break His laws?

One of the reasons I'm posting this is that recently, in a rebuttal to on my blogs, Michael Brusuelas wrote here, in response to my statement that "God gave man free will, and seems to prefer interacting and relating to people who can choose to respond to Him," that there were:
"Two major problems with this. For one, notice how “free will” is presupposed. Free will is mentioned so often in discussions of God’s providence yet it is hardly argued for."
[As a side note, this was in the context of the debate about irresistible grace, and to me, it seems that free will must be presupposed in order to debate whether grace is irresistible, because if there is no free will then everything is irresistible and grace would be no exception.]

Later in the same blog, when responding to my thoughts that God has let man choose from the beginning, he says
"Notice the assumption being made here? Let us even assume that Adam had complete free will, which is not an assumption many would be so generous as to grant it. How would it follow that this says anything about the condition of man this day? Sure, it is said that this situation is God’s ideal, but does not the entirety of human history exist in the fallout of Original Sin? Every descendent of Adam has a will that is enslaved to sin that they were born with and did not ask for. To assert that “it’s always been this way” is to assume what is in question."

I am not concerned in this particular blog to argue that free will (The idea that we are free agents: we determines our own choices, and they are not externally determined) is true. However, I do think that if one reads the Bible to see the straight-forward obvious meaning of things, free will is apparent. I think that most people who become christians start with the presupposition of free will, and that's why this section that I'm going to quote somehow wound up in a section called "What Christians Believe" as part of a book called "Mere Christianity," which is a book that is respected by many many christians. One might say that, in that case, I am not actually supporting the presupposition of free will, but merely showing that a lot of people presuppose it! That is quite true. I do think there are many good reasons to assume free will, but I'm not getting into that now. See, I have said previously that free will is obvious, and if something is obvious, one would expect it to be obvious to many people, even respected ones. If something were obvious, one might expect it to wind up in a book called something like "mere christianity." I am here supporting my claim that it is quite common for free will to be presupposed, because it is palpably obvious.


Excerpt from "Mere Christianity", Book II "What Christians Believe", Section 3 "The Shocking Alternative":

Christians, then, believe that an evil power has made himself for the present the Prince of this World. And, of course, that raises problems. Is this state of affairs in accordance with God's will or not? If it is, He is a strange God, you will say: and if it is not, how can anything happen contrary to the will of a being with absolute power?

But anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another. It may be quite sensible for a mother to say to the children, "I'm not going to go and make you tidy the schoolroom every night. You've got to learn to keep it tidy on your own." Then she goes up one night and finds the Teddy bear and the ink and the French Grammar all lying in the grate. That is against her will. She would prefer the children to be tidy. But on the other hand, it is her will which has left the children free to be untidy. The same thing arises in any regiment, or trade union, or school. You make a thing voluntary and then half the people do not do it. That is not what you willed, but your will has made it possible.

It is probably the same in the universe. God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata-of creatures that worked like machines-would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free.

Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk. Perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with Him. But there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on. If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will-that is, for making a live world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings-then we may take it it is worth paying.

When we have understood about free will, we shall see how silly it is to ask, as somebody once asked me: "Why did God make a creature of such rotten stuff that it went wrong?" The better stuff a creature is made of-the cleverer and stronger and freer it is-then the better it will be if it goes right, but also the worse it will be if it goes wrong. A cow cannot be very good or very bad; a dog can be both better and worse; a child better and worse still; an ordinary man, still more so; a man of genius, still more so; a superhuman spirit best-or worst-of all.

How did the Dark Power go wrong? Here, no doubt, we ask a question to which human beings cannot give an answer with any certainty. A reasonable (and traditional) guess, based on our own experiences of going wrong, can, however, be offered. The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting Yourself first-wanting to be the centre-wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. (The story in the Book of Genesis rather suggests that some corruption in our sexual nature followed the fall and was its result, not its cause.) What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could "be like gods"-could set up on their own as if they had created themselves-be their own masters-invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history-money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery-the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What Defines a True Artist?

For a long time, I've considered myself an artist, and I can usually pick out other artistic people. Now, just the other day I mentioned to someone that I am somewhat of an artist, and the person asked me what sort of art I specialize in. In a flash, I realized that I am not at all talented at making art. I play piano, but not very well. I can draw if I really put my mind too it, but it only looks very basic and I can't draw people. I cannot paint, and I don't play any other instruments either. I don't even do any sort of architecture or landscaping. My usual arts forms are poetry and photography, and even at that I have limited skills. These realizations surprised me a bit, because I consider myself an artist, and yet artists generally are good at making art. How then do I consider myself an artist to the core of my being? The apparent incongruency caught my interest. What's more, I know people much more skilled at art who I do not consider true artists. What, then, defines an artist? I contemplated the matter for a while, and decided that really, there are four things that make an artist an artist.

First of all, an artist has perspective.
Of course everyone has perspective, but the artist has perspective in two important ways. The artist sees a vision that most others don't see. Everyone looks at the same situation, yet the artist sees something in it that the others just simply do not see. This sets the artist apart, but not by choice. Also, the artists sees vivid actualities in life. It is comic, or it is tragic. It is exhilarating, or crushing. It is beautiful, or hideous. The artist sees that everything has a story, and he wonders what that story is. This unique and riveting viewpoint is the inspiration for art.

Latte Perspective

Secondly, an artist desires that others would see it too
The artist who sees all this is moved by it, and wants to share the experience with others. As I said, the artist is set apart from the group, but not by choice. The visionary would much rather that everyone sees what he sees! Like children playing "I spy", or the Christmas Carol "Do You See What I See?," the artist experiences something amazing, and just wants others to experience it too.

The artist must develop an artform
Now of course, any person who tried to share a vision will often come across the frustration of others just not getting it. You look out the window and catch a glance of a beautiful, majestic, and electrifying sunset. It takes you almost by surprise, and it sweeps you off your feet so that you excitedly call over your friend to see. But they look at it, and see nothing special. "The sun sets every day. So what? It's overrated." Then they turn and go back to what they were doing. That person has seen the sight, but not the vision. The colors were plain to them, but not the beauty or power of the scene.

This is the third part of being an artist: experiencing the frustration of have a vision and wanting to share it, but not being able to share that vision. That frustration is so ongoing and powerful that it motivated artists to spend hours upon hours, for years, developing a set of skills to be able to show others the vision. Some show visually by painting, drawing, or photography. By coloring and size and focus they show you what they see. Some compose moving music which expresses happiness, rapt, fear, heartbreak, or denouement. Others refine their skills at painting word pictures. C.S. Lewis and Chesterton both were very good at word pictures. Even if you do not agree with their conclusion, you feel that you have seen what they see in it. What is art, then? Art is a reflection, expression, or representation of something breathtaking. (For even tragedy can have a haunting beauty to it) Art is the means by which we communication these visions.

Finally, the artist cares more for beauty itself than for the appreciation of it.
Beauty should exist just for the sake of existing. It is better that a castle stand tall and beautiful where no one ever sees it than for it not to exist at all. This often comes across in the person's work. Who would put an extra two hours into details of a final masterpiece that no one will ever notice? Only the artist. Only the artist cares that much for the piece of work. I have often put in thought and time and hours making things awesome, knowing that no one will ever notice or appreciate it. A friend notices this, and asked if I was a perfectionist, but I am not at all.

Upon reflection, I realized that from an outsiders point of view, artists who spend those extra hours refining the work seem amazingly similar to perfectionist who spend extra hours making whatever it is perfect. But the motivation is completely different. A perfectionist is almost the opposite of an artist. Let me explain. The perfectionist is driven by dislike of what he sees. The writing is not perfect. He sees that. He does not like that. The force behind all his action is the feeling of dislike. On the other hand, the artist is driven by the vision he is trying to represent. Looking at a piece of rock, he sees the potential for a "David." He likes that vision, and is driving to make the real life rock more like the vision he sees in his mind. The artist is driving by liking what he sees. One can see at once the difference between these two mindsets!

Many times, a true artist will not create art for any particular reason, use, or purpose. It's just enjoyable for him. My brother, Silas, he makes music because it's beautiful and fun. He enjoys it. Beauty for the sake of beauty. So what if it's not profitable or popular? Those details matter not to the one who loves art for itself. Art may not help us survive in the world. It may not always have survival value. It's deeper than that, actually. Beauty and art is what gives value to survival! Beauty does not primarily help us to live. Beauty primarily gives us a reason to live. The artist sees this.

Beauty just for the beauty of it

So, my conclusion is that many people make art, not all are truly artists. Bunches of people just make art for the money, or for other advantages that come with it. A person who is at heart an artist has vision, loves beauty for being itself, and desires to share the beauty they see with other people.