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Obama Has No Middle East Strategy? Good! – Article by Ron Paul

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Categories: Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
September 1, 2014
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Last week President Obama admitted that his administration has not worked out a strategy on how to deal with the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a dominant force in the Middle East. However, as ISIS continues its march through Syria and Iraq, many in the US administration believe it is, in the words of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a threat “beyond anything we have ever seen.”Predictably, the neocons attacked the president’s speech. They believe the solution to any problem is more bombs and troops on the ground, so they cannot understand the president’s hesitation.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon made it clear that fighting ISIS is going to cost a lot more money and will bring US forces back to Iraq for the third time. The post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan peace dividend disintegrates.

Mr. McKeon said last week:

ISIS is an urgent threat and a minimalist approach, that depends solely on FY15 funding or pinprick strikes that leave fragile forces in Iraq and Syria to do the hard fighting, is insufficient to protect our interests and guarantee our safety in time.

What does this mean in practice? If the neocons have their way, the Federal Reserve will “print” more money to finance another massive US intervention in the Middle East. In reality this means further devaluation of the US dollar, which is a tax on all Americans that will hit the poorest hardest.

A new US military incursion will not end ISIS; it will provide them with the recruiting tool they most crave, while draining the US treasury. Just what Osama bin Laden wanted!

McKeon and the other hawks act as if they had only recently become aware of the ISIS. Or if they noticed it, they pretend US policy had nothing to do with its rise.

McKeon also said last week, “ISIS threat was allowed to build and fester over a period of time.”

In fact, US regime-change policy in Syria was directly responsible for the rise of ISIS over these past three years. As journalist Eric Margolis observed recently, the emergence of ISIS is the “mother of all blowback.” The neocons who want us to get tougher on ISIS, including a US attack on Syria, are the same ones who not long ago demanded that we support groups like ISIS to overthrow the Assad government in Syria. US-trained and funded “moderates” from the Free Syrian Army joined the Islamist militias including ISIS, taking US weapons and training with them.

Three years of supporting any force that might overthrow the secular government of President Assad has produced a new monster in the Middle East that neocons insist the US must slay.

Why can’t they just admit they were wrong? Why can’t the interventionists just admit that their support for regime change in Syria was a terrible and tragic mistake?

If ISIS is as big a threat as they claim, why can’t they simply ask Assad to help out? Assad has never threatened the United States; ISIS has. Assad has been fighting ISIS and similar Islamist extremist groups for three years.

Why does the US government insist on aligning with theocracies in the Middle East? If there is anything that contradicts the US Constitution and American values it is a theocratic government. I do not believe that a majority in the Middle East wants to live under such a system, so why do we keep pushing it on them? Is that what they call promoting democracy?

A lack of strategy is a glimmer of hope. Perhaps the president will finally stop listening to the neocons and interventionists whose recommendations have gotten us into this mess in the first place! Here’s a strategy: just come home.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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Discoverer, Op. 16 (2002) – Musical Composition and Video by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Music, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
August 31, 2014
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This piece by G. Stolyarov II, composed in 2002, evokes the image of a man submerged in a stream of exploratory thought, moving, by his own volition, toward unraveling the secrets of the natural world.

Download the MP3 file of this composition here.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s compositions, all available for free download, here.

The artwork is Mr. Stolyarov’s Abstract Orderism Fractal 58, available for download here and here.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational high culture to others.

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The Rational Argumentator’s Twelfth Anniversary Manifesto

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Categories: Announcements, Philosophy, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
August 31, 2014
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The Rational Argumentator marks its 12-year anniversary on August 31, 2014. This publication has now reached a venerable age by Internet standards, and its impact only continues to grow. I am pleased to announce that TRA’s trajectory has followed closely the aspirations expressed in the Eleventh Anniversary Manifesto, with many milestones reached and many vital projects completed. There is no doubt in my mind that TRA’s twelfth year was its best so far. Despite the turmoil in the world, The Rational Argumentator has stood firm in its efforts to champion a better way – a path of rationality, individual freedom, and technological progress – in a resolute rejection of the barbaric methods and short-sighted goals of certain “world leaders” today. To memorialize TRA’s unwavering commitment to the improvement of the human condition over the past dozen years, I have added to its header the words “Championing Reason, Rights, and Progress Since 2002”.

Total twelfth-year visitation for all TRA features was 1,430,226 page views – a record high and a significant 32.77% increase over the eleventh-year visitation of 1,077,192 page views. The previous record year for visitation was the ninth year, which brought 1,398,438 page views, and the twelfth year exceeded this amount by 2.27%. TRA’s lifetime visitation stands at 8,176,586 page views. 314 new regular TRA features were published in 2014, in addition to many special features, some of which amount to hundreds of pages of reading. This has been a major increase from the 208 features published during TRA’s eleventh year and even the 306 features published during TRA’s tenth year. In addition to increasing my own content production, I have restored to typical historical levels TRA’s practice of republishing thoughtful works by other authors.

Unprecedented public exposure and reach has been achieved by means of my children’s book Death is Wrong, illustrated by the wonderful Wendy Stolyarov. With tremendous support from the life-extensionist/transhumanist movement, The Rational Argumentator served as the hub for a massive fundraising and book-distribution effort to spread 1,029 free paperback copies of Death is Wrong to children in 14 countries. 92 generous donors and 50 activists throughout the world made this effort possible. Our Indiegogo fundraiser was successfully completed on April 23, 2014, and all 1,029 books were sent out as of August 7, 2014. Communities such as MILE – the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension, LongeCity, and the Life Extension Foundation were crucial in spreading the word about this effort and facilitating widespread awareness of our goal and its importance. For a great example of the outpouring of pro bono support motivated by Death is Wrong, watch this Book Trailer video, masterfully created by Peter Caramico of LongeCity. Death is Wrong has been featured by Fast Company, Mashable, Psychology Today, the BBC, TheBlaze, VICE Motherboard, Slashdot, and other prominent publications. This has enabled many more people to become aware of the feasibility and desirability of pursuing indefinite life extension in our lifetimes. As a side benefit, it has also brought more visitation to The Rational Argumentator.

In an effort to maximize the spread of Death is Wrong, after the conclusion of the distribution of paperback books, I took the next step of making the electronic editions of the book – available in English, Russian, and Spanish – freely downloadable in PDF format. Thus far, over 1,216 copies have been downloaded directly from The Rational Argumentator, and the files have spread to many external sites as well. This has essentially more than doubled the spread of the book’s message since the completion of the paperback-distribution campaign. In the meantime, another freely available work of mine, Eden against the Colossus ­­– which I republished in January 2013, has already been downloaded over 3,300 times. My strategy of making my works as easy to obtain as possible has certainly gone a long way toward ensuring that their message continues to influence the world to the maximal realistic extent.

Overall, my efforts to make my past writings available for free download directly from The Rational Argumentator’s domain have been successfully completed. In addition to the most up-to-date and thorough Third Edition of A Rational Cosmology, released in September 2013, nearly all of my older musical compositions have been remastered, and free MP3 files of the remastered versions have been made available on this page. I hope to continue to gradually release music videos of each of my compositions, accompanied by my works of fractal art. 47 videos are available already, out of 76 total videos that could be made for each of my extant compositions.

An added impetus to the project to host all of my works on The Rational Argumentator was given in July 2014, with the announcement by Yahoo! of the abrupt forthcoming closure of Yahoo! Voices (formerly Associated Content), where I had published 1,321 features since 2007 and where my works had garnered 3,190,261 page views. Yahoo’s mismanagement of Associated Content since its 2010 acquisition had made the site distinctly less appealing for original, intellectual contributors. Most of my spare time in July 2014 was spent on rescuing my previously published articles – including many sections of educational study guides – to ensure their continued availability directly on The Rational Argumentator. While I will no longer receive revenue from the page views on these works, I am happy that they have not been lost to the world due to Yahoo’s disastrous decision. Many articles were republished as new features on The Rational Argumentator. Some articles were also placed in my archive page of selected writings from Associated Content/Yahoo! Voices. Every single study guide in my Free Tools for Rational Education section – including my widely utilized actuarial study guides – is now available either in a conveniently downloadable PDF format or (for smaller study guides) in the form of multiple interconnected HTML pages.

Through repeated content-rescue efforts since 2009, I have learned my lesson: always host my own material myself, if I wish to see it preserved indefinitely. Almost every single large, commercial content site on which I published in the past, or which I attempted to use to earn modest revenue streams from my content, is now defunct. Geocities, Helium.com, Today.com, Adbrite, Associated Content, and Yahoo! Voices are all gone; The Rational Argumentator has outlasted them all. The Rational Argumentator will continue to outlast any sites that are driven by a short-termist mentality of sacrificing quality of content to the quarterly bottom line. This is because The Rational Argumentator is motivated by my quest for permanence – in knowledge, in achievement, in existence itself. As long as I live (which I hope will be indefinitely), so shall The Rational Argumentator persist.

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Mr. Stolyarov Interviewed by La República Democrática de Leo About “Death is Wrong”

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Categories: Education, Philosophy, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
August 30, 2014
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Listen to the excellent and entertaining recent interview of me by Leonardo Nunes Ricucci on La República Democrática de Leo, where we discuss my children’s book Death is Wrong, transhumanism, indefinite life extension, risk management, and related topics.

You can listen to the podcast and download an MP3 file of the episode at https://soundcloud.com/rdleo/ep-33

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ALS, SENS, and Ice Buckets (or Lack Thereof) – Video by Gennady Stolyarov II and Wendy Stolyarov

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The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II and Wendy Stolyarov
August 28, 2014
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Gennady Stolyarov II and Wendy Stolyarov, author and illustrator of Death is Wrong, respond to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

References

- Evidence of Donation to ALS Association
- Evidence of Donation to SENS Research Foundation
- ALS Association
- SENS Research Foundation
- Eternal Life Fan Club Website
- Eternal Life Fan Club on Facebook
- Death is Wrong Official Home Page

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Dissent Under Socialism – Article by Sanford Ikeda

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The New Renaissance Hat
Sanford Ikeda
August 26, 2014
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The Daily Mail reports that “France’s Socialist government provoked outrage … by becoming the first in the world to ban protests against Israeli action in Palestine.” The socialist interior minister justified the ban by citing the potential for violent clashes in Paris between opposing groups, which he deemed a “threat to public order.”

My object here is not to comment on any aspect of the conflict in the Middle East or on this ban, which may or may not be justified. What caught my eye in the story is the following quote:

Sylvie Perrot, another pro-Palestine activist from Paris, said: “Fascist states stop people demonstrating against wars—it is beyond belief that French Socialists are following their example.”

Au contraire! 

If you understand the nature of socialism, it’s quite believable.

Collectivism and dissent

Let me begin by defining “collectivism” as any economic system in which the State controls the principal means of production. Collectivism requires central planning of some kind over the resources the State controls. The particular brand of collectivism we’re talking about depends on the aims of the controllers. 

In theory, “socialism” aims to unite people around the world regardless of nationality toward a common internationalist goal, while in theory “fascism” aims to unite people of a particular nation toward a common nationalist goal. The ends differ but all forms of collectivism use the same means: State control (de facto or de jure) over the means of production. Given their common collectivist roots, then, it shouldn’t be surprising that fascism and socialism employ similar policies.

Even more than that, however, F. A. Hayek points out, in The Road to Serfdom:  

That socialism so long as it remains theoretical is internationalist, while as soon as it is put into practice … it becomes violently nationalist, is one of the reasons why “liberal socialism” as most people in the Western world imagine it is purely theoretical, while the practice of socialism is everywhere totalitarian.

I would recommend the chapters in The Road to Serfdom where Hayek explains why this is the case (especially “Individualism and Collectivism,” “Planning and Democracy,” “Planning and the Rule of Law,” and “The Socialist Roots of Naziism”), but here are two important points in that explanation.

First, to the degree that the State undertakes central planning of the resources it controls, it can’t allow any person to interfere with or oppose the plan. Or, as Hayek puts it, “If the state is precisely to foresee the incidence of its actions, it means that it can leave those affected no choice.”

Second, the more resources the State controls, the wider the scope and more detailed its planning necessarily becomes so that delay in any part of the system becomes intolerable. There is little room for unresponsiveness, let alone dissent. Hayek again:

If people are to support the common effort without hesitation, they must be convinced that not only the end aimed at but also the means chosen are the right ones. The official creed, to which adherence must be enforced, will therefore comprise all the views about facts on which the plan is based. Public criticism or even expressions of doubt must be suppressed because they tend to weaken public support. [emphasis added]

My point is that even if genuine socialism of some kind did exist in France (or anywhere else), the government there could not allow spontaneous political demonstrations, for the reasons Hayek outlines in The Road to Serfdom. Collective political ends must trump individual expression. 

That a socialist government would ban political demonstrations should then come as no surprise.

The problem is central planning 

Friends of mine have objected that these arguments are misplaced because genuine socialism doesn’t exist in France, and that political parties who brand themselves “socialist” aren’t really socialist at all, at least in the sense defined here. 

But Hayek’s point is that intolerance for dissent grows with the scope of central planning. Thus, the principle also applies in the case of a mixed economy, such as the United States, with more limited central planning. To the extent that the U.S. government tries to pursue collectivist ends—say, during times of war—the greater the pressure on public officials to quell open displays of protest.

Moreover, the more things the central government plans for, the less freedom—of expression, assembly, association—there can be. If the State controls all means of production and all resources are placed in the hands of the authorities, then in effect all forms of expression—in politics, science, religion, art—are political and any form of dissent from the official creed is intolerable and must be forbidden. That would lead, and has led, to the death of free inquiry, because dissent, rebellion, and radical criticism are essential to the growth of knowledge.

One of the political virtues of private property is that it establishes a sphere of autonomy in which we are safe from the threat of physical violence. In that sphere of autonomy, we can say or not say, or do or not do, anything we like, so long as we don’t initiate physical violence against others. Private property is the garage where we can form a band or invent the personal computer or paint protest signs. As private property disappears, not only do our economic liberties disappear, but so too do our political liberties.

What is not forbidden …

Indeed, taken to its logical conclusion, under pure collectivism no freedom at all would remain, and not only the freedom to peacefully assemble in protest against government activities. In a completely collectivist system, it’s not a stretch to say that what isn’t forbidden would in fact be mandatory.

From California, which at least for now is a ways off from pure collectivism, comes an even-nuttier though still-scary scenario:

A Southern California couple received a letter from Glendora city officials threatening to fine them $500 if they don’t get their sun-scorched brown lawn green again, reports AP. Which Laura Whitney and Michael Korte would gladly do, except for one thing: They could also be fined $500 if they water their lawn too much; they’re currently only watering twice a week.

Thus, what is mandatory may also be forbidden. Don’t forget, 1984 was 30 years ago.

Sanford Ikeda is an associate professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism.
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This article was originally published by The Foundation for Economic Education.

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Ferguson: The War Comes Home – Article by Ron Paul

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Categories: Justice, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
August 26, 2014
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America’s attention recently turned away from the violence in Iraq and Gaza toward the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of Michael Brown. While all the facts surrounding the shooing have yet to come to light, the shock of seeing police using tear gas (a substance banned in warfare), and other military-style weapons against American citizens including journalists exercising their First Amendment rights, has started a much-needed debate on police militarization.The increasing use of military equipment by local police is a symptom of growing authoritarianism, not the cause. The cause is policies that encourage police to see Americans as enemies to subjugate, rather than as citizens to “protect and serve.” This attitude is on display not only in Ferguson, but in the police lockdown following the Boston Marathon bombing and in the Americans killed and injured in “no-knock” raids conducted by militarized SWAT teams.

One particularly tragic victim of police militarization and the war on drugs is “baby Bounkham.” This infant was severely burned and put in a coma by a flash-burn grenade thrown into his crib by a SWAT team member who burst into the infant’s room looking for methamphetamine.

As shocking as the case of baby Bounkham is, no one should be surprised that empowering police to stop consensual (though perhaps harmful and immoral) activities has led to a growth of authoritarian attitudes and behaviors among government officials and politicians. Those wondering why the local police increasingly look and act like an occupying military force should consider that the drug war was the justification for the Defense Department’s “1033 program,” which last year gave local police departments almost $450 million worth of “surplus” military equipment. This included armored vehicles and grenades like those that were used to maim baby Bounkham.

Today, the war on drugs has been eclipsed by the war on terror as an all-purpose excuse for expanding the police state. We are all familiar with how the federal government increased police power after September 11 via the PATRIOT Act, TSA, and other Homeland Security programs. Not as widely known is how the war on terror has been used to justify the increased militarization of local police departments to the detriment of our liberty. Since 2002, the Department of Homeland Security has provided over $35 billion in grants to local governments for the purchase of tactical gear, military-style armor, and mine-resistant vehicles.

The threat of terrorism is used to justify these grants. However, the small towns that receive tanks and other military weapons do not just put them into storage until a real terrorist threat emerges. Instead, the military equipment is used for routine law enforcement.

Politicians love this program because it allows them to brag to their local media about how they are keeping their constituents safe. Of course, the military-industrial complex’s new kid brother, the law enforcement-industrial complex, wields tremendous influence on Capitol Hill. Even many so-called progressives support police militarization to curry favor with police unions.

Reversing the dangerous trend of the militarization of local police can start with ending all federal involvement in local law enforcement. Fortunately, all that requires is for Congress to begin following the Constitution, which forbids the federal government from controlling or funding local law enforcement. There is also no justification for federal drug laws or for using the threat of terrorism as an excuse to treat all people as potential criminals. However, Congress will not restore constitutional government on its own; the American people must demand that Congress stop facilitating the growth of an authoritarian police state that threatens their liberty.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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March #11, Op. 60 (2009) – Musical Composition and Video by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Music, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
August 24, 2014
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This is a triumphal march – a monumental celebration of great victories and accomplishments. It employs three principal related themes, with each theme being accompanied by a variation immediately after it is presented. The majority of the march is composed for two pianos, a brass section, and timpani – although the second occurrence of the first two theme-variation blocks is orchestrated differently, with the brass section being replaced by an organ and a second part added for timpani.

This work was originally composed in 2009 and has been remastered using the Finale 2011 software.

Download the MP3 file of this composition here.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s compositions, all available for free download, here.

The artwork is Mr. Stolyarov’s Abstract Orderism Fractal XXII, available for download here and here.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational high culture to others.

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Ontological Realism and Creating the One Real Future – Video by G. Stolyarov II

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The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
August 23, 2014
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An ongoing debate in ontology concerns the question of whether ideas or the physical reality have primacy. Mr. Stolyarov addresses the implications of the primacy of the physical reality for human agency in the pursuit of life and individual flourishing. Transhumanism and life extension are in particular greatly aided by an ontological realist (and physicalist) framework of thought.

References

- “Ontological Realism and Creating the One Real Future” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
- “Objective Reality” – Video by David Kelley
- A Rational Cosmology – Treatise by G. Stolyarov II
- “Putting Randomness in Its Place” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
- “Putting Randomness in Its Place” – Video by G. Stolyarov II

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Plot Holes in Fiction and in Life – Article by Sanford Ikeda

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Categories: Economics, Fiction, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Sanford Ikeda
August 23, 2014
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Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) have long been aware of a possible plot hole. The central narrative concerns the hero, Frodo Baggins, who must destroy a powerful ring by walking through forbidding terrain and defeating or eluding monstrous foes and throwing the ring into a live volcano. The journey takes many months and costs Frodo and his companions dearly.

Over the years, many readers have noticed a much easier and less dangerous solution. Why, they ask, didn’t Frodo just have Gandalf ask his friends the mighty eagles to fly him swiftly over enemy territory so he could then simply toss the ring into the volcano? I’ve run across this post on Facebook a few times, which cleverly patches that hole with only a slight change in the narrative. (Others argue that there’s really no hole to patch because the “eagle solution” itself has flaws. And so the debate continues.)

Anyway, it occurred to me that the kind of social theory that I and many Austrian economists engage in could usefully be framed in terms of plot holes.

What’s a plot hole?

I’ll define a plot hole as a failure of logic, a factual mistake, or an obvious solution to a critical problem central to a story. (Here’s a slightly different definition from Wikipedia.) Of course, any particular plot hole may involve more than one of these errors of fact, logic, or perception, and there may be more kinds of plot holes than these. But here are examples of each of the ones I’ve mentioned. They come from movies, but some of them, such as the plot hole in Lord of the Rings, have literary counterparts.

Factual hole: In the movie Independence Day, key characters survive a massive fireball by ducking into the open side-door of a tunnel just as the inferno blasts by. Anyone who knows about firestorms would tell you that the super-heated air alone would instantly kill anyone in that situation.

Logical hole: In Citizen Kane, miserable Charles Foster Kane dies alone. How then does anyone know that his last word was “Rosebud”? Keep in mind that it’s a reporter’s search for the meaning of that word that drives the story forward.

Perceptual hole: The LOTR problem mentioned above is an example of this. No one seems to realize that there may be a much safer and effective way to defeat the enemy.

I would think that one of the things that makes writing fiction difficult is that events and characters have to hang together. The writer needs always to keep in mind the rules of the universe she’s creating, to recall what her characters know and when they know it, and to make sure that these details all constrain every action and event.

Life is full of “plot holes”

In real life, we make mistakes all the time. I think it’s interesting that those mistakes appear to fit neatly into the three categories of plot holes I’ve identified.

Factual hole/error: A person who doesn’t know the difference between liters and gallons buys a 100-liter barrel to hold 100 gallons of rainwater. No explanation necessary.

Logical hole/error: Thinking that since you’ve made a string of bad investment decisions, your next decision is therefore more likely to be a good one. But it’s quite the contrary: If you’ve been consistently making bad decisions, it follows that if nothing else changes, your next decision will also be bad one. (See “gambler’s fallacy.”)

Perceptual hole/error: Selling your car for $15,000 when, unbeknownst to you, you could have sold it for $20,000. The better deal simply escapes your notice and, if you were ever to learn about it, you would feel regret.

Here’s the difference though: In fiction, a writer can get away with any of these three plot holes as long as no reader sees it. Even if you do notice one, but you otherwise enjoy the story, you might be willing to overlook it. But in real life, you can’t ignore factual or logical plot holes. If you try to, they will come back and bite you. It will be painfully obvious that you can’t put 100 gallons of water into a 100-liter barrel. And if you bet on your next investment being a winner because you’ve just had a bunch of losers, it’s very likely that you’ll be disappointed. These kinds of holes you’re bound to discover.

I wrote about errors in an earlier column, but the distinction comes from my great teacher Israel Kirzner. He identifies a class of errors that derive from “overoptimism.” The more optimistic you are, the more likely it is that you’ll deliberately pass up solid opportunities for gain and thus the more likely it is that you’ll be disappointed. That’s not to say that optimism is a bad thing. If you weren’t optimistic and so never acted on that optimism, you’d never know if that optimism were warranted or not. You would never learn.

The other kind of error, what Kirzner calls “overpessimism,” happens when you’re so pessimistic that you unwittingly pass up a realizable opportunity. And because you don’t take chances, you don’t learn. This type of error is akin to a perceptual hole. Thinking you can only get $15,000 for your car means not selling to someone who would in fact pay more. Here, it’s not inevitable that you will discover your error because, after all, someone does buy your car (for $15,000). But you could have done better if you’d been more alert.

So errors of overpessimism, what I’m calling perceptual holes, are very different from factual and logical holes in that they are much harder to detect.

Plot holes and social theory

For many Austrian economists like me, economics, as a branch of a social theory, accepts as a datum that people are prone to make mistakes. But given the right rules of the game—private property, free association—they can discover those mistakes and correct them via an entrepreneurial-competitive process. Unlike plot holes in fiction writing, then, plot holes in living social systems are a feature, not a bug.

So our challenge as flesh-and-blood people, and what makes our lives interesting, is to discover plot holes, especially perceptual ones, and to fill them in. The challenge of social theorists is to understand as much we can about how that happens. In novels it’s the people outside the story who discover holes; in society it’s the people living the story who do.

Plot holes in novels spell failure. Plot holes in real life mean opportunity.

Sanford Ikeda is an associate professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism.
***
This article was originally published by The Foundation for Economic Education.
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