Childhood rates of autism have skyrocketed.
So have rates of childhood vaccines.
The Idea Emporium explores
how chains in the mind have kept loving parents
from acting to protect their children.
another idea piece on chains in the mind,
The Rage of the Righteous
my arguments against the opinion
that all opinions are equal,
Elsa's creativity blog,
on the writing of these ideas and much
Opt-in for Updates
The Idea Emporium - why and what
One of my lifelong concerns has been trying
to make sense of reality. What is happening? Why is this happening?
And with that I come to ideas - ideas about reality, ideas that need
to be checked against reality, not just believed in like the tooth
fairy is accepted by a child. But how does one check them? What qualifies
as proof, as evidence?
And why, so often, is evidence of no interest
to people? We have masses of evidence of how good many people are at
denying evidence when it goes against what they believe. Millions have
denied, and continue to deny the equality of women and men, of Jews
and nonJews, of atheists and Muslims, gays and heterosexuals. People
are incredible experts at denying reality - what is seen, experienced.
Of course we need to interpret reality - we do not know it "pure"
but through our limited senses, our limited memory, our limited ability
to perceive and make sense of the amazing array of information that
does gets perceived.
Still, it boggles the even slightly rational
mind - how can so many people be so utterly blind to, let's say, findings
about nutrition? It amazed me to find out, when I was growing up, that
there was evidence for the health benefits of whole grains over refined
products - because masses of people stuck with white flour, white rice,
white sugar. How could they be so closed to evidence? Somehow they
had a wall against the evidence.
The ideas I want to explore are those that go
with, not against, the evidence, that try to make sense of evidence.
So, the Idea Emporium - a place for ideas.
The Idea Emporium - a place where ideas are explored.
The Idea Emporium - a place where ideas are entertained , played with,
looked at from many angles.
The Idea Emporium, a place where ideas are evaluated.
What is an idea, by the way. I hadn't thought
of that when I chose the name of The Idea Emporium. It just seemed
the obviously right name. It was months before I realized I had a hard
time putting into words what I meant by idea. I began to think about
the word. Sentences with the word, idea, floated into my mind. Like, "I
have an idea. Why don't we order pizza?" That was an eye-opener
My guess is that most of us use the word without
knowing exactly what it means. "I have an idea of what we might
do. Maybe we could go out for Chinese food. But It's just an idea" -
meaning this need not come to pass, but we think it might be fun. That
is obviously not what I meant by idea.
"I have an idea. Maybe you left your hat in the car." Again, no
""My idea is that we go in together and talk to her." No.
These are all legitimate uses of the term, idea, but it's not what
I meant when I came to name The Idea Emporium. And I'm sure it's not
what people might expect if they click on The Idea Emporium - because
it's not what most people mean by the word "idea."
Word has a built-in dictionary. This is what it says:
a personal opinion or belief;
a thought to be presented as a suggestion;
an impression or knowledge of something;
a realization of a possible way of doing something or of something
to be done;
the aim or purpose of a plan or project;
the gist or précis of something such as a book, report, project
a thought about or mental picture of something such as a future or
a concept that exists in the mind only;
a mental image that reflects reality.
The last is what I'm most interested in - ideas that reflect reality
as well as possible. But I've decided that I like it that idea is such
a wide term.
Here I am taking idea to mean (and I think this
is what most of us think of when we think of the meaning of the word,
idea) some thought one has about something. "I have an idea" -
meaning, I am not sure this concept fits reality, but it is a hypothesis
I have formed.
I also think that, when I named The Idea Emporium,
I was blurring words together in my mind - idea, concept, conception,
The Idea Emporium - a place for all these things.
This is not the same as people having "an
idee fixe" - meaning, a fixed idea, a rigid belief that something
is one way or another.
The sooner people get rid of such ideas, the better. The Idea Emporium
is not a place to set out rock-hard beliefs and stone people with them,
hurling them like missiles at all and any that come within striking
That is not The Idea Emporium.
The Idea Emporium - a place to present and explore
ideas - for now my ideas.
That does not mean the idea need to be timidly
set forth, all hemming and hawing, tentative even when the evidence
The Idea Emporium – the goal is smart
opinions, critical thought, perception, good analysis.
The Idea Emporium. Smart opinions - meaning,
drawing on every resource possible, rather than "it's my opinion,
that's why I believe it, and it's as good as yours any day. Who are
you to say blacks can do math, women can learn to read, Jews deserve
to live. I have every right to my opinion." Personally, I'd rather
do my best to think well, but many others are clearly proud of their
avowed right to be thoughtless.
That's not The Idea Emporium.
The Idea Emporium. Critical thought - that means
we do our best to think well, to apply logic, information, all our
The Idea Emporium. Good analysis. Again, that
means we try to ensure that we use valid arguments - not, "because
it's my opinion," "because I say so"
"because I know that's right" "because my god says so" "because
everyone knows that's right" . We both draw conclusions from evidence
(so there may be evidence showing patterns and tendencies in certain
groups (for instance, I've done lots of research on the impact of rights
movements on those who get involved, and have found lots of evidence
for patterns of response) - and at the same time we are careful not
to generalize, to draw conclusions beyond what we have evidence for,
and even contradicting the evidence ("Women are ..." "Muslims
believe ..." "everyone this happens to ..." "Jews
"Gays are ..."
The Idea Emporium. Perception. Not easy to perceive.
We each do it through a filter of experience, memory, assumptions,
and so on. We have all learned not to perceive many things - denial
- and to magnify other things. The goal at The Idea Emporium (and this
should be the goal everywhere) is to be as perceptive - taking in as
much information - as possible.
The Idea Emporium. i could go on and on. But
this is enough for a start. More important now to put it into action
- because it's ideas came first, surging inside me, wanting to find
a place to be heard.
I'm (among other things) a college teacher,
so my teaching gives me one outlet for my ideas, to express them, modify
them, listen to other ideas, test the evidence, the power (or lack
thereof) of different arguments.
But that hasn't been enough for me. One small
class at a time.
I have a sense that I have some ideas that
could be valuable to many people - ideas many people don't have (many
have very different ideas), ideas where my ideas may help other people
struggling with some of the same concerns, and so on. I think these
ideas could help make some kind of positive difference in the world,
reach people who are reachable, maybe even break through some shells
many people live inside, shells that stop them from perceiving things.
There will be space for the ideas of others
as well. Right now I am starting with a few ideas of mine. But I envisage
that The Idea Emporium is a place that will grow, enriching both others
and also myself - that I and my ideas will grow from some of what comes
July 30, 2006
copyright © Elsa Schieder 2006
publishing house - FlufferDuff Impressions 2006
Questions - on rage, hatred,
narcissism, empathy, caring, peace.
Good thinking and analysis. Logic plus emotion.
The Idea Emporium - facts, ideas, conclusions.
Plus stupid opinions exposed.
Opt-in for Updates
TO FREE UPDATES
Opt-in for Updates