Why so much Muslim rage at a Danish cartoon?
Why so much rage
in people in general? Narcissism. Hate. Illusions.
The Idea Emporium -
facts, ideas, conclusions. Plus stupid opinions exposed.
here for The Rage of the 'Righteous',
an idea piece.
here for Give Peace a Chance,
an idea piece.
here for This Is Not Me,
thoughts on signing and not signing my name.
Click here for Stupid Opinion
a "favorite" stupid opinion.
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
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 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 for me.
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,
""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
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 possible
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
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
I also think that, when I named The Idea Emporium,
I was blurring words together in my mind - idea, concept, conception, understanding,
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 range.
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 is strong.
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 capacities.
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 are..."
"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
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
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 back.
July 30, 2006
copyright © Elsa Schieder 2006, 2011
publishing house - FlufferDuff Impressions 2006, 2011