Blind Spots in American Thinking

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright February 2010


Introduction: Defining a blind spot

Q: What do the health care debate, the War on Drugs, the climate change debate and registered sex offenders have in common?

A: They are all examples of blind spots in the American community thinking.

A blind spot is a place where the American community is investing a whole lot of effort to control a threat or alleviate suffering, but the effort isn't working. It is not solving the problem and it is doing serious damage to the American community for one or both of two reasons:

o It is a huge waste of resources: Even though the resources being devoted to solving the problem are large, the effort isn't controlling the threat or alleviating the suffering very well.

o The effort is corrosive -- it is corroding the community by lowering enfranchisement -- enfranchisement is the feeling of a community member that what they do is important to the community and that the community is listening to them and paying attention to what they think is important.

Another way of saying this is that in America a whole lot of time, money and attention are being wasted on certain needless protection and alleviation efforts, and the way that time, money and attention is being spent is filling our communities with criminals, corruption and malcontents, and it is disenfranchising -- it is taking away the feeling of responsibility and the feeling of the importance of responsible action from individual members of our American community.

These blind spots are making America ugly, so we should be aware of them.

Again, I call them blind spots because the members of the community who advocate these programs do so for the best of reasons. They are enthusiastic, dedicated and right-thinking people who want the best for all of us. But, they don't see the huge costs of the dark side of the choices they are enthusiastically supporting -- they are blind to the bad consequences of their choices.

Root Attitudes

These blind spots are being caused by root attitudes -- feelings held so deeply that they are considered axioms by much of the community -- axioms are assumptions that don't need explaining, they just are. Here is an example of an axiom in theater stories: In a melodrama when a man walks on screen in the first or second scene wearing a black suit, a black hat and twisting a thin moustache in his fingers, you know he's got a mortgage in his hand and he's going to threaten a fair young maiden with eviction if she doesn't marry him -- this is an axiom of melodrama stories.

I will be describing blind spots and the root attitudes that cause the blind spots. These root attitudes are based on deeply instinctual thinking -- this is thinking that dates back to when mankind lived in Stone Age villages. Instinctual thinking is thinking that has been good thinking for a long, long time, and that is why it has become instinctual. What has changed since those Stone Age times is civilization -- we average Americans now live a technologically advanced lifestyle.

Because technology changes how we live, some kinds of thinking that used to work very well at protecting the community don't work so well anymore. For instance, it used to be appropriate to betray people who weren't part of your tribe -- the thinking pattern that said it didn't matter much one way or the other if you helped a stranger or slit his throat worked well in the Stone Age. In a globalized world, that kind of tribal-oriented thinking doesn't work so well... but it's still an easy way to think.

Instinctual thinking is comfortable thinking -- it's an easy way to think whether it works well, or not.

These blind spots I will be talking about are caused by using Stone Age thinking when it's not appropriate, and not realizing that that is what's happening.

A quick note on the sources for my conclusions

What research have I done to support these results?

What follows is not science, none of this is proven. These results are based on my life's experiences. They are anecdotal, but the anecdotes have a lot of depth: I've been around a while, I'm a great fan of reading current events, science and history, and I've lived and worked in five different countries for six decades. (My hope is that these insights will be inspiring to some aspiring scientists and they will do the legwork of making this into science.)

As I read and experience current day-to-day life in contemporary America, these are the attitudes that I see as being over-the-top worries.

By over-the-top worries I mean that Americans worry so much about these things that they make expensive mistakes trying to prevent damage from these worries... very expensive mistakes. They are expensive because the preventive measures don't work, and they cost the American community a lot of civil liberties and, even more important, a lot of enfranchisement.

I call these over-the-top situations blind spots because the Americans doing the worrying and supporting of these solutions don't see the full size of the expense or the corrosion to good community values that these protective efforts are causing -- they just see the serious threat and feel anything and everything must be done to counter it.

Here are things that I see that Americans have been over-the-top about for one or more decades, and my best guess as to the root attitudes that have driven these blind spots to develop. Are there other blind spots? Yes. Do I have blind spots? Yes, but this list is a start.

That said, let's get started.


Fear of crime and violence is ancient. Fear of terrorism is a rather new twist on this ancient worry. Modern terrorism evolved as a symbiote with modern news reporting.

As TV has become more a part of our lives, and as news reporters of all kinds have been equipped with more portable, faster deploying, recording equipment, there has been a revolution in what people can know about their community and their government.

A lot of the effect of this change in news reporting technology has been beneficial. I attribute the relatively bloodless regime changes of the late 20th century -- such as the fall of the Soviet Union -- to this immediacy of news reporting. It's a lot harder to hide bloody repression done by a government from the community being governed when every John Doe on the street can potentially show the violence to the world. Compare "pictures at ten", and nowadays "pictures on YouTube", to the easy-to-censor "News of the Week" newsreels shown at movie theaters in the 1930's and '40's.

But the age-old news reporting instincts of "If it bleeds it leads" and "STOP THE PRESSES!" have not died at all. In fact, they have become even more vivid to the news receivers -- the viewers -- and that is the root of the potency of terrorism.

Terrorism is at its root violence to advertise a cause... and advertising is the key word. The people who do terrorism do it to promote a cause, and they do it because they see it as cost-effective advertising.

This means that how terrorism is reported is a vital part of its value to the perpetrators.

The American community also has a deep-rooted fear of flying. This fear is the root of the media circus that surrounds every commercial airline crash. Americans also deeply fear suicidal people -- witness the great concern caused by kamikaze pilots in World War II. Terrorists have discovered that mixing airplanes with violence, and suicide with popular public symbols, produces a huge media circus in response. Wow! What an advertising return for a cause on a tight budget!

The blind spot here is that the American community doesn't recognize this violence as advertising. Rather than work at reducing the advertising return of terrorism, Americans have invested heavily in developing a modern religion -- the security religion. The most visible practitioners of this modern religion are commercial air travelers and their priesthood, the TSA.

Q: How can you tell that airport passenger security is a religion?

A: Because what you say, and what people around you thinking, are very important to its effectiveness.

Compare airport passenger security -- something faith-based -- to starting your car when you turn the key -- something fact-based. If you go to an airport and start bad-mouthing airport security, does it matter? Oh yes, very much! If you get into your car and start bad-mouthing it, does it matter? Not in the least, turn that key and the car will start no matter what you are saying, or what your passengers are thinking.

And, again, this is the blind spot surrounding terrorism -- the American community does not recognize that it is up against a form of advertising, and that to defend against this advertising technique, it is investing heavily in a religion.

Mind Altering Experiences

There are many ways to alter one's thinking processes. Some examples are drinking, falling in love, experiencing runner's high, meditating, deeply enjoying a concert, and experiencing adrenaline rush.

These are all activities which temporarily change the way a person thinks.

Perhaps because the human brain has gone through such dramatic changes in recent times (in the evolutionary time frame, that is) it tires of ordinary conscious-level thinking easily and likes to relax by doing other kinds of thinking. For whatever reason the ways that humans have invented to change how we think are numerous and diverse.

Just and numerous and diverse are the opinions of on-lookers as to the rightness and wrongness of the various mind-altering activities. Just one of thousands of examples: Typical Americans see mind altering using alcohol as either OK, or OK for other people to do, while fundamentalist Muslims in Saudi Arabia see this kind of mind altering as wrong for anyone in their community to do.

The blind spot happens when those who don't like a particular mind altering style take their dislike to the point of successfully declaring, "There should be a law against this."

This is a big problem because those who enjoy using the prohibited mind altering technique don't see a problem, so making the practice illegal is disenfranchising -- those who don't see the problem are being cut out of the community.

The blind spot is that the people doing the prohibiting don't see the huge expense they are incurring because of this disenfranchising. Here are some examples of this big expense:

o practitioners are disenfranchised when they can't do what they think is right. Instead of doing it openly, they must sneak.

o practitioners are further disenfranchised when they are criminalized if they are caught indulging. Instead of just being sneaky, they must now try to break the legal system.

o civil liberties of everyone in the community are given up when police are encouraged to look for practitioners and stop them. If an activity is harmless, but suspicious, it must be given up -- an example of this is wearing masks in a place worried about bank robbers and terrorists. Another example of expensive institutionalized craziness is discussed in this article in Reason Magazine Feb 2010 issue The Forfeiture Racket by Radly Balko. It talks about the thriving practice of police seizing property that may be related to a crime -- a three billion dollar practice in 2008. This "may" can be so tenuous that charges don't even have to be filed related to the seizing. This is a gross trampling of a person's civil rights, but the American community doesn't see it that way.

o the value of rule of law is diminished when smuggling grows up to support the outlawed activity. Rule of law's great strength is the feeling that all people are being treated equally in the eyes of the law. The more people doubt that, the greater the loss of enfranchisement.

o if some police people or politicians sympathize with the outlawed practice (if they think this is a crazy law to enforce) then corruption becomes easy, and the value of rule of law is further diminished.

o because of the disenfranchisement, practitioners and suppliers of practitioners are outside the law. This makes violence very easy to justify, and there is more disenfranchisement, and more terror in all the community. This is vividly illustrated in this 20 Mar 10 WSJ story Cartel Wars Gut Juárez, a Onetime Boom Town by Nicholas Casey. This is a story of whole middle-class neighborhoods of a Mexican border town being abandoned because of drug smuggling-related violence.

All of what I have outlined above is a huge cost. And it is being paid because one part of the community gets deeply scared or outraged at watching another part of the community indulge in a specific kind of mind altering experience.

The less expensive choice is to recognize that mind altering experiences come in many forms, and that part of being an advanced civilization is being tolerant of such differences. And, that part of the responsibility of the practioners is to be responsible about their practices.

The root of the blind spot -- the deep instinct -- is believing that practitioners of some kinds of mind altering can't be responsible, so the practitioners must be stopped at all costs. This is a variant of "The devil made me do it." thinking -- the thinking that an evil spirit of some sort can get inside a person and absolve them of responsibility for their own actions. In almost all cases where this defense of an action is invoked, and accepted as believable by those making judgment, this is a convenient blind spot.

The better alternative is to hold people responsible for their actions... including those done at the suggestion of any devils that get inside them.



Nothing seems to turn off cost-benefit analysis thinking faster than feeling guilty. Guilt powers some of the biggest and craziest spending blind spots in American thinking.

In 2010 the spectacular trillion dollar blunder-in-the-making powered by guilt is the prevent climate change movement. What is the prime symptom that this is guilt-driven? The climate change movement became high profile as the scientists involved declared that it was human caused climate change that was destroying the world. For decades before that twist was added, climate research was just another earth science, and the alarmist pronouncements in the 1970's of a coming Ice Age made interesting science reading, but nothing more.

Other examples of guilt-driven crazy spending:

o Any charity to which a donor gives money but doesn't carefully monitor where that money is being spent and the results of the spending. Is the money spent helping the situation get better, or perpetuating it? An example of money perhaps not making a situation get better is American foreign aid and charity money sent to Haiti in the decades before the earthquake of 2010. Did that money help end the poverty that made the earthquake so devastating, or perpetuate it?

o Health care reform where the reason for the reform is making sure all those poor uninsured people get access to adequate health care.

o Supporting panhandlers and other street beggars.

o Apologies for the crimes committed by ancestors. Contemporary handling of racist issues is picking up a lot of guilt-tinge.


Nuclear Power and Genetic Engineering

All humans die. But for some reason I have not figured out there seems to be survival value in judging the goodness or badness of how a person dies. As a result, there are instinctively good ways to die and instinctively bad ways to die. Curiously, what is a good way and what is a bad way changes from culture to culture without rhyme or reason, but every culture has good ways and bad ways. For the ancient Egyptians the thought of getting eaten by a Nile river crocodile sent shivers up spines, and there was a thriving industry of magic makers who offered protections from that terrible way of dying.

One way of looking at how a culture judges ways of dying is to look at their story telling. In modern movies, a person who is lying about the death of their parents and wants a ho-hum response from the listener says they died peacefully in their sleep of old age. If they want a sympathetic response from the listener they say they died in a car crash. If they want an "Ewww! That's terrible!" response they tell them they died in a nuclear accident...

"And wait!!" says the liar as he looks behind the listener, and eyes widen in fear, "Here they come now... AS GLOW-IN-THE-DARK ZOMBIES!!! AHHHH!!!"

The point being, that nuclear death has been a terrible way to die almost since the concept of radioactivity became part of science fiction fodder in the mid-20th century.

This fear has spilled over into our perception of the danger of nuclear power, and stunted our ability to take advantage of it. The blind spot is that we don't see how much this fear has cost us. An example of the magnitude of the cost is that today we only think of nuclear power as being good for powering big electrical power stations, when we could be thinking of it powering things as small as watches and as exotic as artificial hearts, and lots of stuff in between.

A related over-the-top fear is the fear of genetic engineering its various forms. The root of this fear seems to be the fear of plague -- of uncontrollable disease. Once again, the blind spot is not seeing how much benefit is lost by being over-the-top about the fear.

Update: A 6 Mar 12 WSJ editorial, Fukushima and the Future of Nuclear Power by William Tucker, There's no evidence that low doses of radiation are harmful and no reason to paralyze our economy out of fear of nuclear power. From the article, "This says, quite simply, that because huge doses of radiation—the kind you might get from standing in the same room with a spent fuel rod—can cause illness or cancer, we must assume that even the smallest doses will have the same effect on a smaller scale. It's exactly the same as saying that because jumping off a 10-story building will break every bone in your body, stepping off a one-foot curb will also cause some minor damage."

Health Care

The blind spot here is not seeing the enormous costs associated with decoupling receiving health care from paying for health care.

Most things in life we Americans purchase, we purchase directly from a vendor -- think buying groceries at a supermarket. This direct relation between money and goods and services means the seller pays a lot of attention to what the buyer wants, and the buyer pays a lot of attention to what the seller is offering -- this is the heart of shopping.

In the case of health care the buyer is not the patient. (unless the patient is <gasp!> uninsured.) The buyer is the insurance company or the government -- they are paying the bill. This means there is great incentive for the health care providers to pay attention to the insurance companies and the government.

What is the patient in this system? The patient is a ticket. When the patient is provided a service, a ticket is punched which is then handed to the insurance company or the government for payment, and this is the root of all the wackiness we experience dealing with health care. Patients have handed off their responsibility in health care decisions and what we now experience are turf wars as health care people, insurance people, government paying people and government regulating people fill up that decision-making power vacuum -- all claiming that they have the best interests of the patient in mind.

How did we get into this situation?

Part of the root problem is that when people get sick they don't want to make choices. This plus historically, when a person got sick, their extended family would be the first-line care takers -- think of a mother putting a feverish child to bed with grandma hovering in the background -- and they would call in advice givers -- think doctors making house calls. These advice givers evolved into the medical profession as we experience it today. In modern mainstream America the extended family does not intervene often in health care, so health care choices are now much more a direct relation between the health care infrastructure and patients. (This is not so true in East Asia, by the way, there the extended family is still an active participator, and hospitals are filled with supporting family as well as helpful nurses and doctors.)

Why is this corrosive?

The goal of health care should be to make the patient satisfied and healthy -- with satisfied being the much more important of the two. When the patient is not paying -- not taking responsibility -- then all sorts of wasteful spending styles become easy to support. All it takes for wasteful spending to become chronic is for one group that isn't patients to say, "We're doing this for the good of the patients." and for another group to say, "No, you're not doing it right. We have a better way in mind." The wasteful style that has emerged in the US is extra spending that swirls around the basic goal of making the patient satisfied -- extra paperwork, extra protections, strange ways of deciding what is appropriate treatment and what is not.

And again, the root problem here is if the patient isn't going to decide what's right for himself or herself, who's to say which other group is right?

And that's the blind spot we are living with right now.

Save the children

This blind spot is spending too much effort on protecting children. The effect of this excess effort is both expensive and corrosive. The protective efforts we experience in America in the 2010's are both excessive and misdirected, and here is why.

Growing up is a process that calls for constant and enormous changes. A human child must transform from a single fertilized cell -- a zygote -- into a mature human being consisting of trillions of cells, and that mature human being has to then pass The Grandchild Test -- have lots of grandchildren. (If a child doesn't pass this test, some other family line will take its place -- that other family line may be human, or some other species.)

And while all this growing is happening, learning is happening, too. And that learning is just as enormous a process. Learning is how an organism figures out how to act appropriately for the specific environment it is living in. The child learns by trying things. The child tries all sorts of things, not just once, but many times. Think of a child learning to walk.

It is part of the natural experience that some of the things a child tries not only don't work, they hurt. When a child falls, it hurts. When a bee stings, it hurts. And some times the hurt is bad enough that damage is caused -- the fall cuts a knee, the bee sting swells an arm for a few days. And sometimes the healing leaves a scar.

These are all very natural parts of the child learning process -- the child is learning what works and what doesn't. This learning by trying is very important because humans live in so many different environments -- consider the difference in experience between walking outside on a winter evening in Tahiti and Siberia. Humans can do both, but what they learn doing so is quite different.

And very important, this is what a growing-up child is designed to do. It is designed to learn by trying things and experiencing mistakes as well as successes.

This learning process of the child interacts with another deep instinct -- the instinct of adults to protect children from lethal harm. Plants can't do much of this, but many animals have developed children protection measures.

Protecting children is a good thing, but it pays at this point to take a look at the big picture: For all species except advanced civilized humans, most children die in the process of growing up. In most species the child who reaches adulthood and can reproduce is a deeply and truly blessed exception. Consider: How many seeds does an apple tree produce? How many eggs does a cod fish lay? Closer to home, how many kittens does a cat give birth to? In all species but advanced civilized humans, most children are destined to fail the grandchild test, so most mothers bear dozens to hundreds to thousands more children than will reach adulthood.

Pre-advanced civilized humans are no different: High infant mortality is a given. But, it is also very true and very natural that taking time and resource to protect children from lethal experiences pays off. So human thinking has a well-developed instinct to protect children.

In advanced civilizations, we have a lot more resource at our disposal, and this instinct to protect can get overdone. It can get so overdone that the results are a twisted-up adult. The modern abuse of this child protection instinct is forgetting that damaging experiences are part of the learning process, not something to be terrified of. For the child a damaging experience is simply a lesson with a strong message, it's not something abnormal. Likewise, a scar from such a lesson is not something abnormal. It's part of growing up.

This concern about overprotection is not new. The proverb "Spare the rod, spoil the child." is an expression of concern about overprotecting. But... in the 2010's how often do you hear this said with any conviction? In this area of thinking we have changed a lot in the last fifty years. Some current examples of activities trying to combat overprotection are athletic programs, field trips, Boy/Girl Scouting groups, and summer camps.

How does child over protection corrode the community

The deep corrosion overprotection causes is an adult who hasn't learned how to find his or her physical limits, or the limits of those around them, and this effects the person's feeling of enfranchisement. The person has not learned to try things. They have not learned the "no pain, no gain" truism that leads to interesting and excellent achievements.

These people have not learned to deal well with adversity. They tend to get too excited under pressure because in childhood they did not practice seeing things through. This overexcitement is hard on enfranchisement -- sufferers worry too much and too quickly, and look for cures through applying prescriptive conformity to the whole community.

Finally, if a person has not spent much time interacting with the rough-and-tumble physical world around them, they have spent their time interacting with something else and learning about something else -- such as a TV, a video game, a book, or with their own thoughts. Such a person can become introspective, and this may be the root behind emerging narcissistic lifestyles such as metrosexualism and Japan's "girly men".

First add in some Bride Age thinking...

Children are raised mostly by young women. In pre-civilized environments young women with young children survive best by being cooperative with the rest of the community -- which is why they tend to be Bride Thinkers. Older women who have more experience and older children can think differently. They can stand up for their rights and become Matron Thinkers. But Matron Thinking is on the average not a good strategy for young mothers.

The benefit of Bride Thinking is that the community instinctively cooperates with the young mother -- people of the community spontaneously do lots of nice things for young mothers and young children. (This benefit to the community of helping young women and their children has been around a long, long time, and this is also why young women look beautiful in a different way than older women do.)

The dark side of Bride Thinking is that the community feels empowered to offer lots of advice on how to raise children, and when the government is offering advice, it's called a law. Few things can bring bureaucrats and politicians faster emotional support than shouting "I'm doing this for the children!" One contemporary example this emotional response creating a blind side is children's product safety rules. These rules are bad because they are rules, not advice -- they over-ride the parent's ability to decide what is the right way and wrong way to raise their children.

They are the community's forceful way of saying, "We know how to raise your children better than you do."

This blind side happens because of the instinct to give advice to young mothers. This is a blind side because the actions supported by this instinctive thinking are not measured against their consequences: The lost opportunities for children to explore our world and understand it better, and the disenfranchising of parents from the child-raising process: "Why should I feel responsible? Why should I bother to try and do this well, when everyone around me is forcefully telling me how to do this?"

Now add in some sex...

The most flagrant waste is associated with protecting children from sexual abuse. This is wasteful for a couple reasons.

First, sex is something children do not comprehend -- they haven't grown up enough to think about the concept in adult ways. It's the same issue as a child learning language: A one year old doesn't know language well because his or her thinking processes have not developed enough.

Personal anecdote: I remember the first time I saw a girl naked. I was five years old and horsing around in the bath tub with my eighteen months younger brother. We were kicking each other in the balls... at that age, shoving at each other with our feet in the bath tub, it didn't hurt much. We had just heard it was a good way to bother other people if you were fighting them, so we were experimenting.

Our upstairs neighbor brought down her daughter, who was six, to join us in the bath tub. I was going to kick her in the balls... but... she didn't have any! It was so strange to see!

I asked her, "Why don't you have any balls?"

She said, "Because I'm a girl. I get to have babies instead."

I looked again. It was strange. Her explanation left me just as mystified. I remember writing off her strange lack of balls, and explanation as to why this was so, to being just another mystery of life, and my brother and I went back to having fun.

The moral of this tale is that sex has almost no meaning to a child, which means that sexual molestation has almost no meaning. If the action is scary or painful, that dimension will have meaning, but not the sexual dimension. Another famous example of this is watching a young boy watch a romantic scene in a movie or on TV. The typical reaction: "Ewww! More icky stuff! Let's watch something interesting instead."

This means that worrying about exposing a child to sexual situations makes as much sense as worrying about exposing a child to algebra -- neither one is going to have much meaning to the child at the time.

For that reason, worrying about scarring a child in some way by exposing them to sexual material is an overblown worry. And remember: As stated above, growing up is all about learning, and scars are a natural part of the learning process.

Even if a child is old enough to be aware of sex, these concepts don't change. Here is an article about a classic "The devil made me do it." situation: Garn admits paying woman by Robert Gehrke 12 Mar 10. In this article we read about an ambitious 30-year old man sharing a hot tub with a 15-year old girl back in the 1980's -- and that's it, no sex, no drugs, no drink, no rape. The man regretted his action enough at the time to pay the woman $150,000 in hush money. It's 25 years later and now the woman is talking. She is claiming, in essence, that having a man see her naked at fifteen put an evil demon inside her that subsequently ruined her life, and she is now telling all to try to exorcize that demon. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this tale, but the important one for this discussion is that many in the contemporary American community de facto believe this woman's explanation. This "sex can put an evil demon in a child and curse it for life" superstition is powerful in contemporary America.

So powerful that if you tell this explanation to many Americans you'll get some head scratching and looks of deep worry about you and your thinking. And if you look at how sex crime and child pornography are now treated in America -- examples of over-the-top oddness being grannies being prosecuted as child pornographers for taking pictures of their naked grandchildren playing in a bath tub and high schoolers be transformed into life-long registered sex offenders because they were mooning people... -- it's clear that deep instinct is driving the treatment, not any sort of rational thought on the subject. Another example: You have to publicly register as a sex offender, but not as a murderer, bank robber, or scam artist.

Which brings us to the second big problem -- letting this instinctive thinking do the community policy making. This results in laws and policies which are socially expensive, and programs that don't protect much, but do corrode civil liberties and enfranchisement a lot. In the hot tubbing case above, a man who has added a lot of value to his community is about to get deeply disenfranchised and perhaps exiled -- thrown in jail -- and the fates of the other examples aren't any better. Another example is talked about in this 21 May 10 New York Times article, Defiant Judge Takes On Child Pornography Law by A. G. Sulzberger, about the mandatory sentences handed out for receiving child pornography. Just for downloading dirty pictures of kids 1600 people were sentenced to an average of more than seven years in jail in 2009.

Keep in mind that the original justification for making it illegal to receive child porn, over-riding our First Amendment rights, was to protect children from the abuse of the producers of child porn. This is pretty convoluted to start with and now the viewers are often getting more punishment than the producers -- a textbook example of going over-the-top because of a blind side.

This 28 Feb 11 article in Reason, You Can Have Sex With Them; Just Don't Photograph Them by Radley Balko, illustrates the problem well: A former cop is thrown in the slammer for 15 years, no parole possible, for having pictures on his computer -- not distributing them, just on his computer -- of a sixteen and a seventeen year old women that he had already had consensual and legal sex with. This wackiness is the consequence of the federal pornography law.

My view is that the biggest expense of over-the-top children protecting is an overly hysterical community, which is what these overprotected children create when they grow into adults -- a community that will pursue silly causes just because doing so feels good, and with no thinking through of the expensive consequences of doing so. Another example of this crazy kind of thinking is enacting intolerant speech policies in the name of protecting tolerance -- something I call "Yes, but..." Tolerance: "Yes, of course I'm tolerant. But in this case..."


Blind spots are important because they are places where resources are being wasted in a big way. Most cost us a lot in time, money and attention, and they corrode the community by disenfranchising people, promoting crime and corruption, and by corroding civil liberties. Some cost us because they convince us not to use a powerful tool that could make our lives much better.

They are hard to see. They are, by their very nature, blind spots.

They are caused when instinctive thinking -- easy, comfortable, gut feeling thinking -- interacts badly with the harsh realities of advanced civilized living.

It is important to combat blind spot thinking? Yes, because it is so wasteful.

How do we combat it?

We become aware. We train ourselves. We teach our children that not all gut thinking is good thinking. When something is too obvious, too quickly reasonable, but causing other people a lot of pain, we should learn to back off and do some more analysis to see if the prohibition answer, or the hand-money-over-to-someone-suffering answer, are really the quick, easy and simple solutions they seem to be.

We train ourselves to look for blind spots.


-- The End --