What is it, and how does one do it?
When I was a child there was a slogan that went with a disinfectant:
"Kills 99.9% of germs. Dead"
Today a similar claim is made on my bathroom cleaner, same group of companies presumably:
"Kills 99.9% of Bacteria".
It looks like the same claim, but it's not. There's no mention of how effective it is on viruses. The word "germ" is not a scientific word. By saying bacteria they are both trying to look more scientific, and opting out of any claims regarding viruses. If you read with an aware mind you notice this.
I'm not sure that I would have noticed the difference when I was a lot younger, probably not, but over the years I learned to read INTO things as well as just read things.
This also allows me to smile at the proud claim, because in fact plain cold water kills over 98% of germs, just add soap and you reach levels close to the disinfectant. But for years I thought disinfectant was so much better. Because that's what the sales people want you to think.
At some point we reach a new level of awareness. We question more.
It doesn't happen all at once. It's a gradual process, but it's a beautiful thing. Skepticism is the most fantastic of human abilities. Most people don't even know what it means. I've lost count of the times I've had to explain it.
When I got married it was normal for a woman to take her husband's surname. There were a few celebrities who didn't but most ordinary people did. We didn't question it. It was how things were done.
Over time I have met increasing numbers of people who either decided they didn't want to do that, or who come from cultures with different name conventions. All these options are valid, and I am happy that for most people it is a choice. I think choice is a good thing.
When I look back at the non-choice that I made, I have no regrets. There has never been a time that it's been a problem for me. I have never felt that I lost my identity, for example, which is one of the concerns. So, despite a late awareness that I was railroaded into something, I am not bothered by it.
This is not true of other things. I bitterly resent not being informed about choices I had regarding education, which I've written about before. Fortunately my life turned out just fine, but for others in the same situation it was different. Therefore I'm very vocal about education, apathetic about names. I would not dismiss the feelings others have about names, it's just not something I get excited about. Awareness doesn't automatically mean activism, we pick our battles.
People in positions of power often find it more convenient for those they have power over to just quietly go along with convention and not question it. The more corrupt they are, the more advantageous it is for them to keep people content with the status quo. This is why information is something they both collect, and try to avoid others sharing. Information is seen as dangerous because it helps people think for themselves. It's very hard to control people who do that.
Fortunately for corrupt leaders, people are lazy. Most people are happy to fill their heads with "light" entertainment as a relief from busy lives. Awareness and skepticism takes effort, and can even go awry, as I mentioned in http://chovblog.blogspot.ca/2014/03/believers-and-skeptics.html
And of course, it's not just those in power. Taking advantage of credulous people is often a quick way to make money if you are of criminal tendencies, and it was this which spurred me into writing this piece.
I read a forum post about the now famous phone scam, whereby the caller claims to be from Microsoft, and needs money to fix a big problem you have on it. You are supposed to hand over a) your credit card details, and b) remote control of the computer to a total stranger based on this claim. The fact that it continues goes to show that people still fall for this, and I said as much.
This was quickly confirmed by somebody who admitted being caught by it. She did not strike me as being of low intellect, judging by her writing style, and as this was a forum for people who run successful small businesses, she's obviously not a complete fool. But this rash act of trust in a voice on the phone ended up costing her dearly.
It reminded me of an event some years ago when a friend's mother got into an internet romance with a man somewhere overseas, who suddenly one day needed $1000 to get out of prison. She sent him the money without a second thought and, of course, never heard from him again. For the time it takes these conmen to chat people up online it's a very good hourly rate of income, as they probably have several going at once.
This is nothing new. Just because it now happens electronically simply makes it easier. Such fraud has been around a long time. "The Nigerian Scam" as it is now known, is just the latest version of what was once called "The Spanish Prisoner" letters sent in the 16th century to convince people they will receive vast sums of money on the writer's release, but first money must be sent to get him out.
Are people really no wiser now that they were over 400 years ago? Apparently not.
Finally, yesterday, my attention was drawn to an article about spurious science being published in respected scientific journals. Apparently it was tested out: http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/04/23/its-the-worst-science-paper-ever-filled-with-plagiarism-and-garble-and-journals-are-clamouring-to-publish-it/
Nothing new there either. And unfortunately this is what can give science a bad name by those who don't understand how it works. They jump all over examples like this to trash science in its entirety, so that when a religious or other agenda-driven group are faced with science seeming to contradict their beliefs, it is used to show just how unreliable science is.
I am not optimistic of any of this changing. Superstition used to be endemic in our world, and the age of reason did not change the belief by the masses that they were being manipulated and threatened by unseen forces. They have just changed the source. Instead of djinns and demons, now it's lizard men and psyops. Instead of omens in the sky, now it's chemtrails.
There are those who believe in a great human awakening, which has either already happened or is going to happen. I don't. We spend too much time going the other way. The stupid, it burns. People who question properly are a minority. You can't get rid of us, we'll always be there, but we can be kept down.
And you know, sometimes it is hard to know just what to believe, especially when some people really are out to get you. When a man's reputation and well-being can be destroyed by rumours and set-ups. When experts can't agree, and we look helplessly on. When powerful world leaders appear to be mentally unstable. When the wealthy are willing to kill to stay wealthy.
There's an old curse that goes "May You Live In Interesting Times". I don't think it's necessary. We always have, and we probably always will. We can't do much about it, other than be aware.