Wisdom of the Crowds

“Why are Zagat restaurant guides so popular? Partly it is because they are a convenient guide to all the restaurants in town. But their real power derives from the fact that the reviews are the reports of volunteers – of diners who want to share their opinions with others. Somehow that represents a more compelling recommendation than the opinion of an expert whose job it is to rate restaurants.” – Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell

What happens when we compare this principle to massive amounts of reviewers rather than just a handful? We start to gather the wisdom of the crowds. If we can get several “Mavens” to contribute their knowledge, as well as the long tail of other collaborators, then we can, through the law of large numbers, end up with a better sense of Wisdom rather than a sense of intelligence offered by the opinion of one person. If you can harness this power you can create far more than any one person alone could. Think about this, We all know that “Two heads are better than one,” but yet we are reluctant to continue this principle into any realm of politics, or any other situations either. We are content having one leader make the decisions when collectively we are smarter than he, I wish others would see that we can and should start colaborating more on every project.

The Founding Fathers Were Incomplete

Our government can not just be a mass of people “digging” up and down like the Romans gave thumbs up and down at the Colosseum, but it must be a forum for discussion and debate. Democracy is much more than just the power of the vote, as citizens, it is our right to engage in a political debate, and that we must.
The founding fathers saw the American people, very similar to that of the Roman populous. The technology was very similar, the religion was a little bit different, and we had a little bit better technology and learning, but not all that much. Therefore, they relied on the Roman system to provide the backbone of our government. Now however, we have grown exponentially smarter and far larger than the Founding Fathers ever imagined us to and yet we still have virtually the same document guiding our lives. We have clarified a few things, and changed some clerical issues, but largely our government has remained unchanged from the original model.
We can download more information in one day than Jefferson had available in his lifetime, and yet we are still relying on the wisdom of our ancestors who have no clue what we are dealing with, and had no way to predict it. We need a change in the current system of governance, but rather than scrap the old and start from scratch, I suggest that we shift our reliance away from the wisdom of the Fathers, and onto the wisdom of the crowds. The wisdom that has brought us Wikipedia. In 1776, everyone was a “Troll,” Those with experience were the outlier, but now, only 2-3% of the Internet make up consists of “trolls” (Eric Schmidt – CEO of Google, New America Foundation)
The Founding fathers pooled their knowledge together in order to form a more perfect union, and they succeeded, but it is time to increase that perfection and get out of this quagmire of bureaucracy and red tape in order to have a Government that is Of, By, and For the people.
Obama’s Change.gov has started to do that by providing all their material with a Creative Commons Copyright, Promting open discussions through a great system that can track your participation and thus promote those who participate more, by providing a response to these comments in video format, and though there are some things lacking from a perfect system, It is leaps and bounds above any other .gov website, I believe it is a step in the right direction.

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Is a Prism a Prison or a Purifier?

In this era of instantaneous communication and endless information, you can get your information from anywhere. Traditionally in the broadcast era you obtained your news and other information through the filter of the news networks. You chose to view your news based on your political preference, CNN for the Left, and Fox for the Right. But in this era of Screen Fluency, where we see information on screens more than read it in print, we have the ability to eliminate those filters that interpret the news for us and can now draw conclusions for ourselves, based on the raw data, images and information. During the Democratic National Convention for example, you had the ability to watch from CNN, Fox, ABC, CBS, or you could log on to the DNC Website and obtain the live, uninterrupted video of the event.

Personally I believe in going to the primary source when seeking for the truth and the answers to my questions. This is why I now see Religion as a filter that can be used as a tool to obtain the truth for some much as people watch the news on CNN or Fox. We each might have our own views on which filter to choose, which religion to follow but, in my mind, they all are distortions of the truth. They each can provide the facts and information of truth, but it has passed through a filter much like white light through a prism, being split into multiple colors.

You can never fully remove the bias from any source as what it does and does not show you is a very essence of the subtle bias that they show you. You can however choose to recognize that bias and to choose sources that have similar underlying biases as yourself rather than swim into a cacophony of counter-intuitive, contradictory information. For this reason I choose to follow the subtle bias of the Lord and not the bias of Satan, but I choose to do it by finding the true source, not through the trappings of religion. I will carry many aspects of my religion with me as I live my life, and I know that I have been shaped by it for my own betterment, but I find that If I am to be forced into a mold, I would rather have that be the mold of perfection in Christ rather than the imperfection of human religion.

I will maintain and carry much of my moral principles imbued in me by my family and church. I will not smoke, drink, do drugs, or alter my body in any way because I was made in the likeness of the lord and who am I to challenge that? I will continue to seek for the Lord in my life, and seek for his guidance in all that I do through continued prayer. I believe that all religions have some of the truth and that when that truth is expressed, is when its members find the joy of Christ. I seek to find that truth for me, in my life wherever I might find it. I find myself in a time when extremism confronts me on all sides and I have been taught that the most assured way to be wrong and to fail is to be an extremist. I plan to take all things, all life experiences, all activities in moderation for an excess of one thing is just as likely to lead to malnourishment as the lack of something.

To those who know me and fear that I am making a rash decision based on hurt emotions, confusion, naivety, or any other fallacy that you can conceive, know that this is something that I have spent many long nights contemplating and feeling for an answer to my question of truth. Know that I believe that this is the path that will bring me the greatest happiness in the long run. Know that I have been on the edge of death while seeking this path and I believe very strongly in it and any attempts to delineate me from my path will be met with hurt from me for your lack of respect to my decision. Remember that while our opinions may differ, I will not try to force mine upon you and all I ask is that you do not try to force yours upon me. That is NOT to say that I am against hearing your concerns, fears, or ideas on this new path of mine, BUT do not expect me to change my path very easily for just as you believe that yours is the true way, I too believe that mine is the true and narrow path.

I am NOT an atheist, I believe very strongly that God exists. I am not Agnostic, believing that God exists but not caring much about Him. I am instead a child of God, whom he loves. I am one who cares very much about my connection with God. I hope to have my life directed by the Lord, to the truth. I will try to find this truth not only through the standard ways of seeking for him in the great works of religious and philosophical thinkers, but by seeking, obtaining, maintaining, and utilizing a direct connection to the Lord. The source of all truth.

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The Meaning for an Individual Life

In Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card, there is an interesting dialogue on the meaning of life and here is the condensed text version of that dialog for all to see. I think that this is so true, that it is a gem of truth in this sea of uncertainty that we call life.

“Here is the meaning of life: for a man to find a woman, for a woman to find a man,the creature most unlike you, and then to make babies with her, with him, or to find them some other way, but then to raise them up, and watch them do the same thing, generation after generation, so that when you die you know you are permanently a part of the great web of life. That you are not a loose thread, snipped off. Even men who do not desire women, even women who do not desire men, this does not exempt them from the deepest desire of all, the desire to be inextricable part of the human race. It’s hardwired into all of us. Not just sexual desire – that can be twisted any which way, and it often is. And not just a desire to have children, because many people never get that, and yet they can still be woven into the fabric. No, it’s a deep hunger to find a person from that strange, terrifying other sex and make a life together. Even old people beyond mating, even people who know they can’t have children, ther’s still a hunger for this. For actual marriage, two unlike creatures becoming, as best they can, one.”
“I’m talking about a trait that the human race absolutely needed to succeed. The thing that makes us neither herd animals nor solitaries, but something between. The thing that makes us civilized or at least civilizable. And those who are cut off from it by their own desires, by those twists and bends that turn them in another way – like you, Bean, so determined are you that no more children will be born with your defect, and that there will be no children orphaned by your death – those who are cut off, they are still hungry for it, hungrier than ever, especially if they deny it. It makes them angry, bitter, sad, and they don’t know, they can’t bear to face the knowledge.”
‘This life wish had to be present in all living things for any species to continue as they all desperately struggled to do. It isn’t a will to survive – that is selfish, and such selfishness would be meaningless, would lead to nothing. It is a will for the species to survive with the self inside it, part of it, tied to it, forever one of the strands in the web’
“I kept my sanity by fencing myself about with lies, and believing them. But you know the truth. If you leave this world without your children in it, without having made that bond with such an alien creature as a woman, then your life will have meant nothing to you, and you’ll die in bitterness and alone.”

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Blessings of Christ, Perfect People Only

Have you ever felt abandoned by the Lord? Ever felt like you have messed up so much that there is no recovery? Well Remember that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can only aid those who are already perfect. NOT!!! The Atonement and it’s blessings are bestowed upon us all if we but turn to christ and repent. Take for example Jonah. Jonah received a direct commandment from the Lord and outright refused it and fled the other way. The Lord could have given up on Jonah and sought someone else to spread the gospel to Niniveh but he didn’t, He instead allowed Jonah to become humble and then he forgives Jonah. Another great example of this is found in Alma 17:14-15. The Sons of Mosiah are discussing the Lamanites and are heading out to go and teach to them and Mormon ads this commentary about them.

14… [The Lamanites were] a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands.
15 Thus they were a very indolent people, many of whom did worship idols, and the curse of God had fallen upon them because of the traditions of their fathers; notwithstanding the promises of the Lord were extended unto them on the conditions of repentance.

These Lamanites were described as scum of the earth. Evil. Yet the promises of the Lord and the blessings of the Atonement were open to them and are open to us “On the Conditions of repentance” No matter what, We are never to far gone that the Lord can not save us if we but call out to Him.

Chisels, Hammers and Sandpaper

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” – Michaelangelo

We are all slabs of stone, some are large and grandiose, others strong and stout. We all entered this world as a “Tabula Rasa” A blank slate with which the Master sculpture was to create out of us, masterpieces. He was slated with the task of making us all perfect. A refiner can make silver perfect through the purity of the fire, the Master Sculpture makes a slab of stone into a perfected work of art not by adding more, but by taking away that which does not meet the qualifications of perfection. How would you feel if you had a chunk of yourself removed? It would hurt and it would be painful and you would ask Why? The Master looks and sees that we have the strength to bear the shearing of stone, but that in removing our imperfections, by cutting away and smoothing down and polishing us, we can become great works of art. We all too often are content to settle for something we created, but would it not be better to be touched by the masters hand and have the beauty to show for it?
Rather than settling for being a work of the human mind.

As we all struggle in life, we must focus on what the divine has in store for us, not for what the world has in mind and that as we stay strong for the Lord, He will create truly perfect beings out of our crude matter.

A Rough-hewn Divinity that Shapes Us All

“There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will.” – Hamlet

There is a grander picture that we can’t see. We are staring at a square inch of tile, we know not what it is because we are deeply involved and invested in that one square inch. If we were to take a step back, we would see the beauty that is the sistine chapel. In this life, we are all connected and everything happens for more than one reason. While we have our own individual freedom within our section of that square inch, it will not effect the grand scheme, and it will only reflect poorly upon us to whom the stewardship of that inch was given. So why not listen to the master and learn from him and create a piece of mastery that has been touched by the masters hand. When we step back we will see that we are not a jumble of unconnected dots, but rather a picture of pointillism that is beautiful and funny and good. We must needs follow the plan of the master no matter how much we might desire something for ourselves because he is not a God of pacification, or soothsaying, but a God of Truth and Purity Much like the Furnace within which the impurities are removed until the master refiner can see his reflection in us.

Butter, Moths, and Flies

“Growing up, I remember playing on the escalators at the mall. My favorite thing to do was to try to run up the escalator that was heading down. I am sure I was not alone doing this, but just in case you don’t remember, the problem with doing this is that if you stop to catch your breath before you reach the end, you start losing ground. As I look at my life now in retrospect, I realize that I taught myself a good principle all those days on the escalators. I taught my self that in pursuing good, that stagnancy is death. If I stop doing good, I start doing bad. I find that this is true in almost all aspects of life, and it has been staring us in the face for years.


Many years ago, Yoda said “Do or do not, there is no try.” This is the same principle. We must constantly seek to improve our lives, or our lives will be worse of than we were before. CS Lewis once stated “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” While this quote deals with other issues, the last part applies to what I am saying. You can not go on indefinitely remaining an egg, you must move on and progress, or rot. We must have constant vigilance and continue going on, if we do not we will fail. We must endure until the top of the staircase. This reminds me of an African story.

Every morning, when the sun comes up in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.

It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.

Every morning a lion wakes up.

It knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.

When the sun comes up, you better start running.

We had best start running, and keep going until we have finished the race or suffer the consequences of stopping.

I wrote this last year and recently revisited it. I want to know now is what happens when you discover that the race you thought you were in doesn’t exist, or that while you thought you were a participant, you discovered you didn’t have the necessary qualifications to compete halfway through the race. Should you push yourself to the end of the race, which you are not enjoying, for nothing, or should you drop out of the race and go and do something you enjoy. I guess it all comes down to a cost benefit ratio and sometimes it is troubling to discover the effects and results of that ratio.


What do you do to something when the cost far outweighs the benefit, logically you should drop it and focus on something with a higher cost/benefit right? I am in amongst that debate now and even though it would drastically change my life, I believe that the cost far outweighs the benefit in my situation and I, being the logical person that I am, am most likely going to change my lifestyle soon. I do not know what form it will take and what tendrils to my old life will remain, but I am going through a metamorphosis right now. Lets just hope that I emerge as something useful and productive that I can agree with and be happy and proud about. Because as Pete Rose says, “You owe it to yourself to be the best you can possibly be – in baseball and in life.

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