Uncommon Sense

January 26, 2023

It’s a Miracle!

This question recently came up on Quora.com, the question and answer site: “If God didn’t exist, how do atheists explain that water freezes at exactly 0°C and boil at 100°C? Seems like a proof of intelligent design. It’s a miracle!”

There should be a Dunning-Kruger Award for questions like this, but alas, there is not.

Obviously this person doesn’t know the history or logic behind thermometer design, so maybe you would like to know this too.

The alcohol thermometer (the kind with the red liquid in them) was invented in 1709 and the mercury thermometer (the ones with mercury in them) in 1714 by the same man: Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1736). In 1724 Fahrenheit introduced the scale he invented, which we have appropriately called the Fahrenheit Scale. This is the one commonly used in the U.S. and almost nowhere else. (The Euros often brag about how they do not use the Fahrenheit Scale, preferring to use a metric scale, but they use the Celsius Scale commonly and that is not part of the Metric System, So there!)

The scale at which pure water (at sea level air pressure) freezes at exactly 0°C and boils at exactly 100°C was invented by Anders Celsius of Sweden in 1742 and which we rightfully called the Celsius Scale. Well, not quite. Celsius actually set the boiling point at 0 and the freezing point at 100 because he was measuring “coolth” not warmth. It was his colleague, the botanist Carl Linnaeus (aka Carolus Linnaeus), who turned the numbers around. (If it was a miracle, the devil made him make it upside down first!)

Fun Facts Fahrenheit picked the rather strange numbers for the two temperatures used as references (32°F for freezing and 212°F for boiling temperatures of pure water) because he wanted the temperature of the human body to come out at 100°F. (He used a slurry of ice and a solution of ammonium chloride (aka Sal Ammoniac, which sounds like a character in West Side Story) for his zero point as he felt no lower temperature would be encountered. In other words that was the coldest mix he could create.) He thought this would make the lives of nurses taking body temperatures easier. Not only was his measurement of human body temperature off but we then fixated on an internal body temperature of 98.6°F as being “normal.” Many people still believe this erroneous fact. In reality “normal” body temperature can fall within a wide range, from 97°F to 99°F and varies daily! It’s usually lower in the morning and goes up during the day. It peaks in the late afternoon or evening, sometimes by as much as 1 or 2 degrees over the morning temperature.

The myth of the “normal” 98.6°F standard dates to the mid-1800s. German doctor Carl Wunderlich measured the armpit temperatures of about 25,000 people and came up with an average of 98.6°F. Newer research suggests that the number has since gone down. In a recent review, scientists looked at temperature records from three periods between 1860 and 2017. The average oral temperature slowly fell by about 1 degree to 97.5°F. My pet theory is based on what people would a nineteenth century doctor have to test, probably sick people, who would be expected to have elevated temperatures. So the average temperature didn’t drop, we just get a better selection of “normal” people to test.

January 12, 2023

A Complete Misunderstanding of Religion

In a post on Medium.com, an author who calls himself “B,” stated the following:

Religion Viewed from a purely rational (mental) perspective religion makes no sense. In fact it is full of self-contradicting claims. This view however leads to a complete misunderstanding of religion, downplaying its role in human existence. Viewed through a Mythic lens though, it provides a moral compass and hope in a incomprehensibly complex world cursed with a dismal outlook for its participants.

The part I wish to address is the latter half, namely “This view however leads to a complete misunderstanding of religion, downplaying its role in human existence. Viewed through a Mythic lens though, it provides a moral compass and hope in a incomprehensibly complex world cursed with a dismal outlook for its participants.”

I have heard this argument numerous times before. And I will comment focused on Christianity as that is the religion I know the most about.

This “moral compass” referred to here has some aspect of truth to it in that religions address ethical issues as part of their regular programming. If that is considered against an alternative in which there were no discussion of ethical issues, it might be considered a positive thing. But if you look at the raising of children, we harp on ethical issues that have nothing to do with religion. Children are taught to share food and toys, clean up after themselves, and how to live “a balanced life” of work, play, and learning. Children are taught to not hit or bite other children or abuse pets, and much more, of course. This is done primarily by parents and by kindergarten and grade school teachers. Children are not threatened with Hellfire for their errors of judgment (actually some are and that is child abuse in my book), and none of the usual adult Christian “sticks” (of carrots and sticks fame) are employed either.

If one searches the Holy Bible for ethical/moral lessons one finds truly profound lessons and absolute horror stories (parents killing their own children to “honor” their god, fathers offering up his daughters to be raped by a crowd to protect “angels,” etc.). At best it is a moral wash. At worst it is a field manual for controlling populations by elites.

As to the latter half of my focus, “hope in a incomprehensibly complex world cursed with a dismal outlook for its participants” as an atheist I have never found life to be a dismal prospect. And complex? Who cares? When I need to travel by city trains, the system is incredibly complex. But I can consult the Internet which simplifies it for me and helps me navigate that system. There are many other complex systems embedded in a large modern city, like Chicago where I live, but I pay no heed to those that do not affect me now. So “incomprehensibly complex”? Taken as a whole, yes, broken down into manageable bits, no. Most people seem to navigate life’s complexities with some aplomb. And, yes, I know that a great many people live precarious lives, where life and death decisions get made daily. And their religions protect them how? Actually their religion may make them a target of spiritual warriors from other religions.

As to hope, uh, does he mean hope for a life unending? That promise is clearly a false hope. Ask yourself, if someone claims you can live forever, but then tells you that you need to die first, isn’t there a bit of a sniff of a scam? Especially when, after your death, you are not resurrected as an immortal being your “Earthly remains” are placed in the ground to rot. Of what help to anyone are false hopes? I consider them cruel and inhumane. And false hopes have real consequences. The promise, hope, of never-ending life, encourages people to devalue their lives as they know them, instead longing for the “hereafter.” Whether one lives forever, after dying, or not, wasting the life one has yearning for the afterlife is a major mistake, especially when the living conditions of the “afterlife” aren’t explicitly stated.

A “complete misunderstanding of religion”? I don’t think so. If religion provides ambiguous moral/ethical lessons, and false hopes, I can’t imagine finding better alternatives cannot easily be found. For example, if we were to invest as much energy in studying philosophy as we invest in our religions, we would be much better off.

December 6, 2022

An Easy Task?

Filed under: Culture,Education — Steve Ruis @ 9:34 am
Tags: , , ,

The teacher, an evangelical Christian, was requested by the student and the student’s parents to use they/them pronouns instead of he/him. This isn’t a difficult request, and basically amounts to asking the teacher to show basic respect to the student by using a different word to address them.” (Kaylin Hamilton on Quora).

The kerfuffle, in Britain, was over a teacher refusing to use a student’s “preferred pronouns.” My reaction is to the characterization of the request as being “. . . not a difficult request.” But “they/them” are plurals and the child was singular, so you are asking the teacher to experience cognitive dissonance. (Also, as a teacher myself, I know that seeing student’s misspellings over and over led to my struggling spelling those words. Teaching goes both ways.)

Consider this: I remember a semester in which I had over 100 students. I struggled mightily learning their names, and then they were gone as the course was one semester in length and those students were replaced by another crop.

Before this was a thing, no one asked for their own set of pronouns that I knew of. But now it is all the rage. Why? Who cares? My priorities were in learning student’s names and correctly pronouncing their names. I remember reading a roll the first day of class and came up against a Vietnamese name I had learned to pronounce correctly. I read his name and he responded with raising his hand. I followed up with “Did I pronounce that right?” and he said “yes.” Then, for some reason I asked “Do many of your teachers get that right? And he said “You are the first.” I offered my best wishes that people learned and learned quickly how to pronounce names that they hadn’t seen before. (This was shortly after the end of the Viet Nam War and we had a large number of Vietnamese families coming to the west coast whereas before they were very few.)

So, learn their names and learn the correct pronunciations. Check. If just one person wanted special pronouns, I might have been able to pull that off, or even two or three. (And, boy if it were just a few, trust me, they would have been tagging themselves as being “special,” or “precious,” or “stupid.”) But if all of the students had a list of pronouns they wanted used, I would have failed at that task. I guess I would just have to refer to them by name, over and over and over.

Pronouns are supposed to be general, so they can be used as shortcuts to communication. For example, consider this sentence: “When James spoke, I wasn’t sure that he was speaking or he was mumbling.” And without the pronouns, “When James spoke, I wasn’t sure that James was speaking or James was mumbling.” It works, not too bad. But what if his name were Subrahmanyan or her name Rhoshandiatellyneshiaunneveshenk? (And, yes, those are real names.)

Why are pronouns so important now? Is it part of our general trend to feeling self important? I have lived long enough that way back when, people insisted on being addressed with their title, e.g. Doctor So-and-so. This was a matter of respect, according to them. Of course that got carried too far. In Germany, I remember wives being called things like Frau Herr Doktor Schmidt or whatever, that is Mrs. Important Doctor Man.

I wonder who is training these young people in these new practices? OMG, could the bullshit claims of “grooming camps” be real? Quick call Fox News!

December 3, 2022

Science and Truth

I was reading a work of philosophy and the author objected to the categories of writing: fiction and nonfiction, in that “fiction” implied imaginary and so not true and non-fiction implies fact-based and therefore true. He had many interesting things to say, but they were mostly based upon this false interpretation.

When I read a work of non-fiction, I accept that the author tried to get the facts straight but I know how bleeding hard that is, so I don’t expect it to be 100% “factual” and certainly not a “true account” whatever that is. Writers of fiction often display more insight into things like the human condition than “fact-based” writers. When I read a work of fiction, I don’t expect it to be fact-based, so if a dragon shows up, I am okay with that. The two categories say something about how the authors went about creating their work, but nothing whatsoever about their veracity.

The problem here is with the word “truth.”

Truths are absolutes, and therefore, as far as I am concerned, they are mythical. I have written about absolutes before, so I won’t dwell on that topic, just to say they are extensions of things we see beyond any evidence for their existence.

I have often read that science cannot discover “the truth,” often by religious apologists, and this is obviously true as a statement. Science, in fact, is not looking for truths and never pronounces things as truths. We are smarter than that because what we think might be true today can be found to be false tomorrow. This is why all scientific findings are provisional. Scientists know this as it is beaten into them, but the lay public, looking over scientists shoulders, is often disturbed when scientists change their minds. What scientists think is a virtue, adapting to new data, the public finds alarming. This is because the public believes in the existence of absolutes, like truths, and when scientists announce a “discovery” the public think it is pronouncement of a new truth.

The best thing we could do educationally is to drum this into the minds of all citizens. Scientists are looking for what might work now so that they can continue to learn things, even though those new things may contradict what they have found previously. We in science call that progress. Religionists call that heresy. The public needs to learn to distinguish their religions from scientific “reality.”

As to what is “real,” just don’t get me started.

November 29, 2022

The Education Voucher Program Scam

Filed under: Business,Education — Steve Ruis @ 9:04 am
Tags: , , , ,

There is a rule of thumb I apply when researching over-the-counter drugs and medical devices. I do an Internet search basically asking “does XYZ really work?” or the equivalent. If the top ten hits are mostly websites clearly sponsored by the creators, I know it is a scam. Those sites are part of their marketing plan. If the reviews by the general public are largely negative, these “positive” reviews dilute them down. They basically are guaranteeing that positive “reviews” are the first thing that comes up in such a search.

If you do a similar search for information on educational voucher programs, you will get a similar response, all heavily positive data and reviews. Unfortunately, the vast bulk of the “data” and reviews are bogus, paid for by the rich assholes taking financial advantage through such programs. (It sure isn’t the students because independent research shows that students using vouchers perform more poorly that students who do not. “There is credible research on one side—that vouchers are largely a negative force for student outcomes—and politically oriented reports on the other. That’s it.”—Josh Cowen)

If this is a topic that interests you, here are the specifics:

Josh Cowen: A Citizen’s Guide to the Researchers and Funders Behind Vouchers

November 15, 2022

School Voucher Systems—Another Subsidy for the Rich

I am sure you have heard of the various school voucher systems being implemented around the country. In them, parents of school-aged children can opt out of the public school system in their community and receive a voucher they can use to have their child attend the private school of their choice. How can this not be a good thing? Sounds like a win-win-win all the way around, except it is just another boondoggle used by the wealthy to their advantage.

For example, 80% of the “voucher students” in Arizona were already enrolled in a private school, so there is not much choice involved in the voucher as the choice had already been made. The voucher was just a way to recoup some of the tuition they were already paying. Oh, In New Hampshire, the number was 89%; in Wisconsin it was 75%.

To make things worse, students who were formerly in public schools and left to go to a private school with their “voucher,” generally did substantially poorer academically than they did before. How much poorer? On par with the education impact of having a disaster hit their community, like a hurricane or a pandemic (yes, worse than the COVID shutdown of the schools impact).

So, why are these programs so popular? Well, they are very popular with people who already have their children in private schools, aka the wealthy. (When we moved to Chicago, our first condo was butted up against Chicago Day School. Tuition for the primary school children going there was in the neighborhood of $40,000 per year. I am sure it helped those little nippers get a good job later in life. And they didn’t have to rub elbows with “ordinary” children!)

School voucher programs could have been structured to help the poor (as they are claimed to do but don’t) or any number of configurations, but the vast majority of them are structured to line the pockets of wealthy people.

I am old enough to remember the arguments back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Wealthy people whined that they had to pay taxes to support the educational system, and they also had to pay tuition at their kid’s private schools. It is unfair, they said! Their arguments were summarily dismissed at the time with the counter argument of “we all benefit from having an educated citizenry.” In addition, childless couples pay education taxes, and they have no children who will take part in the public school system. The taxes paid are not to educated one’s own children, but to educate all children.

The wealthy and their primary political party (hint—The GOP) are working hammer and tongs to support the current status quo (No change, no change, no change . . . starting to sound like a Conservative Woodstock!) because the current status quo is slanted so heavily to benefit the already wealthy. And the Democrats are buying into the same program, trailing the Republicans in just small ways now.

Support the Rich! Provide School Vouchers Now! (Repeat after me!)

Want more details? See here (The Hechinger Report)

November 3, 2022

Grubbing for Respectability

The study of economics has been searching for respectability for many decades. Most recently it has been mathematized in order to make it more sciency and references to the “economic sciences” (sic) abound.

I noticed that today the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences had been awarded, and as a lazy news agencies reported it, it was the Nobel Prize for Economics. There is no Nobel Prize for Economics. This prize was named to imply that it is but it is not. They even announce the “winners” at the same time the real Nobel Prizes are awarded to complete the illusion. Pathetic. Almost as bad as the award shows, like the Oscars, et. al. in which an industry rewards itself.

No matter how much respectability grubbing proponents of the study of economics claim it is, economics is not a science. Yes, math can be used, graduate courses in economics now require Calculus where they did not in the recent past, and money can be calculated to fine precision, but the “laws” governing the topic aren’t scientific laws and, in most cases are little better than conjectures.

Take, for example, the concept of market equilibrium. A market is said to be at equilibrium when supply and demand for a good or service balance each other, and as a result prices become stable. If something changes this situation, once breached, the market opposes these changes, moving back in the direction of equilibrium. It is a nice concept and, as a rule of thumb, is a description of a small part of the behaviors one can observe in economic markets. But it is not a scientific law. There are no natural forces behind it. The major users of economics, businesses, are striving fang and claw to create monopolies for their businesses, so that have complete and total control of their market. There is no “market force” or “economic force” that opposes these attempts at “market domination.” Such “economic laws” (sic) are just crude descriptions of how markets can perform under a small set of circumstances.

The whole idea of free markets was built upon the myth of market correction forces. The myth is that politicians should leave markets alone because markets function best when unregulated. This is a baseless, self-serving claim that is not supported by any facts. Those promoting free markets, that is markets free from government regulation, really want governments not interfering with their market manipulations. They want to be the regulator of their markets, not the representative of all of the people, governments.

There is no such thing as a “free” market, which is a good thing because markets do not work without some regulation. Consider pharmaceuticals. Would you want to have a market for pharmaceuticals that was completely free, meaning that anyone could claim anything as an outcome of taking their medicinals and, well, anything goes? No FDA interference? No requirements for effectiveness interference? We have had a glimpse of what this would be like when in 1994, Congress removed “herbal supplements” from the purview of the FDA. What we got were herbal concoctions claimed to cure everything from the common cold to cancer with no requirement that such claims be proven in clinical or any other studies.

An AsideI have a method of determining when a “herbal supplement” is bogus. If you are temped to try the XYZ herbal supplement, do an Internet search along the lines of “does XYZ really work?” If the first ten websites you find are websites that are bogus, set up by the purveyor of the supplement, you know it is bogus. The practice for such bogus supplements is to put up a dozen or two websites seemingly independently studying your product, but usually just having long lists of testimonials, from people like Tom T. from Philadelphia, or Theresa W. from Portland, Oregon. None of these people can be contacted for verification because not enough information was been supplied, but that would be a waste of your time because they and their commendations are fictional. These website dilute out any honest evaluations of the XYZ supplement.

If you see such sites listed at the top of your search, well, now you know.

Does anyone want “anything goes” markets? I don’t think so. The “free market” bandwagon is just a vehicle to oppose government regulation that protects citizens from phony claims and phony products. Like a dog chasing cars, if it actually caught one it wouldn’t know what to do with it. Any economist who touts the virtues of free markets is a charlatan. Some economists don’t even know they are charlatans. Every course in economics they took in college had the same nonsensical presuppositions built in and then quick raced past to play with more “advanced” topics. Never to the go back and check their original suppositions.

Then they take their suppositions and double down on then, an example of which is Walras’s “law” which says that excess supply in one market must be matched by excess demand in another, so that in the larger picture there will be a general equilibrium. Can any causal connection be made between the demand in one market and the supply in another? I don’t think so. But the concept of “equilibrium” has run away with these person’s common sense. In the physical sciences, a system can only be in a state of equilibrium if it is isolated completely from the rest of the universe, excluding all other matter, energies, forces, etc. As a consequence a system in physical equilibrium is detached from the rest of the universe and has no effect on it or it on the system.

Now, there are systems that are near equilibrium all over the place in nature and those systems show some of the behaviors of equilibrium systems, for one they oppose changes in the distribution of matter and energy in the system, but those near-equilibrium systems are limited in such responses and can always be shoved off of the tracks, so to speak. Economic systems are somewhat like physical near-equilibrium systems but only under very constrained circumstances.

The key point is if you want them to behave as if they were near-equilibrium systems, you would have to regulate the situations they apply to. Certain “market stimulations” would be forbidden, etc. If you want an example of this look at the U.S. stock markets. The “players” in the markets for stocks invent ways to manipulate the markets in their favor on almost a daily basis. The markets, though, are heavily regulated (there are hundreds of pages of regulations adopted by each market) and most of these manipulative practices never get implemented. But every once in a while corrupt players get some control and you end up with high priced worthless “financial instruments” that crash the system, sometimes worldwide, like what happened in 2008. And these morons still preach “regulation is bad!”

I think economists should be required to dress for their profession, witch doctor garb would be appropriate.

October 11, 2022

Different Ways of Knowing

When you are interested in many similar topics occasionally you get a convergence. I just did, this time because of a statistic. The statistic is that despite our modern educational system about 30% of us are illiterate. It was claimed that this number has held quite steady for a long time. Now the author was British so I thought I would check on the U.S. statistics (yes, we actually track literacy). Here in the U.S., currently, nationwide, on average, 79% of U.S. adults are literate in 2022. 21% of adults in the US are illiterate in 2022. 54% of adults have a literacy below 6th grade level. So, instead of being just under a third of all adults, it is just above a fifth of all adults here. In any case it is a sizable fraction of our society.

You need to be aware when discussing this topic that the definition of being “literate” has changed a great deal over the years. In Colonial times, if you could “make your mark” (basically hold a pen and make an X or other symbol) you were considered literate; not so much today.

Now the reason that this is important is you need to be able to read to avail yourself of the wisdom in books (although audiobooks are available) and the Internet. (Wow, maybe I just figured out why cat videos are so popular—no reading required!) And I am going to equate illiterate with “non-reader.” And I want to add to those non-readers, the myriad others who read neither for pleasure nor edification. For example, Pew Research Center’s data tells us that 50% of American adults read four books or fewer per year. Now I don’t know how many people who can read but don’t read there are, but when added to the illiterate folks, we are talking about a sizable fraction of American society.

Okay, take a deep breath now.

Shifting gears, I want to compare the use of reason to make decisions versus the use of non-reason to make such decisions. Many people use the word “emotion” instead of non-reason, but I don’t want to get into that particular nest of snakes.

The point I want to make is that reasoning is difficult and time consuming. It is hard to learn. The first steps in learning to reason seem obvious and easy but soon things get complicated and arduous. If evolution demanded that we make all of our decisions via reason, well we wouldn’t have survived. So, we needed a non-reasoning path to decisions that was accurate enough and quicker certainly and evolution so equipped us.

Now, the non-reading segment of society is highly unlikely to have learned reasoning at all well, and probably find it arduous and opaque. (I don’t think you will be surprised that even a few corporation executives were found to be members of this group.) And, these folks do not want to feel as if they were second-class citizens compared to their reasoning brethren. So, they elevated and then exalted non-reasoned decision making. They even refer to “different ways of knowing” even though they haven’t the reasoning skills to evaluate that claim as to its truth. They know things “in their heart” or “in their gut” or “I just know. . . .”

So, how well has it been going, just ignoring these folks? Has reasoned decision making been on a long, inexorable rise? No? Donald J. Trump, you say? Our first illiterate president?

It seems to me that our academic philosophers need to pull their heads out of their asses and address this issue. We all need to make reasoned decisions from time to time as well as rapid decisions for which the tool of reason is ill-suited. But what about the folks who can’t reason at all? The Flat Earthers? The astrologers? The homeopathic medical people? Leaving them out of the fray only leads to increasing isolation. Are there ways to convince them that certain beliefs are false using their own “different ways of knowing”?

Postscript Yes, yes this applies to religious beliefs but I do not want to go there at the moment.

October 3, 2022

How About an E Pluribus Unum Option?

Filed under: Culture,Education,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 12:18 pm
Tags: ,

A new Texas law requires public elementary and secondary schools and higher education institutions to hang a poster or framed sign with the US national motto, ‘In God we trust,’ in a ‘conspicuous place’ if the sign is ‘donated for display at the school or institution’ or ‘purchased from private donations and made available to the school or institution.’”

Notice all of the “welcomes” in various languages and then the big “You ain’t welcome lest yer a Christian!” poster.

After all, look at how well the Jews trust In Yahweh worked during the holocaust or the American Black slaves who embraced Christianity and trusted that God would prevail out of desperation during our slavery era and how that worked for them!

You can trust this God . . . to sit on His hands, because the message is clearly, “You are on your own, Bubba.”

Notice that the shithole Republicans don’t even provide the option for the school kids to create their own poster. Pro-education, they are . . . not.

The Ur-Father of the GOP

I was reading a post on the Vridar web site about the linkage between the Genesis account in the Bible and Greek philosophy when I encountered this:

Plato taught that in an ideal government philosophers should rule and oversee all aspects of education from infancy to adulthood. The curriculum for the young had to consist of myths that fostered “good” behaviour. These myths needed to be attractive to all ages, especially the young, and hence were to be relayed in songs, poems, theatrical performances and public readings at festivals. Existing myths that told of gods were useful but first had to be censored by the philosopher rulers to remove from them every negative and immoral act of the gods. Nothing bad about the gods was to enter the minds of the citizens. Education was to encompass the whole society, from mothers telling infants nursery rhymes to entertaining performances (singing, reading, acting) for the young and adults.”

Plato . . . the Father of the GOP.

All of the GOP’s education statements and actions are based on getting control of our education system so as to shape it exactly along the lines that Plato recommends.

“Some natural philosophers taught that the sun, moon and stars were inanimate bodies of rock or fire and moved according to physical processes. Plato saw those teachings as a threat to morality because they were the first step on the slippery slope towards atheism.”

Neil Godfrey, the author of this post went on to state:

For more formal education in the home and school settings Plato permitted the teaching of astronomy but with a caveat. Some natural philosophers taught that the sun, moon and stars were inanimate bodies of rock or fire and moved according to physical processes. Plato saw those teachings as a threat to morality because they were the first step on the slippery slope towards atheism. The general population needed to be taught that these heavenly bodies were divine and moved as divinities would — in perfect circles. The sphere was the perfect shape befitting a deity because it could move while remaining in the same place. The detailed philosophical reasoning behind this astronomical knowledge would only be taught to those able to attend higher education. For most people all that was necessary is that they be taught “the facts” without the rational arguments for them. The proposed curriculum was thus an ancient form of “creation science”. Instructors were to possess the authority that came with a reputation for high morals and deep knowledge and above all to learn to teach with persuasive eloquence.

Sound familiar? I didn’t know the Repubs were so erudite, so versed in ancient Greek philosophy, or maybe it is just their drive for power leading them.

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