Ideology

Mature Atheism, Military Service, and Cookies

Mature Atheism, Military Service, and Cookies

As an Atheist Airmen, I do not sacrifice for the betterment of society with the belief that I'll be rewarded in the next life.  I do so knowing that, if I am called upon to sacrifice, it is not a matter of divine providence, but of personal choice. This doesn't make me heroic, but it certainly doesn't make me villainous to simply want that distinction recognized and respected. Every service member is more than their military service; we are first and foremost American citizens who deserve the same respect and rights in which our civilian counterparts are afforded.

Rather than thank us for our service (a hollow gesture), take a moment to recognize that we're a person outside of that uniform.  A person with whom you may disagree on a great many things; a person who may be a novelist, an atheist, or an engineer. Do not typecast us into a group of people deserving "hero cookies," but understand that our military service, like your day job, is mostly office politics and paperwork; it's fairly rare that we do anything "heroic."

Historical Context: Investing in Education, In Spite of Economic Woes

We have seen the importance of education time and time again: from preventing polarization in politics and combating the over reliance on authority figures whom we deem infallible through the Halo Effect, to improving political engagement and increasing the lifespan of the educated.  However, in today's world with soaring tuition costs it can be difficult for many people to accept the insurmountable burden that obtaining a college degree can place on a family; especially when it's no golden ticket to employment after graduation.

Add to this the fact that we exist, in a world where congressmen believe that wind is a finite resource, homeopathic remedies are touted on a daily basis in lieu of medicine, and junk science has become an international export - can we really afford to have a polarized political environment that's too busy fighting over the existence of evolution (in the House Committee of Science no less) to enact meaningful change? If increasing education reduces the number of believers in an absurd theory (e.g. astrology), even without specifically addressing that theory - then an increased number of educated members in our society leads to a healthier, more engaged, and less susceptible to junk science populace.

So when graduating seniors are faced with the inability to go to college without taking on an unsustainable amount of debt, it affects the country in far more ways than just the job market. In fact, as the former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, points out it may start a self-fulfilling prophecy where an underemployed workforce hurts the economy, which affects tax revenue, which drives down government programs.  A lack of government programs drives up tuition in schools and drives down political engagement, polarizes the political spectrum, and causes future generations to be underemployed as well. 

Linguistics, Education, and Polarization

Linguistics, Education, and Polarization
The Deffuant-Weisbuch (DW) model describes how interconnected individuals can influence one another's beliefs. The less certain someone is about their belief, the more that individual could be swayed towards the belief of a more confident individual with whom they interact. Under the DW model, "extremists" are defined as a minority of people who are very confident about and unlikely to change their beliefs. As a result, if an individual is uncertain about their belief, they are more likely to be swayed by an extremist.