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Phil Stilwell comments

Posted in: Iranian judoka refuses to return home after refusing order not to fight Israeli See in context

He'll get on fine in Tokyo. There is a great group of Iranian dissenters or apoliticals who have lived here for decades.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan to conduct first major survey on racism: report See in context

I hope they also ask whether we have seen other foreigners behaving inconsiderately or condescendingly towards Japanese. Much of the dislike of foreigners by Japanese is due to an inability of foreigners to perceive Japanese sensibilities, or to think they matter.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Posted in: Do you consider global warming just a theory or a proven fact? See in context

The question is ill-formed.

Questions for which the evidence arrives incrementally demand, not a binary choice between the two very fuzzy notions of "theory" and "fact", but rather a nuanced degree of certainty. That degree of certainty can be quite high or quite low, but binary belief can not map to the evidential gradient. Since rational belief is a degree of belief that maps to the degree of the evidence, any non-degreed and unnuanced declaration of a discrete position will be intrinsically irrational.

I personally position my degree of certainty at around 98% for global warming, and just slightly below that for man-made global warming based on the evidence I've so far encountered.

This is not a pedantic exercise, but the only rational way to approach questions for which inductively acquired evidence accrues. The degree of belief must map to the degree of the relevant evidence. Adding such epistemic nuance increases resolution productive to the dialogue.


0 ( +3 / -3 )

Posted in: If you found a bag with a large sum of money in it, say 10 million yen, in some isolated spot, and there was nothing to indicate who the owner was, what would you do with it? See in context

I'm too grateful to the people who have returned my lost wallet with his contents in the past to not do so for others. This Japanese ethic is just one more reason why I've been here 17 years. I'd hate to see it change.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Apple defends Dr Dre after he apologizes to 'women I've hurt' See in context

One of the beautiful things in life is that we all can change.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Le Pen urges Japan to avoid making same mistakes as France See in context

I sadly had a Muslim friend in Tokyo tell me that he would be willing to be a suicide bomber. I've not had a friend from another religion say anything remotely similar.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Posted in: The end of poverty? See in context

The trend is clear. Poverty is falling all across the globe. The fact that problems remain does not negate the successes. And suggesting that a widening gap in income disparity means increased poverty is a very rudimentary misunderstanding about economics. The fact that someone else has more money than you does not make you poor. The notion that it does makes you unnecessarily unhappy. Live in a poor neighborhood of a Third World country for a while to understand what poverty actually is before you suggest the "poor" in your own develop country are truly disenfranchised.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: The pitfalls of legalizing drugs See in context

Finally a piece that discusses both the pros and cons rather than the shallow whining of one side. While I don't necessarily agree with all of the conclusions, it is certainly refreshing to see the topic treated with a bit of rational fairness for a change. Kudos.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Is Japan really racist? See in context

Good article. Essentially, Japanese desire predictability. Where personalities are less than predictable, there you see and aversion express towards those personalities. In addition to the immediate psychological need for predictability, the society here works efficiently due to that predictability, and would be less efficient were predictability to decline.

So I don't mind if, when on the train, Japanese choose not to sit next to the white skinhead. I don't mind children clinging tightly to their mothers when they notice me. I just smile and give them as much exposure to my personality as possible so as to slowly change perceptions. But I am one of those scary unpredictable personalities at times. When I encounter what I consider to be an injustice, I frequently in these infrequent contexts respond aggressively to rectify that injustice. I don't apologize for this, but neither do I blame the Japanese for shunning me subsequently.

Having said that, there are many Japanese of a more adventurous and independent personality type who feel constrained here and would thrive in a less predictable society. There is a rather deeply entrenched sexism here, but having well-framed parameters within to find identity is a reluctant comfort for many.

It would be nice if boarders were more open so personalities of various sorts could migrate into whatever society best matches their personality.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: Would you support legalizing marijuana use? If so, why? If not, why not? See in context

Not in any country in which I must pay for health care coverage of cannabis (and tobacco) users. Make people pay for their own choices.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Posted in: Joggers warned to mind their manners as they run around Imperial Palace See in context

The runners are nearly always aware that they share the sidewalk with others. That's not quite as true with many of the visitors.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Posted in: Are Tokyo University students cleverer than other people? See in context

I've been teaching critical thinking courses at Todai for about five years now. With a sample of about 150 Todai students to compare to about 600 or 700 students from other universities, I can unequivocally state that Todai Students are far more aggressive, determined and innovative than the average Japanese university student. Gakushuin students are not far behind. These students have personalities similar to the average westerner. Their willingness to be an individual in a crowd seems to be what enables them to excel to degrees far above their peers. It seems this personality type is what drives learning, which in turn leads to greater general intelligence.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: Men who use trains on dates: Please stay single See in context

After having been a professional driver in the US, it's been just me and my bicycle for 14 years in Tokyo. My social life has been amazing! The most beautiful girls don't think they're princesses.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Posted in: U.S. ambassador pledges full cooperation over alleged rape on Okinawa See in context

basroilOct. 18, 2012 - 12:17AM JST You just described everything I've seen... but what I saw were Japanese guys. You find bad apples everywhere, it doesn't mean the orchards are poisoned.

Assess it statistically. Your comment is analogous to saying house cats are just as dangerous as tigers because you've been scratched by a cat an never by a tiger. I'd say 5% of the soldiers I've met behave poorly while 0.05% of the Japanese I've met behave poorly.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Posted in: U.S. ambassador pledges full cooperation over alleged rape on Okinawa See in context

I'm American, but I'm tired of the US military in Japan. Two idiot soldiers forced me and a friend off the sidewalk in Tokyo, just because they could. Three Afghanistan snipers asked me to hook them up with cocaine. I had to push one drunk soldier off some poor Japanese girl in Zushi. Keep them on the base at least.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Posted in: New wrinkle in pot debate: stoned driving See in context

I was a "designatied driver" for a friend who needed his daily pot high. He actually opened the passenger door and tried to jump out at 40mph/hr. I can't imagine what he would have done were he driving.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Posted in: TEPCO’s liability to Japan See in context

"Isn’t the act of exposing us to all this radiation a crime? Isn’t it?"

It isn't.

A crime is something contrary to a law. Idogawa can submit a moral argument if he'd like, but to intentionally confuse the 2 does no one any good.

-3 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Education can solve religion-science conflicts See in context

The only way to make your religion compatible with science is to emasculate your holy book and your god into impotency.

If your god through his holy book makes any claims that can be assessed by science, then there will likely be a genuine conflict.

Does your god promise to answer prayers? That can be scientifically tested.

Does your god promise to heal the sick? That also can be scientifically tested.

Can you ignore the resulting conflicts? Only by committing yourself to intellectual dishonesty and actively anethesizing the cognitive dissonance.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Posted in: Future cancers caused by Fukushima radiation may be hidden See in context

The tone of the headline...

"Future cancers caused by Fukushima radiation may be hidden"

...does not match the tone of the opinions...

"the 2 million residents of Fukushima Prefecture, targeted in the new, 30-year survey, probably got too little radiation to have a noticeable effect on cancer rates"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: 2 arrested after teenage girl dies in 'exorcism' See in context

Anywhere you have "faith" promoted as a virtue, you have humans abandoning their responsibility to weigh the evidence for claims such as the existence of demons, angels and gods. How did faith ever be considered virtuous? Why abandon reason for faith in old books and petty gods?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

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