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New: My book, Getting Over Jesus: Finding Meaning and Morals without God, is now available!

I’m “sticking” this introductory post to the top of my page.

These days mostly I am writing mostly for my two Substacks, Self in Society, of general interest (mostly about culture), and Colorado Pickaxe (mostly about state politics). Posts there are free to read and released every few days. Please sign up to both sites via email, and please also consider becoming a paid subscriber

Following are my books:

Ari Armstrong publishes under the imprints “Self in Society,” “Self in Society Publishing,” “Ember Publishing,” and “Eversol Press,” each trademarked by Ari Armstrong.

Updated posts: Resources for Homeschoolers and Advice on Growing Up and Self-Improvement

Advice on Growing Up and Self-Improvement

Here I’m going to collect random notes about growing up and self-improvement. Just because I link to something here doesn’t mean I endorse all of its contents. First published on July 31, 2023.

Happiness: Michael Shermer interviewed Gad Saad about The Saad Truth about Happiness. Saad emphasizes the importance of a good marriage and a good career.

Marriage: Bryan Caplan offers advice to young men seeking a marriage partner. Most of this is common sense: don’t focus on looks, focus on personality, improve yourself. See also Caplan’s follow-up advice for women.

Science: Tyler Cowen discusses how to understand scientific literature. He begins, “In just about any scientific literature, there is an undercurrent of tacit knowledge which is not very directly expressed in any of the published pieces.”

Liberty ‘Gator Archives

I ran Liberty ‘Gator (LibertyGator.com) from June 5, 2020, to June 2, 2021. I moved most of that content here (to AriArmstrong.com) on June 3, 2023. I am now publishing at Colorado Pickaxe and Self in Society at Substack. I put some of the ‘Gator content, about objectivity in media, on Substack, as indicated below. Each subhead indicates material that originally was published as a separate post. The material is reproduced in reverse chronological order.

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Notes on Peter Singer’s Expanding Circle

I finally got around to reading Peter Singer’s The Expanding Circle (Princeton, 2011). I love the book and agree with its central thesis that biology gets ethics started but that human reason pushes it forward. I also find various problems with the book. Following are my summary notes with commentary. Numbers in parentheses refer to page numbers in the printed text.

Biological Origins of Ethics

Singer begins by briefly considering and then quickly rejecting the now obviously false view that humans started out in isolation and then rationally “came together to hammer out a basis for setting up the first human society,” the so-called social-contract theory of ethics (4). Our prehuman and early human ancestors were social by their evolved biology. Singer takes E. O. Wilson’s 1975 Sociobiology as the “most impressive attempt” to that point (Singer’s book first appeared in 1981) to explain the biological origins of ethics (4).

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Countering Bias about Media Bias

“Media trust hits new low,” Axios notes, based on the Edelman “trust barometer” (and I trust this source!). Fifty-eight percent of Americans thought “most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public.”

I think the public vastly underrates the quality of the news media. Almost all (actual) news organizations are predominantly concerned with informing the public, even if they also sometimes promote a political agenda.

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Polar Express and the Limits of Belief

Years ago, when first I tried to watch the 2004 Robert Zemeckis film Polar Express, I found the visual effects so bizarre that couldn’t sit through the film. But last year my young son watched the film on an Imax screen and loved it, so this year the family watched the film together at home.

I enjoyed the film more than I thought I would. To me, what’s interesting about it is how it sketches, through a strange dream sequence, the psychology of loss and anxiety.

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In Defense of Rudolph

Caitlin Flanagan doesn’t like the 1964 television film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Actually it’s not entirely clear to me that she’s serious; her article is so strange I wonder if it’s tongue-in-cheek or satire. But it seems like Flanagan probably is serious so I will respond as though she is.

In my view, Rudolph is one of the greatest films of all time.

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Six Steps Toward Ending Police Abuses

“Please, I can’t breathe!” George Floyd begged as a Minneapolis police officer crushed a knee into his neck as he lay prone and handcuffed. The officer who killed Floyd deserves to be tried for murder, and the officers who participated or stood by and watched deserve to be tried as accomplices.

It doesn’t matter here what Floyd is alleged to have done. The person who called 911 said that Floyd was trying to pay a store with fake bills and that he was intoxicated. I have no idea whether the allegations are true. The officers involved claimed that Floyd resisted arrest. Video shows that Floyd struggled as police yanked him from a vehicle, after which Floyd cooperated. [Update: Subsequently released video seems to show Floyd struggling with police in a police vehicle.] Regardless, the officer’s extreme use of force obviously was entirely unnecessary to subdue Floyd. No reasonable person doubts that crushing a person’s throat for minutes on end can kill the victim. It is a police officer’s job to bring the accused to the courts for justice, not to play street executioner.

What, practically, can we as regular people do toward stopping such senseless violence by a minority of the people we pay to protect us? Here I review six main ways.

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COVID-19 Updates 2

I started this document on May 23, 2020, to keep track of select updates about COVID-19. Items are listed in reverse order relative to when I examine them (latest updates on top). This follows my first “COVID-19 Updates” file (April 28 to May 22) and the “COVID-19 Resources” page started March 24. My last post here is June 4. For subsequent updates about this, see my Liberty ‘Gator pandemics tag.

Major data sources: Our World in Data, Johns Hopkins, Worldometer, CO Dep’t of Public Health, USA Data (which has U.S. state-level data), CDC COVID-19 data, EndCoronavirus.org (which has great country and U.S. state case comparisons), Rt.live (which has estimates of reproduction rate, the accuracy of which I know not), Gu Infections Tracker (also includes R estimates), IMF Policy Tracker (country summaries), COVID-19 Projections Colorado page, AEI U.S. state and county tracker. See also Johns Hopkins’s Research Compendium. A handy stat: The U.S. population (estimated May 7) is 330,721,000.

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