19 October 2012

The moral man will roll up his sleeves and use force

This recent New Yorker article on the Penn State pedophile Jerry Sandusky came to my attention through a nadder:
The key point is that someone who really wants to rape children will spend a LOT of energy in building up a charismatic persona of the helpful member of the community. An interesting (and useful) read that should dispel the trenchcoat-wearing loner with no social skills as the archetype child sex predator.
It reminded me of two things, first the classic verse from Chapter 38 of the Te:
The kind person acts from the heart,
and accomplishes a multitude of things.
The righteous person acts out of pity,
yet leaves many things undone.
The moral person will act out of duty,
and when no one will respond
will roll up his sleeves and use force.
Secondly, the issue of pedagogical education.

There is much in common between a pedophile, dressed as a charismatic person, a helpful member of the community,  a likeable individual, like Sandusky, and one who claims to be so caring about education that he or she devotes his or her career on the subject, going around teaching others how to educate pupils and students, offering pedagogical approaches, while always maintaining his or her love for education.

What is the common point between the two types is the fact that none of them care at all about what they preach. On the contrary, they try to build an impeccable facade in order to do exactly the opposite. This has always been so obvious to me that I thought it was obvious to others as well. Wrong. I keep meeting people around me who claim that because this or that person is a moral individual, beyond any suspicion for dubious acts, then this is a proof that he or she is actually what he or she appears to be. I also keep speaking to people who are convinced that because that individual is a master in pedagogy, then, certainly, all he or she cares about is the improvement of education.

Lao Tzu warned us a few thousand years ago. Beware of those who have the need to tell everyone that they act out of morality and build a picture about themselves which is impossible to destroy even when dubious things start happening.

Sandusky has always been beyond any suspicion. Playing the role of a lovable goofball, he was never ever going to be suspected for molesting children. Much in the same way, the pedagogical educator who spends 200% of their time in preaching and teaching and applying pedagogical concepts is never going to be suspected for someone who does not give a shit about education. Both Sandusky and the pedagogical educator devote years in building indestructible fortresses.

Our way of seeing things should change: beware of those who preach, look behind the surface, and, more importantly, always question anything that is being offered to you as perfection. Is this so hard? I never thought it could be. And yet, in societies where freedom of thought is not something that individuals practice ("sapere aude" is not obvious) there will always be Sanduskys and other crooks.


  1. nice lines of Lao-Tzu . Thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. You are very welcome. Lao Tzu was a visionary. (What a pity that Taoism became a commodity religion!)

    More to the point, however, Lao Tzu tells us to always look below the surface. Maintaining a reasonable amount of doubt is the cornerstone of any healthy society. Can you imaging a society where everyone takes whatever is being served to them for granted?



What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant