Active Thinking Topic 08 - A Sense of Proportion

Monday 21 June 2021, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Any replies to the organizer -

Venue: Cafe Brunelli, 187 Rundle St · Adelaide (You must buy a drink or something. We are 'renting' the space for 2 hours)

About Focus Questions: a) Please read them before you come to the meetup. Think about them so you have more than "instant opinions" to offer. b) Feel free to add more focus questions. c) THE FOCUS QUESTIONS ARE JUST A MENU TO CHOOSE FROM. From this menu we can discuss whatever seems interesting. d) Focus questions are not intended to push one viewpoint! You can adopt any position you wish. We actually like friendly disagreement - it can lead to deeper understanding

Focus Questions

1. Most murders and person-on-person fights are way out of proportion to whatever sparked them. Can these failures of judgement be educated out of a person, or are some individuals just unable to act proportionately?

2. How is 'good taste' - in speech, behaviour, dressing etc - related to a cultivated sense of proportion? Or isn't it?

3. Why do different cultures have very different patterns for what is considered proportionate? - i.e. in crime & punishment, personal relationships, dress codes, displays of wealth or advantage ... and so on.

4. What is your trigger distance and/or reason for catching a taxi? Is it proportionate to your need for exercise? How valuable, really, is the time you 'save'? [As a 9 year old kid I walked four miles to school every day, and four miles home, alone]

5.What should Australia's proportionate response be to difficult diplomatic situations with other countries (... countries which may have a radically different judgement about cultural values and proportionate responses ..?).

6. Partly in imitation of American 'culture wars', parts of Australian society have also plunged into various kinds of 'cultural wars' - from gender relations, to racial relations, to political differences. What is a proportionate response to such situations?

7. What is a proportionate way to divide weekly time, and lifetime, between the demands of work, family, play etc? How does this work out for different kinds of people.

8. What is the evidence (or lack of it) that religion, or a lifestyle philosophy, or education ... can help help the majority of people to make balanced judgements about the people and situations they encounter?

9. From dictators ro housewives, the majority of sane people sitting around a dinner table can be persuaded by reasoned and balanced discussion. However, let loose in real situations, many of these people will react unreasonably, sometimes brutally, in big ways and small. Why is there so often this radical difference between calm reflection and live action?

10. What are your views on proportion when it comes to architectural design - from furniture, to buildings, to whole cities?

Extra Reading

Wikipedia (2021) "The Golden Mean" @ _(philosophy)

Mark Fabian (August 2011) "A sense of proportion - We’ve lost our sense of proportion. Everyone has forgotten just how hard it is to live". Mark's blog @

Thor May (1998) "The Art of Disproportion". The Passionate Skeptic website @ 

Thor May (2015) "Fuzzy Degrees of Freedom – When is the Law a Burden?" The Passionate Skeptic website @  [“Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men” [Douglas Bader]]

Thor May (2015) "Fuzzy Degrees of Freedom – When is the Law a Burden?" The Passionate Skeptic website @  [“Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men” [Douglas Bader]]

Thor May (2014) "Some Uses and Misuses of Reason - When can the use of reason lead to better lives and societies, and when can it undermine them?" The Passionate Skeptic website @ 

Thor May (2014) "Crime without Punishment - the journey from means to ends" The Passionate Skeptic website @ 

Thor May (2014) "How do we judge literary value and artistic value?" The Passionate Skeptic website @ 

Thor May (2014) "Are we too wealthy? - Do we demand an unsustainable and unrealistic quality of life? Does our desire to be wealthy place too much pressure on the economy and on the environment? Is it possible that we may have to think about accepting less?" The Passionate Skeptic website @ 

Thor May (2011) " Choose When to Live and When to Die - Some Notes on Diet and Exercise". The Passionate Skeptic website @ 

Thor May (2007) "Managing Downward Spirals - Getting from Here to There" The Passionate Skeptic website @ 

Thor May (2003) "So You Wanna' Write a Poem??" The Passionate Skeptic website @  [Quote: "We watched as he carefully unwrapped his little bundle from a scarlet kerchief, and spread it out on the dirt floor before our altar. It was given with a good heart, we could see. But we sighed. That sigh of a god who is sick to death of gifts of chicken feathers, and milk, and honey. Should we tell him? Damn it all man, we want GOLD ......"]

Thor May (2001) "Unseen Grammar – Suspecting The God Of Cracks Between The Floorboards" The Passionate Skeptic website @  [Quote: "The flight of a bird is not in wings, but in the shape of the space-time enclosed by each wing from instant to instant. In other words, flight is a grammar of relationships. An infinite variety and number of wings may participate in this grammar of flight relationships, but it is the grammar alone which remains constant. .."]

Thor May (2001) "Student Activism: Truth & False Prophets" The Passionate Skeptic website @  [Quote: "The personal legacy of [my own] Vietnam [war] consciousness raising in young adulthood was a lifelong skepticism about power and the would-be powerful. But there were other spin-offs too. One was the assumption that the causes adopted by the educated youth of the age, that is, the students, would always be in the vanguard of enlightenment. That is certainly how students would prefer to see themselves. Alas, accumulated experience and a wider reading of history, has made me increasingly skeptical of the proposition that students are typically in the vanguard of anything but their own fashion statements. Sometimes they are on the side of the angels, but just as often they are dupes... "]

Thor May (2000) "The Conundrum of Men and Women: Innovators & Imitators" The Passionate Skeptic website @  [Quote: "Out in the backblocks of unreconstructed macho males and pumpkin scone women they never had a problem. They played the eternal seasons of struts and giggles, infatuated romance, white weddings, bawling babies, economic drudgery, drink and abuse, spreading waistlines, kitchen divorce and dad's shed up the backyard. Was it so different, after all, from some middle-eastern religious proscription on the genders? Late, too late to play the game again, we realized our mistake. Regretted that nature had been politically incorrect and unfair in the apportionment of talent... "]

Toby Crockford (June 3, 2021) "Legal bid to keep man in jail for extra 20 months for setting girlfriend alight". Brisbane Times @  [TM, comment: This is an example of a trivial, brainless issue generating a major crime. This 17 year old boy had an argument with his girlfriend over a mobile phone. He poured petrol over her and set her alight. She had to be put into an induced coma and has permanent scarring. He got an 11 year sentence.]


A Sense of Proportion (c) Thor May 2021 

return to Ddiscussion