This is happening 30 minutes away from us. We’re surrounded by golf courses and Polo fields, which means we’re basically safe. I can’t imagine the horror of having to abandon one’s home not knowing what’ll be there tomorrow. It happens every year, but usually not to this degree. Usually a cigarette butt or some idiot starts it on purpose.
We were about to leave the house when Mike said: Is that your Republican Convention hairstyle? Bastard.
A _______ company is doing ________ for its top clients at ______. ______ will be closed to the general public on the evening in question. Don’t think 1%, think the top 5% of the 1%. We were asked to test the menu. I asked: why me? The answer was: well, if you don’t complain… A person could take offence to that, but I’ll just pretend it only means I have high standards. The starter was _____tuna, the first wine was Ossian ______( a bit too sweet for my taste). The rest of the menu was _______. Simple and very elegant. The second wine was Dominio Romano_______, it was outstanding and didn’t have that oaky flavour of crianza which you get tired of after you’ve lived in Spain for a very long time. The sky was beautiful. In case you’re wondering why so many blanks… it’s because real life is very different from Real Housewives of Imaginationland. People who aren’t discreet generally don’t get invited a second time to anywhere worth going to.
I’m going to make a confession and a very politically incorrect one at that. Until very recently I held a deep prejudice. I held it in silence, because I know better. Obviously it’s not that I thought that people who had physical disabilities should be treated differently, but I felt a profound condescension. Ever since childhood, and those were the days when we used the words retard and cripple on the playground- I remember averting my eyes and if at all possible keeping my distance from those people.
As most educated left-wingers I talked myself out of most of my prejudices, but that one still lingered, I think it was hiding behind my bearded Muslims on an air-plane anxiety (which I also always keep to myself.) The intellectual me danced with the cute guy in the wheelchair in Ibiza. Meanwhile the emotional me was repeating poor thing in my head and trying to keep my eyes fixated on his face. Intellectual me was scared to death of saying something inappropriate. Emotional me was desperately looking for an excuse to get myself out of there. I spilt a drink on my white jeans on purpose, left and then spent the rest of the evening postulating how I was the most evil person who had ever walked the earth.
This year, I’m pleased to announce, I’m over it. Thanks to the London 2012 Paralympics, I’m more than over it, I feel like an absolute idiot. Somewhere between watching Oscar Pistorius run and Jonnie Peacock’s… well, gazing into his eyes every time he’s on television, I had an epiphany. There’s nothing “oh, poor thing” about these guys. In hindsight I recognize my monumental arrogance. The Ibiza guy was having fun and doing wheelies and I was presumptuously jumping to all sorts of absurd conclusions, which I would not have done had he been standing. I won’t get into what those conclusions were because they seem just too ridiculous at this point in time.
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
It’s impossible to go through that list of symptoms without two things coming to mind. Firstly, that the central figure of Christianity fits all of the criteria and secondly that because of that Christianity itself was modelled on a narcissistic mindset. This isn’t, of course, limited to Christianity. Monotheistic religions as a whole are founded on ideas of self-importance, exclusivity and entitlement- always at the expense and to the detriment of non-members of the group. This is dangerous because it results in collective narcissism/ethnocentrism. It also makes monotheistic religions the perfect environment for real narcissists (the leaders of the religion) and compensatory narcissists. For the real narcissists the group protects and amplifies their sense of superiority. For compensatory narcissists belonging to the group allows them to mask their feelings of inferiority and compensate for them with faith.
This narcissistic ideation clearly explains the distorted perception of fundamentalist Christians. In their anti-gay arguments they state in no uncertain terms that they feel threatened by the very existence of gays and/or gay marriage. We hear slogans like “They’re threatening traditional marriage” or “They want to impose themselves on society.” When in fact, it’s monotheistic religions who want to impose their ideology on all of society. Legalizations are never totalitarian, they leave the door open for each person to choose for themselves. Bans and illegalizations (regularly proposed by Christians) are by their very nature totalitarian and force all of society to subject themselves to absolutes.
When the narcissist feels ______ about X, he knows he must be right because otherwise he wouldn’t have that feeling. It’s circular and self-justifying. This means that everybody else must also feel _____ about X, otherwise they will be violating his world view and, thus, offending his ego. When this is extrapolated to a group it has dangerous consequences since narcissist ideation suppresses the line that divides inner-reality and outer reality. They require that their feelings and perceptions be regarded as objective “truth”, while dismissing the perceptions (or evidence) of others out of hand. This is how we end up with people rejecting evolution and other established science. It allows (or causes) them to relate to the world on unilateral terms where no evidence can ever be sufficient to change their perspective. Yesterday I was watching Sam Harris debate William Craig at Notre Dame University. There’s an interesting question at the end, unfortunately the student used a facetious tone which allowed Craig to simply dismiss it. He started with “I had a revelation from god last night, and god told me that he was okay with gay marriage…”- Although Craig didn’t answer (and even feigned indignation) we know exactly what his answer would be because of his narcissistic thought process. He would only allow for “revelations” that confirmed his static world view. The narcissist is comfortable speaking in the name of god but anyone who does the same is automatically dismissed and rejected if it contradicts the narcissist individual’s or group’s perception.
The title of the article says it all. I’d just add that it’s not just their own faces they have trouble recognizing.
This morning I was reading Gregory Paul’s essay titled The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions. Sue Blackmore summarized his findings in The Guardian in 2009. Here’s a summary of her summary:
Paul measures “popular religiosity” and compares it against the “successful societies scale” (SSS measures include homicides, the proportion of people incarcerated, infant mortality, STDs, teenage pregnancy, abortions, corruption, income inequality etc). On almost every measure the US comes out worse than any other 1st world developed nation, and it is also the most religious. The 1st world nations with the highest levels of belief in God, and the greatest religious observance are also the ones with all the signs of societal dysfunction.
“Because highly secular democracies are significantly and regularly outperforming the more theistic ones, the moral-creator socio-economic hypothesis is rejected in favour of the secular-democratic socio-economic hypothesis”; “religious prosociality and charity are less effective at improving societal conditions than are secular government programmes”.
This makes for an interesting explanation of the success of the American Evangelical Christian movement. We often get bogged down in debating the intellectual or academic validity of religious propositions and in doing so we fail to examine the psychological factors which lead to people adopting and staying within a religion. Here’s a poverty map of America.
You’ll note the bible-belt coincides with the highest poverty rates. It also coincides with food stamp usage & highest number of hate groups per capita. It’s also the home of the Tea-Party, that loud group of people constantly complaining about moochers. Interestingly the NYT recently released a map that shows the bible belt is the home of America’s biggest moochers. This pattern isn’t unique to first world countries. Religiosity also co-relates to poverty and strife in the developing and third world.
It can be argued that early Christianity was at its inception an ideology of social rebellion. As a grass-roots movement it attempted to re-frame social perception and allocate value to the lower & struggling classes.
“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Freud states that the ego copes with anxiety by using defence mechanisms. Individuals unconsciously deny and/or distort reality to reduce stress. The occasional use of defence mechanisms is normal; However, the consistent use of defence mechanisms becomes a problem as some individuals use them to avoid reality altogether. American Evangelicals fall squarely into this category and their magical thinking patterns now permeate their perception of reality as we know it. In practice this takes the form of: You feel your life is rubbish? You can’t handle the anxiety? You cannot base hope of a better future in logic? Don’t despair! Religion can give you a thought pattern that allows you to fool yourself into thinking you’re not at the bottom of the pyramid after all.
American Evangelical leaders have gone to great lengths to sophisticate their belief-system and exploit these human defence mechanisms. Xenophobia is one if their most popular tools (remember Jerry Falwell defending Apartheid in South Africa?). If one cannot measure up intellectually, financially or even morally to society at large (as is the case of the bible belt)- a system that substitutes those measures and calculates worth by nothing other than religiosity and facile adherence to a set of religious basics is a defence mechanism jackpot. In this interesting equation reductionism is of paramount importance. Morality, according to the Oxford dictionary: concerned with the principles of right and wrong, is reduced to not being gay and not having an abortion. Keeping the focus on those two minority behaviours/actions as absolute evils allows the Evangelical majority the freedom to ignore questions of true morality that could have bearing on their own lives and behaviours- They don’t even have to ask themselves the question: What is true morality? They don’t stop at morality, their systemic defence mechanisms now touch every area of life which is why when a black man gets elected president, all hell breaks lose. It directly negates their system of hierarchy. He must have cheated, he must be from Kenya, he must, he must. Blacks, Latinos, Gays, Atheists- the systematic marginalization of these groups is of primordial importance to them, it’s the cornerstone of the Evangelical’s ego.
No rhetoric; no sublime style; no lexicons or etymology. Pure and simple disclosure of disquieting issues.
Please, REPOST THIS ON YOUR BLOG. Personally, I prefer privacy over publicity; I exposed my life in the hope that the stigmas of mental illness, obesity, and homosexuality might be reconsidered to be human conditions worthy of respect and empathy.
The scene: Angry typing at one end of the room. At the other end there’s a man with a kindle in his hands sitting on a sofa with two dogs, another dog sits at his feet.
M: What are you doing?
M: Whatever you’re typing, don’t send it.
M: Are you still sending messages to that Minister woman?
M: I can see the screen from here.
E: She started it.
M: People are allowed to have opinions.
E: It wasn’t an opinion, it was a flawed argument and she made sure comments were closed on El País because she knew it.
M: But she already knows what you think. You put it up on Project Syndicate right next to her article.
E: I’m not finished telling her what I think. She’s unethical. She made an attack without disclosing the administration she worked for was embarrassed by Wikileaks. She’s a fascist.
M: Please don’t call her a fascist.
E: And she’s pretending or at least implying they were for Pinochet’s extradition. In fact, her government tried to interfere to stop it twice.
M: These are powerful people and you just go at them like a pit-bull.
M: So I don’t want to end up having to go visit you in an embassy once you get kicked out of a country or they come after you.
E: They can’t kick me out.
M: You know what I mean.
E: Someone has to say something.
M: It’s like a squirrel trying to attack an animal ten times its size.
E: Relax, I have good aim!
I miss Christopher Hitchens. I spent the last few hours re-watching him debate with a fool in 2009. He was incredibly patient. I couldn’t possibly get through a discussion like that without using words like imbecilic, under-educated and camel herders. I can see why Dawkins says it’s a waste of time to debate with apologists because it all boils down to them saying “but I believe“.
I find it interesting that we rarely hear the mention of mathematical probability in these debates. Most religious sects claim that non-adherence to their precise interpretations of their religious texts leads to hell. So on a purely mathematical level they would have to concede that even just within Christianity’s 38,000 denominations, their probability of having chosen the “right one” is only one in thirty eight thousand. Interestingly those are the same odds for death by skin cancer in America. You have the same probability of choosing the right religion as you do of dying of skin cancer this year!
If we’re going to be thorough and fair, then we can’t just count Christianity. We should include Islam (which is divided into five denominations), Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, the various denominations within Judaism et. al. By the time we’ve factored all of them in, I imagine an individual’s mathematical probability of choosing the right religion and then properly adhering to its tenets is lower than their chances of winning the Euromillions lottery.
But if you don’t like math, let’s have a look at it from another perspective. The almighty Christian god, capable of creating the universe in six days, causing great floods and plagues and impregnating virgins in non-traditional ways had a really amazing idea 2000 years ago. An idea only a perfect being could come up with. He chose one of the world’s most ignorant zones, knocked up a married woman (putting her at great risk) and then killed his own son. Perfectly genius. He did this because he wanted American Evangelicals, 2000 years later, to persecute gays, hijack politics and the legal system!
He knew not to impregnate a Chinese woman in the Han Dynasty because that culture had founded a university in 124BC. They were less likely to take the idea of virgin births and resurrections seriously and as the Christian god is a bit lazy he decided performing minor miracles where people are more credulous was simply more practical. It’s easier to convince a camel herder and have him spread your message than say, people who had read Yang Xiong (53 BCE–18 CE).
To be continued…
If you’re going all out and creating a new religion then you have to first invent a name for your god, if you’re going down the traditional route you can go straight to the next step.
e.g. My God is Dysonian and his paradise is Dysonland
Set yourself up as the only link to the magical paradise. Only you (and the people you appoint) have a deep understanding of your god. You’re the virtual St. Peter holding the keys to eternity and you have the authority to decide what is good and what is bad. Catholics and Mormons have done this particularly well, they came up with whole new books as to not be constrained by the bible- although the bible is malleable enough that you can usually make it mean anything you want should you wish to go down the traditional route and cash-in on the work other people have been doing for centuries.
e.g. Only Dysonites will end up in Dysonland where all is clean and dust-free!
Focus on promoting the idea that being a member of your group makes people special. You are the chosen people, the only ones going to the special paradise. God likes your followers more than he likes other people. In fact, god doesn’t like people from other groups. Use your converts to bring in more followers. This has the two-fold advantage of increasing your numbers and the act of proselytizing cements the commitment of those you’ve already convinced. Keep your followers fixated on the carrot. The payoff is on its way and they’re the only ones getting it! For this to be successful an end-of times theory could be very useful. The urgency of clouds parting at any minute and people being sucked into the heavens by a giant magical Dyson makes for great symbolism, and won’t all those non-believers be sorry!!!
This part is fine tuning. You’ve now got a good-sized following. You’ve played around with the rules and you know what works and what doesn’t. Now you can introduce the absolutes, the contract. You can be as absurd as you like, after all, you do speak for god. Introducing visual elements at this stage can be be very effective. Choose an object and make it the symbol of your religion, this is also useful if you want to sell merchandise. If you can come up with a special type of clothing or jewelry that believers can wear or keep with them during the day it keeps them focused. This is part of your marketing appeal so choose carefully! Don’t forget to use the commandments to further cement your importance in the group. Inserting daily rituals for people to be reminded of how important you are is very useful. Use language carefully here to build-up the group’s self-satisfaction while also making outsiders seem inferior for not belonging to the group!
*the payment of a fine can be arranged in the event you’ve broken one of the commandments and not only will Dysonian like you again, but you’ll be permitted into Dysonland!
Early last week I was contacted by a staff reporter from the Chicago Tribune newspaper asking if I'd be willing to share Life With Bipolar II.
I'm a private person by nature, but also an author rummaging through his past looking for experiences which, when written in my style will leap from me and land on you resulting in some degree of change expressed through your thought or action.
The story of a Kearny (NJ) high school student who secretly recorded his history teacher in class, and accused him of proselytizing. When the story hit The New York Times all hell broke loose.
There are a few points that were ignored during the debate which I think should have been highlighted. Firstly we’re still allowing anti-gay activists to hide behind the semantic argument. They pretend it’s about the word marriage because they get to hide their bigotry and avoid bringing out debunked science (which at this point is rather embarrassing.) The truth is that it’s not about the word. They’re anti-gay and also against civil-unions:
They have consistently opposed civil unions in every country that has tried to adopt them. They routinely used the same junk science then as they do now to oppose gay marriage. During the unpleasantly long right-wing, Aznar presidency, gay-civil-union bills were presented sixteen times and sixteen times they were vetoed by the pro-religion administration.
It’s actually a very basic concept which conservatives seem to be ignoring: Does a group’s propaganda incite (unwarranted) fear or hate of a particular group? If it does, it’s a hate group.
1. Is the information false? Yes, this is an important point in the definition as truth would be a legitimate defence to slander
2. Does the false information incite hatred? Yes
And that’s the end of the story.
Mr. Brown was disingenuous enough to re-introduce the slippery slope fallacy: Gay marriage will lead to polygamy and bestiality. A slippery slope fallacy is an argument that says adopting one policy or action will lead to others also occurring, without showing a causal connection between the advocated policy and the consequent policies. A popular example is, “If we legalize marijuana, next we’ll legalize heroin, LSD, and crack cocaine.” This slippery slope is also a non-sequitur, because no reason has been given for why the legalization of one thing would lead to legalization of the other. Tobacco and alcohol are currently legal, and well regulated whilst other drugs remain illegal. Gay unions have existed for decades in Denmark and many years in other countries and no legislation has been proposed or adopted concerning bestiality and polygamy. They have not been proposed or adopted for two very simple reasons. Animals cannot sign contracts and are therefore unable to legally consent and state-sanctioned polygamy would violate the equality clauses in most democratic constitutions. Polygamy not only creates an unequal relationship where (more than) one citizen is subjugated to another but would also entail financial complications regarding pensions, health care rights and inheritance laws.
It’s also a red herring fallacy in that it’s used as a manipulative diversionary tactic. Mr. Brown wants to appeal to society’s repudiation of bestiality and polygamy and associate that repudiation to gay marriage.
Yes, you read that correctly:
Read it at the HuffPo:
Ferguson ”has said that America should face up to its imperial responsibilities and occupy Iraq for 40 years. Britain should not have gone to war in 1914 but allowed Germany a mainland empire. The problem with the Treaty of Versailles was not the amount of reparations imposed on Germany, but that they were not collected in full. The British Empire was not all bad, but, in fact, had some rather good points; his book and series on the subject saw him compared to Hitler’s propaganda film-maker, Leni Riefenstahl. Now the book and series of The War of the World, which cites the decline of empires as one of the reasons for the 20th-century’s unprecedented violence, have already been branded by left-wing journalist Johann Hari as ‘startlingly obscene’.
Aug 20, 2012 9:03 PM EDT
In this course, you will learn how to formalize information and reason systematically to produce logical conclusions. We will also examine logic technology and its applications – in mathematics, science, engineering, business, law, and so forth.
Logic is one of the oldest intellectual disciplines in human history. It dates back to the times of Aristotle; it has been studied through the centuries; and it is still a subject of active investigation today.
This course is a basic introduction to Logic. It shows how to formalize information in form of logical sentences. It shows how to reason systematically with this information to produce all logical conclusions and only logical conclusions. And it examines logic technology and its applications – in mathematics, science, engineering, business, law, and so forth.
The course differs from other introductory courses in Logic in two important ways. First of all, it teaches a novel theory of logic that improves accessibility while preserving rigor. Second, the material is laced with interactive demonstrations and exercises that suggest the many practical applications of the field.
(the argument to antiquity & tradition).
This is a very common fallacious argument. It implies that because some policy or behaviour has been practised historically that means it is correct and acceptable.
In the gay debate it comes in the form of: “Gay marriage has never existed” with the added implication: and therefore it shouldn’t exist.
1. Tradition does not quantify something as good or bad. Slavery existed for most of our history, so did the subjugation of women regarding voting, property rights and even child-custody. I imagine no one would argue lack of equality is a positive aspect of any society because it’s traditional. There are many utterly modern ideas that are a reflection of compassion, logic and evolved thinking as those introduced and adopted by the EU convention on Human Rights. Only signed after the horrors of World War II.
Argumentum ad numerum (appeal to numbers). This fallacy is the attempt to prove something by showing how many people think that it’s true.
“The majority of Americans disapprove of gay marriage”
But, no matter how many people believe something, that doesn’t necessarily make it true or right. Once humanity believed (wrongly) the earth was immobile. The Catholic church even persecuted you if you dared disagree. Humanity also supported slavery and burnt witches. Our response to this fallacy is usually “but attitudes are changing” or “now over 70% of people under 34 support gay marriage”- by not exposing the fallacious line of reasoning we allow the perpetuation of the illogical thought process. To effect real change in mindset we must show people their thinking pattern is defective and perhaps they won’t adopt fallacious lines so readily in future.
Homosexuality is unnatural is a common anti-gay slogan used by Christians. It’s deceptive in its wording. They start off pretending the word natural is used to reflect nature. Once it’s explained that homosexuality occurs in nature they ad-hoc that they mean minority behaviour.
1. A deceptive premise; Natural is meant to imply good and unnatural bad when no evidence has been given to support either argument. Cancer is a natural occurrence in human beings, yet few would say it’s a good thing. Cancer treatments like radiotherapy are not natural occurrences, they derive from years of man-made experimentation.
2. Behaviours and characteristics cannot be quantified as good or bad according to their incidence. By that measure we could say Christianity is unnatural as it only occurs in approx. 33% of the worldwide population. We could also say that having red hair is unnatural because it only occurs in 1 to 2% of the worldwide population. Fortunately, Christians haven’t taken their anti-logic to the next step by calling adopted children unnatural children- at least for now. Although there was a time when if you were left-handed or sinister, you were associated with evil.
The basic concept:
Religious minds start with a conclusion based on what they believe is the word of god (tradition or doctrine) and then try to find evidence to justify the conclusions they already ‘believe’. This is problematic because they use their supporting evidence in a selective and arbitrary manner and generally depend on fallacies to hold-up their evidence as absolute truth whilst also dismissing anything else the evidence could also mean. An interesting example of this is the religious usage of the word natural (to be precise not natural is the term they use) in the anti-gay debate. Below is my observation, not that which is contained in the video)
Result of Observations:
Conclusion of observations:
There’s a very amusing example of this in the form of the American Evangelical community’s promulgation of the work of (Dr?) Paul Cameron. In the early 1980′s he founded something called the Institute for the Scientific Investigation of Sexuality (located in Nebraska) which was later renamed The Family Research Institute. In practice it doesn’t do any research on families, or any real research at all for that matter. The name is a cover for Anti-Gay Pseudo-Science Discount Outlet. Cameron’s been dubbed the “one-man statistical chop shop”. His “studies” have been passed around (and continue to be passed around) and quoted by a number of Christian anti-gay hate groups. In 1992 he (self) published ”What Do Homosexuals Do?” Among other things, the study claimed that 17% of LGBT people enjoy consuming human feces. Note to self: never visit a gay bar in Nebraska!!! I was somewhat surprised at the figure since I’d read somewhere on the interweb that 34% of Nebraskans enjoy consuming human feces, so the number for gays is surprisingly low in comparison.
Fortunately, long before 1992, the scientific community responded en masse.
The American Sociological Association officially and publicly states that Paul Cameron is not a sociologist, and condemns his consistent misrepresentation of sociological research. Information on this action and a copy of the report by the Committee on the Status of Homosexuals in Sociology, “The Paul Cameron Case,” is to be published inFootnotes, and be sent to the officers of all regional and state sociological associations and to the Canadian Sociological Association with a request that they alert their members to Cameron’s frequent lecture and media appearances.”8
The Canadian Psychological Association takes the position that Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism and thus, it formally disassociates itself from the representation and interpretations of scientific literature in his writings and public statements on sexuality.