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Aquila King's Blog

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Aquila King

Spyro the Dragon is quite possibly one of the single most influential and important parts of my life. ^_^ That may sound strange given that Spyro is just a simple little polygonal 90's platformer videogame about a miniscule purple dragon who collects gems and breaths fire, but to me personally it has meant so much more...

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(Images Above - cover art from the original trilogy games released for the Sony Playstation console)

I had a rough childhood dealing with abuse (that I won't go into detail here), and so my mind was already naturally an escapist. I've always been an avid daydreamer who would escape the problems of the real world mentally into my own little fantasy world in my head. I've done so as far back as I could remember. So when I first came in contact with the first Spyro the Dragon game when I was only five or six years old, I was instantly transported to a whole other magical world that I had the freedom to explore.

It was the first video game I ever played, and it was introduced to me by my father (the source of my abuse) of all people. In it you could travel to other worlds, each with a life of it's own. Filled with magic and mystery, as well as interactive things in the environment. The game actively encouraged exploration. To look over every nook and cranny for hidden treasure. To travel (and escape) to all sorts of different, new, and exciting worlds. I played it every time I went over to my father's house for visits. It was my means of coping. You played as a little purple dragon who was the smallest of the bunch, and didn't have much in terms of abilities. But he had a lot of spunk, and wasn't afraid of anything. By playing as Spyro, I felt as though I could take on the world. Like no matter how big the challenges are, and no matter how small you are, those challenges could be overcome. It gave me great encouragement and inspiration. Spyro was my hero growing up.

Spyro was actually even my first ever imaginary friend (Lol, clearly I didn't have many friends growing up). And in fact, one of my most precious possessions is Spyro stuffed animal my dad gave me. He spent hours and even days on ebay bidding for it until he finally got it just for me. It wasn't for a holiday or special event, he just did it out of the kindness of his heart because he knew how much Spyro meant to me. To this day, it's the only true gift my father ever gave to me. After getting it though, I exchanged my imaginary friend Spyro for the stuffed animal Spyro. I treated that thing like they do in those old Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. It rarely ever left my side, and I treated that thing like a member of my own family.

I may sound like a total mental case by saying all this, but Spyro truly has been the single most influential part of my childhood. And it affects me on up to this day into young adulthood.

I've always loved videogames, and Spyro is undoubtedly what got me into gaming in the first place. But it was never about 'gaming' for me per say. It was all about the escapism. Call it, a 'fantasy simulator' if you will. It never needed to be complex or super dark or realistic or have brilliant game mechanics or whatnot. That's why I honestly fell out of the gaming craze around high school really. Partly because of what I just mentioned, but also partly because I honestly didn't have much money to keep up with all the new consoles and didn't feel like my money would be best spent on new games that I only half cared for. I just can't get into all these stat-heavy RPG's or FPS clones personally. I miss the old days where gaming was simple. I love old school 3-D collectathon platformers. That's why I'm so happy that 3-D platformers seem to finally be making a come back! And most importantly, so is Spyro! :D

Yes, Spyro the Dragon is coming back, completely remastered (or should I say remade) from the ground up!

Enter: The Spyro Reignited Trilogy

For those who don't know, Spyro the Dragon has been suffering as a franchise in recent years :hmm: (most notably ever since the release of Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly in 2002, which pretty much single-handedly killed the franchise from being so bad). The first 3 games that were released on the original Sony Playstation system in the late 1990's are regarded by fans to be the greatest in the series. However after the 3rd game, the development team behind the originals lost the rights to Spyro and thus the franchise spiraled downward pretty much in a verticle fashion from that point onward. The franchise has suffered through 2 different reboots (each one completely different from all the rest), with the second reboot being basically an entirely different game series that merely used the brand name 'Spyro' as a subtitle so as to bring in more original Spyro fans as a cheap marketing gimmick. <_< Needless to say, Spyro the Dragon has been pushed ever more onto the back burner for quite some time now...

However, now thanks to the new Spyro Reignited Trilogy, the original 3 games are coming back with brand new amazing HD graphics and re-released as one single game 3-in-1. :o Just check out the side-by-side comparisons here:

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And for all new images released thus far:

I never would've imagined in my wildest dreams that my childhood idol and mascot, the original 3 videogames that helped me cope with horrendous circumstances, and helped to define such an incredibly core aspect of who I am, would ever see such a triumphant return like this. This is not just another reboot of the franchise, or some brand new game entirely. It's a 100% complete remake of the originals, simply eith better graphics, better sound quality, better everything. It's like the videogame gods looked down and read my mind and magically turned what had always been a hopeless fantasy to me, never to even in the least bit see the light of day, and made it into a reality. I'm simply amazed. Words can't even begin to express how much this remake means to me.

Spyro is more to me then just a game. And the Reignited trilogy is more than just a simple remake. They aren't just remastering a 20-year old videogame, they're remastering my childhood. You may find it silly and weird for me to still be so invested in what is essentially a kids game, but certain things like this stick with us for the rest of our lives. Spyro will always be the #1 most defining aspect of my early childhood, and I'm incredibly grateful to be able to now play the new Reignited Trilogy in all it's HD glory! :lol:

Thanks for letting me share this tidbit of my soul with all of you.

This is Aquila King, signing out. ;)

Aquila King

The Overton Window

For those of you who've never heard the term 'Overton Window', let me start out simply with the Wikipedia definition:

Quote

The Overton window, also known as the window of discourse, is the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse. The term is derived from its originator, Joseph P. Overton, a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, who in his description of his window claimed that an idea's political viability depends mainly on whether it falls within the window, rather than on politicians' individual preferences.[1][2] According to Overton's description, his window includes a range of policies considered politically acceptable in the current climate of public opinion, which a politician can recommend without being considered too extreme to gain or keep public office.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window

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Furthermore, according to the earliest published Mackinac Center for Public Policy article on the topic of the Overton Window:

Quote

Imagine, if you will, a yardstick standing on end. On either end are the extreme policy actions for any political issue. Between the ends lie all gradations of policy from one extreme to the other. The yardstick represents the full political spectrum for a particular issue. The essence of the Overton window is that only a portion of this policy spectrum is within the realm of the politically possible at any time. Regardless of how vigorously a think tank or other group may campaign, only policy initiatives within this window of the politically possible will meet with success. Why is this?

Politicians are constrained by ideas, even if they have no interest in them personally. What they can accomplish, the legislation they can sponsor and support while still achieving political success (i.e. winning reelection or leaving the party strong for their successor), is framed by the set of ideas held by their constituents — the way people think. Politicians have the flexibility to make up their own minds, but negative consequences await the elected officeholder who strays too far. A politician’s success or failure stems from how well they understand and amplify the ideas and ideals held by those who elected them.

In addition to being dependent on the ideas that form the boundaries of the political climate, politicians are also known to be self-interested and desirous of obtaining the best political result for themselves. Therefore, they will almost always constrain themselves to taking actions within the "window" of ideas approved of by the electorate. Actions outside of this window, while theoretically possible, and maybe more optimal in terms of sound policy, are politically unsuccessful. Even if a few legislators were willing to stick out their necks for an action outside the window, most would not risk the disfavor of their constituents. They may seek the good of those who elected them, and even the good of the state or nation as a whole, but in pursuing the course they think is best, most will certainly take into account their political future. This is the heart of the Overton window theory.

So, if a think tank’s research and the principles of sound policy suggest a particular idea that lies outside the Overton window, what is to be done? Shift the window. Since commonly held ideas, attitudes and presumptions frame what is politically possible and create the "window," a change in the opinions held by politicians and the people in general will shift it. Move the window of what is politically possible and those policies previously impractical can become the next great popular and legislative rage.

https://www.mackinac.org/7504

(Bold Added)

 

Shifting the Overton Window is a perfectly normal and natural part of any sort of social and political progress. It like any tool can be used for good and bad, so shifting the Overton Window is not inherently a bad thing in itself. In fact in many cases, it has been shifted greatly towards that which is objectively good. However there are also times in which the Overton Window of acceptability shifts in the opposite direction towards the negative.

To name a few examples of the Overton Window taking effect:

  • After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Islamic terrorism became a frequent topic of conversation around the country. While there was some organized opposition to the Patriot Act, the law passed congress with overwhelming majorities in both houses, and it's been renewed faithfully ever since. Not to mention the drastic changes to airline security, significant increases in military spending, and the creation of a surveillance state that would make George Orwell blush.
  • Before the Civil Rights Act of the 60's, segregation was accepted as a natural aspect of civil society. Now days however, such levels of racism is expected to be rebuked with the harshest of criticisms, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is universally regarded as a Civil Rights hero.
  • Just a few decades ago, the idea of same-sex marriage was all but impossible to even conceive of. But a few people did conceive of it, and dared to advocate it. At first they were only a handful of 'radicals', but over time, the idea gained support. Now, it's an established right in the States and countries around the world, and is now the mainstream.

All social reform movements have to shift the Overton window to make progress. The concept of different races mingling in public, or women voting, or animals having rights - all these are examples of issues where the Overton window has moved over time, so that positions which were once viewed as unthinkably radical have become the accepted wisdom, while those that were once considered mainstream are now outside the window, and unacceptable to advocate in mixed company.

So, how do you shift the Overton window? The answer is simple: You have to stand outside it and pull. Social change always begins with a few brave people who dare to advocate something previously unthinkable. And most of those first-generation advocates, to be perfectly honest, suffer scorn, ridicule and opprobrium, are often even targets of persecution and violence. But by their mere existence, by their willingness to stand fast on their principles and refusal to compromise, they stretch the boundaries of what the majority considers possible and redefine what counts as the "moderate" position.

 

So why do I bring all of this up? Well, because of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump won the U.S. Presidency by discovering topics and proposing ideas that for years were deemed unacceptable, far outside the Overton Window of acceptable political speech on the right side of the political spectrum, and made them acceptable positions once more. He took policy positions, personal actions, and insulting and hateful remarks that were once thought to be taboo, and made them normal political discourse.

In essence: He shifted the Overton window. His goal was to 'Make America Great Again', thereby reversing the shifting flow of the Overton Window that had been moving gradually more progressive for the past several decades or so. However the important key factor isn't just that he shifted the Overton Window, it's that he shifted the Overton Window amongst conservatives all while progressives became either more progressive or stayed relatively the same. Allow mw to explain...

 

“Don’t normalize this” has become a kind of rallying cry during President Trump’s first year and a half in office; a reminder to not get too acclimated to Trump’s norm-breaking and erratic behavior. But the real danger of the Trump presidency might have less to do with Trump’s abnormality and more to do with how “normal” he makes other Republicans look by comparison. Everything inside the Overton Window is normal and expected, while everything outside the Window is radical, ridiculous, or unthinkable. And Overton argued that the easiest way to move that window was to force people to consider ideas at the extremes, as far away from the Window as possible. Because forcing people to consider an unthinkable idea, even if they rejected it, would make all less extreme ideas seem acceptable by comparison. It would move the Window of acceptability slowly in that direction.

Say what you will about media outlets, but it's an objective psychological fact that that which you are routinely exposed to on a regular basis shapes many of the core aspects of who you are, what you think, and what you believe. We all have our own favorite media outlet(s), some more than others. Some of us blindly trust whatever is given to us from certain sources, others put a bit more thought and research into what's presented to them. But overall, we all end up having to either accept or reject the stories presented by some sort of news source(s), whether the merits of said source(s) are valid or not. We must all admit that we simply aren't capable of thoroughly researching every single bit of news ourselves. No one is perfectly 100% objective all the time. To do so would be a full-time job. Now, on to Trump's influence on this...

Trump’s presidency has forced news networks to grapple with conspiracy theories, right-wing trolls, and dishonest government spokespeople and political pundits who tell outright lies; making them a regular fixture of our national political debates. And that grappling has moved the Overton Window in ways that will warp our politics long after Trump’s presidency comes to an end. While most people see that mainstream media outlets are anything but objective and unbiased, they do at least attempt to play the neutrality card from time to time. What do I mean by that exactly? Simple. They use the Overton Window as the ultimate standard of acceptability by bringing people from both sides of the political spectrum (within the OW) onto their shows so as to 'debate' one another on the issues, treating each opposing position as 50/50 acceptable and debatable possibilities. Watch just ten to fifteen minutes or so of CNN for example, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Views that would've previously been considered extreme and odious positions, are slowly but surely accepted as debatable topics held by the majority, so long as a significant number of those who appear on the media present such extremist views in the light of now being acceptable political discourse.

Furthermore, when entire media outlets unabashedly no longer pretend to be unbiased towards one political viewpoint over another, and simply become partisan political apologist stations who run non-stop coverage voicing their political views as if they were objective fact (such as Fox News, MSNBC, various YouTube and Talk Radio stations/channels and various other 'news' sites AlterNet or Breitbart, etc.), then the shifting of the Overton Window gets set in overdrive. Now instead of viewing 'both sides' of the political spectrum (within the OW), scores of people are now able to view political positions expressed through content that ever so incrementally push the bounds of acceptability further and further their direction of the political spectrum, conveniently without any exposure to the alternative perspective's point of view. In short: We now thanks to the advent of the internet and social media, etc. have numerous means by which to expose ourselves to ONLY the political content on one end of the political spectrum. Thereby slowly but surely altering people's perspectives on what is and is not considered to be accepted political discourse.

 

This may be a lot to take in, but I personally believe this to be the ultimate reasoning for why partisan polarization in the U.S. is at an all-time high. And it is also why certain political positions, words, and behaviors exhibited by our political candidates that would've in the past been considered outrageously unacceptable, are now considered perfectly acceptable, and merely a 'different point of view'.

Take any time in recent political history where the Overton Window was previously shifted (segregation, women's rights, animal rights, LGBT rights, etc.) and you'll clearly see the Overton Window shifting the entire nation's perspective in one direction or another. We now all universally consider such political issues as no-brainers (for the most part), but back then they were considered debatable issues. We no longer consider the question: "Should women be allowed to vote?" to be in the least be debatable. We no longer consider racial segregation to be anything less than racist and immoral.

However now things are different. Because of what I just described above (how we can now expose ourselves only to the perspectives of one point of view exclusively), the Overton Window hasn't shifted us ALL in one direction. Instead, it's shifted half of us one direction, and the other half the opposite direction. Progressives are now more progressive than ever, and conservatives are now the most conservative they've been in ages. What is considered to be the accepted realm of political discourse on one side, is completely unacceptable discourse to even be in the least bit considered on the other.

 

All of this is in essence what I believe to be not only the nation's current roadblock in regards to politics, but also my own personal roadblock against Donald Trump and his supporters. I'm certainly not alone in this line of thinking, however in this new political climate, I find myself unable to reconcile many of the views of Trump supporters as anything less than non-debatable flat-out immoral positions. Nearly every one of their policy positions exists so incredibly far outside the realm of my own progressive Overton Window, that to even consider such policies as anything less than immoral is a near impossibility for me. Just as I'll never accept the idea that women shouldn't have the right to vote, or that blacks should be segregated from whites; I'll never accept a Muslim ban, I'll never accept Trump's heartless plans against illegal immigration, and I'll never accept any opposition against universal healthcare (just to name a few). Such policy proposals are not just prejudiced, hateful, heartless, (some even racist) and morally wrong; but they are on par in my eyes with that of previous notions of segregation, slavery, animal abuses, etc.

Therein lies the core problem. Because there is now no longer one Overton Window but instead two (what is acceptable discourse amongst progressives and conservatives), there is no longer a means by which to properly moderate any political discussions in general. This doesn't just apply to online forums like this one, but to any political discussions ever made period.

I've been corrected a number of times on here in the past for saying that Trump supporters policies are racist and bigoted, etc. Don't worry, I'm not complaining about the moderation here, because I don't in the least bit see this as any of their fault. This is just a symptom of the bigger problem. Namely, the splitting of one overall national Overton Window into two. Within the progressive Overton Window, Trump and his supporter's policies are objectively racist, just as segregation and slavery are also objectively racist. However within the conservative OW that isn't the case at all. It's not that (most) Trump supporters actually view these policies (such as a Muslim ban, building a wall, comments regarding immigrants from s-hole countries, etc.) as racist, they just don't see it as racist in the least. The same thing's true with other policies where they don't see healthcare as a fundamental human right, or don't see promising a living wage as a minimum wage as wage slavery (whereas I do). Within the conservative Overton Window, such policies are perfectly acceptable (and as difficult as it is for me to comprehend), they even see it as moral. So what I'm getting at is that because there are now two separate Overton Windows, it's considered a radical far-out there position to say that Trump's policies are racist and/or immoral. Such remarks are out of bounds within the conservative OW, yet are perfectly natural within the progressive OW. That's why I'm naturally aghast when I find that I've been corrected on here (just for example, again, I'm not complaining about the moderation team here whatsoever) for calling someone's position racist, just as that person is just as equally perplexed when their position is described as such.

I don't wish to disparage conservatives on here and throw senseless insults. I simply genuinely see some of their political outlooks to be so tremendously odious and wrong that it's nearly impossible for me to express this to them without my comments existing outside of the conservative Overton Window of acceptable discourse. Saying that such views are racist, bigoted, heartless, immoral, etc. is said by me because within progressive circles, such views are considered radical and extremist, and exist WAY outside of our Overton Window of political discourse. That's why it's absolutely baffling to me when a moderator allows such views to be expressed on here whilst correcting me on calling out such views as bigoted and immoral, etc. It isn't because the moderation here is unfair or unbalanced, not at all. It's because our overall political culture and landscape has split off so far in opposite directions, that it's nearly impossible to moderate any political discussions with people when there are two Overton Windows of acceptability. This forum has rules against spewing racism (as it should), yet IMO half the stuff that's presented in the political section by conservatives is objectively racist. Yet this is allowed, not because the site is racist or hypocritical, but because the Overton Window has shifted so much that such views are considered legitimate debatable issues now. I pity the moderation team here who has to try and deal with this problem, as it comes to them with no fault of their own.

(and just for the record here, I will try my best from here on out in not stepping out of bounds by calling members political views racist, immoral, etc. In fact, I doubt I'll really be doing much conversing at all in the political sections, but I will probably weigh in here and there from time to time. I simply felt the need to express my frustrations in general here in as polite a way as I possibly can.)

 

I honestly don't know how to remedy this situation. I don't know how to bring these two sides back together into one Window of acceptability again, or even if such a thing is even possible to do at this point. I guess the reason why I'm writing all of this has more to do with the fact that I wanted to adequately express the deep political divide in this nation in rational terms. I want conservatives to understand (as best they can) why I view them now days as such radical extremists, and why they feel the same thing regarding me. Again, I don't have the first clue on how to bridge this divide. However I suppose the first step is to first acknowledge the divide itself, and as to what exactly it is that caused it in the first place.

Aquila King

My Newfound Agnosticism

When I first came to this forum, I would've described myself as a 'Spiritualist.' Someone who absolutely does believe there's some sort of 'spiritual' aspect to reality, but beyond that I didn't really know. Now I'm not so sure I know anything anymore...

First let me give you some background info.

I was born into a fundamentalist Christian home, indoctrinated in it from birth, and later became extremely devout in my teenage years. It wasn't until a year or so after high school that I slowly began to realize that the religion that I had devoted my entire life to up to that point was a huge lie. It wasn't an 'all of a sudden' thing. It was somewhat more gradual. I'd say it happened sorta fast, like a week or two. But it didn't just SNAP happen with some sort of 'epiphany'. It was a clear understanding of why exactly my religion was wrong. It wasn't that I discovered scientifically that 'there is no God/afterlife/soul/etc.' but that I discovered my religion was false. I know that this doesn't automatically mean the default position from there is atheism, but I did go from devout Christian to atheist, an here's why.

My doubt came from reading a slightly more obscure atheist book, that took down Christianity by exposing the blatantly immoral and atrocious Bible passages that for some reason I failed to see while Christian. They also presented 10 reasons why they didn't believe God exists, and then upon going back and reading some other atheist blogs online, and watching some segments of the Atheist Experience on YouTube, I finally felt comfortable calling myself an atheist. I felt incredibly cheated for all of those wasted years of Christianity being wasted on a lie, and because of it I made a personal vow to always think independently and never just believe whatever I was told. To form my own opinions on things, and not just regurgitate whatever talking points were being fed to me from 'my side'. I made a vow to NEVER be conned again. Of course, it's nearly impossible for anyone to truly make that promise, given that we're all subject to being fooled at some point or another. But regardless, I just want you to understand where I'm coming from here. This is why I started to research the laws of logic and critical thinking skills, I read up on skepticism, and despite reading all of the most prominent New Atheist writings (the books by Sam Harris were my personal favorite) and keeping up with all of the most prominent atheist arguments on YouTube and various blogs, I still kept a certain degree of skepticism towards everything that I was reading myself.

What I encountered, was the fact that there wasn't a single universal consensus amongst atheists on a multitude of issues. Even amongst the 'four horsemen' of New Atheism as they were dubbed (Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris). So in other words, it was up to me to research and study each and every individual issue itself, and form my own conclusions. So I started examining the individual claims made by many prominent atheists themselves, and trying to find out if their arguments were inherently sound.

Now look... I'll admit, I'm not the most brilliant human being on the planet. I'm just an average dude who got average grades in school, with an overall average intelligence. If someone wants to mock and belittle me for it and call me 'stupid', then so be it. I'm just not gonna lie to myself and others and pretend to be some super-intelligent being who has it all figured out. I'm just an average human. So when I started spiraling down the rabbit hole here, things just got deeper and deeper and more and more complex; each somewhat answer bringing up a million more questions, etc. etc. I don't know complex philosophy, I don't understand complex astrophysics, I certainly don't understand quantum mechanics, neuroscience always leaves me with more questions than answers, and every attempt I've made at trying to understand this stuff has left me mentally exhausted with me no further closer any answers of my own. At the end of the day, I'm just not some brilliant Ph. D level scientist, and so I can't do as I promised myself and 'think independently' on every issue. I just don't understand this stuff, and even when I do understand it, I can't help but feel like there might be some other important details that I might be missing.

All of this searching and trying to form my own opinions on such things, just left me exhausted, until I finally started to realize that if I as a regular atheist dude don't understand this stuff, then what's the likelihood that other atheists truly understand this stuff as well? What if the overwhelming majority of atheists out there simply think they know the answers to these questions just like I thought I knew when I was a Christian? What if these big shot atheist 'intellectuals' and scientists could be wrong on most of what they say? After all, there are many other scientists who aren't atheists and who have the same credentials as them, as well as many atheist scientists themselves who disagree on certain things amongst each other. I essentially learned skepticism from my atheism, but then I applied that very skepticism towards atheism itself. I didn't want my newfound atheism to become a substitute Christianity, where I end up having to rely on the words of scientists being correct in the same way that I had to rely on some pastor being correct.

So I started venturing off from that point into other concepts I hadn't explored before, such as the paranormal etc. I was finally being able to fulfill the promise I made to myself by 'forming my own opinions' on things and thinking independently. I didn't belong to any particular specific 'group' or mindset. I thought for myself. And for a while there I had actually convinced myself that there most likely was indeed something spiritual to this reality (despite not having a single clue what that is) and so I called myself a 'Spiritualist'. Essentially, I was saying "there's most likely something more to the world, then any of us truly know or comprehend, even the most intelligent among us." I still hold to that philosophy now to some extent, but now days I'm just not quite sure about that either... Now days, I'm simply an agnostic. I've come to terms with the fact that I just don't know. And I'm content with that. That doesn't mean that I don't find Christianity and every other religion out there to be objectively false, because I do. In fact that's one thing I am indeed sure of since it's easy to disprove it as absolute bunk. However, I've heard and read arguments and seen evidence on both sides in regards to whether or not there's any sort of afterlife, whether we have souls, whether 'spirits' exist, etc. and I don't think those things are on the same level as fairies and unicorns. That just appears to be a dogmatic dismissal to me, since I don't see or understand how science has definitively proven such things to be false.

You guys can argue that "I just don't understand the science of it" and that might very well be a fair assessment. I don't understand it. I've tried to. I really have. I just honestly don't understand enough about cognitive neuroscience to be able to determine that there ABSOLUTELY is no such thing as the human soul. I don't understand enough about the complexities of the universe to be able to determine without a shadow of a doubt that there ABSOLUTELY is no afterlife like 'realm', or that there is no conscious supreme 'entity' like thing out there somewhere. There's no way for me to determine that without simply trusting the words of some Ph. D level scientist, which may very well be correct on the topic, but may also be incredibly wrong. I don't know, because I can't validate their findings for myself and do their work for them to find out. I'm just not that smart. And y'know, maybe this is all just beyond my intellectual ability to comprehend. Again, make fun of me if you want, but I'm just trying to humbly express my honest and sincere struggles with attempting to understand the nature of the universe. If someone reading this does understand it, then I commend you. Really, I do. But as for me, I just don't. I've spent years and years pouring out countless hours of study to comprehend this stuff, but I just don't. I'm like a gerbil trying to comprehend advanced calculus. It's just beyond my intellectual capacity to understand. And that's okay. The gerbil can't help it, and neither can I.

In summary: I've heard and read the arguments for and against almost every issue, and have studied these issues in-depth with a fine-toothed comb, and am no more closer to understanding the truth then I was to begin with. So now I'm an Agnostic. And quite frankly, this whole topic just wears me out now to the point where I just don't care anymore. I don't know, and I don't care. I'm an Agnostic Apatheist. Take it or leave it.

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Aquila King

Letter to Conservatives

Dear Conservatives,

I've spent many months on here debating you on various political issues, and have come to a number of realizations. It has come to my attention that Trump's supporters are unable to accept verifiable truths about him and themselves, as well as lack the ability to empathize with the plights of others. 'Losing' an argument when you are right just because the other person doesn't  understand what you're saying is probably one of the most infuriating things in the entire universe. Yet I've learned from my many discussions with you that it's important to know when to stop arguing with people, and simply let them be wrong.

Many of you will say: "You just can't see things from my perspective"  or "That's just my opinion." I'm reminded of single-panel web comic I saw once that had a painted number 6 on the ground, with two people on opposite sides of it. One person says in a little word bubble: "That's a six!" while the other one says "That's a nine!" The point of the cartoon was to show how different perspectives can lead you to different conclusions, but the inherent problem here is that one of those people is objectively wrong. Someone painted either a six or a nine. In order to find out which it is, they need to back up and orient themselves, see if there are any other numbers to align it with. Maybe there's a driveway or a building to face, or they can ask someone who actually knows?

People having an uninformed opinion about something they don't understand and proclaiming their opinion as being equally valid as facts is what is ruining the world. No one wants to do any research, they just want to be right. So no, conservatives, your 'opinions' are irrelevant when they contradict objectively verified facts. I have presented numerous statistics, polls, data, charts, etc. to you on any number of occasions on here, but they do no good. Instead of conforming your beliefs to fit the data, you routinely insist that your 'opinions' and 'perspectives' are different and somehow equally viable despite your contradictions with objective reality. To deny an objectively verifiable truth and persist in a falsehood in spite of said truth is to live one's life in a delusional fantasy.

Furthermore, you have proven routinely to me time and time again that you lack the most basic forms of human empathy. I genuinely do not know how to argue empathy at somebody. I don't want concert goers and school children to be routinely slaughtered in hailstorms of bullets. You don't care. I don't want some kid's first memory to be that of a jackbooted deportation force kicking down their door and ripping their father from them. You don't care. I don't want a mother to bury their child solely because she couldn't swing $600 for a two-pack of epipens. You don't care. I have also encountered conservatives on here who call for the innocent wives and children of suspected terrorists to be murdered. I've seen conservatives call for torture. I've seen conservatives label innocent civilians as legitimate targets of war. Some have even called for entire nations to be nuked, if not at the very least consider a preemptive nuclear strike as being a viable option that should be left on the table, literally calling for the deaths of millions of innocent civilians.

There is no excuse for any of the above thoughts, words, or actions that I have listed above. Every day you conservative Trump supporters wake up and deflect, but-what-about, twist, bend, contort, and echo whatever vile, clubfooted rationalization that keeps you from having to admit that you're not just complicit in, but in fact actively facilitating, this nightmare of a reality so many people are experiencing. I care about facts, and I care about other people. You do not. It's as simple as that. Therefore any discussion with you is both pointless and a waste of my time. Consider this letter as my official resignation from any further discussions with you. Your immoral falsehoods have nothing of value to contribute to my life, and there is clearly no reaching you on any partisan political issue. I will simply vote for who I vote for, as well as encourage those who do care about facts and other people to vote as well.  I wish you the best of luck in your war against reality.

Yours respectfully, a logical liberal.

Aquila King

Responding to a Radical Feminist

I just read one of the most sexist articles that I've ever seen before.

Link: https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/bj5ex8/how-to-help-gender-equality-international-womens-day

 

I don't know who this woman is, but she is clearly one of the most sexist people I've ever encountered, and given the length of the article, I figured I should respond to every one of her insanely moronic points here in this blog post. I realize this article was posted over a week ago, but I'm just now stumbling across it and I just couldn't let this slide without saying something.

Most people on here know by now that I'm unapologetically liberal and progressive. I'm a Democratic Socialist, I supported Bernie Sanders in the democratic primary, and (despite what many centrist establishment Hillary supporters might've said) I along with Bernie Sanders strongly support women's rights and oppose all forms of genuine sexism.

However this includes sexism against women and men.

There have been multiple forms of feminism throughout history, and many have even tried categorizing them into three separate 'waves'. I don't care to get into debating the definition of the term 'feminism', or saying whether or not I support or oppose 'feminism', because in my opinion, the term is widely used and rather vague. Some people who claim the title of 'feminist' appear to support genuine gender equality, whereas others appear to support female superiority under the guise of 'gender equality'. So for this post I'll simply approach this from the topic of gender equality vs. sexism in general.

 

For the majority of this post I'll be responding to her article as if addressed to her directly. First I'll respond to her opening remarks below, and then go through her list of 100 'suggestions for men' in spoilers (so as not to force anyone to scroll down forever and ever to get to the comments if they don't want to). Then finally I'll leave you readers with a few closing remarks.

And with that being said, let's begin...

 

Quote

Every year, I wake up on March 8 to a flurry of tweets from men wishing me a “Happy International Women’s Day!”

And every year, I find myself thinking: Well, thanks, but is that it? Is that all the support for gender equality that you can muster? For the entire year? It’s a nice sentiment, but at a time when the gender pay gap means that women in the UK work for free for 67 days each year, Black women in the US are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, and trans women in the US are four times more likely to be murdered than cis women, it doesn’t quite do it for me.

And right off the bat we have an absolute absurdity.

Do you really think that someone giving you a holiday greeting means that greeting you is literally all that person has done in support of whatever the holiday is supposed to represent for an entire year? Seriously? Does saying "Happy Valentines Day!" mean that you didn't do anything to show your partner you love them that year? Does saying "Merry Christmas!" mean that you didn't give any gifts to the people you care about that entire year? Of course not. You're literally taking a kind and happy greeting from men in support of your cause and spitting in their face.

If you want to argue that simply saying "Happy International Women's Day!" alone isn't enough to truly support gender equality, then you might have a good point there. You can't say you support something and then act contrary to what you said, else you be a hypocrite.

However at the same time, you don't have to be a full-time activist to genuinely be in support of something. There are plenty of things that I fully support, of which I simply lack the time, money, and resources necessary to actively promote. It's perfectly reasonable for regular working people to support something by simply voting for political candidates who support it as well. Very few people can realistically literally be out there actively doing things in support of every single cause that they support. This is why we have elected officials in congress who (are supposed to) represent us, so that we average American people don't have to keep up with absolutely every single political issue and vote for every single bill to be passed, etc. etc. We have lives, and jobs, and families. Yes, most of us have more time that would probably best be devoted to promoting some cause, however again, we can't all be activists for everything 24/7. That's just not realistically possible.

So when you receive a 'flurry of tweets from men' wishing you a happy international women's day, you should be proud that your activism has touched the hearts of so many people who are there ready to support your cause. But instead you want to criticize them for such a simple and kind gesture. Shame on you.

Quote

So, to ensure that men aren’t missing direction, a few years ago I started compiling a list of easy actions that men can take to meaningfully support gender equality. Every year, I would post it on social media. Slowly, other women started contributing suggestions. So the list grew. And grew. It will likely never stop growing.

The suggestions cover many realms of life—from home, to work, to the ways we interact with strangers, to the language we use—but it is in no way comprehensive. Below, I’ve included a mere 100 entries out of the several hundred I’ve crowdsourced and personally compiled.

To the men reading: You may already do some of these things, and others you may not be in the position to do. But a good place to start is by, at the very least, reading the list through—in its entirety. And remember: These apply all year, not just during the annual 24 hours dedicated to half of the planet’s population.

I don't just intend to 'read the list through', I intend to respond to each and every one of your 'list of easy actions'. Which btw, after reading through your list prior to writing this, many of these 'easy actions for men to do' do not in the least bit support gender equality. They support female superiority with a pious condescension and sexist expectation of how men should behave around women.

So, onto the list:

Spoiler

1. Before explaining something to a woman, ask yourself if she might already understand. She may know more about it than you do.

I'd say this would apply to anyone, not just women, but okay.

2. Related: Never, ever try to explain feminism to a woman.

Why not? Are white people excluded from explaining racism to a black person too?

There are plenty of examples of women (for instance, in some religious circles) who strongly support male dominance and female superiority. Should a male who strongly supports gender equality be excluded from explaining to these women what gender equality actually is?

This is ridiculous. But worst of all, it's sexist; but in the reverse way. You're excluding people from the conversation based on their gender. That's the very definition of sexism!

3. Trans women are women. Repeat that until you perish.

I fully acknowledge that you can be born with the brain chemistry of that of a female, while outwardly having the physiology of a male. IF thee people wish to be identified as 'female', then I have no problem whatsoever with that as well.

Although if you're implying that I should pretend that these women don't have male sex organs, then I'll have to side with reality on this one.

Calling trans women 'women' is a kind courtesy that acknowledges their psychological femaleness. It isn't an absolute, as they are not 100% fully female. Whether you or they like it or not, they were born with male sex organs, and male hormones, and are therefore at least in some sense, male.

There are some people who for whatever reason seek to challenge this notion, and insist that we acknowledge trans women as 100% female, when they aren't. That's an objective scientific physiological fact, and it isn't bigotry to acknowledge that fact. You can still acknowledge this, while fully supporting trans rights and referring to trans women with all the proper pronouns.

Given your rather extremist views in this article, it's hard for me to tell whether you're implying here that you're part of this extremist form of political correctness camp or not, but if so I simply thought I would address this concern regardless.

4. RESPECT PEOPLE’S PRONOUNS. It’s not hard.

I support seeking to properly use most forms of political correctness as a common courtesy and as part of just simply being a decent human being.

However, sometimes political correctness crosses over the line of actual correctness, to which I won't cross. If being politically correct means being factually incorrect, then I'm sorry, but I'll have to go with being actually correct, regardless of whether you're insulted or not. You can't avoid offending anyone, at all times, ever.

Lastly I just want to reiterate, that political correctness is a common courtesy. It IS NOT an actual law. The freedom of speech still stands, and people are (and should be) free to say anything they so chose, regardless of whether it "respects people's pronouns" or not.

5. Remember that fat women exist and aren’t all trying to get thin. Treat them with respect.

Of course we should treat them with respect, we should treat all people with respect.

Yet once again, you're implying an extremist position here where we pretend that obesity isn't harmful to one's health, and that we simply 'accept' their obesity as perfectly okay. My own mother is obese, and yet she doesn't pretend that it isn't damaging to her health. This is where political correctness should never trump factual correctness.

I'm not sure if you're taking this position or not, but given your extremist attitude towards most other things in this article it's once again, hard to tell.

6. In fact, just never comment on a woman's body.

Oh come on, never? Really? Even if it's a simple compliment such as: "You look nice today."?

Do some people's comments get creepy or go a little too far? Absolutely. But it's a little extreme to say that no man should ever comment on a woman's appearance, EVER.

What about women who want men to comment on their body? And what about women commenting on men's bodies? Do they not count?

7. Be kind to women in customer service positions. Tip them extra. (But not in a creepy way.)

And now we've reached the point where your sexism is blatantly obvious. You're literally calling for women to have special treatment. Either you support gender equality, or you support one gender having preferential treatment over another. You cant' have both.

8. Trust women. When they teach you something, don't feel the need to go and check for yourself. And especially do not Google it in front of them.

So basically if it comes from the mouth of a woman, we're supposed to just blindly and dogmatically believe it simply because it came from a woman.

Imagine if this statement were about men. Just insert the word 'men' in the place of 'women', and I'm sure you'd see the sexism apparent there.

No, it goes without saying, that we shouldn't just patently believe everything that we're told, no matter who it comes from, men or women.

9. Don’t maintain a double standard for… anything, ever.

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Your previous statement LITERALLY did just that.

10. CLOSE YOUR LEGS ON PUBLIC TRANSIT, OH MY GOD.

I honestly have no idea why this is even a thing. :hmm:

If men were intentionally sending women unwanted sexual advances by doing so, then I could understand the complaint. But for the most part it's simply the way men subconsciously sit out in public. It literally means nothing to most guys. You don't have to like it, but it isn't causing any objective harm that would warrant any laws being made. Just because you personally don't like something, doesn't mean it should be illegal.

11. Trying to describe a woman positively? Say she's “talented,” “clever,” or “funny.” Not “gorgeous,” “sweet,” or “cute.”

How about we compliment someone based on what we want to compliment them on, and stop telling people what they can and can't say?

I mean honestly, it's a bloody compliment for crying out loud. Get a real problem.

12. Examine your language when talking about women. Get rid of “irrational,” “dramatic,” “bossy,” and “badgering” immediately.

Once again you're acting as the word police. You apparently don't give two s**ts about the freedom of speech.

So basically, remove X amount of words that you don't like as descriptors of you. Convenient.

If you want to say that men shouldn't refer to ALL women as irrational, dramatic, etc. etc. then I'd perfectly agree, since that would be a bigoted stereotype. Although there are both men and women to which these words most definitely apply, and so apply them we should. It sounds as if yet again you're advocating special treatment for women, that they should never under any circumstance be described with these words, even if said word applies.

13. Don't think to yourself, I describe men like that too. A) You probably don't. B) If you do, it's to criticize them for acting like a woman.

Do you seriously not see how you just stereotyped ALL men by claiming they use such adjectives solely in conjunction to women? You seriously don't see this at all?

You're literally being sexist as hell by criticizing those you're sexist against as ALL being inherently sexist. You might as well be saying ALL white people are racist.

14. Do you love “fiery” Latina women? “Strong” Black women? “Mysterious” Asian women? Stop. Pick up a book on decolonial feminism. Read.

And now you're assuming men to be inherently racist as well. More sexism.

15. Stop calling women “feisty.” We don't need a special lady word for “has an opinion."

The word 'feisty' does not apply to all women who share their opinion, or even all women in general really. Hell, I'd say there are plenty of men to which the word adequately applies. This is in no way a male-female issue.

16. Recognize women's credibility when you introduce them. “Donna is lovely” is much less useful than “Donna knows shitloads about architecture.”

Both are perfectly fine compliments. Perhaps Donna's degree in architecture doesn't apply to the current conversation? Ever think of that?

I honestly don't understand why you keep criticizing compliments. They're bloody compliments. It's not like they're insults. Get over it.

17. Think about how you describe the young women in your family. Celebrate them for being funny and smart, not for being pretty and compliant.

Woah there, I've never met a single person who's celebrated a young female family member of their for being 'compliant'. No doubt there's some sleaze ball out there that probably does, but I'd say that's for the most part incredibly rare.

18. Examine the way you talk about women you’re attracted to. Fat women, old women, queer, trans, and powerful women are not your “guilty crush.”

In an ideal world, I suppose we would all be sexually attracted to personality traits rather than anything physical.

However strictly from a scientific standpoint, that isn't how any of us (including you) operate. If you're attracted to old, fat, queer, trans, etc. women then that's what you're attracted to. Why lie about it? Aren't you an LGBT activist who claims that sexual orientation isn't a choice? If you don't choose what you're attracted to, then why should men 'choose' to pretend otherwise?

It's not like being physically attracted to someone automatically equates to fully objectifying them and seeing them as objects not people. Are you even thinking about what you're saying here in the slightest?

19. Learn to praise a woman without demonizing other women. “You're not like other girls” is not a compliment. I want to be like other girls. Other girls are awesome.

Once again, why criticize compliments? These aren't even backhanded compliments, these are all for the most part pretty benign. All that compliment is saying is essentially "You're special." That's hardly 'demonizing' other people.
 
Besides, are you seriously saying that you want to be like ALL other girls? Because ALL other girls are awesome? Even the ones that have committed heinous crimes, or those that are deeply conservative and oppose women's rights against their own interests?
 
Once again, you're looking at things from a completely black and white perspective of ALL women being inherently good. You're being blatantly sexist here.

20. Share writing by women. Don't paraphrase their work in your own Facebook post to show us all how smart or woke you are. I guarantee the woman said it better in the first place.

I honestly have no idea what you're talking about, and your last sentence here is so brazenly sexist it speaks for itself.

21. Buy sanitary pads and tampons and donate them to a homeless shelter. Just do it.

I would personally argue we should combat homelessness in an entirely different strategy altogether really, but that gets into another topic entirely.

22. How much of what you are watching/reading/listening to was made by women? Gender balance your bookcase.

I've enjoyed various media from various outlets over the years, and couldn't even begin to tell you all of who was or wasn't female, because that was never even an important factor to me.

I enjoy reading/watching/etc. what I enjoy, regardless of what gender produced what. The creator's genitalia is irrelevant to whatever it is I'm reading/watching.

Why should I or anyone else try and make a conscious effort to quote 'gender balance' anything media related? Isn't the ultimate goal of gender equality for the gender of a person to not even be a relevant factor in their work in the slightest? I'd say I've achieved that, and it took no conscious effort on my part. 

23. Feeling proud of your balanced bookcase? Are there women of color there? Trans, queer, and disabled women? Poor women? Always make sure you’re being intersectional.

Seriously, why is this even an issue? I don't go buy things so I can 'balance' my collection. I simply buy what I buy based on what I need and want. Race, sex, LGBT, rich, poor, whatever. It doesn't matter to me. I already include various viewpoints from these various areas subconsciously, but I couldn't begin to tell you how much of what I read/watch/enjoy is white and how much is black, or how much is male and how much is female. It doesn't matter! THAT'S THE POINT.

If you're out there consciously buying things based on what race or sex the person who made it is, then YOU are the one that's being racist and sexist, etc. I'm not consciously focusing on the race or sex of whatever I'm consuming, you are.

24. Don't buy media that demeans women’s experiences, valorizes violence against women, or excludes them entirely from a cast. It's not enough to oppose those things. You have to actively make them unmarketable.

I can agree that we shouldn't be putting your money into something that openly supports violence against women, but pretty much everything else you mentioned is just an individual decision for each consumer. Those are hardly crimes against anyone.

25. Pay attention to stories with nuanced female characters. It will be interesting, I promise.

It sounds like you're actively out there searching for anything that might possibly be the absolute least bit bigoted towards anyone in the slightest, and if you've determined it is then it must be shut down and criticized to the inth degree. You must be the queen of SJW's.

Look, you don't have to go out of your way in seeking out racism/sexism/etc. There's plenty of it all around you. And if you encounter it, you shouldn't force them to be silent. Yes, we should passionately criticize it, absolutely. But to shut it down violates the right to freedom of speech, which is one of the lynchpins of democracy.

It speaks to such an incredibly deep level of insecurity that you would try and silence someone else's argument. It only makes it look as though you can't refute it. This is my problem with Social Justice Warriors on the left. They are the #1 most harmful group among liberals, as they are what is portrayed by conservatives as us liberals as a whole. By going after fake cries of bigotry and silencing the opposition, it only strengthens the cries of the opposition itself, and enables genuine bigots to simply claim that the other side is perpetually crying wolf.

26. If you read stories to a child, swap the genders.

Beauty and the Beast, perhaps? :whistle:

Lol, in all seriousness though. That may be an interesting exercise at times, but I don't see it as a must do in all cases.

27. Watch women's sport. And just call it “sports.”

I can sorta see where you're coming from here.

Although as a whole, sports mostly appeal to men, so I understand why women's sports are specifically classified as "women's".

Either way, again, minor issue.

28. Withdraw your support from sports clubs, institutions, and companies that protect and employ rapists and abusers.

FINALLY. I can completely agree with something you've said.

29. Stop raving about Woody Allen. I don't care if he ****s gold. Find a non-accused-abuser to fanboy over.

Again, I fully agree.

30. It's General Leia, not princess. The Doctor has a companion, not an assistant. It's Doctor Bartlett, not Mrs Madame First Lady.

Aaaand now we're back with the word policing...

Look, I honestly don't understand why you care. These are all perfectly relevant titles. If these women don't want to be called 'princess' or whatever, and prefer to be called 'general', that's up to them. I don't care. Neither do most people. Get over it.

31. Cast women in parts written for men. We know how to rule kingdoms, go to war, be, not be, and wait for Godot.

If you're talking about anything in a historical setting, doing so would be inaccurate, as throughout the majority of human history men have maintained a more dominant role in society as kings and generals and whatnot. If you want a fantasy world or futuristic setting where women are dominant then have at it hoss. Just don't force your 'balancing' act onto historical fiction. Your inclusivity should not expand beyond the boundaries of objective fact.

32. Pay for porn.

Lol, you're fine with women being objectified by men so long as they pay for it? I honestly don't understand the logic here.

You over and over again passionately criticize men for viewing women as pretty little sex objects, and you insist upon us treating you as human beings, and then the next minute you're fine with it so long as it's paid for?

I don't care what your stance is on pornography. I'm just asking you to be consistent with your criticisms here.

33. Recognize that sex work is work. Be an advocate for and ally to sex workers without speaking for them.

You can call prostitution whatever you want, it's still prostitution. And while I support legalizing and regulating it so as to better prevent the spread of STD's, get rid of pimps and eliminate human rights abuses often associated with it, etc. I don't support prostitution any more than I support strip clubs.

I understand that this is somewhat of a debatable issue, and so presenting my personal opinion on it isn't necessarily a proper response, but I'll give it in a nutshell nonetheless.

Porn, prostitution, and strip clubs objectify women, and I think it's best for human beings overall to stick to dating and marrying each other. We should be promoting meaningful relationships, which thereby promotes healthy strong families, which promotes psychologically healthy children, etc. Just because you can legally do something, doesn't mean you necessarily should do it. It's kind of like junk food. It doesn't make you a bad person if you eat junk food (lord knows I do it when I know I shouldn't), but it isn't healthy and we shouldn't promote it. There are objectively healthier alternatives to junk food, and we should promote those alternatives all the time. What you're arguing here essentially is that we should once again, lie to ourselves and promote junk food as being equally as healthy as actual health food, and to not act like there's any sort of problem with it. There is, whether you like it or not. Calling prostitution 'sex work' is a typical marketing trick of renaming something that already has a strong negative stigma attached to it (prostitution) so as to gain greater appeal amongst people who would otherwise have no idea what you're talking about.

Anyway, those are my personal thoughts on it. The primary thing to note here is, there are various opinions regarding this topic that in no way take away the legal rights of people to engage in prostitution. In other words, you don't have to fully support 'sex work' to be in support of a woman's right to practice in that profession if she so chooses.

34. Share political hot takes from women as well as men. They might not be as widely accessible, so look for them.

Forgive me, but I honestly don't know what a 'political hot take' is and I'm not so sure I want to look it up. Somebody else reading this may very well know what you mean by that, and if they can explain then I'll just let them respond in the comments. Otherwise I'll just leave this one alone.

35. Understand that it was never “about ethics in journalism.”

Relevance?

36. Speak less in meetings today to make space for your women colleagues to share their thoughts. If you're leading the meeting, make sure women are being heard as much as men.

Being raised by a strong, single, independent woman my whole life I can tell you from experience that when a strong woman wants to be speak up and be heard, she will be heard. This is not a male/female issue, this is a shy/assertive personality issue. Gender plays little to no role. By suggesting that it is about gender, you're being sexist again.

37. If a woman makes a good point, say, “That was a good point.” Don't repeat her point and take credit for it.

WTF? Where in the hell is this coming from? Are you assuming that men do this regularly or something? God this is sexist...

38. Promote women. Their leadership styles may be different than yours. That's probably a good thing.

How about we promote those who are properly qualified and ignore gender entirely? What does having a penis or a vagina have to do with how well you can properly do your job? In most cases little to nothing.

39. Recruit women on the same salary as men. Even if they don't ask for it.

Yes, that's a no brainer.

40. Open doors for women with caring responsibilities by offering flexible employment contracts.

Okay, so now employers have to give women special treatment? What about men with caring responsibilities? Those exist too.

41. If you meet a man and a woman at work, do not assume the man is the superior for literally no reason.

We're 41 suggestions into this, and practically every one of these suggestions assume that women are superior for literally no reason.

42. If you're wrongly assumed to be more experienced than a woman colleague, correct that person and pass the platform to the woman who knows more.

Again, what does male and female have to do with any of this? How about: "If you're wrongly assumed to be more experienced than a colleague, correct that person and pass the platform to the person who knows more."

By inserting male and female into issues like this where it doesn't belong, you're being a straight-up sexist.

43. Make a round of tea for the office.

Okay. And? This is totally irrelevant.

44. Wash it up.

Sexist stereotype.

45. If you find you're only interviewing men for a role, rewrite the job listing so that it’s more welcoming to women.

I'm all for having a workplace be inclusive, however we should primarily search for those who are qualified for the job regardless of whether or not they have a vagina.

46. Make sure you have women on your interview panel.

Interview the people who are relevant to the topic at hand, regardless of gender.

Once again, stop inserting male and female into issues like this where it doesn't belong. It's sexist.

47. Tell female colleagues what your salary is.

Tell male colleagues what your salary is. You could be making more by sleeping with the boss.

As you can see, I can play this game as well.

48. Make sure there's childcare at your events.

So now every single event should provide childcare for you? Are women strong and empowered and able to work and be a parent all at the same time? Or are they so weak as to require assistance in parenting at every event? Are you so childish as to expect other people to constantly raise your child for you everywhere you go? My mother never had that and she was the damn greatest parent in the world. This is sheer nonsense. And yet again, there are single male parents out there too. It's nice that you keep ignoring them.

49. Don't schedule breakfast meetings during the school run.

So employers are supposed to just bend over backwards and give women all sorts of special treatment to women essentially. Women have managed getting their kids to school just fine for years. You're literally just expecting everyone (but mostly men) to cater to your every whim. Newsflash lady: the world does not revolve around you.

50. If you manage a team, make sure that your employees know that you recognize period pain and cystitis as legitimate reasons for a sick day.

I don't see where this is typically an issue. You might find a few ******* employers out there who won't, but otherwise this isn't a major issue.

51. If you have a strict boss (or mom or teacher) who is a woman, she is not a “b****.” Grow up.

Substitute 'woman' with 'man', and substitute the B word with another B word that rhymes with 'plastered'.

These words apply to whoever they apply to, regardless of gender.

Your arguments are so childish and weak it's sickening.

52. Expect a woman to do the stuff that's in her job description. Not the other miscellaneous **** you don't know how to do yourself.

WHY DO YOU KEEP INSERTING THE WORD 'WOMAN' INTO THINGS?

Seriously, this would apply to anyone. This is not a widespread issue.

Women in Saudi Arabia just recently obtained the right to drive, otherwise they basically lack all other human rights. And you're over here complaining over petty nonsensical s**t like this? YOU are the one that needs to grow up.

53. Refuse to speak on an all-male panel.

If the all-male panel is made up of qualified speakers regarding the topic at hand, why the hell shouldn't I? Sex is irrelevant.

54. In a Q&A session, only put your hand up if you have A QUESTION. Others didn’t attend to listen to you.

And you're addressing this to us males? This never applies to a woman in your eyes, is that it?

55. If you have friends or family members who use slurs or discriminate against trans or non-binary people, sit them down and explain why they must stop. (This goes for cis women, too.)

It's fine to explain to people why they shouldn't discriminate, and it's also fine to ask people to respect others and be careful when using your words. But what you're doing is different. You're policing what people can and cannot say, and this is partly what gave us a Donald Trump who became so popular amongst conservatives precisely because he was insulting as all hell. It was a reactionary response to your sorry ass for silencing people's free speech.

56. If you have friends or family members who use slurs or discriminate against women of other races, sit them down and explain why they must stop. (This goes for white women, too.)

No need to repeat myself, read the above response.

57. If you see women with their hands up, put yours down. This can be taken as a metaphor for a lot of things. Think about it.

WTF??? It's clearly a metaphor I've never thought of, so I have no idea what in the world you're talking about here.

I mean honestly, how in the world could you get anymore sexist then that first sentence there? Damn...

58. Raising a feminist daughter means she's going to disagree with you. And probably be right. Feel proud, not threatened.

If by 'feminist' you mean the sexist garbage you've been spewing, then don't worry about it. I won't be raising any potential daughter of mine to be 'feminist' at all actually. Instead I'd raise her to be an egalitarian who supports gender equality thank you.

59. Teach your sons to listen to girls, give them space, believe them, and elevate them.

Again, listen to all people.

I seriously just don't get where you're getting this notion of widespread sexism from. I mean yes it exists, undoubtedly. But I don't see it nearly as prevalent as you're making it out to be.

60. Dads, buy your daughter tampons, make her hot water bottles, wash her bras. Show her that her body isn't something to be ashamed of.

When dads don't want to do that, it's typically out of embarrassment and/or respect for their daughter's privacy. It has nothing to do with sexism or discrimination.

61. But dads, do not try to iron her bras. This is a mistake you will only make once.

This would actually be mildly funny if not for all the unabashed sexist bull**** you've been spewing for the past however long.

62. Examine how domestic labor is divided in your home. Who does the cleaning, the childcare, the organizing, the meal budgeting? Sons, this goes for you, too.

A typical family issue that again, has nothing really to do with gender. Why you keep inserting gender into the mix is beyond me.

63. Learn how to do domestic tasks to a high standard. “I'd only do it wrong” is a bull**** excuse.

Sexist stereotype.

64. Never again comment on how long it takes a woman to get ready. WE ARE TRYING TO MEET THE RIDICULOUS STANDARDS OF A SYSTEM YOU BENEFIT FROM.

I'll admit that it's unfair for women to be expected to take care of themselves to such a higher degree than we do for men. That's more of a societal issue however as a whole. If you don't think other women will judge fellow women on their looks, think again. Try landing a job from a female employer with make-up and whatever else versus without. I'd say the same standard would apply.

65. Challenge the patriarchs in your religious group when they enable the oppression of women.

Absolutely.

66. Challenge the patriarchs in your secular movement when they enable the oppression of women.

Having said that, I feel that by 'the oppression of women', what you really mean is this nonsense you've been spewing above and calling that 'oppression'.

Let me remind you, there are women in Saudi Arabia who just recently obtained the right to drive cars. Most other rights of theirs are stripped away. This kind of s**t still happens all over the world in various countries.

Name me one single right that men have that women don't have here in America. Just one. Yes, I know. The gender pay gap argument, which is highly debatable actually. And regardless, sexism in the workplace does not equate to your literal rights being lesser than another's.

You are whining and moaning about the 'oppression of women' for 66 out of a 100 points, and not one of them so far has mentioned the oppression of women in the middle east or India. Literally every one of your complaints are so mind-numbingly petty (and flat-out fabricated) that it's outright laughable if not for the fact that this garbage was published in typically well-respected news journal.

You are literally living in one of the few places on Earth where women have absolute 100% equal rights to men, and you have the audacity to b**** and moan about being 'oppressed'? You're an utter disgrace for a 'human rights advocate'.

67. Trust women's religious choices. Don't pretend to liberate them just so you can criticise their beliefs.

First of all, for the billionth time, what does sex have to do with this?

Second, criticizing religious beliefs is perfectly legitimate to anyone open to discussing the topic. Free speech society and whatnot.

Third, do you even know how many religious teachings are absolutely abhorrent when it comes to women's issues?

68. Examine who books your trips, arranges outings, organizes Christmas, buys birthday cards. Is it a woman? IS IT?

I would say that typically for most people it probably is. And? Your point?

69. And if it is actually you, a man, don't even dare get in touch with me looking for your medal.

So if it's a woman doing so, then you complain and say that it should be the man doing it (I assume that's what you mean, since you didn't really clarify), but then when the man does do it he shouldn't dare be thanked or praised for doing it?

I seriously don't know how people like you fail to see how sexist this s**t really is...

70. Take stock of the emotional labor you expect from women. Do you turn to the women around you for emotional support and give nothing in return?

Well if you're going to treat men like this, I'm not surprised why someone might not want to open up to you.

71. Remember that loving your mom/sister/girlfriend is not the same as giving up your own privilege to progress equality for women. And that gender inequality extends beyond the women in your direct social group.

Focus on helping people besides your family and friends. Got it.

72. Don’t assume that all women are attracted to men.

Don't assume that all men are and do pretty much all of the things you've assumed thus far.

73. Don’t assume that a woman in public wants to talk to you just because she’s in public.

WOW. Seriously? Don't even frickin' start a friendly conversation with a woman out in public if you happen to be male? Seriously!?

And you honestly want to complain about men not reciprocating to you enough emotional support, while you're unwilling to even be friendly to a frickin' stranger? REALLY?

Jeez Louise, this is some serious hardcore sexism right there. Imagine if that were said about not talking to a black man. I mean, damn...

74. If a woman tells you she was raped, assaulted, or abused, don't ask her for proof. Ask how you can support her.

Even a broken clock's right twice a day.

Once again, I fully agree with you here.

75. If you see a friend or colleague being inappropriate to a woman, call him out. You will survive the awkwardness, I promise.

Ding ding ding, did it again.

Although I will say that your idea of 'inappropriate' is apparently vastly different from the average person's though.

76. Repeat after me: Always. Hold. Men. Accountable. For. Their. Actions.

Repeat after me: Always. Hold. EVERYONE. Accountable. For. Their. Actions.

77. Do not walk too close to a woman late at night. That **** can be scary.

Dear mother of God... Imagine if that were said about a black guy. How racist would that be?

78. If you see a woman being followed or otherwise bothered by a stranger, stick around to make sure she’s safe.

Wait wait wait, hold up... :huh: You literally just said to stay away from you at night. Now you're telling us to stick around? Which is it?

79. This should go without saying: Do not yell unsolicited “compliments” at women on the street. Or anywhere.

Again with the compliments. What's with this? What is so damn harmful about a freakin' compliment?

80. If you are a queer man, recognize that your sexuality doesn’t exclude you from potential misogyny.

That's true.

81. If you are a queer man, recognize that your queer women or non-binary friends may not feel comfortable in a male-dominated space, even if it’s dominated by queer men.

That's sexist.

Imagine if you said that "we're just not comfortable being in a gay-dominated space." You'd be a straight-up homophobe.

Like seriously, do you think this stuff out at all?

82. Be happy to have women friends without needing them to want to sleep with you. The “friend zone” is not a thing. We do not owe you sex.

The "friend zone" is a thing, and it has nothing to do with the expectation of someone 'owing us sex'.

Who in the hell said that men think women 'owe us sex'? Sure, some douchebag out there probably thinks that, but most don't for sure. That's utter nonsense, and just more of your sexist bull****.

And btw, I am very happy with my female friends. Literally my BFF is female, and she and I have never even thought of sex in any sort of way towards each other in the slightest. I mean that with absolute honesty.

I mean my god, this is so beyond ridiculous.

83. Remember that you can lack consent in situations not involving sex—such as when pursuing uninterested women or forcing a hug on a colleague.

Absolutely true.

However don't draw a false equivalency between lacking consent in some areas with outright rape.

Lord knows, if you don't even want men to strike up a conversation with you in public, no telling what kind of hair-brained nonsense you might be accusing some innocent guy of.

84. Champion sex positive women but don't expect them to have sex with you.

Here, just for you:

trophy_hypocrisy.jpg

Basically what you're saying is, it's okay to get paid to do porn or prostitution, or anything sex-related that benefits you; but if it benefits men then they can quite literally F off. Uh-huh, yeah...

Don't worry lady, I'm sure most men wouldn't want you with that attitude anyway.

85. Trust a woman to know her own body. If she says she won't enjoy part of your sexual repertoire, do not try to convince her otherwise.

Fair enough.

86. Be sensitive to nonverbal cues from women, especially around sex. We’re not just being awkward for no reason. (You read “Cat Person,” didn’t you?)

So basically you expect us to read your minds regarding an issue of consent that we could literally could go to jail for. Are you effing serious right now...

87. It is not cute to try to persuade a woman to have sex with you. EVER. AT ALL. Go home.

Really? EVER??? So basically you want mankind to go frickin' extinct, because we're never ever ever supposed to try to have sex with you, EVER.

It's a good thing you don't speak for most women (even though I'm sure in your deluded mind you think you do), but I wouldn't worry about it lady. You're keeping us all away from you perfectly fine on your own.

88. Same goes for pressuring women to have sex without a condom. Go. Home. And m********e.

This is so crude, petty, and childish that I won't even dignify this with a response.

89. Accidentally impregnated a women who doesn't want a kid? Abortions cost money. Pay for half of it.

Woah there, what the hell happened to "Its' my body and I can do what I want with it."? Isn't that one of the main arguments of pro-choice? Why should the guy by forced to pay half of your medical expenses? And don't pull the whole "he caused it" argument, that's not how medical expenses work (apart from a lawsuit anyway). This isn't a car crash and you aren't a car.

90. Accidentally came inside a woman without protection? Plan B is expensive. Pay for all of it.

So now we pay for all of your medical expenses. Brilliant.

Which btw, I love how you keep painting this as if it's always the guy's fault that you get pregnant. That's rich.

91. Get STD tested. Regularly. Without having to be asked.

Not against that. Although it's also fair to say, that this wouldn't be that much of an issue if you simply maintain a healthy relationship with someone rather than hooking up every other night, but to each their own.

92. Examine your opinion on abortion. Then put it in a box. Because, honestly, it's completely irrelevant.

Because y'know, literally any issue that doesn't affect you personally, you should have absolutely no opinion of, and if you do it's completely irrelevant.

Now what was that about respecting LGBT people, and people of other races again that you were talking down to us about earlier? I doubt you fit literally every category of the LGBT spectrum and are a part of every single race on planet Earth. You should put all those opinions in a box, because it's completely irrelevant since it doesn't affect you.

93. Understand that disabled women are whole, sexual human beings. Listen to and respect them.

Put that opinion of yours in a box, cause again, I doubt you're disabled and so it doesn't affect you.

94. Understand that not all women have periods or vaginas.

...You're literally just repeating point #3...

95. Believe women's pain. Periods hurt. Endometriosis is real. Polycystic ovaries, vaginal pain, cystitis. These things are real. Hysteria isn’t.

And who the hell says they aren't?

Might as well be saying "Cancer is real, heart failure, leprosy, it's all really real!"

Well naw duh. No one's debating saying it isn't. (except some crackpot faith healer maybe, idk)

96. If a woman accidentally bleeds on you, try your absolute best to just keep your **** together.

Again, this is so damn childish that I wont' even dignify this with a response.

97. Lobby your elected officials to implement high quality sex education in schools.

If sex education includes the bull**** you've been spouting off, then count me out.

98. Uplift young Black and Indigenous girls at every possible opportunity. No excuses.

Put that opinion in a box, it's irrelevant to you.

99. Do not ever assume you know what it’s like.

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100. Mainly, just listen to women. Listen to us and believe us. It’s the only place to start if you actually want all women to have a “Happy International Women’s Day.”

I've listened to about enough of this crap. Thank God this is the final point of yours.

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Last thing I want to say in response to this: Do not assume you speak for all women.

I'm incredibly grateful that the majority of women do not believe in or support this crap that you've been spewing about "women's rights" and "the oppression of women". You are clearly and open and unapologetic sexist man-hater, who likes to pretend that she's fighting for women's rights and equality when she's not.

I felt it a duty to oppose you here, not just for the sake of all the innocent men you pathetically attempted to steam roll with this hate-filled article, but also for the sake of all the decent hard working and intelligent women who fight for genuine equality on a regular basis, and who have unfortunately been mischaracterized by such a sexist amateur faker like yourself.

  • Are there genuine male misogynists out there who need to be called out still today? Absolutely.
  • Are there issues that women are more likely to face out there in the world then men (such as sexual assault in the workplace, etc.)? Absolutely.
  • Do your suggestions address any of that? Unfortunately, not in the slightest.

All they do is demean, stereotype, and criticize men for the most part literal non-issues.

You're a sexist against men, plain and simple; and you have no business being a part of any movement that seeks to promote gender equality. I pity you. And I'm disgusted that you are more often then not the example of what many conservatives see when they look to political activists on the left. You give us a bad name, and you fuel genuine sexism against women on the right by your cries faux sexism giving real sexists an excuse to claim that the left is just 'crying wolf' when we call them out on their genuine sexism and bigotry. You hurt the cause, not help it. You are not a part of the gender equality movement, and I will not support you, nor anyone like you on the left who pretend to care about sexism is bigotry.

And with that ladies and gentlemen, I bid you adieu...

Aquila King

I Am Not A Fan

I've always considered myself to be a nerdy fanboy. I love all things scifi, fantasy, and anime. Though in recent years there have been a number of long-running franchises that have been getting worse and worse and worse as time went on. Some nearly completely destroying the series that I love. With the release of the new Star Wars movie, I've had some time to self-reflect on my feelings towards such deeply beloved franchises, which ultimately lead me to the decision I've made today. To stop being a fan of anything, ever.

There are so many demonstrably terrible things about the new Star Wars movies, that I won't waste my time going through all of it here. But to sum it up, these new movies destroy regress all character development made by the original cast, eliminate the accomplishments made in the original series by making it all for naught, do a cheap re-hashing of the original trilogy, place totally bland and boring (and even a Mary Sue) type characters as the new main cast, and eliminate over 90% of the Star Wars canon by replacing the Expanded Universe with this ilk. Disney is ruining Star Wars, one of my most beloved nerdy fanboy franchises. In realizing this, it becomes difficult for me to really get into any part of the series at all anymore. Now even watching the original trilogy, or experiencing anything from the EU simply reminds me of this terrible job they're doing with the series now days. However, the same could be said of many other beloved series out there, not just Star Wars.

There are numerous other big-name beloved series from my childhood that have become progressively worse with new recent installments:
(I'll keep my rant on each of them in spoilers, just so as not to distract from my main point)

Spoiler

 

Dragon Ball Z was the first real anime I watched as a kid. Yes, the anime undoubtedly has many many flaws, but overall it was something that I and many other fans thoroughly enjoyed. However due to it's success, the creators of Dragon Ball decided to milk the franchise for all it's worth by starting up a brand new series in it's stead: Dragon Ball Super. Now technically, this isn't the first time the series creators decided to continue on the story of the series when it really didn't need to be continued. They did so back in the 90's with Dragon Ball GT, and that spin-off/continuation series really F'd up the series in a number of ways. Many fans have debated for years as to whether GT was even considered part of the official canon or not. However after a brief hiatus, the series was revamped with the start of a new series to replace GT (Dragon Ball Super), finally putting the canonization debate to rest. However the series that took the place of GT was not only bad in it's own right, it was actually way worse.

Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2 were a couple of my absolute favorite videogames growing up. Yeah, the second game made the narrative a bit more confusing than it needed to be, but it wasn't indecipherable. However instead of following up Kingdom Hearts 2 with it's direct sequel Kingdom Hearts 3 just a few years after the game's release (like they did with the original KH), they instead fill the market with a bunch of stupid handheld spin-offs that make the story one of the most convoluted, confusing, and downright dumbass stories ever written into a videogame. Period. And we're still waiting over 10 years later for the release of Kingdom Hearts 3. Yes, over 10 whole effin' years later, and we still don't have the direct sequel that the developers keep promising. At this point though, they've already F'd up the whole damn story so much that I really don't care what happens in KH3. Yet I can't help but want to call myself a fan de to my absolute love towards the original 2 games.

Bleach is another big name franchise that got horribly ruined. Bleach was my go-to anime back in middle and high school. My absolute favorite. However, mid-way through the official story, series creator Tite Kubo decided to do a complete rehashing of the exact same story elements all over again. What's worse was that the anime developers were working faster than the manga author the anime was based on, so they ended up filling up literally half the anime series with completely dumb and pointless non-canon filler episodes. Some even span the length of two full seasons! Would've been better if the animators just took a bit of a hiatus once in a while, and then allow the series to make the occasional return to continue the story, rather than fill the space with a bunch of cheap fan service gimmicks that break the continuity of the story and are completely non-canon anyway. It eventually got so bad, that the anime was cancelled after a certain point, whereas the manga continued on. Mind you, this series was once part of what was known as the 'Big 3', one of the 3 most popular anime in the world. However it dropped so much in quality that the anime was cancelled, and the manga continued on with the most chaotic hot mess of an after story one could think of. The series eventually had to be abruptly ended due to lack of readers and the total decline of the fan base.

Final Fantasy VII is widely regarded as one of the most famous and beloved videogames of all time. (side note to those who don't know: each main Final Fantasy game has a roman numeral by order of it's release, but each has it's own story, characters, and setting. So 'VII' isn't a continuation of anything previously. It's it's own story entirely. Same with VIII, IX, X, etc.) However due to it's success, the game developers decided to expand upon the series with the 'Compilation of Final Fantasy VII', which is essentially just a compilation of various spin-off games and a movie. While these spinoffs aren't necessarily bad in their own way, they do add so much unnecessary additions to the story. Each addition feels very much like an addition, that doesn't at all fit with the original story. The original story was written as a closed narrative. It had a beginning, middle, and end; with no real room for or need to expand upon that. However simply because it was a successful game, the developers felt the need to make more content anyway. Now though, they've decided that since they can't add anymore content to the story, they're just gonna go back to the drawing board and completely remake the original. What's worse is that they've rendered ALL previous works in the series completely non-canon, and are breaking up the remake into multiple separate games with some additions and alterations. So now they're gonna screw up their own greatest hit for some extra cash.

Sad thing is, that this sorta thing had been done before in some ways to other Final Fantasy titles. Final Fantasy X was a closed story that had a sad but heartfelt ending that [SPOILER ALERT] had the main character Tidus die (or technically just disappear) in the end. Yet they immediately come out with a sequel following it's success that does nothing to advace the story (since it had already been fully resolved in the first one) and actually brings Tidus back to life at the end of it completely out of nowhere; thereby ruining any heartfelt impact the first game had on it's audience with his death. Final Fantasy XIII had two sequels made, being the first Final Fantasy to be made as a trilogy. Yet each sequel totally retcon's the ending of the previous story, and apart from having many of the same characters, has a story that is completely unrelated to the rest of the series. After all, the original game (once again) is a closed story. Nothing more that can be added to it that doesn't screw up the original. Now it seems that Square Enix (the company that makes these games) have adopted the notion of just coming out with each new title in the series with multiple separate segments. Final Fantasy XV is the most recent installment in the series, and yet you won't have a sufficient grasp on the story unless you watch the subsequent movie and anime that goes alongside it and came out around the same time.

Attack on Titan (which is a much more recent series, but nonetheless) is another that's gone completely off the rails. What was originally written as a one-shot manga, was later adapted into a full-blown manga and anime. What started out as a mysterious survival series about man eating giants filled with plot twists and interesting steam-punk style tech, has now devolved into 'The X-Men: Giants addition!' Each titan now has it's own special abilities, the titans themselves are less-relevant enemies and are replaced with humans and titan shifters, and we now know that there are only 9 people who can ever turn into a titan, and that each person with the ability to turn into a titan has only 13 years after gaining the ability to live. This adds unnecessarily limits to a story that originally ran on an exciting premise. Now it's all about titan shifters versus a human government. Imagine if this were to happen in a zombie series? Shift the focus entirely away from zombies, and focus entirely on warring factions of humans with a select few having special 'zombie-esque' abilities. It's no longer a zombie series at that point. However this wouldn't have happened at all if not for the fact that the series creator was pressured into continuing a story that was not originally written to be a series. It was meant solely to be a short series about man-eating titans, but since the conflict of the story surrounding the titans (based on the setting) can and is easily resolved, the only other obstacles one could write into the story at that point are man-made ones. This is what happens when you insist that a story continues past it's original intent.

I could go on with other series, but these are the main ones I have major issues with. Just keep in mind, these aren't the only ones being ruined with recent installments...

 

So why is this happening? Why are so many beloved popular series from our childhood being ruined by the new content that the creators produce? The answer is simply that it all goes back to money. At the end of the day, it's not really about making a great work of art. It's about making the money off the fan base. It costs A LOT of money to make things like movies, TV shows, videogames, etc. and in today's world the cost of making such things has skyrocketed. Therefore it's a much less risky investment when pouring a butt ton of money into a franchise that already has a fan base, as opposed to pouring out essentially the same amount of money into a totally new franchise that has no established fan base at all. With the already popular franchises, you're guaranteed some good returns, even if what you've created is a steamy pile of crap.

Yet the real problem is with the fan base themselves. These companies would not be making money off this garbage if it weren't for each of these series' fans. Because fans of the original Star Wars love the series so much, they're willing to pay out and go see the next movie regardless of whether it's actually good or not. They're essentially paying for the brand name, and nothing more. By paying these companies more money for their trashy content, the fans incentivize companies to make more trashy content for them to consume. The fans want more of what they're a fan of, but doing so creates a trade-off by creating more and more crappy content in a franchise that was never meant to go beyond a certain point.

This isn't really a new concept. It's what has been the driving force behind most all sequels to any series really, and so it does have it's place. However the problem in modern times is again, the skyrocketing cost to make any new content, which causes developers to take less financial risks. This is why Hollywood is chock full of remakes, reboots, and sequels in recent decades. Yet the fans continue to openly consume the garbage they create, if for no other reason then the nostalgia.

Essentially what I'm getting at is, it's easy to point a finger at the developers of such abhorrently bad content that ruins otherwise absolutely beloved franchises, however they wouldn't be developing such content in the first place, if it weren't for the fans being complicit in their creation. It's essentially fanboy culture that's to blame for this recent trend in franchise destruction. Fans will financially support whatever s**t these companies churn out, so long as it has the right brand name.

We all need to become much more conscientious consumers, and only pay for the content we truly support. That's why I've decided to no longer be complicit in this garbage anymore. That's why I am not a fan boy anymore.

Aquila King

Some people on here seem to be somewhat confused as to why I seem to fluctuate back and forth between hardened skeptic, and strong believer. Although this isn't at all hard to understand my backstory behind why I believe what I believe. I could write a whole book on this topic, but will at least try and condense it as best I can and cut straight to the main points.

I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian household. I was very deeply religious from an early age, and as I got older (and more and more s**t went wrong in my life) I began to rely on my religion more and more to get me through. The more messed up I became, the more religious I became as well.

The changing of my belief systems started however when I switched from the Southern Baptist denomination, to an Assemblies of God Pentecostal denomination. I went there primarily due to the extreme pain I felt from childhood abuse coupled with difficulties with school and work. They promised miraculous healing, and due to my curiosity leading me into a revival one summer, I genuinely felt better when a pastor claimed I was miraculously 'healed' (didn't realize it at the time, but it was basically the placebo effect). However it didn't stop there. In order to remain healed and as a testament of this supposed miraculous 'healing', I was instructed (supposedly by God) to leave home and join this essentially cult like small town Pentecostal church so I could help spread the gospel and do God's work. So I did.

It was at this point that my religiosity became absolutely everything to me. Literally. Every single waking moment of my day was devoted to this new found version of Christianity. However as time went on, I soon realized that I wasn't 'healed', as the same symptoms kept popping up all over the place. I kept having the same difficulties, and now on top of that I was supposedly failing God, and fearing eternal hellfire.

That is until eventually I discovered that Christianity itself wasn't true. I'll spare you the details as to how, but basically I stumbled across multiple atheist arguments against Christianity and was convinced. I was incredibly relieved in some sense, because I no longer was afraid of going to hell. Although at the same time I felt betrayed and heartbroken, that I had devoted my entire life up to that point to an entire belief system and worldview that was absolutely false. And so, I became an Atheist.

I began to read up and study the works of people like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, etc. As well as read several atheist and skeptics blogs online, and became rather entrenched in learning the various arguments in opposition to religion. In fact for quite a while I had decided to personally study up on such things and become as well versed in these various arguments so that I could one day begin blogging and debating people online myself. I wanted to help other people and keep them from wasting so much of their lives devoted to made-up nonsense. But most importantly: I wanted to prevent myself from EVER being deceived by people into believing a lie ever again. This here is the key.

I was a Christian for so many years due to indoctrination from birth, being taught that doubt and questioning things is bad while believing is good, as well as the fear of eternal hell for those who do doubt and don't bend a knee to the will of the all-mighty dictator. Although when I broke free from religion and became an atheist, I realized what had held me back for so long was my insistence in believing in something without question. My problem was that I wasn't questioning my beliefs, and the only way to ever know the answer to anything is to first question it. So I took the mantle as a 'skeptic.' During my time as an atheist and a skeptic, in realizing that the primary problem that led me into wasting so much of my life under an erroneous worldview was the fact that I failed to be properly skeptical and question my own belief system, I began to study and learn critical thinking and reasoning skills, as well as the principle of questioning everything.

However, at some point I began to realize in my studies that I was doing much of the same thing I would do with religion only in regards to materialism. I had yet to critically question or be skeptical of materialism up to that point, merely assuming it true as the default position as opposed to religion. Although I began to realize this wasn't the case. I first ran across a man by the name of Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, and read his book called 'The Science Delusion' (also called Science Set Free here in the US. He's a Brit.). In it he takes some of the main key dogmas of modern science, and turns them into questions. So without instantly accepting whatever his proposals were, regardless, he got me questioning materialism.

I began applying these same basic principles of skepticism and critical thinking to materialism, which was the main foundation of my atheism. I found that despite what I had originally thought, there were in fact numerous cases of NDE and Psi Phenomena evidence, scientific papers; rational, logical, and philosophical arguments, etc. And as with any theory, if you can find even one case where your theory is completely unable to explain something, then you must either rewrite your theory to accommodate it or abandon the theory and start over. I found what I consider to be numerous lines of evidence (see my blog post DEBUNKING Pseudo-Skeptics) that caused me to decide to abandon the theory of materialism entirely in pursuit of a new one.

The more I began to question, the less I believed that materialism was in fact true, and therefore my staunch atheism that I had founded my little 'religious rebellion' upon was crashing down around me as well. I realized that Dawkins, Harris, and all the other staunch atheists and skeptics were my new evangelical preachers, and materialism my new religion. I knew that in order to discover the truth, I'd have to abandon any ideological ties to anything, identification with anyone, and totally rebuild a totally unique and independent worldview from the ground up. Start from scratch.

I desperately didn't want to fall into the same trap that I did throughout the majority of my life up to that point. I didn't want to follow the blind dogma of others, never seriously questioning the tenets of my own worldview. I wanted to be a truly independent thinker, who arrives at the truth on my own, rather than rely on the teachings, arguments, or credentials of others. So I began a great search for the truth, starting blindly from no real position on things at all, and would thereby formulate my own opinions based on whatever evidence I might find along the way.

Although I did seriously consider for a while there on just taking a totally agnostic approach to things. However I personally decided against it, as I personally found it kinda lazy to not seek the answers to such things in the first place (no offense to anyone who doesn't care for the answers, just a personal decision on my part), but most importantly I had no reason to believe that these questions don't have answers, nor that these answers are unattainable. If certain spiritual concepts such as the human soul, the afterlife, etc. exist, then there is some sort of science behind them, and there's no logical reason why they can't be objectively measureable. So I eventually did plenty of study up on the various things mentioned above, and came to the conclusion that there is indeed something more to this world then simply the material universe.

Now I will say, early on when I first joined UM, I was still relatively new to the whole topic, and didn't really know much about various spiritual concepts and ideas. Much of it was still very much new to me. I was just starting to look into concepts proposed by the Occult and New Age movements, as I knew very little about spirituality apart from organized religion, and was open to and still researching various other ideas I had yet to fully understand or in some cases encounter at the time. Now, thanks to numerous other members on here I'd say I have. So just since being on here my views on spirituality have changed rather significantly, in that I now know that much of the practices of the Occult etc. are in fact explainable by natural means. And to that I want to sincerely  thank the members on here for helping to contribute to my mental and spiritual growth.

I'm still changing and growing, and will continue to upon learning of any new information. I personally feel that's best.

So if you want to know what I believe specifically in regards to spirituality as of now:

  • I personally believe that consciousness is not generated by the material brain, that there is something more to consciousness then just material processes.
  • I believe that life after death is not only possible but highly likely. (as for any of the details beyond that, I have no clue. I find some of the accounts of NDE experiencers rather interesting, but I don't take any of it as the absolute god's honest truth, so I'm essentially purely agnostic here.)
  • I believe that there's most likely some sort of 'cosmic consciousness' that permeates throughout everything in the universe, and that it may in fact create, influence, and/or guide the formation of stars, galaxies, and life. Though as for what exactly this force is or how it operates, I don't know. Most likely some sort of 'consciousness energy field', similar to electro-magnetic fields or something. (if you want to call this energy field a 'god', then so be it. Though I completely reject the notion of there being any sort of all-powerful personal creator god as proposed by western and Abrahamic religion.)
  • I also believe that this consciousness energy field that exists can and does influence the conscious behaviors of humans and animals, and that these influences can be measured to minor extents in the form of psychic or psi phenomena. Although while I do personally believe that some people may in fact be much more psychically attuned then others in various ways, I strongly oppose basically all psychics, and especially those who give readings for money. Those are undoubtedly scammers out to make money off the gullibility (and in the case of psychic mediums, grief) of others.
  • I believe that the idea of ghosts and spirits existing around us is indeed certainly possible. If there is in fact an afterlife, then it's only logical to conclude from that that spirits could inhabit the world around us in a sort of pure 'absolute consciousness' immaterial form. In fact, if such a consciousness energy field exists, then it isn't at all implausible to suggest that pure consciousness-based entities could not exist in various forms all around us as well, as the idea that at least some form of consciousness exists all around us is already proposed. (Now having said that, I'd say that well over 90% of reported ghost sightings are easily explainable, and that ghost hunting by it's very nature is unscientific. Thus I usually avoid using ghost videos etc. as evidence, since I rarely ever regard any of that sort of thing as truly convincing.)

So yeah. That's pretty much it. Anything beyond this ^ I either am agnostic on or just flat don't believe.

I know that this is a long read, but I just want those of you who've been somewhat puzzled lately as to what and why I believe what I do to know that I didn't arrive at these conclusions through the typical biased filter of either indoctrination or confirmation bias, etc. that most who're involved in the religious and spiritual community have. I have a very good reason for why I believe what I do, regardless of whether you agree with my position or not.

Aquila King

Spirituality vs. Religion

In my two previous blog entries, I wrote in opposition of Materialism. Though I want to be clear, that I don't in any way support any form of religion. In fact I can be rather strongly anti-religion in many ways. So in this entry I'll discuss the differences between being spiritual versus being religious, and exactly why religion is in many ways a bad thing.

I'd also like to add, that I in no way wish to offend anyone. I'm not in any way saying that if you are religious, that you're by definition a bad person. Nor do I wish to discount all of the good things that have been done in the name of religion. Merely that religion itself overall has more negatives than positives, and that we'd all be much better off without it. I know a lot of people consider their religion to be the most essential core part of their personality, and so in this way it becomes nearly impossible to attack the ideas proposed by religion without someone taking personal offense to it. And to that I am sorry. I in no way wish to personally offend. I merely wish to call out the main key issues that I see lye at the core of religion in general. So with that being said, let's begin...

 

First off, let's define our terms. Now undoubtedly, there will still be plenty who disagree, and who will want to go into an argument over semantics. Many of us have our own definitions for such things in our heads, and many of these terms have multiple if not somewhat open-ended/undefined terms themselves. But ultimately what matters with regards to words and their definitions is majority consensus, to which I will be using as the standard definition of said terms in this post. What ultimately matters isn't the words themselves, as much as it is the ideas behind these said words represent.

  • Spiritualism (or spirituality, whichever you prefer) is merely a philosophy that states that there is more to this world then simply the material. That's it. Now there is the whole Spiritualism Movement which started back in the late 19th century/early 20th century, but that's a whole other topic. What I'm speaking of here is the philosophy, not the movement.
  • Religion on the other hand, is a specified belief system that instructs it's followers to adhere to certain moral principles, worship a specified deity (or deities), uphold certain traditions/rituals, claims to be mutually exclusively true, and believed on 'faith' rather then fact.

So in essence, while nearly all religions are spiritual, not all spiritualists are religious.

 

There are numerous reasons as to why religion is such a bad thing overall, so let me highlight what I consider to be the top 5 reasons as to why:

The Concept of Faith

Faith is the number one most dangerous and radical aspect of religion.

Now don't get me wrong, faith is of course a good thing when used as a synonym for the word trust. For instance, I trust my friends and family, and I often rely on them to help me out with things I can't do on my own. Many of the religious claim to trust in God in this way, and in this sense there isn't anything wrong with the concept at all. However this isn't what most religious people mean by the word 'faith'. What they typically mean is to believe in something without any logical reason to and/or without any evidence to back up their claim. This is quite frankly shear and utter lunacy.

Whether you believe in the existence of the human soul or don't, most rational people could give you reasons as to why you believe or disbelieve. I could give you multiple logical reasons, rational arguments, philosophical arguments, and pieces of evidence to support my claim; and I'm sure someone with the opposing view could do the same for their position. Though it's a different thing entirely to ignore all of that and say "I believe in the existence of the human soul because I have faith and nothing more." This is essentially just saying "I believe because I believe." It's a circular go nowhere non-argument. This flies in the face of all that is intelligent.

Imagine with me for a second that you go to see a doctor, and the doctor comes into the room for the first time and immediately says "You have cancer." Shocked and startled at the words of the doctor, the natural immediate response would most likely be "How do you know?" I mean you've never seen this doctor before, you only scheduled and came in for a routine checkup, no one has run any tests or labs to determine anything about your physical condition, so the immediate response being "How do you know?" is a perfectly fair question. Now imagine with me that the doctor simply says "I have faith that it's true." Would you suddenly accept the words of the doctor? Most likely not. Because he has absolutely no reason to believe that you have cancer, yet he believes it anyway.

Do you see how this sort of concept is wholly unviable in any other real world context? Yet in the context of religion, this kind of mentality is commonplace. People proudly assert that their religious beliefs are founded on absolutely nothing, and they even consider their faith that's founded on nothing is a virtue, while doubt and skepticism of any kind is considered horrible 'sin'.

The fact is, that the truth about the nature of our reality is objectively true regardless of our subjective opinion of it. Simply believing something is true and willing and wishing it to be true with all your might does not suddenly make it objectively true. I could wish and will and believe with all my might that magical pink unicorns exist, but no amount of 'faith' will suddenly make it objectively true.

Now lastly I want to point out that I'm sure some of you will argue in favor of psi power and intuition. And that you could arrive at the truth intuitively, and by psychic means. Some will even argue that objective reality does in fact bend to our conscious will with mind-over-matter effects like telekinesis. What I want to point out about this is that this is fundamentally different from the concept of faith. If such psychic abilities exist, then they are objective facts about the nature of reality that can be observed and measured. If telekinesis exists (even in a less direct way) it too can be objectively measured and calculated. Don't believe me? Then re-read my blog post DEBUNKING Pseudo-Skeptics and skip to the links where I provided several pieces of evidence that show such things can be measured.

Exclusivity of Truth

At first you might not think this is a bad thing, as truth itself is by definition mutually exclusive. I mean 2+2=4, and all other answers are false. The answer 4 is mutually exclusive. So what's the problem here? Well the problem isn't that religions regard truth as exclusive, it's that they regard their assertions to be true, and that anything that contradicts their assertions is wrong. What's worse is that these assertions are arrived at by means of faith. Let me explain...

Lets say a Christian says "The Bible is the perfect inerrant word of God." Typical Christian claim, and it's most likely arrived at by faith. But what if that statement isn't actually true? In the mind of most Christians, that doesn't matter. They believe it to be true on faith, and therefore absolutely anything that contradicts this claim is by definition false. In other words, objective reality doesn't matter to them. Rather then conform their beliefs to the facts, they conform the facts to fit their beliefs.

Most rational people in their daily lives adjust what they think in accordance with new information. For instance, you might really like McDonalds, but once you learn what they inject into their food, you may very well change your mind. You may believe a celebrity is a really good person and a role model, but once information is leaked about said celebrity secretly doing evil deeds, you might not believe them to be so good after all. This is how rational people function in the world around them. Once they receive new information, they adjust what they think and believe to accommodate these new facts. Religious people don't do that.

Religious people don't allow any 'new' information. They hold a specified group of information 'sacred' (typically in a holy book), meaning it cannot be contradicted, ever. Their 'truth' is mutually exclusive, and cannot be allowed to adjust itself with new information. This is exactly why the Catholic church went to war for several centuries against scientific minds like Galileo, who simply provided new information that contradicted sacred scripture. New information was strictly disallowed, and was deemed heresy.

This is what also leads to constant holy wars. Since religions (and even different denominations within each religion) claim to have their own truth, and that anything opposed to this truth is by definition false, then there is no communication or compromise that can be made. The opposition is thereby false by definition, and there is no new information that could ever persuade them otherwise. They are beyond persuasion, since no new information could ever arrive that they accept to be true.

Traditions and Rituals

This one isn't as serious of an issue, but it stems from a general overall problem with religion, which is that it's always stuck in the past rather than focused on the future.

Rather than improving upon our current condition, religion has a bad tendency of trying to always keep things as they are. This is best reflected in their observance with religious rituals and traditions. Since religions claim to basically have a monopoly on truth, and that their truth never changes or adjusts to new information (hence the term sacred), they therefore practice rituals and traditions that may or may not be totally outdated and in some cases just flat wrong, and will persist in these practices rather than make any steps towards progress.

For example, before the Civil War in the United States, most Christians in the south (yes I'm using Christianity as an example again, it's the most predominant religion here in the west) supported slavery, and used sacred scripture to justify it. I know this isn't a 'tradition' per say, but again this goes to my overall point. That religion impedes progress. Rather than asking the question "How can we improve our current condition?" they insist that things must remain as they are, or must be maintained in a specific way.

By emphasizing the practice of certain traditions, it insists that these traditions must be maintained as they are, rather than improving upon them. This is why you find so many fundamentalist religious people opposing things like science and social progress, because such things alter their traditions. They harken back to a time when said traditions were practiced as they were, and seek to maintain said practices in their steady state, rather than seeking to grow ever better. And thus, we had a thousand years of the dark ages.

Worship of Deity(s)

Let's say for the sake of argument that the smartest most powerful man on earth suddenly established world peace. Would he be worthy of worship? Most people would probably say no. What if Superman existed? Would he be worthy of worship? Again, your answer would most likely be no. What if aliens existed, who were not just immortal, but who had reached the prime peak of scientific advancement, achieved perfect everlasting peace in their civilization, and possessed the power to create entire planets, solar systems, and life? And what if those aliens created our solar system as well as all life on earth? Some might very well worship these beings as deities, but in the end, they're no different then us. They're simply smarter, stronger, live longer, know more, and are more moral, etc. But do those qualities deem them worthy of subservient worship? Sure, they would undoubtedly be worthy of honor, adoration, and praise, although the term 'worship' tends to add another level to this by insinuating blind trust in and total submission and servitude to said beings.

Those who claim to worship whatever deities they claim to exist, also seem to support the idea that these deities possess ownership rights over us, and that we are to submit ourselves entirely to their will on the sole basis that they possess the properties listed above. This doesn't make any sense, and totally contradicts their supposedly 'moral' character. Just because your parents 'made' you doesn't mean that they suddenly 'own' you, nor does it mean they can do whatever they want to you. They may be your guardian, but you are not their slave. Similarly, just because someone is stronger or smarter or overall better than you in some way, doesn't mean that they have the authority to control your life. Nor are they worthy of 'worship.' You can admire someone for these attributes, but to submit yourself to them as their humble slave due to them having these attributes is primitive at best.

So what can we deduce thus far? Well for one, the fact that some entity creates you does not give that entity ownership rights over you, nor does it mean you can or even should be their slave. And second, the fact that an entity is greater than you in any way, does not suddenly give them these same ownership rights and eternal servitude mentality either. So essentially, if you want to honor, admire, praise, and give thanks to a deity for possessing said qualities, then by all means do so. However to 'worship' a deity tends to add in authoritarian servitude into the mix, to which does not in any way belong.

This is one of the biggest problems with religion, which is the authoritarian (and often times totalitarian) nature of God worship. Harkening back to the truth segment mentioned above, religious people often times view the words, actions, and commands of their deities as absolute and final. These gods (or God) must be followed blindly as the complete and absolute authority on everything, and that anyone or anything that does not bend to their god's will must be punished. This is why so many atheists describe God as a fascist dictator. If God is to be followed, it must be followed because it's command is objectively correct, not because of it's power or status or authority alone. In other words, every single person has a moral duty to do what is right, rather than blindly follow the will of anyone or anything, including any sort of god. Otherwise you resign yourself to the role of slave and to the will of an authoritarian ruler.

Moral Teachings

This is the final, and most important point in all of this. Religious morality.

Yes, I could sit here and list out all of the moral atrocities committed in the name of religion all day, and you've probably already heard most of them before already. Although this doesn't really get to the real heart of the problem. We have to ask ourselves: "Why have so many religions committed, and even justified, the most morally atrocious acts in the history of mankind?" The answer ties into everything we've spoken about above. And it is simply because religion possesses the unique ability to fundamentally re-write morality itself.

Now before I begin, I feel I must first point out that there is for some reason a large number of people in the non-religious community who will actually disagree with and deny what I'm about to say, as they don't believe that objective moral values even exist. I honestly don't have any clue why they think that. I've debated people like that on this topic numerous times, and each time I've left the debate scratching my head. Not because I don't understand what they're saying, but because they for some reason have a strong aversion to labeling anything objective as 'moral'. They tend to agree with everything I say here, but they hate calling it 'morality' for some reason, and I've yet to ever understand why. Regardless, that gets into a whole separate topic on it's own, so in this case I'll simply be speaking in response to religious morality, rather than the non-religious denial of objective moral principles existence itself. So with that, let me begin...

Most rational people - whether they're consciously aware of it or not - define 'good' as something that benefits the overall health and well-being of conscious entities. For instance, giving to the poor and healing the sick are universally considered good acts because they contribute to the overall health and well-being of these conscious individuals. These acts also alleviate suffering. Most rational people also define 'bad' as that which causes unnecessary pain and suffering, as well as that which deteriorates the overall health and well-being of conscious entities. So for instance, kidnapping and raping/torturing little children for fun is universally considered bad because of the harm it causes not only the children, but to society as a whole if these acts were allowed and became commonplace. And again, whether you have consciously thought this out in this manner or not, subconsciously, most rational people think like this when defining morality and assigning a certain value onto something. What this shows is that moral values are objectively measurable, based on everyone's overall conscious health and well-being. It is an objective fact that giving to the needy and healing the sick improves people's lives, and it is an objective fact that kidnapping, raping, and torturing children causes irreparable harm to children and society. Now this isn't to say that there aren't ever any cases of moral ambiguity out there, because clearly there are. Nor does this mean that there isn't a scale of right and wrong, as this doesn't mean everything is totally black and white, good and evil. However the mere fact that there are universally accepted moral values like these, and that health and well-being can be objectively measured independent of anyone's acceptance or denial of this fact, means that objective moral values do in fact exist. These moral principles exist independent of anyone's thoughts, feelings, or opinions of them - thus they are called 'objective'.

So then how does religion view morality? The problem is, religion twists this into authoritarian absolutes. What I mean by that is, morality is often defined as the will of a particular deity (and if not that then just simply the teachings or religious texts of the particular religion). Moreover, that which goes against God's will (or again, the will of the teacher/religious text, etc.) is considered a mortal 'sin'. So with that religion has fundamentally redefined morality from an objective fact independent of anyone's will, to the will of God. Anything that God wills is good, and anything that goes against God's will is bad. And it is with this total re-write of objective morality that we begin to understand the reason for things like suicide bombers, the KKK, the Crusades, and witch hunts, etc. If you redefine good as the will of your particular God, and you define evil as anything that deviates from that, then you've thereby justified any objectively immoral act as morally right. So long as you get your God to back you up.

I don't feel like I really need to go much further into debunking this claim, but to put the final nail into the coffin I'd just simply add this. The logic of this kind of morality just doesn't hold up. If you god (or your religious teachings, whatever) defines what is good, then why praise said god for being good when it would be equally good if it were the opposite? If you base you morals on the whims of a deity (or religious teachings, etc.), then morality is completely arbitrary. You may claim that 'these teachings are absolute and unchanging', but that's irrelevant. If morals are defined by the will of anyone or anything, then morals could be literally anything! On what basis could you say that rape is bad, if it's literally at the very least possible for rape to be good, just that your god or whatever just so happened to decide otherwise. It's only when you define morality as an objective fact outside of anyone's thoughts, feelings, opinions, or will, that you're able to truly call something moral or immoral. Otherwise, morality is completely arbitrary, regardless of something's knowledge or power or status as deity.

Also, if you take the position that your deity or religious teachings merely convey what is objectively moral rather than decide it itself, then awesome. Although I have this simple question: Why can't we discover what is objectively moral for ourselves like we have in discovering the natural laws that govern our universe already? Rather than just being told the answers, why can't we discover it ourselves? It kind of demotes your god to being no more than a simple messenger, delivering a message that while possibly helpful could also be useless, as we could just as easily discover the answers ourselves. Rather than trying to discover which of the thousands of religions out there (as well as the many more numerous denominations within each religion) has the right message of moral teachings being delivered, why not just discover those teachings for ourselves? It's kinda like going around the room in a classroom asking various other students who has the right answer to a math problem and getting a different answer each time, versus just sitting down and solving the problem yourself. And besides, by what standard do you even decide if the messenger's moral teachings are the right ones? I assume it's the objective standard your messenger's basing the message on. So basically, you'd have to know the objective standard yourself in order to determine if the messenger's message is correct, thereby nullifying any point in sending the message in the first place. You could've just discovered it for yourself and stopped there.

This is the singular most underlying problem with religion as a whole. It's why nearly all of the most morally atrocious acts ever committed by man were committed in the name of religion. Because religion redefines morality. There is no such thing as Christian morality, or Muslim morality, or Buddhist morality; anymore than there's such a thing as Christian, Muslim, or Buddhist physics or chemistry. There's simply morality. Period.

 

The last thing I want to do in this blog post, is compare and contrast religion to the philosophy spiritualism.

To believe in the existence of some sort of God, or gods, spirits, the soul, the afterlife, etc. does not require you to have any of the above issues that accompany religion.

  • You don't need faith to believe it, as you can believe in such things based on rational arguments and evidence.
  • You don't need to stick with any specific truth as being absolute, since your beliefs can easily evolve and change over time.
  • You don't have to adhere to any traditions or rituals, and in fact you can adopt a wholly scientific worldview in tandem with it.
  • You don't need to worship anything, even if you believe in a God, etc.
  • And you don't need to base your morals on the teachings or the will of anyone or anything.

So while Spirituality and Religion may vary well agree in the existence of various spiritual things, they are also in many ways a far cry from one another. Many people have the false assumption that in order to abandon religion, you must be an atheist, but this just isn't true. You can still believe in the existence of most all of the basic things that various religions may propose, without all of the added faults that accompanies religion in general. This is why I call myself spiritual, but not religious.

To any religious people reading this, this is my point overall: You can believe in all the main spiritual aspects that your religion teaches, without the added handicaps that accompany being religious entails. It's better to be spiritual, then to be religious.

 

Spoiler

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Aquila King

3 Philisophical Arguments Against Materialism

The three primary philosophical arguments for consciousness being separate from the material brain:

  1. Perfect Scientific Understanding Argument - If (or when) we reach an absolute perfect scientific understanding of a biological system, and we know absolutely every single detail pertaining to what makes up the material structure of any living thing, including every minute detail of that living thing's physiological brain structure, there would still be one thing that we wouldn't know. Namely, what it is like to be that living thing. Therefore consciousness must be something other than the material structure of something, since knowing all there is to know of the material structure leaves out the conscious experience of it.
  2. The Zombie Argument - Imagine a human being who on the outside acts no different from that of any other human being, however internally has no consciousness at all whatsoever. And if you ask them: "are you conscious?", they'd respond: "of course I'm conscious!", completely 'unaware' that they lack any sort of consciousness whatsoever, a true 'zombie' so to speak. This isn't to say that such non-conscious entities positively do exist, but simply the mere possibility that such a zombie could exist, shows that consciousness must be something somewhat separate from the material brain, since there's no logical reason why 'zombies' (at least in this sense) couldn't exist.
  3. The Chinese Room Argument - This argument is in response to a specific argument for materialism, namely that if you design the right artificial intelligence with the right computer program, that this alone is sufficient in creating consciousness. It goes as follows: Take any cognitive function you don't currently have. For this example, I don't speak Chinese. Someone sits me in a room and asks me to answer questions in Chinese. I don't know Chinese, but they hand me a rulebook that tells me the proper steps I need to implement in order to answer the questions in Chinese. This rulebook represents this supposed computer program. Of course I don't know what these symbols in Chinese mean, but the rule book was written so good that I'm able to follow it's proper steps in shuffling these symbols around in proper order so as to accurately answer each of these questions in Chinese. From an outside observer, my answers would be indistinguishable from a native speaker of Chinese, but in reality I don't understand a word of Chinese. I'm just following the rulebook and shuffling symbols without consciously comprehending what any of the symbols mean, and there's no way for me to actually learn Chinese by simply shuffling around symbols in a room. So here's the main crux of the argument: If I don't understand Chinese on the basis of implementing the rules in the rulebook (aka the computer program), then neither does any other computer solely on that basis. Therefore, consciousness must be something more then just a 'program' in the hardwire that is the brain.

Ultimately materialism excludes all qualitative experiences by attempting to reduce them all down to the quantitative level. Though this just simply does not work. The qualitative conscious experience is a uniquely separate thing altogether that must be measured independent of material structures.

Aquila King

DEBUNKING Pseudo-Skeptics

I've wanted to make this official for a while now. I've ended up repeating myself over and over again to the various 'skeptic' members on here while stating the these exact same points, and I've grown rather tired of typing it all out and linking to the same sites again and again. So I've decide to type everything out into this one blog post, that I can then post a link to it in my signature and reference them to it whenever any hardened 'skeptics' start arguing with me over their same old points.

This blog post is in no way an attempt to refute Materialism, merely to show how many of the arguments that these so-called 'Skeptics' make about Spiritualists are blatant misrepresentations of the opposing viewpoint, thereby rendering any meaningful debate with them invalid.

What I wish to show here that there is a better, more accurate way to discuss these topics with each other, without resorting to the spread of misinformation regarding the opposing worldview.

So with that being said, let's begin...

 

For those who don't know me and don't know what I support, I'll explain it in a nutshell: I am a Spiritualist who supports open-minded skeptical scientific inquiry into all fields. This includes topics such as the paranormal, psychic (or 'psi') research, Near-Death-Experiences (NDEs) and the afterlife, and overall parapsychology. Materialism is the belief system held by the mainstream scientific community, as well as many 'skeptics' societies, who are dedicated to discrediting anything that upsets this status quo. I on the other hand support a sort of 'Scientific Spiritualism' which believes that consciousness is more than just a byproduct of the material brain and that it plays a much grander role in the goings-on of our universe, and which seeks to further discover this by means of scientific study and research. This isn't to say that I support a sort of Scientism, as the truth about our reality can be arrived by multiple means such as philosophy, logic and reasoning, etc. 

Therefore this post will be in response to those who take a Materialist approach whilst claiming the title of 'Skeptic'. In particular, this will be in response to their skepticism towards anything related to the paranormal or parapsychological (psi) research.

 

So what do I mean by the term: 'Pseudo-Skeptic?'

In an article by SCEPCOP (Scientific Committee to Evaluate Pseudoskeptical Criticism of the Paranormal) titled How Pseudoskeptics hijack 'Skepticism' to mean it's opposite, it perfectly describes these kinds of so-called 'skeptics' as follows:

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Pseudoskeptics are not just wrong and fallacious in their reasoning and approach to investigating the paranormal with outright rejection of anything that doesn't fit into a materialist orthodox paradigm. They've also, knowingly or unknowingly, engaged in deceptive mind control by hijacking critical terms to mean their OPPOSITE, including the very term "skeptic" itself. And they've hid what they truly are (suppressors of new ideas) by pretending to be the opposite of what they are. Let me explain.

As mentioned earlier, a skeptic doubts, inquires, questions, ponders, etc. But these pseudoskeptics do anything but. They attack, ridicule, discredit and suppress anything and everything that challenges the materialist reductionist paradigm. But don't take my word for it. Just look at any article by James Randi, Michael Shermer, or Skeptical Inquirer, for example, and you will see that there is no questioning of what they are told, doubt or pondering of possibilities at all. All they do is ridicule and attack anything related to paranormal and psychic phenomena, holistic medicine, and conspiracies. That's not what skepticism is.

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So you see, these pseudoskeptics hijack the term "skeptic" so that it can't be used against them. By calling themselves "skeptics", they cast themselves as  THE "skeptics" who question everything with critical thinking and doubt. And if you are a skeptic or critical thinker, then you will agree with them, so they hope.

Similarly, they've done the same with the terms "reason, rationality, logic, critical thinking, scientific" as well by hijacking them to fit their agenda, so that they support their agenda of discrediting anything related to paranormal, holistic or conspiratorial evidence.

In essence, what they've done is put themselves in a position of "ultimate authority" on reason, rationality, logic, critical thinking, etc. so that if you call yourself those things, then you must agree with them and their position. As such, being "reasonable and rational" means to AGREE with them. And "critical thinking" can only be used to reject what they reject, never to critique the pseudoskeptics themselves, according to their paradigm, for they are "the critiquers".

Thus, they've made it so that "critical thinking" and "skepticism" can't be used against them, because they are THE "critical thinkers and skeptics". It's a very sly form of mind control that obfuscates the terms and attempts to shield them from "criticism" by putting them in the highest position of criticism.

As such, the term "skeptic" now refers to the one who suppresses and attacks the questioner, rather than the questioner himself. In other words, the new "skeptic" is someone who debunks a "skeptic" by wearing the hat of the person they are out to debunk, in effect impersonating them! It's a highly deceptive form of role reversal that is sneaky and deceptive.

You see, true genuine skepticism is good. It's at the heart of the scientific process, and it is the only means by which we can arrive at the truth. If we never skeptically question something, then we'll never learn the answer to said question. The problem is, the door swings both ways. Yet modern day 'Skeptics' don't seem to question their own materialism. This is because true healthy skepticism requires one to be open-minded about alternative possibilities. If you aren't open to alternative explanations, then you aren't properly questioning that which you currently support.

What these 'Skeptics' fail to understand is that skepticism involves being skeptical of your own position, it does not mean just being skeptical of that which you do not believe in, otherwise we are all skeptics and that renders their use of the term 'skeptic' meaningless. A true skeptic casts skepticism on their own position as well. Since these skeptics do not employ skepticism in this respect, then they are fairly termed 'pseudo-skeptics' and demean the term skepticism.

There are many repeated arguments and phrases that these skeptics like to use over and over again. Such as: "there is no proof", "show me the evidence", "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", "anecdotal evidence is invalid", "science is the only reliable method", "skeptics don't have beliefs, they make assessments based on evidence", "ESP and paranormal phenomena violate all known laws of physics", "believers in the paranormal use primitive 'magical thinking'", etc.

I can't begin to answer every single objection that skeptics make in a single blog post, however all of these arguments plus more are perfectly refuted in detail here.

Having said that, there are a couple of the most prominent objections that I wish to go over briefly in this post. (for more in depth refutations see the link above) Namely: "show me the evidence" and "science is the only reliable method".

 

"Show me the Evidence"

This ^ is the most common objection these pseudo-skeptics always bring up. They constantly (and confidently) assert that there absolutely is no evidence of the paranormal, ESP, etc. and that all we need to do is show it to them. Many will even ask: "Where are the scientific papers that show psychic phenomena to be real?" They claim, that as soon as they see the least bit of scientific evidence in support of such phenomena they'll believe, but assert that they don't believe because we 'have no evidence'.

This is absolutely false.

There's a ton of scientific evidence in support of all our claims. Here is a list of Selected Psi Research Publications, that you can check out and thoroughly read through individually if you so desire. Those are all scientific publications and experiments that support the existence of our claims.

Want more? Very well:

I could go on...

The point here is this: You can't claim that there 'is no evidence', cause there is. You just happen to find our interpretation of said evidence incorrect. You personally find the evidence in support of materialism to be believable, whereas any of the evidence presented above has some sort of alternative materialistic explanation. And you know what? That's a perfectly fair position to take. However what isn't fair is the insistence that anyone who disagrees with your materialistic interpretation simply 'has no evidence'. That isn't just unfair, it's just flat untrue.

I don't in any way say that Materialism 'has no evidence'. I merely say that I find the evidence flawed, and that there are alternative explanations. This is where the real debate lies. It lies in the interpretation of said evidence.

Arguing over whether or not there even is any evidence in the first place is to move the goalposts so that the argument appears on the surface to be ever in your favor.

This Article says it best:

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Pseudo-Skeptics are always saying, "There's no evidence for any paranormal or psychic phenomena" no matter how much evidence is shown to them. That's because this statement is a religion to them, not an objective statement. So no matter what evidence you give them, they will always deny it and raise the bar, simply because "there is no evidence" is a fixed belief to them.

So, if you give them stories and experiences, even from credible sources, they will reject it as "anecdotal" and inadmissible as evidence. If you give them scientific studies that show positive results for psi, they will argue that those studies did not have proper controls (since, if they did, they'd only get chance results, so their fixed logic goes). And they will argue that the studies must be replicable. Then when you show them replicated studies (e.g. Ganzfeld), they will raise the bar again and argue it was not replicated enough times (until a debunker disproves it is what they mean), ad infinitum. So no matter how many stories or replicable research studies you cite, it's NEVER enough. There is no clear bar to meet to qualify as "real evidence" to them, because essentially, there is NO EVIDENCE in their mind, thus there is no real criteria to be met. That gives them the license to deny ad infinitum. It's like playing a shady game of three shells with a con artist. You can never win because the conclusion has already been decided from the get go. That's what makes these Pseudoskeptics dishonest and not what they claim at all.

So I'll just state this for the record - to any 'Skeptic' out there who reads all of this and still tells me that there 'is no evidence', I refuse to engage in any discussions with you on this topic.

If you continue to live in your own reality where evidence of paranormal/psi phenomena doesn't exist, then there can be no meaningful discussions to be made with you. You've bought in fully to Materialist dogma hook-line and sinker, and you're essentially no different then an extreme fundamentalist religious person who believes what they do on the sole basis of 'faith'.

 

"Science is the only reliable method"

One of the most common traits found in these pseudo-skeptics is a complete love and adoration of science as the el primo means of knowing the truth. Of course, they also love to paint this picture that they alone love science, and that anyone who doesn't think exactly like them either hates science or doesn't understand how science actually works. Unfortunately for them, science isn't all rainbows and butterflies, and it doesn't mean you hate science to simply point that out.

Once again, Another Article from SCEPCOP says it best:

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Science is a TOOL, like a computer. It is not an entity that holds dogmas or ideologies, like people do. Therefore, science is not pro or anti-paranormal, anymore than a pencil, computer program or mathematical formula is.

However, the scientific establishment is another matter, because it involves people, politics, power, money, institutions and vested interests. And as such, politics, corruption, control, censorship and suppression are naturally a part of it. Realists know and understand this. But for some reason pseudoskeptics don't.

The key fallacy that pseudoskeptics make is lumping the scientific method and process with the scientific establishment into one, assuming that they are one and the same.

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Any realist knows that when you work for an institution or receive funding, you have to "tow the party line", or else you are out. It's that simple. Any scientist who says something that opposes the views of those he works for, will jeopardize his career and reputation. There are many real life examples of scientists and researchers who have lost funding or suffered damage to their career for espousing unorthodox positions, even if their position was legit and evidence-based.

Moreover, most people are not unbiased, open minded, or hold truth as the highest value. Instead, they are concerned with their image, reputation, career, funding, and hold rigid views that they feel safe and comfortable in. Many people do not like uncertainty or mystery. They want a world where things make sense and are predictable and well-defined. That's why they are prone to fall into rigid unchanging belief systems. Why would scientists be any different? They may be more educated than the average person, sure, but they are humans, and humans have biases.

It is the truth seeker and freethinker who questions everything and does not hold any authority as truth, who is most likely to find the truth. Not the most educated or well connected with institutions.

Pseudoskeptics ignore all this, or are blind to it, because they are fanatics, not truth seekers or freethinkers. When you look at the overall picture, this becomes obvious.

Now I'm not arguing against the scientific method by any means, what I'm arguing against is a blind adherence to the words and actions of the scientific establishment. These pseudoskeptics take the words of the scientific establishment as authoritative, like it's a religion. In this area skepticism isn't applied, and this defies common sense.

A common argument I often here is: "If you have so much evidence in your favor, why not present it to the scientific community? You'd surely win a prize for your discovery!"

Such an argument completely ignores the possibility of vested interests and human biases. And what's worse is that they're often quick to turn around and accuse paranormal/psi research of the same problems! It turns into a terrible case of special pleading.

Of course these biases are to be taken into account when reviewing the research of the Spiritualist community, however as I stated before, the door swings both ways. Yet regardless, given the fact that it is typically the parapsychology scientific research community that is ostracized by the current establishment, if anything this makes the argument in favor of the parapsychology community having such biases to be a rather silly one, since they are the ones that face the most ridicule for coming out with such findings. 

To willfully ignore the possibility of such biases existing within the mainstream establishment scientific community whilst criticizing the opposition is just blind dogma. Anyone who does so, treats the scientific establishment as their church, and Materialism as their religion.

 

Conclusion - If you believe that Materialism is most likely true based on scientific evidence and rational argument, that's a perfectly fine position to take. If you personally find the evidence in favor of Spiritualism to be explainable by alternative materialistic means, that's also a perfectly fair position. However to claim that those you simply disagree with 'have no evidence', or that science, reason, rationality, and skepticism are exclusively on your side, is simply false. What's worse is when these 'Skeptics' turn to blatant misrepresentations of any opposing views, and demean them with terms like 'woo' and 'magical thinking'. Some will even go so far as to call anyone who doesn't think like them delusional idiots who believe in a fairy tail, despite their position having real scientific evidence to back it up.

Bottom line is, if you continue to misrepresent the facts about the opposing viewpoint, then there is no reason why any of us who disagree with you should even acknowledge or listen to any of your dogma.

Aquila King

First Official Blog Post

So I started a couple of different blogs a while back on here, but stopped submitting entries to them for various reasons.

The main reason however was because they were both blog series with a specified subject and goal in mind with them. This series however is literally gonna be about whatever comes to mind. I'll be posting more and more here on random topics of whatever I personally feel like I wanna talk about at the immediate moment. Hopefully this will also motivate me to get back to posting entries to the other two Blogs I started.

Anyways, with that being said, I'll see yous guys in further entries. :P

Peace.