These are a hoot to read out loud:
-now don't say I never give you anything.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Beware Echo Chambers
A while ago I mentioned that Atheists don’t gather weekly to pray to the universe or some such other nonsense, but I do think even we Atheists need to be cautious about our gatherings whether in person or on line in social media. If we only ever hear opinions that are compatible with our own, then we may have begun living within an echo chamber.
Life in the Echo Chamber can sneak up on you and it can exist wherever folks gather and reinforce each other’s beliefs often leading to the feeling that there are no other ideas and certainly no great number of other people who see things differently. That group think while useful for getting things done, is dangerous to take to heart too deeply. Even Atheists need to remind themselves of this and take precautions.
I think this may be one of the reasons why some Atheists are so out and so confrontational. At the very least when you have to make the arguments against religion or religiosity regularly, it means you’re at least listening to the opinions of the other side. It’s also probably why I often feel that the religious lack skill in making good arguments or quite simply don’t think logic is a necessary component of their arguments and I often hear other Atheists confirming this impression.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Look at all the civil unrest! and during the holidays too. There’s no doubt that the news often portrays the world as an ugly place so much that I could be embarrassed for us if there were aliens receiving these news reports and assessing humanities intelligence based on our emanations of babble into space. Sadly, there’s only slightly more evidence of aliens, or rather probabilities of alien life, than there is of the existence of “God,” still their existence is just as unconfirmed and other types of life we could find in the universe, though alien, may not meet our expectations of intelligence. If extraterrestrial intelligences do exist they may be so far away as to live out their whole existence and expire as a species before receiving any of our signals anyway.
So it’s okay for us humans to look at our lives here in an introverted sort of way, we can be self-involved since there’s no God or aliens watching us and any improvement we make from our self-analysis will only benefit us.
Why am I speaking about us as a species? Why am I not talking race? And pointing out all our racial prejudices? Why aren’t you talking like me? I wonder why more of us aren’t talking about us like we’re ONE species as I’m doing? Why don’t we eschew this “race” idea along with the “god” idea?
Why? Because we humans are lazy and our thinking is just so much easier with handy categories to subdivide the species into for our own personal convenience, so we use these labels to create mental definitions of: in groups and out groups, of good guys and bad guys, of attractive mates, and unavailable mates, unhealthy mates, or taboo mates, etc. etc.
Why is this a problem? well mostly it is another case of a tool that’s often misused and abused, like guns. Sadly our thought processes don’t come with a handy disclaimer declaring them null and void if used contrary to manufacturer guidelines! We all need to learn and practice using our brains in smart ways. Humanity needs to learn to think, to life hack our brains to our advantage, instead of shackling our future to entrenched cultural ideals, where we end up looking back at history and think it’s a good thing we have short lives so older entrenched stupidity can die off. Instead we should be training ourselves and our youth to think for themselves, to analyze their thought processes and always seek to improve their lives by improving themselves and their own personal habits.
We have natural tendencies to create habits, so create healthy habits! Yes thought processes are the most fundamental of habits and you can change them, it just might be harder and take more energy than most people want to invest. Hence the laziness of humanity - the only thing we really ought to be embarrassed about, especially if we continue on doing stupid things while ignoring evidence of our own senses, of our scientists, of proven facts that indicate a change in our thinking is needed. If we continue doing that, then yes we ought to be ashamed.
But the thing about shame is it might well be the first step in changing, except some treat it as the end! the anathema, that no recovery is possible. What nonsense! There are no bad behaviors that can’t be recovered from, that improved behavior can’t earn accolade even, if we’re willing to allow that possibility. The idea that forgiveness is divine only, is stupid. The reason we forgive someone who has hurt us isn’t because God mandates it, but because it’s the healthy thing to do, otherwise you tie yourself to the pain and allow the victimization to continue.
Like Taking back the Night, or Reclaiming the bad words, we need to take back our brains from the media, the salesmen/politicians, -anyone who is trying to tell us what to do or what to believe.
Now speaking to life and habits, what sort of habits, or lifestyles do you suppose develop for Comedians?
They break into the business by doing stand up in bars and clubs, restaurants and other public places where there’s drinking and sometimes lots of smoking. They are performers, who might suffer from nerves before a performance and need to self-medicate to compensate for nerves or for late nights, grueling tours, excess drinking, or just not feeling their mojo that day.
Bar culture is full of alcohol induced personalities leaking the full measure of their prejudices, and if functional alcoholics are present they may even sound reasonable while spewing bullshit. Culturally, alcohol seems to grant license to all sorts of bad behavior, which if you’re in that atmosphere all the time may start to seem like normal, even appropriate behavior. Is it any wonder then that those who spring from that experience often provide distilled examples of humanities worst impulses?
Don’t mistake me, I’m not excusing anyones’ bad behavior, only pointing out the probable sources that may have created it, encouraged or protected it from censure. Most people, even those who work in that atmosphere, know the difference in mood, in behaviors because they don’t spend all their time there. They may not consciously express knowledge of the differences, but they feel them on a gut level and most behave accordingly.
Now before you think I’m proposing some prohibition on drugs and alcohol, try instead to accept that drunkenness doesn’t ever excuse behavior, only explains it, and we did try prohibition already didn’t we! However, it’s not unreasonable to remove the idea that being under the influence excuses bad behavior. Hold people accountable for their behaviors and they’ll find ways to modify those behaviors and still enjoy themselves as well. And holding people accountable doesn’t always mean arrests, it could just mean other people who are witnessing bad behavior speaking up and shaming the perpetrator.
So if anything I’ve just said here sounds too simple, too pat, then you’re under the mistaken impression that I’m here to do all your thinking for you. Time to step up and use that brain you have for something other than just consuming our culture.