Believe and Disbelieve Nothing

The goal-posts are still moving, and definitions are still being changed and scrubbed.

As the world adapts to Covid, even the CDC starts looking like what they once denounced as an “Anti-Vaxxer.”

Are we finally emerging from the hysteria, and, as information and attitudes shift, starting to see how typically naïve we’ve been?

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“Give me control of a nation's money supply and I care not who makes its laws.”

“It's technology that solves problems – not money, politics or religion. These are false institutions.”

“The only way to deal with living in an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

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I enjoy drinking every now and then, but, some years ago, I found myself slipping towards alcoholism; drinking five nights a week most of the time and saving the occasional weekend for recovery.

What really pushed me to get out of that slump was the hard-hitting observation that the functions of my brain seemed to be degrading as time went on.

It took ages to realise, but the quality of my writing began to suffer. The quality of the things I read, watched and listened to followed suit shortly after, and my standards of communication were slowly lowering. I was losing energy, patience, attention span, you name it...

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As certain speech is outlawed, certain thoughts follow, and slowly but surely we make our way towards Thought-Crime becoming an accepted social standard. If we aren't free to explore or to engage certain ideologies directly, especially for the sake of disputing them, we risk allowing their logical premises leaking out into wider society under new names.

People with divisive beliefs often interpret people's emotional reactions to their claims as some kind of proof that they must be true, yet too powerful for other people to handle hearing. When simple discussion with them is outlawed and seen as some kind of support or advocacy, what we do in its place can inadvertently strengthen those beliefs within the believer. If nothing else, this only makes it more difficult for the believer to learn their way out.

It also leaves others ill-equipped to handle confrontations with these people, as they lack the insight necessary to engage it. They won’t be ready for the positions and arguments that will be thrown at them if that’s the case, and they definitely won’t know what to do if they start emulating this logic in their own minds.

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The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

A lot of people who advocate for equality seemingly aren't interested in unity, because they actively and consciously refuse to unify with those they disagree with and denounce as less morally virtuous than they are.

This observation alone sets a clear distinction between equality and unity.

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I almost titled this one “Street Epistemology and the Need to Feel Like Someone Wants to Understand You” but I couldn’t nail that sentence until I stopped trying to write it as the title. Strange.

Anyway, I’ve been observing and practising Street Epistemology for some years now and have found it ridiculously helpful for navigating through heated and sensitive discussions.

SE is a conversational method that actually originated with Socrates, based on asking questions that allow for in-depth discussion about potentially controversial subjects in a non-confrontational way. When done right, this method of communication proves to be immensely empowering for anyone involved, even the practitioner of SE. I’ve had some conversations where what I was listening to would otherwise make me want to bang my head against the wall, but it was my determination to practice perfect Street Epistemology that got me through that and allowed for what turned out to be decent discussions.

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“… the population suffers from a fear of change, and challenging one’s beliefs usually ends in insult and apprehension, for, being wrong is erroneously associated with failure – when, in fact, being wrong proven should celebrated, as it is elevating someone to a new level of understanding, furthering awareness…”

I realise that I’m starting to write posts about things that I can’t possibly cover without some context; without at least a brief introduction to how I’ve arrived where I have and why I’m even interested in some of these things in the first place.

Instantly, I’m taken right back to a vague, fragmented memory going way back to Year 3 in primary school, so I was probably about 8 or so. A teacher was telling us about “The World”, what’s expected of us, how we’ll eventually go off to work and earn money. I can’t remember exactly what she was talking about, but I remember my reaction being one of confusion. There was something about the things she said that didn’t make sense; they struck me as ‘wrong’ somehow, although I was so young that I had no framework with which to interpret or express this.

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1 – Have you ever been in conversation, and someone reacts to what they think of you rather than responding to what you've actually said? Have you ever made this 'move' yourself?

2 – Have you ever worried about a situation, and planned in advance exactly how to respond to it, only for it all to prove useless because the situation didn't turn out as you thought it would?

3 – Have you ever repeated a simple claim that you once heard someone make, simply because it sounded like it made sense, only to be left humiliated or forced into introspection and further research after being proven wrong?

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My head has been full of death since putting my dog to sleep earlier this year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been full of death for years before that too, but now it’s right at the forefront.

It’s not any kind of fear-driven obsession like it once was for me; more of a philosophical curiosity. After all, death can be thought of as a central theme of life itself.

It was rough to have her put to sleep, especially being that close to it as it happened. I told myself that dealing with the grief and emotional fallout of watching her die would have to wait until later – as it happened, it was only important to me that she saw I was with her at the end. I fucked up and wasn’t with one of my other dogs when he was put to sleep. I will make sure that never happens again.

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“I’ve met atheists who are more religious in their disbelief than most Christians are in their belief.”

Although I don’t believe in a god, I can’t call myself any kind of Atheist according to my own standards. To be an Atheist, I would have to originally ask the same question that’s presumably beneath most if not all religious belief; is there a god?

If I don’t ask myself that question – if nothing in nature brings me to that place, if nothing in my experience has me wondering over those words to myself, then I can’t be any kind of Atheist.

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