Monday, April 30, 2012

Psychotherapy and Metaphysics

A scientist friend of mine recently complained about psychologists and their inclination towards weasel responses. "...and how does that make you feel?" being, probably, the most stereotypical of those.

I think there are two main aspects to this issue.

One is that virtually all schools of psychotherapy are really just codifications of their founders' personal opinions. Those are based on more or less an amount of clinical experience, good intuition, and knowledge of human nature.

Since those schools strive to explain the whole of human behavior, require years of training, and are closely related to people's innermost emotional turbulences, they tend to evolve into quasi-religious metaphysical structures, a.k.a., worldviews.

To put it simply: There is no superego. It's just a construct that Freud came up with when he attempted to explain why people suffer from emotional ailments.

I think this is ridiculously obvious. Per se, it isn't bad either. It shouldn't actually bear mentioning -- except that, more often than not, I have the impression that therapists tend to overlook that fact. When people forget about the metaphysical, constructed nature of their methods' presuppositions, and treat them as fact, problems arise.

On the other hand, we do not seem to have anything better to offer, right now. Judging from my own experience, I submit that psychotherapy -- if it is at all effective -- mostly boils down to unconditional empathy, a safe place to talk about one's issues and face all emotions that might pop up, without being judged or put down. Well, and sometimes a friendly kick in the ass when you're about to shy away from that facing-it-all process. (Of course, I'm not talking about psychiatry here -- that's a whole different can of worms.)

On top of that, there may be a few fancy tricks, such as gestalt therapy's "empty chair", but I tend to consider them supportive acts rather than substantial to the process.

As far as therapy can deliver the aforementioned empathy and a safe place, and the price is somewhat reasonable, I do not have too much of a problem.

But I certainly think that it is important to keep in mind that all the fancy concepts behind the various methods -- TA's "parent/child ego-states", Fritz Perls' "gestalt", Freud's "id/ego/superego" -- are merely concepts that can help you talk about stuff, but at the same time, they may limit your thinking when you start taking them too seriously.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Forgetting the good practices

This one always baffles me.

Breathing with focus and visualizing the "energy flow" really helps. Every single time. As do a few other tricks I've discovered/developed over the years.

Now, recently I had a flu that had me in bed for a few days; one of my cats had a health issue that made me worry for his life, but it turned out to be fine. And while carrying him to the vet, I got myself a little back problem, but nothing too serious.

So, yeah, there were annoyances. But nothing was really bad.

And still, from waking up today until maybe 10 minutes ago - 7 hours or so - it never occurred to me to use even one of those little tricks.

I know I'm not alone in this. I've heard the same from several people.

So the question is - how can we successfully and reliably remind ourselves of all the good practices we've already found?

A few things come to mind:

Ritualize as much as possible. If you're used to doing your exercises regularly, chances are you'll "find" them again at the time you need them. And also, the rituals will help you be in a good state anyway, so you don't have to "go there" again and again, because you're already "there".

Do "in between" exercises. A few conscious breaths can be done anywhere, in the subway or at lunch or in the bathtub. Especially useful if done in public places that you like to frequent - say, your favourite pub or library.

Become aware of habits that, "by mere chance", seem to always coincide with bad moods. Such as eating heavy meals at night, or drinking too much.

Be aware of the timing. It seems that I sometimes wake up from weird dreams in a bad mood, and if I do nothing about it, I'll stay somewhat unhappy for the rest of the day.

What other helpful elements can you suggest?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ten Rules for Being Human

by Cherie Carter-Scott

1.You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it's yours to keep for the entire period.
2.You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, "life."
3.There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The "failed" experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately "work."
4.Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.
5.Learning lessons does not end. There's no part of life that doesn't contain its lessons. If you're alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.
6."There" is no better a place than "here." When your "there" has become a "here", you will simply obtain another "there" that will again look better than "here."
7.Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
8.What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
9.Your answers lie within you. The answers to life's questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.
10.You will forget all this.


Monday, April 23, 2012


You cannot fully describe a glass.

Go ahead, try it!

You can describe how it looks, how it feels. You can, at least theoretically, describe its history, who created it and when, who drank from it. You can describe its length, width, height, temperature, refraction rate, transparency, and a gazillion other factors.

And yet, you haven't fully described it. You cannot describe every last atom in it, along with its exact path through time and space. And even if you could - if you excuse, for a moment, the little dabbling in quantum mechanics here - as it seems, it might not only be practically impossible to describe a thing to its end, but also hypothetically impossible at the most fundamental level of the universe.

And yet, we somehow manage to think that, once we have labelled a person as retarded, evil, antisocial, a religious fanatic or an atheist amoral pig, or whatever other label you like to associate with your resentment - that this, then, should be enough to never, ever have to waste another thought on that one person again.

In short, we're all pathetic little hypocrites. And now, after we've meditated that for a while and got duly depressed, let's start laughing about it, and take it easy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Challenge To One's Worldview


  • Think of something that you wouldn't do under normal circumstances. As, for example, in my case, shooting a gun at another person.
  • Now think of circumstances that might make you do that, regardless. I might shoot someone if they shot me first. (Well, and if I had a gun.)
  • Now, assuming that those circumstances are met, think of circumstances that might keep you from doing that. If the other person started pleading, it might keep me from shooting them.
  • Go on until you run out of additional circumstances, or until it stops being fun.
I find that a rather interesting exercise, as it shows me what my real values are, and which value trumps which other value - in short, it confronts me with the "hierarchy" of my values.

Now for the real beef:

  • Do the same, but this time, think of taking advice from someone who vehemently opposes your worldview. For me, this might be a right-wing fundamentalist christian; say, a member of the Phelps family.
I say, this is not only a lot of fun, but it forces you to meet yourself at a level that you would normally avoid. It's a challenge to oneself, and it is just a mind-game so it is perfectly harmless. And I think we should challenge ourselves in ways like that way more often!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Experiment with breath, chakras, and a word

Here's a little experiment. It might take you 5-10 minutes or so:

  1. Choose some attribute that you like. For example, "creative", "enthusiastic", "motivated", "strong", etc.
  2. Think of that attribute.
  3. While thinking of that attribute, focus on the first chakra. Repeat the attribute in your head, while breathing into the first chakra.
  4. Then do the same for your second chakra, with the same word.
  5. Do you notice any difference? Which chakra "responded" stronger? Were there images popping up? Are the images for the second chakra different from the ones for the first chakra?
    Do not try to change anything. Just note it.
  6. Go on through all the chakras, from pelvic floor through solar plexus and heart, up to crown chakra.

Now take note of your feelings.

Did anything change? Was it a change you liked?

Now, you might want to decide to include this into your daily schedule. Or not. Your call.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Empathy, Reason, Presuppositional Apologetics

The following are very rough, and partly speculative, outlines of how I see empathy, reason, their interrelations, and what kinds of conditioning can overshadow one or the other. As one major example, I show how Presuppositional Apologetics serves as a mind-trick to block out those basic human capacities by way of circular logic and self-referential tautologies.

There are two major basic tools to help a human being connect with another human being: reason, and empathy.

1. Empathy as a visceral tool of connection

We use empathy to understand each other on a non-intellectual level.

We don't need to agree on anything in order to be able to empathize. Using empathy, we realize on a visceral, rather than an intellectual level, that we are all just humans, that we all suffer, that we all desire and love and hate and want our basic needs met, and have the same rights.

When I see a beggar on the street, my empathy triggers - it's not even voluntary. Sure, conditioning and thinking can interfere with empathy, can add a layer to numb it out, and it's sadly necessary to have that additional layer in a modern city where I encounter several beggars each day. In a similar way, the butcher cannot afford to empathize with the pork, and the surgeon cannot empathize with the person on whom she is performing open heart surgery. They have to habitually suppress their empathy with regard to their working material - otherwise, they simply couldn't do a good job. But that doesn't change the fact that there is an involuntary part in my brain going beep-beep, fellow human in trouble. (This is, of course, a hugely oversimplified example - in reality, a lot of unconscious factors play into this, such as the beggar's attractiveness, gender, age, etc.)

It is a capacity deeply ingrained in our brains, and rather astoundingly, it even extends to other species. I can totally empathize with my cats when they meow for their daily fix of Whiskas(R), even though they probably won't agree with me on climate change, or nuclear power, or atheism for that matter.

Interestingly, empathy doesn't seem to extend so much to slugs, snakes, poisonous spiders or the HI virus. It seems that the more removed from humans a species is on the tree of evolution, the less empathy it gets. To take it even further, I don't think anyone really empathizes with a rock - or with 2004 MN4 "Apophis", the asteroid who will probably hit earth in 2036, for that matter.

It is not a "perfect" tool, it is more like an axe than a razor. As such, it is a perfect example of a trait acquired through millions of years of evolution. (And that is also why every metaphysical, religious view of "love" as a superior aether or gift will always fail - it simply is not that.) But it is the best thing we've got for this very specific purpose - to help us connect with each other, and with our environment at large.

2. Reason as an intellectual tool of connection

We use reason to understand each other on an intellectual level.

And here, too, there is a large involuntary part. A trivial classic syllogism can show this: Once you've accepted that I'm a human being, and that all human beings are mortal, you will have a hard time not seeing that I am mortal.

Sure, you can deny it. And there are definitely circumstances that will keep you from seeing the obvious. But, in the absence of those circumstances, I bet that you cannot help going along with correct logic. (We can discuss whether this is an absolute, a necessary presupposition, or an arbitrary set of rules that just works, but that's beyond the scope of this article.) As soon as you have understood why time is relative, it is virtually impossible to convince yourself that it's not, regardless of how counterintuitive the concept seems.

The interesting part, of course, are the factors that can keep us from applying reason: If you're upset, if you have a strong emotion attached to the speaker, if what they say goes against your core beliefs, if you see it as a personal attack, etc.

The trouble is that reason is a much, much more fragile capacity than empathy. Maybe that's because we developed it way later in our evolution from happily floating cell to homo sapiens concerned with the stock index; and on a similar note, it's because reason is less visceral, and more intellectual - because it requires more neocortal activity, a.k.a., thinking - and thinking is hard work. (I'm not even being snide - spend a few hours on a complex philosophical riddle, and you'll see my point.)

But - as with empathy - reason, as fragile as it is, is the best thing we have to connect with each other intellectually.

3. Presuppositional Apologetics as an example of an ideology opposed to empathy and reason

When I watch a video of the likes of Eric Hovind debating an atheist, I cannot shake the impression that those people are not actually engaging in conversation. They seem to be running an automatic program, an autopilot in their head, listening out for a few keywords in whatever their proposed "conversational partner" says, and then spouting the canned answer that was drilled into them in their class on Presuppositionalism.

Now, sure enough, those "conversations" annoy the hell out of me, and they sometimes have me up in arms and annoyed and angry. And I can totally empathize with myself on that.

But ultimately, based on empathy and reason and the understanding they grant, I think I can present a fairly clear picture of what's going on here.

See, people like Eric Hovind have - for whatever personal reason, deliberately or by force - intoxicated their brains with an ideology that blocks it from its own capacities.

Just like alcohol or heroin, Presuppositionalism gives an empty and treacherous promise: the promise that, using it, you can win any debate with an atheist, any time, anywhere.

This promise is empty in that debates cannot be won - in most cases, people walk away having their own prejudices reaffirmed, instead of shaken. It would be interesting to see some stats here - christians, I dare you: When you look at bare numbers, do you actually see a significant surplus of lasting conversions in Presuppositionalist debates as opposed to Thomist ones? If so, I would have to retract that statement. I highly doubt that I ever will...

But the promise is also treacherous: What Presuppositionalism actually does, has nothing to do with apologetics at all. It does not actually have any effect on the brains of the "opponents", the atheists (except, perhaps, the effect of getting them rather annoyed) - but it does have a massive effect on the brains of its proponents, the very apologists who learn that stuff for better conversion stats.

Presuppositionalism starts off with a simple, and as such, innocent premise: The world can only be understood by presupposing god's existence. This is a neat speculation, rather fascinating if done well, and I would sure like to see it in a few pages of fiction à la "The Name Of The Rose".

The presuppositionalist will then venture to say that this assumption is not only one random assumption, but a necessary assumption. The necessary asssumption, in fact. In order to understand the world, it is not only necessary to assume god's existence, but it is also necessary to assume that it is necessary to assume god's existence. Are you confused? Good! Because that's the desired effect! Because if you're confused, it's even easier to tell you what to think.

Because that's not at all where it ends. Instead, it moves on to then forget that this was an assumption, and treat the assumption as if it were a given fact. All in the name of "overcoming the enemy", "being a good christian", "being a good defender of the faith", etc. etc.

It's a bait-and-switch maneuver, plain and simple. It is based on the fact that self-referential assertions can serve to reinforce themselves because trivial tautologies work as reinforcement and the self-reference helps to induce a comforting trancey feeling (in short, a trance). As another example, "The gospel is foolishness to the fools who deny it" serves to reinforce the truth of the gospel while neatly setting up a boogey-man that will further drill the truth of the message into your brain. That sentence does not, itself, set up the truth of the gospel in any way - but, if you're a believer, it makes you feel as if it did. Real-life Jedi mind trick FTW!

Once you've fallen for this trick, your brain simply shuts down. You were taught that you have to treat this assumption as necessary, in order to achieve a goal that is dear to your heart. And then the speaker just silently treats the necessary assumption as fact. And since you believed it anyway, you will lap it up like the cats do with their milk. And since, in all likelihood, you didn't receive any formal training in philosophy, it is terribly easy to overlook the subtle distinction between a necessary assumption, and a fact. You cannot question what you think is fact, and you keep telling yourself that you have to treat the assumption as fact, in order to achieve a goal that is dear to your heart. And then the speaker just silently treats the necessary assumption as fact. You cannot question what you think is fact, and you keep telling yourself... etc. etc.

It is not a trivial task to reason your way out of that trap, and I deeply admire everyone who has managed to do so. The matter gets further complicated by the fact that every religion contains an impressive number of circular statements, which seem to support each other, so it's easy to believe that the whole system is coherent.

3. Back to the roots

But what makes it outright evil is that it cripples your ability to connect with other people, be it emotionally or intellectually. I suspect that this is the main reason why it is popular - just as scientology's "personality tests" are not actually meant to fetch in new customers. Just as Jehova's Witnesses are not made to go door to door in order to gain followers. That may be a nice side-effect, but the real motivation is to keep the sheep in place: by facing the obvious hostility of nonbelievers, the believers become ever more convinced of their religion. By rendering communication with outsiders impossible, the hostility factor is amplified.

Nothing better blocks our ability to empathize, or to think straight, than an emotionally charged, self-referential system of thought. And that is precisely what Presuppositionalism amounts to: the explicit and implicit denial of reason. It is highly ironic to see that Van Till, the inventor of modern Presuppositionalism, designed his system because he was frustrated with traditional Thomistic apologetics - whose main tenet is that reason, as the common ground between the believer and the non-believer, is to be used as the basis for any attempt at conversion.

Seeing Eric Hovind in a debate, I cannot help pity him and other proponents of Presuppositionalism. They have succumbed to a brainwashing technique. They have removed themselves from the playing field. They cannot reach out to their fellow-men, and have to see people like me as fools, liars, enemies. They have to assume that I'm writing this in hatred, spite, with dark sinister motivations. They cannot read this and actually think about it - their brains will automatically go clickedy-click, atheist, doesn't know anything, has to be converted. Well-conditioned, they have reduced themselves to a state far below their own abilities.

I am deeply convinced that those people are actually intelligent, decent folks. As I said above, they're not evil - they're just intoxicated. You cannot trust a drunk person with a car, but that doesn't make them evil - they just shouldn't have access to your car keys, that's all.

All the more, I think it is important that we empathize and reason with those who have fallen into such intellectual traps. Not in a condescending way - those tricks can be played on basically anyone, including myself. But simply in the hopes that they can find back to their own powers, their own capacities, their own strength of empathy and reason.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Thunderf00t vs Kent Hovind at Reason Rally

At the recent "Reason Rally" event, well-known youtube atheist activist Thunderf00t was - umm, well - "interviewed" by creationist Eric Hovind, son of Kent Hovind.

I won't go into the details of how the conversation went down, as all of it has been covered extensively by others. (The following video is one example out of many.)

Suffice it to say that it was a textbook example of presuppositional apologetics, pre-planned and well-designed to make a scientist look bad, simply because the scientist tried to honestly answer questions that were by no means honest.

I think that episodes like this raise a more general question: Do I, as an atheist, want to engage in debates like that? Do I want to train strategies for "winning" those debates?

1. The issue of "winning"

To me, the issue of "winning" a debate is a rather weird concept.

Part of that weirdness seems to stem from cultural heritage. I have the impression that, in the anglo-american countries, debates are more or less seen as sportive events. There is a rich tradition of formalized debates there, that we continentals simply lack.

If you watch a "discussion" in an Austrian or German tv show, you will see 4-8 people talking past and above each other, while a rather desperate moderator tries to maintain some modicum of order.

An American "debate", on the other hand - say between Kent Hovind and Sam Harris - is a strictly formalized exchange of blows between two opponents in several rounds. The two participants are not, actually, engaging in communication with each other - they are performing a stage-play for the audience, much like the ongoing drama of professional Wrestling. And, of course, everybody goes home with the firm confidence that "their side" has won.

Call me naive, but I tend to think that discussions should be entered with an open mind and an open heart. I tend to think that discussions are an exchange of ideas that may or may not change my thinking. Ritualized exchanges of rhetorics and clever semantics designed to make the other party look like a fool simply have no part in a discussion like that.

Of course, I do not stand above the crowd. I do enjoy those shows just as much as any other dude.

On the other hand, it would be nice to see an actual honest discussion between a theist and an atheist, for once.

2. The resulting questions

The question resulting from all this is whether you, as an atheist, want to engage in public debates, recognize them as sportive events, and learn the strategies necessary for "winning". Thunderf00t clearly failed to do so. I cannot tell whether this was his conscious personal choice, or whether he conforms to the stereotype of "naive scientist" mentioned above.

And, of course, I cannot speak for all atheists.

I want to urge everyone to see that many apologists out there do engage in debate tactics. (I think there are  courses out there on "how to win any debate with any atheist, every time" or so.)

On the one hand, you can see debates as a sport, and train yourself to firmly keep the ball in your opponent's field, using deception, always attacking, repeating yourself until the other party gives up, and so on. It does make you seem like a winner. And it sure is a lot of fun.

On the other hand, you might choose to always try and be as honest as you can, in any debate.

In the latter case, I also urge you to ask yourself what to do when a debate like that comes up. It is perfectly valid to simply refuse to engage in it and walk away. You can choose to have the debate, but not in front of a camera (Thunderf00t clearly didn't have those possibilities - he had something to lose!). You may choose to have the debate, at a later point, in private.

If, however, you choose to engage in (public) debates with a schooled apologist, without having been schooled in counter-apologetics yourself, you will most likely be blown to pieces in mid-air. It's not a question of intelligence or quick wit. It's simply a question of having learned the techniques and being prepared to apply them without any regard for the other person's feelings, or for logic, rationality or really anything that could step in the way of "winning". It's a battle of egos, nothing more and nothing less.

Another possibility might be that we atheists have our own schools of counter-apologetics. These would then have to be actual practical courses, instead of mere lectures on logic. You do not learn rhetorics just from a lecture - you have to train that stuff, much like boxing, until it becomes automatic.

Personally, I would like to engage in a course like that. If not anything else, it should be a whole lot of fun!  I'm fairly certain that I would still like to avoid the actual debates, though, for reasons mentioned above. But it definitely can't hurt to be able to counter stupid rhetorics.

Enemies Of The Faith? Enemies Of Believers?

Dear Mr Rowan Williams,

It's easter time. Time of eggs, bunnies, and funny utterances by members of several ritualistic organisations.

For one example, there is this gem: "Guardian" Interview with "bishop" Rowan Williams, in which you are quoted as having a few very interesting stances about "new atheism" and its relationship towards your organisation.

Let me first say that I find it rather funny when a "bishop" of the roman catholic organisation demands a reasonable debate.  I don't want to bash you personally; after all, there is no compulsory sex demanded by law, and having no sense of style in clothing is your personal prerogative, but I cannot help a little chuckle at such an occasion.

I sure hope that you can share in my laugh, though, when I read a few sentences later that "resurrection is a fact".

I will not start to repeat arguments that have fallen on deaf ears for centuries now. I suggest a little experiment you can conduct for yourself in the peace of your living room: Say "reasonable", aloud, ten times. Now do the same for "resurrection".  Now combine the two - "reasonable, resurrection, reasonable, resurrection..." And now try not to laugh.

As I said above, apart from a little friendly teasing, I won't bash you personally.

You see, I think that we should heed the fundamental difference between a person and their beliefs.

In said article, you state that "faith [is] no longer seen as 'a brainless and oppressive enemy' but recognised as a potential ally against a greedy and individualistic way of life that feels 'increasingly insane'".

There are several major issues with that one sentence.

1. Enemies Of The Faith

Abstract: Mr Williams, I am not your enemy, even though I find the teachings your organisation represents to be nonsensical, unfounded and debilitating to the human mind.

First off, faith cannot be an ally or an enemy. We might count this off as just a figure of speech, a lapsus linguae. But the catholic teaching specifically states that Jesus of Nazareth was (and still IS!) "the way, the truth, and the life", and not in a merely figurative way. Indeed, the church's teachings, along with every other religious teaching, are full to the brim with metaphysical entities such as faith, sin, the messiah, the trinity - all said to be "real" in some way. Not simply a metaphor, an image representing something else - no, they're supposed to be real, actual entities. The essential wafer after transubstantiation, to name one of the more absurd ones.

So, seeing as you are an official of said organisation, we have to assume that you're not talking about teachings and logical structures, but about some etherial, hidden, mystical "entity". You are essentially saying that atheists are seeing faith as a metaphysical entity that they can ally with.

Now, of course, atheists can and will sometimes be exactly as unreasonable as theists. Merely recognizing the nonexistence of a deity does not a mature human being make.

Anthropomorphisation is one of the nastiest, most resilient scourges of humanity (as well as one of the most beautiful poetic expressions, of course). It is deeply rooted in our biological system (what you like to call "soul"), serves a few very fundamental purposes, and is an unfathomably dangerous weapon in the hands of demagogues and church leaders.

The good news is that we can educate ourselves not to fall into that trap. Thus (whenever I'm not simply talking tongue-in-cheek and having some teasing in good humour), I habitually make a point of distinguishing between a person and their ideas. You, Mr Williams, are, for all I know, a decent, loving, caring, intelligent, well-educated human being. I might be wrong, since I don't know you, but I'm happy to assume the best about people I don't know, until otherwise proven.

But that doesn't mean that I have to agree with anything you say.

In fact, the teachings of your organisation thrive on such human flaws. They are specifically designed to do just that. They are a highly sophisticated, intricate system of flawed logic - circular, adhominem, no-true-scotsmanesque syllogisms interwoven with invitations for identification, us-vs-them thinking, reification, hyperbole, guilt-tripping, double binds and simple denial - built upon each other and resting on unfounded assertions.

And that, Mr Williams, I see as a huge problem.

Try thinking that the church is the "body of christ", that christ died for your sins, that you are a labourer in the vineyard, and that someone is attacking this very body-church-vineyard-thingie by saying that christ's teachings are utter nonsense. And then try to stay calm. You'll have to be an iceberg to be able to accomplish that with any consistence.

2. An Ally Against A Certain Way Of Life

Abstract: Religious teachings are generally a hindrance, not a tool, for human development.

I agree that greed is bad. I fail to see any reasonable connection between the belief in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth on the one hand, and overcoming greed on the other hand. On top of that, I fail to see how being an individual, and being conscious of being an individual, have anything to do with being greedy. (The "individualism is bad" stance that the catholic organisation has adopted is deeply troubling in and of itself, but more of that later.)

In reality, compassion and rationality are the mental capabilities that can help me overcome my greed. Both can be trained using various methods, and those methods are available to atheists as much as theists. Some of those methods are described in this very blog. But ultimately, everybody has to find their own ways to deal with their shortcomings, and - apart from my own experience and a few informed speculations - I cannot offer any bulletproof system for overcoming vice; and neither can you. If you claim that you can, then please show the evidence.

Well and also, compassion and reality can be scientifically shown to be grounded in human biology - I fancy this as a slight, but definite advantage over a metaphysical overlord who sacrificed himself to himself in order to set humanity free from the punishment he himself imposed upon them in the first place.

If anything, the us-vs-them mentality endorsed by the christian gospels - as well as the catholic teachings purportedly grounded upon those gospels - serve to maintain one's greed while hiding it behind a mask of piety. Do I really need to mention the gold-and-silk escapades of your organisation as one very obvious example?

I will not venture to claim that christians are, on average, more greedy than atheists. But I challenge you to show, based on peer-reviewed academical studies, that people of faith are less greedy than us grim dark heathens.

In conclusion, every christian, hindu, muslim, buddhist, even scientologist can be my friend, and can be an ally in dealing with all the challenges we are currently facing - but that doesn't change the fact that I find the teachings of all those religions ridiculous, destructive and - well, simply plain old wrong.

I am looking forward to your reply,

With kind regards,
Betlamed the Skeptic Tantrika

Sunday, April 8, 2012

TEDxSF - Nicole Daedone - Orgasm: The Cure for Hunger in the Western Woman

Nicole Daedone is a sought-after speaker, author, and educator focusing on the intersection between orgasm, intimacy, and life. She is the founder of OneTaste, a cutting-edge company bringing a new definition of orgasm to women. The practice at the heart of her work is called OM or Orgasmic Meditation. OM uniquely combines the tradition of extended orgasm with Nicole's own interest in Zen Buddhism, mystical Judaism and semantics. Helping to foster a new conversation about orgasm —one that's real, relevant, and intelligent—she has inspired thousands of students to make OM a part of their everyday lives.

I agree with almost everything said in the video - but let me add the following:

Change will NOT come from turned-on women ALONE, whether in the west or wherever.

Change will come from turned-on PEOPLE of all genders and sexual orientations.

Let's be sexual. And please, please, PLEASE, let's be TOGETHER in this! Whether male, female, shemale, whatever. Let's be openly sexual.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hey... I just found out:

I'm a somewhat jollux, but intellectually illecebrous guy who really loves to deliciate, but not to brabble (except when it's about matters related to bribesy in a brannigan).

Have I got you reasonably jargogled? Then go look at!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Just say Yes

Say Yes to that annoying neighbour. Say Yes to smelly subway cars. Say Yes to babies piercing your ears at frequencies hitherto unencountered by humankind. Say Yes to stupid tv ads. Say Yes to your bad moods. Say Yes to anxiety attacks and depression.

Say Yes to what you're proud of. Say Yes to what you're thankful for. Say Yes to your beauty, inner and outer. Say Yes to your partner, to your loneliness, to your desire for touch, to your independence. Say Yes to friends and family.

This is an EXERCISE. I don't say that you HAVE to say Yes, from now on, every time. I'm only suggesting that you give it a try, once.

I find it tremendously rewarding, empowering, and satisfying.