Sunday, December 16, 2012

On guns

When the media starts reporting something so pervasively that it's all over your television, your radio, and your Internet, odds are extremely high that something fishy is going on. Since the Columbine massacre in 1999, school shootings and related massacres have been focused on with absurd intensity, culminating in this year's reporting on the recent mass killings in Colorado and Connecticut.

This is done using a technique indicating a kind of bias by story selection. If someone wants to run a story on the drastic decline in school shootings that has been occurring over the last several decades, but someone else wants to run a story on a recent school shooting, the recent school shooting story will be given the go-ahead. The aim of this is to passively give the audience the impression that, because an event is "newsworthy," it is a common event. Never mind that, for every report that makes it to air, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of other potential stories; only the ones that actually make it scale up to the bigger picture of society at large.

Most people don't travel very far in their daily lives. Even taking into account commutes to work that are an hour or two long, few people work several states away from their place of residence, let alone across the country -- or across the world. Additionally, the average person tends to selectively absorb information that is most beneficial for him or her to absorb; if you like football, you're not going to actively seek out information about cricket, and if you're a Christian, you're not going to actively seek out information about Islam, or Norse paganism. Are you a big fan of heavy metal? If you are, you're statistically unlikely to read up on post-war jazz or psychedelic trance.

What this seems to imply is that, because most of us are so stubbornly attached to those artifacts of culture which define us as individuals, all that the media has to do is present us with a few incidents while selectively ignoring contrary incidents, and we'll just assume that the world "is" the way that the media has decided to portray it this time. We're too ignorant and lazy to peer review what the media presents us with.

To most people, there are only a few types of music: rock, rap, pop, jazz, classical. To most people, there are only a few religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism. To most people, there are only a few political ideologies: conservatism, liberalism, libertarianism, centralism. To most people, there are only a few things happening in the world in general, and almost all of the "important" ones make it to our televisions and computer screens.

How silly.

We tend to forget just how large the number "one million" really is, let alone "one billion." The speed with which information gets to us makes us feel as though the world is far smaller than it actually is; the consequence is that the dozen or so worldly events that we hear about during a month come to paint a picture of a small, physical landscape where such events predominate, and the organizations in charge of presenting us the events can pick and choose at their leisure.

There are a few reasons for why the media might want to passively suggest to the American public that we're facing some kind of "mass killing" epidemic:

1. Gun control advocates who want to ban all gun ownership outright

2. Pharmaceuticals companies who want to sell their products to psychiatric patients with arbitrary "mood disorders"

3. Lobbyists interested in censoring violence in popular media, like movies and video games

Perhaps the thousands of events reported to the police that we never hear about are not so much unrepresentative of social trends as they are irrelevant to a particular body's pursuit of wealth and power.

Here are some burglary facts:

1. More than seventy percent of burglaries occur during the daytime.

2. The favored time of day to commit a burglary is between 7:00 and 10:00 AM -- after you've gone to work and the kids have left for school. It's highly unusual for a burglar to actually run into his victim.

3. The majority of burglaries are the result of doors being left unlocked.

4. Many burglaries are perpetrated by neighbors.

5. Burglary is incredibly rare in the United States to begin with; out of around 112 million homes, only a little over 2 million get burglarized every year -- a little under two percent. Most of those burglaries occur in areas where job creation is difficult and crime is high in general, meaning that the majority of that 2 million figure will never leave the same concentrated metropolitan areas. In other words, if you've never been burgled, don't expect that to change anytime soon -- and if it does, you'll be several times more likely to be at work than waking up in a cold sweat at 4:00 AM from the hideous sound of your door being kicked in!

Movies, dramatized reenactments, and commercials aimed at getting us to buy junk will tell a different story, but the numbers don't lie.

So what about school shootings and other similar mass killings? Aren't quiet, skinny, geeky guys starting to lose their minds because of social withdrawal and violent video games?

Well, not really. School shootings have been going on since at least the 1970s, and there were more incidents involving gunfire on school property during the 80s than either the 90s or the 00s. The year before the Columbine massacre, an incident in Oregon left 22 wounded and 2 dead, but it was completely overshadowed by the Columbine story. Why is everyone familiar with "Eric and Dylan" but not ol' Kip Kinkel? Could it be because he struggled in school and wound up enrolled in special education courses? That's not exactly the typical picture of a smart, withdrawn guy going crazy; you can't push an agenda when the perpetrator doesn't fit into your view of the trend.

Here's what the National School Safety Center has to say about gun-related deaths in schools during the 90s:

1992–1993 (44 Homicides and 55 Deaths resulting from school shootings in the U.S.)
1993–1994 (42 Homicides and 51 Deaths resulting from school shootings in the U.S.)
1994–1995 (17 Homicides and 20 Deaths resulting from school shootings in the U.S.)
1995–1996 (29 Homicides and 35 Deaths resulting from school shootings in the U.S.)
1996–1997 (23 Homicides and 25 Deaths resulting from school shootings in the U.S.)
1997–1998 (35 Homicides and 40 Deaths resulting from school shootings in the U.S.)
1998–1999 (25 Homicides from school shootings in the U.S.)
1999–2000 (25 Homicides from school shootings in the U.S.)

Quite a drop! Even if the numbers start to go back up someday, just remember that the increase is terribly, terribly insignificant. What if, say, one hundred school massacres occur next year, in contrast to the four or five that have happened so far this decade? There are nearly 100,000 public schools in the United States, so even that highly significant increase would only amount to a 0.1% likelihood of you ever seeing a gun in your school (right now, it's something like 0.006%).

This is stupid. Considering the outright disappearance of pistol duels among gentleman and riots instigated by unruly gangs -- phenomena once prevalent in the 18th and 19th centuries -- violence is just about the least of our concerns today. Why don't we start reporting on things that matter -- like false medical diagnoses, increases in anxiety disorders, alcohol-related suicides, or, you know, the fourteen percent of the species that's starving to death?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Human Animal

We'll resume our observation of the animal kingdom shortly. For now, we turn our gaze back to humanity.

Humans are culture agents. Culture, as a function of genotype, encourages the promulgation of any memes which increase the likelihood of genetic success. This does not have to occur at the level of the individual; after all, it does not occur at the level of the gene itself in any scenario. Because "nature" is inefficient, its causes rarely result in a "kernel" mechanism being transported in the absence of impurities. To any particular gene, your body is the food to its vitamin or mineral: Waste is assumed to come along for the ride. This, of course, contrasts immensely against our technology, but that's another topic for another time.

Although no living CEO, marketing analyst, economist, systems engineer, or architect would ever fathom doing this with specifics, culture, as a function of the natural world, will do whatever it takes to get genetically beneficial memes into the future -- even if it means the unsuccessful reproduction of the originator or original promoter of the memes. In short, whether you directly benefit from your own ideas is irrelevant to their success within your social group.

Nevertheless, most people tend to believe that their ideas benefit them personally, even where they objectively do not, or where there is some ounce of something beneficial, but nothing substantive to the point of making the idea relatively beneficial. This is a huge problem which essentially underpins why individual humans cannot be trusted to rule themselves, preside over others, or make useful modifications to existing systems: As agents of culture, they are unwittingly participating in that deterministic, subatomic foray -- an abstraction independent of time, and thus unchangeable -- with predominant strands of DNA as its core mechanism of cause and effect.

Why should we trust ourselves to make decisions regarding what's best for us, what will most effectively reduce our pleasure to suffering ratio? We were born with brains designed for use in a "middle" world -- not the world of atoms, and not the world of black holes -- as depicted on the African Savannah. We're good at simple calculations like whether the risk in hunting a mammoth is worth the reward in a particular case, but we're terrible at determining whether our career paths are most likely to make us happy. We're good at carving lion gods from ivory, but we're terrible at counting to a billion in a realistic period of time.

So we have computers do it for us -- at least, in the latter example. No one person on Earth could mine a cave for raw materials and come back a few hours later with a computer mouse. Why don't we do the same for the former, then? Why don't we utilize complex algorithms -- or their precursors in the forms of independent, peer-reviewed standards organizations -- to determine how each one of us, as aggregates of desires and emotions, can live best? We may not be able to pull it off yet, but shouldn't it be in the works?

Our senses are notoriously unreliable. You may be dozens or even hundreds of meters off when assessing a large distance using only your eyes. People take inanimate objects in their periphery to be shadow beings, only to turn their heads and realize that they had been mistaken. An uttered sentence fragment may sound like something that isn't, contrary to the listener's protestations. Our opinions suck.

The prevailing hand shaping our opinions today is that subset of culture known as media -- an unfortunately anti-empirical, purely anecdotal device. Technology has allowed media to usurp religion, but who the hell would ever find gratification in replacing one despot with another? Conspiracy theories, "us versus them" notions, and the "evil mastermind" card aside, the answer is still, well, the despots.

Actually, it isn't. The more accurate answer, even if many a documentary maker doesn't want to hear it, is that all members of government, lobbies, or corporate entities, no matter how rich, no matter how powerful, no matter how comfortable, also have terrible opinions, and are equally victims of media. The military-industrial complex, Google, and anti-smoking lobbies are just as much a part of the meme agenda as the average guy on the street. This implies not that a small few are keeping the majority in line while benefiting from the latter's sheepishness, but that all humans currently alive are being "controlled" by poor values.

These values may be beneficial to the myopic system known as nature, who only "cares" about immediate results, but they are not only bad for the planet in the long run, they're bad for everyone alive. Were we to eliminate the monetary system, the psychotherapy paradigm, democracy, and the agenda of life itself, we would all be much happier.

It's one thing to be a rich CEO with a collection of private jets, but it's another altogether to be incapable of experiencing clinical depression, or systemically unlikely to experience fear of hackers, burglars, and scammers. What's more likely to be better for you? A bank account so full that only an absurdly minute portion will ever be used to purchase any kind of material goods, or a value system acknowledging the importance of both freedom from attachments and science as a tool for discovering social benefits, regardless of cost-effectiveness? The very pursuit of wealth is generally stressful, laden with paranoia, and high-risk. At the very least, there is fear of a revolt of "the masses," but ruthlessly fighting the competition, struggling to protect your interests, or ignoring the subtle pleasures of life are all a surefire way of inviting in very real -- and totally superfluous -- psychological duress.

Of course, it is still true that the rich benefit more from the presiding value system and its physical implements than everyone else, but the difference is insignificant relative to the difference between the middle class and upper class as a whole on the one hand, and what society would look like with independent peer review utilizing the scientific method to determine best practices for psychological wellness on the other. New medical practices; cures for aging; the permanent blocking of pain receptors; highly individuated, fully immersive, simulated fantasy worlds; abundance managed from the ground-up by computer algorithms "in charge" of a checkout system; dynamic, agile refinement in the place of complete system overhauls every few years -- none of these are profitable to any corporation on the planet!

Opting for something simpler may make you more money now, but what if you were to completely shut down your business, stop working altogether, research the open source and the innovative, then attend weekly seminars with other former corporate stockholders in a United Nations-like environment aimed at understanding the universe? The "scientific community" is there for this, but it has been relegated to a mere aid where it should be a guide. Besides, it currently relies on funding and donations, and is generally impeded by bureaucracy; if what you're looking into isn't going to benefit a powerful body, don't expect to get any money to fund your experiments.

In any case, our computers should be far more powerful now than they currently are; our search engines should be far more accurate than now, with their sloppy results, pointless hand-holding, and imposed inefficiencies; the average mind should be far more methodological, far more systematic than it currently is, but pandering to those who are stupid enough to click on Internet ads is more profitable than pandering to those who are most likely to make life awesome.

Why should YouTube be a video library with nothing but filmed college lectures, debates, and material inspiring us to live more efficiently, critically, and happily when it can be a place for pop music, makeup tutorials, and movie trailers? Who makes money when you learn something on the Internet? Who makes money from you figuring out how to better make your own money? Who makes money from you building something better than what everyone else makes money from? If we were not so enslaved by our own ideas and the lack of a real process for refining those ideas, we would all benefit, and the guys at the top would be much better off than they are today.

Monetary gain is still championed as the highest ideal by society because of this value disorder. Even though the notion that having more money is the equivalent of experiencing a better life is false for all of the above reasons, it's still causing our media to shape us into emotion-driven consumers. Anti-smoking lobbyists have succeeded in demonizing cigarettes, and although those are probably not the best things to consume, they have a far less negative net effect than alcohol. The Super Bowl shows us why we have been conditioned to think the opposite of the reality: because it's profitable.

Never mind that I have never met a social drinker who does not have at least one or two horror stories to tell about the time that they woke up somewhere unfamiliar, accidentally drove a car, slept with someone whom they shouldn't have, woke up feeling absolutely terrible the next day, or embarrassed themselves to the point of their coworkers perceiving them differently. Although these obviously stupid and unwanted consequences outweigh any minor social benefit of fitting into a crowd, young people drink far more now than they smoke, even in spite of smoking possessing almost zero potential to harm others.

Additionally, consuming several alcoholic drinks in a night on a weekly basis -- "drinking to get drunk" -- has been demonstrated by studies to drastically increase the likelihood of alcohol dependency later in life, and is pretty terrible for your health. Personally, I'd rather die of lung cancer at 70 than of cirrhosis at 50, or live a life replete with awful headaches and other physical withdrawal symptoms, domestic violence, and depression.

How can these memes flip in just a few decades? Changes in power structures. If you want to get ahead, the best way is to "push" people into a beneficial direction, and the best way to do that is to influence lobby groups into putting together unscientific smear campaigns. Chances are that if you believe in something strongly, it's because someone is making money from the physical effects of your belief, and has orchestrated an agenda to this end. Further, chances are also quite high that if you're living a life defined by shopping for clothes, listening to repetitive music, doing drugs, or following celebrities on Twitter, someone is profiting immensely from your lowest-common-denominator approach to the human experience; this "someone" may not have orchestrated such cultural degeneration, but upon realizing the potential for a trend to emerge, they certainly didn't bother to stop it.

School shootings, unfortunately, are no different. Gun control advocates play an important role in United States politics. The result? You can't go a half hour without running into pictures of President Obama wiping tears from his eyes as he describes a recent shooting as an "atrocity." Let's all continue to ignore the millions of years of elephants being eaten alive -- not because a quick shot to the head once in a while over the course of a few hundred years is objectively worse than being eaten alive once in a while over the course of a few million, but because we want gun control*!

Don't believe me? Find a CNN article on the most recent massacre and see how many comments you can make it through before some kind of gun-related policy discussion takes place. We need to wake up, but not because we're being controlled by an elite group. We need to wake up because we're allowing our own stupidity to shape us into predictable culture zombies, regardless of our social class.

* Gun control in some form is probably a good idea, because the majority of shootings in the first world are the result of accidents in a domestic environment, usually involving children. You are more likely to be paralyzed for life from a car accident than from a bullet wound to the spine. The problem isn't the guns, of course; it's the "gun culture," or more accurately, the paranoia culture, again, promulgated by the media (there are conflicting interests competing, remember?). In any case, take a look at any Crips neighborhood or read any anecdote from the Old West and tell me with a straight face that everyone possessing a gun is a good idea.

Encouragement of domestic insecurity also encourages avoidable suffering, whether in the form of unnecessary fear or actual bullet wounds. Just because four out of ten media items have to do with guns (I'm making this up for the sake of the point being illustrated) doesn't mean that four out of ten calamities in the real world involve guns. Do not allow culture to subjectively impress incidence statistics onto you anecdotally or vicariously.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Comment moderation

Just a quick notice: Comment moderation has been enabled to deter trolls. Going forward, if you post a comment on this blog, it will not make it unless it contains a point of some kind -- whether supporting or contrary. If your comment does not contain a point and is instead intended to rile or provoke purely for its own sake, it will not be published.

Nature Fact of the Day: Lions

Ever heard of canine distemper? Probably not, but it's a somewhat widespread disease among domestic dogs. It's not terribly common in the wild, but it does happen there, too. Considering that canines have existed for millions of years, it has probably destroyed the lives of many.

It also affects felines. Here's a lion having a seizure as a result of it.

Imagine being in this position: You've been on Earth for ten years, stealing corpses from females of your species who are actually fast enough to kill their own prey, harboring absolutely no regard for said females' well-being. You spend ninety-five percent of your existence extremely pissed at everything that gets in your way, including your own children, who you routinely swat in the face mercilessly while trying to nap -- because, hey, they're annoying, right? On the rare occasion that you actually get some action from one of the female lions, she sinks her humongous claws into your thigh mere seconds after copulation has completed, because she's moody and fickle.

To some, not having to work to get a meal might sound like the ultimate existence, but if you're agitated the entire time, where's the fun?

Angry and in bully mode from birth to death or not, you're still the king of the jungle, though, right? You'll probably die at eighteen of old age, sleeping peacefully under a tree as your heart gives out. You caused dozens upon dozens of organisms to suffer horribly, but someone had to come out on top; that's the whole point of the struggle of nature.

Except that you didn't really win anything, and you're not going to die peacefully under that tree. You're probably going to die in a bloody fight to the death against rival males -- and, surviving five or six of those in your lifetime, maybe you'll die of starvation after being deposed by a young stud, who will subsequently proceed to hold your family hostage and murder your children.

Or maybe you'll have upwards of five muscle-wrecking seizures in a day, feeling completely out of control and utterly exhausted as some invisible force slowly annihilates you, capitalizing on your ignorance and lack of any capability to fight back.

The real kings of the jungle are all viruses and bacteria.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Nature Fact of the Day: Chimps 2

Today, I figured that we'd keep the chimpanzee theme going, what with their genetic closeness to humans being touted as some kind of reason to pay them special attention relative to other sentient organisms.

Chimps may be able to recognize themselves in a mirror, but do they understand that other organisms cease to exist? Nope. The below video showcases a baby chimp playing with a mummified corpse. The mother of the deceased infant went on to carry the mummy around with her for 68 days. I doubt that they're necrophiliacs, so my guess is that these animals just thought the thing was sleeping the whole time.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Nature Fact of the Day: Chimps

I don't know how often I'll be doing this, but I think it's worth trying out. Not every post will come with a supporting video, but I'll try to find something when I can.

Today's fact:

Chimpanzees murder and eat the children of their neighbors. We totally need to ramp up our conservation efforts to keep these guys alive! Humans, on the other hand, are pure evil for flying planes into buildings.

Personally, I'd rather cause violence because the order of the cosmos as depicted in my religion depends on it than because my tummy's growling (see: not-starving), but that's just me.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Should we leave nature to its own devices?

I don't normally present video evidence of particulars for fear of unwittingly appealing to emotion, but I am starting to realize that few people have any concrete sense of what, exactly, "nature" is -- and why it's so dauntingly important that we conquer and, ultimately, destroy it.

Whatever your thoughts on human sexuality, legality, the monetary system, academia, or transhumanism, whatever your qualms with this blog, whatever you think of me, put all of it aside for the sake of this post. This is long overdue; I'm surprised that I hadn't gotten around to making this one sooner.

The Nature Premise

Most polar bear cubs die within their first year of life. If you were to Google this assertion right now, you would be overwhelmed by man-hating articles sensationalizing global warming as a dire crisis; after all, more polar bear cubs die within their first year of life now due to melting ice caps. While I agree that recklessly plundering an island governed by closed system dynamics will increase suffering, it is crucial that we understand that most polar bear cubs died within their first year of life long before humans had any substantive impact on the ecology of the Earth.

Does it matter if we change the number from fifty percent to seventy percent? Is fifty percent acceptable only because the direct cause doesn't know any better? This chain of logic is frighteningly absurd and anti-empathic. When earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis devastate human populations, the non-religious among us note the tragic nature of the event as well as the lack of purpose, goals, or intentions inherent in the destruction -- yet, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis have nothing to do with environmental plundering by humans. We cannot sentence a volcano to a life in prison for the horror that it has wrought upon a town, but we nevertheless note that its interference with our suffering ratio was unfortunate and is something to be preempted for the future. Surely, if we care enough about our own suffering to stop nature from "taking its course" against us, we can do the same for other species, who are no less deserving, and are often cared for in captivity.

Clearly, many of us care deeply about what happens to our species, regardless of whether an incident of suffering is anthropogenic. We consider an eradicated population to be a freak accident, a burp from nature to prepare for and prevent in the future. When thirty people die during a relatively intense hurricane in the United States, not only does the news media abstract the unfortunate fates of the victims for intensive coverage, they also beat us over the head with ways to prevent the scenario from applying to us; you'd think that if you didn't immediately fill up five pitchers with water and freeze them, you'd die of thirst within a week while freezing from the lack of heat in your home.

None of this, whether genuinely devastating or hilariously over-sensationalized, is human-caused, yet we communicate its existence to one another -- in a frighteningly disproportionate way indicative of biased selectivity -- almost constantly, preparing and lamenting, pondering the misfortune of others we don't even know. Certainly, it matters to us as a society.

Why, then, does the fact that far worse has been occurring to non-human organisms every day for one billion years not yield similar empathy and deep concern? It can't be because we're powerless to stop it. We can usually do absolutely nothing to stop the carnage during a serious tsunami affecting human populations, yet the end results are all over our televisions; we discuss them in shock with friends and relatives. Why do we not do the same upon realizing that the few zebras who do not suffocate to death over a six-minute period while in the throes of a lion's jaws slowly starve to death while crapping blood and moaning in agony?

Close to zero percent of the Earth's wildlife population dies from cancer, heart disease, or heart attack. Most are murdered within the first few years of their lives -- usually in horrible, painful ways -- and the few who do not endure this fate are either plagued by disease or eventually starve to death. Those rare few who somehow manage to dominate their competitors and live a relatively easy life in close proximity to resources will eventually get old, yes, but they will not die of cancer. Instead, their teeth will wear down to nothing, and then they will slowly starve to death.

Think about everyone who utters the phrase "world hunger" in a low tone of voice. World hunger is considered by many to be one of humanity's greatest failures, a sign that something has gone horribly wrong, that something highly unusual and incredibly awful has happened. The prevalence of human starvation should immediately prevent us from even considering having a child, and possibly awaken us to the reality of the mechanisms in charge of life on Earth. However, while world hunger is definitely one of our biggest problems, is it a deviation from business as usual for planet Earth the way that we make it out to be? Are we a failure for not being able to provide for every child on this planet, or do we fit right in with everybody else who lives here with us?

The real world hunger problem -- that plaguing trillions of organisms for close to a billion years -- is currently being completely ignored; it is not considered any kind of indication of failure, inefficiency, or aberration. When we think African village, we think starving children, but when we think nature, we think lush jungle -- even in spite of the starvation rate being far higher than our measly fourteen percent.

Animals whose teeth will wear down from old age will feel hunger pangs unlike any that you have ever experienced -- more like the sharp, sweat-inducing, heart-pounding stabbing pains that anyone with a poor gastrointestinal system is familiar with. They will eventually produce diarrhea as stool; they will become fatigued beyond what your worst bout of influenza had induced. They are even likely to develop fungi along the lining of their esophaguses as their immune systems deteriorate, causing swallowing to become horrendously painful.

Worst of all, though, they will endure all of this while having no idea what death is, and will panic from being unable to efficiently utilize their built-in fight-or-flight response; they will come to believe that they will feel this way forever. Anyone who has problems with panic disorder or agoraphobia should be able to understand the seriousness of this. This is the fate of the animals "fortunate" enough to not be murdered, and almost zero percent of aged animals will or have ever escaped it.

Some research has pointed to the possibility that mice and rats who survive attacks from predators -- i.e., the only wild mice and rats in existence who do not die during attacks from said predators -- develop something similar to panic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. They then, of course, die a few short years later, usually from some horrible disease or while once again under duress as humongous talons sink their way into flesh.

Baby penguins often freeze to death after wandering away from the warmth of their parents' fur and falling through a hole in the ice somewhere -- even when there are penguins a few feet away, watching them freeze. Why does this happen? Because penguins don't have hands.

Wild chimpanzees often die during childhood from respiratory diseases, none resultant from interaction with humans.

Take a look at your backyard. See that cute squirrel? Ever think about what happens when it's no longer in sight? In a few months, it will be dead from starvation.

These events are not exceptional or exclusive to a particular niche or cluster of species; they are distributed evenly among sentient life. They are not the result of aberration or error; they are necessary for niches to make room for new, more compatible genes. They are not a risk of being sentient; they are a guarantee. Only humans are exempt.

Why do cruel pet owners and greedy farmers bother us so much while the very purpose of sentience -- that is, to motivate organisms enough for reproduction, after which their suffering is no longer useful currency -- is labeled as "just nature running its course"? We constantly take our dogs to the vet and ask that their naturally acquired ailments be treated "humanely." Why do we care so much, even when the cause has nothing to do with human interference, but not when the animal is "wild"? Who are we to decide that only cows and cats are privileged enough to be "taken in" by us for our selfish uses while the rest of the animal kingdom is left to live in squalor? If saving the lives of wildebeests who would otherwise be preyed upon by lions is playing god, then so, too, is saving the lives of our pet parakeets who acquire diseases not transmitted by humans. What's the difference?

Remember that all sentient life is sprung from a negative source, which is the same source of all sentient organisms' motivations for moving forward, eating, having sex, and running from predators. Even pleasure, rare though it is in the wild, is the result of terminating a previously negative experience. When one considers not only that the negative experiences to positive experiences ratio has been incredibly disproportionate for wildlife over the last billion years, but that all of those rare positive experiences are the result of running from a negative experience -- and one is atheist, lacking a belief in any kind of creator or purposeful functionality in the universe -- it should quickly become apparent that life is disgusting and stupid.

The Ubiquity of Torture

Before this post is continued, I would like to present the video evidence that I mentioned earlier. My words seem to fail to convince many of my readers, so perhaps witnessing nature for yourselves will persuade you. Be warned that the following is extremely graphic, and not for the faint of heart.

Did you know that it's not at all uncommon for wild animals to be eaten alive? Imagine how horribly painful that would be. Ever passed a kidney stone? Ever been on the brink of screaming from horrible stomach pains as you relieve yourself from both ends? Ever give birth naturally? Imagine doing all of those things at once, for eight hours, and with no conception of death. Imagine coming to believe while this is happening that it will never end.

Lions eating an elephant alive:

A baboon eating a baby gazelle alive:

A hyena eating a wildebeest alive:

If these videos do not make you wonder if any of this perpetuation for perpetuation's sake is something to be done about, then I don't know how else to convince you. Again, keep in mind that these are not unusual circumstances or some aberration resultant from humans destroying their habitats. This is a regular part of these animals' existences.

A Change in the Cultural Zeitgeist

When I read the comments in any of the above videos, the overwhelming majority are justifications of the natural system. Some are resultant from a religious disposition, but some are simply the result of our dogmatic acceptance of cultural memes in general -- which, in this case, includes the meme that nature is too grandiose and complex for us to touch, and any attempt by us to touch it leads to even worse suffering.

Global climate change is more likely to cause species to go extinct than it is to cause them to suffer, however; the real suffering is again left to the hyenas, lions, baboons, viruses, and parasites.

Consider the historical prevalence of gladiatorial combat and slavery. At one time, gladiatorial combat was not only acceptable, it was considered a blessing from the gods. After all, if Zeus or Apollo isn't knocking down your arena with terrible storm after terrible storm, then you must be doing something right. Why question it? There's obviously an order to what's happening; plus, it hardens us, prepares us for our own struggles in life, so if the gods want it, then so be it.

And slavery? It's all part of Manifest Destiny, of course. It's God's will. We're here to take this land by force because we know how to properly cultivate it and the natives do not. It's not our problem that they're genetically inferior; God intended it.

Lions eating elephants alive? God's will. Or maybe not. Maybe we're atheists, now. But so what? They have to do what they can in order to survive, and if they were to pass up on the elephant meat, they'd suffer a horrible fate of starvation, too.

Oh, wait. They're going to eventually starve to death anyway, so that doesn't make any sense at all. Too complex for us to stop? I wonder why Marcus Aurelius and Abraham Lincoln didn't seem to agree.

Do you want to be like Marcus Aurelius and Abe Lincoln, or do you want to be like every other asshole watching reality TV and farting through existence? Let's do something about this -- by at least spreading the word for now. Who's with me?

Conclusion: Antinatalism is not the ultimate choice

Spaying and neutering all animals on the planet would be a good idea if it wouldn't cause sudden, catastrophic ecosystem collapse, but even then, there could be other planets enduring the same phenomena. The problem isn't that life sucks, it's that the universe was not created by humans. For a billion years on Earth -- and possibly far, far longer elsewhere in the universe -- life has been governed by a series of forces far less efficient or competent than even the most base and insipid despot or criminal in existence.

We do not force people to slave away, building millions of laptops from scratch with their bare hands, just so that a single one of those laptops will actually turn on long enough to send an email before crashing. But that's what the rest of the universe's modus operandi is; that's business as usual outside of the human sphere of influence.

Why are we the lucky ones? Why are we privileged Western humans a percentage of sentient life with a bunch of zeros after the decimal point? I don't want to be lucky.

If you don't see the parallels between this agenda and the previous ones throughout history, if you don't want to stop elephants from being eaten alive like in the first of the above videos, then I have nothing more to say to you.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

You don't know how to argue

Source material

Of course it doesn't. If you don't accept the premise that all pleasure is the result of deprivation being nullified,

Citations to the contrary are necessary after affirmations like these; without them, you demonstrate absolutely nothing. Please provide an example of a pleasure which, as a fulfillment of a generalized desire, would not cause incredible suffering if not obtained after a sufficient period of time. There are a multitude of ways to fulfill various desires, but in the absence of any object of fulfillment, all prolonged desire leads to substantive suffering.

and/or you don't accept the further premise that "deprivation" is some dreadful thing that devalues everything good in life,

All deprivation has the physical potential for horrible suffering; if you are deprived of a piece of bubblegum, it isn't really the end of the world, but in the general sense, the desire to experience a simple pleasure going unfulfilled hundreds of times could lead to all kinds of bad: feelings of social isolation, feelings of ineptitude for failing to obtain any simple pleasures, or even starvation if what we're talking about is food.

Even if just one form of desire were to have this physical potential built into it, that would still be sufficient to warrant the antinatalist position. When you have a child, you are admitting that you want another sentient organism to experience fairly bad things at least a few times during its lifetime, and then die.

What if your child becomes suicidal later in life? Will you see the child as unappreciative of your thoughtful gift? Do you regularly force gifts upon people without any clue beforehand whether they will enjoy the gifts? It takes no energy and causes no suffering for you to not create a child, so without foreknowledge that the child will appreciate his life, why would you create it? These are not dice to be rolled so frivolously.

Further, even if your child grows up to love his life -- and you, of course, for creating him -- would that somehow justify your act? Suppose you have a son who comes out partially blind or missing an arm, then winds up experiencing the bad things pretty typical for our society: being picked on in school, having problems with debt, getting one too many really nasty stomach bugs. He still looks on the bright side and is glad to exist, but all of those nasty stomach bugs and all of that bullying wasn't necessary. Who are you to decide that he should face those things?

1. I have a child. I have no idea beforehand whether it's going to come out deformed, get cancer later in life, have relationship problems, suffer from depression, become a drug addict, or get into a serious car accident. In spite of all of these risks, the child may still wind up being glad to have been granted the gift of life. However, I'm pretty certain that the child will eventually die, and will suffer at least a few times during its lifetime. The child's overall assessment of its life aside, should I impose these risks onto it, having no idea beforehand how bad it's really going to be for it? Does it matter whether the child ultimately decides for itself that the bad was worth it?

2. I don't have a child. It costs me nothing to do this, and nothing horrible takes place as a result; the risk is extinguished.

Your son could have the most amazing life possible, or he could have the most horrific life possible, packaged with depression, suicidal thoughts, handicaps, or chronic pain. Is it worth risking creating something that will not only suffer immensely, but abhor its life as well? Why is it so important to take that risk? Why are you so bent on taking it? What greater bad will result if you don't take it? The stakes are incredibly high, here -- death, disease, depression, horrible pain, emotional torment -- so introducing the possibility for any of this certainly requires something far worse as a consequent of the alternative, i.e. not reproducing.

The risk involved in not having children must be greater than the risk involved in having children in order for your procreation to be justified.

Much of the rest appears to just be taking scientific theories or familiar philosophical positions and saying "Isn't this horrific/disgusting/depressing?" - to which the honest answer is generally "No."

This does not apply to all antinatalists, and is utterly irrelevant to the core position. You're attacking a methodology, here -- not the outcome of the methodology. I can use the worst logic imaginable to come to the conclusion that racism is a detriment to society, but that doesn't mean that racism is a wonderful thing.

The more obnoxious ones tend to do things like compare reproduction to genocide (and consequently condemn any and all parents with according severity) or generalize everyone who doesn't feel the same as them as being mindless sheep. This is the point where, for me, they go from "holds a weird philosophical position" to "is a seriously horrible person". But I find that more obnoxious than amusing; after a while it just gets repetitive.

Again, all irrelevant to the definition of "antinatalism." You don't need to equate reproduction with genocide in order to view reproduction as laden with far too much risk to warrant condoning.

Are these blogs and videos actually harmful?
To someone that's already depressed and looking for things that reinforce their world view? Yes, definitely. This can be as bad as joining a gang or a cult, psychologically.

How harmful a philosophy turns out to be to an individual who has been raised to possess relatively poor life management skills is irrelevant to the veracity of the philosophy. You do realize that this same logic is used by antagonists to your precious video games, right? "Violent video games are corrupting our children! Shooting imaginary people increases the likelihood of desiring to shoot real people!"

Is it only true that an idea or piece of media cannot be held responsible for a bad tangential outcome when this concept conveniently applies to your stance? How do you live with yourself and all of the cognitive dissonance bottled up inside of you after accusing people of promoting mass death and cult-like sheepishness, then turning around and calling that same type of accusation disgusting and biased when it's someone else doing it to you?

CulturalPhilistine kind of freaked me out, not because I found anything he said at all convincing, but because he just seemed such a horrifyingly awful and depressing person.

Isaac Newton was a celibate weirdo and probably a big creep, but he was still right. Beethoven sounds like he was a huge asshole, but I still like his music.

Become enlightened.

At least these creeps aren't breeding.

This being more irrelevant ad hominem rhetoric aside, I would hope that in this year, more young people would be educated enough to know how genetic expression affects cognitive dispositions like philosophical outlooks. You might be referring to poor parenting, but I just wanted to point this out.

Furthermore, among the philosophers they admire, Schopenhauer was an anti-semite who became Hitler's favorite philosopher, Emil Cioran supported the Nazi party in his youth, and Lovecraft(shut up, I know he was a writer for the most part) is famous for his racism.

Schopenhauer was right about few things, and used faulty logic to arrive at those few correct conclusions.

Do you like some of the same video games and movies as the Batman shooter?

More enlightenment. God, it reads like one of my posts, doesn't it? Silly robotic me for getting all logical on you guys!

Do they know you don't NEED to agree with everything a philosopher believes to use his philosophy?

I know that. And if you really did, too, then you wouldn't be asserting that an antinatalist NEEDS to be a racist on the sole grounds that another antinatalist philosopher was also a racist.

I reread the posts by Aidan and have to say, that guy seriously needs a girlfriend. What a melodramatic little bitch.

Editorial refuted! Peer review at its finest right here, folks. Next time that I disagree with someone during a scientific debate of some sort, I'll remember to call him a little bitch so that I can automatically win the debate and get a cool prize.

People should probably seek help for their mental health issues from a psychiatrist or therapist and not these web-sites?

They should do the same when contemplating retreating into virtual worlds, don't you think? Does that make online roleplaying games bad for your health, physical or mental?

I mean, really, the fact that gang rape exists means no one should be born? Does he know that we have police to stop people from doing bad things, and that if the world was that horrible, no one would have bothered to consider making a police force?

How horrible the world is really doesn't affect the antinatalist conclusion; we could be living in the most idyllic society imaginable and it would still make sense. The point is that, if there exists the potential to create totally avoidable, horrible suffering, and the alternative involves less risk, then the alternative should be opted for.

Plus, from what I can gather, Inmendham started as out as a fanboy of the Amazing Atheist, which tells you something.

I "started out" as a Christian when I was a small child. So? You realize that this is about objective axioms of value and not which social club is right the most when it comes to said axioms, right? You realize that, if there were no humans in the universe, this would all still apply, right?

And that's what bugs me, I guess; pleasure is an emotion that doesn't need qualifiers and should not be ultimately subject to Cultural Cringe. Because, really, that's what this is about: seeing people suffer in the third world makes it seem like they're not worthy to enjoy what they've got, and they they should either end their lives or live as an ascetic.

Well, really, that's not what this is about at all.

Even more enlightenment

If at all possible, I'd like to avoid people taking it upon themselves to end their lives; suicide is messy, depressing, and often quite painful. It causes loved ones to suffer in many cases. But most importantly, if there is no discrete, permanent construction of self, then what really matters isn't your illusory sense of personhood, but how each constituent of your consciousness suffers; these constituents have equivalents all across the animal kingdom, so to end your life would be akin to ignoring "your" suffering as it occurs elsewhere, in places where the laws of physics prevent "you" from remembering it happening.

As for asceticism, that's obviously a bad idea: Why intentionally deprive yourself if deprivation is negative?

Which is where I start getting annoyed with them. First, it seems like they're looking a gift horse in the mouth. You have a good life in a relatively rich country with not much in the way of logistical problems or political strife, you're personally not struggling to survive like the people you pity so much are.

Hold your tongue. Who are you to tell someone whom you've never met that their suffering is trivial? You do not speak for all of us, and even if you were to somehow possess that god-like ability, it would still be irrelevant to the assertion that those third world sufferers shouldn't exist in the first place. If you're okay with putting a dog down after seeing it crap blood while whimpering, why aren't you okay with preventing starving people from coming into existence in the first place? Keep in mind that people in the third world are so bad off that they don't have time to contemplate the philosophical gravity of their existences or fates.

Meanwhile, a substantial portion of our population is on antidepressants, alienation is on the rise in large cities, and anxiety disorders are hitting record numbers; and let's not forget about overpopulation, body-mangling car accidents, school shooters, reported declines in empathy, or the elderly undergoing awful chemotherapy, just to name a few more "developed world" problems.

I find your tone incredibly condescending. You are not morally superior to anyone, for no one can be morally superior to anyone else, given that morals are dogmatic in nature. The world would be much better off without people of your disposition proclaiming to know everything about total strangers and what to do to make it all better.

Second, the fact that you're not struggling to survive puts you in a position to actually help the ople you see as suffering so much. As I've noted before, there are plenty of ways to help the poor and the less well-off, and contributing to them would be a good thing, as it would convert pity (which is kind of a passive-aggressive thing) into actual caring.

You can do all of this while also being an antinatalist; one is proactive, while the other is reactive.

Unfortunately, it also seems like blame-shifting is a big component of this. It makes sense, as it's a common feature of depression. These are people who don't want to really face their own demons and would rather blame society itself for their own ills. And that I can't support, either.

You have to see how stupid this is. I think you're being dishonest with yourself when you make statements like this and pretend that it's somehow philosophical in nature. You're only saying this because it sounds good -- not because there is any substance to it.

You can literally say this about any negative philosophical stance. Atheists don't want to face their sins, so they'd rather blame society for advocating the "god" model of the universe. Vegetarians don't want to face all the weight they gain when they eat meat, so they'd rather blame society for eating meat. Feminists don't want to face their own lack of domestic skills, so they'd rather blame society for forcing them into the domestic role.

Get real.

I hope that you realize that, in order for your assertion to be true, literally all antinatalists have to suffer from depression. If even a single one does not suffer from depression, then your assertion is false, and thus another exponent of our hideous preoccupation with generalizations.

this is the fable of the antinatalist and the antinatalist.

The first antinatalist was a shark antinatalist. He argues that sharks are by their very existence a blight upon the world, and that all sharks deceive themselves into happiness by feasting upon fish and squid. The second antinatalist is a human, and he argues much the same about us, and does so on the internet (sharks do not have internet, they have intercoral)

Tragically, while the two were conversing, an Old God arose from the sea and proved them both wrong in a hilarious manner.

The End.

Cute, but still quite wrong. First, a large number of humans are certainly happy, and are not deceiving themselves. The problem is not that happiness is a lie or an illusion; it's that it is built out of a faulty premise which necessarily allows for tremendous risk -- most noticeable in the forms of organisms forced into existence who subsequently decide that their lives are unwanted and negative. If just one organism in the past billion years has decided this, then the very risk-free alternative of no-life is the option with less risk; incorporate some of our culture's obsession with consent into this (not that I ever would), and the point becomes even more salient.

Second, we cannot frame life in human terms; animals can neither accept nor reject life as a concept, for animals do not possess the capability to abstract reality into symbols to be used later for constructing models and analogs. To your dog, there is no "life" versus "non-life," because his brain is incapable of boxing off the concept of life and separating it from the other possibilities. To your dog, there is only moving from one moment to the next, desirous until death, negative experiences unavoidable and blindly accepted.

Your dog cannot love life if it doesn't know to create the concept in its brain called "life." Your dog can love you, a piece of meat, a female dog, or a walk, but it cannot love life.

I agree that science alone can't determine a system of ethics,

Then what else is necessary? We can say this of so many things: Science alone cannot explain consciousness; science alone cannot dictate our economy. If something is declared unethical, can it not be empirically observed to be so? If it truly cannot, then why are you subscribing to the notion that it's unethical?

I'll stop there for now. I might tackle the other two pages later.

I don't understand this passive-aggressive, gossipy kind of cowardice. Are you so afraid of the argument that you have to throw rocks at it from a distance before running away into the bushes and laughing with your friends about how cool and brave you were for throwing the rocks?

All of the above is why we need logic courses in elementary school as soon as possible!!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Solutions" dialogue

Let's have a dialogue about one of the solutions offered two posts back:

Eliminate all languages except one.

Here's how this will work: If you disagree with this notion, write a single sentence in the comments which sums up why it's flawed. I will then write a single sentence in reply, possibly in the form of a question, and we will continue this way until we either both agree or one of us gives up.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Education reform

Scenario 1

1. Bobby is a date rapist, because he has left behind evidence and the testimonies of several women.

2. Bobby should be slowly tortured to death for being a date rapist.

3. Billy is a date rapist, because he has the same awkward smile and messy hair as Bobby. All people who have awkward smiles and messy hair are date rapists.

4. Billy should be slowly tortured to death for having an awkward smile and messy hair -- and, thus, being a date rapist.

Statement 1 sounds plausible. The rest do not follow from it, however.

Scenario 2

1. Bobby is a loser, because he makes no attempts to improve society and instead consumes cannabis on a daily basis while never bothering to look for a job.

2. Bobby should be mocked and ridiculed rather than offered opportunities, a proper education/discussion, and some intrinsic motivation to improve society -- either via a renewed sense of empathy or because he directly benefits from doing so, or both.

3. Billy is a loser, because he, like Bobby, believes that capitalism is one of the evils of man. Billy has a job in the face of this and is strongly interested in matters not concerning himself, however.

4. Billy should be mocked and ridiculed rather than offered opportunities, a proper education/discussion, and some intrinsic motivation to improve society -- either via a renewed sense of empathy or because he directly benefits from doing so, or both.

This scenario is not as severe or starkly violent as the former, but the same pitfalls are present.

So, are you going to be like the people in both scenarios who chastise Billy and Bobby, regardless of Billy or Bobby's crimes against humanity, or are you willing to offer them new opportunities? Are you willing to extend your hand in an effort to persuade them and improve not only their own lives, but the lives of those around them?

If so -- and if you have previously voiced disapproval of my vision to improve the education system -- then please provide a real critique of it in the comments. Thanks!

[Regardless of whether you think that any of the above is a bunch of crackpot babbling, wouldn't you rather see enumerated problems like these in a college course concerning ethics and philosophy than crap about epistemological nominalism and Foucault? If mathematics can be about exercise and practice, then so can philosophy and ethics.]


Time to piss some more people off...


1. Shorten the work day to four hours.

2. Provide a public alternative to social media websites.

3. Legally abolish the practice of inheriting fortunes.

4. Shut down all credit card companies and imprison their stockholders.

5. Nationalize all corporations.

6. Legally abolish planned obsolescence.

7. Increase the number of teachers per classroom and decrease the number of students.

8. Eliminate the boss/partiality dichotomy in parenting and promote real friendship, trust, and honesty between parents and children.

9. Criminalize alcohol consumption and possession.

10. Abolish the death penalty.

11. Legalize assisted suicide.

12. Criminalize the production of meat.

13. Promote automation in the industrial and service sectors of the economy.

14. Criminalize all forms of gun possession.

15. Criminalize pregnancy.

16. Teach how to think in the classroom before presenting any individual item as a fact; discourage memorization and tradition.

17. Eliminate all legal age requirements for everything and encourage individual demonstrations of skill and responsibility.

18. Encourage corporate collusion using an "open source" method.

19. Encourage the free downloading of any kind of media.

20. Shut down frivolous businesses (jewelry chains, professional sports franchises, record companies) until we can confirm both that no businesses can utilize child labor for acquiring their raw materials and that there are no longer major threats to sentience warranting immediate attention and resources.

21. Legally abolish the lottery.

22. Criminalize all forms of gambling.

23. Reform public broadcasting in all realms of media such that there is greater public awareness of its presence; make critical thinking entertaining in an effort to gradually phase out the currently prevailing forms of entertainment in media.

24. Scorn those who promote indefinite growth -- whether of population, economic output, or irrelevant information about our personal lives.


1. Make everyone on Earth a member of the government.

2. Allow ideas to rule our lives, regardless of who their originators are.

3. Do away with Daylight Saving Time and time zones.

4. Eliminate all languages except one.

5. Institute peer review by unaffiliated parties in all empirical matters.

6. Replace corporate advertisements with individual advertisements of new ideas and innovations.

7. Abolish the monetary system and all methods of trading and bartering; eliminate private property and the general conception of ownership of anything, whether intellectual property, ideas, or material goods.

8. Eliminate the concepts of the school day and free time in favor of an augmented concept of nurture; allow only certified, temporary personnel within youth centers to raise children -- never their genetic parents; eliminate the distinction between life lessons and academic lessons in favor of a unified model for raising children under a singular mode with uniform methods.

9. Eliminate the dichotomy of socializing and the news media in favor of fully transparent, technologically facilitated communication.

10. Design architecture to accommodate moods in innovative ways; stray from modern, square-shaped designs wherever possible.

11. Engineer a highway system for goods and raw materials such that said materials arrive at a given location on demand at the press of a button, thus encouraging individual creativity as a replacement for corporate appropriation.

12. Penalize extended privacy.

13. Eliminate all forms of extrinsic motivation.

14. Instead of retroactively treating symptoms of problems one-on-one indefinitely, address each emergent problem at its source.

15. Painlessly terminate as many consenting conscious agents as possible while enrolling the rest into full-time simulations of reality aimed at reducing as much suffering as possible.

16. De-emphasize individuality and personal identity; make all efforts to improve Earth about moments, experiences, and sensations rather than persons, rights, etc.

17. Remove the presence of finite resources from society altogether; promote cyclic alternatives.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

SomethingAwful Experiment: Fin

Welcome to the SomethingAwful meta-post. Sorry, everyone, but I'm going to close the comments on this one, because it is a summation, not an experiment. The lizard three posts back has been fully consumed by the ants.

I've always found the disparity between what a person says that they believe and what they actually believe to be fascinating. Do people who claim to be invested in losing weight really want to lose weight in every instance? Do people who allegedly don't care about your opinions secretly want to linger for over a week on your blog so that they can continually attempt to put you in your place?

Well, I decided to find out. I read over the relevant parts of the thread a few times, marveling at the lack of empathy and total disconnect between the posters and their various targets, who ranged from the socially inept to the downright freakish. I was blown away by how the posters had, in essence, taken a chunk of the massive aggregate of public soapboxes which we call the Internet and converted it into another reality show. I was not shocked in the slightest, but I was certainly appalled by their lack of initiative to do something about the trainwrecks that they were posting about.

Like many fine citizens every night watching someone screech horribly and embarrass themselves on national television, these people actually enjoyed the fact that the subjects of their discussion were not so adept at functioning properly in society. They liked that their targets were not making the world a better place, because the targets' role as social parasite was funny to them.

Well, if you spend an inordinate amount of time lampooning the dregs of society and doing absolutely nothing to fix the problem, then consider yourself among the dregs. If you can't go two posts without referring to multiple weirdos as a collective "them," even in spite of their glaring lack of similarities, then count yourself among the racists, witch hunters, and neo-Nazis. Never mind the irony in jumping all over me for my apparently poor comparative ability; two people who have nothing to do with each other are similar only in that they're weird or bad at something, so that means that it's okay to lie about them and promulgate the lies until they become fact.

The point that is lost on these people is that it really doesn't matter whether your targets are terrible human beings, idiotic, or doing harm somewhere in society. None of this gives you the excuse to slanderously generalize people away, at any scale, as petty statistics. For the final time, you are not partaking in something as horrific as genocide by perpetuating these cognitive propensities; you are allowing for the possibility of genocide by perpetuating these cognitive propensities. Quality A and quality B must not be asserted to have an absolute correlation where quality A is not inherent in the definition of that which always exhibits quality B.

But if you can have fun laughing at people for what their environment has shaped them into, I can, too -- only I make sure beforehand that all of my targets are malicious and pompous. I very easily could have made the SomethingAwful post a reply to an attack on some other person they'd deemed a "loser," but replying to the part about me was much more fun; there's no better way to say, "I can spy on you, silly secret Internet champions!" than to make a humongous post saying just that, then watch as it gets over a hundred comments in a few hours. I guess that, for these people, it's far less scary to talk about a blog somewhere other than the blog -- but then, when it becomes apparent that the blog owner knows about your secret discussions, it's time to react!

So, for the ten of you interested, here were the methods employed to this end:

1. Dismantling identity and forcing them to cowardly retreat to anonymity. Note that very few comments after this one were made using an alias of any kind. Also note that I generally would never do something like this, but I did not throw the first stone, and they're strong enough to take it.

Ultranerd HunterAugust 25, 2012 5:22 PM


Ultranerd HunterAugust 25, 2012 5:30 PM

By the way, I love having sex with children.

2. Persuading them to actually provide critiques after frustrating them by not blocking them, cussing them out, or having a "meltdown." This is the beginning of something that goes on for quite a while, and I manage to get them to divulge their views on racism, art, and the education system, among other topics. So much for just trolling and not getting defensive!

AnonymousAugust 25, 2012 6:09 PM

I don't think anyone can refute things like "calling me an ultranerd? That's JUST LIKE calling someone a racial slur."

AnonymousAugust 25, 2012 6:24 PM

The stupidity of your position lies in you writing that, looking it over and deciding it's good enough to publish for the world to see.

And then demanding people refute it when you are rightfully called out.

3. Demonstrating their confirmation bias and propensity to emotionally overreact whenever certain key terms are used. They're not here to understand or persuade; they're here to "search out" words that will allow them to make someone else seem foolish. Note: This is all in reference to my comment regarding the lack of evidence for the Holocaust being a top-down plan part of the Third Reich's agenda from the get-go.

AnonymousAugust 25, 2012 7:01 PM

You just hit a new low.

AnonymousAugust 25, 2012 7:03 PM

I have no words.

AnonymousAugust 25, 2012 7:10 PM

Sometimes the dissenters need to be silenced.

AnonymousAugust 25, 2012 7:13 PM

Doesn't it just ruin your day when what you thought was just a harmless but amusing ultranerd with the dream of being a robot starts spewing neo-Nazi bullshit?

4. Cutting them off before they can make light of my apparently contradicting myself after making a lengthy post while claiming to not care what others think about me. Come on, guys, I'm not a fifteen-year-old girl wearing some kind of "don't give a fuck, yo" philosophy on my sleeve. Note how this chain devolves into the most banal, uncreative, widely used, and unfunny rhetorical question imaginable.

Wait, I'm confused because you seem to be contradicting yourself a lot on this, do you or do you not care what other people think about you?

Leaving SocietyAugust 25, 2012 6:54 PM

1. I care what people think in general, about everything. What people think about me is a subset of what people think in general, so I care about that.

2. I made this post because I knew it would get like a hundred comments, and that is funny and fascinating to me.

3. Some people actually enjoy their jobs, and their enjoyment in no way indicates that they don't care. Weird, huh?

AnonymousAugust 25, 2012 6:56 PM

Ah, yes, the DANCE MY PUPPETS! card. I was wondering when it would show up.

Leaving SocietyAugust 25, 2012 7:04 PM

Just because human behavior is predictable doesn't mean I view you as my puppets. This, as in the case of the blog as a whole, is an experiment -- not a puppet show.

AnonymousAugust 25, 2012 7:17 PM

Leaving Society, why are you such a racist?

5. Demonstrating how easy it is to take one community, whose self-image is predicated on apathy, and expose them for being pretentious. Note that most of my posts get no comments, while the one referenced above is already almost up to 130.

(the whole discussion)

Finally, check out their cognitive dissonance as on display here, where they rationalize both my lack of explosive reactions and my failure to delete comments as a sign that I'm just "not worth it."

Let this all be a lesson to those interested in the art of persuasion: The average person does not understand the difference between an equation and an analogy, so they get upset when they misinterpret your analogy as being some kind of attempt to equate two very, very different things. Most people are unable to grasp that a comparison can be made for the sake of demonstrating a point regarding a very specific, shared quality, regardless of the overall cultural implications of the things compared -- not because they're biologically inferior, but because they're a product of this poorly planned, inefficient edifice poking out through the "natural" world which we call society.

It's not important, purely for the sake of elucidating the point in question, to understand that pretty paintings and food share the quality of beings things that I have a preference for; what matters is that paintings are not food, and I am therefore a retard for 'comparing' paintings to food, because you need food to survive. Like, duh!

The result of all of this is that these heroes of established cultural norms decide that you're the one incapable of understanding the status quo; next comes irrelevancy in all of its myriad forms. Nothing is more ironic than championing academia as a valid grounds for discussion and then resorting to poo-flinging Internet drama, first as "trolling," then as a pathetic attempt to actually argue back. When was the last time that you called someone names in a college debate course, and why is it somehow only acceptable to do so when there are no consequences for your actions -- namely, on the Internet?

I'm just not worth the real arguments, even though said hypothetical arguments would be constructed out of inaccurate interpretation of the material presented here to begin with. Challenging something that is widely accepted automatically implies that you're not only wrong, but a failure (like being a failure at anything subjective even matters) at the thing as well. There are no logical fallacies in this paragraph, none at all!

Yeah, right. And I really believe that the Holocaust never happened and have no capacity to be moved by art.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I'm sorry

Socially acceptable ideas that are probably good

All religions are full of holes and contradictions; religion as a whole has done more harm for the world than good.

It's stupid to obsess over celebrities.

No one should be famous for being famous.

Autotuned music is killing music as we know it.

The United States needs to mind its business and stop exploiting other countries.

Racism still exists and needs to be flushed out wherever we find it.

Women are still treated unfairly in a multitude of situations.

There is nothing wrong with two homosexuals getting married.

Capitalism, at the very least, needs to be kept in check by the government.

Video games do not cause people to kill, and it's up to parents to teach their children right from wrong. No game should ever be blamed for any violent incident.

Animal cruelty is disgusting regardless of whether the animal is a dog or pig. We need to start treating animals more humanely.

Global warming, regardless of its cause, will probably gradually lead to unpredictable weather, which will be unsettling for many.

NASA is doing good by checking for Earth-sized extrasolar planets. We might not find anything, but it's definitely worth at least a cursory look.

Things about society in general that are probably good

We have access to an incredible wealth of information with the click of a button.

We have abolished slavery.

Fewer people are sexually prudish these days.

Technology has made our lives easy in many important ways.

We have more kinds of art and entertainment than any other society in history.

Libraries, both physical and virtual, are awesome.

How can anyone not like red velvet cake?

Nature is astonishingly beautiful, especially during snowstorms, on a sunny day, or during sunrise.

A lot of everyday people are good-natured, funny, and doing their best to get by.

It's good that we teach the golden rule to children at a young age.

More people are literate now than at any other time in history.

We have antibiotics now, and people are living longer than ever.

Another message to the SomethingAwful community

Please link to this blog wherever you think it will be entertaining for others to read.

And this one, too.


Video of ants eating a lizard

I decided to have a little fun today by responding to some posts about this blog in a SomethingAwful thread. I don't normally make posts like this, but I enjoy the opportunity when it presents itself, and this was too good to pass up, so here we go.

Note that I am not going to post the names of the authors of the comments, because I'm lazy, and no one cares what your screenname is.

Here is the start of the "discussion" in the thread in question:

I'm going to address this first one out of order, just to get something out of the way:

"Do ultranerds just hate creative writing and music because it can't be quantified? Like, they have to enjoy some TV shows or movies right? How do they exist if they hate anything not set in a specific perfect sense. Like, no interpretations, no deeper meanings, all art must be one leveled and have one meaning. I'd love to listen to their Ipods or check their netflix list"

Ultranerds, niggers, Jews, fatties -- yeah, let's keep perpetuating what makes humankind absolutely abhorrent by generalizing people into predefined categories for the sole purpose of objectification and, ironically, obliteration of empathy. You're not partaking in Nazism here at all, no sirree. How silly of me to forget that it's not what fundamental social detriments you're promoting, it's how direct their manifestations are! It's only okay to dehumanize someone and label them when you're not shackling them and forcing them to work for you under inhumane conditions. They're just words and the other person should grow up and take it like a man, right? Or maybe I'm a fat, irresponsible, Jewish nigger-criminal for making a big deal about those latter groups being attacked unjustifiably.

Anyway, what we enjoy and what matters are obviously very different. Who cares if I enjoy chocolate ice cream, classical music, or hardcore porn? Who cares what your favorite fetish is, or how complex and subjectively fulfilling a movie is? You can do all of that in your spare time, but this blog is not about your spare time; it's about what matters. Very few of the things that I do really, truly matter, but that's part of being human. If you think otherwise, then congratulations on considering yourself special right alongside the other generation Y problem children. You wouldn't be reacting at all if I were wrong about this, and you know it.

It's important to note, here, that while this blog is about what matters, that doesn't mean that the blog itself "matters," or that it's one hundred percent accurate. Pursuit of accuracy does not necessarily warrant proclamations of accuracy, and in any case, if I really were some smug asshole getting off on "being right" and looking down on everyone else, not only would all of the entries here about no one being capable of truly knowing anything for certain not exist, but it wouldn't really be relevant to the importance or accuracy of the arguments themselves. Hitler was a vegetarian; does that mean that vegetarianism is a terrible idea? Chill with the personal drama/character assassination and focus on the arguments; to do otherwise is logically fallacious in spades. Sorry, but my eating babies is not going to make the arguments here go away, so it's up to you to, you know, argue back.

"In my experience yeah. The idea that art can have multiple meanings and is ultimately interpreted by the observer is anathema to them. They also hate anything that doesn't look like it involved a lot of technical skill."

I'm glad that I belong to a "them." What are we like in the wild? Are wild ultranerds different from domesticated ultranerds? Do our mating rituals differ? Please, all-wise Internet smartass, explain to me how people in my made-up category, who are different and should be treated differently from people in your made-up category, fail to understand that art can have multiple meanings.

Wait, what does art have to do with anything again? If we're going to bring the subject up, let's get a few things straight:

1. Art can have multiple meanings.

2. Pictorial symbolism is an inefficient way to communicate. If you want to say something important, then just say it.

3. All communication requires symbolism to some degree. However, some symbols are more efficient than others.

4. There's nothing wrong with captivating people emotionally through art. Just don't call it science, or use it to manipulate people for a cause. Make sure that they're aware that there is potential for manipulation so that they can enjoy the experience while still being in control.

5. I'd rather look at a beautiful landscape painting or listen to lush ambient music than ingest the loads of symbolism in a Poussin or pretend as though lyrics are musical in nature.

"Personally, I have no problem feeling bad for anyone who has suffered a tragedy, regardless of knowing them. And, surprise, there has never been a time when I was forced to choose between feeling bad for one person and totally ignoring someone else in a similar situation. Emotions aren't currency that you can run out of (for the most part)."

Every second, a preposterous number of horrible things occur on this planet; your ignorance of them forces you to choose those horrors of which you are not ignorant. Please stop pretending that you've attended the funerals of Africans who've starved to death, balling your eyes out the whole way. You know damn well that your mother and a starving African are not treated the same by your person.

A sufficiently advanced computer may be utterly incapable of feeling empathy for either individual, but if it's programmed to help those in need when presented with their struggles, then that's what it's going to do. It's not going to reflect on all of the wonderful memories that it had with the sufferer, or frown politely for two seconds while reading about his or her plight in the newspaper.

"loving shallow bitches. People want to have sex with you, so logically you must be dumber than me. Kneel before my superior intelligence!!!"

 Jesus Christ we are having a field day."

IQ test time:

All subjectively attractive people are subjectively desirable company, but not all subjectively attractive people are objectively intelligent.

I'm not going to search for fast cars by inspecting every red car that I encounter on the sole grounds that some red cars are fast; I'm going to inspect cars known for their speed. This doesn't mean that no red cars are fast, and it would be completely idiotic to either believe otherwise or believe that that's what I'm espousing.

"Ultranerds have the BEST ideas on education reform."

My, what a lovely, utterly empty post you have! Would you like to add anything else? Are you interested in helping people to come around to your way of thinking, or do you prefer to keep them against you so that you can feel superior? No interest in discussion, just yelling and harassment? Ah, I see.

But I'm the one with the superiority complex -- you know, the one who doesn't label people or associate them with others due to said label. The one who doesn't make snarky side remarks and instead writes thought-out premises. Right.

I might proclaim the average person to be an asshole, but if you're not the average person and I'm not lumping you personally into a category or calling you ugly for disagreeing with me, then why do you care?

"I love it when it's the ultranerds who aren't even smart enough for the STEM subjects they champion (as evidenced by his rejection of all mathematics beyond arithmetic as unnecessary). How does he plan on having Physics taught in his curriculum without a good basis in maths anyway?"

IQ test time:

Some people incapable of solving complex calculus problems would like to do away with having advanced math courses forced upon the general public using public money, or forced upon a college student as basically a commercial to the TV program that is their major. Some people really good at solving complex calculus problems feel the same way. Some people incapable of solving complex calculus problems want advanced math courses to be forced on the general public. Some people really good at solving complex calculus problems feel the same way.

Incidentally, it's amazing how every single one of you has to make these issues about flinging unfounded accusations at the opposition. Oh, I want to do away with complex math being forced onto people with no interest in it, so I must be bad at complex math. Oh, I'm not smart enough to do complex math, so therefore, people not smart enough to do complex math should be forced to do complex math and waste everyone's time and money, even though they're never going to use a single bit of it in everyday life. Well, you eat your own poo-poo, buddy. Therefore, you're wrong about everything. Take that!

"I woulda given... well, I woulda given SOMEBODY'S left nut to actually have classes on Hammurabi or the Boxer Rebellion somewhere in K-12. Also, dude's clearly never actually taken a class on Psychology OR Poli Sci"

More of the same. If you'd bothered to read more than a few lines from that post of mine, you would have encountered the bit where I stated that anyone interested in any subject should have the freedom to pursue it whenever they want, free of charge, for the betterment of both themselves and society at large. Do you really think that it makes any degree of sense to teach subjects to children if they're uninterested -- especially if the subjects have no practical value in everyday life? Why should my money go toward bored, tired children learning about the Pilgrims? Are the Pilgrims going to fix our political structure? Are the Pilgrims going to cure AIDS? If children are bored in the classroom, we've already screwed up. Maybe you love the Pilgrims, but that's your personal interest, and you're free to pursue that interest however you see fit in your spare time.

And not that it matters, but for the record, I've taken my fair share of Psychology and Political Science courses. I don't care about Sigmund Freud's archaic ideas, unfounded paranoia regarding Iran's nuclear program, how democratization is going to save poor people in Haiti from having to subsist off of selling bananas to tourists, or how four mental disorders belong in category A while another four belong in category B. And I definitely don't care about memorizing acronyms and buzz words for the purpose of passing tests; if the average person off the street understands at least a little about the process of a dominant nation leeching off of another, poorer nation for its natural resources, then it's stupid to fail them just because they've never heard the term "dependency theory" before.

"The philosophy bits are hysterical. Seriously, the reason why philosophy is taught like that is because it's part of critical thinking. The philosophy teachers want you to come to those conclusions on your own, not because the teacher proselytized you onto the One True Way like a loving cult leader.

 Also, any bet this ultranerd's idea of the one dominant philosophy is Objectivism and the not-so-famous person is Ayn Rand?"

Critical thinking should be taught from the first grade onward, and involves analysis of individual scenarios and problem-solving, just like arithmetic. If we give our children math problems, why not logic problems, or ethics scenarios to contemplate? Furthermore, why would ANY of that warrant random people's names being dropped, meaningless isms, and other excess baggage? When was the last time that you walked into a math class where children were learning times tables, and had Zhou Bi Suan Jing name dropped as being an "important person in the history of times tables"? Better memorize his name and understand his "contributions," kids, or you'll be failures at this math thing!

Yeah, or what you're saying is utterly irrelevant to actual critical thinking, which is much more about abstraction, process management, methodology refinement, and meta-cognition than being given five gigantic slabs of historical mush with cute names to memorize. How should anyone be expected to think critically when they're given only a handful of worldviews to read about, each self-contained and closed-off? Why should we be presented ANY worldviews, named or unnamed, instead of be equipped with the cognitive tools to allow us to solve everyday logic problems in an emergent manner, case by case?

"Here's transcendental idealism, Platonic realism, Buddhism, Christian mysticism, Stoicism, nihilism, epistemological nominalism, existentialism, and, uh... Foucault, yeah, Foucault. Don't forget that guy. He said some stuff once, just like everyone else to have ever lived, so that means that you should read about what he said, because, like, you can decide for yourself if it's true or not and stuff. Other people say stuff sometimes, too, but they're not famous, so... yeah, I guess you can think critically about what they say, too, but not in this class, okay? Only Foucault!"

I have no idea where you grabbed Ayn Rand from. Maybe you should read the posts on this blog tagged "capitalism," "Zeitgeist Movement," "value system," and "social transparency." I might as well be the anti-Ayn Rand.

...And the guessing game continues!

"People who fetishize engineering majors and are terrible at math are really common. Most of the time, STEM nerds who sneer at arts and humanities seem to have a habit of being bad at their own major, really. They seem to think that everything else is really easy, so their 2.3 average as an electrical engineer is worth way more than a psych/journalism/literature major's 3.6.

 Hearing a CS major call my math major underwater basket weaving and then end up complaining about having to learn proofs and set theory because they're pointless for him to know is just the most precious thing."

First, do a search on my blog for "set theory," and you'll see that I find it invaluable. Funny, though, that you're so territorial of your major that you don't even realize that set theory is not exclusive to it, and is applicable to the entire universe. Jeez, even the first portion of the second sentence of Wikipedia's article on it -- that silly, transparent site with all those wrong people -- makes this apparent!

You are not cool or important for understanding object-orientation and abstraction.

Just as a fun aside, I'll state that I hold two degrees and maintained 4.0 and 3.8 GPAs at the schools from which I got them, respectively. I will withhold the names of the schools for the sake of preserving my anonymity. I can't remember scoring lower than 100 (and often got a 105 after answering the extra credit questions) on a college math exam, either. Sure, I never got to Calc 3, but it wasn't part of either of my degrees, so I never got the chance to try.

Since I don't want to engage in a pissing contest, though, I'll stop here and chuckle a bit to myself at how bizarrely self-preserving and competitive you are. This isn't Facebook, where my cooler Internet picture warrants you checking yourself out in the mirror for an hour.

Seriously, one more irrelevant ad hominem or assertion that you know more about me than I do and I'm going to have to vomit. Your insipid insights into "why" I post what I do are nauseating, as is your insistence that any of this matters. Hopefully, we can be free of Calc courses for people who will never use what they've learned someday, and if we can't, then we might as well call ourselves the Jeopardy culture.

"His thing about freudian psychology reminds me about somebody who was bitching about calculus. "I don't know why they even teach you about limits. After that chapter you'll never use them again because you learn derivatives."

Except that guy somehow managed to pass calculus."

So did I! Am I cool yet?

"He probably still is in school. Only someone who's still in their "rebellious gently caress-you-all" phase could unironically demand history to be dropped from schools."

I'm quite out of school, and work full-time for a systems integrator maintaining their internal network. I get raises and people enjoy my company immensely. I hold the babies of co-workers and participate happily in potlucks and parties. Unfortunately, I just can't bring myself to give a shit about what I'm doing, because it isn't making society better off.

Look, if you're interested in history, no one should stop you from learning about history. I love reading about Canaanite polytheism, the Migration Period, Paul the Deacon's Lombards, Saami shamanism, Genghis Khan, the history of the Sikhs, the Napoleonic wars, and the life of Franz Liszt. But if someone else doesn't love that stuff, should I pay for them to learn and subsequently forget about it, with society not benefiting in the slightest from the hours that they'd wasted? Furthermore, how does knowing about Napoleon make you a more efficient contributor to society, which is in a resource debt, not to mention a dire need to prevent an awful lot of suffering around the world?

"I loved the bitching about trig then the fucker goes on how physics will be taught if he was the Principal of the Known Universe. Kinda need one in order to full understand the other. Oh, what's that? "Parabolas"? Don't need them.

Also, the comment about "metacognition"? I had to look that up but all it is just making memorization even more rote."

And I love your equating physics with physics as it's currently taught to older people. The entire world is physics; yes, the equations are useful to those who will be doing work in that field, but everyone should at least have a rudimentary understanding of gravity, the presence of molecules versus vacuums, forces, momentum, and maybe some of the simpler laws of thermodynamics. Does any of that require trig? I can and probably should teach it to fourth graders.

Speaking of which, that's another thing: I couldn't possibly consider myself far smarter than the average person if I view most of what I'm promoting as being understandable to small children. It's the memes inside your brains that are the problem -- not the raw hardware.

"He didn't say it, but he plans on changing the curriculum to replace Shakespeare with Animorphs."

Shakespeare is more Lit than English. If I were to teach Shakespeare to an elementary school class learning about gerunds and adverbs, I'd make a huge mess. Early modern English is as useful to us as proto-Anglo-Saxon and Old Icelandic.

"I would wager on Cs/Ds. His comment about junking the "arbitrary base 10" grading system and doing everything pass/fail suggests a guy who's seen "70" on a lot of papers, thought it was good enough, and then gotten pissed off at his parents when they told him to apply himself more.

It's also odd how he sometimes seems to be talking about college, and other times about public K-12. Unless there are universities teaching sex ed or making students recite the pledge of allegiance."

More personal attacks! Love it. I'm sure Bigfoot enthusiasts think you're an absolutely vapid moron when it comes to traipsing around a forest and searching for footprints. Guess that means Bigfoot exists, eh?

I talk about all levels of education in the post because no one should ever stop learning as long as they live, and age should not arbitrarily define what you learn about. Is that a problem?

"Where did you find that ultranerd manifesto anyway? I seriously want to see more of this guys posts. Education reform ideas by total idiots is by far my favorite dumb internet comment thing. It's the easiest way to see a person's entire thought process. Also, that dude's school would be beyond loving boring.


Those would be required skills. What you personally want to do to contribute to society is obviously an entirely separate matter. Are you sure you're adept at reading comprehension?

Most schools are already beyond boring. My goal would be to reform the entire system so that the teacher/student dichotomy is eradicated, friendships with "teachers" are built over years rather than months or "quarters," only first names are used, multiple choice tests are kept to a minimum, practice and implementation are encouraged, correlation with economic success is done away with, stress is reduced overall, extrinsic motivators are eradicated, multiple "teachers" are assigned to one class, classes have far fewer "students" (as few as five, in some cases), and one-on-one time is a must. In this environment, not only would creativity not be discouraged, it would be the entire point.

"Honestly, ultra-nerd's hatred of things like higher maths and rant about proper formatting structure in academic papers lead me to believe he's a pissed off highs schooler with a chip on his shoulder

"Give my paper an F? I'll show you Ms Zukowski!"

Yep, and Richard Dawkins failed Sunday school too many times, so he's nerding out and getting his revenge on those evil Catholics for not being nice to him. The Buddha was terrible at asceticism and was constantly mocked by the other ascetics for failing to properly starve himself, so he gave Hinduism the finger and started his own group. Einstein was always at the bottom of the class when Newtonian classical physics was at the fore, so he got his revenge by coming up with E=mc^2.

See how easy that was?

I would never pretend to be more important than anyone else and am not equating myself with these famous people, but you get the point. Or you probably don't, but oh well.

"I couldn't make it through.

I got to this footnote; "* This is the place where I'm supposed to link you to articles proving that I'm right, but I don't feel like Googling for the obvious."

'I'm correct, just accept that as fact. Accept that I know what's best for everyone and everything. Accept that I should make all decisions for everyone everywhere. And you shall know my name is the LORD when I strike down upon you!


gently caress you. You small minded, myopic, misguided, twatty little tyrant. I bend no knee to your cause.

He's said his opinion. I don't give a Tinker's dam to read anymore of it."

Really? You're going to call me arrogant for stating that it's obvious that the music industry is in decline? Really? You must be the type to require citations and references to the sky being blue, then.

Of course, I don't really think that this is the case, and will instead chalk up your stupid exaggeration to your wanting to fit in online by making fun of any chunk of text you can find that will fit into the pre-agreed upon objective.

Well, there you have it, folks. SomethingAwful somehow manages to live up to its name constantly, while taking irony to heights never previously fathomed by mankind. Goofy Internet memes, Family Guy, and "random" (see: foundationless) humor not only are par for the course, but infest every crevice of signature and avatar space. Internet nerds lambaste those who disagree with them on the sole grounds that the counter-points damage their individual identity as an interesting, unique, and important human being, all the while never proposing substantive counterarguments. They then proceed to proclaim the originator of the ideas to be a nerd (like it really matters who's behind the ideas at all to begin with), even though they're the ones entrenched in banal pop culture references, anonymous socialization, and ego inflation -- all staples of nerddom.

Yeah, yeah, a person's character is irrelevant to their arguments, so I shouldn't bother with attacking the character of the average Internet forums-goer. That aside, though:

1. These people have no arguments to critique, so what else am I supposed to say? They outright refuse to even make the attempt to prove my ideas wrong.

2. This is a lot of fun.

"Hey, that guy claimed that his view is probably more accurate than mine, and my view defines me as a person -- a charming, witty, hive-minded keyboard warrior making important contributions to society through my college courses and affirmations of cultural integration among my peers! I know all the latest, trendy memes and absurdist jokes, I'm really good at lumping people into bullshit categories, and I make money, sometimes. The fact that all of this is utterly meaningless and often detrimental to society in the face of repugnant social ostracization, cutthroat capitalism, and valueless mass hysteria aside, my being called out on it means that the accuser is a failure at all of the above!"

Oh, if only logic were always reducible to convenient if-then red herrings and assassinations of character.

Let's suppose, for a minute, that I'm maintaining this blog just to feel superior to others and look cool. So what? I'm sure a lot of great thinkers were douchebags, but that doesn't make them wrong.

So prove me wrong.

On a final note, I will state that having a whole thread on your forum dedicated to slander, harassment, and aimless trolling just goes to show how little we've progressed as a species. I would sooner praise cowardly Roman denizens for cheering while gladiators get mauled to death by lions than praise the modern, emasculated Internetter who'd be too afraid to watch his objects of scorn get the same treatment, all the while being just as invested in using other people for his own solipsistic entertainment.

I guess failing to make the cute girl at the office laugh after reciting some ultra-obscure Internet joke laced with layers of references would lead one to retreat to a world where acceptance is garnered by ostracizing even bigger losers, like My Little Pony fans. Keep your religion if you want, but I'll have no part in it. How sickening it is that people in this day and age still abide by the "I don't like what you're saying, so you do all of the following unrelated things in your personal life, which makes you a bad person worthy of mockery" mentality. Grow up.