Bigotry, Faith, free speech, Nationalism, Nazi, Orwell, Religion, Twitter, UK politics, USA

Nationalistic bias & online influence

It is possible, but highly improbable to speak on distilling the Russian revolution of 1917 without invoking the words “Animal Farm”. Even more so it is, by my reckoning, utterly impossible to discuss dystopian futures or totalitarianism without mentioning the number “1984” or the overused term “Orwellian”. Despite this, I find, as many have, that Orwell’s genius was not in his novels but in his essays & journalistic pieces. I have recently mulled over the question ‘What was his most important work?. I first came to the conclusion that this question was preposterous but at the time at writing this, my answer would currently be ‘Notes on Nationalism’.

It may be my admiration for terse work; ironic when you see how I babble on. For example, the greatest novel ever written is ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. This isn’t an opinion mind you, it is verifiable fact. He surely did write more intelligent & introspective works; he clearly put forth brilliant ideas that changed Victorian Britain, but nothing that I find to be as close to perfection as the story of Mr Scrooge.

For me, Orwell’s ‘Notes on Nationalism’ is the most eye opening whilst being easily digestible of his writings. He takes on the notion that nationalism isn’t just an irrational clinging to one’s own nation but an irrational clinging to any belief that leads to a willful ignorance of facts. Maybe he should have used a different term to stop conflation or confusion; his point still stands.

Football fans are nationalistic in their love of a club, in truth, there is no more reason to support a team than there is to support a political party or religion. With party politics, the vast majority delude themselves to believe:

A) That they know propaganda exists but it doesn’t affect them, in fact it only affects the opposite side. How cute?

B) That they have genuinely thought through all of their beliefs & can substantiate them, when in fact they have been handed down to them, forced upon them & made comfortable to them through group-think.

Most people support the football team of their father, follow the political party of their area & believe in the religion of both – their parents & place of birth. This is nationalism. This is irrationality. I have shaken off the political party that people of my area are peer pressured into; thankfully I have pushed away the religion forced upon me at birth – sadly, I cannot say I have been emancipated by the football club my father supports. Especially when admitting the pain it puts me through on a seasonal basis. The only saving grace I have is that I am as far from “Nationalistic” with my team as possible. Of course they aren’t the greatest team in the world – but in the height of my blasé fanaticism I must admit I do get stressed watching the team like no other & cannot remove what seems falsely like an innate love of the team. None of us are perfect.

Under the branches of confirmation bias we can study the real term effects of “nationalism”. This is why I included above the statement “willful ignorance”. We choose to share & like sources online that agree with us; we find it easy to ignore, block or report sources that we vehemently disagree with. Leading not only to a bias, but one that is not the fault of politicians or leaders but directly of the people themselves. You have a responsibility to make sure every one of your strong held beliefs are balanced on a genuine effort to study both sides of the argument. In trying to attack my own prejudices I have en devoured to spend time studying people of the “far right” which in most cases  I have now noticed means “centre” or “right”. I won’t name names as it would be poisonous. What I can say is that I have now seen a direct correlation between what the left claims a person believes & fiction. Just as simply as I see the same correlation between what the right says about the left & what the left actually believes.

If only they each took the time to study their “enemies”?

As a side note:

The term “Nazi” has fallen back into leftist circles, in a serious way for the first time in decades. It is utterly misused as expected. From what can be discerned online, a national socialist can be anyone from someone who mentions immigration in a negative light to a capitalist that doesn’t tweet favorably about a black led movie. This to me, someone who understands what the word “Nazi” means – thank you British schooling system – is as far from Nazism as it is from any political ideology. It is a basic failing to understand the definition of the words. Again, willfully. I feel this usage of the word is only back with vigor due to the vicious & evil nature of the term. It looks like an attempt to equal the swear of the N Word towards the black community. Using language as a weapon can in some ways be admirable, after all what am I doing? But falsely using terms to stop free speech is a worrying event – especially when it looks like there is no consequence for a false label.

We need to quickly address “nationalism”; irrational-ism, confirmation bias & refusal of reasoned debate on ALL issues, If we are to overcome the problems of fake news & manipulation within the online world. It’s now harder than ever to question our beliefs. That is why it is imperative that way do it. If we allow our beliefs to be strengthened by nationalistic bias, whilst finally noticing, yet not attacking the impact of social media – then we are doomed to allow a tyranny that can easily utilize the media to manipulate us all. The same way Newspapers, Radio & TV propaganda shaped the 19th & 20th century, we have fallen into allowing the same with social media. Question is, how long shall we allow it?

What views do you hold that can’t be swayed and why? What would your opposite say of the view? What is their argument? Study it, learn it backwards – falsify it to the point of certainty, only then can you be justified in your belief.

The left, centre & right are all failing on this issue at a similar rate. For example:

When a terrorist attack occurs, the far left masturbates furiously to the notion that this will be the outlier, where the perpetrator will be that of a Christian, or even better, a white male; the far right masturbates furiously at the belief that this will again be a Muslim perpetrator or even better a Muslim immigrant. The centre are furious that both have come to a conclusion before any real evidence in their opinion is confirmed. In the end we are all just coming furiously to a conclusion that satisfies our prejudice.

 

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Atheism, Bible, British Government, Christianity, Christopher Hitchens, Church, Faith, free speech, philosophy, Religion, UK politics, Uncategorized, USA

Thomas Paine: British Revolutionary, French Prisoner, American anti-hero.

Giving just a few simplistic reasons as to why we should admire Thomas Paine, is in many ways as facile as writing “Twelve reasons why Napoleon was an important man.” The list of his experiences & influence are too numerous for one volume. Any well-known writer or politician in such an influential time will be packed with dates of significance or meetings of importance. Yet Paine isn’t afforded the same worthy praise or even discussion as his peers. I believe this is due to his secular views in a religiously dominated time.

I write this because, for some reason, Thomas Paine has seemed to vanish from the common lexicon – whereas many of his contemporaries, who may or may not be as deserving are still present in the zeitgeist. Names like Thomas Jefferson, William Pitt the younger, Benjamin Franklin & John Adams. I understand that one might say these men all held high office, but in terms of impact it could be argued quite easily that Paine held much more sway in the creation of the United States – and additionally – in revolutionary democracy around the world than the other four combined – and that doesn’t begin to touch his influence in regards to deism.

It is notable that on a Blue Plaque which hangs outside the White Hart Hotel in East Sussex, in honour of Mr Pain* (he didn’t add the “e” until his emigration to the British American colonies) it states;

“THOMAS PAINE 1737-1809
HERE EXPOUNDED HIS REVOLUTIONARY POLITICS. THIS INN IS REGARDED AS A CRADLE OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE WHICH HE HELPED TO FOUND WITH PEN AND SWORD.”

*Italics are my own.

The inclusion of “pen” is no small point, if any human can be given as evidence of the saying “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Let it be Paine.

Within two years of arriving in British America Paine had written “Common Sense – 1776” a best-selling – anonymous – pamphlet that carefully spread a positive, persuasive & most importantly brand new case to be made for not only a new way of political life in the colonies – but one of clear independence from the super power of Britain. Something which had been virtually unthinkable before then. Imagine for a second how astonishing it is, that this best-selling work of prose not only first created the idea of an independent United States; then gain swathes of popularity – but within less than six months – the declaration of independence would be signed. Has any writer changed the course of the world in such a short time?

The only other occasion, which is even by my account much less important & somewhat facetious, is the fact George Orwell’s 1984 was published in 1948. Within months The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea was “founded” – as Christopher Hitchens says:

George Orwell’s 1984 was published at about the time that Kim Il Sung set up his system, and it really is as if he got hold of an early copy of the novel and used it as a blueprint. (“Hmmm … good book. Let’s see if we can make it work.”)

Two major points from the early pages of Paine’s Common Sense, is a repudiation of the United Kingdom’s constitution; he claimed that the idea of a monarchical & aristocratic structure seemed the complete antithesis to human rights & fair governance. He only agreed to the idea of government at all by way of necessary evil. Understanding a fundamental system must be put in place to stop the carnal desires of men, but a system that is ruled by debate & reason with limited power – as not to fall into a new tyranny that is monarchical in all but name. This is one reason why he believed in a form of Deism also. If only he had more belief in his fellow man to be moral. Paine wrote in a vulgar form, or common tone. To the point that his work was easier to digest for the masses. At this point in history most could not read or comprehend intellectual literature. His writing used anger, humour & what could be described in the most respectful way as “tabloid”. He knew how to engage his wider audience & that was not by removing them from the debate by acting like he was addressing the intellectuals. He knew the power of the people – so address the people directly.

At the time of his writing, upward mobility was something of fairy tale – regardless of gains – a King was divine, his court less so but above all else; the poor were poor & all this was formed by hereditary lines. Paine argued that “all men are created equal”, which may not sound it now, but was such an incendiary statement at the time that he nearly lost his head for it whilst living in France – It’s a kin to claiming one is an atheist in Saudi Arabia today. Words like this, unspeakable to most, carry a death sentence. His books were in many ways a call for revolution in Both America & France, with a hope to influence as far as Germany & all other European states. The work, in time, led him to being arrested for Treason – The French took a hard line on faith at the time.

After his success shaping the American Revolution he moved to France to try & achieve similar goals in the French Revolution – but the tide turned against him. He began as an honorary citizen of France & soon become a prisoner. His incarceration in France for Treason is made only the more interesting when one notices that he only survived due to an unbelievable mistake. Prisoner’s cell doors were marked with chalk to denote execution by guillotine later that day, on Paine’s day, he had a visitor, so his door was left open. The official, marking cells, had accidentally marked the inside, not the outside of the cell door – therefore when Mr Paine shut his door it was clear. The chalk denoting execution could only be seen by Thomas on the inside. Luckiest man in history? Or most idiotic prison guard? You decide.

‘The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True & Fabulous Theology’ was another notable work of Paine. More controversial than his earlier book, but oddly, somehow not unique. Deism was well known in British society at the time. The book, written in three parts between 1794, 1795 & 1807, was in some ways a polemic & overall challenge to the claims of biblical mythology & organised religion. His attack on the “institution” of religion was most scathing; in essence calling out the rich & powerful faith leaders using their flock for personal gain – being “Christ like” in no true sense. One could say this was just an extension of his views of monarchical society & upper class hierarchy.

Paine’s argument that Christianity, was essentially an invention of man & not inspired by a deity, drew fierce opposition from nearly all corners. In shocking terms he basically laughed off biblical stories as childish & illogical myths, which may sound benign to us, but I would compare it to holding a “Draw a homosexual Prophet Mohammed” competition today. Let’s not forget he lived & died through the Spanish Inquisition, so The Catholic Church killing people for beliefs of the religious kind was par for the course.

The two main factors often debated about the backlash to this work are as follows:
– Due to his fame, and ability to be loved by the wider public, the powers that be saw his writing as a genuine attack & force for change against their concrete hold on the masses.

– His style of writing was so brash, vulgar & offensive that it added fuel to the flames of his opinions. Ironically it was his vulgar tone which drove him to success, as many cite (and as I have done previously) the style was well understood by the vast majority including the underclass of society. Whereas a public reading of Voltaire or Socrates, may have been far more confusing & harder to empathise with – in effect – wasted on an uneducated public.

In Britain a litany of replies to his biblical stance occurred. Most of them with the usual apologetics of the time; some with vicious personal attacks. In a similar vain that one would expect from evangelicals today claiming the validity of Noah’s Ark or that anyone who doesn’t believe in the Bible could not be a moral human. The very same bible that advocates slavery, torture, drowning of all but one family & much more. It still baffles me that we have these debates today – as Christopher Hitchens once said;

“Human decency isn’t derived from religion, it precedes it.”

The moral panic in Britain due to this book cannot be understated. Publishers were prosecuted just for printing the work. Richard Carlile, a publisher of the book, was put on trial in 1818. The trial in a sense backfired & led to an increase in sales to the tune of some 4000 copies. In a moment of sheer defiance & intellectual brilliance, Richard chose as his testimony to read the book, in its entirety on the stand – ensuring that if the book would be censored from this day forth – anyone reporting on the court case would have to in some sense also publish the work. Carlile failed in his case & was found guilty of blasphemy. His sentence of one year was extended to six as he would not accept any legal conditions on his release. What a man!

Common Sense – being a book to influence revolution in both The United States, France & then wider Europe – which failed in all but one instance. The Age of Reason however, was geared towards a French audience more specifically. Sadly these views were well known in France & had in most circles been ignored as a legitimate ideology for some time. To Paine’s dismay, the French had no interest in this anti-biblical stance.

Paine felt France’s revolutionary bent would lead them without his help, into atheism, something he feared greatly. As even the most secular of the time would believe a country without religious safe guarding would fall to a tyranny of vices. Paine attempted in vain to create his own ‘Church of Theophilanthropy’. As expected the Church had no priesthood hierarchy. Any sermon given would be a scientific lecture or philosophical reading – in this alone I feel Paine was at least 200-300 years ahead of his time. He saw to supplant the faith by fear tactics of old & implement a society of free thinkers. This had him branded an atheist, even against his own wishes. In an ironic act of hierarchical power grabbing, Paine’s Church was dissolved in a small sense by his minute corrugation & in a massive sense by the Concordat between The Vatican & Napoleon. This agreement found Napoleon with even more power & gave the Roman Catholic Church it’s place as the state faith once again. The Church was allowed to come out of hiding & Napoleon was allowed to not only select bishops but have a hand in church finances. It’s hard to figure who gained more from this Concordat. Many such agreements have been made since then but the most important I would argue was that of The Vatican & Adolf Hitler – being his first signing of legislation as Chancellor. A fact often ignored by those who believe Hitler an Atheist.

At the time of its publication in the US, The book, initially spoken of highly, quickly fell to attacks of the sort seen in Britain & then vanished from memory for most. It is noted that again, although Paine classed himself as a Deist, this book was so blasphemous in nature that his anti-god credentials lasted for longer than any could expect. He was known as;

“The filthy little atheist.”

By Theodore Roosevelt.

Over one hundred years later this work continued to tarnish his name.

Whenever the Age of Reason showed signs of popularity in the US it was countered by powerful reprisals. By 1796 every student at Harvard was given a copy of Bishop Watson’s rebuttal to The Age of Reason, regardless if the students had read Paine or not. The attacks against him led his popularity to decline, his name to be dragged through the mud, and part 3 of the work could not be published until 1807. Within just thirty years Paine went from a hero of the American revolution to one of the country’s first enemies. Named in the press as “The Scavenger of faction” a “loathsome reptile” a “demi-human archbeast” and more.

The backlash & eventual creation of Thomas Paine as a hateful & evil figure didn’t lessen his resolve – if anything he doubled down. His beliefs stuck with him, regardless of their popularity or consequences. He enjoyed being a hero for his work early in his career not for the status but because he believed in its inherent truth. In his later life he endured the toxicity of being an alienated & mostly hated figure for the same reasons – he would not go back on his word for riches or public acceptance – he stood for what he believed in, no matter the cost.

On his death bed, a woman came to visit him claiming that God himself had instructed her to save his soul. Paine is said to have dismissed her immediately with:

“pooh, pooh, it is not true. You were not sent with any such impertinent message … Pshaw, He would not send such a foolish ugly old woman as you about with His message.”

I’ve never felt closer to any man, than I do when reading this. His stance, dismissal & choice of attack is such like my own I find it uncanny to read – I would admit my English is usually not so, terse, or polite in such situations.

Not until Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species in 1859 did Paine’s Age of Reason really flourish. Darwin also took a bullet for his beliefs & a widespread reading of Deism soon ensued in Britain.

Still to this day I believe the ideas within The Age of Reason should be prescribed reading for all teenagers or university students – or as I would call it, anyone over the “age of reason”.

Between the publication of these two works. Paine’s articles regarding the French Revolution & his political views regarding the rights of people, were compiled into maybe his most known work ‘Rights of Man: Answer to Mr. Burke’s Attack on the French Revolution’

It was a reply to Edmund Burke’s ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’ from the year before. Burke being of the opposite, conservative side of the argument, to Paine, led to a fierce disagreement. Burke’s book appealed to the wealthy & sold upwards of 30,000 copies but Mr Paine knew how to entice his audience. Although the book was originally withdrawn from publication due to fear of prosecution. It eventually got published on 16th of March 1791. It is said that it sold as many as 1,000,000 copies utterly eclipsing that of his opponent. Rights of Man grew in readership among intellectual reformers; protestants, democrats, craftsman & factory workers of the new industrial North of England.

Oddly in this work Paine seems to distance himself from some of his anti monarchical views. He claimed the view that all should be united, even that of a king & his people. This could have been from fear of his life or much like his governmental beliefs of earlier works, he felt the King itself was not the problem but the disparity in wealth & power between the two factions of society – and the idea it was based upon parentage & not merit.

The book champions what he believes are inherent rights of humans to decide their own fate. He dismisses the current belief that the nobility had inherent wisdom passed down to them through hereditary lines. Claiming that nations have a right to form governments of the people by the people. The right to govern must not be inherited & the upper class is in no way more morally superior to the lower class. All they seemed to lack was the social standing & wealth to fit such a position.

It was dedicated to both George Washington of The United States of America & Marquis de Lafayette of France.
It is no coincidence that the self evident truths of Human Rights to which Paine consistently wrote of ended up not only influencing two revolutions, but became the back bone of both country’s revolutionary documents.  The Declaration of Independence can see lines & in some cases entire paragraphs that are taken directly from his writings. The declaration of the Rights of Man & of the Citizen, set by France’s National Constituent Assembly, although written by Lafayette, Honore Mirabeau & in parts by the American Thomas Jefferson – was highly shaped by the writing of Paine & his contemporary enlightenment authors.

Paine’s Rights of Man like his other work caused havoc against the patriarchy in England most notably due to the affect it could have had on the Crown. His talks of a social welfare state where the poorest could be cared for by the wealthiest – was essentially a crime. For the reasons above & more, yet none with specificity, he was tried in absentia & convicted of seditious libel against the crown. Thankfully at the time he was in France & not able to attend his own hanging in London.

Again, it is silly of me to distill the work or life of Thomas Paine. This is just an overview of his most notable works & their shaping of modern history. I would urge all not only to read his writing but find time to study a man whom I feel is in some sense, a hero to us all. I don’t agree with everything he believed of course, but I do strongly feel that every human can find something within his books to truly inspire them. The courage to stand against the fear of execution in writing that humans are all created equal – is what every philosopher & political writer aspires to. To change the course of history in such a way without any sadness to his loss of fame, or lack of riches from his work – is the epitome of Kipling’s “If”. Thomas Paine is what it is to be good. Moral. Lionhearted and resolute, even when it’s easier to sell our “souls” for a safer life. A hero isn’t just someone who puts his life on the line for another, but someone who can put his life on the line for people who won’t even appreciate his sacrifice until long after it may have vanished from memory. Is it not the highest moral standing to do what is right, in the face of harm & without the expectation of praise? After all, how can one be moral if they only act morally in fear of a vengeful God or angry mob?

Thomas Paine died on the 8th of June, 1809 in New York. After a career of such repute & a legacy of fame & then infamy within his own years. He changed the course of the world from the creation of the United States of America due to his revolutionary pamphlets; to the deistic & enlightenment beliefs of the western world. He died penniless, hated & cursed for the most part. Only six people attended his funeral.

His ridicule of the supernatural claims of the Bible & Christianity on the whole led to being ostracized by a community that simply didn’t understand how valuable this man was to them – or how much the lives of themselves & their children would be shaped in the millennium that followed. However inconsequential & nationalistic it sounds, I am proud that Thomas Paine was born an Englishman; and however silly it may sound I am equally proud that he died an American – for without Thomas Paine, what even is it to be “an American?”

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Uncategorized

The Telford Grooming Scandal: Britain’s Fear of Pointing the Finger

Yeastus of Nazareth

The grim spotlight has once again been cast upon Britain’s child grooming gangs, and as you’d expect the country has been filled with feelings of disgust and outrage; outrage not only at the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes, but also at the political correctness that has created a barricade which has served to protect these vile specimens whilst doing nothing to protect the young girls who have been exploited and violated in ways the normal human mind wouldn’t even wish to conceive.  This political correctness, this fear of pointing the finger is directly responsible for the unfortunate fate of thousands of girls around the country.

There are two types of nonce in the UK who are able to get away with acting out their sordid activities: rich, white politicians who are left unchallenged when the dossier containing evidence pertaining to their sexual exploitations ‘conveniently goes missing‘.  Now, the…

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Anti-Gay, Arianna Grande, Bigotry, Faith, free speech, ISIS, Islam, LGBT, Manchester, Manchester Arena, Middle-east, Moderate Muslims, Religion, Terrorism, We Stand Together

Take me out tonight…

I don’t need to rehash the details of the attack, we all know what happened in the Manchester Arena, I don’t have the heart to repeat it. The enemy attack us at our most vulnerable, because they don’t have the stomach for an equal fight. I’ve seen videos of ISIS on the battle field, they couldn’t hit a still target from 10 feet away. They are angst-filled slackers with no skills or achievements. In our culture if you feel an outsider as a teenager, you do what I did, you listen to Nirvana & claim your parents just don’t “understand you.” Extremist lunatics don’t have the same capacity of “phases” it seems.

We know these type of bullies, the small guy in the group who is the most vocal – big in a crowd – but singularly wouldn’t say boo to a goose. Make no bones about it, these men are losers. They have no direction in life. They’ve been sold a lie by their faith that evil is somehow courageous. Just think for a second how miserable & hate-fueled their lives must be to inflict such pain on innocent strangers, all the while knowing they will also certainly die?  I have suffered with depression, spent years hooked on anxiety medication, In and out of Dr’s appointments, hospitals & therapy sessions. During my hardest times (which pale in comparison to the families of the victims) I only ever felt that I wasn’t good enough to exist – but never that others deserved the same treatment. I know how shit my life could be at my lowest point – so my mind boggles at how bad theirs is.

No, I am not claiming they are victims. They are scum. My point is, in life we make choices. People like us don’t act like them, we don’t feel such hate, we don’t attack children. We don’t choose the road they do.

Bigotry of gays, suppression of women, viewing all non-Muslims (and other Muslims who enjoy such “vile” things as Make-up and Music) as enemies.

-They are against free speech because it is used to criticize their holy books.

-They attack children because to them, there is nothing scarier than a young group of kids with the opportunity to learn how to think for themselves; especially girls having the right of education.

-They shoot up cafes because our lives are so fulfilled that we have free time to enjoy the company of others – regardless of differing opinions.

-They hate freedom because it flies in the face of everything they’ve lacked in life.

Some years back I began writing specifically about Islamic terror attacks after I watched a video of around 400 Ahmahdi & Shia Muslims being shot one by one & dumped into a shallow grave. They didn’t resist, they just took a step forward after the man or women in front dropped lifelessly to his/her grave. They truly had no hope, you could see it in their eyes; in all these years, I still remember some of their faces. It reminded me of the Holocaust – I wondered why it wasn’t mainstream news. So I began fighting for these people with my writing, it was a small gesture, maybe more for my benefit but it was something. For a short time I had Muslims applaud my work, until they noticed not only was I standing up for Muslims but admitting the killers were usually also Muslims, albeit more extreme. This made me an Islamophobe, somehow.

I hope one day we will feel safe again; the truth is, we are afraid and we should be – we are under attack because of our way of life, and we for damn sure won’t change that. So in time they will tire, knowing that after every bomb and every bullet people will still stand against them, with love in our hearts & care for the truest forms of humanity we see all around us.

Our way of life gives us strength in days of fear. In New York on September 11th 2001, the peace-loving-people of the world stood still in horror. We cried, we hurt, we tried to understand. The evil power that attacked The World Trade centre seemed enough to supplant any hope for humanity that Americans previously had.
But the very next day, New Yorker’s went to work. They cared for each other like never before. Divides of race & colour seemed to dissipate in the hours after the attack as every one came together as Americans. They aren’t alone, cities around the world have shown this resolve in the face of such hate.

Sadly, it’s Manchester’s time to endure the burden of these murderers. Do you think they will lose hope? Do you believe bombs & bullets can dissolve the thriving community of culture, music and love that is Manchester?

Not a fucking chance.

By the time the next football season comes around, I will go back to pretending Manchester are the adversaries of Scousers in a jovial feud over sport – but today I will admit what I usually wouldn’t dare say. Just like every day before & every day to come – Mancunians are our brothers and sisters, cousins and friends. We don’t need to stand with them, we are them – and therefore will never leave their side.

In our darkest times, we need a light to guide the way, one to walk towards as we shake the fear from our bones. Stupidly these terrorists attacked the wrong city. Did nobody tell them about Manchester? Mancunians could never let terror lead them into darkness, they will always find hope; always find a light to walk towards, and as we all know in that city, there is a light and it never goes out.

 

Rest in peace to the victims & my tearful condolences to their families. As & when the victims are named I will add them below. 
*John Atkinson – 26 years old.

*Saffie-Rose Roussos – 8 years old.

*Georgina Callander – 18 years old.

*Olivia Cambell – 15 years old.

* Sorrell Leczkowski – 14 years old.

* Nell Jones – 14 years old.

* Martyn Hett – unknown

* Michelle Kiss – 45 years old.

*Elaine McIver – Unknown

*Jane Tweddle-Taylor – 50 years old.

* Marcin Klis – 42 years old.

* Angelika Klis – 40 years old.

* Kelly Brewster – 32 years old.

* Alison Howe – 45 years old.

* Lisa Lees – 47 years old.

* Liam Curry – 19 years old.

* Chloe Rutherford – 17 years old.

* Eilidh MacLeod – 14 years old.

* Wendy Fawell – Unknown.

* Courtney Boyle – 19 years old.

* Philip Tron – 32 years old.

 

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Christianity, philosophy, Uncategorized

What is True? Sam Harris v Jordan B Peterson

I sit in my office, just before 9PM with a cup of tea, hardly any milk, no sugar. This I believe I can be sure of. I would usually class this as a true statement – until now. I’ve just finished listening to Sam Harris’ Waking Up podcast with Jordan B Peterson, which has left me with both a headache & a moment of clarity – very similar to the Cenk Uygur v Sam Harris debate. Although at least this time it had two genuinely intelligent people instead of one.

I think many would be tired, to say the least, with Sam spending 2 hours basically repeating the same claim with different examples at 4 minute intervals. In fairness I think he was correct to do so. When discussing any topic of debate there must be a level ground of understanding. When I debate the idea of God with Muslims or Christians, it’s best to define what that God is. You can spend 3 hours debating how immoral a being this “man” is, only to be told by your opponent that his version of God is not a being at all – much more a silent mover outside the material & testable realm. In this case a new 2 hour debate can ensue with these new parameters.

Clarity is key.

Sam seems to believe in the simple notion that Truth is a basic premise, what is true is not false. A man wearing glasses is truly wearing glasses. Whereas Jordan seems to propose the man is only wearing glasses on a micro level, but in a deeper field of philosophy, the statement can only be true if certain unknown factors are met. And here lies Jordan’s fault. When pushed on this, he can never clarify what exactly those parameters are. Only that truth must be contingent on the betterment of the human species. His biggest failure here, is that his version of truth only seems to hold water in the case of one species of hominid. What about the rest? What if the truth was in fact great for the survival of humans but terrible for the survival of, let’s say, insects. How can this have any bearing on a statement being true or false? I claim it does not.

There are of course, Newtonian, Darwinian & many more views that propose different causal outlines for scientific truth, but on a base level they cannot subjugate the very nature of the word. If Jordan would like to use a different word (irony intended) to describe his view, that is fine. But claiming, as he has, that a woman having an affair because she is found in bed with a man other than her husband, is not in fact having said affair – due to evidence that shows her husband treated her horribly in previous years – makes absolutely no sense. The affair happened regardless of whether or not she had a right to stray from the marital bed. Truth is truth. Anything other than this is absurdity.

In philosophy classes around the world, there can be no doubt that many professors are working on the old “Is this jar empty?” trick, only to add pebbles & ask again, then to add smaller stones & ask again; then sand. Finally to propose the matter & space inside the jar must be accounted for. Each one of the answers given to this would have in some way be both true & false – but only in a separate context. I believe Mr Peterson calls this “micro”  “macro”, which scarily reminds me of Ray Comfort trying to deny evolution. As clarity is key, I do not mean to compare these men in any intellectual way. Jordan B Peterson is a very intelligent man, with many reasoned arguments – especially when it comes to political & social oversight. Sadly on this topic he is wrong.

In the same way we can say a woman wearing a purple dress, is truly wearing a purple dress. Only to magnify the fibers & find the dress is made of both Magenta & Cyan thread. This is semantics, although it does remind us of the scientific standpoint that nothing is ever truly certain. The point I think Sam should make is the difference between contexts. From normal eye-line, the dress is purple, the threads themselves may not be – but that is a different question altogether – not an alternative truth. Once the basic premise that all further correspondence with Jordan B Peterson can be examined on the micro level, is found. I think this will alleviate any trouble going onto the topics of religion & morality. One hopes.

Either way I will still listen as it’s a fascinating discussion. And one that reminds me that even though everyday I am the smartest I have ever been, I am not the smartest there has ever been – truly.

Please head over to the podcast & give it a listen if you haven’t:

Also here are the social media links for both men:

Sam Harris Twitter

Jordan B Peterson Twitter

 

 

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The calm

Today is the calm before the storm. Tonight Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will debate to round 100 million viewers on topics from economics, business to terrorism. With all his racism, bigotry and vile language, Trump only sits 2 points behind Clinton. This should shock us all. To swing 2 points after the first of 3 TV debates is simple. Historically speaking this election is wide open and it strikes fear into my heart. A year ago Sam Harris said

“We won’t be talking about Donald Trump 12 months from now.”

Well, he and I were both wrong. As I stupidly held more faith in the American people. I do find it troubling to conform to this idea though, that somehow idiocy brought this change. In fact I think after deep thought the left has just as much blood on its hands as the right. Sure, the religious right held high places for xtian nut jobs and stood proud against facts and science on TV. But the left played to elitists, ignored any basic questions from their enemies and called anyone who didn’t tow the line a ‘bigot’ or ‘racist’. Reports from many US tv shows, celebrities and more confirm that youngsters have had enough of being refused the right to ask logical questions. If you start the argument by calling anyone who agrees with a strong border control a bigot, most angry youths will rebel against you.

On the one side we have an ego maniac with little to no education, who would in a heartbeat use nuclear weapons without the slightest idea of the repercussions. And another who is completely suited to the job, and has much experience in these matters – but is totally robotic, lacks any charisma or personality and is a proven liar. Nearly everything she says is a lie, the only saving grace is that, even if she lies 65% of the time. Donald beats that before lunch.

Let’s hope Trump is humiliated tonight by a stateswoman who is ready to take office. I worry about a centrist/ conservative with a lowercase C Clinton a lot, especially her comments on the Falklands.( Giving an island owned by the British for centuries back to a country that A) didn’t have a claim to the Island initially and B) Only owned the island for a short period of some years after attacking it) but I worry about a Trump campaign that could destroy the world as we know it much more.

Go get him Hillary.

 

 

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The art of debate.

Listening to Hannibal Buress trying to drunkenly debate Sam Harris on the ‘We the People’ podcast is a tough exercise. I have fallen into a similar trap many times, and I find it interesting to explore this further – if not for any readers, just for myself. If you spend your time researching intelligent debate on issues such as biology, physics, sociology, religion and more, by such noted and known professors and respectable peers – you walk back through life forgetting that those people are a vast minority of the population.

I can sit and watch Christopher Hitchens sit facing a man he abhors, and instead of raising voices, they verbally attack each other with facts statistics & logical thought. At the end, a hand shake or a nod and life goes on as planned. This cannot be said about the friend you have on facebook or twitter who believes we live in a rape culture or that Tony Blair is a war criminal. The amount of times I engage these debates only to find within one reply that I am not speaking to a respectable or intellectual individual, but  an angry person of the general populous who most likely spend more time in the day watching catch up TV than reading books. The worst part of all is that it is a fault of my own to give such levity, to forget who I am speaking to. I don’t doubt this sounds pretentious, but please for a moment think of one area that you are familiar with – more so than the general public.

Let’s say you have a degree in Geography. You see a status about igneous rocks which is clearly false – but only to a select few – like yourself, with the expertise. If you engage & try to explain, then are called any numbers of angry swear words, or a know-it-all and the like, and in the end you have to say “Look, I have some knowledge on this subject, I have a degree & have written studies on radioactivity within igneous rocks in south america – I know a little about this subject!” At this point, you have surrendered yourself to being pretentious in some form, even though, in reality, you have just used up all basic logical arguments and arrived at the conclusion that this person is not going to listen to facts. So maybe the use of authority might help?

It normally never works.

Sam Harris gives fantastic points like mentioning the % of the US population that is black is only 6%, but the murder rate by black people is 50%. Therefore there is a massive issue with black people committing murders at a much higher rate than white people – so when a police officer is called to an area for a shooting & sees a black male jogging in a hoody. He may be justified to stop this person with force based on statistical facts. Before this sentence Sam agrees the horrid crimes against blacks by odious racist police officers & the racist laws against marijuana which attack blacks directly – in response to this great, thought provoking & logical point in defense of the police, he is met with responses like “fuck this shit, you ain’t no this, you ain’t been no black man in Chicago, yo play your stats game, you think you like intellectual, fuck that shit – you ever been black.”

At this moment, one must notice that you have a heavy weight boxer vs a disabled & malnourished child with a massive ego – sure, the world knows the heavyweight will win 100% but the child’s own mind can’t conceive that he is losing.

I might be making the same mistake again but I’m giving you the reader the generous leeway that I believe you are intelligent enough to understand not one part of that response is intelligent or coherent.

I can’t count how many times I’ve “debated” a “friend” who had a misconception about an issue they were not knowledgeable on but very interested in & ended up being blocked. People will lie, and ignore facts, make up their own ones; frankly do anything to notice their folly. It almost never ends with, “Ah, I didn’t see what you meant, good point, look I’ll think this all over & get back to you, take care.” Most of the time it ends with “fuck you, you bigot, I cant belive you actually think that & you were my friend? [blocked]”

I wonder now, are these debates worth it? If only I am willing to change my mind with evidence, is there any point believing the rest can be convinced also? Why are the general population so unsuited to debate? Yet so suited to mass opinions?

I am going back to the 3 hours podcast to endure the rest. From now on I think I will have to give up hope on humanity & instead of thinking every debating opponent on facebook is interested in intellectually honest debate and respectful discourse – I must come to terms with the fact that they really aren’t intelligent enough to have these types of conversations. However pompous that may sound.

An old friend on facebook replied to a very thought out comment from myself with “Sod off.”

He spent £6000 each year on university fees for that. How depressing.

 

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