Author Archives: Maria

It’s Not Zen; It’s Neurosis

Although the title is in jest, as by no means am I qualified to identify mental illness, I have to point out my perplexity in the face of the toothpaste commercial smiles, literal or figurative, displayed by religious zealots I have debated. More often than not, the glibness masks a deep anxiety, which surfaces as soon as their claims are disputed.

It’s almost as if they had something to prove to themselves, not to the world at large, about the purity of their positivity and beliefs.

At first sight, they look down on the rest of us mortals from a mountain top, convinced they have mastered not only the art of flawless living, but also boundless love for mankind and the perfect, guru-like composure.

“God has filled me with love; like Him, I love even those who hate me; I know it’s not their time to understand the divine plan yet. I look upon them with compassion, extending my hand with a fragrant flower and the holy scriptures. I know they will someday find the right path and I have a duty to point them towards it. I smile at them and speak softly, and nothing can ever disturb my peace.”

Not only are their claims about the world, so gently expanded upon, often offensive and repulsive (when not simply delusional); when they are challenged, this love swiftly morphs into indignation, false pity and even disdain.

However, there are those non-believers who take the “niceness” seriously for the sake of civility (though claiming to be free thinkers) and thereby defend it, regarding the drivel-spewer as an elegant dove of peace, as long as their tone remains a soft one. The grotesque nature of what they are actually saying seems beside the point. Pretending that it doesn’t bother me or insult my intelligence would be a lie.

The invisible Stasi 

When speaking to a believer, one must remain aware that they are not only preoccupied with what their interlocutors think, but also with how they fare before the omnipresent, ever-recording God, who takes note of their every word and thought, to someday hold them accountable. Which is why a natural dialogue, unrestrained by such concerns, is hardly possible. It’s like having an invisible oppressor over your shoulder, speaking only what he/she would like to hear, in anticipation of a reward or punishment, if not now then later.

Imagine this train of thought inside a believer’s head, in a real time conversation with a detractor.

“I’m calm because You want me to be calm. OK, this one is a little standoffish. Inspire me to persuade him. Nope, that didn’t work. He’s really getting on my nerves now but I must be kind, because he will eventually see Your greatness. Should I call him out? You called people out so I guess it’s alright. I can’t lose my temper though because I will fail you and I can’t afford that. OK, this didn’t work either. Let’s up the game a bit. I know it’s hypocritical; I’m far from perfect; but you want me to teach him, right? I’m doing your work here. Unless I lose my humility and then I’ll be guilty of pride and sent to hell. But this guy just blasphemed; it’s unacceptable. Will you please forgive him? I must pray for him; it’s my duty. I must show love. Alright; that’s it. Warrior mode now. There’s a time and a place and this is it. Give me strength to put up with this idiot and set him straight. Oh, here goes the pride again… I’m sorry. But I must fight your war. That slightly compensates for my sins, which are numerous. Oh shit; I’m going to hell anyway, aren’t I?”

Of course these thoughts would occur at the speed of light, but that’s a glimpse into how it feels to live with the divine Stasi in your head. Everything is filtered through what he would or wouldn’t want from his loyal minion.

Which is why a conversation of this type cannot unfold naturally.

Satan in the bush

Not only is God following and recording the believer in real time; Satan lurks nearby as well. And as we know from Christian teachings, he seeks to exploit someone’s flimsiest weakness. He reads minds too – that’s how they have to watch their thoughts constantly, lest they be intercepted and used for temptation.

That is why the believer is, deep down, in a perpetual state of anxiety – and that’s why a relaxed and “loving” conversation can swiftly turn into the non-believer being warded off as a propagator of devilish lies. Have you ever noticed how quickly they switch their mode? It’s no secret that, as the “Satanic panic” proves, devout Christians see threats to their purity everywhere and are quick to avoid potential corruption. There are countless videos claiming to identify satanic influences in popular culture.

The very next step, for some, is to claim that non-believers (and especially anti-theists) are, wittingly or not, “working for the devil” (hey Satan, cough up the dough; I’m due a few years’ wages).

A believer therefore cannot yield an inch, for fear of leaving God or Satan with the impression of taking their faith less seriously. If a mere “maybe” slips past their lips or keyboard, it’s bad news.

God’s persecuted soldier

One might wonder how a person can seem Prozac-happy while thinking the world is evil, adverse to anything pure and a constant source of corruption.  The cult member/religious fanatic grin, accompanied by a glazed stare, is partly rooted in the thought of being special.

We are the chosen ones, who will emerge victorious; we rejoice anything the world throws at us.

This mentality leads them to see anyone attempting to reason with them as their persecutors, their enemies, who seek to transform the world into a satanic kingdom of debauchery and cold, murderous utilitarianism (atheists are associated with Nazism, communism etc).

Hence even a simple debate turns into the ancestral fight between good and evil; not only are they inflating their role but seeing you as a revolutionary for the destruction of the world (for, say, agreeing with gay marriage). Every anti-theist position you hold, even mildly, grants you that label automatically. They are at war, imagining you want to destroy them (yep, that actually happens and it’s quite something to witness).

The prodigal son fetish

I’ve seen believers describe (so candidly) their fantasies of the day those who reject God will turn around and glorify him, as if positioned atop a hill, watching the end of a long torment they suspect unbelief is (indulge in some popcorn while you’re at it). This phantasm fills their hearts with warmth and produces a delighted smile, based on… well, a shit sandwich. Based on nothing, basically.

Somehow they’re unable to comprehend how alienating that is and how it facilitates cutting contact with them altogether. It’s uncomfortable to relate to someone when in real time they are developing this parallel fantasy in their head where you’re concerned (one you’re aware will never manifest). The fact that they don’t accept you for who you are is reason enough to distance yourself (when feasible, of course). Whilst you might exercise tolerance with an elderly relative, everything considered, when it comes to friends matters are very different.

The saviour/ teacher fantasy

Isn’t it every believer’s dream to bring a poor lost soul into/  back into the fold? The condescension and tone of the wise lecturer are enough to make someone vomit.The appeal to emotion, the manipulation and all the cheap techniques they imagine they can use on you only produce embarrassed laughter, in the vein of this is so pathetic. 

Holding the absolute truth, a believer is convinced of being able to outsmart you and gently prod you into joining the ranks. The bouts of creativity in approaching you don’t demonstrate genuine wisdom or profound thought, but a mere sales pitch.

Don’t you know it’s their duty to love and correct you, to feel sad when you sin (although they do it constantly as well)? The righteous have a duty to “preach the truth”, even after in practice they fall short of following it.

Which is why you must be made to believe that they are genuinely better and happier than the general population.

Mutual reinforcement 

“Don’t worry; these people are on such a low level; they lack the proper understanding of our doctrine. They’ve got their own role as our challengers. But we’re safe in our world (wink wink).”

Community spirit can be so helpful and yet so damaging, depending on the circumstances. When troubled by logical questions posed by nonbelievers, believers often seek comfort in the safe bosom of their echo chamber. In conversations with multiple interlocutors, a dialogue of this type feels like observing a case of folie a deux. There is no need for reason or logical arguments, only exultation on both sides.

Tell them all you like that Noah couldn’t have gathered and “housed” all species of subterranean animals, not to mention all animals living halfway across the planet, which wouldn’t even have survived in his particular climate. That he was not a tamer of lions and pumas and crocodiles. That a boat that size, with the available materials and technology, wouldn’t even float.”God made it happen”, because “God can do anything”.

The glibness sometimes comes from the reassurance that no matter how far-fetched the things they claim are, there is someone in the vicinity to provide an echo. In fact, in a fair number of countries, the religious constitute the majority, which is why they can happily spill any bullshit without worrying about how it sounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Alt-Right Would Enjoy Living Under Sharia

If it weren’t for the dread of having to worship a different sky goblin, I swear these people would have a field day being able to revert their treatment of women to that of the 1800s.

Jordan Peterson claims women shouldn’t be allowed to wear makeup or high heels at work; that sexual harassment is their fault and women and men likely aren’t able to work together.

This guy has been praised for a good couple of years for his stand on newly invented gender pronouns; ever since, he has evolved into the go-to conservative academic for opposition to whatever the left tries to push. Although he sounded levelled to begin with and more tempered than the usual reactionary band, it seems that at the end of the day, philosophising aside, he holds the view of a religious puritan – women should be mandated to stop “provoking”, because men can’t help themselves.

Though his solution is not to have them covered from head to toes, as those in Islamic theocracies are, the drive is identical – women enjoy too much freedom of expression; they should be treated as sexual nitroglycerine and have a dress code imposed on them when men are present.

Never mind that women who abandon their femininity in aesthetic terms (some radical feminists for instance), giving up makeup, cutting their hair short and at times growing their armpit hair, are referred to, by the same crowd, as a disgrace to womanhood and completely unappealing.

Nope. They don’t want them dressing like men (that causes impotence apparently), but they don’t want them excessively feminine either, as unwanted erections are also an inconvenience. They must want some virginal, nun-like characters whose sole intention is to make sure they are not noticed. Who would know that their appearance is likely to cause offence for all the wrong reasons.

Reinstate Magdalene laundries while you’re at it. Dickhead.

Why red lipstick, he asks. Well (I’m paraphrasing), it’s because it’s indicative of sexual arousal. Because every woman going to work, apparently, is not worried about the long hours, mortgage, debt, family duties or a boring job – she goes there specifically to show her male colleagues how she looks when sexually aroused. Every single day, as she gets ready, that is her drive. For an academic, such views are incredibly simplistic and idiotic.

Never mind that a woman goes out in public in a manner she feels comfortable in, and some wouldn’t leave their homes without the makeup routine – partly because they know that if they don’t look their best, they might be jeered at by the same entourage which also jeers at them for looking too appealing. They just can’t win, can they? And by winning, I mean be left alone.

I don’t suppose the same standards would apply to ladies well past their prime, considerably overweight ones or those with a visible physical defect. Men who think like Jordan Peterson are only concerned with the object of their own desire – young,  very attractive women. Maybe if they stopped wanking off to porn every day they would cease to look at a colleague and immediately think she is provoking through the colour of her lipstick, like a Playboy bunny. I understand male hyper-sexuality, but FFS, they can keep these obsessions to their private space.

I think it’s grotesque for a woman to set off to work each day keeping primarily in mind that her male colleagues or employers will study her from head to toes. And that she, just by being female, is some kind of threat to their mental well-being.

Which brings me to the fact that I don’t understand the alt-right’s opposition to Sharia law, where women are concerned; if someone were to formulate a similar doctrine for the west, changing only what specifically pertains to Muslim worship, I reckon they’d be more than happy. Apparently, they’ve got vagina on their brains to such extent that women in their vicinity are a danger/ in danger.

Stefan Molyneux, another guru for young men who can’t get laid and become nostalgic for eras they’ve never experienced, claims, among other things, that a woman belongs in the home, for breeding purposes (I know I sound like a feminist here, and believe me, I’m not; I simply find this approach vile, as is any attempt to impose a lifestyle choice to others). Being a homemaker is a choice, in the west anyway. It’s not my place or Molyneux’s to dictate what a woman should want out of life.

The illustrious bullshit spinner also has a rather strange obsession with the clitoris (a woman wants to tie a string to her clit and drag the man along, paraphrasing again). His misogyny, transparent down to his tone, which oozes anger and frustration, is poisonous to young minds.

One notable position he holds is that women are responsible for starting families with complete arseholes – as if, you know, during courtship an arsehole actually displayed his natural behaviour. In other words, if a woman finds herself in an abusive situation and is unable to leave, it’s her fault after all. The idea that women only date aggressive men and should instead date “nice” members of Incel was what motivated Elliot Rodger to go on a shooting spree. AWALT is not some innocuous groan of frustration thrown around on Reddit; it actually has consequences.

All in all, I can find clear congruence between adepts of Sharia law and this new generation of right-wingers (MRA, alt-right, Christian conspiracy nutters etc; they are all patting each other on the back for being “red pilled” when it comes to women). These are some of the points they seem to agree on:

  • A return to outdated moral values and social standards is necessary;
  • Attractive women should cover up to avoid male attention;
  • Men just can’t keep it in their trousers and sexual assaults are provoked;
  • There is rampant sexual immorality in the world, with a focus on sexual minorities;
  • Women either belong in the home, with alpha males as providers, or should be rejected altogether as whores and deviants;
  • The alpha male must protect his territory, status, ego etc;
  • Militarism and hawkishness are apparels of “true alpha males”;
  • Men should be the unquestioned leaders of their households and communities (it’s not like Jim Jones and Warren Jeffs didn’t do a splendid job);
  • Adultery on a woman’s part is unforgivable, whilst men can fuck about all they like, or have multiple wives, respectively;
  • Women’s nature is to be submissive and a variation in that sense is deviant/ rebellious;
  • In group interactions (work for instance), men and women are better off separated.
  • Women are immature and unworthy of leadership positions or intellectual endeavours.

It’s slightly amusing that just today I learned of research carried out by Dr. Hector Garcia, regarding the god archetypes humanity seems to construct. “The Alpha God” details the links between our late primate ancestors and our current behaviours and aspirations, culminating in the kind of being we imagine as worthy of worshiping.

The archetype of an all-powerful alpha male, before whom mortals must bow (I’d never known apes also bow before alphas in their group, hence that’s where all the submission rituals must come from…and believers think they are establishing a connection with the divine… when they are in fact just imitating apes).

The being Christians and Muslims worship is very, very concerned with men’s inability to control their sexual urges and women’s moral duty to cover up.

This has nothing to do with ethics or spirituality but with Cro-Magnon understanding of human nature.

 

“Everyday Feminism” Revisited

One might think that due to the backlash received in recent years, feminists were slowing down or reconsidering what they’d chosen as priorities in their activism. One might also hope they come to terms with the role they have played in harming the causes they are promoting.

Intersectional feminism is an ill-inspired attempt to intermingle a vast array of social issues, some very real and pressing, with the so-called grievances of western women, not only failing to help but dragging these causes down. Activism addressing political asylum, the protection of non-criminal illegal immigrants, poverty and racial discrimination has now, in the minds of many, been conflated with  the voices of hysterical bra-burners whose main efforts, centred on trifles, cause general frustration.

Through this they have created a bridge between the increasingly radical Men’s Rights Movement and the far right, the first starting to adopt the positions of the latter in order to counter the pussy hat parades. In spite of their obvious role in “feeding the monster”, they’re taking it as confirmation of the validity of their claims (that all evils of this world can be traced back to “the privileged”, namely cisgender heterosexual white men).

Hence they are persevering.

Everyday Feminism, for instance, maintains its goal of coaching and radicalising those sympathising with its stances, and remains as absurd as ever.

To start with, here is a recent list of ten things every intersectional feminist should ask on a first date.Needless to say, it reads like an interview for joining a socialist organisation.

There is nothing reflecting a human being’s desire to engage in romance with another – but a cold and dry inventory of requirements. In real life, this conversation would raise the cringe level to the ceiling, unless it involved a radical male feminist as the interviewee. And yet, this is meant to be a guide with practical application.

1. Do you believe that Black Lives Matter?

If they are willing to learn and listen and make the space to decenter their whiteness (if they are white), that’s a good place to start.

The use of capitals suggests this is a reference to the BLM movement, though when verbalised it can be taken literally; in other words, she’s asking her date whether he thinks the lives of Black people are as valuable as all others. The question implies her suspicion he might think otherwise. You don’t suddenly ask people if they’re raging racists; it’s not only rude; it’s insulting.

Making space to decenter their whiteness is very vague; some preaching on her part is implied though, as in “I’m going to educate you about this and you’re expected to listen and react in a certain way”. In addition, she presumes that just because he is white, he needs to change his attitude for the conversation to go well. Presumptuous and insulting, again.

 2. What are your thoughts on gender and sexual orientation?

One out of many important elements to dismantling patriarchy is to abolish gender roles as well as the limited understanding that we have about sexuality and gender itself.

Now that we’re clear her date is expected to shoulder dismantling the patriarchy, I don’t get what sexual orientation has to do with abolishing gender roles.

Civilised societies are for individualism; there is no mandate to live a certain way, hence there are no imposed gender roles; they are only traditional. With no imposition there is no oppression against anyone who wants to live differently.

The need to change everyone’s mind about gender roles is solipsistic and difficult to understand. It’s not other people taking issue with how feminists want to live, but them taking issue with everyone else, for private choices. It’s nobody’s business how adults voluntarily associate with each other; whether they adopt traditional gender roles or not.

It seems he also has to acquiesce to the list of 300 made-up genders, which, sorry to burst your bubble, is a step too far even for many leftists.

3. How do you work to dismantle sexism and misogyny in your life?

I’ve met cisgender heteronormative (cishet) men who hate women. They say they love women, but that love is conditional on not having their toxic masculinity questioned or threatened in any way. And they love us as a monolith, they love what women have to offer, whether it is sex, food, love, care, emotional labor: they love us for what we can do for them, not because of who we are for ourselves. It is crucial for cishet men to learn how to decenter their male privilege in order for them to understand the multitudes of interpretations of femininity and womanhood.

Again with the insults, assuming his tendency is to be sexist and in order to be a decent person he must “work” against his nature constantly. That he’s got male privilege; that he (by default) doesn’t get what women are about and needs to learn (I can only hope she’s not dating a ten-year-old). Speaking that way to another adult is monumentally cringe-worthy.

And guess what – what you have to offer is part of who you are and someone appreciating certain aspects is not depersonalising or objectifying. Just because you might’ve run into some arsehole who discounted your other qualities does not mean “all cishet men are like that”. This whole BS has generated the famous AWALT in response (“all women are like that”) the Red Pill proudly brainwashes men with.

4. What are your thoughts on sex work?

You may scratch your head at this one, but much like racism and misogynoir, being pro-sex worker is a necessary pillar of dismantling the patriarchy. I don’t mean pro-sex worker in the sense where non-sex workers write op-eds and think pieces about how sex work is amazing and feminist.

I don’t see how that should matter; it’s a controversial subject, not for outdated religious reasons but the circumstances around sex work (poverty, exploitation, sustaining a drug addiction, forced prostitution etc). I doubt anyone grows up with this career choice in mind. It’s common sense that most sex workers would rather be doing something else for a living.

And I certainly don’t blame anyone for disagreeing that it’s “just a job”. There are parents out there who can’t help the visceral reaction at the thought of their daughters ending up in that situation. There is a difference between being pro-sex workers in terms of agreeing they should be protected and helped, and being pro-sex work per se.

I find it more misogynistic to consider women pieces of meat who should be encouraged to rent their bodies, putting their health at risk, for the day’s meal, as if they were incapable of using their brains instead. It’s nobody’s place to judge, but let’s not glorify this; it might just trivialise the very real problems around sex work. It’s a last choice for many.

But that’s feminism for you. It glorifies issues women are often forced into by circumstances (prostitution, abortion, wearing the hijab etc), as if they were freely made choices and proof of women’s liberation.

5. Are you a supporter of the BDS movement?

BDS stands for “Boycott, Divest, Sanctions” — an effort to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. (…) I shouldn’t even have to express that, but being pro-Palestine and BDS is a necessary part of intersectionality.

Of course it’s anyone’s prerogative to be passionate about a political cause and hope they can convince others to join; however, making it a prerequisite for speaking to a person is a far stretch. It’s like saying if someone’s not interested, for whatever reason, they are not worth your time or they couldn’t be decent people in a hundred different ways.

6. What is your understanding of settler colonialism and indigenous rights?

It required a good deal of my own research to really understand how settler colonialism works and how devastating the erasure and violence against Native Americans is and was.

Your date thinks Native Americans are tropes or relics of the past? NO THANKS.  A key part of intersectionality is having a complete understanding of how historical and current policies endangered the lives of millions of people, simply because of white supremacy and the colonialist entitlement to finite resources and land.

This seems to be aimed at Americans, yet obviously, it could apply anywhere in broader terms, as colonialism has impacted the entire planet. I agree to a point that a decent person would not discount the trauma it has caused (and continues to cause). Failure to do so might indicate insensitivity or callousness (unless the person simply isn’t knowledgeable or interested, which is also a possibility).

As always, there’s a “but”. Colonialism hasn’t been exclusive to white people throughout history. And since the author demands in-depth historical knowledge from her date (which he is not guaranteed to have), she should demonstrate the same.

7. Do you think capitalism is exploitative?

If your date says they’re anti-fascist and part of the resistance but they’re cool with exploiting labor from communities of color and they support the school to prison pipeline, then there’s a good chance they’ll only value you for your ability to nurture them without any reciprocation.

Again, this references American issues, whilst the guide is meant to be for any intersectional feminist. The exploitative prison system is an exclusively American problem, not to be associated with capitalism as a concept. Of course, it’s common sense that capitalism allows for exploitation – but where exactly does the last assertion fit in? What connection is there between capitalism and romantic relationships? Oh, right. None.

What she’s saying is “always date a socialist, anarchist etc”. Obviously, someone doesn’t necessarily favour capitalism for its exploitative side; they might just think other systems are worse.

8. Can any human be illegal?

White Americans stole this land, colonized this land, created so many borders, pushed out, killed and enslaved people of color and somehow they have the audacity to claim that this land is theirs and that black and brown immigrants are stealing their jobs, land, and homes? Miss me with that bullshit.

No, humans are not illegal. And I agree that scapegoating immigrants is a red flag, a rather ominous one, for a whole array of similar ideas.

The stretch of claiming borders could successfully be abolished makes you seem a bit detached from reality though; there can be a middle ground. People who advocate for this unfeasible utopia pollute the conversation around real ways of improving the situation of undocumented immigrants. Whenever such ideas arise, the right counteracts by quoting the radical left as a scaremongering tactic. They warn that showing clemency to a certain group would be a slippery slope towards having open borders and rally others against any helpful program.

Extremism halts the ability to compromise, which is needed in these situations.

9. Do you support Muslim Americans and non-Muslim people from Islamic countries?

Don’t waste your time and energy on dating someone who thinks that Islam is inherently violent or misogynistic. Instead, read some Huda Sha’arawi or Mona Eltahawy to educate yourself further on Muslim feminism.

Supporting Muslims who are unfairly subjected to prejudices is one thing. They are individuals who might have nothing to do with any stereotype thrown at them.

But supporting the inherently violent and misogynistic religion Islam has always been is another. Many religious people live peacefully by cherry-picking the best parts of their dogmas, whatever their  “label” is. But that doesn’t obscure the rest of those dogmas or their broader impact. This also applies to Christianity, of course, and feminists have no problem denouncing its misogyny or violence.

They spend their days “dismantling the patriarchy” and “abolishing gender roles”, and in the next breath defend an ideology which imprisons women in innumerable ways.

Downplaying the cruelty suffered by women because of Islam is the most anti-feminist attitude I can think of; it’s a paradox and proves the cognitive dissonance these activists are afflicted by. It just can’t get any crazier.

10. Does your allyship include disabled folks?

Disabled folks are subject to shaming and violence because humans are awful and lack empathy. Be mindful of others who mock disabled people; that kind of cruelty is inexcusable.

On a date with someone who uses ableist slurs? Walk away.

It’s fair enough to start disliking your date if you hear him needlessly insult others or refer to them in cruel ways. However, the article prompts me to think the interviewer/ feminist would simply ask, out of the blue, whether the guy is in the habit of belittling disabled people. And that is one weird question when not provoked, just like the one about race.

As some of the stuff above, it’s like directly asking “are you by any chance a complete arsehole”? Pardon this guy for being taken aback by her suspicions. And pardon me for thinking the first date will also be the last one.

Then there is a comic posted last year, containing shockingly little logic, not to mention hysteria, titled “5 ways we ignore children’s agency that perpetuate rape culture”.

Since I can’t post the comic due to copyright laws, I’ll merely describe the images and copy the text.

  1. The affection mindfuck (feminists just don’t understand it).

“Give auntie a kiss! She came all the way to see you.” Versus “Aw, after that nice dinner don’t I get a kiss?”.

Children are told that adults are owed their attention and affection. When that idea is internalised it can be difficult to accept that no one is owed physical contact or emotional energy.

No; they are instead encouraged to show affection in appropriate circumstances (towards family members etc). Not constantly, towards just anybody. Of course no one can force them to at any time. Homes where no displays of affection are present are cold and in my opinion, a thing of the past (when rigidity dictated every step someone took in public or at home). Warmth helps children (and adults alike) to feel comfortable around others.

This is just insane. It infantilises adults, as if they had no capacity of discerning whether they want to become close to someone or not, their interactions being reduced to running an old script.

By the way, asking for a kiss is not part of “rape culture”, just as asking someone out is not “sexual harassment”. That’s why it’s called “asking”. They are free to say no and that’s the end of it.

2. Submitting to just anything, by default (like some kind of vegetable).

“You have to do what I say because I’m in charge. No more arguments.” Versus “Why didn’t you tell him to stop?” “He’s my captain, my boss. I didn’t know how to say no to him.”

Children are told not to argue with authority and to accept commands without question. After growing up being told you must respect authority for authority’s sake it’s difficult to refuse requests from someone in a position of authority for your own sake.

It is known that children with a very strict upbringing, who feel imposed upon and bossed around, are the most likely to rebel when maturing, which makes this hypothesis a very weak one. When someone accumulates frustration for years due to how they’ve been treated, they become anything but a docile rag doll others can do what they please with.

Secondly, the image shows a man in a military uniform, discussing an unwanted sexual interaction (in vague terms) with a male superior, as a result of “not knowing how to say no” to an authority figure. I’m sorry but it makes no sense. You’re talking about a male soldier here – someone who is physically and psychologically tough. But he’s too weak to tell someone not to fuck him up the arse and lets it happen out of politeness? I don’t think so. The author couldn’t have picked a worse hypothetical example.

I needn’t mention that if the guy happens to be straight, someone would have to physically incapacitate him to carry out an act of that nature.

So no, there is no connection. People who were brought up strictly don’t just become Renfield types, especially to the point of allowing their bodies to be violated. Whilst this does happen to impressionable boys (in the catholic church for instance), it wouldn’t happen to a grown man or woman. The “Hollywood casting couch” does not fit in here either, as the women who let it happen, or don’t report it afterwards, do so for a reason.

3. Feminists don’t understand that men are physically stronger than women.

“Even if Bobby did hit you first, fighting isn’t the answer – find an adult to help you.” Versus : “I told her to stop but she wouldn’t”. “Well why didn’t you try to fight her off?”

Children are told that even physical attacks aren’t a good enough reason to resort to violence – as adults we aren’t practiced at defending ourselves but are told we are complicit in our own abuse if we can’t fight off an attacker.

Conflating the two situations is ridiculous. The first shows a girl advised not to continue a physical fight with a boy, whilst the second involves a woman sexually attacked by another woman, grilled by a policeman on not managing to fight back.

As a parent, one is more interested in making sure a child doesn’t end up in the hospital, than the principle of a thing, and 9.9 times out of 10, a girl doesn’t stand a chance of winning that fight. If she hits back, chances are she will be hit again (and again), until she is incapacitated. Getting away asap is the safest solution, really. Unless she’s had proper training and she’s confident she can manage, it’s just not a good idea.The father in question is telling her the truth, though masked by the feminist in a queasy “violence is not the answer”. And by the way, no sane parent would advise their child to “just take it”. It’s a matter of self-preservation in real time.

The second case, of sexual assault, involves two adult women, not comparable by any stretch. Of course a difference in physical strength is still possible; however the victim admits not having tried to fend off the attacker, as a matter of choice.  The author claims it was a result of her being brainwashed by parents into putting up with such behaviour.

Every situation and response is different; being hit once (when presumably able to leave) is not comparable to being sexually assaulted, which is sustained aggression and can only be stopped by force, if words  don’t work. Legally, self-defence justifies force, to the point of killing an attacker; we do not live in a “shut up and take it” culture.

The other two “slippery slopes” involve letting oneself be inappropriately touched because of the lack of sexual education and lastly, putting up with unwanted sexual acts because of… having to visit your mother on Mother’s Day. In other words, out of duty. These two are more plausible; it depends on the culture someone develops and lives in.

Consent is a skill that must be taught and learned consistently, so it makes no sense to raise children to ignore their own consent and flip it on like a switch as soon as they become adults.

Consent is a matter of real time intuition, not a learned behaviour or skill, unless actual abuse is involved (children being used to real exploitative acts and potentially going on to do so later in life). It varies from one interaction to another; people are not robots. Consent is simply a response to another human being; there’s no rule book to apply here.

Secondly, this comic seeks to deal with assault, which is a physical act. You can’t elaborate on assault without considering the physical characteristics of those involved (sex, age, strength, condition at the time etc). Here, all such differences are disregarded, as if they didn’t matter, when they are in fact essential.

Of course, these are just two examples of the same line of thought, which is creating, at least at a discourse level, a gap between men and women.

 

ESP – Misconceptions And Frauds

Unfortunately, this subject is very polarising, some people opting for a completely materialistic view and others leaving themselves prey to claims which hold no water (so-called service providers robbing them blind).

The extremes are a matter of either refusing to consider it at all cost, despite being told perplexing stories by sane people with no interest in lying, or wanting to believe just anything, even against one’s better judgement.

Of course, there is the middle path of those who know ESP occurs indeed, yet are equally aware of the mass deception by shysters who trade in illusions.

Which is why I think the following observations are in order.

  1. It’s a series of limited personal experiences, not an ability, or better yet, a profession.

Most people, sceptics included, have had an eerily accurate premonition, the odd dream predicting a future event down to details, or telepathic connection with someone else. What these phenomena tend to have in common is a purpose at that point in time, in the person’s life. Often that purpose is to warn of an incoming danger or prepare them for an unavoidable shock (the unexpected death of a loved one for instance).

The other commonality is that they do not happen constantly (which would be distressing, I imagine).

They are small glimpses into what should be the unknown – the potential future, the life of someone who is estranged etc. They come in grain size, not by the bucket; they are like droplets in an ocean of uncertainty and unpredictability.

Hence, when you hear a flouncy describe her nightly conversations with her spirit guide named Zorg, who tells her everything from the weather to who will get divorced in the neighbourhood, the suspicion that it’s verbal diarrhoea seems correct.

2. It occurs spontaneously, not on demand.

Perhaps a reiteration of the point made above – ESP is not an ability, as this term describes something you can control and use at your discretion.

The limited information you receive arrives unexpectedly when necessary, not as a result of you looking for it (that’s why fortune telling is such BS), let alone demanding it.

There is no unlimited database of the past, present and future people with ESP can tap into at will, to reveal hidden facts about themselves and others. If that were true, nothing would remain a mystery to them. Those who claim to have an access card to such a place, and charge money for a quick peek, are charlatans.

I’m sure many people with good intuition make an honest effort to gauge others’ problems in this manner, yet have no proof of their assertions being anything but a guess.

And I’m sure many who failed at demonstrating their presumed gift in a controlled environment had some genuine phenomenon over the years, yet could not artificially reproduce a natural occurrence. Because it happened to them, as opposed to them making it happen.

3. It is often verified in hindsight.

When someone claims the infallible capacity to predict the future because they’ve done so once or twice, they are mistaken. The only way to verify a prediction is after the fact, which is why people should not become hysterical when someone puts forth apocalyptic views.

The estimated number of daily thoughts crossing someone’s mind ranges between 50 000 and 70 000. Many of them will be irrelevant. Of the many premonitions someone might have, only some stand the test of time, whilst the rest are forgotten. Some will be steeped in subjectivity; their own hopes and fears. Dreams, likewise, can be useful in terms of psychological analysis, yet rarely do they actually reveal crucial information to be used in real time.

Don’t get me wrong, when it does happen it’s something to marvel at – yet that doesn’t mean every dream should be given the same importance a priori.

There are no prophets whose every word should be regarded as likely accurate by default.

4. To my knowledge, there has never been a way to establish where the information comes from.

In other words, we should all beware of those who claim to be in communication with divine beings or aliens, or anything of the sort. Or those who claim their occasional accurate predictions are proof of the existence of some deity.

5. The direct line to Heaven is a scam.

I’ve yet to see a psychic asked to contact a client’s dead relative, to shrug and say “sorry, dear, he wasn’t available”, or alternatively, “sorry, he’s in Hell and they only allow visitors on Saturday morning”. Isn’t it amazing how the departed are always calm and happy, wanting to reminisce about some fishing trip twenty years prior?

A couple were claiming the room was full of the client’s dead relatives, and that they wanted to make contact. It’s funny how it’s only the living who initiate these conversations through a paid medium and the dead, although present in such close proximity, are hapless in terms of communication. If it’s an open line, why don’t the dead ever ask for messages to be passed, of their own initiative? Can’t they afford the fee? No one thinks to ask “honestly; if they’re here all the time anyway, what do I need you for?”

6. The “paranormal” and “supernatural”

These commonly used terms alone are doing the study of this field (parapsychology) an enormous disservice.

They push these phenomena, in terms of common perception, into a realm of oddity and fantasy, when they are in fact very frequent, even if some people only experience them once or twice (notably) over an entire lifetime. That in turn causes them to be rejected as even plausible.

They are not “paranormal” or “supernatural”, they are the normal and natural.

It seriously annoys me to hear anyone claiming to operate in this field throw these words around in order to attract attention or be sensational, as if wanting to feed those around them with cheap thrills.

Ghosts – Misconceptions And Frauds

Throughout time, regardless of location or culture, ghost sightings have been a common occurrence. Phenomena presumed to involve the spirits of deceased people (haunting, poltergeist activity etc) remain of interest, not only to those experiencing them but to the curious in general.

Accounts of these phenomena are extremely interesting, usually connected to places and involving no reason to suspect those giving them of fabrication. They are isolated stories told by people who are not into making careers out of it. If anything, they risk being ridiculed for describing what they’ve witnessed.

Others, however, are set on using this mysterious side of human nature for personal gain, an easy con for centuries. They prey on the thirst for thrills, as well as the grieving, the latter being inexcusable.

Ghost hunting is the practice of observing a location believed to be haunted, in attempts to spot or/and make contact with the spirits thought to be lingering there. Paraphernalia is often used (cameras, motion detectors, devices based on measuring temperature etc). The “instrument” most sought after, however, is a medium, also known as a psychic or channel, claiming to facilitate this communication.

Whilst those reporting a haunting can normally be trusted and those seeking to observe it directly can at least be given the benefit of the doubt, most mediums are full of it.

Moreover, paranormal investigations produced for television, in order to cater to viewers, can be remorselessly suspected of BS. Whilst capturing phenomena on camera does happen, it happens spontaneously, and rarely, if ever, in a scheduled manner; that is just too convenient. The proof found is usually limited to noises and sensations experienced in the area. The chances of it all being staged are very high, even when based on a true story.

Identifying the deceased person

For the sake of keeping it brief by not constantly repeating the words “ghost”, “deceased”, “dead person” etc, let’s just refer to a spirit observed by the living as Bob.

Whereas in some cases people are confident of knowing who Bob is, through some of the things he does (like moving or smashing certain possessions), in most cases, his presence is nebulous and he is connected with the place he manifests himself in, rather than those currently occupying it. He might appear partially, as a shadow, as a vapour, or be downright invisible. He might vociferate but never show any physical traits. Whilst he may inadvertently give clues about his reason to be there, identifying him is very difficult, and likely a result of meticulous research; even then things can’t be certain.

To think that someone can walk right in, off the street, and give an accurate portrayal is not plausible. Mediums are known to make up elaborate stories on the spot.

Making contact

This is presented as the medium calling Bob and expecting a sign; perhaps asking a question or two.

First of all, this is a person, not a house pet. You can’t just whistle and expect him to turn up.There are no guarantees he’s even there in real time, that he hears the medium or that he’s in any way inclined to respond.

Assumptions are made beforehand, due to popular culture:

  • He knows he is dead;
  • He spends all his time at that particular location;
  • He knows he shouldn’t be there and is aware he owes an explanation for his presence;
  • He is aware of the current year and of the people living there;
  • He wants to go elsewhere but can’t for some reason.

There are no guarantees any of these apply.

“Go to the light, Bob, go to the light!”

First of all, Heaven was a religious invention; there isn’t any way to know what lies beyond the material world and where people go after dying, if they go anywhere at all (they might just be here but difficult to perceive by the living). What the medium really means is “piss off”. Whilst many have seen ghosts, no one has ever seen Heaven. James Randi pointed out how funny it is that mediums never try to reach someone who is in hell, or, I assume, likely to go there if “passing on”.

Secondly, let’s assume there was such a place where spirits are supposed to go. Now, if Bob has refused to move on for, say, 300 years, he must’ve had his reasons all along. It’s unlikely that the medium saying “you must go home now”, with self-attributed authority, will suddenly change that.

If he is not aware he is dead (a hypothesis detailed below), saying that is pointless. And if he is aware of his circumstances and options, should there be any, he doesn’t need pointers from the medium; he is there because he wants to be.

Bob the public menace

When Bob interferes with the lives of the living, it is often assumed he is doing it on purpose; some people think ghosts are set on chasing the present occupants away. However, that needn’t be the case. Bob might be experiencing the living in the same manner they are experiencing him (fleeting, blurred interactions which are difficult to make sense of).

Some apparitions have indicated there just might be an overlap between the past and present. For instance, somewhere in the UK, the ghost of a monk was seen walking down a street. The observer only saw the monk’s upper half, and after researching the history of the area, realised the road used to be at a lower level, which would explain why the monk’s legs could not be seen (he was walking on the old road, the old and current scenery overlapping). That was one of the most interesting stories I’ve come across and indicates occasional glitches, as opposed to spirits deciding to haunt a place (which is not to say the latter doesn’t occur).

The same can be said for noises, voices etc inside a house; perhaps the living are simply getting a glimpse of past events, without any interaction per se. Of course, when it comes to poltergeist activity, there seems to be a clear intention, when objects are thrown around for instance. There are cases when people are physically attacked.

Yet lacking any indication of violent intentions, it’s unnecessarily distressing to make assumptions, simply based on Hollywood tropes.

Bring in the priest

When dealing with a haunting, perhaps due to culture or modern horror film narratives, someone might think that bringing in a priest to perform some ritual will make everything stop. If they have indications of – or simply imagine – Bob having suffered a violent death, to perhaps lie hidden in an unmarked grave, they think a service will bring him closure. Hollywood certainly portrays it that way – that merely reciting a few Bible verses can bring peace to the dead.

However, there are no guarantees Bob was ever religious, or that he, in fact, was not killed at the behest of a religious institution in the first place, as many have been throughout the centuries. Imagine doing that for victims of the Inquisition; it might just feel like a spit in the face (if they even become aware of it). I reckon that cross is the last thing they would want to see or be associated with.

And here’s a thought – what if some of the spirits out there, claimed by the religious to be demons for reacting negatively to religious practices, are actually just ghosts who hate the church?

This spontaneous thought calls for some research and a future post on anything I might find.

Mediums freaking out on camera

There are sensationalist programs showing mediums scared half to death in dark basements, squirming and squealing about being touched on the shoulder.

“I talk to the dead on demand; I even let them possess my body to speak through it, but if I think one is near me I scream and run away.” Makes sense, right?

There is one thing I know for sure about ESP – if you’re someone who experiences it regularly, you’re not afraid of it, regardless of how it manifests. You take it as a normal part of life.

Granted that if you reject the idea, you might be negatively impacted by such phenomena. But if you embrace it fully and call yourself a medium, it makes no sense to run for the hills, especially when you seek out such encounters. It’s all done for show.

Given the availability of such material, it would be a shame not to post a cringe-worthy example of poor acting, from those who pretend to contact the dead.

This is one notable instance, organised by BBC 3, of three “mediums” being taken to a chocolate factory to communicate with a spirit. The presumption was they had no information and were obtaining their findings through their so-called abilities. However, it turned out they’d researched the place and were regurgitating the fictitious narrative posted on a website a week prior.

One medium even pretended to go into a trance to obtain the false information. The cringe was at the highest possible level.

 

 

 

 

Puritanical Groups: Frankenstein’s Monster

A story emerged recently, not nearly as interesting from an ideological point of view as from a psychological one.

In a way it’s classic: someone founds a group or participates in its founding, based on a set of principles. Overtime, the disciples grow more radical than the founder, turn on this person venomously and take the reins, going as far as making false accusations or starting a smear campaign.

This happened recently to Cenk Uygur, the founder of The Young Turks but also co-founder of Justice Democrats, a group seeking to contribute to the success of its candidates of choice. Besides contributing to the very start of Justice Democrats, he gave them substantial popularity through his alternative media channel (perhaps the most successful on the left).

Their gripe with him? Well, it turns out no less than 18 years ago (19 in fact, now), he wrote some pretty unsavoury things on a blog, regarding his frustration with women, general opinions on them etc.

Almost two decades ago. If anything should still matter for incrimination after two decades, in the life of any individual, it would have to be extremely serious. Something in the vein of war crimes, murder, rape or child molestation. Certainly not blog posts written on a whim, showing opinions which evolved overtime into their polar opposites.

It’s a total witch hunt. Whatever you can call Cenk Uygur, you cannot call him sexist, racist or anything else they claimed. He’s one of the leading voices on the left (far left in fact), at least in the alternative media; anyone who has followed TYT even sporadically is aware of the absurdity of these labels. They called him “part of the patriarchy” and claimed “he perpetuated rape culture”; something along those lines.

They called those off-the-cuff rants “horrifying”. Which leads me to believe said characters must’ve reached their (presumed) maturity during the SJW culture and haven’t read much worse. As others have mentioned, my first thought was whether they were, in fact, still wearing nappies when these blog posts were written. And whether their lack of understanding of someone’s opinions evolving is due to their lack off opportunity, age-wise, to go through such changes themselves.

So they’ve known this guy for a year (at least), interacted with him frequently, and somehow “failed to notice” he was “racist and sexist”, until these old posts popped up. It doesn’t seem to strike them as odd. A switch was activated in their heads and, boom – their views on him turned on their head.

Ideology aside, there is no difference between these zealots and religious ones. This prudish, couch-fainting reaction to anything slightly unpleasant from someone’s past, however inconsequential. Either they are the embodiment of a perfect record, not old enough to have ever offended anyone significantly, or they are just as susceptible to the same type of attack (likely to come from their midst at some point).

All that said – the far left created this cannibalistic “monster”.

I’ve come across gloating on TYT about people losing their jobs over tweets (not necessarily from Cenk Uygur; I can’t recall), and this is very common in the progressive camp. This isn’t the same as he was volunteering there; however in terms of one’s reputation being tainted, it’s comparable.

What the Justice Democrats did was to apply what they understood as one their immutable principles (thoughtless condemnation and banishing of other people).

 

 

The Wankery Of Guaranteed Divine Protection

It’s quite funny when one mostly has atheist or agnostic pages in their FB news feed, yet somehow gets Christian propaganda every few days. Some groups actually target non-believers.

One recent example was an inspirational tale of how a young woman was nearly mugged on a back alley one night, the only thing keeping her safe being the two angels walking beside her.

It goes like this: when walking home on a dark street to take a shortcut, a young Christian woman saw a man in a doorway and immediately prayed for safety. He left her alone, but went on to mug someone else passing by, whose guardian angels must’ve been sleeping on the job. Oddly enough, the lucky girl heard about it the next day and went to the police to see if she could help identify the thug. As soon as she pointed him out, the thug confessed and told the story of her having had “two tall men by her side”.

Of course no location or names were present in the story; that might lead a person or two to try to verify it. Though such an outlandish story would need chances of verification in order to not be dismissed straight away.Apparently, the mugger was able to see angels (an extraordinary ability not many hardcore Christians have).

And of course it’s rather odd that being pointed out by the one he’d actually mugged was not enough for him to confess. She was the first to go to the police and give details, accurately enough for him to be found and taken into custody. But the climax (his confession) only occurred when the second one turned up. Not to mention the second one (angel girl) had no proof this had been the same person who had mugged the actual victim.

So basically, a guy who mugs women and doesn’t give a shit about the victim identifying him suddenly confesses when recognised by someone who has no proof of any wrongdoing on his part (who just passed him by in the street the same night). Makes sense, right?

But let’s indulge the story for a second. Even so, it would be no proof of the mugger actually seeing a couple of angels. Perhaps he was stealing to feed his drug habit; who knows what he was on and what else he might’ve seen besides the “two tall men” who weren’t actually there.

As a disclaimer, I’m not saying I don’t believe in apparitions; they are common throughout the world, yet equally enigmatic. I don’t, however, believe spirits can be brought into manifestation at the drop of a hat, by simply wishing for it. And I don’t believe in guardian angels who presumably allow all kinds of atrocities against innocent people daily, yet are credited for intervening sometimes.

The moral of the story might be either one of these:

  • Putting oneself in risky situations is fine provided you ask for protection from your guardian angels;
  • The victim of the mugging didn’t have God on her side;
  • We should thank God when others are harmed instead of us;
  • God loves people so much he lets anything happen to those who aren’t smart enough to pray to him in real time;
  • Angels are protection mechanisms needing activation (unless you ask them for help in real time they remain dormant or stand by and watch).

I wonder then why people are turned into martyrs for Jesus across the planet. Presumably they pray for safety as well, but the “two tall men” never show up.

Later Edit

The second inspirational story arrived recently; I’ve no idea if a Christian group posted it, the only clue being in the author’s fleeting “and that’s proof of how the Lord works”, something along these lines.

It was a moving story of two elderly people meeting in the same retiring home, after having spent sixty years apart, in perpetual loneliness (neither had married and they’d both been in love since their youth).

It goes like this: a bloke finds a wallet and in it an old letter, written sixty years prior, of a young lady parting with her boyfriend as her mother objected. He manages to track her down to a care home and finds the owner of the wallet living there as well, the two being unaware of each other’s presence (living on different floors in the same building). Then he helps them meet and so on, a happy ending.

Logistically, to me it seems strange that two people who’d been in love with each other for more than six decades, living in the same place, hadn’t crossed paths before to recognise each other. It just seems unlikely. You’d recognise the face of the one person you’ve ever loved, even many decades after. The guy was keen on wandering about apparently, as he’d lost his wallet on the pavement well outside of that care home. It seems strange to me he’d never wandered around in the building to find the lady in question. Plus, her letter was in his wallet, which he frequently lost, often found by staff – who were aware of both their names. Surely someone would’ve seen it and told the guy she was living there. It makes no sense.

But let’s give the story the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s true.

It still wouldn’t be the proof that God is kind and merciful. If he had been, he would’ve made these people cross paths earlier in life, when they could still get married and build a life together. The young lady wasn’t going to be 16 and under her mother’s thumb forever. It would be a story of elation yet depressing sadness in equal amounts. Sixty years of misery, so God could plan his great moment of reunification when they both only had a few years left to live.

If this actually happened, it was chance or whatever you want to call it, but not God’s merciful intervention.

The Law Of Attraction – Not An Absolute

For many years now, this law has been predicated as the key to ultimate success – attracting positive elements into one’s life by visualising them or reaching certain levels of inner peace.

To an extent, it’s verifiable, as is the reverse – pessimism is likely to keep attracting the negative, perhaps because an individual is unwilling to take steps in the other direction. However, there are limits to this theory, as there are limits to the idea that one chooses which body to incarnate into, which I don’t find particularly plausible.

There are methods of improving one’s chances which apply to anyone anywhere, yet they’re mostly related to physical care or skill development.

Hope also seems to help people stay alive; however, it doesn’t guarantee survival when greater forces are at play, and it certainly doesn’t guarantee the accomplishment of a person’s highest aspirations. There’s a theorising of hope going on at the moment, with systems of rules being developed and paces one must presumably go through in order to successfully apply it. It’s a coping mechanism and raw human emotion, not  an up-the-ladder strategy which is subject to regulation.

  1. This “thriving theory” is aimed at people with a pre-existing level of comfort. A level of subsistence (at a minimum) is necessary.

Whenever I hear a seemingly uplifting video on how life can be turned around through sheer attitude, I can’t help but think of all those who are stuck in famine-stricken countries or otherwise desperate situations they cannot change. I doubt a copy of “The Secret” would make a difference in their lives when they are struggling to subsist. Wishing on it will not fix a draught or a corrupt political regime.

Hence I conclude the theory is addressed to those who are doing well enough in terms of survival, but not well enough compared to their aspirations.

I hear people in conferences, in well-ventilated venues, going on about how each individual should live in order to achieve their full potential. How most people “are doing it wrong”. And I can’t help but think of those in a mud hut or a tent in a refugee camp, unable to access the “life-saving” advice on “how not to do it wrong anymore”.

This cannot be a universal principle if it doesn’t apply to every single person. If “the universe wants you to thrive and it’s all up to you”, why are so many trapped in hopeless situations?

2.An individual is, sometimes, not able to subtract him/herself from the conditions of a community.

Connected to the point above – we often hear that “it’s up to the individual to improve their chances in life through their attitude”. This certainly doesn’t apply to those living under genuine oppression, extreme danger, in war zones etc. An individual can only do so much but cannot help the impact of their environment, not even to the point of guaranteeing personal safety, let alone thriving. It certainly cannot be said they attract negative things into their lives when those things are common occurrences around them.

3.Hazards are a real issue.

There are, according to some theories, children “choosing to incarnate” into bodies which die before birth, during birth for lack of medical attention, or shortly after, when bombs happen to strike their houses. The only spiritual explanation would be the one religion is trying to forge – “God’s will, God knows what he’s doing”.

Whilst the real explanation is that some fuckers gave the orders for the bombs to be dropped. Are those people a part of God’s plan? I don’t think so. They make their own decisions. They could always decide differently.  If “the supreme creator” gives everyone free will, those bastards upon whom hundreds or thousands of lives depend also have free will. It’s human, not divine action. It happens in real time, not as a part of a “divine plan” “every soul agreed to beforehand”.

The same goes for natural catastrophes – was there a plan “up there” for thousands to incarnate in a certain area just so they could all be struck by the same tsunami? Or was it a random event created by tectonic plates, because this is the kind of planet we happen to be living on?

If this happens at all, it must only happen to some (I can’t dismiss a possibility I can’t invalidate). There are case studies overwhelmingly in favour of reincarnation. But there is nothing to indicate, to my knowledge anyway, that it is voluntary down to details.

4. It implies blaming the victim (of hazard, other people’s actions etc), just as religion does.

Fundamentalist Christians, some of them anyway, are of the conviction that if someone has enough faith, they will be healed of just about anything, and will thrive financially. That is how the “prosperity gospel” operates, church upon church collecting pensioners’ last savings, promising a better future through faith.

In a similar fashion, there are alternative healing methods out there, based on “making peace with life and everyone around you”. There are testimonials from those who claim to have been healed from deadly diseases simply by forgiving everyone who had ever wronged them.

I’m not disputing the role of the psyche in healing the physical body; a positive attitude certainly seems to help.

However, let’s not slide into (and some Christians do) insulting theories about how people who weren’t healed “just didn’t have enough faith”, or alternatively, “were not at peace with life and those around them”. Not everything, and surely not every disease, can be solved in such manners.

In conclusion, this doesn’t seem to work universally, regardless of a person’s conditions. It works for some people sometimes and that’s about it.

 

“Out Of The Fog” – Another Toxic Recovery Forum

After losing interest in the subject for a long time, I finally had a close look at another internet community based on personality disorders, a disciple of which I’ve seen trying to poison strangers online (for a couple of years and ongoing), perhaps out of reflex, with the idea that they are being emotionally abused by their partners or family members. When the response given to anyone succinctly posting a relationship dilemma is by default along those lines, something is awry.

Not having spent more than a few hours looking it up and reading through it, I do know what comes out of there, when one is immersed in this line of thought.

The difference between offering an opinion and proselytising is in nuance, in the ability to evaluate every situation on its own merits. When someone reacts like a person with a hammer, to whom everything looks like a nail, things are clear.

The forum is differently structured than PF and covers more than romantic relationships or marriages, which PF focused on. It doesn’t overtly demonise people with personality disorders, but claims to offer coping strategies instead (a misleading appearance, as detailed below). At a peek there is no mention of evil, demonic beings set on destroying their targets etc. However, a review of the book with the same name mentions black and white thinking, splitting humans into two categories: “the PDs” (personality disordered) and the “nons” (non-disordered) . And the acronym PD appears often on the site. Hence they don’t even have to pretend they are knowledgeable enough to identify a specific disorder.

To their credit, they declined to create a subsection for teens, seeing the problems that might pose (while PF targeted them directly in a marketing effort).

However, at a closer look, one can see a person is likely to be labelled disordered, or at least be suspected as such, for just any reason. And any reason is no stretch.

There is a subsection about friends, neighbours, acquaintances and coworkers, where I reckon most of the baffling stuff is, from what I’ve seen so far. At least in a close relationship one has a reason to over-analyse.

As an example, a member ended up thinking her roommate might be disordered because the latter asked her to hold her stuff at a bar, “as if she were a coat rack”. Because apparently, disordered people are known to be selfish and since this one momentary gesture of debatable rudeness bothered her, the roommate is likely to have a real issue, regardless of the lack of other indications. A thread was opened about this gesture and no moderator stepped in to even issue an opinion regarding how accurate this might be. Which is proof that anything goes. Perhaps this is a random exaggeration; however; there don’t seem to be any guidelines helping people differentiate between what is likely real and what is likely imaginary.

All this has nothing to do with a presumed expertise in personality disorders, but with people airing their day-to-day grievances and sometimes ending up sticking labels on others.

The specific language is present as well (abbreviations understood only by those who activate in these circles, such as NC, LC, VLC, PD, JADE etc). More interestingly, I found the abbreviation FOO (family of origin) in a few places, previously encountered in Stefan Molyneux’s cult lingo, as in “family of origin”. He is the “patent holder” of the term de-FOO, as in disassociating with one’s family of origin (and often friends who don’t share Molyneux’s political ideology, when it comes to his followers).

Very interestingly, there is this remark on a page listing “what not to do” when confronted with disordered behaviours:

Amateur Diagnosis – An Amateur Diagnosis is when a non-qualified individual confronts someone whom they suspect suffers from a personality-disorder and shares this belief with them, usually in the hope that this revelation will help to improve the relationship or the situation.

Excuse my French, but doesn’t that cover doing so behind the person’s back, based on unprofessional information, and sharing that with strangers? I’ve come across diagnosing people by proxy (the boyfriend’s ex-wife, because he claimed so, lacking any diagnosis per se, or the member actually knowing the person referred to as disordered).

What is ethical about the fact that there is no difference of approach between members who do have a diagnosis for someone and those who simply suspect someone of having a disorder, as if it were all the same?

More food for thought about this site not being what it appears to at first. The comments on the first site mention a few of these forums (recognisable with a bit of prior knowledge).

The Aftermath of the Psycho/ Narc Hunt Obsession

As predicted, amateur online content claiming to offer insight into psychopaths and narcissists has been multiplying for a few years.

Obviously, there are content creators out there who have done intense research on the matter and have analysed it from any angle, including the problem of false identification (off-the-cuff diagnosis based on superficiality). However, they share the platform with a sea of dross.

A few years ago, such content was relatively rare. Now a large array of blogs and YouTube channels predicate inside knowledge into the “minds of the disordered”. On a mere glance, the vast majority seem founded by individuals with  no qualification in this field or in depth study of the issue. I dare assume that many were started as a result of a sour break-up or childhood-related resentment.

Though the term “psychopath” is sometimes used, “narcissist” is far more prevalent. Perhaps because it has been a lay term before becoming clinical and appears more relatable.

A few quotes picked up just through a quick search on YouTube:

  • How to spot a narcissist in five minutes/ on the first date. Pardon my doubts yet I think that unless someone is extremely disturbed it’s very difficult to tell, and most people do manage to make a good impression on a first date, if for no other reason than their conscious effort to do so. Such guidelines would be better worded as “how to ruin a first date by constantly checking for signs of narcissism”.
  • Is the narcissist watching you right now (the narcissist may be stalking you in any number of ways). So you’ve successfully distanced yourself from this person and all you need now is a dose of paranoia regarding what they might be doing. Very healthy indeed (excellent for triggering people who have been stalked in the past, by the way).
  • 121 things narcissists say while gaslighting (collected from a support group of people believing to have been targeted; most are extremely common in arguments; one of these things is “whatever”). This is on a large channel, by the way. Predictably, the first comment is “OMG I’ve been told 90% of these”. Absolutely unrelated, unscientific crap.
  • How to torture a narcissist. Better yet, why try?
  • 6 strong signs you have narcissistic abuse syndrome. This is directed at women and invites them to imagine that if they have certain emotional problems that is a strong indicator of their partner being a narcissist (no mention of the possibility of preexisting problems at all, or them being caused by other factors). The first two are “feeling alone” and “not feeling good enough”, which are par for the course with abandonment and anxiety issues and not necessarily caused by others in real time.

Moreover, this “support” has seeped into neutral environments. After watching someone seek out confused people to “help” on a forum, where they would pop up to  ask for relationship advice (being told each time they were being abused, regardless of the details), I did a quick Google search with specific keywords, to try to see how prevalent this is.

Doubtlessly, some who soak up this material, with a clear self-gratifying intention, try to sway unsuspecting strangers into thinking they are in a hopeless situation or even in danger. They actively search the internet for psychological fodder in other people’s temporary problems. And unlike content creators, who often have a financial interest, they gain nothing but the satisfaction of having potentially “saved” others from “Cluster B types”, regardless of how little they know about them.

Hence, some disciples of sites such as Psychopath Free, Out of the Fog & Co now try to influence people outside of those environments, who are merely looking to vent online or obtain objective advice (which is an illusion as most respondents simply project their own life experience). Disorders were not even an issue in discussions I’ve witnessed until said faithful disciples brought them up.

If sifting through broadly-themed forums was too time-consuming and lacked efficiency, I did have a look on other platforms. On Quora, for instance, there are many threads enquiring about the new general obsession with narcissism.

It’s definitely a mass phenomenon, not reserved for platforms one only ends up on when specifically seeking answers. Many reputable publications have covered the lists of behaviours and red flags, though to their credit, they tend to seek out professionals when putting out articles.